Procurement Software Buyer's Guide
The Best Procurement Software Simplifies Purchasing and Organization
By Hunter Lowe, Market Research Associate
Everyone knows that time is money. An afternoon spent on tedious, time-wasting tasks is equivalent to throwing cash out of the window. Procurement software is a valuable time-saving solution meant to keep resource waste at a minimum.
The procurement process is full of clerical duties that can keep valuable employee time from being adequately maximized. Having a procurement system in place is critical for efficient, consistent support of the B2B purchasing value chain — especially considering the rise of digitalization.
At a minimum, procurement software is a time-saver. Each situation calls for its own solution, however, so take some time to consider what you are looking to accomplish. By the time you have finished this guide, you should have enough knowledge to begin pursuing your procurement software solution!
- Boost productivity and move away from time-consuming procurement duties with software.
- Procurement software boosts organization and speeds up direct and indirect spend tasks.
- Procurement software provides helpful core features as well as more advanced features for complex operations.
- Asking vendors questions will help you decide on a final product. Check out some examples in this guide.
What This Procurement Software Guide Covers
- Benefits of Procurement Software
- Procurement Software Implementation Goals
- Core Procurement Software Features
- Advanced Procurement Software Features
- Compare Procurement Software Against Your Requirements
- Questions to Ask Yourself
- Questions for Procurement Software Vendors
- Related Content
Benefits of Procurement Software
The primary benefit of having a procurement software in place is that it serves as “a single source of truth” regarding spend, contracts, suppliers, and items available for purchase. In an age that empowers individual consumers to evaluate options when making online purchases, corporate procurement organizations face an important challenge. If corporations want to keep up and retain customers, their enterprise buying tactics need to be frictionless and convenient.
A well thought out and implemented procurement solution comes with many other helpful features. According to Capgemini, procurement software solutions can provide increased savings to the tune of four to six percent. Not only are monetary savings a direct result of implementing this type of solution, but the time saved on tasks can be distributed to grow efficiency strategically.
Many times, when enterprises implement procurement software they make a mistake. Procurement spend data made visible to members of the procurement team and no one else. Centralized visibility of spend data is too valuable to pass up and provides a wealth of data that most supply chain groups can use to improve performance. An accessible view of spend data aids all parts of the supply chain while increasing procurement savings and efficiency.
Procurement software also provides valuable tools for supplier management. Relationships with suppliers are critical to the procurement process, and software solutions offer multiple routes to maintaining strong supplier contact. Providing suppliers with performance feedback and ensuring adherence to any necessary compliance checks solidifies good relationships. If a supplier fails to keep up with standards or doesn’t respond to performance checks, forging a new partnership elsewhere may be preferable.
Procurement Software Implementation Goals
Before fully integrating a procurement software package, you need to identify the essential goals you wish to accomplish. The success of a procurement system depends on what critical needs it fulfills for its enterprise. Here are some common goals that procurement software should meet to streamline your purchasing tasks.
| Goal 1 |
Automating purchasing tasks is one of the main draws of procurement software. Speeding up the creation, acceptance and verification of purchasing orders frees up valuable resources to spend elsewhere.
This goal applies universally as speeding up ordering tasks is a desire brought by most implementing this type of software solution.
| Goal 2 |
Continuity of data from one area of functionality to another is a critical implementation goal. If a platform is not in use, integration is easier than ever — as long as there is continuity throughout the procurement value chain. Sourcing, contracts and purchasing can function very well in isolation, but the savings and oversight potential is tightly coupled with procurement’s ability to connect the data — and therefore the activities — conducted in each one.
| Goal 3 |
Improved Supplier Relationships
Although the primary stakeholders for procurement are procurement and enterprise buyers, suppliers deserve consideration as well. Evaluating potential solutions for their user-friendliness towards all parties will improve the implementation process and long-term ROI (return on investment). Specific concerns include whether it is possible for suppliers to efficiently manage multiple customer needs from one login and with one data set as well as the complexity of uploading and altering online catalogs.
| Goal 4 |
Better Oversight and Governance
To achieve the “single source of truth” objective with procurement, the company must get a majority of purchasing transactions to flow through it. Non-compliance (also commonly known as “maverick” spend) is a challenge that plagues every procurement team with an established process. The strength of the enterprise mandate for using procurement can be supported by the solution itself, making use of restrictive features or allowing access to more choices.
