Making Sourcing Managers Into "Procurement Engineers"

I like the term "procurement engineer" that Freescale uses to describe all of its sourcing managers in this Purchasing article. In nearly a decade of analyzing direct materials sourcing from technical, process, and cultural perspectives, I've observed that perhaps the largest divide that hinders many organizations in going after the most challenging -- and potentially rewarding -- categories and parts is the language and skills gap between design engineering and procurement. The manufacturer cited in the above-linked article argues that "any purchaser buying for semiconductor manufacturing must have a lucid understanding of the end product and the engineering behind it. In fact, Freescale refers to its procurement managers as 'procurement engineers' to emphasize this fact." Heck, I'd argue that this same philosophy should go beyond the chip world to the more generalized industrial manufacturing sector where strategic sourcing process expertise and engineering knowledge often fail to meet at the level they should. The Bill Murray flick "Lost in Translation" comes to mind ...

Jason Busch

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