Author: Zelimkhan Suleymanov
Shareholders and top-managers tend to underestimate the role of procurement, considering it to be purely a cost-center. As a result, the average salary of a qualified specialist in procurement sits below the salary of managers in marketing, IT and sales.
Based on personal experience and cases from practice of colleagues and members of professional communities, I have identified 10 proven methods which might help a procurement manager to earn more.
OCCUPY YOUR OWN NICHE
There are many procurement specialists on the job market, but it is not always easy to find experts with strong expertise in product categories. In order to become an owner of unique professional competence in a certain category, as compared to a specialist in paperwork or an obstacle between business and suppliers, improve your expertise in categories, study the market, think strategically and find out how to negotiate with suppliers on an equal footing.
Get focused on the key procurement groups for your business: for example, production/commercial equipment, IT, logistics and marketing services. They provide effective output and attract more attention from the management. It is more likely that your work will be noticed. Outsource minor non-strategic categories (mobile services, office supplies, courier services etc.) or decrease their priority.
What about creating your dream job yourself? Initiate the new project yourself instead of waiting for it to happen. Constantly analyze business processes in which you participate, search for the ways to optimize them and, if you see opportunities for improvement, offer them to the management, indicating potential benefits, ways to achieve them and defining tasks that you can perform. This is a good opportunity to be at the root of the project and become its leader.
FOCUS ON SIGNIFICANT PROJECTS
An important quality of a procurement manager is being customer-oriented with internal customers. A professional should be able to balance the immediate satisfaction of business units’ requirements and the company’s interests in terms of cost and workflow.
In order to have everything done, concentrate on strategic projects, for example, reorganization of purchases, introduction of new processes and automated systems. Strive to get into projects supervised by top management directly. The management, like the rest of the staff, have certain tasks, usually represented in the form of KPIs and company goals. Try to keep abreast of these goals, to think in the language of business, top management and shareholders. If you see that the result will help your internal clients achieve their KPIs — get down to business without hesitation.
GET CROSS-FUNCTIONAL EXPERIENCE
A procurement manager has to be aware of how the production process is organized, as well as the way finances, sales, and supply chain management function. To avoid being considered a theorizer and get comprehensive understanding of the company’s business, find out about the specifics of the related departments, and it is even better to work in them for a while. This would let you better understand the needs of internal customers, it would increase communication efficiency with the departments and the suppliers and, as a result, it helps to gain a reputation of a professional and open opportunities for career growth. It is a mandatory experience for a CPO or a COO, aspiring to become a CEO eventually.
OPEN UP NEW HORIZONS
Do not miss opportunities of internship, business trips, temporary work in business units in another country, or even better — at the company’s head office. Participate in global projects. Consider it an opportunity to gain new experience, learn the best practices of the industry and a chance to prove yourself.
Take part in seminars and courses. Depending on the objectives, these may be activities aimed at developing new competencies and structuring existing knowledge or studying the industry specifics of the company. Online education platforms allow you to obtain the necessary skills in a convenient concentrated format for reasonable money or even for free.
UPGRADE YOUR SKILLS
If you know a good expert among colleagues, ask them to conduct a personal training just for you. It might be another procurement manager or an internal customer having a good command of the category that you want to master. The acquired knowledge is best solidified by implementing the relevant project independently. After its completion, ask for feedback from the customers, stakeholders, suppliers and your supervisor; they will prompt you on what can be done better next time.
STUDY NEW TECHNOLOGIES
Companies often realize the need to automate procurement or upgrade the existing IT systems. Become an expert not only in procurement, but also in state-of-the-art technology used for its automation. Study electronic trading platforms, e-sourcing systems, e-procurement, SRM, etc. Do not wait until the idea comes from the management — you can offer the optimal solution yourself and try to lead the project.
Use various occasions to inform the management on the results achieved, support your words with figures. Participate in conferences and round tables as a speaker. Speak about the implemented cases on the company’s corporate blog, publish articles and interviews on procurement related resources, and be active in professional communities such as Linkedin and Facebook. This will help to make useful acquaintances and establish business contacts in related areas. SPEAK UP ABOUT YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS!
DO NOT HESITATE TO TALK ABOUT MONEY
If you already have unique skills and competencies, implemented a significant project, have leadership qualities — then it’s time to discuss the salary bump with the management. Be persuasive, argue your position.
Perhaps the manager understands your value, but, for some objective reasons, a salary increase at the moment is out of the question. If that’s the case, consider compromise options. For example, in small companies with a flexible system of motivation, you can offer a system of payment with a lower amount of fixed compensation and a high bonus, depending on the results achieved.
LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES ELSEWHERE
If the growth opportunities inside the company are exhausted, pay attention to the external market. Experience in a major company with a well-established procurement system will be useful for smaller companies, where procurement processes are not yet well established and expertise and experience in optimizing procurement processes are required.
Another option is to be your own boss — become a freelancer, a consultant or start your own procurement company. But be patient and be ready to build the brand, create a reputation, compete with your own staff and get real-life experience.
What methods do you consider useful?
Zelimkhan Suleymanov is CEO and co-founder at PrECA. Contact us if you need some help with procurement automation: firstname.lastname@example.org