BellWether Blog



Change Your Spreadsheets With Cloud-Based Purchase Order Software

Many small businesses begin their procurement journey using manual processes. This includes using spreadsheets to manage their entire procurement process. While this may work originally, as your organization begins to grow, you’ll probably find yourself spending too much valuable time and money handling the procurement process manually.

Changing your spreadsheet-based procurement process might be right for you if:

  • You found an invoice and then got an email saying that it wasn’t approved by the finance department.
  • Orders keep getting lost because a critical document was misplaced. 
  • You continuously spend valuable time correcting human errors that could have easily been avoided.

Lucky, there is a solution: cloud-based purchase order software.

Signs That Manual Procurement is Failing You

If you don’t know whether it’s time to make the change to more automated procurement processes, check out these signs that your procurement process is failing your business.

No Transparency

Spreadsheets are a great tool for organizing data, but when you need to use more and more spreadsheets to manage your data, your system starts to break down. You may have problems accessing data, organizing, finding information, and tracking it through multiple spreadsheets.

When the amount of data you need increases over time – which it does with every successful business – you reach a point where you’re simply unable to retrieve and track valuable information in the same amount of time. You also have to deal with security concerns and keeping information private.

Human error can also lead to inaccurate information, which can cost you deals, customers, and relationships with your suppliers. It can also affect your profits.

Businesses need transparency when it comes to their data. They need the ability to store, record, and find data, which can be difficult when using multiple spreadsheets. At the very least, you cost your business valuable time and money digging through files trying to find required information.

Investing in a web-based purchase order system is not a luxury for big businesses; it’s a necessity for successful businesses.

Policy Compliance

Your business has guidelines, especially within the procurement department, which will need to spend the most resources. When these guidelines aren’t followed, your purchasing function falls flat.

Inconsistency is very common with businesses who use manual processes. One employee may follow your organization’s policies when it comes to vendor relationships, but another employee may not. While focusing on individual tasks, employees lose sight of the big picture of procurement, which is efficiency, productivity, and financial goals.

When your employees use procurement software, there is only one way to do things: using the software to increase efficiency and productivity, ultimately saving your business time and money.

No Clarity

Manual procurement processes lack clarity. Each member of the procurement department is likely to make small errors or poor purchasing decisions. For example, if a procurement staff member makes a purchase that doesn’t require approval, it’s possible that another staff member already made that purchase order and sent it. Whether or not the financial department catches this mistake in time, you can expect time taken out of everyone’s day to resolve the issue.

Using an online PO system eliminates these risks and provides clarity for all of those involved in the procurement process. With real-time data, role-based permissions, and data accessibility, you can expect a more efficient procurement department.

Unsatisfied Customers and Vendors

An overly-complicated procurement strategy can affect relationships with both your customers and your vendors. You can expect missed deadlines, lost invoices, and many other mistakes to be made when you have everyone working with manual processes that aren’t centrally located.

Consider a lost invoice. If this happens, your vendor is not likely to want to continue working with you, or they will no longer follow the terms of their contract. Remember, the contract involves your business as well. Not paying an invoice on time could result in a breach of contract that will destroy your relationship with a vendor.

Your customers can also get caught up in this mess when you don’t have items in stock. Your customers rely on you to make sure you can fulfill orders and keep them happy. When this isn’t done, you can bet that those customers won’t be returning.

Automated purchasing systems allow you to keep track of everything that you need to without the hassle and mess of manual spreadsheets. Not to mention, it will be easier to ensure fluidity for your customers and vendors, which makes everyone happy.

Automating Your Procurement Process

Automation can drastically improve the procurement process of your organization.


Instead of digging through printed files or searching through computerized spreadsheets, you can access your data easily and instantly.

Boosts Productivity

Online purchase order systems take care of the executions of the procurement system. That means that your employees can spend time on tasks that involve human interaction, such as building and maintaining supplier relationships.

Eliminate Human Error

E-procurement solutions have features like three-way invoice matching that help eliminate the potential for human error. Once the purchase order is created, purchasing software automatically creates an invoice with all of the correct data.

Policy Compliance

Procurement solutions ensure that tasks are completed based on your organization’s procurement policies and any government regulations.

Actionable Insights

Purchasing software provides you with all of the data that you need to make business decisions.

Automate Your Procurement Process with Bellwether

Join the thousands of businesses who are making the switch from spreadsheet-based purchasing processes to online purchase order management software. With increased automation, you can increase your bottom line, boost productivity, and save money simultaneously.

Wondering how much money you can save with procurement software? Calculate your procurement ROI now and uncover the benefits right now.

