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A procurement manager, also known as a purchasing manager or procurement specialist, is a person who is in charge of getting anything a company might need. He or she is very important to production, because operations often cannot proceed until the business obtains supplies, property or other items, such as licenses. Typically very confident and good at analysis, math and decision making, these employees are responsible for tasks such as drawing up contracts and organizing people involved in the buying process.
Purchasing managers oversee all aspects of getting the services, materials or property a business needs to operate or expand. This often involves dealing directly with owners or suppliers and creating contracts related to transactions. As they go through this process, they check that everyone involved is following the current policies. They also bring together and give direction to staff, coordinating efforts for maximum efficiency and cost effectiveness.
Required Education and Training
Most managers start out as procurement officers, who often can get into a company with as little as a high school diploma. These workers carry out tasks the managers delegate, learning about the company and its buying processes. At most businesses, they are trained for at least a year on the job. To advance, a bachelor's degree and at least five years of experience is necessary, with some companies requiring up to a master's degree in areas such as business, economics or engineering. Several groups, like the American Purchasing Society, offer additional certifications, which usually require at least three years of experience.
Skills and Traits
Buying things for a company requires a person to look at what is happening within the business or what is available in a critical way. Good analytical skills are necessary for the procurement manager to make sense out the data to determine what items will be needed. These professionals also need to make decisions well, coming to conclusions that are not only rational, but which ultimately drive the business toward its goals and overall vision.
Math and negotiation are also important. A solid understanding of arithmetic concepts and formulas lets the specialists calculate inventory and quickly compare prices to see what is the best value. The ability to communicate well, giving and taking, establishes the good relationships that are necessary to get solid contracts in place.
With the rise of technology, these specialists are relying more and more on computer systems and applications to do their job. They use these tools to streamline the purchase process, keep records and communicate about work-related issues. People who are seeking procurement jobs usually have some basic computer background, therefore, and they are comfortable working with or learning about hardware and software related to purchases. In fact, some managers emphasize e-procurement in their companies due to the efficiencies and savings it creates.
Generally, people who supervise procurement processes are quite confident, and they are able to stand up for themselves and the decisions they make. This trait lets them come off to their workers as focused but reasonable, and it keeps others who deal with the company from thinking they can take advantage of the business. At the same time, they are willing to hear out others because they understand that a different perspective might produce a more efficient method or deal.
Enforcing policy compliance is one of the most important responsibilities of a procurement manager. A company's rules for buying are designed to protect the company from legal challenges, as well as to obtain the best possible combination of price, quality and service. To make sure that everyone is following set guidelines, the specialist might conduct periodic reviews of workers or systems. It is part of his job to bring cases of non-compliance to the appropriate people in the company, or if appropriate, to provide disciplinary action on his own.
Coordinating purchase activities across a company depends on the structure and role of the procurement department. In a decentralized organization, for example, each department can make its own purchases. Coordination in such an environment requires training, documentation and oversight reports from the purchasing or accounting system.
In a centralized organization, all requests are funneled to purchasing employees, who report activity to the manager. Companies typically organize these workers by the type of item, service or property they buy. This lets them see when they can buy in a group and better comply with business policies.
Tasks that fall under staff supervision often include overseeing daily operations, handling human resources issues and conducting performance reviews. Procurement managers usually evaluate a department's operational efficiency based on turn-around time, quantity and total value of purchases, customer service and total amount of money saved. In most firms, the procurement department is under the controller or vice president of finance. As a result, metrics and annual financial statement information is used to evaluate the effectiveness of the department and the level of value added to the company.
Within the broad categories of supervision, coordination and policy compliance, a company might expect its specialist to find, evaluate and interview different suppliers, working out contract details like delivery. He or she also might meet with vendors or other representatives, develop and monitor contracts and determine what action to take when problems come up. It is also to his or her benefit to go to trade shows and similar events to stay current in the industry.