Keeping an eye on the costs
Purchasing plays one of the most important roles in the company, because all procurement processes are coordinated and carried out here. There are purchasing jobs in many sectors, but above all in mechanical engineering, logistics, retail, in the automotive industry, in the pharmaceutical industry or in the electrical industry.
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Regardless of whether goods (commodities, materials for production, operating resources, packaging) or services (e.g. for production, distribution, marketing or sales) are purchased, purchasing plays a central role. It ensures that production runs smoothly in manufacturing companies and that there are always enough goods available for internal distribution and sale in trading companies.
In the operational area, all administrative tasks associated with procurement are taken over by buyers, business people or clerks. The employees take on a wide range of tasks:
- Creation of tenders
- Obtaining and evaluating offers
- appointment tracking
- Control of incoming deliveries
- Goods receipt inspections
- Administration of prices and conditions (maintenance of master data)
- Inventory management
- Processing of returns
Overall, these processes can help to create all the necessary key figures, not only to create the necessary cost transparency for the company itself, but also to track down hidden costs.
Analytical planning is also important for procurement. Purchasing processes can only be optimized with a clear strategy. At best, purchasing should be involved in cross-departmental coordination. Finally, costs, e.g. in product development, in R&D or the material costs of production must also be kept in mind.
The main tasks in strategic purchasing are also diverse:
- Evaluation and selection of suppliers based on various cost and quality-specific criteria
- Contract and condition negotiations
- Organization of product groups
- Internal company initiatives for standardization in production (e.g. standardization of components, preliminary products or parts)
- Participation in make or buy decisions
- Benchmarking through market observation and market analysis (also from competitors)
Focus on quality, delivery reliability and costs
Probably the most important task of a purchasing department is the search, selection, evaluation and development of suppliers and service providers. The goal of effective purchasing management is to identify the most suitable business partners for your own products or services in order to ensure competitiveness on a partnership basis.
In terms of an honest and serious purchasing policy, the criteria for the selection of suppliers should be transparent and understandable for colleagues and superiors in the company. Quality, delivery reliability, conditions, market position, financial risk and environmental protection are the most important purchasing criteria in this context. Based on these points, it can be seen that the role of purchasing goes far beyond that of pure “cost cutting”.
Supply chains: risk and responsibility
It is becoming increasingly important to have a good knowledge of the suppliers. In addition to obtaining information from credit agencies, an efficient risk management system is also an advantage. Supplier data relevant to purchasing is stored here. These can include sales, number of employees or profit. These key figures can in turn be supplemented by additional SAP data, such as the turnover that the company achieves with the individual suppliers, which parts are purchased there, what the current prices are and what the quality figures of the suppliers look like.
In context with global trade relations and supply chains, reliability plays a major role. Foreign suppliers in particular, some of whom are scattered around the world, or the availability of important raw materials should be kept under constant review. The risk of delivery delays and failures must be minimized as much as possible. However, it cannot always be completely ruled out. This applies in particular to external influences for which the supplier cannot be held responsible, e.g. natural disasters, the closure of borders as a result of conflicts or wars or the blocking of important international shipping routes. Here it is important to be able to fall back on alternative sources of supply or to create appropriate stocks in order to be able to bridge a certain period of time.
Companies that are confronted with the question of working conditions in the production countries in international purchasing should also keep a special eye on the suppliers here, as this point is increasingly the focus of the media. Many companies in the German textile industry and textile trade provide an example of this. T. In cooperation with international non-governmental organizations, ensure a minimum standard for wages and working conditions for employees in emerging and third world countries.