There’s no need for all of the stress that potential human error can cause. Consider all of the money that you are wasting spending time on processes that can be automated and more efficient. Your business deserves a procurement process that will take it to the next level.

Contact Bellwether and start saving today.

October 7, 2019
BY Bliss Team
Best Practices to Improve Your Purchasing Department

The purchase department is responsible for acquiring goods and services. While that may seem simple enough, they actually have to perform a lot of tasks in between researching the best deals and making the purchase. If you’re an SMB, you know that your purchasing department does a lot, and it’s up to them to make smart purchasing decisions that impact the entire business.

Think of it like this, your purchasing department is responsible, at least in part, for the success of your business. You never want to waste money on purchasing products that you can get elsewhere, and it’s this department’s responsibility to make sure this doesn’t happen. 

Why Should You Improve Your Purchasing Department?

The answer to this question is simple: money. Improving this department and the way it functions can end up saving you tons of money each year. This includes saving on product costs and making your employees efficient enough that during their 8-hour workday, they are accomplishing more and making your business more profitable. 

How-to Improve Your Purchasing Department

When you’re first starting out, it can be difficult to nail down the purchasing process so that everyone in the department is on the same page. However, using these tips, you can improve your purchasing department and positively impact your entire business.

Improve Buying

Not every single person in the purchasing department needs to be responsible for calling suppliers and finding the best deals. Instead, you can put a team in place responsible for this task and allowing other members of the department to focus on the next stages.

You can also manage acquisitions systematically buy appointing one person to be in charge of calling suppliers and another for comparing prices. Whatever you choose to do, you must have a process that outlines the rules of buying so that everyone is doing it the same way and accomplishing each task.

Analyze Spending

To analyze spending, you will need to conduct a spending analysis. This analysis is a detailed review of how you spend, and it’s critical to review in order to improve the procurement system. Make sure to analyze each and every factor that affects the price of products, such as:

  • Raw material costs
  • Inventory costs (including space requirements, heating, and insurance)
  • Transportation expenses
  • Supplier charges 
  • Payment terms
  • Shipping and handling costs

By improving this aspect of your purchasing department, you can save enough money for other areas of business, such as marketing, and hiring more employees as you grow.

Analyze Demand

To analyze demand, you’ll need to find out your company’s essential needs when it comes to purchasing. Only focus on the critical purchasing decisions that you make. In order to do this, you may have to rewrite internal policies that include new criteria that determine which products and services are essential.

You’ll also need to focus on quantity. If you’re buying in bulk for a lower price, consider how much it costs you to store items that you may not need for months to come.

You may want to consider buying cheaper goods from overseas. However, purchasing from foreign suppliers comes with costs that may make it not worth it, such as higher shipping costs. Since there are time differences as well, you can also expect a delay, so it’s not recommended that you use these suppliers for items that you need immediately.

Reduce Complexity

You can simply buy more standard parts or goods from suppliers instead of the more expensive customized items. If this is possible for your business, talk to your suppliers to make sure the purchases fit your needs and that you’re not overspending on customized items. If you have a good relationship with your supplier, they should have no problem helping you cut costs, because you’ll continue to make purchases that benefit both your business and theirs.

Build Strategic Partnerships

Building partnerships is easy. However, building strategic partnerships may be difficult for some businesses. If you work with a lot of suppliers, you’ll want to start cutting down the list and try working with only a few.

If you work with fewer suppliers, you can save time and resources. You’ll also be able to build better relationships because you have fewer businesses to work with.

Your suppliers will feel honored as they have been chosen to be the few you do business with. This will help continue to build relationships so that you can expect more flexibility from them when it comes to your needs.

Always remember that your partnership should be mutually beneficial. You should be helping them succeed just as much as they are helping you. When you negotiate, keep in mind that you’ll have to help them see how both sides can benefit. This will help establish trust between you and them so that you can continue to be successful.

Evaluate Suppliers

Once you have a smaller list of suppliers to work with, make sure to evaluate them regularly. You can establish your own system for assessing their performance, but make sure to include these factors:

  • Flexibility
  • Delivery time
  • Costs
  • Quality of service

Having a document available for your suppliers to review will also help them see where their performance can be improved, which can help your business and theirs as they have multiple buyers they deal with.

Invest in Purchase Order Management Softwarepurchase order software. procurement software

In the modern age, there are so many technological tools that can help your business grow and succeed. Your procurement process may have once been simple enough to warrant the use of a spreadsheet. However, as you grow, you’ll find more human errors and complications that make using manual processes impractical.

