10 Skills and qualities of a successful Procurement Manager
If you're interested in pursuing a career as a procurement manager, or you're currently in this role and looking to improve your skills, then you'll need to know what makes a good procurement manager.
Here, we explore the ten essential skills and qualities that a successful procurement manager should possess. By learning how to be a good procurement manager and excel in this critical role, you can also enhance your career prospects and add value to your organization.
What procurement skills and competencies do you need to be a procurement manager?
Responsible for overseeing the purchasing of goods and services, supply chain management, and minimizing procurement costs, procurement managers (sometimes known as purchasing managers) are integral to maintaining a healthy business.
For any aspiring procurement manager, there are several essential procurement manager skills that they’ll find in all job descriptions. In fact, there are a diverse set of both hard and soft skills that are critical in enabling successful procurement processes.
Here are the key procurement manager skills held by all procurement professionals:
1. Strong negotiation skills
Procurement managers must effectively negotiate with suppliers and vendors to secure the best deals and prices for the business. They must also have strong contract negotiation skills and be able to identify areas for cost savings across various deals.
Overall, they must be able to negotiate to ensure the five “rights” of procurement: The right product, price, location, quantity, and quality.
2. Analytical skills
Analyzing data and market trends is a key part of a procurement manager’s responsibilities. Strong analytical skills enable them to identify cost-saving opportunities, areas and processes that could be optimized, and potential areas of risk.
Additionally, these analytical skills also help them use data to develop procurement strategies and processes that align with the business’s goals.
3. Relationship management
A core procurement manager's skill lies in being able to build and maintain solid supplier relationships.
This also involves ensuring that their partners and suppliers are happy with agreements, monitoring their performance, and being able to deftly identify areas for improvement without risking the existing partnership.
4. Communication skills
Communicating with a wide range of people and key stakeholders is a key part of a procurement manager’s day-to-day role.
Being able to effectively communicate and articulate the needs of the business and navigate difficult conversations, as well as having strong interpersonal skills is critical for building relationships and maintaining partnerships.
5. Risk management
Procurement managers require risk management skills since they are responsible for managing the procurement process from start to finish, including identifying and mitigating risks or disruptions that may arise.
These skills help them protect the business and its interests and finances, ensure continuity of supply, and meet stakeholders’ expectations.
6. Strategic sourcing skills
Procurement managers are highly skilled at sourcing, which means identifying the best mix of products and services that will support the business’s success. This process involves identifying and evaluating appropriate suppliers that can provide value to the business at the best price.
7. Financial skills
Cost management, forecasting, analyzing financial data, and financial reporting are key parts of a procurement manager’s role. This financial acumen helps them make informed, cost-effective procurement decisions and comply with various regulations.
8. Leadership skills
Procurement managers are not only responsible for managing the procurement process but are often tasked with managing teams of procurement officers. They must be able to lead and motivate their procurement teams to ensure that all activities align with business objectives, and fosters a collaborative environment.
9. High level of attention to detail
Procurement processes involve a lot of in-depth documentation, data analysis, and decision-making that require a high level of accuracy. To ensure robust, risk-free procurement processes, managers must be able to review documentation and contracts to identify any anomalies or errors.
10. Contract management
Procurement managers are responsible for drafting and managing contracts with suppliers in a way that maximizes financial and operational performance and mitigates risks.
They must also make sure that the terms and conditions are watertight and that suppliers meet their obligations.
There’s a wide variety of tools and software available to Procurement Managers
How to be a great Procurement Manager
Procurement managers provide significant value to businesses by enabling effective processes that ensure organizations have the necessary resources to operate and be successful.
As well as the ten important skills above, the best procurement managers are those that commit to continuous development in a bid to optimize the procurement function. To help you excel, we’ve put together a few tips to help you grow as a procurement manager, accelerate your career path, and deliver better results for your organization.
1. Stay up-to-date with industry trends
Regulations and laws are ever-evolving, and procurement managers must keep abreast of any changes that could affect the organization.
To gain a competitive edge over competitors, they should also stay on top of industry trends, new technology, and best practices, and attend conferences and events that can help them remain informed and in touch with relevant contacts.
2. Work on your leadership skills
Leaders in any role should be constantly striving to be better managers. If you’re leading a team of procurement specialists or a procurement department, you’ll need to keep working on your delegation, motivation, and coaching skills to help develop your team to its highest potential.
3. Develop better relationships with suppliers
Relationship management is key to procurement success, and developing better relationships with suppliers and vendors helps you become a better procurement manager.
Pay suppliers on time, schedule regular catch-ups, and keep them informed of any relevant internal changes to help maintain healthy partnerships and obtain the best deals.
4. Expand your skill set with new certifications
Professional development will enable you to perform your duties more effectively. Continuing your education and refining your expertise with project management or procurement certification courses such as CIPS, CPSM, or CSCP will help you be a great procurement manager and also broaden your skill set.