Purchasing Insight

Purchase to Pay, Purchasing & Procurement Process, Electronic Invoicing

Browsing Posts in e-Procurement Software

In a few weeks’ time there’s superb opportunity to network at one of the most important events in the calendar. People from across the full range of the purchase to pay spectrum, from e-procurement and e-invoicing, through to supply chain finance and AP automation will be at the P2P Summit in October. It really is one of those events you should not miss and I’m genuinely delighted to be able to offer Purchasing Insight readers a discount on the admission price.

But you have to act quickly. Register before September 15th 2014 and you pay $795 instead of the usual $1,395 – that’s a 45% discount.

It’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to meeting Purchasing Insight readers there.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE P2P SUMMIT IN OCTOBER

It’s quite easy to “get” the benefits of e-procurement – electronic catalogues linked to a purchase approval workflow. It’s a no brainer and it was one of the most successful B2B technology of the 1990s as the opportunity was seen to emulate the ease of buying that amazon, Dell and eBay offered. But it was never as straightforward as the B2C equivalent. You don’t need to account for everything you buy on eBay and apply GL codes and cost centres and we don’t need a 3 way match. That’s why Amazon is easy. (How many times have you heard someone in business complain about their ERP purchasing module asking why it can’t be like Amazon?)

And what about e-invoicing? That seems like a compelling proposition until you try to automate Accounts Payable in an environment where the purchasing process is out of control. continue reading…

I’ve often said, somewhat provocatively, that e-procurement doesn’t work. It does work of course but often only in the most straight forward of environments. Keeping the stationery cupboard stocked up isn’t the most challenging of business situations and even when you can address lots of spend, getting people to comply is a change management challenge that, in some corporate cultures, is impossible to overcome. Step outside of the office and you face new challenges. How, for example, do you implement a P2P system on a remote construction site where there isn’t even a a phone signal never mind a computer network?

These are a couple of examples of the real world situations that are faced by many businesses but they are trivial compared to some where the ability to get goods and services promptly to where they are needed is more than a business issue, it’s a matter of life and death. continue reading…

BaswareMobile-iPhone-Requisition“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”

I wish I’d said that but Bill Gates thought of it first. It’s an often quoted piece of Gates wisdom from his book The Road Ahead and anyone who has observed technology for more than 10 years will recognize this phenomenon.

It was a decade and a half ago that we overestimated e-procurement. We said it would eliminate maverick spend, encourage compliant behavior, provide better spend analytics that would facilitate better decisions and save money. The user experience of buying in business would be as easy and intuitive as home shopping. That vision didn’t materialize – not immediately in any case. It was harder than we thought. The technology infrastructure we were using wasn’t up to the challenge and the theoretic results that we put so much store in didn’t play out in practice.

That was then and this is now. We overestimated what could be achieved in the short term but did we underestimate the long term view? Sure we did. Reading the press release from Basware this week launching Basware Purchase it’s like reading the predictions of 1997 – the same promises, this time being delivered, but in 1997, we never thought we’d have a full functional procurement app in our pocket.

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There are lots of reasons to do e-procurement but most of the stated reasons are not the real reason at all. Indeed, most of the reasons stated for implementing e-procurement are impossible to deliver. But there is one very good reason to implement e-procurement and oddly, the functionality that delivers it is usually not available from the e-procurement vendors. continue reading…

I’ve been working with e-procurement in a wide variety of guises and in many different organizations for nearly 20 years. Before the widespread use of the internet there were some proprietary on-line purchasing systems that were, by and large, the same as a modern incarnation of a web based e-procurement system. And they all have one thing in common – they don’t work.

To be fair, they’re getting better but still, most implementations are an expensive set of broken promises. It’s not always the technology that’s at fault – sometimes it’s the promises that are wrong – expectations are set unrealistically. Or its the functional design that’s wrong – business requirements ignored or misunderstood. And it’s such a shame because e-procurement was such a good idea.

So what’s gone wrong? continue reading…

Over the years I’ve had some great ideas. I’ve had some pretty dumb ideas too. I’ve followed through on some – both the good ones and the dumb ones but most, I have to admit, have been left as just ideas. But it still gives me great satisfaction when I get to see one of my great ideas executed perfection – by someone else.

A number of years ago, I had the great idea that smart phones could be used as purchase to pay tools. I wrote about it here. The problem of process compliance in some situations like construction sites it that it has, historically at least, been difficult to put IT solutions in place. Purchasing Cards have been tried but rather than helping to support a robust purchase to pay process they tend to remove the process entirely – the “Nuke” option. But now, everyone carries a smart phone and it’s perfectly feasible to put purchasing software in the hands of everyone, regardless of their working environment. It’s not just possible – it’s delivered, and a few weeks ago, I had the great pleasure to speak to Patrick Hopkins, CPO at Coca Cola Bottling Company to understand how they’ve implemented a Coupa solution to do just that. continue reading…