Procurement managers are responsible for sourcing and purchasing the best quality equipment, goods and services at the most competitive prices to enable a company or organisation to operate successfully

As a procurement manager you will be directly involved in the sourcing and purchasing of products and services such as:

  • components to make a product that a company sells
  • products to be sold by a company (for example in a shop)
  • goods and services for use by the company
  • marketing and advertising services to promote a company.

You will be involved in sourcing suppliers, contract drafting, negotiation and managing suppliers through the whole procurement process. You will also deal with other factors such as sustainability, risk management and ethical issues.

Your work will help a business or organisation save money, minimise waste and increase profits.

Responsibilities

As a procurement manager, you'll need to:

  • forecast levels of demand for services and products
  • conduct research to source the best products and suppliers in terms of best value, delivery schedules and quality
  • run tenders, evaluate bids and make recommendations, based on commercial and technical factors
  • negotiate and agree contracts, monitoring the quality of service provided
  • keep contract files and use them as reference for the future
  • build and maintain good relationships with new and existing suppliers
  • manage and motivate a team of procurement staff
  • liaise between suppliers, manufacturers, internal teams such as supply chain, planning, marketing, IT and sales, and customers
  • develop strategies to make sure that cost savings and supplier performance targets are met - or exceeded
  • undertake value for money reviews of existing contracts and arrangements
  • ensure the security and sustainability of sources of essential products and services
  • forecast price trends and their impact on future activities
  • give presentations about market analysis and possible growth
  • develop and implement a procurement strategy
  • analyse data and produce reports and statistics on spending and saving
  • ensure suppliers are aware of business objectives
  • attend meetings and trade conferences
  • keep up to date with trends and innovations, regulation and new technology that can impact on the business
  • train junior members of staff.

Salary

  • At entry level, for example as a graduate trainee/buyer, average salaries are around £24,337.
  • Salaries for procurement/purchasing officers are on average £30,420. Procurement specialists earn on average £32,307 and procurement executives, £40,067.
  • Procurement managers earn on average £46,437, rising to an average of £53,496 for strategic procurement managers.
  • At the most senior levels, procurement directors can earn on average £110,922, rising to £158,125 for the role of chief procurement officer.

According to the 2020 CIPS/Hays Procurement Salary Guide, the average salary for all procurement and supply professionals is £48,415 - an average salary increase of 4.9% from the 2019 survey (as compared to a national increase of 3.4%).

Salaries vary depending on a range of factors including your experience, location, the sector you work in, the size and type of company you work for, and your professional qualifications, e.g. chartership.

Additional benefits may include a bonus, company car, private healthcare, life assurance and pension.

Income data from the 2020 CIPS/Hays Procurement Salary Guide. Figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Working hours are fairly standard, although you'll be required to work extra hours if needed.

If you're working for an international company, you may have to arrive at the office early or stay late to make calls to countries in different time zones.

What to expect

  • The working environment is usually office based, although you may need to visit suppliers and customers.
  • Jobs are available in most towns and cities throughout the UK, particularly if there is a strong manufacturing and retailing base. However, procurement managers tend to be based at head offices, many of which are located in London or the South East. Since commercial buying is a global activity, you may find opportunities to work abroad.
  • There is a high level of responsibility, which can be challenging. However, there are good career development prospects if you have the right combination of skills and experience.
  • You may need to travel during the day and stay away from home overnight to visit other sites. There may be some travel abroad to attend trade shows or set up business agreements with new contacts.

Qualifications

Although this area of work is open to all graduates, the following degree subjects may improve your chances:

  • business studies/business management
  • business purchasing and supply
  • economics
  • engineering
  • marketing
  • operations management
  • purchasing and logistics
  • retail management
  • supply chain management.

Entry requirements vary depending on the type and size of the employing organisation. For example, large retail stores and wholesale distribution centres tend to prefer applicants who have completed a degree with a business emphasis. Some employers, particularly in manufacturing, engineering or construction firms, like you to have qualifications and knowledge relevant to the field.

Some large organisations offer graduate trainee schemes in procurement. You'll typically need a 2:1 in any degree discipline.

