Critical Business Decision Makers

Part
01
of four
Part
01

Purchasing Manager Demographics


Purchasing managers are almost equally split between men and women, and the average age is between 46 and 47 years of age.

  • According to the Census Bureau, there are 201,000 purchasing managers in the United States. Approximately 7,778 of them work in the information technology field.
  • The average age of male purchasing managers is 47.1. The average age of female purchasing managers is 46.8.
  • Men make up 50.2% of the purchasing managers in the country.
  • In 2018, purchasing managers salaries averaged $90,456. In 2018, wages were distributed more evenly for purchasing managers than for the overall labor force.
  • The racial breakdown of purchasing managers is 80.8% white, 8.7% black, 6.17% Asian, 1.18% other, and 1.6% of two or more races.
  • Business graduates make up 49.4% of purchasing managers, while 7.9% are social sciences grads, and 7.1% are engineering grads. Computer and IT grads make up 2.34% of purchasing managers.

Calculation

  • There were a total of 201,000 purchasing managers, of which 3.87% work in computer systems design firms
  • As such, there are 7,778 purchasing managers that work in US tech companies (3.87% * 201000)

Research Strategy

While information for purchasing managers is readily available, there was little information found on purchasing managers in the tech industry. We mainly focused our research on industry publications and government databases such as Business Insider, Forbes, the BLS, and Data USA but information was mostly generalized under "purchasing managers", with little to no information about the tech sector. As such, we gathered all the data we could find on purchasing managers and included it here as helpful findings.
Part
02
of four
Part
02

Purchasing Manager Media Habits

For adults in the age range of most purchasing managers, i.e. 35 to 50, 94% listen to the radio weekly. Of that percentage, 23% listen to adult contemporary. Unfortunately, specific media consumption data for purchasing managers is not collected.

Digital Media

  • Digital Market Outlet projects a total of 617.1 million users of digital media in 2020.
  • Projected media consumption is as follows: 29.6% will access video on demand, 24.7% will listen to digital music, 24.2% will play video games, and 21.3% will read through e-publishing.

Radio

  • In the age group between 35 and 49, 94% listen to the radio once a week or more.
  • In the age group of 35-44-year-olds, 23% listen to adult contemporary, 22.9% listen to alternative radio stations, 22.3% listen to Hispanic radio stations, 21.8% listen to Top 40, while 20.7% listen to rock music.

TV

  • In the age range of 35 to 49, 92% watch TV weekly. Also in that age range, the average time spent watching TV is 3.43 hours per day.

Magazines

Social Media

Research Strategy

A search of research databases that track media consumption, including Statista and Pew Research, have no information by employment of any type. We did find consumption habits by age.

The demographic information previously reported found that there were 201,000 purchasing managers in the US, and about 7,778 of those were at information technology companies.

In previous research we found that the average age of a purchasing manager was mid-forties, with the vast majority between 35 and 50. We have assumed that range also applies to purchasing managers in tech companies. Therefore, we used the media consumption habits of that age group as part of our helpful information.

Calculations

Forecast of Digital Media users from Digital Market Outlet totals 617.1 million users. By segment, the breakdown is

  • Video on Demand 182.8/617.1 = 29.6%
  • Digital Music 152.6/617.1 = 24.7%
  • Video games 149.7/617.1 =24.2%
  • ePublishing 132/617.1 = 21.3%
Part
03
of four
Part
03

Purchasing Manager Customer Journey

The four major stages for the purchasing manager in buying technology are problem identification, solution exploration, requirements building, and supplier selection.

Overview

  • The customer journey for purchasing managers can be accurately depicted as a B2B customer journey. Research has shown that B2B buying doesn't happen in any predictable, linear order. Instead, purchasing managers engage in what Gartner has called "looping" across a typical B2B purchase. Gartner, the preeminent expert in technology vendors, has created a graphic that includes the purchasing manager's journey. The graphic can be seen here.
  • In most organizations, departmental managers and purchasing managers have the sole authority to make small purchases up to a defined amount, and the purchase is usually as simple as using a corporate credit card. If the total price is going to exceed that set ceiling, the journey described below kicks in.
  • The above notwithstanding, in most large companies, regardless of the price or quality, technical purchases must be approved by the enterprise architecture office or the CIO to ensure the proposed acquisition meets the architecture requirements. Alternatively, the Enterprise Architecture office has given a list of approved vendors, products, and models to the purchasing department, and the small purchase must be on the approved list.
  • The journey often revisits the stages in the process more than once. Buying jobs don't happen sequentially, but more or less simultaneously.
  • The four major stages in purchasing technology are problem identification, solution exploration, requirements building, and supplier selection.

