Purchasing agents buy various things for companies such as raw materials, products or services that the company needs to maintain operations. They have to make sure that the organization runs smoothly by ordering the products at the appropriate time and see to it that there is never any shortage.
Being highly proficient in maths is a must for a Purchasing Agent as he needs to calculate the cost of a product and its transportation.
He should also have sound decision-making skills as he needs to make important decisions regarding the quality of the products and services the company wants to buy. Their decision may affect the finanacial well being of the company.
Furthermore, he should have good time management as it is his responsibility to make sure about the quality of the purchases and the date of delivery. He must foresee problems like bad weather or transportation related problems that can postpone the delivery.
A Purchasing Agent coordinates activities for ordering goods and services, such as raw materials, equipment, tools and so on.
He finds out information about the price of the product or service and confirms the mode of delivery. He then selects the products by testing or examining them. He also makes a rough estimate of the cost, based on the existing market price.
Next, he determines method of buying such as direct purchase or bid. He then prepares purchase orders or bid requests. This is followed by reviewing bid proposals and making contracts, remaining, at all times, within the budget.
Moreover, he maintains records like products purchased, their costs, delivery and so on. In short, he keeps an inventory of all the products.
He discusses defective goods or services with quality control personnel and others to scrutinize the problem and take suitable action.
He would also approve invoices for payment and also speed up the delivery of goods.
A Purchasing Agent works in a fast-paced environment requiring high energy levels.
The job may include irregular hours and a tight schedule for meeting deadlines. One may even be expected to work on weekends or holidays.
A Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics would be highly preferred for the job of a Purchasing Agent. A business degree in purchasing or supply management may be particularly useful.
Alternatively, one can also have an undergraduate degree in a technical field and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.
Some industry-specific training could prove to be an added advantage.
Tips for the Job
A Purchasing Agent should be adept in making wise decisions as one wrong decision can lead to a lot of loss to the company.
He should also be able to forecast the future needs of the company beforehand and order products so that they can be used when needed.
He should also be able to predict as to when any particular product may be required and purchase it in advance to avoid any problems in the smooth functioning of the organization.