Many SMBs start out using QuickBooks to help them send purchase orders more quickly by creating a QuickBooks purchase order, which automatically fills in fields for you. While automation is key to success in the modern age, this program can’t do everything you need when it comes to procurement. Instead, users can integrate Bellwether with QuickBooks to:

  • Enter invoices into ePMX
  • Three-way Invoice Matching (PO, Receipt, and Invoice)
  • Bridge invoices into QB for payment

Integrated procurement software will help you manage all of the day-to-day functions of the purchasing process so that you can save time and money while your employees focus on more important tasks, like building relationships with your suppliers.

For businesses who want to save significant time and money, robust purchase order software can help you manage vendor/ supplier relationships, find the best deals, and turn POs into invoices with a few clicks of the mouse. These technologies completely revolutionize the way you’ll handle purchasing, making everything from acquisitions to approval processes much more simple.

September 10, 2019
BY Bliss Team
Keep Running Out of Stock? Here’s an Effective Way to Manage Your Inventory

Being out of stock means that you don’t currently have any of a particular item available for purchase. This problem for business owners typically happens because someone in the purchasing department does not order enough inventory to satisfy customer demand.

Preventing Out of Stock Situations

Luckily, becoming out of stock can be prevented with purchase order software. Cloud-based inventory management systems let you easily track your inventory in real-time so that you know exactly what you have in stock and when you need to reorder products.

Consequences of Running Out of Stock

Let’s take a look at the consequences of running out of stock and see how e-procurement software can help you avoid them.

Lost sales

When you run out of stock, a customer can’t purchase it from you. If a customer can’t purchase from your business, you have lost a sale. If you have a huge demand for a product but run out of stock, you will lose multiple sales.

Lost customers

Ultimately, lost sales lead to lost customers. When someone visits your website and attempts to make a purchase that they can’t complete because you are out of stock, they will go somewhere else for a similar product. We live in a time where people want their e-commerce products delivered quickly. If you can’t deliver on that, they will take their money elsewhere, and potentially never come back.

Bad customer reviews

If you run out of stock, your customers will lose the trust they had for your business. You can also expect some negative reviews on your website or social media page. Word of mouth is one of the most tried-and-true marketing techniques because customers rely on one another’s opinions before making a purchase. This is especially true when it comes to e-commerce.

Declining business growth

When word of mouth spreads, particularly negative word of mouth, you can expect a decline in sales, which leads to a decline in growth. Customers will not want to purchase from someone with bad reviews, and the worse it gets, you can expect fewer and fewer customers.

The Solution: Automation

Automation is key for preventing problems associated with being out of stock. Many businesses already use automated systems, which make the purchasing process easier and help to save time.

QuickBooks users can experience even greater efficiency and productivity when they integrate with Bellwether’s robust purchasing software.

Integrating e-procurement solutions with QuickBooks purchase order software will drastically improve all areas of the procurement function. Users can pull down these items into ePMX:

  • Vendors
  • G/L Accounts
  • Classes (Job Codes)
  • Projects
  • Terms
  • Currency

When integrated, users can enter invoices into ePMX, do a 3-way match with PO, receipt, and invoice, and bridge the invoices into QB for quick payment. All of these tasks save time and help the business run more smoothly.

In order to understand how a PO system can help you avoid out of stock solutions, we must first understand why businesses run out of stock. 

Why Did Your Business Run Out of Stock?

Running out of stock is a problem many businesses face, especially if they don’t have a refined procurement process in place. Here are a few reasons why you may run out of stock.

Inaccurate Data

In order to know what you have in stock and what you don’t so that you can make effective purchasing decisions, you’ll need to rely on data. Inaccurate data will always lead to poor purchasing decisions and cause your business some distress.

Product Ordering Gone Wrong

Inaccurate data will lead to ordering the wrong quantity of product. It may even lead you to order the wrong product altogether. If you don’t order enough product, you won’t keep up with demand, which means you will lose sales.

Manual Processes

Your inaccurate data, which is the basis for the procurement process, must have come from somewhere. If you are using spreadsheets or a paper-based system, the odds are that human error is what leads to inaccurate data.

Cloud-Based Purchase Order Management Software

As you can see, the result of using manual purchasing processes can have a butterfly effect on your entire business. Procurement software can completely eliminate the risk of running out of stock and help keep your business successful and with happy customers.

Eliminate Manual Processes = Better Procurement

By eliminating spreadsheets, your purchasing process is no longer prone to human error. That means no more data inaccuracies that force you to make bad purchasing decisions. When this risk is mitigated, you can expect a smoother and more efficient purchasing function.

Efficiently Managing MRO Inventory

MRO inventory differs from traditional inventory because it lacks the same controls or practices. It is not typically measured in terms of inventory on hand or usage. Here are a few of the challenges of managing MRO inventory:

  • Supplies required for MRO tasks are in-stock but can’t be located
  • Items required for MRO are bought with immediacy, ignoring the price in favor of availability
  • Expedited shipping costs more

How Can Procurement Software Help Manage MRO Inventory?

