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procurement automation for smbs

Procurement Automation: Best Bet for Growth for SMBs

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Procurement Automation: Your Best Bet for Growth

Is there a way to optimize your procurement processes without having to make a massive investment in IT? Can you eliminate manual processes and their associated errors? Is there a way to eliminate expensive invoice processing?

It goes without saying that procurement processes can involve a wide variety of third-party vendors such as business partners and consultants, along with legal, supply chain management, and various department needs. Yet, data can be difficult to locate and the success of a procurement process may simply revolve around the fact that no one complained – yet.

Unfortunately, many SMBs spend a large portion of their sales revenue on procurement. Nonetheless, simple enhancements – such as automation – to the procurement process can perform the double duty of reducing costs and boosting productivity.

For SMBs, with their limited resources, the focus is often on overarching operations as opposed to specific procurement business functions. But, when you can empower your procurement team with an automated tool, then you can improve supplier relationships and make the right purchases for your business – on a more consistent basis. Further, all parties are satisfied.

When you utilize automated procurement, you can prevent your teams from engaging in trivial tasks so that they have more time to focus on their core functions and responsibilities. Also, you decrease human error.

Certainly, these are all specific reasons why many SMBs are opting for automating procurement, but there are many other advantages as well. Keep reading to learn more. 

Get Out of the Time Rut

Within the procurement cycle, or purchasing cycle, there are several stages such as research, bidding, vendor selection, negotiations, and approval. Depending on the current processes you already have in place, this can take much more time than necessary.

Why not speed up your processes with procurement automation? You could reduce the cycle by days, or even weeks. If you’re interested in adopting lean principles, automation would be the route to take. 

Plus, there are huge amounts of paperwork that needs management. In contrast, procurement automation can save time by transitioning documents from paper to digital. Not only do you save on paper and physical storage costs, but you inherently speed up all your cycles and processes.

Get Your Supplier Relationships on the Same Page

For the health of your SMB, it is vital to have strong supplier relationships. Although, this can be difficult in a highly competitive environment. To get there, you need true transparency. The good news is automation enables real-time interaction and order tracking. In addition, an automated system lets your suppliers respond more quickly and your company can select a supplier more quickly. Moreover, the process is transparent for all parties involved which means a much faster resolution process in the event of a complaint or misunderstanding. It is a win-win situation for all.

Monitor Every Interaction

When your company opens up a bidding war, this means you increase your chances of finding a vendor who can meet your budget. At the same time, it can get quite complicated to manage every interaction with all of your potential vendors. Further, no one likes filtering through hundreds of email messages trying to find the most recent interaction. Unquestionably, this is a scenario where mistakes can happen and messages will get missed.

With an automated procurement tool, you can quickly access all associated documents and RFP responses. In fact, you can even monitor every single interaction in real time.

Enjoy More Control

SMBs often face the daunting challenge of limited visibility during one-or-many stages of the procurement process. Invariably, low visibility can become even more prevalent during indirect procurement. One of the quickest ways to overcome this hurdle is with an automated procurement tool.

It’s imperative to have a visual representation of how much you’re spending on every purchase. Many SMBs have finite resources which means it would be quite beneficial to determine where you could cut back on expenditures. As a result, you feel more control over your budget and can improve your revenue outlook.

How Can You Tell if Your Procurement Processes are Ready for Automation?

Part of the decision-making process around an automated procurement tool is knowing which of your tasks are ready to be automated. So then, it is critical to execute a thorough assessment – and analysis – of your current processes and which are redundant/repeatable where automation can take over to save both time and money.

For instance, if your company requires a lot of legal input during the buying process, then you could automate this portion by utilizing pre-approved negotiations so that your legal team can focus on higher-level tasks.

There isn’t any reason why the SMB procurement process should not replicate the enterprise in terms of purchasing, employee training, and automation. SMBs want to grow, and automated buying practices help to provide transparency, facilitate tracking, offer convenient reporting, and most importantly, assist in managing costs to set the stage for expansion.

