7 Must Have Procurement Manager Skills That Employers Want
At the vanguard of our global supply chain workforce are the diligent procurement operators who grease the wheels of trade, keeping product moving, suppliers in demand and customers happy.
Procurement managers are often the employees on whose shoulders the vast majority of the stress and strain of supply chain management falls.
They have to be competitively minded; natural negotiators; team players and relationship builders, who have a solid command of finance and a natural predilection to strategic compromise to make a deal.
Not everyone can be a procurement manager, despite the overwhelming shortage of critical senior leaders within supply chain networks, and the often above-average pay within logistics.
So what sort of skills do procurement managers need to become successful in the role?
Qualification and certifications
- Educated to degree level in any of the following subjects: business, business management, economics, engineering, purchasing and logistics, marketing, or supply chain management.
- Receiving certifications from accredited procurement certification bodies, such as the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), or the Association of Supply Chain Management is considered an industry must at senior-level.
- Non-degree-related pathways into senior procurement roles generally come through internships or via a career in buying, supply chain administration, or working in shipping and despatch.
But becoming a procurement manager is more than getting qualifications. Here are 7 key skills employers want from their procurement managers:
Relationship management and curation
For all the strategic oversight and supply chain knowledge procurement managers have, at the core of the role is the ability to build meaningful relationships with stakeholders across any procurement ecosystem.
Whether you’re working exclusively B2B or your remit covers consumer-facing supply chains, relationship management sits central to your ability to build loyalty and trust. Critically, good relationship management is only guaranteed when procurement leaders have complete and unwavering control of in-demand soft skills such as communication and empathic leadership – both skills of which are in very high demand across the disrupted procurement sectors.
Procurement managers have to be natural negotiators – able to compromise or push more favourable purchasing deals, on a case-by-case basis.
Flexibility, confidence, natural rapport -building and a complete understanding of costs and procurement budgeting are essential if any negotiation is to have favourable outcomes. Procurement managers need also to be willing to impart negotiating tactics and training across any purchasing department to create consistency in negotiating outcomes and target hitting.
Attention to detail
From an obsession with bottom-line procurement KPIs to being able to analyse the effectiveness of purchasing channels and budget allocation, procurement managers need to be detail-focused and hyper-aware of every detail of any procurement chain or lifecycle.
Analytical skills also help across a whole range of procurement managerial responsibilities, such as reporting, supply management, risk management, tender negotiation, contract detailing and forecasting.
Procurement managers need to create the right sort of trading environment and supply chain relationships that guarantee team and stakeholder buy-in, but a true measure of a procurement manager’s success is on results – profit-based, service-based and personnel-based results.
From supply liaison through to staff management, results need to be one of the key metrics by which entire workflows are judged. Not only do procurement managers need to set the right sort of organisational and staff-oriented results and targets to guarantee smooth business operations, but they also need to display an unwavering commitment to supply chain control day-in, day-out in the workplace and within leadership methodology.
Confidence in strategic oversight
Procurement managers need to be strategically driven – this means they need to have a confident understanding of industry trends and insights, supply chain bottlenecks and potential supply chain risks, competition, market placement and profitability.
In short, strategic procurement management means combining an adroit command of any industry’s particulars with a grounded, realistic management function. They need to provide context-led oversight, consistently, across the entire procurement department of any enterprise.
Procurement isn’t all target hitting and supply chain ownership – it’s also understanding the nuances of supplier management and the art of compromise.
And whilst this may be similar in form to negotiation skills, on the other side of the procurement coin – away from the business-centric back-and-forth of supplier negotiation, diplomacy is the driving force behind tactful stakeholder management: making sure every person in the wider procurement ecosystem is cognisant of supplier goals and processes and understands the means and methods by which tactful trade is done.
Finally, procurement managers have to be diligent budget custodians: from basic numerical analytical skills to setting procurement targets to supply chain auditing and profit analysis, procurement is more than simply building bridges between recipient and supplier – it’s about creating cultures of sustainable financial decision making.
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