Core Procurement Software Features
While procurement software comes in many different forms, you can expect many of these core features to be present. Many providers offer all of the following functionality, albeit at varying levels of maturity and proficiency, while some specialize in offering a subset. Even when companies do provide a broad range of functionality, it is wise to investigate whether they are fully integrated at the code level or were consolidated under one brand and interface through the acquisition of point solutions.
|Catalog Buying|| |
This component of procurement functionality is often considered to be its entire purpose, since this is the primary touchpoint for the majority of the organization. Procurement software can specify suppliers for the purchases that others in the organization will make. In some cases, suppliers will provide entire “punchout” catalogs that leverage their own detailed item information and reflect the specifications and prices under contract with the enterprise.
|Contract Management|| |
Once an award decision comes through, contract terms and language require signing and agreement by all parties. Contract management functionality may include redlining (legal revisions with tracking) and electronic signature. Or, it may simply contain the storage of terms and expiration so they can be centrally managed and enforced over the duration of the agreement. The legal team should involve itself in setting functionality expectations.
Automated billing processes are another major draw of procurement software. Quickly matching invoices to their individual orders and automatically resolving payments standard for this type of software. With the automation of this process, miscommunications and problems that arise during billing in analog settings will be things of the past.
Larger enterprises usually have a billing solution in place, but smaller operations often benefit from upgrading to an electronic billing solution.
|Ordering and Selection|| |
One of the many standard features of procurement software is an easy-to-use ordering format. Simple item listings and data from past orders help speed up the selection and ordering processes. If one ordering strategy is successful, it is accessible from order history and able to be brought in and used again.
|Spend Analysis|| |
Real-time data gathered from spend analysis is key to optimizing procurement processes. Analyzing expenditure data to identify cost-cutting solutions and highlighting possible trends helps enterprises stay competitive and efficient. This data is useful for employees in other departments to put together inventory lists or in crafting a budget.
|Purchase Order Approval and Delivery|| |
Procurement software stores data in one easy to access place which allows for easy tracking of orders. Once approval comes through, the order is accessible immediately. This also guarantees that users who need to inspect and approve the orders have an easy way to access them.
Delivering orders to their recipients via their preferred method of transport is also part of this feature. Instead of long delivery tasks devouring useful blocks of time, these processes are taken over by the software.
Advanced Procurement Software Features
The core features of procurement software will begin as your one stop shop for improving procurement practices. As you become familiar with your software suite, you will want to keep in mind some more advanced features that can enhance other aspects of the procurement process. Below are some extra pieces of functionality to keep in mind, though you should ask vendors about availability in their products.
|Marketplace Functionality|| |
Most companies focus on making their data accessible with procurement implementation. There are significant efficiency gains available with access to the knowledge and information of their industry peers. Some procurement solution providers offer access to new marketplaces of suppliers that extend beyond their current knowledge. This resource can shorten the time between the identification of a product or service need and a contract, or can serve as a backup plan in response to supply chain disruption. Evaluate the number of suppliers available, the information in their profiles, the process of validation and the industries they represent.
|Mobile Accessibility|| |
Mobile functionality can be beneficial to implement down the line. Orders are placeable on the go, and spend data is viewable in the palm of your hand. Never wait to find out how procurement processes are resolving with mobile accessibility.
Procurement software is comparable to the head chef of a kitchen. With so many pots on the fire, being able to access spend or purchase data anytime anywhere keeps you on top of the many processes at hand.
|Standardized Processes|| |
Once you are familiar with your procurement software package, you can customize some functionality to speed up efficiency. With templates designed by those who most often interact with procurement software, ordering speed will rise. Instead of crafting original purchase orders every time supplies are in demand, procurement software allows for the creation of ordering templates that can save time on recurring orders.
|Follow-up and Reminder Messages|| |
Some software packages come with practical functionality that can keep you up to date on important requests. Following up on purchase orders with suppliers helps cement good communication and maintains supplier accuracy.
With so many moving parts in the procurement arena, reminders can be set to keep you on track and able to keep up. If specific purchase orders are time sensitive, these reminders can prevent a potential problem down the line.
