Mobile Procurement and the Emerging Startup

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Vroozi. 

As young companies experience success and begin to grow, they often discover that many of the seemingly smaller facets of the business process have been overlooked due to the minute number of employees involved in the procedure. As these companies begin to scale, these smaller aspects can develop into larger problems. Procurement is a prime example of a process that is too often overlooked and can cause issues within organizations that scale quickly without the proper system in place.

For the first few years of their existence, a startup advertising promotions company in the Mid-Atlantic had no process design for spending funds. With a roster of employees that never exceeded 8 people in its early days, all of the employees were given the go-ahead to make purchases as they saw fit and expense it to the company.

The procurement process for the startup company in those days pretty much went as follows: an opportunity to develop promotional items for a client was presented, the owner of the company asked a team member to procure the necessary materials and the team member went ahead with purchasing items as they saw fit. Occasionally, the team member would ask the owner what his thoughts were on the potential purchases for their specs or pricing. The way the startup company saw it, they had no qualms with utilizing an informal procurement process that didn’t require any sort of paper trail for purchase requests.

As things went for those first few years, there really were never any “issues” that arose from this process. Really, selecting to purchase the first item that fit the requirements of a project may not have been the most frugal way to conduct business, but, then again, time is also money.

After a few years of success, the growing number of clients and added workload required the startup company to inflate its staff. As the company quickly doubled in size to 16 employees, it became harder for the owner to track spending. Additionally, more salaries to be paid out meant that the owner was more concerned with cutting expenses to help maintain a positive number in the bottom line.

Now that there were 16 different people being asked to make purchases—some of them who weren’t even operating from the office all of the time—there was a real need for the organization to more closely monitor their spending. Without adding another employee or clogging up the system with a paper trail of requests and approvals, how could the procurement process be streamlined for an emerging business?

Mobile procurement offered this growing company a complete, innovative solution for managing its spending for all items and services from a single, unified platform. Every supplier catalog was uploaded into the platform so that the organization could compare pricing across its entire landscape of sellers. Each and every employee was then given access to this platform and the ability to make a purchase request from any device, including their computers, tablets or smartphones.

Once an employee made a purchase request, the owner of the company was then notified right on his mobile device to approve, deny or modify the request. Just like that, the order is placed. Mobile procurement actually serves to expedite the process, while still restricting maverick spending.

Furthermore, the entire process is completely paperless – right down to signing for deliveries – yet account records are maintained from right in the platform. Now, as the company continues to grow, the process of enabling procurement in the organization to scale compatibly is as simple as having the next employee log into the mobile procurement platform.

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