Problem Identification

  • The problem identification begins with an executive presentation and questions from the committee to the department requesting the purchase.
  • This kickoff results in online research by both the department lead and the purchasing manager. Managers are looking for white papers, opinions from experts, and current user reviews.

Solution Exploration

  • Web searches also occur in the solution exploration stage. Purchasing managers look at trend reports, more expert reviews, and news articles to assess the viability of the vendor.
  • Potential supplier websites are reviewed, and the online information shared with organizational stakeholders. If the supplier has a YouTube channel with pertinent information, this will be reviewed as well.
  • Purchasing managers can also have discussions with their peers in other companies, LinkedIn consultations, and with the managers in the department requesting the purchase.
  • If a misalignment on the problem identified or the solution scope is discovered in this stage, the research returns to the problem identification stage to gather more information.
  • Often during the solution exploration stage, a feasibility study is commissioned and prepared for review. Feasibility studies include end-users, department managers, and purchasing staff. Occasionally legal representation is included at this stage.

Requirements Building

  • The feasibility study often provides the framework for the requirements building stage. This stage is the most complex, which includes RFP creation, distribution, and collection, all managed by the purchasing department. If the RFP contains a standard contract template which the vendor must sign, the legal department is also included in this stage.
  • A review of the proposals submitted by vendors often results in a select number of vendors being invited to meet with the purchasing team. Some meetings may include live demos of their product.
  • If appropriate, site visits to see the technology in operation may occur.
  • During these activities, the purchasing manager may perform expert consultations and check references.

Supplier Selection

  • When all stakeholders feel that enough information has been collected to make a decision, the supplier selection phase begins.
  • This phase includes the buying group debate, where the fit between requirements and features is discussed. Occasionally, more information is required from the sales team who provided the original report in the demo meeting. Factors influencing the decision at this point include satisfaction of requirements, subjective assessments of the vendor's culture and costs.
  • Once the purchasing team has made a recommendation, many organizations large enough to have a purchasing department also have a capital review board that reviews the estimated expenditure.
  • A legal review of the contract is executed, and any changes to the agreement are made.
  • The purchasing manager, at this point, often has a checklist that is used to review the process and ensure all purchasing rules have been followed and all relevant documentation has been collected in a single spot. This collection becomes the authoritative data store for the project.
  • The whole package then goes to the CFO, or the finance committee of the Board of Directors, depending upon the size of the purchase. Once the budget is approved, the purchase is finalized through the purchasing manager.
Part
04
of four
Part
04

Purchase Timing

Although purchase numbers by managers in tech companies were not available, semiconductor sales peaked in September to November 2018. Shipments of PCs from various manufacturers peaked in different quarters. Graphs showing each product are shown here.

Semiconductor Sales

  • Between November 2017 to November 2019, Semiconductor sales peaked from September to November 2018.
  • The chart can be seen on page one here.

Lenovo

Dell

Hewlitt Packard

Apple PC

Research Strategy

We searched in numerous statistical databases from the Department of Commerce, and from data.gov looking for data on purchases made by tech companies. We were unable to find any data that met the criteria.

This was not surprising. As we stated in previous reports, there are approximately only about 7,778 tech companies with purchasing managers nationally.

Because we could not narrow down the timing of purchasing manager requests, we made the assumption that they could be considered a subset of existing sales/shipments and that the percentages by quarter would be comparable.

For that reason, we went to Statista, which gave us sales of one of the major parts for technology, as well as shipment numbers from PC. Those stats showed peak sales periods by quarter. We provided those in key findings and also provided the charts in a separate document.
Sources
Sources