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A senior purchasing manager supervises a company's procurement process. He sets the policies and procedures by which staff can buy goods and services from authorized vendors. As a senior manager, he is responsible for the smooth operation of the company's acquisition of the goods and services it needs to operate, including process planning, bid tendering, contract award and evaluation.
Procurement is the formalization of an organization's purchasing process. Instead of allowing staff to make purchases from various sources at their own discretion, the company creates a pool of authorized vendors from which staff can make purchases. This allows the company to negotiate the best prices, establish a consistent level of quality and prevent conflicts of interest. Further, the procurement streamlines purchasing, since authorized vendors are placed into a company database and are centrally managed.
The company's purchasing or procurement department is typically led by a senior purchasing manager who supervises a staff of purchasing agents or managers. This senior manager is responsible for establishing the company's purchasing policies and procedures, which are usually codified in a company manual. He is expected to keep abreast of best practices in the procurement field and implement those standards within the company's purchasing system. The senior purchasing manager also often handles the training of purchasing department staff and the education of regular staff in proper purchasing procedure.
Functionally, the senior purchasing manager and his staff are responsible for developing sources of supply in response to business needs. He must set up a system to identify the purchasing needs of the company on an ongoing basis, and then research suppliers that can meet those needs. The process of identifying new purchasing sources continues even after a vendor has been selected. There is also the possibility that a new vendor can offer a better price or higher quality merchandise, so the senior purchasing manager must remain familiar with the most current options.
Senior purchasing managers also supervise the entire procurement work flow. This includes purchase planning, making the details of the company's purchase needs available to vendors for bidding and awarding contracts. The senior manager will likely be personally involved with the negotiations to solidify contract terms, ensuring that the company receives the best possible price.
At the back end, purchasing managers at the senior level tend to be involved with the evaluation of vendors once the contract has been awarded. The senior purchasing manager ensures that approved vendors comply with the cost provisions, delivery schedule and quality standards that are specified in the contract. He monitors staff satisfaction with approved vendors and develops a rating system so there is a quantitative mechanism to evaluate performance when a vendor's contract comes up for renewal.