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Characteristics of a successful purchasing professional

According to Tony Pashigian, leadership expert, before companies determine which qualities are necessary, they must decide how their department will function. Is the department expected be to clerical or strategic? From there, they can decide which characteristics will bring their department and organization the most success. In his article, Pashigian lists 45 skills "that will achieve optimal results."

Here are six of those characteristics, along with additional insight from Tony Pashigian:

  • Integrity: Integrity is made up of character and morality. It defines whether you are solid, trustworthy and reliable. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Do what you commit to do. Keep your word. Do not over-commit, because you will, likely, under-deliver. Be honest. Every transaction requires certain flexibility but never compromise your integrity for the sake of a transaction. It could be your last.

  • Knowledge and organization: Mastery of data is a key ingredient in the secret sauce of Purchasing. You have to know more about what you are buying than the person selling it. You have to know how supplier’s prices compare to the lowest possible cost to manufacture it and what other suppliers are willing to sell it for. Finally, you need to be able to recall all of this immediately to assist in negotiations and planning. Note: you don’t have to be an expert. That’s what experts are for. Seek their counsel, if required. It’s not a sign of weakness, but a sign of intelligence.

  • Anticipation: What can go wrong? What opportunities exist? Is your commodity high risk? Is this a new product? Is this a new supplier? Does your program team not have a clue? This is, likely, the single most important skill to have engaged at all times. This skill is essential to get out of the reactive way of doing business and behaving proactively. How many times do we encounter people, departments or companies that spend all of their time whining about all the firefighting they have to do? An ounce of anticipation can go a long way to prevent this way of doing business. You need to kick off a supplier by January 7 to meet program timing. Engineering has committed to get you drawings by December 7. However, if you wait until December 7 to check on them, you will almost certainly be disappointed. You can dwell on how it’s not your fault, but you still end up fighting a fire. On November 7 you should be asking for partial information and validating that drawing creation is on schedule.

  • Intimacy: Companies don’t buy from companies. People buy from people. Build relationships with suppliers and with the members of your organization for whom you are doing the buying. Visit your suppliers.

  • Resilience and agility: Not everything is going to go well all the time. How we, as procurement professionals, react and adapt to situations will maximize our value and contribution to our company.

  • Patience: Your internal processes will take too long. Your supplier will quote too high of a price or too long of a lead-time. The program team will give you unreasonable cost and timing expectations. You will wonder where your management team has been when you realize how little they know about the circumstances of your job. There. Now that you expect it, just focus on creating and executing a credible plan to achieve your objectives. If the objectives are impossible, speak with data instead of emotion and calmly lower the stakeholder’s expectations so you can exceed them.

To learn about other skills that are beneficial for procurement professionals, read Tony Pashigian’s full article, “45 Characteristics of a Successful Purchasing Professional.”

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