Young people contemplating a career in procurement may be confused about the use of terms such as ‘purchasing’ and ‘procurement’ as though they were synonyms. However, an expert has now spelt out the crucial distinctions between the two, thereby highlighting the unique skills that professionals in procurement jobs deliver.
Procurement may rise in status in the minds of the young as a result.
Michael Wilson, the vice president of a marketing and packaging firm, explains that the two roles are in reality very different, not least because a professionally executed procurement strategy can help buyers achieve annual cost reductions of up to 12%.
Wilson sets out what he considers to be some of the most crucial distinctions between the roles:
- Purchasing is essentially a transaction that requires no strategic preparation. Professionals in procurement jobs are fundamentally strategic, however, carefully addressing a facility’s or client’s particular requirements.
- Purchasers work principally with existing sellers. Procurement professionals, including procurement interims, work to select optimal vendors according to terms of service, vetting, cost and product quality.
- Purchasers tend to buy items when they’re required. Procurement practitioners aim to achieve optimal cost reductions, as well as minimising risk and securing the best delivery options.
- Purchasers spend much of their time ordering services or products. Procurement teams spend much of theirs building relationships with suppliers, negotiating the best deals, researching the best sources and tracking customer needs.
- Purchasers are primarily concerned with price and delivery. Procurement pros are concerned with value and the overall cost of ownership.
- Much of the purchasing process today is automated. Procurement always involves people to oversee and harvest the results of automation.
The distinction between the two roles, Wilson emphasises, involves much more than semantics.
He concludes: “What is probably the key difference is that purchasing is something we do quickly when we need a product or service.
“Procurement, on the other hand, involves building relationships and the selection of goods and services based on the value they bring to the table.”