Also known as buying, procurement or supply chain, purchasing management manages the interface between the supply market and the organisation. Its importance lies in the fact that a company can spend more than two thirds of its revenue buying its goods and services, so even a modest reduction in purchasing costs have a significant effect on profit.
A purchaser may be responsible for sourcing raw materials from suppliers worldwide, bringing them into the organisation, to enable production of goods for customers. This could also involve the purchasing of marketing, advertising or IT related services. Purchasing managers need to get to know the market, build relationships with suppliers and negotiate contracts and prices.
- INVOLVES: Buying products & services for an organisation. Inviting tenders, adjudicating bids & placing contracts. Negotiating with suppliers. Selecting suppliers & managing contracts. Materials planning & stock management liaising with product users. Much work done on the phone.
- EMPLOYERS: All manufacturing companies. All medium/large organisations: manufacturing companies, service companies. Public sector bodies including the Civil Service.
- RELATED JOBS: Buying or merchandising in a retail environment, marketing, logistics manager.
- SATISFACTIONS: Building good relationships with suppliers; freedom to work alone; make decisions, not 100% office based; travel frequently; negotiating good deals for the company; responsibility for multi-million pound contracts.
- NEGATIVES: Not a 9-5 job - long hours. Can be stressful (due to responsibilities & overload of work)
- SKILLS: persuading, negotiating, organising & planning, analysing, decision making, attention to detail.
- ADVANCEMENT: Commence career at Junior Buyer level. Progress to Senior Buyer & then onto 'Purchasing Manager' for a team of buyers. May need several sideways moves buying different products/services. Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply qualifications will aid promotion.
- DEGREE: Any degree subject. Business, language & engineering degrees preferred.
- POSTGRADUATE STUDY: None: some postgraduate courses in purchasing are available.
- TIPS: Need a good commercial head, good people skills & common sense.