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What is meant by individuals?

Individuals are the backbone of all the tiers that make up a procurement system. However, individuals would not often be the initial entry point for an assessment. In most cases, it will be an assessment at the organization or sector level (or even the national level) that will identify that a change in knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors will be required for individuals involved. At this point, however, to avoid leaping to the assumption that training is the solution to every issue, an assessment of the needs of individuals should be conducted.


Assessing individuals

Assessments focused on the individual level are about getting an understanding of the capacities that exist, what needs to be developed and, importantly, the contextual issues.  In terms of the role of individuals the focus is on their behavior.


The behavior of individuals is influenced by their knowledge, skills, expectations and attitudes. When talking about individuals the influence of contextual issues should not be underestimated.


Assessments focused on individuals therefore while including knowledge and skills about technical procurement issues, should also feature context issues including the informal structures within which they operate which may provide motivation for or barriers to transfer of learning. Professional values and principles are also a key aspect when talking about procurement.


Key Principles for assessing development needs for individuals:

  • The assessment should focus on needs that are appropriate to the priorities and strategies of the organization and the specific role of the individual in the organization
  • It should have the current level of the individual as its starting point
  • It should include an analysis of factors that will support or block transfer of learning (source: UN Habitat Good Practice Note: Training, 2011)
  • It should go beyond technical procurement skills and knowledge and look at values and attitudes
  • Communicate, communicate, and communicate
  • Assessments focused on individuals need to be done by those who work and live within the system under consideration
  • Confidentiality issues need to be taken seriously


Examples of procurement related challenges concerning individuals

  • New procurement processes and procedures change the expectations and requirements of those working in procurement.
  • Contextual issues, such as organizational or cultural norms exert demands on individuals that are different or contrary to those required by the formal system.
  • Difficulty with recruiting individuals into procurement jobs with existing appropriate competencies.
  • Procurement not seen as a "profession" with associated values and codes of ethics.
  • No certification programs and recognized accreditation for those working in procurement.
  • Poor motivation of those working in procurement due to low status, no clear career path, etc.
  • Those involved in procurement are not held accountable for results.
  • Need to continuously develop individuals to take on increasingly high levels of responsibility.
  • High turnover of procurement staff.
  • Inappropriate interference in procurement cases from individuals in positions of power.
  • Shortage of skills in particular areas, not only within the public service, but including journalists, suppliers, civil society organizations.
  • Lack of procurement training institutions resulting in ad-hoc training activities



These tools deal with how to conduct an individual level assessment and/or develop a procurement competency framework.


See the file collection for all resources in this toolkit.

External web-links:



Procurement Competency Self-Assessment Tool

Procurement Competency Framework

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