What is a Purchasing Manager?

purchasing managerA purchasing manager is a key member of every large company’s upper management team. Managers of purchasing oversee their department’s operational, financial and human resource needs. Below explains what a manager of purchasing is and how to become one.

What are the Key Responsibilities?

A manager of purchasing is responsible for finding vendors, negotiating prices, maintaining documentation and managing inventory. They must evaluate vendors based on price flexibility, quality consistency and delivery speed. Therefore, they often interview suppliers and even visit their company or distribution center to establish a beneficial work relationship. They also attend trade shows in order to connect with suppliers and conferences in order to collaborate with other supply chain professionals. Managers of purchasing departments spend a lot of time negotiating prices and contracts with suppliers. As part of this, they must monitor supplier performance and discuss performance issues with suppliers. If necessary, they will terminate vendor contracts. Therefore, they must have excellent communication, analytical, decision-making and interpersonal skills.

Who Does the Manager of Purchasing Work With?

Managers of purchasing departments usually work for manufacturers or wholesale traders. If the company is big enough, they will oversee the purchasing department. They may even work under a purchasing director. Otherwise, they will work in accounting, administration or even maintenance departments. They may supervise internal buyers and purchasing agents. Managers of purchasing deal with a variety of vendors and suppliers every day.

Sample Job Description

A manager of purchasing will be expected to direct purchasing personnel, identify the best suppliers and leverage buying power through negotiations. They must continually analyze market and supplier information in order to maintain a competitive edge and secure the best prices. They must successfully manage the inventory system through applying the principles of Just-in-Time shipping. They must always seek to reduce costs, increase efficiency and ensure a smooth supply chain process flow.

What are the Education Requirements?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the educational requirements for a purchasing manager depend on the company. The standard educational requirement is a bachelor’s degree in the fields of business or accounting. However, depending on the industry, certain companies may require a master’s degree. For example, a health care products manufacturer may require the manager of purchasing to have a degree in engineering or health care. In addition to this, there are industry standard certifications for managers of purchasing.

A Typical Education Path

Many managers of purchasing departments have a bachelor’s degree in business specializing in purchasing or procurement. Students study the fundamentals of business administration, such as economics, accounting, management and business operations. However, they focus on studying logistics and supply chain management. They also learn operations, information system and business process management. Many managers of purchasing departments pursue higher education with a master’s in accounting, management or an MBA.

What Certifications are Available?

The Institute for Supply Management offers a Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) credential. The exam covers a wide range of purchasing duties and knowledge. The basic eligibility requirements include a bachelor’s degree and three years of supply chain management 9SCM) experience. However, those without a bachelor’s degree must have five years of SCM experience. Additionally, the American Purchasing Society (APS) offers two popular certifications: the Certified Purchasing Professional and Certified Professional Purchasing Manager.

Related Resource: Enterprise Systems Analyst

To review, a manager of purchasing is a supply chain professional that oversees pricing, procurement and other employees. Being a purchasing manager requires a sharp mind, attention to detail and strong organizational skills.