Procurement Software Buyer's Guide
The Best Procurement Software Simplifies Purchasing and Organization
By Hunter Lowe, Market Research Associate
Everyone knows that time is money. An afternoon spent on tedious, time-wasting tasks is equivalent to throwing cash out of the window. Procurement software is a valuable time-saving solution meant to keep resource waste at a minimum.
The procurement process is full of clerical duties that can keep valuable employee time from being adequately maximized. Having a procurement system in place is critical for efficient, consistent support of the B2B purchasing value chain — especially considering the rise of digitalization.
At a minimum, procurement software is a time-saver. Each situation calls for its own solution, however, so take some time to consider what you are looking to accomplish. By the time you have finished this guide, you should have enough knowledge to begin pursuing your procurement software solution!
- Boost productivity and move away from time-consuming procurement duties with software.
- Procurement software boosts organization and speeds up direct and indirect spend tasks.
- Procurement software provides helpful core features as well as more advanced features for complex operations.
- Asking vendors questions will help you decide on a final product. Check out some examples in this guide.
What This Procurement Software Guide Covers
- Benefits of Procurement Software
- Procurement Software Implementation Goals
- Core Procurement Software Features
- Advanced Procurement Software Features
- Compare Procurement Software Against Your Requirements
- Questions to Ask Yourself
- Questions for Procurement Software Vendors
- Questions for Procurement Software Vendors
- Related Content
Benefits of Procurement Software
The primary benefit of having a procurement software in place is that it serves as “a single source of truth” regarding spend, contracts, suppliers, and items available for purchase. In an age that empowers individual consumers to evaluate options when making online purchases, corporate procurement organizations face an important challenge. If corporations want to keep up and retain customers, their enterprise buying tactics need to be frictionless and convenient.
A well thought out and implemented procurement solution comes with many other helpful features. According to Capgemini, procurement software solutions can provide increased savings to the tune of four to six percent. Not only are monetary savings a direct result of implementing this type of solution, but the time saved on tasks can be distributed to grow efficiency strategically.
Many times, when enterprises implement procurement software they make a mistake. Procurement spend data made visible to members of the procurement team and no one else. Centralized visibility of spend data is too valuable to pass up and provides a wealth of data that most supply chain groups can use to improve performance. An accessible view of spend data aids all parts of the supply chain while increasing procurement savings and efficiency.
Procurement software also provides valuable tools for supplier management. Relationships with suppliers are critical to the procurement process, and software solutions offer multiple routes to maintaining strong supplier contact. Providing suppliers with performance feedback and ensuring adherence to any necessary compliance checks solidifies good relationships. If a supplier fails to keep up with standards or doesn’t respond to performance checks, forging a new partnership elsewhere may be preferable.
Procurement Software Implementation Goals
Before fully integrating a procurement software package, you need to identify the essential goals you wish to accomplish. The success of a procurement system depends on what critical needs it fulfills for its enterprise. Here are some common goals that procurement software should meet to streamline your purchasing tasks.
Automating purchasing tasks is one of the main draws of procurement software. Speeding up the creation, acceptance and verification of purchasing orders frees up valuable resources to spend elsewhere.
This goal applies universally as speeding up ordering tasks is a desire brought by most implementing this type of software solution.
Continuity of data from one area of functionality to another is a critical implementation goal. If a platform is not in use, integration is easier than ever — as long as there is continuity throughout the procurement value chain. Sourcing, contracts and purchasing can function very well in isolation, but the savings and oversight potential is tightly coupled with procurement’s ability to connect the data — and therefore the activities — conducted in each one.
Improved Supplier Relationships
Although the primary stakeholders for procurement are procurement and enterprise buyers, suppliers deserve consideration as well. Evaluating potential solutions for their user-friendliness towards all parties will improve the implementation process and long-term ROI (return on investment). Specific concerns include whether it is possible for suppliers to efficiently manage multiple customer needs from one login and with one data set as well as the complexity of uploading and altering online catalogs.
Better Oversight and Governance
To achieve the “single source of truth” objective with procurement, the company must get a majority of purchasing transactions to flow through it. Non-compliance (also commonly known as “maverick” spend) is a challenge that plagues every procurement team with an established process. The strength of the enterprise mandate for using procurement can be supported by the solution itself, making use of restrictive features or allowing access to more choices.
