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Published on March 30th, 2021 | by Guest

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How Does eProcurement Automation Help Organizations to Optimize Procurement?

Procurement accounts for a huge proportion of business spending, second only to staffing and payroll. Bain & Company estimates that procurement optimization can reduce an organization’s purchasing costs by up to 12 percent, and that’s one of the major motivations for eProcurement adoption. Businesses want to take control of spending and they want to understand how procurement budgets are spent.

EProcurement is a powerful ally in the battle against waste and rouge spending, and procurement automation is one of its greatest strengths. In this article, we’d like to explore aspects of procurement that are ripe for automation and the benefits that automation brings.

Which Aspects of Procurement Can Be Automated?

Many aspects of procurement can be automated, as Coupa users are aware. But we’d like to focus on automation opportunities that depend on the integration of buyer eProcurement platforms and seller ecommerce stores. With integration, it is possible to improve the procurement user experience and accelerate the buying cycle.

PunchOut Catalogs

PunchOut catalogs allow a buyer to access a supplier’s eCommerce store from their eProcurement platform. Instead of visiting each supplier’s store directly, buyers choose from a pre-approved list. They are automatically redirected to the store and authenticated with their organization’s account. They build an order in the ecommerce store, and the PunchOut integration automatically transfers order details to their eProcurement platform, generating a requisition order.

Punchout catalogs substantially reduce manual order rekeying while allowing buyers to take full advantage of third-party ecommerce stores.

Purchase Order Automation

Purchase orders are sent to suppliers once a requisition order is approved, typically by the buying organization’s procurement department or another individual empowered to authorize purchases. The centralization and automation of the approval process are a key benefit of eProcurement, allowing organizations to enforce requisition approval policies while ensuring that employees have access to the data they need to make a decision quickly.

Purchase order automation further streamlines the process by communicating orders approved in the eProcurement platform to supplier eCommerce stores, automatically generating a purchase order on the store. Purchase order automation reduces procurement workloads while ensuring that purchase orders are immediately made available to suppliers for fulfillment.

eInvoicing

The best eProcurement platforms include rich invoicing functionality to reduce cost-per-invoice, eliminate paper invoices, and ensure that invoice processing is timely and error-free. Coupa offers many invoice automation features, including multi-level automatic invoice validation, error and fraud detection, and accelerated payment features that help buyers to take advantage of early payment discounts.

But to fully leverage these capabilities, invoice data must be available to the eProcurement platform. Electronic invoicing, also known as eInvoicing, connects B2B ecommerce stores to buyer eProcurement platforms, facilitating the rapid exchange of invoice data that allows buyers to take full advantage of their platform’s invoicing automation features.

eQuotes

eQuotes, sometimes known as draft carts, streamline quote requests and management, allowing sellers to quickly create quotes via a system that integrates with buyer’s purchase approval processes. eInvoicing supports various quote workflows, but a typical process looks like this:

  • The buyer creates a draft cart in the seller’s eCommerce store.
  • The seller updates pricing, applies discounts, and finalizes the quote
  • The buyer can access the quote in a dedicated interface, or it can be automatically transferred to their eProcurement platform for approval and, once approved, back to the eCommerce store as a purchase order.

As you can see, procurement automation creates an end-to-end digital workflow, leveraging software and network connectivity so that buyers and sellers can focus on the aspects of procurement and sales that require skilled intervention.

The Benefits of Procurement Automation

In the previous section, we briefly discussed several automation opportunities enabled by eProcurement integration with B2B seller ecommerce stores. But integration and automation are only worthwhile if they offer concrete and measurable benefits, so we’d like to highlight three ways automation helps buyers to optimize procurement.

Automation Reduces Manual Labor

The average procurement professional spends several hours each day manually entering data, rekeying, and performing administrative tasks such as reconciling invoices with purchase orders. With eProcurement integration and automation, much of that manual work is eliminated. Automation software ensures that the order, invoice, and other data are immediately available to the relevant software. Procurement professionals can focus on what matters most to their employer: sourcing products and services efficiently and cost-effectively.

Automation Eliminates Procurement Errors

Procurement errors cost businesses a significant percentage of their procurement budget. Automation doesn’t solve all procurement errors — it can’t fix bad decisions — but it does eliminate the data entry errors that often occur at system boundaries when data is manually transferred. Automation also ensures that more data is available to the eProcurement platform, reducing the likelihood that errors lurking in emails and PDF documents go unnoticed.

Automation Brings Rogue Spending Under Control

Rogue spending—also known as maverick spending—is a key factor driving eProcurement adoption. Businesses want to centralize spending on a platform that helps them to enforce procurement policies. EProcurement integration and automation contribute to this effort in several ways:

  • PunchOut catalogs provide in-platform access to pre-approved suppliers.
  • Easy access to self-service options substantially reduces rogue spending. According to recent research, 75 percent of procurement professionals cite a lack of self-service options as a major cause of rogue spending.
  • Automated data harmonization between platforms ensures that order and transaction data are available to procurement professionals and managers, providing the increased visibility businesses need to bring spending under control.

When eProcurement users integrate supplier ecommerce stores, they create automation opportunities that unlock the full potential of their platform. EProcurement automation accelerates the purchase cycles, reduces errors and rogue spending, and provides enhanced insight into spending.


Cover Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash


About the Author

Brady Behrman is the CEO of PunchOut2Go, a PunchOut catalog developing company based in Virginia specializing in e-procurement to enable B2B commerce for suppliers to sell to buyers via Ariba, Jaggaer (formerly SciQuest), Coupa, SAP, Oracle, and other CXML environments. For more information on PunchOut2Go, be sure to check out their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube pages.

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