What it takes to be a Materials Purchasing Manager in Construction
November 18, 2021
Tyler Riddell
Materials Purchasing Manager in Construction

The role of the purchasing manager in a construction company is a crucial one. A purchasing manager, also known as a procurement manager, is a supply chain and logistics professional. The purchasing manager procures construction materials and equipment for the contractor. In addition, they search for the best quality and most cost-effective materials for each construction project. Finally, the purchasing manager develops relationships with many stakeholders (accounting, field, project, warehouse, executives, suppliers, etc.) to ensure materials arrive on time, within budget, and undamaged. Within their role, managing large amounts of documentation, several workflows, and stakeholder expectations is no small feat in an industry where material prices fluctuate with little warning and are highly volatile to impact success.

A purchasing manager requires a particular set of skills to perform well. Helpful skills include:

  • Analytical skills
  • Exceptional negotiation skills
  • Excellent business and communication skills
  • Strong math skills and budgeting abilities 
  • Construction materials expertise 
  • Project management experience 
  • Knowledge of supply chain practices

When handling complex construction projects, a purchasing manager must juggle all the moving parts of the job and overcome challenges daily. As a result, the purchasing manager’s performance significantly impacts every project’s profits and cost savings.

Materials Purchasing Manager Responsibilities 

A purchasing manager has many responsibilities beyond managing the company’s supply chain strategy. For example, they must ensure supplier-provided materials acceptable quality regulations and work closely with Warehouse managers to ensure inventory is always at optimal levels. Too much stock can impact cash flow. On the other hand, too little inventory may risk delaying projects which also brings substantial costs. Purchasing managers also continually negotiate better prices, service, and delivery deals with suppliers and vendors.

The purchasing manager’s responsibilities in construction also encompass other duties that might not be as evident such as:

Materials Purchasing Mangers send RFQs and provide input on bids 

Materials purchasing strategy includes developing requests for quotes (RFQs) and the evaluation of bids for materials needed for your construction firm. 

Basing a quote or bid on unrealistic numbers, the timeframe and level of quality needed can substantially impact the profitability of a project. Another challenge can be the number of suppliers reached, which means the purchasing manager doesn’t receive timely responses. A Purchasing manager also provides input on building materials and other costs associated with the proposed project used to prepare bid proposals, so digging up numbers with prices continually changing may be problematic.

An effective procurement strategy for a subcontracting firm is to leverage software designed to manage all aspects of material purchasing and management instead of relying on one person to have this infinite knowledge contained on spreadsheets. Construction software is designed to help the purchasing manager do their jobs more effectively.

Materials Purchasing Mangers define deadlines and manage resources 

A construction material procurement schedule lists necessary materials and items needed for purchase and delivery onsite at the right time and location within the jobsite. It is a helpful tool in developing cash-flow plans for the project. The procurement schedule can also include the timeline for such line items as shop drawings, approvals, the project contract, building permits, and the contractual notice to proceed. Understanding procurement times for things such as how long it typically takes to get shop drawings and approvals come with experience.

Another purchasing manager’s responsibilities in construction involve coordinating the procurement and delivery schedule with the project manager integrated with the overall project schedule. This includes pricing and which materials are acceptable to be ordered on the jobsite and approval processes. Again, this is crucial to the overall construction schedule and ultimately to the success of the project.

How Materials Purchasing Managers work within the construction build process

A purchasing manager’s responsibilities in construction don’t end with purchasing the materials and services necessary for the construction project. Throughout the project’s lifecycle, they are responsible for managing contracts, POs, submittals, vendor and product evaluations, and performance.

Purchasing managers can use project performance data to collaborate with clients, vendors, and suppliers to adjust deadlines and renegotiate contract terms as situations change during construction. Getting approvals and not operating within the initial bid’s restraints can save the contractor thousands of dollars.

Another responsibility purchasing managers fulfill during construction is creating submittals for hundreds of items. This is time-intensive and tedious work tracking multiple items relying on a manual system, such as a spreadsheet or document.

Invoices-3-Way-Matching and approvals - Structshare

Digital Materials Purchasing and Management Software reimagines the entire workflow and keeps stakeholders on the same page. 

The purchasing manager’s responsibility in construction is vast and may wear several hats for small-to-medium-sized construction firms, so it’s no wonder purchasing managers need purpose-built construction software to make their jobs easier.

StructShare improves the material purchasing and management processes from the initial construction project bid to closeout. It automates manual steps to be completed more efficiently and gives purchasing managers easy access to data such as contracts, purchase orders, invoices, and change orders. All information is in real-time to make scheduling and managing resources and deliveries easier. And everything’s stored in one web-based location. StructShare also includes automatic notifications essential for meeting deadlines and ensuring nothing delays the project.

Using materials purchasing and management software provides historical insights and predictive analytics to help Purchasing Managers make smarter decisions daily.

StructShare software reimagines material management without having to bring IT resources to implement. The Mobile app and web-based software are easy to use and can be set up in one day. In addition, StructShare software digitizes workflows to connect the field, office, accounting, warehouse, inventory, and suppliers on one collaborative platform to keep projects on schedule and the team on the same page.

In short, the correct construction software can provide purchasing managers with many advantages that simplify the process, make it more efficient and earn more profits!

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