Even if you’ve only been in your job for a short time, you know that keeping meticulous records, evaluating current purchasing practices, seeking new vendor relationships and making certain that your systems of operation are designed efficiently are the keys to an organized purchasing department. Whether you’ve just been brought in to transform an existing division from chaotic to organized, or you just want to be certain everything moves along efficiently with few glitches, this article can point you in the right direction.
Begin auditing the purchasing department's files and methods to evaluate the current system. Follow up on items ordered for employees or departments and verify the performance of authorized vendors. Visit department heads to discuss their previous purchasing experiences. Obtain feedback on how to improve the department’s processing, tracking and fulfillment methods.
Obtain permission to draft a new purchasing department policy manual based on feedback received from department heads if there is no current guide or it’s become apparent that the current version doesn’t work. Write, edit and circulate drafts to pertinent decision makers. Send copies of the publication to managers so they have a point of reference for future purchasing requests.
Audit documents your company employs to conduct purchasing operations. Review purchase order language, overhaul your company’s bidding documentation and forms, evaluate communal supply request and other paperwork. Make changes, if necessary, to increase security and efficiencies in the delivery of ordered items.
Review and analyze the company’s inventory of supplies currently warehoused on or off site. Verify all inventories against existing documentation. Flag overages and shortages of items that are in constant demand, such as office supplies. Evaluate the way purchases are shelved and retrieved by pickers and packers. Make improvements on the manner in which they are warehoused to cut back on inefficiencies.
Evaluate current racking, picking and packing operations—particularly if sloppiness has resulted in theft, unaccounted for stock and delays in getting supplies to workers in a timely fashion. Investigate the wisdom of installing a security system, if one isn’t already in place, to serve as a crime deterrent in storage areas.
Institute a quality control program so pickers, packers, accounting and purchasing all receive critical information about supply shipments at the same time; particularly as the information relates to back orders, labor strikes, defective or damaged goods -- unexpected circumstance that can affect the receipt and disbursal of materials that come through the purchasing department.
Keep abreast of industry trends to learn new techniques for organizing purchasing department operations. Conceive a boilerplate progress report so you’ll be able to methodically update management on the status of items they place on order so you’re not spending half of your day answering the same question, “When can I expect to get the notepads I ordered in July?”
Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.