Purchase order software can help you do the following much easier, and in less time:

Track, Manage, and Control MRO inventory

To improve the MRO procurement process, you’ll need to track and manage your MRO inventory more effectively. Procurement solutions will help you more easily track items that can frequently get lost and lead to unnecessary spending.

Faster Purchase Requisition Approvals

When you need an item immediately, the process can get bogged down by the approval process. With cloud-based solutions, you can set certain criteria that allow MRO supplies to be purchased immediately.

Delivers Valuable Data

Predicting when you’ll need certain MRO items will help the entire procurement process run more smoothly. E-procurement solutions will give you easily digestible data that allows you to be proactive instead of reactive.

Reduce the Number of Suppliers You Work With

Tracking the performance of your suppliers may not be part of your procurement process. However, by determining which suppliers work best with your business, you can cut the number of suppliers you work with to improve regular business functions and improve relationships with them.

Improve Budgeting

Purchasing software saves your employees time, which saves you money. Also, by reducing unnecessary spending, you’ll have more money to put into beneficial business tasks, like marketing and human resources.

By knowing which items you have and which you’ll need soon, you can reduce the immediacy of purchasing MRO supplies that are either in stock and lost or need to be replaced. This means cheaper delivery charges since you won’t need products the next day.

Purchase order system software will improve your entire business, helping you save and make more money each day.

September 3, 2019
BY Bliss Team
How to Implement an Efficient Purchasing and Inventory Control

Efficient purchasing also means having inventory control. Businesses need to know what they have in stock and what they don’t in order to make the right decisions when it comes to procurement. While you may already have a system in place and know which items need to be replaced and when, it can be difficult to determine whether your purchasing function is as effective as it can be.

By improving your purchasing function, you can expect significant cost savings. Ordering the correct amount of products that you need to keep your business running reduces any maverick spend on items you don’t need.

Goals of Inventory Management

An inventory management strategy aims to:

Prevent Dead Stock

When you run out of stock of an in-demand item, you’ll end up losing money and valuable customers. However, overstocking can also cost you money because it takes up floor space and can result in waste if the items do not sell in time. If you lease warehouse space, this can be extremely detrimental. You’ll want to minimize dead stock storage to make room for items that will sell to keep your costs lower.

Improve Organization

Effective inventory management requires a certain level of organization, which includes real-time tracking. You need to know where every item is located, how fast it’s used or moves, and what quantity you have in stock.

This will enable faster order fulfillment and reduce the risk of you having to tell valuable customers that the item they ordered is not in stock. Tracking these items will help you see which inventory you have and which you don’t so that you can determine what items need to be purchased and when.

Improve Reordering

Inventory management also means ordering the correct amount of stock you need and moving it as quickly as possible. When an item is sold, it should be taken out of stock automatically. When in-stock items reach a certain limit, the item should be automatically triggered for reorder, whether it has to be approved or not will be up to your business practices.

Positively Impact Budgeting

By effectively managing your inventory, you can better manage your cash flow. Keeping the right amount of goods in stock is key to your success.

Inventory Management Techniques

Your business requires a strategic inventory management process that saves time, boosts productivity, and helps keep your business a success. Check out these tips and techniques for an effective purchasing and inventory control system.

Invest in Software 

If you want an effective purchase order system, which includes inventory management, you will probably need help as your business expands. Technology is crucial to businesses who have to manage a lot of items, suppliers, and budgets.

Purchase order management software uses automation to minimize data entry and update systems in real-time. This means that everyone involved in the PO process will be able to see what’s in stock at any given moment, and the database is then updated each time a product is sold or used.

Cloud-based purchasing software creates and stores tons of data to provide your business with the information you need to make informed purchasing decisions. You can view which items go out of stock most frequently and when you need to reorder them. You can also view the products that aren’t moving as much as you thought they were and change the policy on how often those items are reordered.

Remember, that the longer an item sits in your warehouse, the more it costs your business. Make sure that you use the data to make sure that your procurement process is as efficient and effective as it can be.

Predictive Analysis

Be as proactive as you can be. Use past purchase information to understand buying items for certain items and categories. Make sure you look at the data regularly because using insights in a strategic way can help boost sales and save your company money.

Predicting demand will be critical to your inventory management function. Use the data from the procurement software to find market trends and analyze previous sales. Next, you can examine season trends and any marketing efforts to ensure that you have enough product for an expensive spike in sales.

You can’t account for all variables that will affect your purchasing and inventory functions. However, you can plan for the future of your business and determine how to proceed using real-time data.

