The Role of a CPO (Chief Procurement Officer) in Your Executive Suite

When putting together an executive team, there are a number of important roles to fill. One role that is sometimes overlooked in the rush to fill these spots is the CPO or “Chief Procurement Officer”. This is a key position, today more than ever. After all, while technology has made certain aspects of procurement easier—it has made the need to have someone in charge and keeping order even more vital. Understanding exactly what this position entails and how the role fits in with the rest of the executive suite is the key for getting the best from the person you put into this position.

What is a CPO?

A CPO, or Chief Procurement Officer, is normally the executive within a corporate setting who manages or administers a company’s acquisition programs. This office often purchases supplies and other materials. He or she may have to negotiate prices and contracts—often finding the best rates possible. This officer is ultimately in charge of making sure vendors are paid on time and that deliveries are made when they should be—he or she is often the leader directly responsible for bookkeepers and the supply department of an organization.

Other roles for the CPO may include keeping order within the file department and working with the accounting team to make sure all vendors are paid and that accurate records are being kept. While the CPO may not be the one that takes physical inventory for the company, he or she will usually keep track of the numbers to understand current and foreseeable future needs of the organization.

How the CPO Works as Part of the Executive Team

In addition to completing the normal day-to-day activities of the job, the CPO is an important member of the executive team. As such, the person in this position must be able to interact well with other leaders. This means attending meetings, giving reports, listening to the needs of other staff members and engaging well across all levels of management. Even though much of the day-to-day work of a CPO may be done singly, the chief procurement officer will need interpersonal skills so he or she will be able to engage with the other executives on an as-needed basis.

As you can see, a CPO is a very significant role in many companies. In a smaller organization, this person may work alone, keeping the supplies and equipment on hand and in good condition. In a larger company, a CPO is just one of many people who work to keep things in stock, and ready for the days ahead. The position has taken on a role of increased significance in recent years and has become even more of a strategic position—as globalization and technology continues to change the landscape of the corporate world as a whole.