Purchasing is a function that every organization describes in a different way. Mr. H.R Sapra, Sr. Vice President – Materials of Relaxo Footwears Limited offers seven ways which enable a Purchase professional to reach to the top in his / her career.

1. Character: Character is something which is of supreme importance for this role. This means you do what is correct. It is one thing to have the ethics for not surrendering yourself for non-ethical things, but it, takes great nerve to do what is correct.

2. Negotiation: Look around and you will find everyone in your surrounding as a Purchaser or a Negotiator. Very often professional go into a negotiating table not thoroughly prepared and think they can manage a contract with minimum or zero preparation. My recommendation is to study as much as thinkable about your product or service before you go for negotiation.

3. Be a Supply Chain Practitioner: You need to be thinking about things like vertical amalgamation. We need to work as Supply Chain Practitioner –one who thinks through manufacturing footprint of the products- both as a buyer as well as a supplier, issues concerning quality ,cost of supply ,vendor’s proximity, packing, logistics etc. If a supplier provides packaging material for you and another supplier does the printing jobs on those packaging material then would not it be great to find a supplier that does both packaging and printing? It would save the supplier’s markup for Selling, General and Administrative Expenses and thus you will turn save money in your operational cost.

4. Emphasis on Quality Par Excellence: Yes, the price has to be a bargained, since we are purchasers and it is our primary duty to get the materials at the most competitive and reasonable cost. However, one needs to work very meticulously with the Supplier for ensuring quality.

Secondly, it is also a must to have Quality Inspectors in your team who can routinely visit your suppliers and can act as torch bearer of your quality; such people are real investment for ensuring your Quality Standards and Goodwill in the competitive market.

5. Non-Stop learning: You need to read the company’s SOPs thoroughly and incase there are none in your organization then volunteer yourself to prepare one for them. Secondly, you need to learn the importance of the position of the function that you were recruited to perform. Too many people think this means they should create more processes and policies to add to their systems until the system is complex to understand.

I firmly believe that learning should never stop be it any position or age for a purchase professionals. Enroll yourself in various forums, read Purchase Related Magazine and participate in Seminars to upgrade your skills and to know the best purchasing practices in the industry.

6. Vendor Relationship Management: The relationship we have with customers yields revenue on which we make margins that turn into profit. Like customers, vendors are also our true partners in our journey to progress. It has to be understood and followed in letter and spirit. To manage your vendors well you need to have Emotional Intelligence (EQ)—understand their concerns and resolve those as quickly as possible. The ability to recognize an emotion as it “happens” is the key to your EQ.

7. Effective Contract Management: Read the contract thoroughly and ascertain downsides. While negotiating your contract with other party you have to be steady, impartial and always try to understand difficulties if raised by Suppliers. I have observed that there are many employees, when asked about some contract related points, they start reading the contract all over again. The best way is to answer your contract related point is to create a FAQ duly approved by the purchase head so that all the concerned employees in the team speaks the same language. Lastly, seek clarification from your vendors whenever you need from them without any hesitation.