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:
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:
Despite more CPOs reporting directly to CFOs, as well as lots of talk about the importance of synergy between procurement and finance, many organizations still keep these functions in very distinct silos. If your organization has more space than you’d like between the two departments, the good news is bringing them together can be a relatively smooth process. A big part of why organizations can find a lot of success by bringing procurement and finance into closer alignment is the two departments already have a lot in common. So with that in mind, here are a handful of steps that can be very useful in encouraging successful collaboration:
In general, the sales cycle for B2B offerings is significantly longer than it is for B2C. From initial contact through pitches to negotiations, there’s a lot that has to get done in order for a deal to close. Because there are already so many potential roadblocks in place, it’s important for a company to provide as much support as possible to their salespeople.
By providing all the support that’s needed, companies can ensure that they’re not causing any inefficiencies that make things even more challenging for their salespeople. While salespeople will still have to contend with challenges like making it clear why a specific offering is superior to that of a competitor, not having internal hurdles to overcome can provide a significant boost.
To ensure that there aren’t walls between sales and management which are hindering the ability of the former to make deals, let’s take a look at three ways workflow automation can be successfully used:
Provide Smart Deals
One of the reasons that it’s typical for B2B sales to take longer is because price is something that’s almost always negotiable. From more complex packages to higher volumes, buyers want to be sure that they’re getting the best deal for their money. Since a lot of back and forth is already going to accompany this process, companies don’t want to create even more of it for their salespeople.
Instead, eliminating the need for drawn out internal discussions can give salespeople the flexibility to push for a sale and successfully close. With an automated approval workflow, salespeople can have the confidence to strategically discount without worrying about offering something that is going to make their manager unhappy.
Process Special Requests
Price isn’t the only element of B2B negotiations that often requires approval. There are a wide range of things that may come up which will require a salesperson to seek approval from their manager. If you want to ensure that getting special requests approved doesn’t stand in the way of a deal, an automated workflow is essential.
Dynamic Management of Inventory
One big consideration for B2B buyers is how quickly a solution can be delivered. If two offerings share many of the same features but one provider is able to deliver significantly faster than the other, the buyer is probably going to err on the side of speed. Utilizing automation in regards to inventory can help a business be as aggressive as possible with their delivery timelines.
It’s worth noting that the type of automation discussed above can benefit a business in other ways as well. For example, purchasing managers can use purchasing software to streamline their purchasing process and increase the overall efficiency of everything related to procurement.
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.
The last thing any purchasing manager wants is for procurement disasters to blow up to the point where it’s costing the company resources and time. Although small errors and miscommunication are part of doing business, you still want to prevent major misfires that have a significant negative impact.
Even though it can be stressful to think about everything that can go wrong with tasks like vendor negotiations, thinking through this process can be a very useful exercise. By taking the time to carefully think through the purchasing process, it becomes possible to identify areas where things can go wrong. Identifying potential pitfalls in advance makes it much easier to figure out the best way to deal with them.
So in the spirt of preventing problems that can lead to major purchasing issues, let’s take a look at four ways you can proactively prevent a very bad situation:
Always Get Everything in Writing
When you’re on the phone with a vendor and you have a dozen other things on your to-do list that need to get done by the end of the day, it’s easy to speed through the conversation and assume that everything is in order. However, unless you have the exact order you discussed in writing, there’s always the possibility of something going wrong. That’s why you can save yourself a lot of headaches by getting details in writing. Even if you’re quite busy at the time, taking this action will save you from complications down the line.
Have a Policy in Place for Disputes
In a perfect world, purchasing managers would be able to go about their job without ever worrying about disputes. But because we’re in the real world, it’s important to understand that disputes may arise. The best way to minimize the negative impact of a dispute is to have a clear policy in place for resolving it. You want to know ahead of time what actions should be taken. This possible complication also shows the importance of keeping detailed records.
Prevent Things from Being Done Twice
In terms of wasting time and resources, duplicated procurement efforts are definitely a problem. One of the best ways to avoid this issue is to centralize all procurement efforts. A proven way to make that happen is by taking advantage of purchasing software. Implementing purchasing software will make it much easier for you to stay on top of purchasing activity and prevent issues like duplication from arising.
Whether it’s done deliberately or accidentally, buying items that aren’t needed may not seem like that big of a deal. However, this is an issue that can snowball and become a very real problem. To prevent that from happening, purchasing managers can enforce budget thresholds via our purchasing software.
Although cloud computing is a relatively new technology, it’s already had a major impact in a short amount of time. And based on market research and trends that impact will only continue to increase. Data shows that by 2020, over half of all IT infrastructure will be in the cloud.
Why has cloud computing taken off in such a big way? While there are multiple answers to that question, they all link back to the fact that the cloud provides a lot of value to businesses that use it. From securely sharing information to having access whenever it’s needed, the cloud provides what businesses need to be as efficient as possible.
Another big driver of the cloud’s success is the fact that it can be used across a wide range of business functions. One compelling example is how the cloud is impacting purchasing. To fully understand this impact, it’s helpful to take a look at the specific ways the cloud is reshaping procurement.
The Cloud Brings Simplicity
Although the underlying details of cloud computing are quite complex, the experience for users is simplified in the best way possible. Instead of getting stuck with software that’s out of date or never seems to work right, cloud purchasing software provides the functionality that purchasing managers and organizations need. Not only is this type of software comprehensive in what it does, but it’s also very easy to use.
