What skills are required to work in a procurement role?

Procurement professionals are skilled negotiators and analytical thinkers. It’s their job to make sure that their organisation is getting the best value for money.

Skills required to work in a procurement role

With procurement increasingly becoming a key area of the business, it’s a fantastic time to break into the profession - or advance your skills. Here we take a look at the key responsibilities and skills needed to excel in a procurement career.

What are the key responsibilities of most procurement professionals?

Procurement covers a range of roles from purchasing managers to bid specialists, buyers to procurement executives, and therefore a variety of responsibilities. Nevertheless, we have tried to narrow it down to a few of the key tasks:

  • Develop viable, cost-effective and strategic procurement strategies
  • Communicate the value of strategic sourcing and procurement to key stakeholders
  • Develop and maintain relationships with stakeholders
  • Work with key procurement software and systems
  • Evaluate existing procurement policies and procedures and update accordingly
  • Evaluate and select chosen suppliers using a set criteria such as quality, price, delivery and sustainability
  • Attend trade shows, interview vendors and visit supply plants/distribution centres
  • Manage contracts, including settling disputes and ensuring that a supplier meets expectations
  • Negotiating various contracts with vendors on quality, price and delivery
  • Analyse and complete financial reports and pricing proposals
  • Keep track of all goods and services ordered and received with a comprehensive inventory
  • Ensure responsible procurement practises are being met and comply with company objectives
  • Creation of purchase orders
  • Calculate all order costs and evaluate invoices for accuracy
  • Prepare and update reports, records and pricing lists
  • Work with other teams for cross-departmental work

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What are the main skills required to carry out each of these tasks?

As with responsibilities, the skills needed to carry out these tasks vary between roles. But key skills required by all procurement professionals are:

  • Great relationship management
  • Strong negotiation skills
  • Impeccable time-management
  • Strategic thinking
  • Ability to adapt to change
  • Understanding of risk management
  • Understanding of and ability to enhance sustainability
  • Understanding of the global market
  • Be familiar with the technology and systems
  • Good financial understanding
  • Ability to collaborate effectively
  • Ability to analyse key performance indicators (KPIs)

Many of the above skills can be learnt and are not always expected of entry-level staff.

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What personal qualities are desired to succeed in procurement?

Having a procurement mindset is often more important when applying for a first role and can help you stand out and excel once you’re in the profession. To be a high-performing procurement professional it helps to be:

  • Analytical
  • Strategic
  • Organised
  • Personable
  • Persuasive
  • Goal-orientated
  • Practical and logical
  • Hard-working
  • Eager to learn
  • Responsible
  • Independent

The above is not exhaustive with procurement professionals expected to carry out a large variety of tasks, especially within specialisms, with varying skills and personal attributes required for each. We hope to have given you a glimpse into whether a career in procurement is the right path for you. For more information and specific roles and responsibilities, search the Supply Management Jobs website for suitable roles and inspiration.

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