Procurement is becoming an increasingly key part of business. Ever since the 2008 financial crash, organisations have cut costs where they can, and better buying has been leveraged to achieve that goal.
As the world grapples with COVID-19, and more businesses seek to cut costs and diversify their supply chains, the acquisition of eProcurement solutions is becoming a key priority for many organisations.
Being an eProcurement solutions provider for almost 20 years means we’ve learned a thing or two about what you should look out for when thinking about investing in technology to support a more efficient procurement process. In this article, we will share with you our top tips to help you make up your mind.
#1 – It should be cloud-based
Any eProcurement technology must be cloud-based. We’re in an era where digital transformation has fundamentally changed our relationship with technology, and you’d be at a disadvantage if you opted for a solution that didn’t leverage the cloud. Here’s why:
- cloud technology helps you do work anywhere, and at anytime because it’s accessible over the web in your favourite web browser;
- it is far cheaper than on-premise solutions because cloud providers can purchase hardware in one location in bulk;
- it’s maintained and updated centrally by your solution provider, saving you the hassle of worrying installing updates yourself.
When engaging in conversations with your shortlist of eProcurement providers ask them these simple questions:
- Is your solution cloud-based? If yes, what platform is it hosted on?
- Can I access your solution on different devices? Which ones?
- What accreditations does your eProcurement solution hold? I.e. ISO27001 and ISMS, ISO9001 etc.
- What sort of uptime does your cloud-based solution hold? Usually, you’d want to see something along the lines of 99.99%
#2 – eProcurement must automate routine tasks
Fed up with setting reminders of when contracts expire? Or frustrated that you’ve got to run around collecting signatures of people that need to sign off new or renewing contracts? Yeah, we thought so! Any eProcurement solution must cut the administrative monotony associated with tasks identified above. If not, it’s not worth your time.
Here’s the sorts of tasks we’d expect eProcurement system to automate:
- Workflows to make sure purchase orders are distributed to the relevant parties when requisitions are raised
- Approvals are sent to relevant stakeholders when purchase orders need to be invoiced, avoiding the need for data entry
- Automated matching of invoices to purchase orders
#3 – eProcurement will give you visibility of key metrics
Having a top-down view of where your spend is going is just as important as routine tasks being automated. It will help you visualise exactly where your spend is going, and track and identify problematic areas.
In essence, an eProcurement tool should help your monitor:
- Exactly how you spend on goods/services in real-time, so you’ve got a snapshot of how your buying process is working right now
- Break spend down by team, so you can see who is spending what, and what they’re spending it on
- Historical data to help you spot savings opportunities in the future
The most important thing here, if you want a tool that can bring all this data up quickly and easily, instead of spending ages compiling formulas and charts in software packages like Excel. We’re not saying Excel is a bad tool, it’s more you want to have information nicely packaged and ready to consume at a glance without having to mess around.
#4 – It must make it easy for you all to work together
We talked about digital transformation earlier, but what we didn’t cover off is remote working, which is more important than ever amid COVID-19. Any eProcurement solution should be accessible at home, and it should support your staff to be as productive as they are in the office.
This means the software must be cloud-based, without any fancy VPN trickery to access the system remotely.
All functionality should be cloud-based too. So not just select features like approvals and workflows, the entirety of the eProcurement system should work anywhere and anytime.
#5 – It has to be best-of-breed
We admit, we’re totally biased here, being a best-of-breed eProcurement solution provider. But if you don’t believe us, listen to the team at SpendMatters, which in this article state best-of-breed with simple integration give Businesses more choice – and we agree.
eProcurement is a very specific piece of software that satisfies very specific needs. And while there are some good ERP-based solutions out there, it doesn’t replace the expertise, convenience and ease-of-use you get from a best-of-breed eProcurement solution provider.
With a dedicated eProcurement solution, you’re truly getting the best tool for the job.
#6 – Finally, it’s got to integrate with everything
Integration. We’ve long said it’s the most powerful word in procurement – and nothing has changed in the last few years. Any eProcurement solution provider must be able to provide demonstrable proof that they can readily integrate with a range of ERP systems including Microsoft Dynamics, SunSystems, Sage and many others.
You should also consider integrations for financial tools too, so things like accounts payable software such as MediusFlow. Look for pre-packaged integration technology that can be deployed quickly and tailored to link together all your disparate systems, because it’s important to make sure all your software packages work together seamlessly.
How are you getting on with your eProcurement research?
It’s tough to make up your mind on what eProcurement system to pick when there’s loads out there. But it is vital you do all your research and homework to make sure you get the right system for you.
How are you getting on? Are you struggling to make comparisons between them all? Drop us a message on LinkedIn or Twitter to let us know if you’ve got any burning questions – we’ll do our best to answer them!