Compare Procurement Software Against Your Requirements
Once you understand the features generally offered by procurement software, you’ll need to put pen to paper and create a list of requirements. This ensures that once you begin a procurement software comparison, you’ll have a list of criteria to use as the standard. Comparing your needs to the services vendors offer can help you track down that perfect solution.
Asking vendors questions is important, with some examples below, but make sure to ask yourself some of the same questions. It would also help to take a look at our requirements template to help narrow down your choices. After you've put together your requirements, compare them against what the various procurement software packages offer.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Before running headlong into choosing your perfect procurement software package, ask yourself some questions. Without taking some time to gather information from within, you could end up making a hasty (and expensive) decision. Implementing a new software suite only to realize it lacks functionality for some of your biggest pain-points is a tragedy. Look inward and ask yourself some of these questions to make sure you are on the right path.
How big is your enterprise?
It should come as no surprise that the size of a business affects their unique needs. A larger enterprise has a more expansive employee base and probably has more departments that a new software suite would effect. If your software acquisition is going to change how multiple departments work, be sure to get their input on the new suite. Implementing a wide-sweeping change without covering everyone's needs could lead to a host of problems arising.
How much room do you have in the budget for a new software suite?
It can be tempting to jump on the most expensive procurement software package with the greatest complexity. All of those extra bells and whistles may seem like great additions, but a needlessly complicated solution in the wrong place can do costly damage. This ties back into company size, larger more complex enterprises often need more sophisticated tools than smaller businesses. In fact, complex features can trip you up if you don't need them. Shop smart and go for a solution that fits within your established budget.
What does your current solution lack?
If your business already has procurement software in place, what does the new system need to bring to the table? Collect information from employees that have been users of the old system and find out what they are looking for. Finding out what is and isn't working can save you time on your search for new procurement software. All of your current pain-points should be taken care of by anything new you put into place.
Is the software a good long-term solution?
Instant gratification is great, but just because a solution solves your current problems doesn't mean it can go the distance. Your business is growing, and your procurement software should be growing with you. Think about the future of your enterprise and investigate how scaleable a software package is before choosing it.
Questions to Ask Procurement Software Vendors
As you finish narrowing down specific vendors and software packages, you may have a few lingering concerns about making the right choice. Before making a final decision, come up with questions you can ask vendors related to any remaining confusion you have. Here are a few examples to you get you started:
How will this procurement software integrate with your complete supply chain?
There are many moving parts to any supply chain. You’ll want to converse with vendors to find out if any of their functionality is compatible with the software you already have in place. If you have a complex system in place, the last thing you want to do is introduce a software solution that requires large scale changes along the supply chain. Unless you are starting from scratch, you’ll want a procurement software package that can easily fit into your established systems. It also helps to ask if how long implementation will take and if there are any fees associated with the process.
Does this solution work with the size of your operation?
Every business is different, and some procurement solutions may be better suited to small or larger organizations. High-end solutions often come with intrinsic frameworks that make them better suited for complex situations. Smaller operations may benefit just as well from low-end implementations, as they do not require as many sophisticated tools to suit their needs. This question is critical to consider because purchasing a solution that fails to mesh with the size of your operation can lead to disaster. At best you can force something to work, at the worst you’ll need to purchase a brand new software package.
Is there a support system in place?
Problems will happen, regardless of the software solution you choose. Discussing the support in place for a vendor’s product can help you decide if it can accomplish what you require. Are there self-learning tools that can teach users basic and advanced functionality? Is there staff available to answer urgent questions?
How much does the solution cost?
Budgeting for new software packages is essential. Take a minute to set a maximum cost for a solution and make sure that value works with the package you are considering. Just because a certain software suite costs more does not mean it is the best fit. Conversely, a cheaper solution is not inferior. Try to match up your budget with your needs and find something that satisfies as best it can.
How is the software deployed?
It is worth noting that with the rise of cloud computing there are many deployment strategies for software. Smaller enterprises may benefit more from an in-house solution or may find the benefits of the cloud worth a higher price point. Larger enterprises with global considerations would likely look for software that works with the cloud. The ability to view data in real-time from operations in foreign countries is too good to pass up.
