Procurement and supply management involves sourcing and purchasing goods and services that an organisation needs to operate. As an integral part of the job, procurement professionals are responsible for negotiating and managing contracts with suppliers, as well as managing ongoing relationships with services providers. It’s a role that has become increasingly important in company strategy as procurement professionals have significant involvement with deals that can run into millions of pounds.
By negotiating even small reductions in these deals when buying supplies and services, the incumbent can make a real impact when it comes to reducing operating costs. In fact, these types of roles have become so important that procurement experts can now progress into senior boardroom jobs. As a result, these professionals are in high demand and salaries are good – in line with those found in marketing, IT and human resources.
Looking for a varied and diverse profession? Procurement might be for you.
Procurement mightn’t seem like a very exciting career, but it’s a diverse role that has a direct impact on organisational strategy and profitability and can even affect people’s lives. For example, a procurement expert working with a charitable organisation can make a real difference when it comes to getting the most from donations. Every extra purchase that can be squeezed from available funds could make a big difference to someone.
Consequently, those thinking of entering the profession need a diverse range of skills including good business sense, financial management, and excellent negotiating skills.
Qualifications for procurement jobs
Many people fall into procurement through another administrative role, dealing with suppliers, or some other aspect of the supply chain, so most (95% according to some statistics) don’t have any formal procurement qualifications. However, qualifications will improve your chances of success, especially if you’re just starting out.
In the UK, courses are run by the CIPS (Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply). Qualifications can be earned online, so you can continue to work a full-time job while studying.
There are five professional qualifications. The first is a Certificate in Procurement and Supply Operations (equivalent to a GCSE – an entry level qualification for school leavers). The next stage is the Advanced Certificate in Procurement and Supply Operations (equivalent to an A-level or NVQ3). The final three qualifications are Diploma in Procurement and Supply, Advanced Diploma in Procurement and Supply and Professional Diploma in Procurement and Supply.
Alternatively, a number of colleges and universities offer degrees in purchasing and supply management that are accredited by CIPS. Once you’ve completed a CIPS qualification, you then need to work in the field for three years in order to gain full membership.
Work in varied industry sectors
When it comes to securing procurement jobs, any relevant experience is useful, such as a financial background or a history of working in the supply chain. If you can demonstrate where you used negotiation skills to secure favourable terms for a previous employer, this will obviously give you an advantage.
While manufacturing, IT and finance are three areas commonly associated with procurement roles, specialist areas include catering and hospitality, as well as charities. In the public sector, government procurement offers opportunities, such as working in the tendering process for state projects.
However, many procurement professionals chose not to specialise and, instead, gain cross-industry experience, sometimes in both the public and private sectors. This can make these individuals the highest earning in the field (£50k and upwards).
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