Buyers how do you find your suppliers?

Filed Under procurement | Leave a Comment 

In one of our recent posts, we advocated buyer jobs as one of the best places to start your supply chain career.

One of the key processes for this role is to research and select suppliers but you’d be surprised that one of the key problems that many companies face is just how to find that elusive brilliant vendor? Many companies can get stuck in a rut and fail to break

Here we list 10 common ways you might go about it, this isn’t by any means exhaustive and we’d love to hear your methods in our comments section below.

1/ Trade shows

One of the easiest ways of finding suppliers at trade shows. These industry gatherings usually offer buyers and suppliers a forum to meet. The nature of trade shows is that you’ll often get a chance to view products 1st hand whist having access to the potential supplier’s sales team. Trade shows also provide a great avenue of meeting industry peers and enhancing your market knowledge (they are usually a great place to see innovation). Keep a list of your industry trade shows handy and get those dates in your diary.

2/ Research major manufacturers

It’s a little obvious I grant you, but one of the first places many start is uncle Google. Search Engines can offer a great inroad in reviewing major manufacturers for the products your interested in and building up your initial list. Note that you’ll likely have a range of criteria that a simple Internet search won’t fully answer but it should provide an initial list of potential suppliers that you can then review in more detail.

3/ Search on required capabilities

If you’re looking for capability rather than product then again good old google is your friend. For example “sheet metal fabrication in wisconsin” brings up an appropriate list. (not only those Google finds through search but also those who are advertising.) Again this should give you an opportunity to do some research just have an advanced thought about your search terms and tailor them to your requirements.

4/ Talk to your non-procurement colleagues

Whilst your procurement colleagues may have a vast array of information don’t neglect other areas within your business, Design/Engineering, Production & Operations may have some good insider knowledge about your industry – indeed some of them may have worked at suppliers that you might be interested in.

5/ Look for trade portals

Many industries have online trade portals where you can research suppliers and in many cases send out RFQ’s. Industries like Aerospace & Pharmaceuticals are good examples of industries that use such tools – does yours?

6/ Equipment OEMs

If your looking for a particular service (or example sheet metal pressings) you can always research the resellers of the equipment used in the process, they may well be able to put you in touch with companies that have bought their equipment.

7/ Linkedin

Linked in can be a great place to research companies and talk to other individuals within your industry who may be able to put you in touch with appropriate suppliers.

8/ Industry Magazines
Every industry has a trade newspaper or magazine. These publications can be gold dust for buyers. Scour them for appropriate advertisements from potential vendors.

9/ Competitors
Have contacts within your competition? Who do they procure their products from?

10/ Consultancy services

Finally, there is a range of supplier sourcing consultancy services that offer specialist sourcing services. These can offer good value by helping you short cut the process. Industry specialists usually have an array of existing suppliers in their network that they can use to compete for your business.

So what sourcing tools & tips do you know, feel free to share in the comments section below.

Do Buyer jobs offer good career progression

Filed Under career | 1 Comment 

For those looking for career longevity and advancement opportunities, Supply Chain has always been one of those areas that you’d think has lots to offer. It’s a diverse field and one which is typically hierarchically structured with junior, middle management, and senior management positions.

While there are a plethora of positions for those starting out, procurement typically offers a viable entry point for many and buyer jobs are usually considered both easier to get and more plentiful.

So do these job roles offer both a good starting point and one which offers the right sort of progression?

The role of procurement within a company

Procurement can be a very visible role within a business and can be a key contributor in determining its success. It can be very competitiveness whilst also offering up exciting opportunities

Buyer jobs can vary considerably from company to company. Within smaller companies, you might be expected to have a broader breadth of responsibilities whereas within larger companies buying roles can seemingly tend to be more transactional with much of the supplier selection steps left to more senior members of the team. The determining factor is often the complexity of both the parts and the distribution network.

The key tasks of the buyer remain:

* Finding suppliers
* Agreeing deals (prices/lead time)
* Liaising with suppliers
* Reviewing and agreeing which items need to be bought.
* Co-ordinating relevant transactions (i.e. raising Purchase Orders)
* Problem-solving)
Entry qualifications for buyers

Whilst it’s still true that individuals with little experience can start at the bottom of the ladder and look to be trained up, some organizations might look for people that match certain criteria for example:
* Graduate diploma
* Previous experience
* Recognized industry qualification (i.e. CIPS).

Again this will vary from company to company with many less stringent on the more junior positions.

For those starting at the bottom rung of the ladder, many companies offer either in-house training or sponsorship of external diplomas such as CIPS. Such qualifications, whilst not mandatory, can be industry recognized and help substantially in future career growth.

Buyer career progression

Whilst you might be forgiven for thinking that there is a typical career path (buyer, lead buyer, manager etc), it isn’t necessarily as clear cut as you might imagine. Once someone has gained sufficient experience (and or qualifications) and has been in the role of buyer for a period of time they may look to stretch their wings through advancement or promotion. Buyer jobs through their exposure to a breadth of supply chain experience offer excellent routes into many other diverse areas of the supply chain (planning, distribution) and also offer excellent career paths into management areas.

So what might these senior roles be we hear you asking?

The sort of supply chain Jobs one might consider are being a buyer include:

Category management
Sourcing specialist
Sub-contract management
Lead Buyers
Procurement manager
Supplier development

Many individuals will want some management responsibility, which may include the management of a team. Such progression usually includes taking on greater responsibility, often incorporating larger budgets and criticality. This may be based on the same commodities that you have experience of already or may require you to consider different commodities.

The key message is that following a time in buying jobs, career moves into more senior positions is a distinct possibility with procurement offering an excellent basis for a career ladder. Of course, the time it takes for this will vary considerably, some people find advancement quickly others not. It largely depends on a combination of the individual, the company they work for a pinch of luck. Those in buying roles now would expect to serve around 2 years before their first promotion and expect to reach a senior management level within around 6-10 years.

What are your thoughts on the buyer role being an excellent start for supply chain careerists? We’d love to hear your comments below.

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