Purchasing specialists can be found in a broad spectrum of organizations including manufacturing firms, government agencies, distribution centers, services, healthcare, and education to name a few.

In general, they work to determine and obtain the best quality of goods and/or services at the best possible price; and to provide the correct quantity at the appropriate delivery date(s). They add value to organizations employing them by bringing together and effectively utilizing financial, human, and other Company resources to intelligently buy goods and services. They help increase efficiency, add to bottom line profitability, and even assist global competitiveness. Job titles and descriptions differ greatly in this profession and are generally influenced by the size of the organization, industry sector, commodities or services purchased and employer practices, rather than specific job duties. Changing practices have continually altered the traditional role of purchasing in many industries; however job descriptions can be generally grouped into three main classifications based on core duties, skill set and/or educational requirements. After years of development, these job descriptions were developed by Tim Moore for the Purchasing Management Association of Canada (PMAC); however, Tim Moore and Tim Moore Associates cannot take responsibility for their correct usage in your exact application, as each organization is different. The following job descriptions are for informational purposes only and meant to supply minimum guidelines for organizations to consider..

Executives

Core duties may include;

  • Develop and oversee all purchasing policies and procedures; and control purchasing department budget to strategically reach short, intermediate and long term organizational goals.
  • Manage adherence to ethical procurement standards and compliance with organizational quality levels for all goods or services purchased.
  • Direct the effective utilization of financial, human, and other organizational resources to intelligently buy goods and services.
  • Oversee anticipated purchasing actions including (if applicable) research of order requirements, specification development, solicitation of bids, assessing supplier capabilities and terms, negotiation of contracts, order placement and final contract(s) awarding.
  • Direct and support the ongoing development of internal and external resources to assist the Purchasing area in sourcing, researching and evaluating goods, products, services and alternative suppliers which the Company may utilize.
  • Initiate and continuously maintain communication and successful working relationships with other functional areas within the organization and with outside vendors which may impact the Supply Chain function and effectiveness.
  • Oversee the interviewing, hiring and effective training of staff.

A varied skill set is required and may include:

  • Solid understanding of ethical issues related to Purchasing
  • Knowledge of best practices in purchasing
  • Contract formation and negotiation
  • Business and contractual law
  • Strategic and global procurement perspective and planning ability
  • Understanding of entire supply chain function from procurement to disposition
  • Team, resource and relationship building ability
  • Superior mentoring and coaching skills
  • Awareness of new and evolving technologies affecting Purchasing – e-commerce
  • Benchmarking (sector and commodity driven)
  • Finance and Accounting understanding
  • Superior decision making and communication skills

Education and Training

  • A strong educational foundation coupled with practical hands on experience within a specific sector and/or commodity group(s). Continuous upgrading and maintenance of your professional designation, knowledge base, and/or skill set is required for success
  • A university bachelor’s degree or college diploma in business administration, commerce and/or economics usually forms the minimum base on which additional studies and specialization may be required.
  • However, depending on the particular sector which the organization operates within or the specific commodities bought; a more specific educational discipline may assist. (For example, a bachelor’s degree or college diploma in engineering for Purchasing Managers\Directors involved in heavy manufacturing or other industrial applications.)
  • This, combined with several years of experience as a Purchasing Supervisor, Senior Buyer or Officer in a similar sector or commodity is suggested as well.
  • Enrollment in and certification from the Purchasing Management Association of Canada’s Certified Professional Purchaser (C.P.P.) Accreditation program is highly recommended and advantageous.

Middle Management

Core duties may include;

  • Assist in the recommendation and development of purchasing policies, procedures, and standards with related budgeting to reach organizational short, intermediate and long term goals
  • Awareness of, and adherences to ethical and quality standards and their implementation for all goods or services.
  • Assist the Purchasing Manager or Director in the coordination of financial, human, and other organizational resources to intelligently buy goods and services
  • Supervise the proper researching of order requirements and specifications. Coordinate\conduct the solicitation of bids, assessing supplier capabilities and full terms. Make recommendations for the negotiation of contracts, and order placement
  • Develop internal and external resources to assist the purchasing area in sourcing, researching and evaluating goods, products, services and alternative suppliers. Report problems or variances to the Purchasing Manager or Director
  • Assist and promote communication and successful working relationships with other functional areas within the organization and outside vendors which effect the Supply Chain function and effectiveness. Report problems to Management
  • Meet regularly with direct/indirect reports involved with the supply chain function to ensure that all supplies, materials, and products are ordered on time, shipped, and received on schedule and within quality requirements
  • Assist in the interviewing, hiring, training, and supervision of staff. (If req’d.)

