A Career In Procurement
Procurement is the acquisition of products and services from external vendors, on behalf of an organisation. The role involves supplier and product research, price negotiation, inventory control and financial analysis.
Companies rely on their procurement departments to achieve savings, whilst at the same time delivering benefits to the business. It’s a challenging, but fulfilling role that offers many routes to career progression.
CIPS (Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply) is the professional body that promotes high standards of professional skill in the procurement industry. CIPS qualifications are recognised throughout the world as badges of best practice in procurement and supply chain management.
CIPS offers a portfolio of five professional qualifications. The first step is to gain a Certificate in Procurement and Supply Operations, which is equivalent to a GCSE. This is the entry level for school leavers.
The next step is to gain an Advanced Certificate in Procurement and Supply Operations, which is the A level or NVQ3 equivalent. A number of colleges and universities offer degrees in purchasing and supply management that are accredited by CIPS.
The designatory letters MCIPS, or full membership of CIPS, is a global standard in excellence for procurement professionals. It can be acquired after three years in a senior level procurement role, and by obtaining the final three qualifications in the CIPs portfolio: Diploma in Procurement and Supply, Advanced Diploma in Procurement and Supply and Professional Diploma in Procurement and Supply.
A career in purchasing and supply management offers a variety of roles in a number of different industries. Manufacturing, IT, and Finance are just a few types of business that need procurement professionals in order to function efficiently.
There are also numerous areas of specialisation, from charities to catering. Each establishment demands the key skill set of excellent negotiation skills, current market analysis and strategic thinking. Analysis of developing technology and evolving trends means a buyer can change with the times and not get left behind.
A restaurant needs to obtain the finest ingredients at the most economical price in order to run a profitable business. A charity may need branded merchandise to help communicate its message to the public and encourage donations. A commercial knowledge of an organisation’s marketplace is vital to finding the right products and services at the best prices.
An alternative career path is to specialise in government procurement. This is the acquisition of goods and services for a public authority, such as a local council or government agency. The procurement team is required to issue public tenders if the value of a purchase exceeds an expenditure threshold.
Suppliers must return tenders by a fixed date, and these are then assessed. The contract is awarded, or a short list is drawn up, and further information requested from potential vendors. The expenditure of public offices is often scrutinised. Their procurement departments are expected to negotiate substantial savings but at the same time promote economic growth. This is a difficult undertaking and the practice of going out to tender can be a lengthy process. Working in government procurement can be both challenging and worthwhile.
Some procurement professionals have chosen not to specialise and have instead gained a wealth of cross-industry experience, sometimes covering both public and private enterprise. This multi-sector experience not only puts them in the highest earning bracket, it also makes them highly sought after in the field of procurement.
As you can see, there is tremendous scope within the procurement industry for finding work in all sorts of organisations. It offers immense potential for career growth as it presents many paths for an individual to follow according to their talents and preferences.