e-Procurement 101

Simple Purchase Order Software or Stupid Purchase Order Software?

easy-big-buttonToday Seth Godin wrote about how the desire for “simple” has led to an increase of “stupid” in our society.

But don’t read his blog post (it’s way too long). LOL.

Seth is talking about literature and the media but the same thing is happening with Purchase Order software systems.

In recent years we’ve seen the industry shift from an emphasis on building feature-rich, useful tools that actually solve problems, to a focus on “simple”, “easy”, “fast” and “cheap”.

Let’s be clear, ease-of-use and affordability are important for any business software application these days.  Just not at the expense of usefulness.

So if you’ve tried some of those super-simple PO Software Systems only to find that they barely offer a handful of fields on the Purchase Order entry page (who needs Terms of Payment and Delivery Date fields anyway!), why not take a step back and think through your Purchasing process a bit, then come and take a look at SpendMap’s free Purchase Order Software System.

If there’s anything that our 25 years in this business has taught us, it’s that there needs to be a compromise between “simple” and “useful”.

PS. If Seth’s first blog post, above, is too long, here’s a simpler one.

Our technology surplus and your Free Purchase Order Software

Seth Godin is really good at stating the obvious but at the same time adding value.  Read his blog post on Wasting our technology surplus.

So what are you going to do with all the time and effort that your free Purchase Order Software saves you?

Will you “play video games and hang out” or use that extra time for strategic, value-added initiatives, like choosing better suppliers and negotiating lower pricing for your company?

Either way, we’re happy to be part of the solution!

Best regards,
– The Free-Procurement Project team

Control spending to save money

3 More Reasons to use Free Purchase Order Software

happy purchase order software usersInteresting data from Spend Matters and American Productivity & Quality Center,

If we’re crunching the numbers correctly, automating your procure-to-pay process can:

  • Save up to 71% of the time it takes to process Purchase Orders
  • Increase the number of Purchasing transactions that each staff member can process by 186%
  • Reduce supplier lead time to receive orders by up to 9 days

As if you needed even more motivation to implement our Free Purchase Order Software.

 

Using vs. Implementing your Free Purchase Order Software

needs-help

Brenda was struggling a bit with her implementation of the free version of SpendMap, so we helped her by providing free support when she had questions about setting up her Master Files, using the built-in integration tools, and otherwise configuring the system to her needs.

But she still had a concern…

I’m worried that if I’m having trouble, it will be impossible for our staff as they are not very computer savvy at all“.

Fair enough, but keep in mind that implementing a business application like this is more involved than just using it for your day-to-day work.  For example, entering a Purchase Order or Requisition in SpendMap is much easier than setting up the master files, going through system configuration, etc.

Our customers tell us all the time that their users can handle the “day-to-day” stuff, with no training at all!

And remember, with User Definable Menus, you can remove everything from your staff’s field of view that they don’t need, leaving only the few functions that they’ll use to do their daily tasks (e.g. Enter a PO or Requisition, check the status of their order, etc.).

But Brenda certainly has a valid point.  This type of system is definitely more involved to set up than, say, a simple word processor or something, that you can just install and start using.  There are configuration settings, workflow options, master files to populate, not to mention mapping the functionality to your business processes, which in and of itself can take some time.

All that said, keep in mind that there is definitely a big carrot to keep you motivated while you work get the system going.

On a separate but related note, we will soon be offering Getting Started training and implementation consulting packages for users of the free version (until now, these services were reserved for people using our paid version only).  Make sure to follow our Blog, where we’ll make the announcement when the Getting Started package is available.

Don’t give up folks.  Rome wasn’t build in a day.

When Purchase Orders Beat P-cards

P-Card-TrapWe hear stories like this all the time.  Companies get tired of the paperwork and administrative effort of Purchase Orders and so they switch to Purchasing Cards (p-cards) to make things easier.

Often the p-card programs start off well and employees follow the guidelines (e.g. only to be used for low-value purchases, etc.).  But inevitably things start to “creep”, and before you know it the cards are being used to buy everything, and then you’ve lost control of spending.

But the good news is, with the free version of SpendMap, you can get the tight internal controls that can only be achieved with a proper Requisition and Purchase Order process, while significantly reducing the paperwork and administrative burden compared to your Grand Daddy’s old paper Purchase Orders.

Sometimes, when it comes to your company’s spending, there is such a thing as “too convenient”.

