How to Become a Procurement and Supply Chain Management Professional

In our daily lives, procurement and supply chain management professionals handle everything from the very large to the very small. 

They buy goods and services that help keep businesses running smoothly and efficiently, and if things go wrong, it’s their responsibility to fix them quickly. 

Most companies also plan, organize, direct, control, or oversee all aspects of the procurement and supply chain processes. 

Let’s take a look at what you can expect in this career field and how you can become a successful professional with skills and experiences gained from procurement and supply chain management courses.

What is procurement and supply chain management?

Procurement professionals work with buying agents, or suppliers, on behalf of their organization to obtain goods and services. 

Supply chain managers oversee logistics throughout every step of product development and distribution in order to get that product from manufacturing plants to the consumer’s hands. 

These individuals will play an integral role in your company’s bottom line because they help make sure your organization gets what it needs at competitive prices. Read on for advice on getting hired as a procurement professional or supply chain manager.

Challenges in the industry

Procurement and supply chain management are two of those areas that every business needs, but no one wants to think about. 

The thought of making sure your company is getting everything it needs in its contracts, from raw materials to office supplies, sounds exhausting—but it’s an essential role that doesn’t always get due respect. 

Supply chain professionals are often called upon to make critical decisions quickly, manage relationships with vendors and clients, analyze data and metrics to inform purchasing strategies or tweak existing contracts or processes. 

More than anything else, working in procurement means mastering complex processes and policies. A typical workday can consist of going over contract clauses for dozens of products or negotiating purchases for hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars.

Skills Required

Procurement professionals may hold one of several positions, depending on what types of goods or services they’re responsible for obtaining. Purchasing agents are responsible for finding items that their employer needs. 

Buyers select products and negotiate with vendors on behalf of an organization. Supply-chain managers oversee all of an organization’s purchases, from raw materials to final products. 

Some organizations have separate buyers, purchasers, and supply-chain managers; others place these roles under one umbrella position. 

In either case, there is generally more than one person holding each title. Regardless of the exact job duties, most individuals in these positions must possess strong negotiating skills and attention to detail. 

Because many procurements must comply with regulatory standards, additional knowledge of business law is often required. 

Individuals interested in working as procurement agents should expect to take courses in areas such as sourcing, procurement, or purchasing and supply chain management during college.

Career Opportunities

The fields of procurement and supply chain management are ever-changing, so professionals in these fields must continuously update their skills to remain competitive. 

Even seasoned professionals must upgrade their qualifications. For example, people with a bachelor’s degree in business administration may want to pursue an MBA or other advanced degrees. 

Those already employed in business leadership positions may attend seminars or workshops offered by third-party providers. However, most often, certification courses are taken through local community colleges or universities. 

These classes are usually short and affordable, making them well worth your time investment. 

Also, many online resources can help you gain knowledge about specific topics within your profession at little or no cost to you as long as you have access to a computer and an Internet connection. 

Additionally, numerous business organizations exist solely for networking opportunities among individuals engaged in similar professions.

Common Misconceptions

Be sure that you understand what it is that makes you different from your competitors. 

Procurement professionals are much more focused on buying than selling, so make sure you’re able to talk about your process in-depth and really sell why an employer would want you over someone else. 

Also, remember that many people still have misconceptions about what procurement means; be prepared to define yourself as an expert in purchasing or supply chain management as appropriate for each job opportunity. 

When it comes down to other factors such as experience, education, skills, and credentials, go ahead and hit those points hard!

Conclusion 

And so, that’s how you become a procurement and supply chain management professional. It’s quite simple—just follow these steps. Anyone can do it! Don’t forget: your success (or failure) is in your hands.

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