Final Thought

Searching for a comprehensive automated procurement tool to effectively manage your processes? When SMBs streamline how they purchase goods and services, they create more value and become an organization that vendors – and customers – enjoy.

Learn how an automated system can streamline your procurement process – contact Premikati today for a free consultation!

 

procurement continuing education

Continuing Education Resources for Procurement Professionals

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5 Continuing Education Resources for Procurement Professionals

For procurement professionals to get ahead in their careers and help their companies succeed, continuing education can play a key role. From formal educational events specifically geared toward teaching professionals about certain procurement and supply chain topics, to news sites that help procurement professionals stay up-to-date on trending topics, to discussion boards where peers can share insights, procurement employees have a variety of options to help expand their professional knowledge.

Some of the key resources we recommend to continue procurement education include:

  1. SAP Business Exchange: In addition to being an SAP Ariba™ partner, we also participate in the SAP Business Exchange. In this online community, users can learn about and discuss expense management software SAP Concur, along with other procurement-related topics that may be broader than just Concur issues. The SAP Business Exchange also directs participants to upcoming events such as SAP webinars that can help procurement professionals learn new tips to help their companies operate better.
  2. Procurious: This social network is geared specifically toward procurement and supply chain professionals, thereby helping these employees quickly find relevant information. Among its numerous resources include online classes, community discussions and links to relevant events. Procurious also has helpful blog articles and shares top industry news, making it easier to stay up-to-date with relevant topics.

  3. Trade Associations: In addition to groups like SAP Business Exchange and Procurious that specifically provide educational resources for procurement and supply chain professionals, some trade associations also have procurement-related events and other resources that can help these professionals improve. For example, Premikati is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) company, and we’ve found that organizations like this provide helpful events and programs, such as to learn how to boost supplier diversity programs. They can also be a great resource to learn where to find specific types of suppliers.

  4. LinkedIn Groups: LinkedIn has numerous resources for essentially any professional to learn and grow their careers, and procurement professionals havethe luxury to choose from a number of large, active LinkedIn Groups geared toward this occupation. The “Procurement Professionals – Best in class” group, for example, has nearly 400,000 members, and the “Strategic Sourcing & Procurement” group has over 100,000 professionals. Within these groups you can keep up with news shared by peers and discuss procurement-related issues to help you learn how to tackle occupational challenges.
  5. Premikati Webinars: We offer our own series of webinars in order to help procurement professionals learn about SAP Ariba™ as well as how to improve strategically overall. For example, upcoming topics include helping professionals ensure an invoice is ready to pay as well as how to identify vendor efficiency opportunities.

By leveraging these types of resources, procurement professionals and others in related roles can continue to gain knowledge beyond what they learn directly from their day-to-day work. Learning from peers and industry experts can help you gain new perspectives and learn new strategies that ultimately help you and your company perform better.

environmental social and governance

ESG and Your Supply Chain

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Why You Should Incorporate ESG Into Your Supply Chain

 

Companies that incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into business practices can not only create more ethical companies that align with core values, but they can also enjoy a potential increase to the corporate bottom line. That’s because customers, employees, investors and other stakeholders increasingly want to associate with companies that consider ESG.

Taking these factors into account can unlock new opportunities in areas such as hiring by expanding talent pools to include diverse candidates; marketing by showcasing environmentally-friendly products to customers; and finance by making it easier to attract equity investments or take out loans by demonstrating sound governance. Becoming more ESG-focused can also extend beyond internal operations to include your supply chain.

As the United Nations Global Compact notes on its site, “A company’s entire supply chain can make a significant impact in promoting human rights, fair labour practices, environmental progress and anti-corruption policies.”

Aligning Values With Finances

While many companies may be open to incorporating ESG factors, they may think that doing so requires sacrificing profit. However, the tide is increasingly turning towards consumers seeking out ESG products and services, and many are willing to pay a premium.

For example, between 2013-2018, “products marketed as sustainable grew 5.6x faster than conventionally-marketed products,” according to an NYU Stern School of Business Center for Sustainable Business and IRI®study.

