Life as a procurement manager


By definition, a procurement manager is a purchasing specialist who oversees all aspects of goods and services acquisition that a company needs in order to operate or expand its business.

Since they often come into direct contact with suppliers and such, procurement managers will have to work on building relationships as well as managing a team to ensure that the entire process is efficient, cost-effective and follows the appropriate policies and procedures.

What it takes to be a procurement manager

There are two types of procurement: direct and indirect. In direct procurement, one is involved in making purchases that support the company's supply chain. Whereas for indirect procurement, it involves buying items for the company's daily operations and thus, focuses on cost-cutting measures. Relevant experience in facilities management, contracting, vendor and inventory management is essential for procurement positions.

Work experience of around 5 to 10 years in the field of the company’s expertise is highly recommended as you'll be familiar with the industry work procedures and standards. Some companies may also require you to have knowledge of software from Ariba (online procurement vendor) to JD Edwards (enterprise software vendor).

You should also have intermediate financial analysis skills, particularly in the areas of pricing evaluation, strategic cost assessment and budget management. This is particularly crucial in driving the business’ overall procurement and cost control strategies while managing expectations of internal stakeholders.

Solid relationship building skills will go a long way when looking to set up value-based procurements and improve the bottom line of the company.

It is not all about numbers

Instead of relying solely on one-way communication where you instruct the supplier on what to do, you should be building a two-way communication channel where both parties work together for a mutually beneficial result. Healthy relationships will also provide a viable platform to resolve problems amicably and quickly to avoid any delay of the purchasing process or generation of unnecessary costs for the company.

Internal relationships within the company are also vital since procurement is more than just securing the best deals. By actively soliciting feedback and information from various departments such as finance and engineering, you'll be able to better respond to the changing needs of the company, and can better identify products that will be popular or necessary in the future.

Leadership skills, too, are crucial because you have to think quickly on your feet, make sound decisions and maximise your team's potential to the fullest.

Of course, in-house training will be provided to those who are keen on pursuing a procurement career, but at the end of the day, this is a job where collaboration and self-motivation are highly prized. To succeed in this field, you'll need more than technical skills; you need emotional intelligence to manage relationships and from there, create an effective procurement process.

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