Expense Reimbursement Requests in your Free PO System

We’ve had a few requests from the Free-Procurement community for the ability to enter a “Request for Reimbursement” in SpendMap.  This has already been added to the system and is coming in the 2014 release of SpendMap.

Also known as “expense management” and “expense reports”, this includes the ability for staff to request reimbursement for something that they purchased and paid for personally, instead of creating a Requisition or Purchase Order in the procurement system.

expense reimbursementsWhat role do expense reimbursements play in your Purchasing process?

Some would argue that it should be avoided and that expense reimbursement is not ideal from a Spend Management perspective, since the approval process comes after the purchase transaction (in a perfect world, all spending would be approved before the products or services are ordered).  But in some cases it’s just not practical to create a Purchase Order for everything that you buy.  Common examples include things like travel expenses, meals and entertainment, and so on.

In any event, while we always advocate for pre-purchase spend control whenever possible, we understand that expense reimbursements play an important role in some Purchasing environments, and we have already added Expense Reimbursement functionality to SpendMap, allowing users to submit expense reimbursement requests, which can be routed for online approval based on user-definable business rules, just like Purchase Requisitions.  Once approved, SpendMap will send a “check request” to your Accounting System to process payment to the employee, update the status of the cost center’s budgets, and so on, all without the hassle, errors and delays that are inherent with paper-based expense reports.

These new features will be available in the 2014 release of the Free Version of SpendMap.

On a separate but related note, don’t forget that SpendMap also supports Non-PO Invoice approval, for things like rent and utilities, where it’s also not practical to create Purchase Orders in advance, but approval of a supplier’s invoice is still required.  For details, check out this section of the Online Help…
– Invoice Approval > Types of Invoices and Workflow

No shortcuts for PO Software

Seth Godin’s words are always worth repeating, but perhaps never more so than his recent blog post about shortcuts.

How does this relate to the world of Purchase Order Software and e-procurement?

Far too many software vendors push the message “easy, easy, easy” during the sales process.

And as a result, far too many nice people become frustrated and disappointed when they get around to actually implementing their new Purchasing systems, only to find out that there’s actually a little work involved (sorry folks, this isn’t a word processor that you can just install and start using).

Seth’s closing remarks are worth repeating here: “It will take you less time and less effort to do it the (right) way than it will to buy and try and discard all the shortcuts“.  Well said, Seth.

But the good news is, as you work to get your free Purchase Order Software up and running, there’s lots to look forward to.

Measure twice.  Cut once.

TIP: If you’re ready to start implementing the free version of SpendMap, please see “Time to Implement” in the Getting Started Documentation that came with your free software.

 

Control Spending with a No PO No Pay Policy

When we first started offering the free Purchase Order Software a couple months ago, I did a blog post on the use of Purchase Orders as Step #1 on the path to controlling your company’s pending.

I didn’t set out to outline a three-step process for spend control but good things do come in threes, so here’s Step #2…

Once you have a reliable and efficient system in place for staff to request items and get them approved in a timely manner and you’re using Purchase Orders to keep track of your spending, the next thing you’ll have to work on is a way to get people to use the system.  User adoption is critical to the success of an e-procurement initiative.

There are countless ways to encourage user adoption of your new Purchasing System but if I had to pick one, it would be the No-PO-No-Pay Policy.

Basically, you inform all the parties involved (end-user requisitioners, the folks in Accounts Payable and, most importantly, your suppliers) that you will not pay invoices unless there is an approved Purchase Order for the goods or services.

Harsh?  Perhaps.  Difficult to enforce?  Sometimes.  Bound to be exceptions?  Maybe.

My goal for this blog post was not to give you all the ins and outs of implementing a No-PO-No-Pay Policy, but rather just to make you aware of it as an option to help control your company’s spending.

As it turns out, a good many organizations use policies like this, so maybe it will work for you.

If you would like to learn more, just Google “no PO no pay” and you’ll see lots of information and blog posts on this topic, like this one.

Stay tuned for “Step #3” in an upcoming post…

E-procurement software vs. Purchase Order Software: what’s old is new again

A dear friend recently gave my 7-year-old daughter an Etch A Sketch.  Yup, 50 years later, in this day of handheld video games, they’re still selling those things.

As I held it in my hand and tried to show her how to draw a flower (with a big line through it…I got stuck in a corner), it occurred to me that our old favorite has much in common with today’s handheld video games; compact, portable, small controls requiring dexterity, eye-hand coordination, progression, reward for time invested, etc.

Of course, it got me thinking about how e-procurement software technology has changed over the years.

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