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It’s a good time to be in procurement. During recessionary and post-recessionary times, the purchasing profession is in high demand as companies and organisations streamline their processes and make good use of their cash.

That’s why procurement professionals can command higher salaries than their equivalents in IT, sales, marketing, and human resources according to our recent salary surveys. They can also move from sector to sector easily, gaining experience and new skills from those different sectors, all developing into a well-rounded career, and a fascinating one at that.

A purchasing and supply manager, a business service buyer, or procurement professional (the terms are pretty interchangeable) basically buys goods and services and takes a strategic approach to business goals. Whatever the organisation needs – whether it’s raw materials for manufacture, obtaining marketing services or getting more profitable agreements in place, it’s procurement’s responsibility to get the best goods, at the best price, while maintaining good relationships with suppliers in a sustainable and ethical way.

A company can spend up to two thirds of its revenue buying goods and services, so procurement has a major responsibility for a company’s spend, whether saving costs or finding different and more innovative suppliers.

Procurement at the top

Procurement, like most professions, is filled with new trend buzz words and ‘hot topics’ such as risk management, sustainability, ethics and ‘smart’ procurement are the latest. As a profession, its relevance and value is becoming recognised at board level as procurement is likely to be part of an organisation’s strategy at the highest level.

Automation using e-procurement and e-sourcing tools, sorts out the policies, procedures and ‘scientific’ end of purchasing, but there’s also a level of independence and artful creativity about purchasing. Along with resourcefulness and ingenuity, the skills needed to be at the top of the procurement game include: a keen business sense, the ability to manage finances well, with good communication and social skills. Whether dealing with peers, the board, internal staff or your suppliers, it’s important to develop those softer skills as well that will see you through.

As business thinking develops, purchasing professionals offer skills and abilities that can be used in other areas of a business. Raising the awareness of good working practices, such as relationship management, statistical analysis and a strategic ability can benefit an entire business from the bottom to the top. That’s why procurement is growing in popularity as a career choice of many.

Challenges ahead

Even if you have all these skills, there’s always scope for change and development as the profession doesn’t stay the same. A truly strategic procurement team will map its own goals and aspirations to the company’s strategic plans to ‘add value’ to the business, to colleagues, customers and shareholders alike. To be ahead in business, you have to keep your head and be aware of the pressures and priorities your organisation is under, and find ways to improve the business cost structure, bringing growth and new revenues.

Procurement needs you

The profession is always looking for talented people. CIPS runs qualification and training programmes equipping new students with the knowledge and skills needed to practice proficiently, successfully and confidently. We’re a membership organisation, offering a range of membership levels, advice and expertise to our partners and non-professionals, and business solutions for all types of organisations.

If you needed any more persuasion…

The variety that a procurement role has to offer makes this an exciting time. The scope and choice within the profession is what makes no two jobs the same. The procurement profession provides opportunities to develop a wide range of skills and experience across all business disciplines and sectors, and you could be sourcing ethical goods, developing sustainable strategies, and finding the right goods and services to make your organisation tick.

Not just for post-recessionary times, procurement is a building block for the future.

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