Procurement operations specialists typically have a job that is more clerical in nature in some companies. The accounting department in an organization usually performs many of the purchasing functions. In a small or average-sized company procurement specialists are required to do more of the complex tasks that were typically handled by the accounts payable department.
Why could they make a switch and hand off duties once requiring accounting-level employees? There are two basic reasons. First, when the request for supplies is made, someone needs to double check the order to verify inventories are low. This job is almost always done by the workers or manager who decided an order was necessary. When the job was in someone else’s charge they missed the important step of consulting and working with the budget. Is the company ordering more than the normal amount? If so, why? By asking these questions and double checking orders the budget does not get spent beyond expectations before the monthly or evenly quarterly assessment of the department budget.
Reviewing and adhering to a budget was never a duty intended for the clerk. So these two duties were combined (along with a few other inventory and purchasing duties) because in the past fifteen years most companies have become automated. They spend a lot of money to invest in high-end accounting software programs that are user friendly and give access to company information to all departments that work with inventory, payables, purchasing, customer service information, and vendor information.
Another duty passed to procurement operation specialists is one of selecting vendors and requiring bids on supplies. They send out an invitation-to-bid form to their suppliers or they might post an invitation publicly. When responses come in from vendors procurement specialists can meet and interview each vendor to choose the best offer and best terms with a good delivery schedule. They record information from supplies such as price, quantity ordering discounts, due dates, and delivery dates. They will get specifications on supplies as to size and weight for shipping costs. Then all this information goes on spreadsheets to compare prices and other details about the vendors. The specialist must consider all this detail per company requirements before placing large orders. When clerks requested supplies the orders typically were approved by a higher-paid position in the company. So moving the large decision making based on company policy to procurement specialists was a wise change.
Since procurement operation specialists now have so much information on hand with a few simple keystrokes, they can keep track of changes in inventory. So when supplies arrive, the specialist can see if the order was timely. If an order was late, they must research and determine the causes for delay. If the suppliers have questions or need to pass along changes in pricing or shipping quantities the specialist also handles this and puts and update in the computer as to the changed delivery date or price. The specialist is also in charge of checking order quantities to order prices. If they do not match, the specialist reconciles any issues. Vendors are then notified of any discrepancies between what is received and the actual purchase order, which acts as a contract for the quantity and pricing determined for the supplies.
Some procurement departments in small companies can be given the responsibility for the inventory control system. This is a very important responsibility that in the past was typically handled by dockers who receive the goods and stored them in the facility. With the advent of accounting systems, the duty of balancing inventory levels is done by the software program after incoming and outgoing quantities are electronically entered. This moves the bookkeeping function for inventory into the hands of the specialist who can monitor low inventories before order requests even come to his or her in-basket.
Do procurement specialists work long hours?
Procurement clerks and procurement operation specialists usually work forty-hour weeks. Their working environment is clean and quiet. Specialists may sit at their computers much of the day. There might be overtime work for specialists depending on the shift they work and when large shipments are delivered to the company.
There is typically no requirement for any education beyond high school.
What are other special requirements for this position?
Employers prefer to hire staff who are computer literate and who are skilled in word processing and spreadsheet software. Classes in these subjects are typically taught during regular schooling now. There are even some courses, during high school, that teach business forms like why and how to create purchase orders.