Core Procurement Software Features
While procurement software comes in many different forms, you can expect many of these core features to be present. Many providers offer all of the following functionality, albeit at varying levels of maturity and proficiency, while some specialize in offering a subset. Even when companies do provide a broad range of functionality, it is wise to investigate whether they are fully integrated at the code level or were consolidated under one brand and interface through the acquisition of point solutions.
This component of procurement functionality is often considered to be its entire purpose, since this is the primary touchpoint for the majority of the organization. Procurement software can specify suppliers for the purchases that others in the organization will make. In some cases, suppliers will provide entire “punchout” catalogs that leverage their own detailed item information and reflect the specifications and prices under contract with the enterprise.
Once an award decision comes through, contract terms and language require signing and agreement by all parties. Contract management functionality may include redlining (legal revisions with tracking) and electronic signature. Or, it may simply contain the storage of terms and expiration so they can be centrally managed and enforced over the duration of the agreement. The legal team should involve itself in setting functionality expectations.
Automated billing processes are another major draw of procurement software. Quickly matching invoices to their individual orders and automatically resolving payments standard for this type of software. With the automation of this process, miscommunications and problems that arise during billing in analog settings will be things of the past.
Larger enterprises usually have a billing solution in place, but smaller operations often benefit from upgrading to an electronic billing solution.
|Ordering and Selection|
One of the many standard features of procurement software is an easy-to-use ordering format. Simple item listings and data from past orders help speed up the selection and ordering processes. If one ordering strategy is successful, it is accessible from order history and able to be brought in and used again.
Real-time data gathered from spend analysis is key to optimizing procurement processes. Analyzing expenditure data to identify cost-cutting solutions and highlighting possible trends helps enterprises stay competitive and efficient. This data is useful for employees in other departments to put together inventory lists or in crafting a budget.
|Purchase Order Approval and Delivery|
Procurement software stores data in one easy to access place which allows for easy tracking of orders. Once approval comes through, the order is accessible immediately. This also guarantees that users who need to inspect and approve the orders have an easy way to access them.
Delivering orders to their recipients via their preferred method of transport is also part of this feature. Instead of long delivery tasks devouring useful blocks of time, these processes are taken over by the software.
Advanced Procurement Software Features
The core features of procurement software will begin as your one stop shop for improving procurement practices. As you become familiar with your software suite, you will want to keep in mind some more advanced features that can enhance other aspects of the procurement process. Below are some extra pieces of functionality to keep in mind, though you should ask vendors about availability in their products.
Most companies focus on making their data accessible with procurement implementation. There are significant efficiency gains available with access to the knowledge and information of their industry peers. Some procurement solution providers offer access to new marketplaces of suppliers that extend beyond their current knowledge. This resource can shorten the time between the identification of a product or service need and a contract, or can serve as a backup plan in response to supply chain disruption. Evaluate the number of suppliers available, the information in their profiles, the process of validation and the industries they represent.
Mobile functionality can be beneficial to implement down the line. Orders are placeable on the go, and spend data is viewable in the palm of your hand. Never wait to find out how procurement processes are resolving with mobile accessibility.
Procurement software is comparable to the head chef of a kitchen. With so many pots on the fire, being able to access spend or purchase data anytime anywhere keeps you on top of the many processes at hand.
Once you are familiar with your procurement software package, you can customize some functionality to speed up efficiency. With templates designed by those who most often interact with procurement software, ordering speed will rise. Instead of crafting original purchase orders every time supplies are in demand, procurement software allows for the creation of ordering templates that can save time on recurring orders.
|Follow-up and Reminder Messages|
Some software packages come with practical functionality that can keep you up to date on important requests. Following up on purchase orders with suppliers helps cement good communication and maintains supplier accuracy.
With so many moving parts in the procurement arena, reminders can be set to keep you on track and able to keep up. If specific purchase orders are time sensitive, these reminders can prevent a potential problem down the line.
Compare Procurement Software Against Your Requirements
Once you understand the features generally offered by procurement software, you’ll need to put pen to paper and create a list of requirements. This ensures that once you begin a procurement software comparison, you’ll have a list of criteria to use as the standard. Comparing your needs to the services vendors offer can help you track down that perfect solution.
