Spend Matters welcomes another guest post from Shannon Lowe and Mark Schaffner of Verian.
Purchasing system stakeholders can include executives, purchasing managers, AP managers, information technology (IT), requisitioners, and approvers. It’s hard to pick a purchasing system that pleases multiple stakeholders. That’s why it’s absolutely critical to gain insight from the stakeholders’ point of view during the evaluation process. What do all these different stakeholders really want from a purchasing system? Here’s some helpful perspective.
Top priorities for sponsoring executives usually include funding the project, ensuring smooth implementation, and maximizing ROI. By providing detailed visibility and control of spending, purchasing systems can increase net profit margins by 15%-20%, helping many organizations pay for systems within the first year of deployment.
The path to smooth implementation is paved with good intentions. Choosing an experienced provider that does its own implementations, rather than relying on a third party, can make all the difference. Executives will be pleased to know that by putting the right KPIs in place and measuring ROI are both feasible and rewarding. It’s not uncommon for large companies to report ROIs in excess of 400% when reviewing before and after scenarios.
Purchasing Managers are concerned with improving workflow, integrating with other important accounting systems, and minimizing implementation difficulties. Purchasing systems deliver significant savings and make the purchasing job much easier by improving efficiency, compliance, control, and reporting. It may sound redundant, but experience cannot be overemphasized when it comes to integrations and implementation. Identifying the provider with the most first-hand experience is the key to sidestepping numerous potential challenges.
AP Managers want to alleviate headaches like poor invoice matching, long cycle times for approvals, and frequently inaccurate accruals. The right purchasing system also increases efficiency in AP by automating reconciliations, removing approval workflow bottlenecks, and providing spend visibility that dramatically improves accrual accuracy.
IT wants to know that the system of choice uses proven technology that’s safe and secure, and it wants to know how much handholding is required for implementation and integrations. Information security and data integrity should be the number one priorities of any provider under consideration. If a provider can’t prove that, then walk away. There is too much risk.
IT gets pulled in a lot of different directions, so concerns about ongoing support needs are legitimate. An experienced provider will mitigate these concerns by demonstrating how the purchasing system makes the organization less dependent on IT, not more.
Actual requisitioners are often brought in at the final stages of the selection process to discuss ease of use, which cannot be undervalued. Actively listening to front-line feedback regarding user experience is critically important to the decision-making process. Choosing a system that’s incredibly easy to use will produce champions and exponentially speed enterprise-wide user adoption.
Approvers are generally Line of Business (LOB) managers. While approvers also want a system that’s easy to use and accessible, the real carrot here is easy approvals. Purchasing systems expedite approvals by automatically delivering all the data LOB managers need to approve transactions in easy to use format. The best systems also deliver budget data, accelerating the approval process even further by allowing approvers to do all this on the go via their email and mobile devices.