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Procurement Trends Affecting How SMBs Do Business

Small-to-mid sized businesses are always finding ways to improve workflows and create efficiency to save money. While there are many different ways to execute the purchase order process, there are a few trends that are becoming increasingly popular for SMBs.

What are the top trends that affects procurement process among SMBs?

Increased Automation

Automation promotes efficiency and productivity, helping businesses control costs and improve workflows that benefit their customers and the business itself. Believe it or not, there are still many small businesses using spreadsheets from Excel to manage fheir purchasing process.

A simple spreadsheet is unable to keep up with purchasing demands and is prone to human error that can devastate the procurement process. E-procurement software is becoming more popular as businesses see the benefits of automation and how it makes their business run more smoothly and with less errors. Automation can take place at any part of the procurement process that doesn’t require much human intervention. Instead of taking a purchase order and manually inserting the correct information into a new invoice, procurement software is able to automatically produce an invoice based on the precise information on the purchase order, making it less prone to human error and efficient to transform the day-to-day operation of a business.

Data-Driven Decisions

With technology becoming increasingly popular for businesses to handle their procurement process, business owners are able to make data-driven decisions. With procurement management software, analytics and data are easy-to-read in one simple space and can be used to create better processes, make important business decisions, and control spending. While a manual procurement process may be too complicated to effectively make important business decisions, owners and operators will be able to make more well-informed decisions much easier. In the future, we will only see data-based decision making grow among SMBs as technologies will deliver better insights into the procurement process.

Digital Strategies

Using cloud-based procure-to-pay software has also made business owners think about their current digital strategy to adapt to AI and automation. While this type of procurement software may not directly affect all strategic business decisions, it has been increasingly proving the worth of digital solutions to make businesses consider the current landscape of their entire business and motivate them to implement digital strategies in all aspects of their business inside and outside the procurement process that help grow their organization.

Talent Pools

While many companies still use a more manual procurement process utilizing spreadsheets and the like to execute their current purchase order processes, they’ll soon find a shift in their talent pools as procurement software changes the way procurement is done. Many businesses are finding that their employees are not qualified to implement technologies like AI into their existing procurement process, leading to an increase of hiring more technology-driven employees to streamline workflows and improve business functions. While business functions and operations shift to more automated procurement processes, they’ll find a need for more tech-savvy employees that are able to complete tasks quickly and effectively using the new software.

Thinking Beyond Price

Customers are important to any business and procurement software has shown to improve the relationship between vendors and buyers. Because synergy between these two parties is important for the survival and success of business-to-business operations, customers need to have visibility in every step of the procurement process to get the best price possible. Transparency not only improves trust among businesses, it will also promote competition to drive profits. Thinking beyond the price and focusing on beneficial relationships, businesses will need to analyze their performance to reduce costs and increase efficiency to make their customers happy and coming back, business strategies that procurement software can help execute quickly and easily. Purchase order software will also help customer service agents answer inquiries and questions from customers regarding their orders or issues, enhancing the customer experience.

Risk Management

There are some uncertainties in running a successful business, but an effective procurement process can minimize risk and prevent legal issues in the future. Being compliant with the legal standards is a great start, but it’s not everything. Because word-of-mouth is the biggest influencer of customer purchase decisions, your procurement process needs absolute transparency to reduce possible risks that can result in a bad reputation.

Focus on Indirect Spending

One of the biggest advantages of effective purchase order software is that it helps control costs. Indirect spending needs to follow a refined process to avoid leakages, contract terms, paperwork, and dealing with lots of complicated customer information. This process can be difficult and businesses can easily miss out on discounting, budget accuracy, and supply chain visibility. To prevent missed opportunities, more businesses are looking for automated financial P2P solutions that can be integrated into their current accounting system. This will minimize unnecessary spending by streamlining the entire contracting process.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Systems

As procurement shifts to a more technologically advanced process, artificial intelligence will play a crucial role in how businesses perform their purchase order process in the future.Repetitive tasks that your employees perform daily will be done using artificial intelligence to free up team members to focus on more important business-affecting tasks. Mundane tasks will soon be put on auto-pilot to also allow businesses and their employees to focus on building beneficial relationships with their customers.