When applying for jobs, some employers will prefer you to be a member of the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) - MCIPS - or to be working towards becoming one. One way to do this is to take a CIPS-accredited undergraduate or postgraduate degree. For more information, see CIPS - Accredited Degrees and Programmes. Alternatively, you can study for CIPS qualifications to become a full member. For both routes, you'll need three years' experience to apply for MCIPS.

Entry without a degree is possible by starting in entry-level role such as administrative assistant, purchasing assistant or assistant buyer. It may then be possible to gain promotion through experience and by taking professional qualifications offered by CIPS. You can also take a procurement apprenticeship, combining paid work with part-time study.

Skills

You'll need to have:

  • excellent written, verbal and presentation communication skills
  • negotiation skills in order to get the best price and value for money
  • commercial and financial awareness as managing budgets and keeping costs down is a key part of the role
  • strong analytical ability
  • planning skills in order to work out what the business needs
  • excellent interpersonal and relationship management skills, with the ability to work collaboratively with internal and external teams
  • numeracy skills in order to analyse facts and figures
  • the ability to lead and motivate a team
  • tact and diplomacy
  • the ability to make important decisions and cope with the pressure of demanding targets and tight deadlines
  • strong project management skills
  • the ability to solve problems and make decisions, as well as to think strategically and laterally
  • time management skills and the ability to deliver to deadlines
  • resilience.

Work experience

Competition for roles is keen and previous business experience, especially gained in buying and selling, is important. Try to find relevant work experience, for example as a purchasing assistant or junior buyer, complete a sandwich placement in procurement as part of your degree course or ask if you can work shadow a procurement manager.

Some larger organisations run summer vacation schemes or offer internships in procurement.

Employers

Procurement is increasingly recognised as an essential part to any business. Employers can be national or multinational corporate companies, public sector organisations, charities or small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in a whole range of sectors.

Typical employers include:

  • the armed forces
  • energy and water
  • engineering and construction industries
  • information and communication technology companies
  • local and national government
  • manufacturing and service companies
  • the NHS
  • pharmaceutical companies
  • professional services industries
  • public services industries
  • retailing and mail order companies
  • wholesalers.

When working for an SME you may be responsible for the full procurement and supply chain functions.

Look for job vacancies at:

Recruitment agencies such as Hays, Michael Page and Reed also advertise vacancies. Vacancies are also advertised on LinkedIn.

You can also check the websites of national/international companies and organisations for opportunities.

Professional development

Graduate training schemes typically last 18 months to three years. You'll usually complete a number of placements under the supervision of a mentor. You'll be assessed throughout the training and may have the opportunity to work towards professional membership of CIPS.

If you don't have a place on a graduate scheme, you may start as a junior or assistant buyer or a purchasing assistant. As a new employee, you'll be expected to learn the specifics of your employer's business. You'll be given practical on-the-job training and will learn by working closely with more experienced members of staff. With further training and qualifications, you can progress to procurement manager roles.

CIPS offers a number of qualifications that can be studied while working or via distance learning. These provide a structured path of training that leads to full CIPS membership (MCIPS). Search the full list of CIPS qualifications.

Once you've achieved MCIPS status, have an Ethical Procurement and Supply certificate and have recorded 30 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) over the previous 12 months, you can apply for CIPS Chartered Procurement and Supply Professional status.

Once chartered, you'll have to complete 30 hours of CPD each year. CIPS offers a range of short training courses, as well as workshops, seminars and events, and you can also get involved in branch or special interest groups.

Career prospects

Your options for career development will depend on the organisation you work for. In larger companies, procurement activities are carried out by a number of people working in teams, possibly at different locations. You can progress by moving on to manage a team and then a group of teams. However, in a smaller company, you may be responsible for all the work, so you're more likely to move company to progress your career.

Experienced managers may also move to a department that manages a larger volume of goods, products or services. Job titles at a higher level include:

  • senior buyer
  • procurement manager
  • procurement director
  • head of procurement
  • chief procurement officer.

It's also possible to specialise in a specific area such as IT, facilities management or travel.

You may have to travel overseas to assess the suitability of goods or products, and there may also be opportunities to work abroad with large multinational organisations. The digital revolution means supply chains are becoming increasingly global.

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