Ariba is a cloud-based solution from SAP built to handle the end-to-end spend life cycle for businesses of all sizes. It also supports sourcing, procurement and numerous supply and distribution processes. It is scalable and comes with subscription or on-demand pricing options. It integrates with ERP and other back-of-house options so that users can hang onto preferred workflows. With a focus on collaboration with suppliers and trading partners, users can extend their influence and discover valuable networking opportunities.
Overcome challenges such as volatile customer demand and increasingly complex supply networks – with SAP for Supply Chain. Our software and technology let you manage your entire network in real time – so you can quickly leverage vital information and analyses, meet heightened expectations for responsiveness, and facilitate collaboration across departments and companies.
Coupa Procurement aims to bring the ease of consumer shopping to your daily processes. With a focus on attaining full visibility, control and management of your spend, it can streamline and optimize time-intensive tasks.Its modern design makes adoption across an entire business easy while it’s visibility features give managers valuable information regarding demand and planning. Simple purchase requisitions and order processes are trackable in real-time as well.
Tradeshift is a web-based platform focused on boosting collaboration with suppliers and streamlining the invoicing process. Users can speed up payment approvals and report deliveries to boost the efficiency of their teams while cutting out tedious manual data entry. Users can leverage customizable rule-sets to ensure accurate invoicing practices before seeking approvals. It helps companies adapt to the unique and ever-fluctuating needs of sellers and small businesses while tailoring successful strategies through procure-to-pay inclusions.
Proactics provides cloud-based, comprehensive business process automation and spend management solutions for B2B organizations. It operates through The Business Network, a free portal, from which organizations can set up business listings, showcase their products and connect with qualified buyers. In 2017, Hubwoo was acquired by the Proactis group. Since then, the partnership has resulted in enhanced offerings that involve end-to-end spend management and B2B e-commerce solutions to its users. It integrates with all types of procurement systems or ERP. It comes with convenient-to-use inclusions that drive compliance requisitioning, adoption, and cost savings by reducing the inefficiencies in the accounts payable process.
NetSuite WMS solution enables organizations to optimally manage their distribution operations with RF device directed putaway and picking tasks driven by customized user defined strategies and advanced capabilities like wave management, cartonization, cycle count planning, real time stock updates and integration with shipping systems.
Procurify is an online procurement solution for Small to Medium enterprises. Our product integrates from the top down, allowing visibility into employee spending from all levels of the organization. Procurify is an evolution of procurement software.With easy-to-use features, you get all the cost management capabilities you need to save on spendings.
The e-procurement suite is composed of 5 modules that allow the management of different stages of the procurement process: from importing supplier catalogs to invoice processing, including purchase requisitions management, purchase orders and deliveries. The user has a single entry point to the application to issue a purchase request for listed or unlisted products, or for the procurement of services.
Powerful Enterprise Information ProcessingBased on the world’s mainstream Oracle Database, development tool and web structure; designed to serve as the platform infrastructures of enterprise application information systems such as core enterprise resource planning (ERP), front-end customer relationship management (CRM) and supply chain management (SCM)Meet the need of OLTP; allow immediate mass-data processing and protect the completeness of dataComplete system supporting mechanism promises a non-stop system operation and data confidentialityActive allocation of the hardware structure and volume of the application/data server depending on the workload of system operation to meet the demand of the enterprise growth at different stages and help reach the best investment benefit of workload balanceStrictly-Guarded Information SecurityDatabase meets the demand of current enterprise information security, allowing flexible definition of the valid date, length and coding method of the passwordData transmission between database and user end is protected with the SSL encoding security mechanismIntegrate PKI certification to authenticate the logged-in user to avoid password misappropriationSupport LDAP verification mechanism and EIP (Enterprise Information Portal) using Single Sign On (SSO)Allow encoding of confidential data in the databaseSubdivide data processing and programming authorization according to personnel, group, department, company, etcHeterogeneous System IntegrationOffer complete standard data exchange format, allowing data batch exchanges with various systemsEquipped with API program for heterogeneous systems; immediate data changes and searchesIntegrate with SOA structure to construct Web service/XML interconnecting platformOpen Hardware Platform StructureSupport operation platforms such as Windows, UNIX and Linux, offering the flexibility of choosing or switching between platforms and reducing implementation costs
Zycus iSource is a cloud-based platform that focuses on enhancing savings visibility and strengthening sourcing projects through quicker sourcing cycles. It can handle complex, larger-scale sourcing projects while also opening up avenues for more stakeholder participation.It can quickly deal with instant sourcing projects while being able to scale with a business as it grows. Even the largest companies can make room for more line items and suppliers all while tying them to single sourcing projects or events.
