I’ll admit, I was a little hesitant when applying for an internship with a procurement and strategic sourcing company. Being a communications major recently entering a business program, I had a few semesters of business classes under my belt, but was not yet fluent in the language and realm of Procurement. Regardless, I saw this as a fantastic opportunity to learn more about an area that I hadn’t known much about- a chance to “expand my horizons.”
I was thrilled when I received a phone interview, and ecstatic when I was given the opportunity to come in for an in-person one. When I entered the interview room, I noticed a pile of different hats on the table behind my interviewers. In their opening statement, they immediately brought up the different roles Procurement plays, and more specifically, the different roles I would play- or hats I would wear- as a Communications intern at Source One. I took right to the notion regarding Communications, as I figured this would be the case given the nature of the communications field- from filming promotional videos or even being on-camera to writing press releases and blog posts, the opportunities and responsibilities are endless.
What I did not realize was how the idea of wearing many hats pertained just as much- if not more- to the Procurement field. When going through the various collections of content generated by Source One’s employees, I had an eye-opening moment when I noticed all of the different categories the content covered, and in turn subcategories of each. Areas like Finance, IT, Logistics, MRO, Fleet, COMMUNICATIONS (hey- I like Communications!), and HR- some of which I would never have considered to fall under the Procurement umbrella.
Let’s take a closer look at the sectors that initially stood out as being quite foreign to me.
MRO: This category consists of maintenance, repair, and operations. It's considered an overarching category for tons of subcategories, causing it to often be misunderstood and in-turn, improperly managed. Components of MRO include products, services, and suppliers that are a vital part in the day-to-day operations of an organization, requiring extensive attention and understanding for proper function and implementation.
Logistics: Each organization has specified locations and routing processes. Providing consultation for these processes means each one must be analyzed on an individual basis, taking factors such as suppliers, geographies and shipment methods into account. You need to know what is being shipped, how much of it, how large the shipment will be, in what conditions the product can be shipped- and that's just to start. Tackling the travel process itself is a whole other beast.
Fleet: Different vehicles are designed and utilized for various business needs. Each vehicle comes with separate fuel and maintenance costs- let alone means of operation. It's one thing to know which vehicles are necessary, how many are needed, and required amounts of fuel and operators, but it's another to be well-versed in the area, knowing a variety of options for each factor, and to comb through every choice, generating the combination that brings the lowest cost for the greatest productivity level.
These three categories are just a slim few compared to every subject a Procurement professional must encounter and have experience in, in order to properly provide an organization with the best possible outcome. The more hats they can wear, the greater depth of service Procurement professionals can bring to the table.