Moreover, 44% of Millennials believe that companies they do business with should always be environmentally-friendly, even if that causes a small price increase, according to a survey by Markstein, conducted by Certus Insights.

One way companies can improve their standing in this regard is to seek out vendors that align with ESG factors. Doing so can even be helpful for companies that sell services rather than physical products. For example, an accounting firm that uses environmentally friendly suppliers for office supplies, lighting, trash disposal, etc., may be able to more easily market itself as a green company and appeal to younger customers who want to work with a firm that goes beyond just focusing on finances.

Similarly, working with diverse suppliers such as women-owned, veteran-owned or minority-owned businesses can improve the social responsibility of a company by demonstrating inclusion and equality. Doing so is important considering that 70% of consumers “want to know what the brands they support are doing to address social and environmental issues,” according to the Markstein and Certus Insights study. And most of these survey respondents agree that social responsibility expectations apply equally to small and large companies.

Expand Your Supplier Network

Incorporating ESG factors into your supply chain not only helps attract stakeholders to your business, but looking at suppliers with this new lens can also expose your business to vendors that you may not have otherwise considered.

For example, looking at governance factors like the composition of a company’s board of directors or looking at how a supplier treats its own employees may cause you to spot risk factors with the vendors you currently work with. From there, you may decide to seek out new suppliers that stand out for incorporating ESG into their businesses, and these companies may be able to work with you on related initiatives like improving the sustainability of the shipments you receive from them.

One way to source ESG-focused suppliers can be through the consulting services or procurement platform of Premikati, an SAP Ariba™ partner and a certified Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) company.

To learn more about how Premikati can help your organization incorporate ESG into your supply chain and improve your overall procurement, please get in touch with our team.

future of product shipping

Product Shipping and Procurement

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The New Era of Product Shipping

With the rise of e-commerce has come increased expectations around delivery service, including in both the consumer and B2B worlds. When a consumer buys a product online, even two-day shipping, popularized by companies like Amazon, is often too long now, which is why Amazon and others are turning to one-day or even same-day shipping in some cases. For businesses, similar expectations apply, as employees want their products like office supplies to arrive as fast as they do when making personal purchases.

As a Deloitte study finds, the future of shipping is evolving to one that attempts to meet higher demand and increase speed by taking advantage of technology. These tech advances range from data analysis for optimizing delivery routes to the use of smart storage lockers to improve the efficiency of the so-called last mile of delivery where packages reach their end recipients. Even drones are starting to be deployed, and an expanded presence could help improve speed.

While these advances offer significant potential for consumers and businesses to receive the products they need almost as fast as buying from a retail store, at the same time gaining the efficiency of online purchasing, the transition won’t always be easy for suppliers and logistics companies. Businesses will also have to adapt to obtain the efficiency their employees crave.

Navigating New Expectations

One example of the challenge of meeting new shipping expectations can be seen in the performance of FedEx. As Reuters reports, FedEx recently cut its 2020 profit forecast, due to factors such as investing in the rollout of Sunday delivery, and the company has not always been able to keep up with expected delivery times in major cities.

These types of struggles can challenge suppliers, as even if they’re able to absorb the cost of expedited shipping, their delivery partners may not always meet expectations. Overcoming these obstacles may require suppliers to work more closely with partners like logistics companies, such as through increased data sharing, to figure out how they can expedite shipping. As the Deloitte study notes, carriers partnering with their “most forward-thinking customers to build mutual capabilities could well serve both parties.”

For procurement teams, this new era may also benefit those who can form strong partnerships with suppliers to figure out the best ways to optimize delivery speeds. For example, limiting the number of vendors you work with and spending more with certain suppliers could give you more leverage to work out an expedited shipping schedule. Your suppliers may also inform you of how you can help them help you, such as by trying to place orders for different types of products into one batch.

Moreover, data-driven procurement teams can gain insights into delivery speeds and accuracy in order to help their suppliers understand what needs to be optimized. Procurement teams can also eliminate underperforming vendors and then limit their relationships to those who can meet delivery expectations.

