Why Knowing a Little of Everything Is Often Better Than Being Expert in One Thing in Procurement


Most people working in Procurement and Supply Chain Management start out in a buyer assistance or expeditor type of role, welcome to the function! Usually they will be put in a box and given a very defined category and set of tasks to learn the ropes in the first instance.

From here, many will proceed up the hierarchy or possibly branch out into other areas. During this journey they will meet others working in different departments and learn what they get up to.

For example:-

  • Account payables when it comes to  remedying supplier invoice queries
  • Engineers and other end users discussing or challenging the specification requested
  • Legal eagles to nail down the terms to use with suppliers and reduce risk into the organisation
  • Marketing and sales department in assisting to get that optimal tender submission in on time
  • Finance and senior management for budget reviews and control

Before they know it those same buyers, contract engineers, procurement supervisors, supply chain managers, along with the rest are interfacing with most department within the same organisation, as well as externally with suppliers. The amount of business exposure these role can offer is truly huge. 

Often, what makes the difference between good people working in this function and great people is the ability to work with and understand other functions drivers. Where are they coming from and what satisfies them?

But where do you strike the balance with your time and effort between really getting to know your area in detail and leaving your department to get to know others? This can be a bit of a conundrum, especially if you have tight deadlines to satisfy.

However, the latter is a critical and essential part of Procurement and Supply Chain to maximising its value to the organisation. Specialising and dedicating time only within Procurement or Supply Chain, and only within this area, can lead to

  • The inability to see issues and challenges from other perspectives
  • The creation of silo mentalities
  • Creativity and innovation being extinguished
  • Decisions being made that will effect and benefit only your department
  • A lack of understanding of other functions objectives that may hit your own

It's not a case whether you can't afford the time, it's a case of you can't afford the time to not make an effort.

Getting to know each part of the organisation, even at the basic level, is just as important, if not more so, for Procurement and Supply Chain Management to make a difference.