The term ‘purchasing manager’ can be difficult to define, because purchasing managers truly do wear multiple hats. The following is a brief overview of the various types of duties that are traditionally assigned to a purchasing manager, purchasing agent, buyer or purchasing director. Management duties, procurement duties, contractual duties and analytical duties are explored in length, to show how versatile an individual has to be to have a great level of success while employed in the industry.
At a large business or corporation, the Purchasing Department will generally have its own set of managers and directors who are tasked with directing the department and supervising the employees who work within the department. Management duties generally include creating and implementing policies, procedures and best practices; managing all resource needs and inventory controls; and planning for future projects and growth. There will usually be a separate position for a contract manager, but that individual will usually meet with the manager(s) and director(s) whenever it is necessary to negotiate contracts with supply companies.
Purchasing management also involves a great deal of interdepartmental cooperation, because the Purchasing Department is essential in all transactions involving the business and the supply companies that provide the necessary products and services for the business. It is extremely important that positive relationships with vendors are developed and nurtured in order to obtain the best prices and the best value. Purchasing management also needs to have a good idea of trends and new technological developments within the purchasing industry as a whole.
At a large business or corporation, the Purchasing Department typically contains two different types of purchasing agents: capital purchasing agents and non-capital purchasing agents. The non-capital agents need to know much about materials acquisition, and also have to have the necessary skill set to make professional judgments regarding bids, quotations and pricing. They also need to be able to select the right vendors to work with. Purchasing agents typically receive a request from a specific department and then must find the proper vendor, negotiate a fair price with the vendor, order the necessary goods or services (typically done via a Purchasing Information System), and then keep track of the order until it arrives. Purchasing agents also need to ensure that all purchase orders and supply requests that other departments present to them are in accordance with all relevant company policies.
Purchasing agents also have certain contractual duties. For example, entering into a contractual agreement with a supplier that is regularly used will generally produce the most favorable prices for essential equipment and supplies. The negotiation and contract drafting process usually is very time intensive and can be a bit tedious, and sometimes involves the assistance of an attorney. Some Purchasing Departments have a contract manager who is tasked with all contract negotiations between the company and its suppliers. The contract manager’s duties do not end once the contract is signed. The contract manager also has to keep an eye on the transactions to ensure that the supplier continues to comply with the terms of the contract.
Analytical duties are an important part of business within a Purchasing Department. Every Purchasing Department needs at a minimum one expert who can analyze all of the data for all transactions that take place on a daily, monthly, quarterly and yearly basis. That individual may also be tasked with creating metrics and scorecards for review. This individual will also work closely with other departments and point out any errors, discrepancies or concerns; and likely will help out in creating a budget and reviewing all business conducted by the Purchasing Department.
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