Improving Procurement With Premikati

Understanding your procurement activities, including delivery performance and supplier relationships, can help your organization receive optimal service quality in this new era of product shipping. Leveraging procurement services and/or purchasing platforms through Premikati, an SAP Ariba™ partner, can help you gain the data you need to make better decisions related to shipping. Our consulting services can also help you work with suppliers to optimize delivery according to your needs.

To learn more about how Premikati can help your organization thrive in this new era of shipping, please get in touch with our team

cut procurement costs Premikati marketplace

Cut Procurement Costs – Not Quality

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A New Year’s Resolution to Cut Procurement Costs, Not Quality

 

Many people take on personal new year’s resolutions such as to lose weight, but what’s often more important than the number on the scale is someone’s overall health quality. Similarly, many businesses want to cut costs, but focusing just on reducing expenses may not be the most sustainable way to grow overall.

For example, switching to a vendor that supplies lower-quality products, such as for IT devices, may reduce costs in the short-term, but if those devices break down faster, it can cost more overall to repair or replace them.

Thus, companies looking to save money in 2020 should make a new year’s resolution to cut procurement costs without cutting quality. To accomplish this task, businesses can leverage:

    • Purchasing Power: Either by consolidating spend with fewer vendors or by leveraging group purchasing organizations, companies can often obtain a discounted rate for purchasing the same products and services. For example, making tail spend purchases through a B2B marketplace can enable businesses to obtain better rates from suppliers based on the combined spend of the marketplace’s multiple clients. If a small or medium-sized business tried to negotiate rates based on just their own spend, they would have less leverage than a marketplace has when setting rates with suppliers.
    • Spend Insights: As companies improve their ability to track spending, they can more easily identify pure cost-saving opportunities that have no bearing on product or service quality. For example, using spend insights to identify erroneous purchases, such as incorrect pricing or accidental orders, allows companies to reduce costs without affecting any other areas of their business. Similarly, spend data may show that companies are going over budget with purchases that do not add much value. From there, businesses can implement stronger cost controls so that unnecessarily expensive purchases do not go through.
    • Productivity Gains: In addition to the direct cost savings that can come from negotiating better rates and cutting waste, businesses can also save on expenses and potentially increase revenue through productivity gains. For example, if a business can process orders and invoices more efficiently through a procurement marketplace, they may be able to reduce the costs of using a third-party accounts payable provider. Moreover, freeing up employees’ time to focus on more revenue-generating tasks can help companies grow, without adding expenses.

Start Saving With Premikati Marketplace 

To simplify tail spend purchasing and cut procurement costs without hurting quality, businesses can turn to Premikati Marketplace, which runs on SAP Ariba™ Buying and Invoicing. The platform provides an easy way to access great pricing on quality products and services, while also allowing businesses to implement cost controls, gain rebates and streamline the overall buying process. Altogether, businesses can reduce tail spend costs by around 30% through this marketplace.

To learn more about how Premikati Marketplace can help you achieve a new year’s resolution of cutting procurement costs without cutting quality, please get in touch with our team.

holiday gifts for suppliers

Top 4 Best Holiday Gifts for Suppliers 

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Top 4 Best Holiday Gifts for Suppliers 

We’ve talked before about the importance of nurturing good relationships with your suppliers in the past. During the festive season, why not reach out to your suppliers with a little thank you for all of their hard work to show them how much you value their contribution to your business? 

Here are four great gifts for suppliers to show your gratitude this year: 

(By the way, we aren’t affiliated with any of the products below, just lots of great suppliers!)

