Procurement is the process of buying a product or service. Many businesses and government agencies use the terms “purchasing” or “acquisitions” when referring to procurement. The procurement process usually involves identifying product or service specifications, identifying suppliers, preparing solicitations and requests for proposals, evaluating bid and proposal responses, awarding contracts or purchase orders, tracking contract compliance and product delivery, and paying the supplier. Procurement managers need the necessary training to plan and coordinate these and other purchasing-related activities.
Education and Experience
Successful procurement managers have a certain level of education and work experience. Before becoming a manager, a bachelor’s or associate degree in acquisition and contract management is usually required, along with at least five years of work experience as a purchasing agent or buyer. In a degree program, students learn basic purchasing duties for entry into the profession. Work experience provides the opportunity to practice basic skills while developing advanced skills needed to become a manager.
Degree programs provide the path to entry-level purchasing careers. Whether a two-year or four-year program is chosen, curriculum covers the fundamentals in purchasing and acquisitions. These programs normally address standard purchasing practices, budgeting and pricing, cost and profit analysis, business practices and contracting. Most programs also cover federal acquisition rules (FAR), since many companies who hire procurement managers plan to do business with the federal government.
Contracts and Negotiating
Procurement managers focus on negotiating the best contract terms with suppliers. They must have the skills necessary to dissect the language and conditions of contracts, proposals and requisitions to ensure fair terms for both their company and the supplier. Training is advised on contract management and negotiating techniques, which covers contract structures, protocols and specifications.
Continuing education and skill development is important in every career choice. Procurement managers can further advance their careers with certifications recognized by industry professionals and employers. Certifications cover a range of purchasing duties and require purchasing managers to pass oral and written exams. Several well-known certifications include the Certified Professional Purchasing Manager (CPPM), the Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) and the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP).
Purchasing managers need analytical and judgment skills for evaluating contracts and suppliers in order to select the most favorable options. They must make timely and informed decisions. They need communication and listening skills to effectively exchange information with team members, so correct actions are taken in securing products or services. They also need interpersonal skills to motivate and direct employees' actions. Many training options are available to acquire these needed skills.
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