Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
How well do you understand the role of your business's purchasing department? If they do their job well, you might actually take them for granted. If you never find yourself wondering why you can't find a ream of paper for the printer or why the bathroom has no toilet paper, then your purchasing department is on top of things. They work behind the scenes to make sure you have exactly what you need to do your job without delay.
Role of Purchasing Department
The purchasing department can keep track of the items you need on a regular basis in the office, as well as your actual inventory. Their primary role is to make sure the company does not overspend on supplies while also keeping everything stocked.
This requires a high level of organization, evaluation skills and budgeting.
- Organization – The purchasing department needs to know exactly when to order something so that it comes in on time. If the order is placed too late or the shipment is delayed, there could be a point in time when that particular resource is unavailable. This could potentially mean something as serious as downtime for the company, or simply cause frustration among employees having to make do.
- Evaluation – Not every item or resource needs to be ordered with the same frequency. This requires the purchasing department to evaluate the need and prioritize what to purchase and when to purchase it. Also, some items may not be very efficient and a different model or brand may better serve the business. The purchasing department makes these evaluations and seeks input from other departments about what they need in order to do their jobs.
- Budgeting – The purchasing department operates on a budget each quarter. They must research various suppliers in order to find the best deals on quality products. They also have to estimate the quantity that is needed so that the stock neither sits too long (essentially a waste of money) nor gets used too quickly.
Smart Purchases Mean Diverse Purchases
A purchasing department functions well when it has a low risk factor. This essentially means that the department has enough connections with enough suppliers to never be in the precarious position of needing a critical item when the regular supplier is out of stock.
It's the old adage, "Never put all your eggs in one basket." If you go to the same supplier for all of your products and they go out of business, you have to scramble to find new suppliers at similar costs.
Maintaining Relationships With Suppliers
The purchasing department forges relationships that prove just as important as the relationships that the sales team makes, for example.
When your business's purchasing department pays suppliers on time, always helps make arrangements for deliveries and is professional and respectful, suppliers may prioritize working with you. This can make a big difference when purchasing agricultural products like produce for a restaurant or hay for a farm, where you can get the pick of the crop if you're a top client.
In other instances, it can be easier to ask for a rush order when you have a good working relationship. That's why purchasing department jobs also require excellent interpersonal skills and communication.
If you like to stay organized, work with a diverse group of people and make a difference for the company as a whole and for each of its employees, consider looking into purchasing department jobs. You may be surprised at how rewarding it can be.
Cathy Habas specializes in marketing, customer experiences, and behind-the-scenes management. Cathy has contributed to sites like Business and Finance, Business 2 Community, and Inside Small Business. She served as the managing editor for a small content marketing agency before continuing with her writing career.