Planning, organizing and controlling material flow is the primary concern of a materials manager. Success in this job means ensuring sufficient amounts of raw materials and supplies while controlling costs linked to logistics and inventory management. Materials managers ensure necessary materials are in the right place at the right time -- and in the most cost effective way. This job covers all facets of material movement, from planning and forecasting to shipping and receiving.
Plans and Forecasts
Materials managers accurately forecast material needs and plan the processes for timely fulfillment. They draw up forecasts by determining customer needs and analyzing historical data such as material use, depletion and sales. They work with affected business units and stakeholders to schedule timely receipt of needed materials.
Means and Methods
Material managers ensure that procedures are in place to review purchase order requests and that purchase contracts are authorized or approved according to company policy. They must also stay on budget with spending appropriations. In emergencies, they expedite critical purchases.
Identifying and developing relationships with suppliers is another aspect of a materials manager’s job. Effective relationships are necessary to meet material cost, quality and delivery standards. Negotiating with suppliers and vendors is a regular job requirement. Materials managers also deal with supplier performance, continuously evaluating vendor ability to meet order requirements and contract specifications. In dealing with suppliers, materials managers stay true to company purchasing policies and legal obligations.
Too much inventory is just as bad as too little. Materials managers have systems in place to regularly review purchases and deliveries to ensure inventories are at proper levels. This requires organized material ordering, receipt, stocking and storage to accurately account for each and every piece of stock. Job duties also require adequate cataloging of inventory with proper material descriptions and proper records management.
Skills and Education
Materials managers with years of experience and higher education credits are usually ahead of the curve when it comes to employability. An associate or bachelor’s degree in business or a related field and two to four years of experience in purchasing or distribution are desirable to many employers. Materials managers need a working knowledge of computers, spreadsheets and database software, plus an understanding of best practices in procurement technology. Analytical, problem solving, negotiating and finance skills are also important.
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