Asking vendors questions is important, with some examples below, but make sure to ask yourself some of the same questions. It would also help to take a look at our requirements template to help narrow down your choices. After you've put together your requirements, compare them against what the various procurement software packages offer.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Before running headlong into choosing your perfect procurement software package, ask yourself some questions. Without taking some time to gather information from within, you could end up making a hasty (and expensive) decision. Implementing a new software suite only to realize it lacks functionality for some of your biggest pain-points is a tragedy. Look inward and ask yourself some of these questions to make sure you are on the right path.
How big is your enterprise?
It should come as no surprise that the size of a business affects their unique needs. A larger enterprise has a more expansive employee base and probably has more departments that a new software suite would effect. If your software acquisition is going to change how multiple departments work, be sure to get their input on the new suite. Implementing a wide-sweeping change without covering everyone's needs could lead to a host of problems arising.
How much room do you have in the budget for a new software suite?
It can be tempting to jump on the most expensive procurement software package with the greatest complexity. All of those extra bells and whistles may seem like great additions, but a needlessly complicated solution in the wrong place can do costly damage. This ties back into company size, larger more complex enterprises often need more sophisticated tools than smaller businesses. In fact, complex features can trip you up if you don't need them. Shop smart and go for a solution that fits within your established budget.
What does your current solution lack?
If your business already has procurement software in place, what does the new system need to bring to the table? Collect information from employees that have been users of the old system and find out what they are looking for. Finding out what is and isn't working can save you time on your search for new procurement software. All of your current pain-points should be taken care of by anything new you put into place.
Is the software a good long-term solution?
Instant gratification is great, but just because a solution solves your current problems doesn't mean it can go the distance. Your business is growing, and your procurement software should be growing with you. Think about the future of your enterprise and investigate how scaleable a software package is before choosing it.
Questions to Ask Procurement Software Vendors
As you finish narrowing down specific vendors and software packages, you may have a few lingering concerns about making the right choice. Before making a final decision, come up with questions you can ask vendors related to any remaining confusion you have. Here are a few examples to you get you started:
How will this procurement software integrate with your complete supply chain?
There are many moving parts to any supply chain. You’ll want to converse with vendors to find out if any of their functionality is compatible with the software you already have in place. If you have a complex system in place, the last thing you want to do is introduce a software solution that requires large scale changes along the supply chain. Unless you are starting from scratch, you’ll want a procurement software package that can easily fit into your established systems. It also helps to ask if how long implementation will take and if there are any fees associated with the process.
Does this solution work with the size of your operation?
Every business is different, and some procurement solutions may be better suited to small or larger organizations. High-end solutions often come with intrinsic frameworks that make them better suited for complex situations. Smaller operations may benefit just as well from low-end implementations, as they do not require as many sophisticated tools to suit their needs. This question is critical to consider because purchasing a solution that fails to mesh with the size of your operation can lead to disaster. At best you can force something to work, at the worst you’ll need to purchase a brand new software package.
Is there a support system in place?
Problems will happen, regardless of the software solution you choose. Discussing the support in place for a vendor’s product can help you decide if it can accomplish what you require. Are there self-learning tools that can teach users basic and advanced functionality? Is there staff available to answer urgent questions?
How much does the solution cost?
Budgeting for new software packages is essential. Take a minute to set a maximum cost for a solution and make sure that value works with the package you are considering. Just because a certain software suite costs more does not mean it is the best fit. Conversely, a cheaper solution is not inferior. Try to match up your budget with your needs and find something that satisfies as best it can.
How is the software deployed?
It is worth noting that with the rise of cloud computing there are many deployment strategies for software. Smaller enterprises may benefit more from an in-house solution or may find the benefits of the cloud worth a higher price point. Larger enterprises with global considerations would likely look for software that works with the cloud. The ability to view data in real-time from operations in foreign countries is too good to pass up.
FinancialForce Financial Management can accommodate the most diverse and complex financial needs. The perfect complement to Salesforce CRM, it brings back office data to the front, allowing companies to align sales, services and finance on a single cloud. It includes advances like a single ledger design and a multidimensional chart of accounts, which give you real-time business intelligence and help shorten period close cycles.
Prokuria is a procurement automation platform that enables procurement departments and top management to organize all their RFPs and e-Auctions with suppliers in one place. It's designed for the companies who need better control over the procurement process and achieve cost savings.
Verian’s purchasing software makes your purchasing more efficient and effective by automating all of your spending, regardless of commodity, approval process, or supplier. That includes requisition, approvals, buying, receipt, reconciliation, and reporting. All catalog and non-catalog requisitioning is done through a Web-based interface with the look and feel of common online retail shopping sites, making the process intuitive and simple for employees at all levels.
