Purchasing managers play an integral role in the success or failure of the companies they work for. When they’re not forecasting anticipated demand for products, materials, and services, purchasing managers spend their time negotiating with vendors and suppliers to see whether they’re getting the most value for their organization. They are also responsible for nurturing relationships with suppliers, forecasting price trends, and training and managing their own teams, among other things.
No matter how good of a manager you are, there is always room for growth and honing your skills. After all, that’s what you expect of your employees. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five ways you can take your procurement and managerial skills to the next level.
1. Use innovative tools and platforms
There’s no shortage of tech solutions on the market that all promise to make work easier. The right combination of mobile technology and collaboration platforms, for example, can streamline your team’s communications considerably. Instead of having to track down employees or coworkers, you can use a collaboration tool to communicate with them both in real time and asynchronously from any connected device.
Similarly, if you’re still relying on Excel to handle your procurement needs, it’s probably time to switch to a more modern purchasing system—particularly if you feel like your current program is no longer powerful enough to handle your needs. Not only will deploying a new solution optimize your department, you’ll also be able to generate more data you can then leverage to make even better decisions.
2. Periodically shop and review vendors
As a purchasing manager, one of your major responsibilities is negotiating the best deals that add the most value to your organization. That being the case, you need to make it a habit to periodically review your existing supplier relationships and check out whether new vendors might be offering more competitive prices. Even if you have a great relationship with a certain supplier, you may benefit even further from switching to someone new. Review your options at least once a quarter. Don’t be afraid to make some changes.
3. Develop good relationships with all vendors
The better the relationships you develop with all stakeholders you work with—and suppliers and vendors in particular—the easier your job will be and the more effective you will be in your role.
Sharpen your people skills. Make eye contact when you talk. Be interested in what the people you’re speaking with have to say by practicing “active listening.” Schedule time to nurture relationships you develop. Be nice, friendly, and courteous. The better behaved you are, the stronger your relationships will be.
When you have great relationships with vendors, they are more likely to offer you better pricing. When new technologies or products come to market, they will advise you on what your options are and recommend the best path forward. Once you get to know your suppliers and vendors well, you can place more faith in their recommendations, which frees you up to focus on other pressing issues.
4. Communicate with your team early and often
According to a recent study, 46% of employees leave meetings without knowing what they’re supposed to do next. That’s not exactly the best use of time. It’s not the recipe for creating a team that’s truly effective, either.
Communicate with your team regularly and be transparent. You probably don’t have to clue them in to every small development that’s going on, but definitely do keep them in the loop with respect to any major news that will impact them such as implementing a new accounting or procurement system. The last thing you want is for your team to feel taken for granted by dumping major announcements on them at the last minute—or even later.
5. Promote your best workers to keep them engaged
Today’s workers care a great deal about professional development opportunities. In fact, a recent Gallup study revealed that 87% of millennials believe development is an important factor to consider when looking for a job.
When senior-level positions open up in your department, try to fill them with your own people. Not only do your employees deserve to be recognized for their hard work and determination, it’s usually cheaper to promote a candidate internally than it is to hire someone from the outside.
Once your employees notice that their colleagues are getting promoted, they’ll be inspired to work hard to increase the chances they’ll be offered the next senior-level position that opens up. As a result, your team becomes stronger and more effective because it’ll be staffed with knowledgeable workers. They will be more proficient using your procurement systems and process, be able to extract data and insights from those systems, and make decisions that will provide the company value.
It’s much easier to work for a great boss than someone who seems to drop the ball quite often. The higher caliber of a manager you can become, the more motivated your team will be. With a strong team equipped with the right tools and committed to your vision, you can all focus on achieving shared goals: advancing in your own careers and doing everything you can to take your organization to the next level.
That way, when procurement achieves or surpasses its goals, the entire team will be able to share in the big win.