Secondary objectives of materials management

Secondary objectives of materials management are not limited in number or in scope as primary objectives. Since, they represent the materials management’s contribution to the achievement of primary objectives of some other departments they can vary widely from industry to industry.

There are literally hundreds of possible secondary objectives in materials management. More common, among them are reciprocity, new materials and products, economic make-or-buy decisions, promotion of standardization, product improvement, good inter-departmental relations, accurate economic forecasts and alertness to possible acquisitions.

New Materials and products:

Engineering and manufacturing mangers are always interested in new products and materials that will help more efficiently and there by achieve one of their primary objectives. The purchasing department can help because it deals regularly with the suppliers responsible for the new developments.

Economic make-or-buy:

Make-or-buy decisions are generally made by committees consisting of departmental heads. The purchasing manager should spot the need for a make-or-buy decision and refer it to the committee for action.


The fewer the items that need be controlled, the simpler and more efficient does the materials management process become. Thus, it is to the interest of the materials personnel to promote standardization and simplification of specifications. The engineering groups are primarily responsible for the standards of specifications, but materials management personnel can make a substantial contribution. They can review stock, to weed out non-standard items; they can promote the incorporation of the standard components into product designs to reduce cost, and they can promote standardization with suppliers.

Product improvement:

This is the most important primary objective of engineering department but the purchasing department can assist the engineering department. Their economic knowledge can supplement the technical skills of the engineers on programs to boost profits through product change. The engineering of any product is basically a compromise between design and economic objectives. Purchasing personnel can help engineers achieve their design objectives more economically by suggesting materials or components that will do a better or equivalent job at lower cost.

Inter-departmental harmony:

Materials management department deals with almost all departments in the company. It can greatly contribute to the success of every other department and at the same time, the success of materials management department depends on co-operation from the personnel of the other departments. Most materials managers are aware of the need for good inter-departmental relations. To prevent disputes, they are careful to define departmental responsibilities clearly and also try to familiarize others with materials directives, policies and organization.


In order to manage materials better, some conception of the future outlook for prices, costs and general business activity is necessary. In large companies, professional economists make forecasts that are used for both sales and purchase planning.’ Purchasing managers translate these general forecasts into specific forecasts for purchased materials. They may also provide the economists with data for forecasts because, more than any other group in the company, they are intimately familiar with the market and general business conditions through their daily contacts with suppliers.