Procurify is an online procurement solution for Small to Medium enterprises. Our product integrates from the top down, allowing visibility into employee spending from all levels of the organization. Procurify is an evolution of procurement software.With easy-to-use features, you get all the cost management capabilities you need to save on spendings.
Coupa’s cloud procurement software application is a powerful procure-to-pay system that brings consumer e-commerce shopping ease and bottleneck-busting functionality to the procurement workflow. Our procurement software can handle transactions in multiple currencies and languages so you can run a global operation using Coupa.
The Ivalua Buyer Contract Management solution was designed to solve these problems. It provides a clear and structured framework that brings together all contracts in a single repository. It also manages the entire lifecycle of a contract, from the drafting and collaborative authoring to the creation of amendments.
Bid eXchange is an integrated procurement system for supplier management, e-sourcing, and contract management. Give your procurement team the software tools for strategic sourcing to drive process efficiency and cost savings throughout the organization. The eBid eXchange eprocurement platform is an easy-to-use, affordable, and customizable software-as-a-service solution used by large and small businesses and government procurement organizations.
b-pack simplifies your procurement and speeds up processing time between purchasing requests, approvals, and purchase orders.Our eProcurement offer is easy to integrate with any ERP or financial system. b-pack can answer your business requirements using flexible solutions that are easy to use and implement, leading to quick return on investment.
The e-procurement suite is composed of 5 modules that allow the management of different stages of the procurement process: from importing supplier catalogs to invoice processing, including purchase requisitions management, purchase orders and deliveries. The user has a single entry point to the application to issue a purchase request for listed or unlisted products, or for the procurement of services.
Puridiom provides the most comprehensive eProcurement solutions to automate, analyze, and track trends in purchasing to control and minimize maverick purchases. Easy-to-use tools enable users to complete tasks with greater visibility and cost efficiency. Puridiom provides the solutions to your procurement problems. From front end requisition and approval workflows, to comprehensive procure-to-pay solutions.
Zycus iSource provides simple solutions to challenges at all stages of the sourcing process. Zycus iSource simplifies the event modeling process: Features drag and drop item definition with one, click transfer of data to and from electronic spreadsheets, allows 3,000+ items per sourcing event and enables full customization and modeling of complex item, service cost breakdowns, and many other powerful features and benefits.
Contract Management will help you automate the tracking and organization of your contracts, enabling you to quickly manage the right contract at the right time. With a library of contract types at your disposal, your users can create contract records in minutes and store the physical contracts within those same records. Macro and micro triggers give you the flexibility to manage your database, and saved searches put the right contracts on your personal dashboard for easy management.
SciQuest Contract Director, a contract management software solution, is designed to improve the contracting process and sets the standard for enterprise contract management best practices. Recognized by industry analysts, Forrester Research, in June 2011 as the highest-rated contract lifecycle management solution, SciQuest Contract Director enables users to manage the complete contract life-cycle online
Aestiva Procurement is procurement, automated your way. Aestiva's Enterprise Procurement Systems have low-IT overhead and can be deployed quickly. Our "simple-is-better" design philosophy matches well with the goals of Aestiva's enterprise customers. This procurement system may be extended with a wide variety of procurement software add-ons and procurement software extensions.
ProContractorMX provides a robust toolset for the pricing, ordering, and tracking of goods, so you can manage procurement efficiently, minimize costs, and maximize purchasing power.Easily and electronically create purchase orders for any project or change order from estimate. Select and sort items, and customize POs to suit your needs.
SpendMap is a cost-effective software system for midsize and larger organizations that need to automate and streamline their Purchasing, Payables and/or Materials Management processes. Available as hosted (SaaS) solution or as traditional on-premise software, this 100% browser-based system is robust, fault-tolerant and easy to deploy to a large user community.
PurchaseSoft has designed solutions that let you gain control over your business's procurement process - from requisition to receiving. From day one, you'll be able to consolidate orders, negotiate better prices, manage inventory more effectively, track assets and more, in real time.
Passport® Legal Spend Management is part of Datacert’s suite of industry-leading solutions for enterprise legal management. With more than 400 completed implementations for its extensive base of Fortune and Global Fortune 500 clients, Datacert has unparalleled e-billing and legal spend management experience and best practices expertise.
