TMCnet Feature
August 05, 2022

Top 17 Procurement Skills for Modern Purchasing Professionals

Procurement skills are the abilities that modern-day purchasing managers and procurement specialists rely on to guide purchasing decisions within their departments or businesses. These skills are vitally important for all departments because they directly impact how well the company can operate. They use communication, business, and research skills to determine what equipment or materials are best for implements or projects. Proven procurement skills can be used to identify the perfect time to replace aging equipment and what price margin is most appropriate for a department's budget, to save money and protect the company brand.

Purchasing skills are something that every purchasing manager should have in their arsenal, as they can help provide a better understanding of the company and make better decisions to keep the department running smoothly. For example, if a machine malfunctions, a purchasing manager will need to replace it as soon as possible to avoid any interruptions that could hamper normal departmental activity. This can also make a huge difference in their level of productivity. For example, new hires will see an increase in production potential. A good production manager will realize the potential for a hectic day and have the foresight to buy more materials to help them keep up with production. This foresight will save time, frustration, and in some cases may even lead to a higher quality of work.

As a purchaser, constant upgrading and improving skills are very important. To keep up with the high-paced world of purchasing, new technologies need to be constantly researched and mastered so that you can be on the forefront of implementing them in your company. There are several procurement training programs available at SIPMM that help purchasers to get the skills and competencies they need to excel in your role as a procurement professional. These programs provide in-depth knowledge for purchasing professionals across a variety of topics, including competitive sourcing, negotiation, contract management, international trade, and supplier management.

17 procurement skills for modern purchasing professionals

1. Researching skills

The ability to do research effectively is crucial for all purchasing managers. This is because it enables them to have access to information on market trends, assessing cost of goods and risk management, which can considerably assist in their decision-making process. Purchasing managers must be able to assess the benefits and drawbacks of any potential purchase, typically to try and predict the possible future outcomes, as well as ways to improve capital. The purchasing manager may also research new materials before making final purchasing decisions.

2. Data analysing skills

They typically analyse data regarding past and future departmental purchases and will use this data to help guide their decisions, as well as reduce potential risks involving material. They are also able to predict future demand influx. Purchasing managers are well-versed in the ability to convert data into illustration figures, such as charts, tables, and spreadsheets, and are able to demonstrate this skill during meetings. They also know how to use a variety of computer programs to do so. They also could communicate with other department executives when necessary to discuss future decisions, or purchase plans and might need to communicate needs and concepts in order for them to completely understand what is being discussed.

3. Forecasting skills

Purchasing managers need to be able to make strategic and accurate purchasing decisions which means that they need adequate purchase forecasting skills. As marketing forecasts forecast which items the company may need in the future, it is critical for a procurement department to have these forecasting skills. When it comes to deciding about when to invest in a particular good, it's important to know the current state of the economy and how the company is faring. If you understand how the general economic climate for that type of good is going, you'll be able to make informed decisions about when or if you should buy it. If, for example, your department has a surplus of capital and you need to purchase more supplies in advance, it might be worthwhile to buy in bulk.

4. Relationship management skills

Being good at relationship management is important for purchasing managers because they often must interact with many people in their daily duties. They may communicate with staff to gain feedback regarding previous purchases, or they can communicate with managers or executives to illustrate the latest needs or plans. Understanding how to best manage and communicate in relationships can not only help improve efficiency within the department but can also allow the person to be a more valuable team member. Being able to manage relationships with external resources and suppliers is yet another way that they maintain this skill. Successfully working with existing clients and finding new ones that are a good fit can help them to avoid the outside issues and resource problems that can arise.

5. Negotiation skills

While trade negotiation has been a skill area where organizations have not been afraid to invest, purchasers will need to revaluate their approach to training since they look forward to the future. The traditional focus has been on the “fairness” of deals, but many static deals often get out of balance to a point where the deal is no longer considered fair by one or both parties. Organizations will need to create more flexible contracting frameworks for more strategic partnerships. These frameworks should allow for both short-term and long-term partnerships and should be tailored to the specific needs of the company.

6. Business goal alignment skills

It is important for a company to align their goals with the right ways to manage a department or business to stay competitive. Many purchasing managers are skilled at assessing and setting practical priorities that help to keep the company running smoothly. For example, if an organization is planning to expand its business within the next quarter, a purchasing manager may consider whether changing their material purchases would better serve their needs. They have proven to be indispensable when consulting with other experts in the field to help understand what is happening in the business and whether those actions align with company goals.

7. Strategic skills

Strategic skills can help them understand how to buy goods that are good for the department and align with its goals. They may also assess both the current economy and material prices to make purchases that are in the best interests of their respective departments. Purchasing managers who are responsible for procurement are also cognizant of the benefits of obtaining orders in advance so that departments can prepare for events like external audits or board visits, by ordering appropriate quantities of stock and ensuring that all necessary information is included. While purchasing managers are responsible for handling the day-to-day needs such as broken machines or a need for resources, they also could manage purchases that require some extra attention to detail. For example, this could mean purchasing equipment with multiple options and reviews or considering items in a specific budget range.

8. Financial skills

Keeping up with the supply needs for one or more departments daily will not only help a purchasing manager stay organized and focused, but also help them apply their financial skills when it comes to budgeting. They may create strategic ways to use finances for their purchasing needs that work well for the company, while simultaneously offering solutions that are tailored to the individual needs of the business. Seeking alternative suppliers, discounts and buying surplus material are some of the more popular ways to reduce costs. Purchasing managers ensure the optimal use of a given departmental budget by ensuring that only materials of which there is an immediate need or price advantage are being ordered, and that the departmental budget is being used as efficiently as possible.

