Eliminate Paperwork

How to Personalize the Email Messages in your Free Purchase Order Software

Peter from the United Kingdom reached out to us on Facebook to ask if he could personalize the emails that SpendMap creates when sending Purchase Orders to his suppliers…

“Is there a way to create a template email?  Also is there a way that the (PDF file name) can be defined, either to match the PO or have a prefix?”

Yes, there are settings in SpendMap to personalize the email messages, including;

  1. Adding your company name to the “From” field of the email messages,
  2. Adding any text that you want to the body of the email itself, and
  3. You can customize the filename of the PDF document (i.e. the PO itself) to show your company name (or any other prefix), as well as including the PO number in the filename.

All these options are available in the middle of the Email Settings screen, which you can find here…
– PURCHASING > Setup system > e-mail settings


The Online Help for that screen has all the details about how to use those settings, but here’s what your emails might look like, based on the settings used above…

Email Purchase Order

 

Separate PDF files to send Purchase Orders to suppliers by e-mail

Imran works in the Engineering Services field and was asking about the best way to create PDF files of his Purchase Orders to send to his suppliers when using the free version of SpendMap.Many-POs-in-PDF

“While processing a PO, how do I print the buyer’s copy and seller’s copy separately?
…it is printing both pages together.”

Imran is printing both a “supplier’s copy” as well as an “internal copy” of his Purchase Orders, and both are ending up in a single PDF file (since both copies are in the same print job).

This would also be an issue when processing multiple POs for multiple suppliers at the same time.  For example, if you processed 5 POs in your PO Work Area for 5 separate suppliers, if you chose to print to a PDF file, you would get a single PDF file containing all 5 orders, again, since all are coming from the same print job.

If you’re printing hard copies (on paper), this doesn’t matter because you’ll just grab the pile of POs off the printer and give each one to the applicable supplier.  But if you’re printing to PDF (most likely to send to your suppliers by e-mail as Imran is trying to do), then you will end up with a single PDF with all POs in a single file, which obviously won’t work.

Solution: Use SpendMap’s Email Module to send the supplier their PDF file.

Instead of enabling multiple copies of your printed POs in PO Printing Settings, just use SpendMap’s built-in email feature to send the supplier their copy of the order.  When you process new orders, SpendMap will create a PDF copy of the PO, attach it to an e-mail message, and will send it to the supplier automatically, with no manual intervention (i.e. it all happens behind-the-scenes, so there is no need to manually create PDF files, manually create e-mail messages, and then attach the applicable PDFs to the applicable e-mails.

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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

Printing POs to disk in your Free Purchase Order Software

Alan works in the graphic design industry in Glasgow, UK, and he was asking why he’s getting the message “PDF file creation is not available from here” when he selects the “Disk (PDF) file” option when processing new Purchase Orders in his PO Work Area…

Save PO to Disk

As it turns out, we recently added support for PDF file creation in that area, so if you’d like to save new POs to disk rather than printing a hard copy, that option is now available.  If you’re still getting the message “PDF file creation is not available from here”, just select the menu HELP > CHECK FOR UPDATES to update your free version of SpendMap.

But please note that printing POs to disk is usually not necessary (which is why that option was not available previously).  Here are a few reasons why you might be doing that, along with alternate (recommended) functionality to consider…

PO history

If you are saving a copy of your POs to disk to have around for historical/audit purposes, please note that every new PO that you process is stored in SpendMap automatically, whether or not you print a hard copy or save a copy to disk.  At any time, you can reprint a processed PO, or pull up the details of the order on-screen.  Here are the applicable menu options…

– PURCHASING > Purchase Orders > Re-print or re-send a processed PO
– PURCHASING > Status & Inquiries > PO Status
(TIP: you can also re-print a copy of the actual PO document, using the [Print] button at the bottom of the screen)

There are also many reports that show Purchase Order history, under…
– PURCHASING > Reports > Purchase Order Reports >

E-mailing POs to suppliers

You might be saving a copy of new POs to disk in order to e-mail them to your suppliers.  But a better alternative would be to select the “e-mail” option in the Send Document Via field on the PO Header Screen, in which case the PO will be e-mailed to the supplier automatically (with no extra work) when the PO is processed…

Send Purchase Order by e-mail

That way, you won’t have to manually create an e-mail for each PO, manually attach the PDF file that you created, etc.

