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What skills are required for a job in procurement?

Written by: CIPS Procurement & Supply Jobs
Published on: 3 Oct 2023

Procurement professionals are skilled negotiators and analytical thinkers. It’s their job to make sure that their organisation is getting the best value for money.

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Procurement is becoming increasingly important for businesses. So now is a great time to start or improve your skills in this field and boost your career prospects. Here we take a look at the key responsibilities and skills needed to excel in a procurement career.

What are the key responsibilities of most procurement professionals?

Procurement jobs include purchasing managers, bid specialists, buyers, and procurement executives, all of which come with different responsibilities. Nevertheless, we have tried to narrow it down to a few of the key tasks:

  • Develop viable and cost-effective and strategies 
  • Communicate the value of strategic sourcing and procurement to key stakeholders
  • Develop and maintain relationships
  • Work with key software and systems
  • Evaluate existing procurement policies and procedures and update accordingly
  • Evaluate and select chosen suppliers using set criteria such as quality, price, delivery and sustainability
  • Attend trade shows, interview vendors and visit supply plants/distribution centres
  • Manage contracts, including settling disputes and ensuring that a supplier meets expectations
  • Negotiating various contracts with vendors on quality, price and delivery
  • Analyse and complete financial reports and pricing proposals
  • Keep track of all goods and services ordered and received with a comprehensive inventory
  • Ensure responsible procurement practises are being met and comply with company objectives
  • Creation of purchase orders
  • Calculate all order costs and evaluate invoices for accuracy
  • Prepare and update reports, records and pricing lists
  • Work with other teams for cross-departmental work  

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What are the main skills required to carry out each of these tasks?

As with responsibilities, the skills needed to carry out these tasks vary between roles. But key skills required by all procurement professionals are:

  • Great relationship management
  • Strong negotiation skills
  • Impeccable time-management
  • Strategic thinking
  • Ability to adapt to change
  • Understanding of risk management
  • A focus on understanding and enhancing sustainability
  • Understanding of the global market
  • Familiarity with core technology and systems
  • Good financial understanding
  • Ability to collaborate effectively
  • Understanding of key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Forecasting
  • Quality control and assurance
  • Supply chain management
  • Warehousing
  • Inventory management
  • Warehouse management  

Many of the above skills can be learnt and are not always expected of entry-level staff, but having an understanding of the core competencies is always beneficial.

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What personal qualities are desired to succeed in procurement?

Having a procurement mindset is crucial for getting a first job and can also lead to success in the profession. To be a high-performing procurement professional it helps to be:

  • Analytical
  • Strategic
  • Organised
  • Personable
  • Persuasive
  • Goal-orientated
  • Practical and logical
  • Hard-working
  • Eager to learn
  • Responsible
  • Independent

The above is not an exhaustive list, with procurement professionals expected to carry out a large variety of tasks – especially within specialisms – with varying skills and personal attributes required for each.  

We hope to have given you a glimpse into whether a career in procurement is the right path for you. For more information and specific roles and responsibilities, search the CIPS Procurement & Supply Jobs website for suitable roles and inspiration.  

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