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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Although we’ve all settled into 2015, there’s still quite a ways to go before we reach 2016. Since there is a lot that can happen between now and the end of the year, many procurement professionals are looking at different trends which are expected to shape the landscape of procurement this year. If you’re curious about which factors may have the biggest impact on your profession, we’ve pulled together a list of trends that you should know about:
A Focus On Organizational Alignment
More companies are realizing that organizational alignment is an important part of staying ahead of the curve. Because many companies are looking for ways to create greater synergy among departments, it’s important for procurement to get on board with this change. That can mean having more direct communication with departments like IT or marketing. While it can take some time to adjust to this change, procurement departments that embrace this idea will actually stand to gain a lot.
Shifts in Inventory Strategies
Shrinking product life cycles and supply chain simplification are just a few examples of things that are driving the need for procurement to take a more holistic approach to managing inventory. As a result of this changing tide, it will be important for procurement departments to keep their eye on ways to accomplish goals like serving multiple channels with a single pool of inventory.
Managing Performance in Real-Time
Purchasing software is having a big impact on the way that procurement processes are carried out. One example of the impact of purchasing software is that more things are being done in real-time. Another impact is that lots of data is being collected. While most companies have no shortage of data available to analyze, translating that data into actionable information can be a challenge. Procurement departments that are able to figure out how to properly harness different types of data will have a significant competitive advantage.
The Influence of Emerging and International Markets
Apple recently announced that iPhone sales in China beat the United States for the first time. Not only are established international markets like China influencing what’s happening throughout procurement departments, but emerging markets like Latin America are also having a noticeable impact. Since these changing markets are impacting everything from logistics to pricing, it’s important for procurement departments to be on the lookout for new opportunities.
Building Stronger Relationships with Suppliers
Many businesses are really emphasizing the importance of building long-term relationships with suppliers. While that doesn’t mean procurement departments should avoid negotiating, it does mean that purchasing managers should look for ways to engage in win-win negotiations. By taking the initiative to really strengthen these relationships, procurement departments will be in the best position to weather any changing circumstances that may come up down the line.
Running a successful procurement department isn’t something that generally happens overnight. In order to get this department to an optimal position, it’s important for there to be clear goals in place. In addition to setting clear goals for what the department should focus on achieving, it’s also important for everyone who works in procurement to be aware of common mistakes. By knowing what’s most likely to go wrong, every member of the team can keep an eye out for procurement mistakes and correct them if they ever come up.
Since we are in a position that allows us to speak with purchasing managers and other procurement professionals on a regular basis, we want to share the most common mistakes that have been brought up to us:
This mistake is especially common in new businesses. And even if a business is established, it can still happen if the procurement department has just gotten up and running. The most common reason that rushed buying happens is because a company or its procurement department feels like they need to get everything ordered as soon as possible. While securing what’s needed in a timely manner is important, that doesn’t mean the procurement process should be thrown into overdrive. By focusing on a striking a balance between thoroughness and promptness, procurement departments can do an optimal job.
Not Being Flexible with Plans
It’s definitely good for procurement departments to have plans in place. Not only can this keep things moving along, but it’s also a great way to avoid common obstacles. While there are clear benefits to planning, that doesn’t mean members of a procurement department should be tied to a plan forever. Since conditions can change, it’s important to review plans on a regular basis. By making reviews part of a team’s culture, the department won’t have to worry about getting stuck in any negative patterns.
Failing to Negotiate
Although we’ve already talked about negotiating on the blog, it’s a topic that’s worth bringing up again. Even though most procurement departments are conditioned to look for deals, far too many completely overlook the possibility of negotiating. Simply put, as long as it’s done in a reasonable manner, there’s no reason that purchasing managers shouldn’t negotiate.
Making Major Decisions in Isolation
One of the roles of a procurement department is to keep things moving along smoothly for the entire company. While it doesn’t make sense to seek input for every purchase, there are times when the department should loop others into the conversation prior to making a final decision. By opening up the lines of communication, a procurement department can avoid the wasted time and resources that go along with making an incorrect decision that then needs to be corrected.
We’ve recently written about the fact that many purchasing managers don’t negotiate at all when they speak with suppliers. We have also gone over some of the strategies that purchasing managers can use to successfully negotiate with suppliers. While this has allowed us to cover many of the best practice for procurement negotiations, there’s still another topic that we want to touch on.
Although many procurement departments don’t negotiate, there are those that make negotiations a standard component of how they run. However, just because a procurement department has a standard process for negotiating doesn’t mean that they’re doing things in an optimal way. Forbes recently covered a common mistake that’s made by procurement departments in the logistics space and other industries.
Not Knowing When to Give a Little
The negotiation mistake that the Forbes article addressed was procurement departments getting too aggressive with their terms and conditions. Specifically, this is an issue that has started to become quite widespread over the last few years. The problem with this trend is instead of using the industry standards that have been in place for a long time, companies are making the decision to come up with their own rules and contract terms. By doing this, they end up putting an unreasonable amount of risk on their service providers and carriers.
So, what happens when procurement departments put themselves in this position? Although they may be operating under the belief that they’re in control, the reality is that taking an overly aggressively stance can negatively impact the leverage that a purchasing manager has during the course of negotiations. Once a supplier realizes that they’re dealing with a department that has unreasonable demands, they’re going to be far less motivated to make the deal work than if they only had to meet in the middle on more reasonable terms.
How to Remedy This Problem
Since this trend has become a noticeable issue, many companies are looking for ways to remedy it. The good news is there are several steps that can be taken to get negotiations on the right track. The first is to hire and train the right candidates. By ensuring that purchasing managers understand the optimal approach to negotiating and have the skills to carry out this process, aggressive tendencies can be eliminated.
The other step that companies should take is ensuring they cultivate a culture that’s focused on a long-term vision. While it is true that really squeezing the terms of a deal can seem like a win, any gain is only temporary. If a company wants to build a mutually beneficial relationship that will help it thrive over the long-term, this is a mission that needs to be shared with everyone in the company.
Let Bellwether Purchasing Software help your company improve supplier neogtiations with our flexible and comprehensive purchasing software. Contact us today to see why Bellwether Purchase Software is the software to choose.
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