Prokuria is a procurement automation platform that enables procurement departments and top management to organize all their RFPs and e-Auctions with suppliers in one place. It's designed for the companies who need better control over the procurement process and achieve cost savings.
Purchase to Pay empowers businesses to streamline operations, increase control and cut costs. Deeper collaboration between finance, accounts payable (AP) and procurement enables real-time cash flow visibility – letting you make better buying decisions each and every day.
SpendMap is a cost-effective software system for midsize and larger organizations that need to automate and streamline their Purchasing, Payables and/or Materials Management processes. Available as hosted (SaaS) solution or as traditional on-premise software, this 100% browser-based system is robust, fault-tolerant and easy to deploy to a large user community.
The IBM® Emptoris® Contract Management family helps companies structure more profitable contracts, streamline the contracting process and improve compliance. These solutions can automate and manage various stages of the contract lifecycle from creation, execution and renegotiation of contracts and amendments, through performance monitoring, analysis and renewal. The IBM Contract Management family enables companies to capture more revenue opportunities; improve supplier, partner and vendor relationships; and mitigate risks.
Synertrade Accelerate is a cloud-based e-procurement software solution designed to cover the entire purchasing process and address the specific challenges and needs of any organization or business. It is a flexible and customizable platform that is focused on ergonomics and ease-of-use that ensures rapid user adoption and greater satisfaction in the process. Features include: Material group strategy Tender Auction Contract management RFX scenario builder Spend analysis Catalog management Supplier Relationship ManagementProcure to PayOrder tracking Invoice management Inventory management Supplier database Supplier assessment/ Supplier ScorecardsSupplier development and measures Supplier Self-RegistrationQuality management Certificate management Data harmonization Management information system Performance manager Product database Project management Artwork packaging and design
SciQuest Contract Director, a contract management software solution, is designed to improve the contracting process and sets the standard for enterprise contract management best practices. Recognized by industry analysts, Forrester Research, in June 2011 as the highest-rated contract lifecycle management solution, SciQuest Contract Director enables users to manage the complete contract life-cycle online
Aestiva Procurement is procurement, automated your way. Aestiva's Enterprise Procurement Systems have low-IT overhead and can be deployed quickly. Our "simple-is-better" design philosophy matches well with the goals of Aestiva's enterprise customers. This procurement system may be extended with a wide variety of procurement software add-ons and procurement software extensions.
FinancialForce can accommodate the most diverse and complex financial needs. The perfect complement to Salesforce CRM, it brings back office data to the front, allowing companies to align sales, services and finance on a single cloud. It includes advances like a single ledger design and a multidimensional chart of accounts, which give you real-time business intelligence and help shorten period close cycles.
BAZ on the enterprise data bus should be an imperative solution for all leading process oriented organizations. Use of BAZ, increases efficiencies in financial productivity, data integrity, policy-change-risk management, transaction transparency. Can integrate with any ERP and extend ERP framework to the bottom of the pyramid (thus connecting all within an organization in the spend space). All this results in cost optimization, compliance with reduced risks and better controls
SutiProcure is eProcurement software that automates the purchasing activities of your organization. The automated procurement system will facilitate the process of approving purchase orders, matching the invoices, and bill payments. Right from requisitions to financial settlement, everything related to procurement can be managed efficiently with the eprocurement software.
Wax Digital web3 eprocurement / spend management software delivering savings, cost control, compliance, spend and supplier management to large and medium sized organisations. Our Source to Pay suite is available via the cloud on a modular basis or as a complete suite, with direct integration with your ERP, finance and back-office systems.