A varied skill set is required and may include:

  • Understanding and/or appreciation of ethical issues related to Purchasing
  • Knowledge of basic contract formation and negotiation techniques
  • Growing awareness of strategic and global procurement issues
  • Understanding of basic supply chain function
  • Appreciation of the importance of team, resource and relationship building
  • Good mentoring, coaching, and instructing skills
  • Good consulting skills when dealing with other internal clients
  • Computer literacy and hands on ability, with awareness of new technologies affecting Purchasing – including e commerce
  • Basic finance and accounting understanding
  • Planning, decision making and communication skills

Education and Training

  • A strong educational foundation coupled with practical hands on experience within a specific sector and/or commodity group(s) are required for success at this level. Earning additional education credits toward your professional designation, knowledge base, and/or skill set will ensure your success and added value to the organization
  • Progression toward or possession of a university bachelor’s degree or college diploma in business administration, commerce and/or economics usually forms the minimum base on which additional studies and specialization may be required
  • However, depending on the particular sector which the organization operates within or the specific commodities bought; a more specific educational discipline may assist. (For example, credits toward or attainment of a bachelor’s degree or college diploma in engineering for Purchasing Supervisors involved in heavy manufacturing or other industrial applications.)
  • This, combined with several years of experience as a Buyer, Purchasing Agent or Officer in a similar sector or commodity is suggested as well
  • Enrollment in and credits toward certification from the Purchasing Management Association of Canada’s Certified Professional Purchaser (C.P.P.) Accreditation program is advantageous

Operational

Core duties may include;

  • Purchasing raw materials, goods, services and finished products or business services based on the specifications and production requirements of the organization
  • Assessing the requirements of the organization and to develop specifications for the items or services required
  • If applicable, the invitation of tenders, interviewing, and research of suppliers and commodities; and the presentation and review of quotations with the Senior Buyer and/or Supervisor
  • The investigation of favourable contract terms and conditions and a recommendation put forward for the awarding of contracts
  • Actual preparing of requisition orders to buy replenishment stock, equipment and/or services; and the arrangement of delivery
  • Inventory, production and planning duties may also apply and could include:
  • Monitoring inventory levels as raw materials, equipment, and stock issued, distributed, transferred within or outside the organization and/or disposed
  • Compiling of inventory reports – detailing the quantity, type and value of materials, equipment and other stock on hand. Both manual and computerized inventory control and stocking taking methods may be used
  • Maintenance of records and details on stock rotation, obsolescent and dangerous goods and disposition of outdated or aged stock
  • Preparation, maintenance, and reporting to management on: progress of work, materials used, rates of production and other information
  • The reconciliation of inventories on record versus actual physical counts

A varied skill set is required and may include:

  • Good communications skills including oral, written and listening ability
  • Ability and openness to learning the requirements and processes of organizations, to purchase raw materials, goods, equipment, business services, etc.
  • Ability to respond to needs and requests of others in a helping and supportive way
  • Good mathematical skills required to determine stock requirements and prepare reports
  • Computer literacy and hands on ability, with appreciation toward keeping up with new software and technologies which affect their job
  • Social skills required to work with other people including internal clients from other areas within the organization, and outside suppliers to determine needs and/or resolve issues or problems
  • Good organizational skills required to compile, accumulated, and utilize information

Education and Training

  • Completion of secondary school is a minimum requirement along with practical hands on experience as a Purchasing or Inventory Clerk, Junior Buyer, etc.
  • Additional in house on the job training or post secondary job related purchasing courses is essential to further progress within the organization and sector
  • Computer literacy along with hands on ability with various computerized buying, planning, and/or inventory systems is highly recommended
  • Enrollment in and credits toward a Purchasing Certificate from the Purchasing Management Association of Canada (P.M.A.C.) is recommended