Centralized Ordering

Ordering through a purchasing office gives you control over incoming goods. Centralized ordering gives you dedicated experts trained to negotiate for the best deals. Purchasing managers will negotiate the best quality for the lowest price to keep your business running smoothly.

Suppliers typically require a minimum quantity to balance their costs. However, purchasing managers can work with suppliers to lower costs and spread delivery over a certain time period to avoid overstock costs.

Always Have a Back-Up Plan

For your procurement system to run smoothly, every step of the process will have to work properly. There are some inventory factors that you have no control over, though, such as raw materials and weather.

Your supply chain will invariably hit a snag, which can affect your entire company, including its customers. In order to mitigate risk, you’ll have to have a back-up plan for when things just don’t go according to plan.

While you can’t plan for everything, you can make your process a little more flexible to minimize any negative impacts on your business. Your back up plan might include local suppliers who can deliver quickly when there is an impending storm, and you don’t know when you’ll get products from another supplier.

A good back up plan involves communicating with your suppliers and building good relationships with them. If you maintain beneficial relationships, your suppliers may even give you a heads up when there may be a shortage so that you can plan accordingly.

Audit Regularly

Good inventory management and purchase order software will provide you with all the information you need. However, humans involved in the process can still make mistakes. For this reason, it’s important to make sure that the stock matches your reports.

You should still do a physical inventory once a year, but even that may not be enough. If the count doesn’t match the numbers, it can be complicated to find out what happened. To prevent this from happening, consider spot-checking your inventory every so often. You can pick a few of the items that move the fastest and count them to find any discrepancies.

FREE ROI Report – just add your numbers!

BY Bliss Team
Importance of Inventory Management for an Efficient Purchasing Function

An effective and efficient purchasing function is critical for your business. It will help you keep costs down and ensure productivity. To develop a streamlined purchasing process, your first step should be inventory management. 

The best method to manage inventory is to invest in e-procurement software that provides analytics so that you can track your inventory and oversee purchases. At Bellwether, we believe that automation is king. 

We’ve worked with thousands of business to streamline and control purchasing and inventory management. Our software automates the process to result in a 5-10% annual saving. Join the thousands of businesses, including the Massachusetts Department of Health, Aramark, and Pacific Life who have streamlined their inventory management with Bellwether. 

What is purchasing and inventory management?

Most of the opportunities to improve efficiencies start with shortening the time it takes from order to receipt. However, you want to do this without incurring an additional cost. In order to accomplish this, you must focus on inventory. 

Inventory management typically includes:

  • Controlling and overseeing purchases
  • Maintaining the storage of inventory
  • Controlling the amount of product for sale
  • Fulfillment

Your business’ particular meaning of inventory management will vary based on the types of products you sell and how you sell them.

Inventory ties into procurement in a big way. Basically, SMBs track inventory and make decisions about ordering. Knowing when to reorder, how much to order, and where to stock products can be complicated, especially when using manual processes.

That’s when businesses usually decide to make the switch to more robust procurement software that can help in all aspects of inventory management. It even extends beyond the basic ordering and stock monitoring to encompass everything from end to end production and business management to lead time and accounting.

Why is inventory important, and why should it be managed efficiently?

Your business depends on two things: inventory and your customers. However, in order to have customers, you need inventory. Think of it as a cycle, you must first have a product and then sell it to a customer in order to get more of that product. However, as your business grows, managing your inventory can become challenging. 

Your inventory needs to be managed efficiently to keep your business successful. You wouldn’t want a customer to place an order and then find out that you don’t have it in stock. This is just one problem that can happen from manual procurement processes. A person may forget to input the correct information or may input the wrong information altogether, which can lead to unfulfillment and lost money. 

Here’s why your inventory needs to be managed efficiently.

Customer Relationships 

Your customers should always be your number one priority. When you have better control of your inventory, you can provide better customer service. Those customers will then come back, and you will create a mutually beneficial relationship with them. 

Using our previous example, let’s say that a customer orders something from you and you are out of stock. That order went to the warehouse only for you to discover that it is out of stock.  If this happens, you must then go back to your customer, even though they ordered the product hours or even days ago, and tell them that you are out of stock. That customer will then go somewhere else to buy the product, and they will probably never come back because you gave them a bad experience. 

An innocent little mistake like this could cost you. Word of mouth is one of the most tried and true marketing techniques, but it can also be your demise. A customer with a bad experience will tell their friends, and you will lose more than just one customer. 

With inventory and purchasing software, you will know exactly how much of each item you have in stock, making sure the process runs smoothly for both your employees and your customers. 

