What does a purchasing manager do?
Procurement managers buy a variety of goods and services, depending on the needs of their employer and the industry they work in. For example, they might be responsible for purchasing:
- raw materials and engineering components for a manufacturing company to use
- wholesale stock for a retailer to sell (in this case you would usually be known as a buyer)
- furniture, stationery and cleaning services for your offices
Day-to-day tasks would typically include:
- deciding what goods, services and equipment are needed
- monitoring and forecasting stock levels
- researching and identifying new products and suppliers
- assessing tenders from potential suppliers
- negotiating prices and agreeing contracts
- making sure that suppliers deliver on time
- processing payments and invoices
- keeping up with market trends
In larger organisations you might run a purchasing department and lead a team of buyers and administrators. In smaller companies, you might combine purchasing responsibilities with other management duties.
What do I need to do to become a purchasing manager?
If you are good at negotiating, networking and dealing with figures, this job could be a good choice for you. You will need an organised approach to work, the ability to analyse data, and good business sense.
There are different ways into this job, including starting out as an assistant and working your way up, getting a relevant higher education qualification, or going through a management training scheme. Professional qualifications are also important in this job.
There is no set route into this career. One way to start is as an administrator or assistant in a company's purchasing department. You could then work your way up as you gain experience and take professional qualifications through the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS).
For some jobs, employers may prefer you to have qualifications and technical knowledge from your particular industry. Common examples occur in fashion retail, engineering, quantity surveying and construction.
You may be able to join a company on its management training scheme. You will usually need a foundation degree, HND or degree in supply-chain management, logistics or business studies to get onto a scheme. However, some employers will accept other subjects, as they will give you the training you need on the scheme.
CIPS also offers the Level 2 certificate and Level 3 advanced certificate in procurement and supply operations for those people who have little or no experience in this field. You can then move onto more advanced courses as you gain experience.
Where could I be working?
You could work as a purchasing manager in all kinds of industries – not only manufacturing, retail and wholesale, but also for service industries and public bodies, such as the Civil Service, NHS and local authorities.