9. Global marketing skills

Depending on the company's requirements, purchasing managers may require a varying degree of marketing knowledge to fulfil their needs. This will require different skill sets depending on the department. Even if the department doesn't need global marketing plans, purchasing managers can still be interested in building something like one. It can be important to make innovative relationships with suppliers from around the world because they'll help us find new products or better ways of doing certain tasks. Being able to speak with international suppliers on a different level can really be the key to a successful partnership. Features such as language localization and culture awareness, can both go a long way in building trust wholesale fashion supplier from China and may create additional opportunities along the way.

10. Sustainability skills

Purchasing managers are responsible for using sustainability skills to determine what materials will be reused in the department that produce goods or test products. As an example, let us say that a certain department needs to produce and test a certain quota of items each month. The purchasing manager would ensure that enough materials are on hand for the department to succeed. Purchasing managers may create surplus orders for materials to prepare for a higher demand than they have anticipated. Particularly if they are expecting the demand will be higher by the end of a period. These businesses employ a unique sustainability management strategy that relies on their current surplus amounts to determine when it is time to purchase new goods. This ensures that the business is never left without necessary goods, but at the same time, it helps them reduce costs.

11. Innovative skills

Though they might not be involved in development of new technology or new ways to produce goods, purchasing managers can be innovation thinkers and help companies innovate in supplier developments and product innovations. Individuals who possess a high level of innovation skills can keep up to date with the developments of suppliers and follow any events that may affect their department's future purchases. For example, if a new product causes the price of a material to lower, supply chain managers may be notified immediately and purchase inventory as soon as possible. Purchasing managers must be innovative in their decision-making process when it comes to making both large and small purchases, to ensure that they are getting the most value for their company's money while also evaluating the overall performance of their stock.

12. Leadership skills

A competent leader has a wide range of skills that include the ability to interact effectively with stakeholders, manage daily activities, and to create effective plans. These skills can help a purchasing manager get the most from their team and achieve results in purchasing. It is important for purchasing managers to understand the scope of their work and the number of departments they are responsible for to effectively train new hires and assign departmental duties. Depending on the number of departments that a purchasing manager manages, they can expect to also have additional responsibilities such as assigning duties within their team, training new hires, and making sure that any company-wide directives are being carried out. They also help with cross-functional training for all positions in their procurement department and have been found to be responsible for job rotation and mentoring roles within their team. Since the head of procurement oversees handling all material purchases, they often lead the process that determines the resources that are allocated to a company's departments.

13. Risk management skills

It is a common practice for purchasing managers to have some understanding of the risks that may be present within their department. Those who can effectively assess possible risk-related situations, predict where they may occur, and manage them as they happen are often able to avoid many potential hazards before they can affect the organization. They may manage risk exposure by choosing company-aligned clients that are in line with the investment strategy, tracking investments across various markets, understanding pricing, and evaluating digital risks before deciding to invest. Purchasing managers also understand that risk management skills are important to have because they can help with decision-making processes and develop a functional workplace while simultaneously minimizing the chance that any stakeholders will be negatively impacted by their decisions. Maintaining a focus on staying up to date with the latest changes in policy and evaluating current risk management practices can help ensure that they are able to improve their policies and strategies.

14. Time management skills

Purchasing managers are often experts in time management, and they make a habit of implementing efficient processes that get everyone on the same page. For example, by assigning schedules for one department to work with other departments, based on the department's needs and requirements. Purchasers may also monitor the time it takes for purchased materials to arrive at various locations, which is especially helpful if the purchased materials are required in production departments.

15. Project management skills

Purchasing managers are often tasked with coordinating the work of different departments and managing the processes by which a project or initiative is formulated and executed. This means that having project management skills is necessary to be able to monitor and coordinate a project. They may allocate additional funds for project needs or compensate for project necessities to ensure that timeframes are met. If a purchaser manages multiple departments at once, they may also need to organise purchasing affairs for multiple projects and strategies budgeting requirements which will ultimately result in an increased efficiency and allow them to grow the business with the ongoing support of their staff.

16. Decisive skills

To make the right choice for your business or department, it is important to understand how to be decisive. By using these three ways which are based on the type of decision you are making, you will be able to make quicker and better choices with confidence. The decision-making capabilities of these tools may be used to renew a purchase, decide on the amount to renew, and whether to continue with the same supplier, all without any input from a human. Best of all, they know how to make decisions based on what is best for the department, while still considering the best interests of clients, suppliers, and stakeholders. They are also capable of acquiring new partners to ensure that we have everything we need to reach our goals.

17. Key performance indicators analysing skills

We can see that, as a Purchasing Manager, they will be aware of what Key Performance Indicators are key to their department and how they are performing. Although they share similarities to quotas in certain areas, KPIs work a little differently by typically being applied to more immaterial objects. For example, when a KPI is used for files, it could be a certain number of processed files or completed tasks. They can also be applied to intangible aspects of the job too such as customer satisfaction or attendance. Understanding a department's key performance indicator can help a purchasing manager learn about their favourite department's business tendencies and prepare for their developments. For example, if a department produces 60,000 units per week, buying managers typically plan on purchasing more than that number of materials in a week. However, if there is a significant drop in production every other quarter, an experienced buyer may take note and purchase less every other quarter, which can help to save the company money.

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