Mobile Procurement Use Cases: The Multi-Task Hero

Spend Matters welcomes a new guest post from Ivy Montgomery of Vroozi.

Much has been made of the mobile procurement trend in recent months. As cloud computing, BYOD, and other tech trends are adopted within our organizations, mobile procurement seems like it too could help streamline day-to-day operations in any number of ways. Unfortunately, many purchasing managers, executives, and other procurement professionals remain unclear as to what mobile procurement actually is, how it can help, and most importantly, how it works.

Thus, in order to save the term from becoming yet another empty tech buzzword – and to educate our peers on what we consider to be the future of procurement – we wanted to offer a series of use cases of mobile procurement in action. These use cases will be persona-driven, not feature-driven. And to start, we’re going to begin with what we’ll call the Multi-Task Hero.

Meet Anna, the executive administrator for an entire West Coast sales team. Like all modern professionals in her field, Anna is insanely busy with work, responding to company emails at all hours of the day and constantly monitoring the activity (and requests) of her organization. She is ever conscious of prices, budgets, and the need to keep spend in line with expectations. But with three children and an active social life, she sometimes finds it difficult to strike an ideal work-life balance. Sound familiar?

One day, as she was leaving the office to go pick up her children from school, she ran into a sales manager in the elevator who told her that she is down to her last three business cards and will need Anna to place a new order in time for an upcoming sales conference. As she always does, Anna made a mental note of the request and promised to follow up after hours.

After helping her kids with their homework and sending them off to bed, Anna finally sat down to relax. Flipping through the channels, she landed on a celebrity poker game. As the cards were being dealt, she suddenly remembered – business cards!

In the past, Anna would have fired up her laptop, connected to the corporate VPN, and entered the all of the appropriate fields in order to fulfill this request. From there, she would have waited for approval from her boss, which was rarely immediate. However, her organization had recently adopted a mobile procurement platform, which was built for instances just like this.

So instead of the lengthy process described above, she grabbed her iPad and quickly logged in via the web with her username and password. Anna was given a “buyer role” within the platform, which provides her with pre-approval for certain items under a specified amount, business cards being one of them. This was a common request from her team, so she quickly navigated to her list of saved purchases. From there, she located the latest corporate logo business card holder, entered the sales manager’s name, and clicked submit. Total time spent: three minutes (about the length of the commercial break).

Mobile procurement isn’t just about the device – it’s about mobility. In other words, it’s not about transferring the processes and procedures that we already use to a mobile device. As many of you know, this already includes several complicated steps – all of which would become even more tedious on a mobile device. Instead, it’s a procurement process designed with a “mobile-first” objective, one that allows users to complete purchases (and get approvals) in the most efficient way possible on any device.

This is just one of many examples we’ll be highlighting in the coming weeks and months, but if there is a specific aspect of mobile procurement that you would like us to explain, please write a comment.

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