Procurement Specialist: Roles and Responsibilities of an Evolving Position

Date
March 29, 2022
Category
Date
March 29, 2022
Author
Gary Sangha | Founder & CEO
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A procurement specialist facilitates purchases from outside suppliers to keep a business running. Their primary responsibilities include researching key suppliers, negotiating purchase agreements, and ensuring all products and materials meet company standards. 

A manufacturing company can spend up to 70% of its revenue on supplier agreements while all other companies spend about 40%. That’s why a procurement specialist’s work plays a fundamental role in operational efficiency and overall profitability.

Anyone interested in a procurement career should read on to learn what a procurement specialist does, how to become employable, earning potential, and how the role is evolving through leading-edge technology.

What Does a Procurement Specialist Do?

Like procurement analysts, procurement specialists serve as liaisons between the company and external suppliers, reporting directly to purchasing managers. A large portion of the day is spent in the office—making calls, sending emails to suppliers, entering data, researching new suppliers, and reviewing/negotiating purchase agreements. On occasion, procurement specialists may need to visit supplier warehouses and production floors to pick up purchases or assess quality. They routinely work with legal departments to negotiate terms for contracts and renewals.

Procurement Specialist Duties

A procurement specialist may:

  • Research suppliers of goods and services

  • Gather quotes, proposals, and purchase terms and conditions

  • Execute the purchase of goods or services approved by management

  • Evaluate and negotiate vendor contracts

  • Track inventory and submit purchase orders as needed

  • Recommend new products, services, or materials in keeping with industry trends

Procurement Specialist Responsibilities

While the most fundamental responsibility is that of “purchaser,” procurement specialists may also hire, monitor, and record the performance of suppliers. They often serve as a point person in vendor relationships, answering any questions or concerns suppliers have. As a shrewd and creative thinker, a procurement specialist must be able to anticipate the needs of the company and plan ahead for effective resource management. At times, aggressive negotiations may be necessary to ensure the company remains competitive.

How To Become a Procurement Specialist

Four years of education is the minimum amount a person needs to become a procurement specialist. Whether entering the position directly or advancing from a junior role, a bachelor’s degree is a standard expectation.

What Education Is Needed to Become a Procurement Specialist?

Most procurement specialists hold a bachelor’s degree in business administration, economics, supply chain management, or a related field. A master’s degree in finance can also be an asset.

What Training Is Needed to Become a Procurement Specialist?

Internships can provide the necessary training for vendor outreach, inventory management, and contract negotiation. Some employers prefer more experienced candidates, while others provide on-the-job training.

Are there Any Certifications for Procurement Specialists?

Although procurement certifications are not required by law, a certificate can be a great way for procurement specialists to advance their careers while continuing their education. Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP) and Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) are two designations one may pursue.

What Is the Career Path for a Procurement Specialist?

Commonly, procurement specialists enter the field as analysts and work on specific tasks like researching vendors or analyzing the historical costs of certain materials. A specialist may advance to become a purchasing manager, director of procurement, or VP of purchasing.

What Skills Are Needed for Procurement?

A procurement specialist’s repertoire of skills should include the following:

  • Communication - oral and written abilities are needed to build and sustain supplier relationships 

  • Computers - use of procurement software systems is a job requirement

  • Critical analysis - the ability to understand company standards and apply them

  • Mathematics - numbers and financial forecasting are second nature to specialists

  • Negotiation - a core function of procurement involves pushing for favorable terms

  • Organization - the ability to juggle multiple projects and tasks at once

  • Problem-solving - a knack for analyzing challenges and exploring all possible solutions

  • Project management - the ability to plan ahead, delegate, and evaluate progress

Is a Procurement Specialist a Good Job?

Procurement offers a reliable paycheck with a reasonable amount of job security. Specialists tend to see decent raises as they acquire more skills and demonstrate value to their employers.

How Much Do Procurement Specialists Make?

The median salary for a procurement specialist is between $50,000 and $60,000 a year, but the pay can vary widely based on geographic location, level of experience, and the size of the organization. An entry-level specialist working for a small business in a rural area may earn as little as $15,080, while a more experienced specialist in charge of managing high-value contracts for a large city firm can earn $119,600. Procurement specialists who can successfully demonstrate value by reducing vendor costs and increasing profits tend to earn the highest salaries.

What’s the Outlook for Procurement Specialist Jobs?

Currently, some 61,000 Americans work as procurement specialists. States like California, Texas, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania have the most procurement specialist jobs available. The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t report on procurement specialists precisely, but they have projected 45,800 openings a year.

Recent Advancements in the Procurement Specialist Position

The rapid pace of digitalization over the past five years is transforming the role of the procurement specialist. Traditionally consisting of functional and laborious back room purchasing duties, it is now becoming a more prominent and strategic role that incorporates key advisory and value-adding resource management responsibilities. The replacement of manual processes with artificial intelligence (AI) accuracy is improving visibility, integration, negotiations, and job satisfaction for procurement specialists across industries.

How Is the Role of Procurement Specialists Changing?

Technology is allowing companies to automate much of the basic fulfillment work procurement specialists do now. Instead, specialists are beginning to focus on identifying areas of strategic innovation, flexibility, and competitiveness. 

Consequently, specialists are able to negotiate better supplier relationships through advanced data profiling and performance monitoring as automatically generated reports compile key metrics. 

What Technology Do Procurement Specialists Use?

Many companies use software for spend analysis, supplier discovery, electronic invoicing and payment, enterprise resource planning, supplier management, and end-to-end procurement. 

Software that streamlines contract review and negotiation is the latest addition to the tech stack. Best-in-class programs incorporate Natural Language Processing (NLP) and AI to do the heavy lifting for procurement specialists, saving them a tremendous amount of time and effort. 

For example, after an agreement is emailed to the contract platform, the AI returns—in a matter of minutes—a fully redlined version that strictly adheres to the company’s AI Digital Playbook. Errors, omissions, and areas of risk are auto-detected and flagged. Additionally, the AI includes context-based suggestions for revision.

LexCheck’s forward-thinking AI platform is transforming how procurement specialists work. Contact us at sales@lexcheck.com, or request a demo to experience the technology yourself.

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