Any buyer’s job description needs to be carefully crafted to ensure that it reflects the needs of the company. Buyers are key players in any procurement strategy so it is important to make sure that the job description helps to attract and secure someone who is multi-skilled and able to craft a robust procurement approach.
There are some misconceptions about the role of a buyer with people assuming that it is simply about driving hard bargains and being a key player in getting the highest number of goods for the lowest possible price; the role of a buyer is actually much more complex than that.
The first thing to consider incorporating into a buyer’s job description is the requirement for the employee to develop the organisation’s procurement and purchasing strategy. Although any organisation should have a procurement or purchasing strategy, it is always worth encouraging buyers to develop this, in line with the aim of achieving continuous improvements to the company.
Next the buyer will need to liaise effectively with suppliers and manufacturers, as well as internal departments and even customers. So this needs to be included in the job description because effective liaison with such a number of different groups requires a strong set of communication skills, mainly due to the fact that all these different groups will often have different and even potentially conflicting needs, so strong communication skills are required.
Slightly separate from the strong relationships that the buyer has to have with suppliers s/he also needs to be able to negotiate effectively with suppliers and potentially even with internal departments, so this should be reflected in the job description. It is also critical that this is highlighted as negotiating effectively, not simply able to secure the lowest price or driving a hard bargain; the skill required is being able to negotiate effectively!
The job description should include a directive that ensures the buyer establishes and maintains strong and trusting relationships with suppliers. This is a prerequisite for a stable supply chain, which is why it needs to be included within the job description.
Yet there are other tasks that also need to be included within the job description. For example, the buyer will be required to analyse price trends and assess their impact on future activities as well as continuously develop market knowledge. This is vital because buyers need to know what is happening at market level and then use this knowledge to help influence procurement activities within the organisation.
Part of this analysis will involve interpreting statistics and translating them into data for the company, so the job description should spell out that the ability to analyse and interpret statistics is vital to the role.
Buyers also need to be able to ensure that quality standards are maintained. In other words there is no point having a buyer buying goods that are not fit for purpose. The quality of the items is important and the buyer needs to understand quality processes and standards.
It is usually a prerequisite of a buyer’s role that they can give presentations. This could be to suppliers, to senior management within the company or even to customers. So the buyer needs to be able to give high quality presentations, after all they are representing the company and they also need to use technology to ensure these have a very professional slant.
So the job description for a buyer is actually very extensive and one that involves a number of different, but highly skilled roles and the job description must be reflective of this highly complex, but extremely important position within the company!