AI and Chatbots

With the implementation of AI, more SMBs will focus on chatbots. In order to retain customers and gain new ones, a company needs to be able to respond quickly to requests for information and be able to answer any questions in a timely manner so that the customer doesn’t go elsewhere. While staffing an employee who can complete these tasks may be your first choice, it’s expensive to have an employee available 24/7 to handle inquiries as they come in. Instead, chatbots use advanced technologies to simulate human conversation in an automated way. They can also help automate routine tasks and collect data. Chatbots are becoming the less expensive option than hiring a human to perform simple customer service tasks, making them a practical solution for all SMBs who want to be able to respond to customer inquiries quickly and accurately.

June 11, 2019
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BY Bellwether
Acquisitions Tips for Start Ups and Entrepreneurs

There are a variety of reasons why a company may make an acquisition. If a company is growing quickly, one of the most compelling reasons to make an acquisition is it can accelerate growth. Whether it’s talent or innovations, an acquisition in this type of scenario can shorten the amount of time it takes to hit the next milestone.

 

Although that scenario makes acquisitions sound very appealing, it’s important to understand that they’re by no means a guarantee of success. In fact, the majority of acquisitions fail. That truth spans from the smallest of businesses to huge corporations. So even though acquisitions offer so much potential, why is it rare for them to be truly successful?

 

The issue of acquisition failures comes down to a few issues. Those issues include incorrectly identifying targets, taking the wrong approach to financing and not properly integrating an acquisition. Since there are some very real challenges that stand in the way of making an acquisition successful, we want to cover the four most important elements entrepreneurs need to evaluate to get the results they actually desire from an acquisition:

 

The Right Timing

 

Many people underestimate just how big of a role timing plays in whether or not a startup is successful. Timing is just as important for acquisitions. A business needs to be at the right stage for an acquisition to work. One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is doing an acquisition because they think it will fix their weaknesses. If a business isn’t currently in a position of stability, they shouldn’t be thinking about an acquisition.

 

Exponential Value

 

One of the reasons entrepreneurs should always think big is there’s a lot of risk involved in bringing a vision to life. As a result, there needs to be a very big upside. This same principle applies directly to acquisitions. Bringing two businesses together will need to create significantly more value (and definitely not less).

 

Opportunity to Negotiate

 

It’s important for an acquisition to be a good deal. That’s why there needs to be room for negotiation. Not only is negotiation important on the financial side of things, but if a company that’s being looked at for an acquisition isn’t willing to do any negotiating, chances are they’re going to drag down the entire acquisition process.

 

A Clear Way to Integrate

 

Even if the first three elements are in place, it’s still vital to have a clear way to integrate the acquisition. Without a clear vision for integration, an acquisition is almost guaranteed to fall short of expectations.

 

While there’s still no way to guarantee that an acquisition will be successful, focusing on these four elements is the best way for an entrepreneur to make an acquisition work as expected.

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January 15, 2016
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BY Bellwether
What Traits Do the Best Procurement Professionals Have?

As the role of procurement continues to increase in scope and importance across organizations, more people are looking at exactly what makes great procurement professionals. While there was a time when procurement was an afterthought for many organizations, its increased role means organizations are looking for talented individuals who can deliver the results needed to thrive. Because countless organizations simply don’t know what they should look for in a procurement professional, we want to provide some clarity by highlighting the five traits that matter most:

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January 14, 2016
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BY Bellwether
Learn Why Companies Should Care About Spend Analytics

Anyone who has come into contact with spend analytics knows they can provide clear information on spending activity. While that can be useful, the reason companies should care about these types of analytics is the information they can offer goes beyond just spending. Specifically, it can help a company increase productivity. It can also boost savings by making it possible to streamline existing purchase-to-pay practices.

 

How exactly can spend analytics help your business increase savings and streamline its practices? The answer is by identifying some specific areas that can be improved, which are:

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January 14, 2016
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BY Bellwether
Does Purchasing Automation Benefit the Procure-to-Pay Process?

