A procurement category manager is a purchasing professional responsible for the buying activities of a specific product or component category. Responsibilities vary by company and position but generally include sourcing suppliers, negotiating prices, and finalizing contracts. Other duties often include researching market trends, maintaining supplier databases, and processing payments to vendors.
Category management is a strategic model wherein a company's main products or purchasing needs are divided into groups based on similar features. In a convenience store, for example, categories might include soft drinks, grocery staples, and tobacco products. In a food manufacturing plant, purchasing categories might include produce, spices, and packaging supplies. A procurement category manager focuses on purchasing needed items within a specific category. For example, the produce buyer at the manufacturing plant focuses on finding the best suppliers of whole fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, apples, or squash.
All vendor relations activities of a given category generally fall under the procurement category manager. This means that the manager must research available supply sources by interviewing them, checking references, and often, verifying credit and insurance histories. The category manager obtains pricing from each viable source, negotiates purchasing terms, and signs contracts or agreements with the selected sources. He or she may also need to set up vendor profiles in the company accounting system, check received product for correctness, and sign off on supplier invoices.
In many cases, a procurement category manager is responsible for maintaining adequate inventory levels. The manager must ensure that enough of each component product is available to meet production demands without tying up capital by carrying more inventory than is necessary. Inventory management can be a highly complex process, particularly when it involves perishable goods.
Depending on the size of the company, a procurement category manager might have a staff. In this case, he or she would be responsible for personnel management duties such as determining human capital needs, interviewing candidates, and hiring to fill open positions. He or she would also be responsible for performance reviews, staff development activities, and any necessary putative action.
A top procurement category manager is highly knowledgeable about his or her profession and category. He or she will likely invest a certain amount of time reading current market news, networking with other procurement professionals, and researching industry best practices. Performing competitor research and attending professional development classes or seminars in order to keep pace with changing market conditions and demands may also top his or her list of duties.