The Future of Procurement is Mobile — Here’s Why

SciQuest

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Aman Mann, CEO of Procurify.

Even though procurement is actually evolving, it’s still playing catch-up.

E-procurement was surely a step in the right direction, but in its current state, it’s still fundamentally flawed. On-boarding suppliers that have their products incorrectly catalogued for instance is still a common headache, and then there’s the considerable amount of time wasted on approval chains.

But what if it was more efficient? What if you could save, say, 11 hours of time per purchase order?

Here’s the thing: That’s not a ballpark number. Marisa Brown, the senior principal research lead at APQC, broke down the time-saving that could occur by transforming this process for the long term: “Organizations that have (automated purchasing) have a faster cycle time to place a purchase order (24 hours at the median) compared to those that use a manual/spreadsheet system (35 hours at the median). This 46% increase is not a small difference: It represents 11 hours of time per PO that could be put to more productive activities.”

Currently, there are only a few mobile procurement solutions on the market. Adoption of these solutions is still moving at a relatively slow pace, considering the perceived security issues and the obstinacy in the culture of Fintech, but they’re slowly changing specific tasks in the procurement process, such as automating purchase orders.

Most mobile procurement apps exist as individual applications instead of entire procurement suites — those suites that cover the entire process normally come with hefty bill and solutions that are geared for enterprises, with a few exceptions. The apps built for segments of your workflow (i.e. specifically automating purchase orders) won’t help you approve them or offer any vendor ordering, and aren’t viable or scalable in the long term.

Procurement Today

In today’s climate of e-procurement softwares and suites, it is essential to eliminate the bottlenecks surrounding approvers and requesters to ensure the approval chain does not get blocked, but it still happens often for a variety of reasons. For instance, picture an approval process being held up because somebody wasn’t in the office or didn’t have access to their e-procurement software on the go.

A study done by Financial Advisor Magazine offers a few key findings on this idea. The study found that 75% of financial advisers feel they could get greater leverage from the technology tools at their disposal, and that 58% felt their clients value access to their accounts on mobile devices.

So, with an overwhelming majority of finance professionals feeling like they aren’t properly tapping into today’s technological landscape, and another majority percentage indicating that their mobile devices are important to their workflow, there is clearly a demand and validity for a mobile procurement solution.

Enter Mobile

For procurement teams that are separated locationally by branch or are just decentralized by way of the freelance workforce, mobile procurement could be the comprehensive and versatile solution they so desperately need. By incorporating all stages from requisition and purchase throughout the entire supply chain, users can quickly access budgetary and inventory data, diagnose departmental needs and communicate with them individually.

They also can understand the availability and costs of necessary items and services, and even get insights into location-specific taxes and tariffs as well as hidden costs to make more informed decisions.

When done right, the collection of processes and tools in the procurement workflow that interact with other arms of your organization and vendors alike can provide many opportunities for saving on costs, but it doesn’t provide much for time-saving.

With e-procurement today leading the charge centered around being more electronic and strategic, finance professionals have been adjusting their procurement to fit their “spend culture,” a term used to describe the specific set of people, processes and tools in a company’s operations engine. The process has completely moved online, and with some unnecessary steps cut out along the way, we’ve officially shut the door on the traditional procurement process of quotes and approval processes that could take weeks.

With the recent advent and continued adoption of mobile, purchasing for organizations has been streamlined and integrated with other sales and finance suites to communicate with vendors effectively and sustain data compliance across all platforms. Approving requests, having ultimate spend visibility, and seeing into the entirety of your supply chain and procurement systems from anywhere isn’t just a pipe dream any longer; there are apps and services in the marketplace that offer this right now. We are living in the most accessible, convenient and efficient procurement process in human history.

Are you ready to go mobile?

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