Wireless Headset

Suppliers tend to spend a lot of time on the phone. Free up their hands so they can stretch their legs and grab a cup of coffee while on calls with this rechargeable wireless headset. Relieve some neck cramps and offer some healthy benefits that may even help them reach their New Year’s resolutions. Supply chain and squats, anyone? Plus, it offers a mute button and noise canceling. It even works with Skype. Their shoulders are sure to thank you. Amazon link here

Coffee

Sweet, sweet caffeinated magic potions that make the work happen. Few people in business will pass up a good cup of joe, so send them a box with some nice beans to give them a little boost through the season. This holiday pack offers several seasonal flavors—but it’s whole bean, so you may want to send a grinder like this one too. Something about a freshly-ground cup of coffee always makes the workday feel a little more manageable. If you really want to go all out, here’s a sampler from the same company with coffees sourced (haha!) from all around the world. 

Wrist Rest

The one thing suppliers may actually do more than talk on the phone is use their computers. Offer them an ergonomic boost to help their wrists, elbows, and shoulders with this memory foam desk set that supports their hands on both their keyboard and mouse. It’s filled with memory foam, so it may remind them of a more relaxing place (ahem, like at home in their bed), and their stress can melt away—don’t worry, the coffee will keep them awake. Here’s one with divets for airflow on Amazon.

Office Snacks

It’s how long ‘til lunch break? Ward off hunger (and hanger) without dismissing health goals many people will set for the New Year. These tasty snack packs come in delicious flavors like honey mustard, chocolate banana, and espresso, but are also portion-controlled at 130 calories each and protein-packed, so they last until lunchtime.

In case you’re wondering about some of the implications of sending gifts to your suppliers over the holidays, here are a few other helpful tidbits of information: 

  1. A guide on the etiquette of giving gifts in business with important points to understand, like corporate policy limitations.
  2. Information about the tax benefits of giving gifts in business.

Even if you opt not to send a physical gift to your suppliers this year, you should take the time to send each and every one of them a heartfelt thank you and well-wishes for the holiday and the new year. Remember, without your suppliers, you don’t have a business, so show them that their efforts—and they as people—are meaningful to you. 

 

Procurement Analytics and Rogue Spend

Procurement Analytics and Rogue Spend

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Summary: Rogue spend—unmanaged spend—puts businesses at risk of noncompliance, creates unpredictable budgets, reduces forecasting accuracy and completeness, and overall reduces business profits. By using spend analytics, rogue spend can more quickly be spotted and managed, reducing fraud, duplicate purchases, noncompliance risks, and allows leaders to make better-informed decisions based on complete and cohesive data. 

In procurement, an and unwatched budget can quickly spiral out of control, sometimes in ways that can be severely detrimental to the organization both culturally and even legally. Spend analysis is a vital aspect of any procurement strategy and allows decision-makers to gain an accurate snapshot of spending, reduce fraud, and optimize and strategize at both a high and granular level. Failure to control rogue spending can result in over-stretched budgets which are draining to the organization and the employees who must deal with it.

What Is Rogue Spend?

Rogue spend is often mentioned in the same breath as maverick spending and tail spend. No matter what you want to call it, it’s spending that you don’t want in your organization because it is unmanaged and unpredictable. Of course, unmanaged and unpredictable spending means your business’s budget, forecasting, and insights are incomplete at best and completely inaccurate at worst. Issues with rogue spend may also place your business at a much higher risk for non-compliance. 

Rogue spend can happen for a variety of reasons, from the innocent to the ignorant to the downright fraudulent.

On the innocent side of the spectrum, employees may not work within an organization where clear spend policies are in place, causing businesses to lose out of discounts. Procurement professionals may have been directed to focus on other objectives. Lack of proper tools and procedures for contract management may prevent procurement from properly managing spend.

On the ignorant side of the spectrum, there may be a cultural mindset that small purchases are “too small to matter” even though they can quickly add up. Management may accept unmanaged spend because they are unwilling to or do not understand the need to put manpower or money towards managing spending, because they do not understand that, left unchecked, unmanaged rogue spend can quickly spiral far out of control.