In addition, if you process a batch of POs for multiple suppliers, SpendMap will automatically create a separate e-mail for each supplier, and attach only their POs.  By comparison, if you use the “Disk (PDF) file” option when processing new POs, you’ll get a single PDF file with all POs that you’re processing (for all suppliers), so you’d have to process the batch in pieces in order to get a separate PDF file for each supplier.

Anyway, we took all that into account with the “e-mail” option in the Send Document Via field.  For more details on how we intended for you to send POs to your suppliers by e-mail, check out this section of the Online Help…
– System-Wide Features and Information > Documents and Reports > Sending Documents Electronically

Don’t need a copy of your Purchase Orders at all?

Some of you might be printing to disk because you don’t need any hard copies at all (e.g. if you’re calling in your orders to your suppliers), so perhaps you’re using the “Disk (PDF) file” option to avoid sending the print job to your printer?

If so, please consider using the “None/verbal” option in the Send Document Via field, in which case new POs will not be printed or transmitted when processed.  Again, you can use this option when you only want to store the PO in the system, but you have another means of informing the supplier about the new order (e.g. by phone).

Got anymore feedback for us?

We’re not exactly sure why a few of you have asked for the ability to (manually) save a copy of each new PO to disk, but we try to listen so, again, we did add that ability recently.  If you still want to, you can now select the “Disk (PDF) file” option when processing new Purchase Orders from your PO Work Area.

If there are other reasons why you’re manually saving POs to disk that we haven’t thought of, please let us know by adding a comment to this blog post, or e-mail us at free-procurement@spendmap.com

Thanks!

Success Story: MCS Wins with Free Purchase Order Software

Managed Care Systems (MCS) was struggling to control their Purchasing, inventory and budgets with a patchwork of outdated systems.  Having grown to over 300 employees, MCS was overdue for an upgrade.  Unfortunately, there was no budget for a new e-procurement system, but that didn’t stop Eric Jeffers, who is responsible for the Purchasing Department at MCS.

“Our old system was written in-house a bunch of years back and it was starting to fall apart,” says Eric.  “The IT Department didn’t want to invest resources to fix it, so we kept limping along.  Plus, as an add-on to the Help Desk system, it was really just an over glorified word processor to start with; it could print a PO and keep some history, but there was still a ton of manual effort and duplicate data entry for each order, and it didn’t track inventory or provide any budget controls, which were big problems.  We were constantly going over budget because the managers who were approving orders couldn’t see the status of budgets real-time.  And we were running out of stock all the time, which meant a big panic, rush orders and extra charges for expedited deliveries”.

So when Eric found SpendMap with its real-time budget and inventory controls fully integrated with its world-class Purchasing functionality, he was optimistic to say the least.  “I have been working in Purchasing departments for 15 years and this is by far the best purchasing software I have ever seen,” says Eric.  “You can’t imagine how disappointed I was when I was told that we had no budget left for a new system and I had to wait until the following year”…

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How to get internal support for a full Purchasing Software System

We’re positioning the Free-Procurement Project as free “Purchase Order software” for a bunch of reasons that I won’t go into here but the free version of SpendMap actually includes all 12 modules, including requisitioning, receiving, supplier invoice approval, even inventory control and asset management.

If all you want to do is automate your Purchase Orders, that’s fine – just stick with the Purchasing Module.  The functionality is compartmentalized, so you don’t need to use all features/modules if you don’t want to.

But if you’re up for it, you can use SpendMap to automate everything from initial requisition all the way through to the approval of the supplier’s invoice and integration with your Accounts Payable system.  This is commonly referred to as “req-to-check” or “purchase-to-pay” (P2P for short).

If you intend to branch out into these other optional areas, however, you should be prepared to present a business case to decision makers and other departments that will be affected, such as the folks in Accounts Payable, department managers who will be approving orders online, perhaps even end-user staff members (requisitioners).

To help you get started building a business case, here’s a list of how e-procurement software can improve your business results at each step of the procurement process…

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Requisitions vs. Purchase Orders

Week #2.

We’ve had a few questions about how to route Purchase Orders for approval.  In SpendMap, you don’t route POs for approval, you route Requisitions for approval.

But requisitions can then be converted into Purchase Orders automatically once they’re approved, so for all intents and purposes it’s the same thing. We just use the term “Requisition” to refer to the internal transaction that’s circulated for approval, while “Purchase Order” refers to the official order that goes to the supplier.

Many of you are coming from manual, paper-based environments, so you might be using the same piece if paper for both the internal approval process as well as placing the order with the supplier.  (more…)