When you work as part of a procurement team it is important that everyone works together and is unified in their approach toward company goals. This is true with a team of 2 all the way up to a team in the 10s or beyond. When you work by yourself you obviously understand your notations, reminders, and all aspects of your job because you are approaching everything from your point of reference and training. The challenges come when you have two or more people working together from different backgrounds, different educations, and different workplace experiences. Certifications across your team can help bring an improved level of unification which in turns increases efficiency and send productivity soaring!
One area of inefficiency is the use of different terms. Some terms used in the purchasing and procurement profession include supplier, vendor, cost avoidance, supply management, sourcing, purchasing, spend management etc. As you read those terms certain images popped into your mind and triggered thoughts of other terms. Are they the same thing your coworker thought when reading them? Some are probably the same, but others will be different. There are times we utilize the same terminology interchangeably for different meanings. In fact, at times different organizations interpret these terms differently. There are also times a completely different term is used to describe the same end goal.
However, if the same team uses different terminology for the same thing, it will become difficult for them to work together as a team on a common goal. If the team members do not agree on the use and meaning of the same terms it lead to confusion and inefficiency. The purchasing manager is responsible ensuring that there is coordination between the team members and they can conveniently work as a team. One aspect of that is proper communication. Purchasing managers and teams that pursue procurement certifications learn and adapt to using standardized terminology. This will help the team members work together, minimize confusion, and improve efficiency overall. The entire atmosphere and work environment changes when all members are certified and the approach of the team is unified.
When all team members have certifications, are speaking the same terminology, and exercising increased efficiency the leader has a much easier time working to motivate the members to contribute their best for the team and have team spirit. Their passion to contribute towards the team can help the procurement department give their best and increase the return on investment. In order to keep them motivated, the leader has to make sure that the members are confident of what they are doing.
All of this is made possible through certification. If the team is certified, the success of the organization is much more likely to follow. A certified team has the tools necessary to work together and complete projects successfully. The individual members of the team will feel confident about themselves and the team will function better in the long run. Having the procurement team certified is very helpful in making the team members stronger and self-confident which in turn benefits the organization.
Mid and top level management have varying degrees of appreciation for the job done my purchasing managers and their team. Some are very involved and some give a lot of latitude. Some have high expectations and understand the import role this department plays in the overall financial health of the company and others don’t give it a second thought. As you can see, there are positive, neutral, and negative interactions between management and the procurement team. It is important for your management team to understand the true potential of your procurement team. One way to enhance a good relationship or improve a less than stellar one is to seek procurement certifications as a purchasing manager and pave the way for your entire team to do so as well. Procurement certification will help improve your standing with management.
A common obstacle to seeking certifications is the thought that you would not learn anything after having worked a number of years in the procurement field. If that is the justification for overlooking or avoiding certification then you fail to understand the full picture. A third party standard of excellence is represented by the procurement certificate acting as proof of sorts to show their experience and level of excellence.
Think about the last time you visited the doctor. Most doctors have their wall covered in awards and recognitions. If the doctor only displays their degree, but has no additional certifications to display their level of influence within their profession and with their patients will be greatly diminished. In the same way, if procurement certification is missing, the claim of excellence will be subjective. In such a situation, you will not have tangible evidence of your commitment to pursuing excellence that management likes to see. It’s no longer enough to promise excellence, you have to show you are committed.
If you really want to show your management team that you are serious about your job and the services you provide take a serious look at certification. Procurement certification paired with years of experience will make you more valuable. You will have more value to your company, more value to your team, and more value to your co-workers across other departments and of course, management.
Some additional benefits include positioning yourself to seek a raise during your next review or possibly ahead of that schedule. It can also serve as insurance and protection from a couple of different angles. One is protection during tough times that may necessitate layoffs. Looking at two employees with similar experience and similar education, having additional certifications will set you apart from others. Certification can also serve as insurance in the event that you are laid off or your company goes out of business, or for whatever reason you find yourself relieved of your job. You will be interviewing and competing with other job candidates who may have similar or better education and experience. Additional certifications will insure you remain competitive in the job market.
