Firms and enterprises of all descriptions typically require materials, products and assistance from external vendors to carry out their primary functions. Determinations must be made regarding how such goods and services will be acquired and the terms under which they will be obtained. A sourcing manager is a person engaged by businesses or other organizational entities to perform such contracting and purchasing functions. Though breath of responsibility in this type of role may vary depending on the nature of the employing company, a typical sourcing manager will identify appropriate suppliers, negotiate contracts, coordinate transportation and predict future company needs.
A primary goal of every sourcing manager is to secure the highest-quality raw materials, goods or services at the best possible prices. This requires continuous monitoring of market conditions and industry trends. Among the considerations sourcing managers must analyze are materials inventories, global demand and vendor quality. To make the most advantageous acquisition decisions, a savvy sourcing manager will need to stay abreast of supplier innovations, visit vendor facilities and participate in trade shows. Once preferred providers have been identified, contract negotiations may commence.
It is not uncommon for sourcing managers to wear more than one hat within a company. Many sourcing professionals also have management responsibilities in marketing, logistics, forecasting and manufacturing processes. The potential for expansion beyond the traditional sourcing manager job description suggests that continuing education and specialized credentialing are vital to the success of professionals in this field. Some of the designations available in the sourcing realm include that of certified professional in supply management, certified professional purchasing manager, accredited purchasing practitioner and certified supply chain professional.
Sourcing managers are employed by a wide range of corporate and governmental entities and, therefore, have varied work environments. Those who work for traditional companies and organizations typically enjoy relatively conventional office settings. Professionals employed by large manufacturers are likely to travel internationally on a frequent basis in search of the very best materials at the most competitive price. Interaction with other business units within the organization or corporation also may be necessary to understand precisely which types of goods, raw materials or external assistance would best facilitate the firm's overall goals. Successful sourcing managers also must acquire advanced knowledge of negotiation techniques and contract law so the acquisitions they oversee work to their employer's best advantage and generate increased efficiency and profit.