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What is a purchasing controller?
As a special form of controlling, purchasing controlling is either a staff function of purchasing or a sub-area of operative controlling, depending on the company structure.
In general, purchasing controlling serves as an interface function between the purchasing and controlling departments, with the position mainly existing in large companies, especially in the industrial and commercial sectors. Here many companies have to deal with complex cost calculations, substitutable products, high order frequency and various risks and are heavily dependent on raw material markets.
The importance of purchasing controllers is directly related to the importance of purchasing. This department is a central success factor for companies, because only those who buy goods or materials of good quality and on good terms can assert themselves in the competitive global market in the long term. In addition, every euro that can be saved in purchasing affects the operating result. The purchasing controller uncovers weaknesses — both in the company and in the process —, identifies risks and strengthens the buyers for negotiations with suppliers.
Purchasing controlling is becoming increasingly important
The purchasing controlling interface is becoming more and more important as the number of suppliers, products and raw materials is increasing and is becoming increasingly difficult for retailers to keep track of. In the retail sector in particular, companies are faced with a complex situation when making procurement decisions, because the procurement market is globally intertwined and many suppliers offer similar or even identical products.
Purchasing controllers must be mentally in constant motion and always keep an eye on different interactions: zero interest rate policy, abolition of the sugar quota, fipronil eggs, summer heat, crop failures, lack of truck drivers, punitive tariffs in the USA – developments like these also have an impact on purchasing and find reflected in the purchasing controlling figures. Because the purchasing controller continuously analyzes and optimizes purchasing costs, processes and methods. In addition, he is responsible for the budget and forecast process, reporting and the definition of key figures and goals or is involved in them.
The most important things in 5 seconds
- Education: Completed business studies, preferably with a focus on controlling
- Starting salary: €45,000
- Top salary: €95,000
- Opportunities for advancement: Head of Controlling, Managing Director
What does a purchasing controller do?
- Controlling of purchasing processes and logistic processes
- Analysis of key figures – development as well as target-actual deviations
- Development of simulation models and preparation of forecasts for business development
- Risk analysis and development of early warning systems
- Creation of decision templates
- regular reporting and improvement of purchasing-related key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Ensuring the availability of meaningful, high-quality data and information and ensuring the basis for value-added reports
control and planning
- Development and implementation of defined processes as well as process and cost optimization projects for supplier controlling and assumption of responsibility for daily implementation
- Budget planning and ensuring the content and time implementation for the area of responsibility
- Ensuring the complete, correct recording of all project services up to the timely billing to the customer
- Monitoring consumables purchases and assisting in supplier selection
- Contact person for those responsible for purchasing and an advisory role in management decisions
- Business partner function for the project manager
- Contact person regarding the negotiation of purchasing conditions
- Evaluation of negotiation results
How to become a purchasing controller
In order to do their job really well, purchasing controllers not only need specialist knowledge in controlling, but above all procurement-specific know-how. This in turn varies from company to company: After all, the procurement markets of food retailers, jewellers, pharmacies or manufacturing industrial companies are very different. In addition, an understanding of programming and IT is becoming increasingly important for controllers.
Purchasing controllers are generally expected to have the following additional knowledge:
- Completed business studies, preferably with a focus on controlling
- first professional experience in a similar position
- Solid user knowledge of SAP and MS Office, especially Excel
- Relevant experience with controlling instruments
- Familiarity with the principles of standard costing and price variance
- good written and spoken English knowledge
What does a purchasing controller earn?
Purchasing controllers earn between € 45,000 and €95,000 gross per year. The exact annual salary depends to a large extent on professional experience and the size of the company: The larger and more international a company is, the higher the salary is usually. In addition, if you can sell yourself well, you earn more than someone with the same skills who is more reserved in salary negotiations.
What do you expect from the purchasing controller?
Purchasing controllers are personalities who have a strong understanding and interest in numbers and who also enjoy observing markets and developments and integrating this into their daily work.
Since purchasing controllers carry relatively high levels of responsibility in companies, they have to report certain key figures and analyzes to management or the board of directors on a regular basis. Last but not least, communication skills and a “hands-on mentality” are helpful for this, as is a structured and result-oriented way of working.
A basic technical understanding and IT affinity also help to define processes or, for example, commission IT to recode programs for specific purposes. Willingness to perform and the ability to work in a team round off the profile of a purchasing controller.
Requirements in brief:
- strong communication skills
- willingness to perform
- Pronounced understanding of numbers with strong analytical and strategic thinking skills
- Independent, structured and result-oriented way of working
- possibly IT affinity/ basic technical understanding
Opportunities for advancement as a purchasing controller
Good purchasing controllers can develop into heads of controlling or even become managing directors: They know the company, its figures and processes very well and therefore bring valuable know-how with them for management functions.
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