BAZ on the enterprise data bus should be an imperative solution for all leading process oriented organizations. Use of BAZ, increases efficiencies in financial productivity, data integrity, policy-change-risk management, transaction transparency. Can integrate with any ERP and extend ERP framework to the bottom of the pyramid (thus connecting all within an organization in the spend space). All this results in cost optimization, compliance with reduced risks and better controls
Intelligent, intuitive procurement software from GEP is helping procurement teams worldwide boost productivity, eliminate processing snarls, slash turnaround times and save money. Cloud-based GEP Suite 5.0 is a comprehensive eProcurement platform that automates and streamlines key procurement and purchasing-related work processes.
Ivalua Buyer’s e-sourcing solution provides end to end collaborative management of the different stages of the sourcing process: from the requirement gathering to contract, including the identification of suppliers and the management of RFPs and bids.
Partner with the RealPage Strategic Purchasing Advisory Services team to help ensure you are realizing the full savings and revenue opportunities of your purchasing program. We bring to the table more than 30 years of multifamily experience in strategic sourcing, spend management and benchmarking best practices. Using our experience, open communication, and a partnership approach we get actively involved in your business operations to help you successfully execute your purchasing program regardless of the spend management platform you use; or we can help you design a purchasing program if you don't currently have one.
The world's best-run businesses know that accurate, validated and complete Third Party information and best-practice processes are essential to drive efficient relationship management, manage risk, and ensure compliance across distributed, global networks of suppliers, affiliates, contractors, resellers, brokers, and other Third Parties. Aravo was purpose-built to meet this need.
Procurement Technology and Services For B2B BuyersOur growing network of over one million businesses – including our sourcing, procurement and invoicing solutions – eliminate the hurdles to productive business commerce, enabling buyers to source smarter, buy smarter, and pay smarter. With Hubwoo, you can bring 100% of your qualified suppliers online, achieve 100% contract-compliant requisitioning, and dramatically reduce inefficiencies in your accounts payable process.
The Tradeshift platform is an all-in-one e-business solution for companies around the globe. Apps, like e-invoicing, allow organizations of any size to bring business processes online. But that is just the beginning. Tradeshift is on a mission to connect every business on the planet. And we are well on our way.
The IBM® Emptoris® Contract Management family helps companies structure more profitable contracts, streamline the contracting process and improve compliance. These solutions can automate and manage various stages of the contract lifecycle from creation, execution and renegotiation of contracts and amendments, through performance monitoring, analysis and renewal. The IBM Contract Management family enables companies to capture more revenue opportunities; improve supplier, partner and vendor relationships; and mitigate risks.
BravoSolution offers powerful tools and solutions for every aspect of supply management. Spend analysis, eSourcing, Supplier Performance Management and Contract Management Software and Services. Collaborative Sourcing, Strategic Services, Adoption Services, Government Solutions.
Perfect Commerce offers a complete spend management solution set consisting of software and services that address a wide range of industry challenges. At any point in the spend management process, our proven, reliable, end-to-end platform provides our customers with the solutions they need to solve even the most complex challenges.
Across our range of solutions you can extend the value of your IT asset data even further with seamless integration into other key ITSM functions such as: ITIL Problem management, ITIL Incident management, ITIL change management, software asset management, and CMDB. Integrate with a full range of IT operations management solutions. You can choose a level of capability that meets the requirements of your organization: from a simple Asset Inventory solution through to full Asset Lifecycle Management
Flycast Partners provides IT Service Management consulting and implementation services to organizations across North America. Our clients remain ahead of the curve on technology adoption while maintaining the rock-solid principles of ITIL in practical, focused projects.
Overcome challenges such as volatile customer demand and increasingly complex supply networks – with SAP for Supply Chain. Our software and technology let you manage your entire network in real time – so you can quickly leverage vital information and analyses, meet heightened expectations for responsiveness, and facilitate collaboration across departments and companies.
Using the shopping cart, company employees can procure the goods and services that they need for their work area. This takes the pressure off the purchasing department, who in turn can concentrate on strategic tasks, such as contractual negotiation.
Getting procurement right is challenging. Your entire enterprise can reap benefits from an easy-to-use procurement solution. IBX Business Network is built to help you make procurement everybody’s business – that means getting everyone involved in the process engaged and enabling them to naturally make smart procurement decisions, by making their lives easier and encouraging their participation and collaboration.
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