5 Tips for purchasing managers to excel at work

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 and services, purchasing managers spend their time negotiating with vendors and suppliers to get the most value for their organization. They are responsible for nurturing relationships with suppliers, forecasting price trends, and training and managing their teams, among other things.

No matter how good of a purchasing manager you are, there is always room for growth. Let’s take a look at five ways you can take your procurement and managerial skills to the next level.

1. Use innovative procurement tools and platforms

There’s no shortage of tech solutions on the market that all promise to make purchasing management easier. 

The right combination of mobile technology and collaboration capabilities, for example, 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, it’s probably time to switch to a modern purchasing system. This is particularly true 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, but you’ll also be able to generate more data. You can then leverage the data to drive better purchasing management, improve decision-making and negotiate pricing with vendors.

2. Periodically review vendors

As a purchasing manager, one of your major responsibilities is negotiating the best deals that add the most value to your organization. To do this effectively, 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 still benefit by switching to a new vendor. Review your options at least once a quarter and don’t be afraid to make some changes. 

Digital procurement tools further streamline vendor consolidation, a strategy that can significantly reduce costs and drive saving opportunities. By reducing the number of vendors you purchase from, you gain a greater opportunity to qualify for volume discounts and reduced shipping costs. Fewer vendors also mean less administration, which frees up your time to focus on the vendor relationships that deliver the best value.

3. Develop strong relationships with your vendors

The better your  relationships are with all the stakeholders you work with—suppliers and vendors in particular—the more effective you will be in your purchasing manager role.

So sharpen your vendor management skills. Keep them informed about your organization’s processes and objectives. Make timely vendor payments and create detailed agreements to guide them in their duties. Schedule time with them to express any concerns you have and listen to theirs. The more mutual trust and loyalty you and your vendor have for one another, the easier your purchasing manager role will be.

An added bonus of having great relationships with vendors is that they will be more likely to offer you better pricing, free delivery, or priority supply. When new technologies or products come to market, they will advise you on your options and recommend the best path forward. 

Another thing to keep top of mind as a purchasing manager, you’re measured on the business returns and savings you can yield from optimized procurement processes and vendor relationships. Level up your procurement game with digital tools that give you the visibility, reporting capabilities and data to support pricing negotiations. By leveraging this data, you’re in a better position to renegotiate contracts and qualify for more favorable purchasing terms. You can enhance these relationships even further by ensuring that purchasing only occurs with these high-performing vendors under contract.

4. Collaborate with your team and fast-track processes

In today’s remote work reality, collaboration between teams is more critical than ever. Having a procurement system or digital tool in place to facilitate this process can empower your team to achieve their cost-saving KPIs, helping support you as their purchasing manager. 

Rely on technology to fast-track and automate procurement workflows. You can be certain that all stakeholders are notified when action is required, delegation of authority is enforced, and tasks are completed timeously to ensure that all saving opportunities are captured. 

5. Promote and empower your top performers to keep them engaged

Today’s workers care a great deal about their company’s technology stack. According to the recent Adobe Workfront’s State of Work 2021 report, 49% of US workers said they are "likely to leave their current job if they're unhappy or frustrated with the technology they use at work." 

Improve morale by simplifying day-to-day processes and empowering staff. Deploy productivity-enhancing digital tools that reduce repetition and complexity, save time and empower teams to achieve better results. 

As a result, your procurement team becomes more effective because it’ll be staffed with motivated and empowered workers. Solution adoption drives ROI because your team will be more proficient using your procurement systems and internal processes. They'll be able to extract data insights from these systems, to make decisions that provide business value.  

Improve retention by providing an effective technology stack and ample employment opportunities. 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, but it’s usually cheaper to promote an internal candidate than to recruit externally.

Once your employees notice that their colleagues are getting promoted, they’ll be inspired to work hard to increase their chances of being offered the next senior-level position that opens up.

Become a better purchasing manager. Achieve profitable procurement outcomes.

The higher caliber of a purchasing manager you can become, the more motivated and impactful your team will be. And with a strong team equipped with the right tools and committed to your vision, you can all focus on achieving shared goals: excelling in your purchasing roles, advancing in your careers and taking your organization’s procurement to the next level.

When procurement achieves or surpasses its goals, the entire business wins as the results impact profitability.

Curious to learn about a game-changing feature many successful purchasing managers take advantage of to excel in their roles? Read our blog on the key benefits of approval workflow automation.

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