Warehouse Space 

On the other side of this equation, if you have too much inventory, you are actually costing yourself money. You never want to have too much because there is always a chance that you will not sell every single product. There will be absolutely no way of getting your money back if that happens. You want to always have just enough to serve your customers without using up too much space in a warehouse. Too much inventory can trigger profit losses, especially if your products can expire or damage easily. 

Understanding your customer demand is the only way to prevent this from happening. Your e-procurement software will analyze data across your purchase process. It will then show you this data in an easy to read format, which will help you understand your customer demand. The data will also provide insight into rogue spending as a result of not knowing the demand. 

Purchasing and inventory management software will prevent this from happening. As your business grows, it will become difficult to keep track of every product in your warehouse. It’s possible that the person in charge of ordering will forget they had already ordered certain products and make the mistake of ordering more. When you can more easily track your inventory and know just how much you have, you will reduce any unnecessary spending. 

Business Workflows

The best way to save money is to improve workflows. However, if you have an inventory management issue, you are costing yourself money. Each time an issue happens, someone will have to go back and correct the issue, making them go backward instead of forward. Manual processes, like the use of spreadsheets, can cause this easily because they are prone to human error. 

However, automating the process using purchasing and inventory software will reduce the potential for risks from errors that cost you time and money. For example, if an employee accidentally marks the wrong shipment as fulfilled, you could be risking two customer relationships because one is getting the wrong order and another is not receiving one at all. Effective workflows, however, will work with inventory for a smoother process that makes procurement much easier. 

The Importance of MRO Inventory Management and Procurement

Maintenance, repair, and operating supply (MRO) items are supplies that are utilized in the production process but are not seen in the end products. These items may include:

  • Gloves
  • Safety Equipment
  • Computers
  • Cleaning and Lab Supplies
  • Industrial Equipment
  • Upkeep Supplies, such as lubricants, gaskets, repair tools

The basic role of MRO items is to keep the supply chain running smoothly. Failure to maintain, repair, and overhaul systems can be detrimental. However, organizations who maintain MRO inventory can better supply products to customers. 

Typically, MRO purchases are not managed by the purchasing department but by administrative personnel. Unfortunately, these individuals may not have a complete picture of the MRO inventory at hand. Supply chain professionals should remedy this by tracking the following:

  • Lists of required MRO items generally used
  • Lead times needed to resupply items
  • MRO item usage and depletion rates

Improving Inventory Management for Effective Purchasing Function

Controlling the cost for MRO items requires careful management and planning. Parts need to be available in the inventory when they are needed and they need to be stored properly to be effective. If you are not effectively managing your MRO items, you should expect additional costs. 

Request for the part should not be an emergency and the purchase should not have to be expedited. In this situation, you are actually losing money. Here’s how you can avoid this. 

Keep the Right Parks In-stock

Security is a requirement for inventory management. Access to the storeroom should be limited so that employees understand the importance of documenting any parts they removed from the inventory. Errors may occur during inventory stocking and item picking that also lead to misplaced MRO items. 

Keep Up-to-date EBOMs

A formal Management of Change(MoC) process should help manage equipment modifications. The MoC should include modifications, changes to the process, and operational training. All of these aspects should be fully documented. 

The Equipment Bill of Material (EBOM) should be revised to include the new parts for the equipment. The old parts should then be removed from the EBOM and reviewed. These new parts should be added to the MRO inventory.

Storing MRO Parts

In order to keep track of your MRO items, you need to store them properly. Improper storage can cause parts to fail or not perform as expected. Large motors, for example, need a documented and scheduled preventative maintenance (PM) program  while they are being stored. They also need to be stored very specifically, with documented information on maintenance. 

All three of these practices can reduce any additional costs from production time, lost utilization of the maintenance crafts, and excessive procurement costs involved in expediting need parts. 

Don’t let your business lose valuable customers because you didn’t change the way you manage inventory. The success of your business depends on not only the products you sell but how you control them from the moment they arrive at the warehouse to the moment they leave. Bellwether provides the best value in purchasing/inventory software or your money back!

August 20, 2019
BY Bellwether
Awesome Tools Your Purchasing Department Should Use Today

Selecting the right tools for your business’ procurement process can be daunting, especially if you have been using manual processes. By automating your procurement management system, you will save yourself and your business time and money, helping you to become more successful each day. 

Procurement management tools will help those involved in the procurement process to navigate complex requirements easily. Instead of manually using spreadsheets that are prone to human error, you can ensure compliance and performance, and help your employees improve their workflows.

What Features Should Purchasing Tools Have?

When it comes for purchase department tools, there are critical features that you should look for. Remember, how much you spend on your software will depend on your particular needs and costs vary from company to company. 