As you can see, procurement certification has many advantages with improved standing with management both within your own company and expanding to other companies should the need arise that you search out new career options.
In Part 1 we looked at your improved standing among industry peers when pursuing professional purchasing certifications. Today we continue by moving the circle inward a bit to how this relates to your standing among the vendors and other suppliers with whom you conduct business. These are companies and people that you have ongoing relationships with where certifications can make both a direct and indirect impact with these third party suppliers and vendors.
Negotiation between the purchasing manager and the suppliers can be tricky The amount saved and terms agreed upon depend in part upon the skills of you and your procurement team. These skills can be developed through certification and continued education after you are on the job. Then there is also an indirect benefit when different expectations are set forth because the supplier knows you are certified and this provides for greater respect.
Certification breeds mutual respect and with that the entire process can change from one of negotiation and trying to get the best deal for yourself to one of collaboration with the suppliers. Collaboration with the suppliers can not only help you to save money for your company in the most obvious ways, but there are many intangible benefits like receiving top priority, more responsiveness, and extra favors when you need an order at the last minute or adjustments made when forecasts change. Things that are “not allowed” can suddenly find workarounds when you have a spirit of working together.
Collaboration is not something that just happens because it is a good idea. A relationship must be cultivated and developed. In order to propose the collaboration with the supplier the purchasing manager must demonstrate competency and professionalism in addition to a genuine, unselfish desire to the other person helped. At some point, decision-makers for both are brought into the picture and formal or informal agreements are reached for working together. Certifications help support the idea of collaboration. The procurement leader or representative with certification tends to get more respect than the one who is not certified.
In our increasingly global economy certifications become another tool to bringing your company on part with your competition. The competition is growing internationally and if your competition has taken the time and effort to become certified while you have not, this could put you at a disadvantage in the marketplace. While there isn’t a global certification that is recognized around the world, certifications will enhance your company’s resume. With stiff international competition, this is one area you won’t want to overlook.
As you can see, purchasing certification gives you a slight advantage with improved standing with vendors. Direct and indirect benefits will make you more competitive dealing with international or local suppliers and vendors.
In this 6-part series we will be looking at several aspects of procurement certification including advantages both inside and outside your company and some online certifications you may want to consider. Let’s start outside with industry peers and work our way inside going through vendors, management, and your department. So today we’ll discuss how procurement certification can improve your standing with your peers in the industry.
Each professional person has to work very hard on their personal brand. Professionals strive set a benchmark of accomplishments so that their hard work is recognized not only within their company, but with industry peers as well. Procurement leaders and managers have had impressive cover stories in major publications and have been recognized in the industry for their accomplishments and the efforts they have put in to achieve their goals.
Due to the profit generating potential of added certifications for procurement leaders, certification itself has garnered the attention of various business publications who seek to highlight leaders who were successful in leading their teams to reach their goals. Industry recognition also leads to gaining trust of industry peers. This in turn can lead to increased collaboration and sharing of innovative ideas that can benefit all involved no matter what company or companies are represented by his or her counter-parts.
If you are a purchasing manager, executing strong leadership and moving to get certification for the whole team is a huge achievement that helps to build a very strong personal brand and your standing within the industry. The collective capabilities of the purchasing department are increased if they are certified. Your leadership will be highlighted as your team excels in every area as they operate at a higher level due to the additional training and certification of each member individually.
You may be completely satisfied and loyal to where you are today, but there may come a time when either by choice or circumstances beyond your control that you find yourself seeking new opportunities. How you are viewed by your peers can help in that situation. They can serve as references who vouch for your standing in the industry, recommend other employment options that become available, and may even recruit you to lateral positions, but ones that have increased upward mobility.
Getting certifications for yourself and your team has tremendous benefit within the industry and among your peers. Make sure you check out all 6-parts in the coming weeks.