Regardless of the size of a company or its specific industry, the activities of procurement and accounts payable impact each other. Because of this link, a company’s goal should be to maximize the efficiency of both departments. Doing so has very clear benefits, especially in regards to the procure-to-pay process.

One of the best ways to reap all of those benefits is to automate procure-to-pay activities. Purchasing automation offers efficiency and speed improvements that simply aren’t possible through any other means.

Automating Procure-to-Pay

Automation directly impacts procurement staff. Once automation is introduced into this environment, it provides procurement professionals with what they need to operate at a higher level of both efficiency and productivity. What’s even more appealing about those gains is they can then help to reduce the staffing costs that go along with processing orders. Instead of spending large amounts of time on basic tasks related to the purchasing process, members of this department can focus their attention on activities that create far more value.

Key Benefits of Procure-to-Pay Automation

Once procure-to-pay processes are automated, a business will notice faster cycle times. The second notable benefit of purchasing automation is increased efficiency for purchase order processing. Because an automated system takes care of routing information in the most efficient way possible, previously wasted time caused by communication inefficiencies is eliminated.

The third benefit that’s very meaningful for businesses is that procurement employees are able to process significantly more purchase orders. That benefit stems from purchasing automation directly assisting with common tasks like purchase order generation.

Another benefit that goes along with automating procurement is a reduction in supplier lead times. The clear and consistent data sharing provided by automation ensures that suppliers have everything they need to avoid delays.

Moving Towards Purchasing Automation

Once businesses learn about all of the benefits that procurement automation has to offer, they generally want to learn more about what it takes to make this transition. When this topic comes up, it’s generally a good time to review the current strategy that’s in place for managing procurement. Looking at the current state of areas like receiving and invoicing provides an opportunity to identify key areas for improvement.

The good news about purchasing automation is not only is it very beneficial, but it’s easier to implement than many companies expect. With the right purchase order software, companies can get all the features they need. From customized work flows to purchase order generation, quality purchasing software puts all the power of automation into a straightforward interface.

To see exactly what purchasing automation can do for your business, be sure to set up a free live demo of Bellwether Purchasing Software.

 

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November 24, 2015
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BY Bellwether
Why Should Hotels Automate Inventory and Procurement?

E-procurement can provide numerous operational benefits to hotels that make the transition to this type of system. To help demonstrate exactly why automating inventory and procurement should be a top priority for hotels as 2015 winds down and 2016 gets nearer, we want to highlight the most significant benefits:

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November 18, 2015
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BY Bellwether
What Procurement Can Learn from the Hotel Industry

The hotel industry has gone through some major changes in recent years. Not only has it had to adapt to the Internet, but it has also had to find ways to stay competitive in an environment with increasing pressure from sources other than traditional hotels.

Even though the changing landscape has presented very real challenges for hotels across the entire industry, the ones that have continued to thrive share some key characteristics. Specifically, the hotels that keep making progress are those that have embraced what technology can do for them.

Although it would be easy to only view technology in a negative light as a result of the additional competition it has created, savvy hotels have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to resist the major ripples created by technology, they’ve found the best ways to harness the technology that’s available.

Technology Can Play a Key Role in Procurement Growth and Efficiency

Since technology is having a major impact across most industries, those in procurement should take a cue from the hotel industry and take advantage of what’s available. Specifically, purchasing managers can gain a lot from using purchase order software. With help from purchasing software, procurement professionals will no longer need to stress over things like enforcing budget thresholds.

Instead, they’ll have the tools that are needed to make this process a breeze. The reality is that’s just one of numerous examples of the way that the right software can help optimize procurement activities. While this type of software is very powerful, what makes it especially compelling is that it can be used without the need for IT support. And to top things off, the cloud functionality of purchasing software means that data is easy to access, completely secure and backed up at all times.

An Important Takeaway for Salespeople and Customer Service

This isn’t an issue that’s only relevant to procurement. It’s also a topic that salespeople and customer service can learn from. For salespeople, the lesson is to keep an eye out for ways to make the lives of prospects easier. By actively looking for solutions instead of just trying to sell a product, salespeople can frame their offerings in a manner that is much more compelling to purchasing managers and other professionals within an organization.