When you are searching for tools, you’ll need to find one that allows the approval process to the automated. This will save your business time and money. 

Compliance Tracking

You should be able to ensure policy, regulatory, and legal compliance with your purchasing software. 

3-Way Matching

You can prevent maverick spend through automated three-way matching. 


Your tools should be able to provide analytics across all spend categories, such as vendors, departments, and products.

The Best Tools for Purchasing Departments

Tools are meant to save you time and money, especially if you are trying to automate the entire procurement process. Get rid of your manual process and help your employees improve their workflows. Here are the best tools that your purchasing department should use today.


Bellwether is the best e-procurement software in its class. We offer a free version. This software allows you to manage your purchase order process without the need to spend money until your business grows or you decide that you’d like more robust features. 

If you are a small business shopping around for procurement software that allows you to manage everything from one dashboard, try the free version. However, if you are a larger corporation, Bellwether offers more robust versions that will help all of the departments involved in the procurement process function more efficiently. 

Bellwether offers vendor management that allows you to track your vendors closely and make sure both parties are complying with the contract. This tool works great for consolidating vendors so that you can save time and money when it comes to your entire purchase order system


This tool incorporates budget tracking, purchase order approval routing, and supplier boarding. It will help automate the entire procurement methods across departments so that your business can improve at every level. You can also view analytics and have notifications when you are close to or overspending your budget. If you’re used to using something like Excel for managing your procurement process, Precoro is a great tool with a simple interface that allows you to do so much without being confusing.

Standard users pay less than seven dollars a month with options for the full enterprise plan. However, if you are a smaller business which is used to manual processes, try the standard package, and see how far it can take you.


Coupa is a complete tool for managing the entire procurement process. Features include approval workflows, inventory management, and budget management. Users can make approvals from email and the mobile app. Invoices are visible within the approval and payment process so that there’s no mistaking how much a payment to your business is.

Coupa is great for larger companies who have tons of invoices and purchase orders coming in. Coupa’s pricing is tailored depending on your particular needs, so you will have to contact them for pricing information. However, you can still read customer reviews to find out how businesses in your industry are using Coupa.

Workplace Requisition and Procurement

This tool is excellent for small businesses and large corporations with up to 4,000 users. It’s one of the more robust tools on our list that handles:

  • Job costing
  • Budgeting
  • Reporting
  • Self-service portal for vendors

This feature-rich tool enables end-users to create purchase requisitions and process them while other end users can accept or reject them. 

Aestiva Purchase Order 

With this software, you can create, approve, and manage a variety of A/P requests, including purchase orders and requisitions. The cloud-based software includes security settings, email notifications, SOX compliance. Management and reporting features allow you to manage your purchase order process more effectively.

Fraxion Spend Management

This procurement suite focuses on accountable requisition and PO processes for efficient expense and invoice management. It uses your data to help you make better business decisions, and you can see your budget live with risk analytics.

E Buyer Assist 

From requisition to the placement of order to the vendor, this tool has tons of features like online approvals, public RFPs, sealed vendor bidding, and invoice matching. The interface is incredibly simple so that almost anyone already working with your business can begin using it. 


SourceSuite has an automated bid feature and supplier management tools. It allows buyers to streamline the procurement process from any location electronically. It also features pre-qualification, electronic bidding,  and approval workflow.

Procurement Port

This hosted purchasing software enables procurement automation. They pride themselves on being easy to implement so that a training session doesn’t disrupt the regular day to day operations. Complete with e-invoicing, contract compliance, and cash flow management, this tool is great for businesses who want to take a look at their budget and make savings decisions.


Turbine is an affordable online purchase order management tool that allows employees to create purchase orders online or using their smartphone. Managers can then review and approve requests the same way and send POs to suppliers by email or PDF. While it isn’t the most robust software in our list, it will help automate these specific functions.


SpendMap has been around for about 25 years, helping tons of businesses streamline their purchasing workflows. It helps cut down on paperwork, control, spending, and drive savings. They have different solutions depending on your business, so make sure to talk to one of their representatives to find the best one for your business.

Unleashed Software

We know that the most significant benefit that businesses believe their manual processes have is cost. They think they are saving money by not using procurement systems. However, there are free platforms out there like Unleashed that are designed to get rid of your error-full procurement system. With Unleashed, you can track stock in real-time across locations, get visibly on all inventory management processes and transactions across warehouses, and make data-driven decisions based on dynamic inventory information.


