What Is an Organization's Purchasing Department?

An organization’s purchasing department bears the responsibility for procuring materials, supplies and services, as Reference for Business explains. Employees in the purchasing department are called buyers, supply managers or purchasing agents. Purchasing means obtaining appropriate materials, services and technology from the right source, in the right quantity and at the right time.

Reference for Business states that a purchasing department coordinates purchase needs with user departments, identifies potential suppliers, performs market studies for material purchases, chooses suppliers, analyzes proposals and issues purchase orders. Those in the purchasing department often meet with sales representatives, administer contracts, resolve purchasing-related issues and maintain purchasing records. The two primary types of purchasing are purchasing for consumption or transformation and purchasing for resale, the Reference for Business notes.

Martin Murray explains on About.com that a company’s purchasing function is essential to its success. A purchasing department negotiates with vendors to acquire the best quality and most cost-effective items with the right delivery time. This ensures that a firm obtains the necessary parts for the manufacturing process and enables the production team to produce high-quality products for customers. Small businesses typically employ a purchasing professional who procures all the items needed for the business. Larger companies use a centralized purchasing structure wherein the purchasing staff report to the purchasing executive.