NextBuy is built in modules to give you only what you really need. The system covers various procurement processes and connects buyers and suppliers in one integrated platform. Source new suppliers or import your internal database, send RFx, compare offers and choose the best one. Set up Purchase Request workflow and use product catalogues. Track your supplier activities, monitor delivery and get reports based on over 25 KPIs. All in one SaaS solution.
PurchaseSoft has designed solutions that let you gain control over your business's procurement process - from requisition to receiving. From day one, you'll be able to consolidate orders, negotiate better prices, manage inventory more effectively, track assets and more, in real time.
An e-procurement Saas cloud solution consisting of nine modules under one platform to enable companies to automate their procurement processes, manage spend and minimize risk. Order, track and manage spend from all your departments and employees under one easy to use tool as well as automated analytics, reporting suites Contract and Budget Management to ensure compliance and increase savings. The modules include Spend Analysis Budget Management Contract Management Approval Routing RFQ/RFP Automation Reporting suite Ad-hoc reporting suite E-catalogue Supplier Evaluation
Claritum’s cloud based sourcing capabilities are proven to deliver a transparent and consistent best practice, transactional sourcing process to users, whether a novice employee, an experienced buyer or third party agency or outsourced service provider. To address the complexities of day-to-day buying, Claritum’s sourcing tools provide a unique combination of a structured closed-bid RFx (Request-for-Quote, Request-for-Proposal) and contract (pre-negotiated volume based deals). This approach empowers buyers to establish a ‘market’ or baseline ‘volume’ price and take advantage of market variances through ‘spot pricing’ RFxs.
GAINSystems is a supply chain planning software organization that provides cloud-based or on-premise solutions to its users. It helps companies lower inventories and decrease operating costs with the use of machine learning and sophisticated algorithms. It delivers higher service levels and maximum plan accuracy through various functionalities that include inventory management, demand planning and forecasting, replenishment and production management, inventory and operations planning. It is designed for mid-size to large-scale businesses.
Logility is a software solution with a focus on transportation and supply chain management. This software package helps automate, streamline and optimize supply chain processes to cut costs and increase accuracy. Logility provides multiple avenues through which supply chains can be improved and contains a wide array of planning and forecasting tools. Logility employs algorithmic planning to assess and mitigate risks while keeping users informed of any incoming business opportunities. Gain visibility into a variety of supply chain operations and use the valuable data gathered from each process to make effective planning decisions.
Precoro is an innovative purchasing and spend management software, that helps companies to fully eliminate manual workflow and save lots of time and money.Three problems are solved with Precoro:- Manual work with papers, Google Docs, Slack messages, emails, etc.;- Losing money due to overbudgeting;- Time is spent inefficiently due to human mistakes.The results you get with Precoro:- eliminate paper documents, Excel, email records and all the manual work.;- streamline approvals, get purchases faster to do your job in the best way.- save a ton of money while sticking to budgets.When founded in 2015, we at Precoro Inc. understood that there's still an old-fashioned feeling about purchasing software: it was clunky, hard to set up, a long time to implement.With Precoro, modern procurement software has become a completely new category, as we use the following approaches:- Easy to use - a beautiful interface that anyone can adopt to in minutes;- Free trial - for you to try the product;- Open pricing - know what you pay for;- No implementation - set up a product in a couple of hours to use it for years;- Very customizable process - self-service product for progressive buyers.
BMC Helix ITSM is a predictive service and asset management software suite that offers an inherent mobile-first client experience to its users. It helps product managers increase their organizational productivity, shrink overall service management costs and more all through a single source. It offers service management modules that use cognitive automation capabilities to transform ITSM effective principles from NextGen Remedy. It is deployable via the cloud.
ePAD™ is a powerful order management system specifically designed for wholesale distributors, their field representatives and self-servicing customers. ePAD replaces paper-and-fax and Telxon-based ordering systems with advanced Internet and mobile computing technology to improve productivity and help drive revenues. The system is paired with Internet Portals that provide realtime data tracking, trends analysis, and historical information. Customers and end-users once tied to paper based reporting systems now have instant access to years of order related data.
Passport® Legal Spend Management is part of Datacert’s suite of industry-leading solutions for enterprise legal management. With more than 400 completed implementations for its extensive base of Fortune and Global Fortune 500 clients, Datacert has unparalleled e-billing and legal spend management experience and best practices expertise.
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