August 6, 2019
BY Bellwether
How to Optimize Your Sourcing Function

Strategic sourcing can add value to your entire enterprise. An effective procurement process allows for sourcing strategies to improve the growth of a business. Purchasing software will provide your business with:

  • A high percentage of spend under management
  • Strong alignment between the procurement process and business stakeholders
  • Discipline around the entire purchasing process and sourcing function 

The Sourcing Process

As you know, a sourcing process is used to choose the best product or service for a specific expenditure category. This is just one of the business processes that are run poorly by many companies, which can result in a loss of saving opportunities, delivery of inferior quality products, and even, less favorable terms. 

So, how can you optimize your sourcing function? The answer is an effective procurement system. 

A procurement function will provide the structure and framework to enable successful sourcing strategies. 

Spend under management

When an expenditure comes through a defined procurement and sourcing process, it is then competitively sourced and recorded. As your business’ spend under management increases, you can expect the ability to reduce costs, forecast expenses, and manage vendors. 

This purchasing data is not only the measure of spend under management, but it is the foundation for the whole of spend analytics. If you don’t know or understand the details of what you are spending, with which vendor, and for what goods or services, you won’t be able to manage the spend effectively, making it difficult to negotiate with suppliers. 

Purchasing software lets you access this type of data quickly and easily. Having the readily available spend data will make it easier for those in charge of reducing costs. The purchasing anger can see the expenses broken down into categories, like maintenance costs, new purchases, and upgrades. This data can then be shared with leadership, and a strategy can be presented to the finance department so that a plan can be put in place to see what costs can be reduced. 

A robust procurement system should provide detailed analytics so that companies can make business decisions based on data. 

Revised purchasing policy

A purchasing policy must be well-defined to provide the framework for how the spend is managed. It is up to the business to use the data provided by the procurement software to decide how rigid the policy should be and how strictly it should be enforced. A policy should include only things that the company wants to enforce. This policy should promote the right spending behaviors. While many decisions also need to be approved, purchase software can automate this, helping to approve suppliers based on specific data. That means no more breakdown in the sourcing function, saving your business time and money. 

Procurement and Stakeholders

An optimized procurement function should provide a strong alignment between procurement and stakeholders. From the request for a quote through the final negotiations, suppliers should have all the information they need at all times. In competitive situations, vendors may look for signs that purchasing and business owners are not on the same page and then use this to take advantage of the business. 

The early stage of any project should begin with the alignment of the procurement process and the business. Using robust purchasing requisition software allows for data to be communicated effectively across all internal teams so that the right decisions can be made. With improved communication, there will be no opening for a vendor to take advantage of the lack of communication between departments. 

With data available for stakeholders to see where spending is occurring and how it’s being spent, you can get a better idea of where you stand at the beginning of negotiations. This transparency throughout the business will allow everyone to stay in sync so that there is no breakdown in the negotiation process. 

Lifecycle Vendor Management

To maximize the value of sourcing strategies, businesses will need a defined lifecycle approach to vendor management. This management can depend on a few different aspects:

  • The individual circumstances
  • Amount of spend
  • Criticality assigned to goods/services the vendor provides. 

You’ll need to be able to monitor a vendor’s performance against requirements, benchmarks for pricing, and quality. A full-time resource may even be dedicated to managing a vendor relationship, which involves an understanding of product roadmaps, supply chain issues, and real-time quality metrics. 

Performance data is key to business and procurement. This data can provide leverage for negotiations while highlighting changes needed in agreements or contracts, and enabling the business to have a more complete picture for the future. 

Vendor management and risk mitigation

By monitoring your vendor effectively, quality issues, weaknesses in supply chain or logistics, and concerns about financial stability are all highlighted. These analytics allow the procurement and stakeholder partnership to effectively leverage vendors for better prices, quality, and product innovation. 

What are the benefits of an optimized sourcing function?

Cost Savings

With better contractual terms and conditions based on analytics and negotiations in sync with business goals, the business can expect increased cost savings. With purchasing software, you can save both time and money as data is created for your automatically to help you make the crucial sourcing decision that makes your business successful. 

Improved Quality:

Through supplier performance monitoring, the quality of goods and services will improve. As we all know, those who are monitored tend to do well in order to impress their buyers. Suppliers will notice that you’re taking an interest in their work and do their best to keep your business. 

Better Supplier Relationships:

Relationships will enhance with better lifecycle vendor management that promotes communication with the supplier. With better relationships, there is a transparency that makes your suppliers appreciate your relationship all that much more. 

Risk Mitigation:

Ongoing analysis of vendor information and financial health checks help provide the business with risk mitigation. If you notice a breakdown in the vendor’s supply chain or logistics, you can come up with a detailed solution before it negatively impacts your business and its growth.


July 15, 2019
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:


January 14, 2016
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:


January 14, 2016
BY Bellwether
The Secret to Successful Collaboration Between Procurement and CFOs

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:


January 14, 2016
BY Bellwether

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