No matter what industry you find yourself working and competing in, there will be talk of best practices, standards of which you strive to meet and exceed. Are they just rules? Well, yes and no. Like the sign in this picture, you can choose to ignore best practices, but you not be happy with the consequences. Typically you see articles written specifically for your industry: Manufacturing Best Practices, Service Industry Best Practices, or Purchasing Best Practices. The reality is that the best practices across all industries are actually quite similar, therefore the best practices used in one industry can applied to the other one as well. In recent times, the worldwide economy has been less than ideal and companies are changing and evolving to survive. But it is also important not to loose that striving for success and operating at the top of your game; that is why it is important that best industry practices are followed for better results. Let’s touch on a few best practices in their general terms that would apply to manufacturing, service, and purchasing industries.
Smart purchase decisions
Buying products is never an easy task and requires a lot of understanding as well as knowledge. In order to make the right purchasing decisions it is very important that the individual has the right training. No matter whether you purchase products for the service industry or the manufacturing industry, one should be familiar with the purchase trends only then you will be able to take the right decision. Some of this you can do on your own through online searches and subscriptions pertaining to your industry. You will also need to seek out professional training and possibly certifications that will give you the tools and skills to really excel in this area.
In order to achieve better results, it is important for the professionals to establish strong relationships. When dealing with the suppliers and the vendors, don’t forget they are people. It isn’t just about the bottom line and company x, y, z. It’s about John, Steven, Mary, and Christine… or whomever it is that you work with. Build a strong bond and relationship with the people behind the business and you will see big benefits for your business as well. So whatever industry, whatever interaction you have with other people both within your own company and with 3rd parties, it is necessary to adopt the best practices which are useful in achieving your objectives.
It is not enough to just set goals, you have to go a step further and be sure to monitor the performance of those goals so that you can make any adjustments necessary to stay in line with best practices for your industry. Purchasing software makes the monitoring of cash flow activities much easier and efficient. The software will automatically track all the pertinent data and regardless of what specific items, products, raw materials or services that are being tracked and monitored, you can look at your individual goals and best practices that are important for your industry and evaluate the performance utilizing the data collected from your purchasing software. Software, like Bellwether’s ePMX:, will also allow you to run detailed reports with the click of a button making data collection, analysis, and evaluation all very simple.
Purchasing managers wear several different hats. Typically, the larger the company the more specialized they are in their job duties and responsibilities and the smaller the company the more all-encompassing their duties.
Purchasing managers not only place orders with suppliers and vendors but they also make efforts to build a strong relationship with the people behind the companies they deal with. A good relationship is very helpful in taking their business to a new level and part of that hinges on a command of their own responsibilities.It is also important that the purchasing managers remain balanced and not get lax in an attempt to better a relationship with one of the vendors because even a sight mistake can result in huge losses.
The purchasing and procurement job is quite challenging and each day can present new challenges and new people to deal with. Excellent communication is one of the core requirements for success in this position. Though there are many variations and nuances within the purchasing manager position
Here are four responsibilities that are considered an essential part of the job:
The purchasing manager needs to handle the management of the various resources and coordinate them properly. In the field of management they oversee the decisions related to scheduling the meetings of the suppliers and the vendors. It is their duty to ensure that the stock is always in surplus and the keep a check on the market trends as well. The management duties are not just restricted to coordination but evaluation and monitoring the different departments so that they can run efficiently. It may also involve managing other people within the purchasing department.
The procurement duties are related to the inventory stock of the company, ensuring that all the products are available and ready in a timely manner. The purchasing manager has to prepare the list of the products and coordinate with the vendors so that a consistent and regular supply flow is maintained. Having too much stock on hand can be problematic at tax time and tie up resources that would be better served elsewhere throughout the year. Having too little can cause delays and impact profits. It’s a constant balancing act that should be fine-tuned and constantly working to make better and better.
Contract management is one of the important tasks which are accomplished by the purchasing managers. While dealing with the suppliers and vendors, the managers have to negotiate, prepare and execute contracts. Some will be for one-time only purchases and other contracts are for extended periods of time and set up regular order intervals or pricing structures. Some companies may have access to attorney’s while smaller companies may rely on the purchasing manager to review and approve purchasing contracts.
