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What is a Purchasing Manager?

Also known as: Purchasing Supervisor, Manager of Purchasing.

A purchasing manager buys products for organizations to use or resell. They evaluate suppliers, negotiate contracts, review product quality, and often supervise purchasing agents and buyers. In smaller companies, the purchasing manager may also act as the agent or buyer.

What does a Purchasing Manager do?

Purchasing managers typically do the following:

  • Evaluate suppliers based on price, quality, and delivery speed
  • Interview vendors and visit suppliers' plants and distribution centers to examine and learn about products, services, and prices
  • Attend meetings, trade shows, and conferences to learn about new industry trends and make contacts with suppliers
  • Analyze price proposals, financial reports, and other information to determine reasonable prices
  • Negotiate contracts on behalf of their organization
  • Work out policies with suppliers, such as when products will be delivered
  • Meet with staff and vendors to discuss defective or unacceptable goods or services and determine corrective action
  • Evaluate and monitor contracts to be sure that vendors and supplies comply with the terms and conditions of the contract and to determine need for changes
  • Maintain and review records of items bought, costs, deliveries, product performance, and inventories

Purchasing managers buy products, durable and nondurable goods, and services for organizations and institutions. They try to get the best deal for their organization - the highest quality goods and services at the lowest cost. They do this by studying sales records and inventory levels of current stock, identifying foreign and domestic suppliers, and keeping up to date with changes affecting both the supply of, and demand for, products and materials. They consider price, quality, availability, reliability, and technical support when choosing suppliers and merchandise. To be effective, they must have a working technical knowledge of the goods or services to be bought.

Evaluating suppliers is one of the most critical functions of a purchasing manager. Many organizations now run on a lean manufacturing schedule and use just-in-time inventories, so any delays in the supply chain can shut down production and potentially cost the organization customers.

Purchasing managers use many resources to find out all they can about potential suppliers. They attend meetings, trade shows, and conferences to learn about new industry trends and make contacts with suppliers. They often interview prospective suppliers and visit their plants and distribution centres to assess their capabilities. For example, they may discuss the design of products with design engineers, quality concerns with production supervisors, or shipping issues with managers in the receiving department. They must make certain that the supplier can deliver the desired goods or services on time, in the correct quantities, and without sacrificing quality.

Once purchasing managers have gathered enough information on the various suppliers, they sign contracts only with the suppliers who meet the organization's needs, and they place orders. Buyers who purchase items to resell to customers largely determine which products their organization will sell. They need to be able to predict what will appeal to their customers. If they are wrong, they could jeopardize the profits and reputation of their organization.

What is the workplace of a Purchasing Manager like?

Most purchasing managers work in comfortable offices. Travel is sometimes necessary to visit vendors, and purchasers for global organizations may need to travel outside the country.

How can I become a Purchasing Manager?

Large stores and distributors prefer applicants who have completed a bachelor's degree program and have taken some business or accounting classes. Many manufacturing firms put an even greater emphasis on formal training, preferring applicants who have a bachelor's or master's degree in engineering, business, economics, or one of the applied sciences.

A master's degree may be required for advancement to some top-level purchasing manager jobs. Purchasing managers typically must have at least five years of experience as a buyer or purchasing agent. At the top levels, purchasing manager duties may overlap with other management functions, such as production, planning, logistics, and marketing.



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Further Reading

  • Purchasing Managers: Shop Talk

    Purchasing managers juggle a To-Do list of stressful, business-critical tasks—from striking the best deals to projecting demand to staying abreast of financial and political changes worldwide. Listen in as four purchasing managers chat about challenges and shoot the breeze on strategy.

  • Salary For Purchasing Managers

    Purchasing managers are responsible for directing, coordinating, planning and overseeing the activities and tasks completed by purchasing officers, buyers and other related workers.

  • What Are The Duties Of A Procurement Officer?

    The demand for the services of purchasing managers has increased. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for these professionals are projected to increase by 7 percent between 2010 and 2020.

  • What Are The Functions Of A Purchasing Manager?

    If you plan to work in the capacity of a purchasing manager, whether it's for your own company or another business, you should get a complete idea of what the position entails. Purchasing managers are key employees at just about any company that need to use tangible tools and supplies in the course of business.

  • Purchasing Managers: Minding Everyone's Business

    As key players in the supply chain, purchasing managers have to think about innovation, growth, and cost-savings in all aspects of the company's business.

  • What Is A Purchasing Manager?

    In most organizations, the purchasing manager is the primary individual responsible for buying materials, parts, supplies, products and services necessary to manufacture a specific product or sell an item produced by the parent company or subsidiary.

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