The lesson for customer service is similar to that of salespeople. When someone calls a customer service representative, it’s generally because they have a problem that needs to be solved. Customer service professionals can get a leg up by always having their eyes open for the most efficient way to tackle problems. By being open to even better ways of doing things, members of the customer service team can make things easier for themselves and others.

Contact us today to learn more about how Bellwether Purchasing Software can assist your company in automating your purchasing processes. We offer a Free Live Demo and  Free 30 Day Trial, no credit card needed.

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September 18, 2015
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BY Bellwether
Procurement Training for the Public Sector

Throughout the public sector, there is a lot of pressure on departments and individuals to save money. Although the mandate to save money is clear, it needs to be accomplished without degrading the quality of goods or services that are delivered. This combination creates a procurement challenge that is quite significant. As a result of that challenge, there is a very real need for purchasing managers who have the right mix of experience and skills.

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August 21, 2015
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BY Bellwether
Procurement Fraud and Corruption – What You Need to Know

Of all the areas within a company that are susceptible to fraud or corruption, the supply chain is one of the most prominent. Whether it’s questionable rebates or potentially troublesome relationships with vendors, there’s no way to eliminate the possibility of these issues with 100% certainty. Companies that take a proactive stance on procurement fraud and corruption will be in the best position to deal with it.

Understanding the Dynamics of Fraud and Corruption

Although these words have very loaded meanings and either action can be very complex in the way that it’s carried out, the dynamics at the core of these issues are often surprisingly straightforward. In many cases, pressure, opportunity and rationalism are the only three factors that need to be present in a business environment for fraud to occur.

The easiest way to fully understand this issue is to look at a realistic example. Given that many companies are still facing various financial challenges, individuals may feel pressure to either deliver specific results for the organization or to secure their own financial well-being. Unless the right controls are already in place, it’s often surprisingly easy for people to carry out actions related to fraud or corruption.

And if someone is facing what they view as overwhelming or otherwise pressing circumstances, it’s very likely that it will be quite easy for them to rationalize their decisions. But just because someone feels that they have a justifiable reason for taking a specific action doesn’t mean that it will turn out okay for the company.

Reactions to Procurement Fraud and Corruption

In the event that fraud or corruption does occur within an organization, they have to decide how they’re going to respond. Unfortunately, many companies take a less than ideal approach upon discovering this type of problem. Even though this type of issue can cause major damage for a company’s reputation, many companies shield the responsible parties from any significant consequences. The big problem with that approach is it sends the wrong signal to the rest of the company.

Preventing Major Issues Related to Purchasing

While figuring out the best way to deal with the discovery of fraud or corruption can be a tricky issue, minimizing this risk doesn’t have to be complicated. Instead, there’s a fairly straightforward way to put the necessary controls in place to curb this kind of activity.

With purchasing software, things like poor record keeping that create an easy opportunity for fraud are eliminated. Because PO software centralizes all purchasing activity and offers controls for things like budget thresholds, it provides safeguards that simply aren’t possible with a manual purchasing system.

Not only can quality purchasing software minimize the risk of fraud, but all of its features will make this department far more efficient. Bellwether Purchasing Software offers this minimized risk of fraud as well as opportunities to increase efficiency within the purchasing department. Contact us today to learn more.

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August 4, 2015
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BY Bellwether
How Millennials Are Influencing B2B Purchasing

Millennials are a demographic that get a lot of coverage in the press. Millennials being unable to find jobs and dealing with large amounts of student debt are two of the most popular topics for big publications to cover. While those topics make for good stories, they don’t paint a full picture of where millennials are at.

Although it’s true that a percentage of millennials are struggling to find their place in the professional world, a large number of millennials are already in the workforce. Not only are they working, but they’re already starting to move up the corporate ladder. That’s why research shows that in less than five years, millennials will account for more than 50% of the workforce.

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July 4, 2015
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BY Bellwether
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