An Easy Transition
In the past, companies that wanted to take advantage of new technology had to put together a detailed roadmap for exactly what IT needed to get done. And even with the best laid plans, there was always a chance of something going wrong with the transition. What’s truly amazing about cloud software is this type of process is no longer needed. In fact, purchasing managers can easily get started with cloud software and continue using it without the need for IT.
Take Full Advantage of Everything the Cloud Has to Offer
If you want to reap all the benefits that the cloud can provide for procurement, our purchase order software is the ideal solution. At Bellwether, we designed every component of our purchasing software with purchasing managers in mind. That means it’s able to help with everything from automating purchasing processes to putting an end to maverick spending.
Not only is our software designed to save money by increasing efficiency and taking control of spending, but it takes full advantage of the power of the cloud. As fully web-based software, approved users can access the system from anywhere. In addition to convenience, our software provides full peace of mind knowing that all company information is kept safe and securely backed up. Give us a try with our FREE 30 Day Trial, or contact us to schedule a Live Demo and see how our purchasing software can work for your company.
One of the reasons that procurement has moved into the corporate spotlight in recent years is because more organizations are realizing the direct impact it can have on profitability. Thanks to that direct impact, companies are putting a lot of focus on ensuring that the fundamentals of procurement are being handled in the best way possible. Although it’s frustrating for a company to learn that suboptimal procurement practices have been costing them money for an extended period of time, the upside is that once these issues are addressed, a business can get on the right track and stay there as they continue to move forward.
When a business starts looking into their existing approach to procurement, one question that often comes up is what fundamentals need to be in place in order for everything to operate as efficiently as possible. As we’ll see shortly, there are actually several answers to that question. The link that ties them all together is the need for them to be manageable and scalable. While best practices are important, they only have an impact when there is a reliable way to utilize them daily.
Purchasing Software is the Best Way to Optimize Procurement
Since most procurement departments can tell stories about things getting off track despite having strong guidelines in place, purchasing software is a welcome solution for small and mid-market businesses. What makes this kind of software so powerful is it can take the procurement practices your business wants to follow and ensure that they are in place on a daily basis. And because this type of software is so easy to use, your entire business will be able to enjoy both optimal procurement practices and maximum productivity.
Because this type of software has the ability to deliver very big benefits, many people want to know exactly what kind of features it offers. The first key feature is the ability to automate purchasing processes. Not only do customized work flows greatly increase efficiency, but they also eliminate the need for procurement departments to use large amounts of paper.
The second important feature of purchasing software is being able to set and actually enforce budget thresholds. Instead of constantly being distracted by maverick spending, purchasing managers using quality software can focus on the tasks that will have the biggest impact on their company’s bottom line.
Several other features worth mentioning are the ability to use this software without IT support, having access to historical data to leverage vendor pricing and excellent usability that makes it easy to get everyone within a company to start using the software. The combination of all these features is why purchasing software is a great fit for any company that wants to enable procurement to play a direct part in growth.To see all the features we just covered in action, be sure to head over to our Free Live Demo page or sign up for a 30 Day Free Trial– no credit card needed.
In the current business environment, purchasing professionals need to have a variety of skills. One set of skills that can greatly benefit these professionals is the ability to sell. While purchasing pros obviously have different job requirements than salespeople, there are definitely some skills that the former can learn from the latter. Here are the sales skills that individuals who do purchasing can benefit from utilizing:
When a sales professional is interacting with a potential buyer, they’re not going to let the conversation drag on forever. Instead, sales pros know when it’s time to close the deal by asking for the sale. Although taking the initiative to close a deal can feel uncomfortable, it’s something that has to be done. So when someone in purchasing knows that an option is the best one to take, they should have the confidence to make that clear to all other parties that are involved.
Clearly Conveying Benefits
One of the traits that sets sales professionals apart from amateurs is that the former group focuses on the specific benefits that a product or service has to offer. While features are definitely important, benefits are what ultimately sways people to make a purchase. This lesson can be very beneficial to purchasing managers and team members who remember it. Whether it’s a fellow employee or another stakeholder, focusing on the benefits someone will receive can be useful in conversations ranging from specific purchases to why they should get on board with certain procedures.
Eliminating Discomfort from Discussions About Numbers
Numbers aren’t something that people always want to talk about. However, in order for a procurement professional to do the best job possible, they need to be able to negotiate prices. That reality is why those in purchasing should look to salespeople for guidance on how to best address the subject of numbers. Not only are great salespeople able to bring up the topic of numbers without making anyone uncomfortable, but they’re also able to frame them in a way that is beneficial to what they’re trying to accomplish.
Framing Conversations Around Value
This ties into the previous point about how salespeople are able to frame numbers in a way that is useful to what they want to accomplish. When a salesperson talks about what someone is going to get out of a product or service, they know the importance of communicating the direct value that individual is going to receive. While the subjects being discussed are going to differ, purchasing managers should take the same approach. By framing conversations around direct value, everything from vendor negotiations to enforcing budget thresholds becomes easier. The reason everything will become easier is because discussing value gives the other parties involved a clear reason to get on board with what a purchasing manager wants to do.
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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