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What Is a Procurement Manager?

Procurement managers need strong math skills for implementing inventory control procedures.
Procurement managers may focus in either traditional or electronic procurement.
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  • Originally Written By: Carol Francois
  • Revised By: Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2014
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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.

Job Overview

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

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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.

Policy Compliance

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.

Procurement Coordination

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.

Supervising Staff

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.

Additional Duties

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.

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Discuss this Article

anon929957
Post 8

I want to know the link between project management and procurement management.

anon183980
Post 7

To become a procurement manager, you need a good background in business, law and sometimes engineering. You also need to speak more than one international languages. Most graduate school require 3 internatinal languages. You will need a master degree or an advanced master degree in procurement management plus recognition from a professional body. Most advanced master in procurement management are very expensive and require internaitonal mobility so you should think about money!

anon183976
Post 6

How do you see employment opportunities for new procurement manager graduates?

GiraffeEars
Post 3

@ GenevaMech- If you are interested in working your way up to purchasing manager, you should consider continuing your education through graduate school. You will need a master's degree in engineering, business, economics, or an applied science to be a successful senior procurement manager for a large corporation.

You should also consider certification and additional course work. Certification is essential to advancement, and continuous focus on education will keep you informed on current trends. The top ten percent of purchasing managers earn over $140,000 a year, so stay competitive and keep learning.

istria
Post 2

@ GenevaMech- If you are interested in working in procurement you have options as to your educational path. Procurement is a broad term that describes purchasing and buying in many different industries, and for many different sized companies. Purchasing agents and managers can work for a small retail outfit, or a large multinational corporation. Purchasing managers can work in retail or they can work in the engineering field.

With your previous background, you might consider working in retail or wholesale purchasing. Smaller firms look for a bachelor’s degree in a business related field. You will often begin your career track in sales, shipping and receiving, or inventory tracking. The training period for a retail procurement agent may only be a year, but it can take as long as five years to become a procurement agent for a manufacturing firm. After you gain enough experience, it will be possible to work your way into a procurement management position.

GenevaMech
Post 1

What does it take to become a procurement manager or purchasing specialist? What kinds of experience would wholesaler or retailer look for on a procurement manager's resume? I have an associate’s degree in business and I am thinking about returning to school. I could see myself working as a procurement professional, but I do not know where to begin.

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