The analytical duties focus on the changing demands of the people and how to bring about upgrades, advancements, and updates based on the data being analyzed. The purchasing managers have to be familiar with the market trend and possess the desired knowledge to take the right decision. It could also involve running reports, finding problems, or creating better processes to become more efficient.
The purchasing manager position is in high demand and all indications are that this will continue for some time. The companies that deal with the suppliers need purchasing managers as they have to coordinate with them and accomplish the acquisition of various products or services to service customers. The roles and responsibilities of a purchasing manager revolve around the supply chain management and therefore it is very important that they efficiently perform the duties. They need to negotiate costs as well so that the best quality products can be purchased at the most optimum prices. Let us have a closer look at their responsibilities, qualifications, and career outlook.
Roles and responsibilities
The purchasing manager has to accomplish a number of tasks that include dealing with the suppliers and the vendors. They need to regularly monitor supply levels so that the stock is ordered and received on time. It is their responsibility to stay up-to-date with the current market trends to introduce a fresh range of products keeping in mind the demands of the people and the goals of the company they represent. They prepare a plan, execute it and ensure that everything runs smoothly. The vendor performance is also evaluated by them to ensure that all the transactions take place on time. Managers must be knowledgeable to perform all the duties to the best of their efforts.
The minimum qualification to become a purchasing manager is a bachelor’s degree in the field of Supply Chain Management. You need to excel in your communication; you must know how to talk to people and deal with them. If you have a little experience, it will be an added advantage and will help you to move one step ahead in your career. To move to higher positions, it is necessary that you gain quite a bit of experience and go on to attain your master’s degree as well.
Compared to other professional careers, the job outlook for purchasing managers looks more favorable than the national average. Projections show that by 2020 industry jobs will see at least 7 percent growth. Despite the advance in technology and purchasing software there still needs to be a person on the other end of this to set up rules, monitor usage, evaluate reports, and look for new avenues of cutting costs. There is no doubt that this industry is highly favorable and with hard work, proper goals, and professional degrees there is plenty of upward mobility for a better future.
Purchasing manager, agents and buyers are not the same because their roles as well as the responsibilities are different from one another. Let us have a look at these different profiles and find out more about them. This is not an exhaustive or comprehensive study of these positions, but a general overview of these positions.
Purchasing managers are very important for an organization and their job duties consist of much more than simply submitting an order for ink refills and paper for the copier. In many businesses they have to utilize data history to forecast the demand of the different products and make sure that its supply is maintained and readily available to various departments within the company. They must also keep an eye on the latest market trends and employ various strategies to acquire the right products, supplies, and services in the most economical and efficient way possible. The purchasing manager has to deal with the suppliers, vendors and manufacturers to coordinate with them. They may even have some interaction and build relationships with the company’s end users and customers to help gain knowledge to excel in their position. The managers are responsible for bidding, processing payments, preparing reports, attending meetings, supervision, and negotiating. With the right combination of education, experience, and certifications, the options for professional and career growth are tremendous.
The roles and responsibilities of a purchasing agent are quite different from that of a purchasing manager. The agents need to handle the work related to the process of the payment, forwarding the receipts and ensuring that the end customers are satisfied. They prepare the list of inventory items, verify it and schedule the delivery as well. They maintain record of all the purchases made by the customers and work with the suppliers to keep a continuous flow of the stock. In order to become a purchasing agent you need to be knowledgeable and familiar with computers. There is also room for grown and upward mobility in this position as well.
The job profile of a buyer may not be as broad as a purchasing manager or agent, but it is still challenging. The buyer needs to look for the best suppliers who can provide them the right products. In many ways, it is more specialized and focused on one main task as opposed to the variety of responsibilities outlined by a purchasing manager. They need to schedule meetings with the suppliers, stay up-to-date with the latest trends and constantly be on the search for the best selection of products. All this is possible only when you have knowledge and that is why the individuals must always be working to educate and grow. This continual effort to better themselves will increase their chances of becoming a successful buyer as well. When it comes to the salary, the starting salary may be lower than the others but the experience required to enter the field are not as extensive and this will help propel you to other buyer positions or other positions within the purchasing industry.