The process of creating, maintaining and overseeing the successful completion of procurement contracts is often tasked to a distinct employee in the company.
After all, the role requires juggling numbers, vendors, legal contracts and varying interests. It involves lots of math, problem-solving skills, and a diplomatic mindset. This is the job of a procurement specialist.
Procurement specialists work across a variety of industries, from construction to retail to the government – pretty much at any company that will need to purchase something from another company.
Also known as a purchasing manager or purchasing agent, the procurement contract specialist is usually a systemic thinker that is fluent and familiar with the business contract management process.
So, what do procurement specialists do?
The role of a procurement specialist
As briefly described in the introduction, a procurement specialist oversees the orders of supplies and products, manages vendor relationships, sources suppliers and manages the entire contract creation and management process.
A procurement specialist is focused on finding the best supplies, equipment, and services for the best price and quality. They need to confer with multiple and understand the company’s buying needs.
After purchases are made, they also need to keep records of the orders and consistently manage inventory to purchase supplies when needed.
The job duties of a procurement specialist are quite varied. This post will break down some of their responsibilities:
Procurement Specialists Oversee Purchase of Materials and Supplies
Procurement specialists are in charge of making sure the company has the supplies, equipment and services it needs to operate. This means that procurement specialists have to ensure that the company’s supply chain needs are fulfilled. They achieve this in the most cost-effective manner, and usually in a specific amount of time.
Their tasks are embedded in every part of the process. From finding suitable suppliers and vendors to seeing that the contract is signed and approved, they are ultimately responsible for every step in getting a company the things it needs.
At the sourcing stage, procurement specialists compare vendors and send out RFQ’s (request for quote) to various sellers. They have to analyze costs and assess which vendors would suit the company’s needs and budget the best.
Procurement Specialists Manage the Contract Process
After an agreement has been reached and the procurement specialist has found a company they want to do business with, they are then in charge of sorting out all the nitty-gritty contract details. They may use a template if they are ordering the same type of good, or are working with the same company they have before. However, they are ultimately responsible for negotiating details like the method of payment, deadlines and terms and conditions.
For example, a procurement specialist will have to figure out how they will pay their seller. They could choose to go with a fixed price lump-sum contracts, where the final payment is established at the beginning of the contract, or a cost-reimbursable contract where the seller is reimbursed for the costs incurred (usually plus a bonus incentive payment.)
They have to consult different people at the company to make these decisions, weighing things like risk, the number of bidders and the nature of the goods or services they are buying.
Procurement specialists manage stakeholder and vendor relationships
Procurement specialists will interview vendors to see which one is the best fit for the needs of the company. They will work closely with the chosen seller to negotiate a contract, manage record-keeping and receive status updates.
Building a strong, trusting relationship with the vendor is one of the key responsibilities of a procurement specialist. Business is all about relationships, and the ones between a buyer and seller are the most important.
For a purchasing manager, this involves having clear, frequent communication with the vendor, understanding the product they are procuring and taking the vendor’s perspective into account when drafting the contract.