And on the fraudulent side of the spectrum, rogue spend can occur in many different ways. For example, in August and September, office supply spend may spike because employees take supplies home to their children to use at school. Similarly, employees may make miscellaneous purchases on personal cards then request reimbursement. Also on personal cards, employees may pay for flights and conferences, request reimbursement, and cancel the flights and tickets in order to pocket the money themselves. According to a white paper from Chrome River titled 10 Ways to Prevent Business Expense Fraud and Abuse, some employees may report many purchases barely below the audit threshold in order to steal money from the company—this sort of risky behavior can quickly be caught using automated spend analytics.

How Can Spend Analytics Help Find Rogue Spend?

Maintaining and clear and accurate picture of your company’s spending data can reveal many insights, not the least of which is rogue spend. Especially if your company utilizes machine learning technology, objective data can be utilized to spot risky behaviors, target spend that is likely to be out of compliance, and find key opportunities to reduce spend by utilizing and strategizing with key suppliers in order to maximize discounts and efficiency. ERP solutions like SAP S/4HANA can be especially helpful in aggregating and analyzing these sorts of spend data into one integrated dashboard.

Spend analysis, by its very nature, increases visibility, allowing decision-makers to make better-informed choices regarding the company’s finances.

Spend analysis can be used to analyze uncategorized spending and assess risks associated with it, determine if there’s a high likelihood that the spend is fraudulent, and help clarify where rogue spending can be reduced in exchange for managed, strategic spending that benefits the company’s bottom line and supplier relationships alike.

5 Frustrations Procurement Professionals Will Understand

Five Frustrations Procurement Professionals Will Understand

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Every profession comes with its frustrations, but procurement comes with its own very specific set. If you’ve been in the business for more than a minute, you’ve probably wanted to put your head through your desk on more than one occasion thanks to these special procurement nightmares.

Are You Ghosting Us?

We’ve all had it happen—after weeks of back and forth, we message a supplier an important question that will impact, well, everything else. And we wait. And wait. Days pass. Weeks. Centuries… Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but when we are relying on this one piece of feedback in particular, it can certainly feel this way. If you don’t have the answer to our question, let us know. It’s okay. Just please, please don’t put us through the special hell of ignoring us completely while we search for a solution or an answer.

How Big Are Your Shoes?

Did you promise us the moon? Well, buddy, you’ve got big shoes to fill. Unfortunately, lots of other departments (cough, cough suppliers, marketers, we’re looking at you) have their toes in their arch supports. It’s frustrating when the people we rely on to fulfill our job duties overpromise and underdeliver. It leaves us backed up and with a whole lot of explaining to do.

T Minus 10 Minutes

We get it—sometimes genius strikes at the midnight hour (and often when we are furthest away from pad and paper), but changing plans mega late in the game is really difficult in procurement. If we’ve spent months planning for everything you need to execute your brilliant plan, changing everything last minute makes us shudder. Oftentimes, it simply cannot be done on timescale that suits everyone, and we’re the ones who end up taking the flak. Give us plans and give us time and we will give you the world, though.

The Ol’ Switcheroo

We’re planners. Have we mentioned that enough? We like plans. More importantly, we like sticking to plans. So, marketers and sales folks, believe us when we say that we are looking for this one particular item, especially if we say that’s all we’re looking for. Extra especially if we’ve already said it once. Give it up on the upsell and the cross-promotion, and we’ll thank you for it. Respect our already limited time and we’ll pay it back in spades with loyalty and not-too-many emails. At least the former, as long as you keep your prices reasonable and your delivery on time.

Dripping in Gold

Speaking of upsells, do we look like we’re made of money? We can’t break the bank on every new request, every outlandish marketing idea, every new and ingenius product idea. We have to save for a rainy day and prioritize our cash flow toward the best and most efficient option. You can stop calling us names—we’re not literally always looking for the cheapest option, even if it seems that way sometimes. We’re not trying to make your life harder. We’re trying to make our dollars take us as far as we can and sometimes that means saying things like, “No, I get that it’s a more ergonomic option, but we cannot approve another (sigh) standing desk at this time.”

Did this list make you want to cry into your keyboard? You can find relief at the Premikati Marketplace where procurement is easy (and way less frustrating).

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