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by Daniel Harris,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: July 27, 2015



We wrote this guide to help you determine what kind of system will best suit your organization.
Here’s what we’ll cover:

Here's what we'll cover:

What Is Procurement Software?
Common Features of Procurement Software
Evaluating Procurement Systems

What Is Procurement Software?

Procurement software (labeled as RFQ software or purchasing management software by some vendors) manages the purchasing processes within a supply chain. After using sourcing software to analyze current spending and potential vendor performance, these applications take over to finalize deals and initiate monetary transactions. As an important element of supply chain management systems, these systems help organizations efficiently manage their purchasing cycle times and maximize profit on every purchase order (PO).

Common Features of Procurement Software

Procurement management software solutions can convert a well-researched sourcing process into successful purchase orders through user-friendly processes. This helps control non-payroll expenditures and thus support positive asset management over the long run. After reverse auctions, which can take place through public bids or multi-round private offers, the requisitioning phase begins. At this point, the supplies are bought via the system’s electronic purchasing capabilities. Once the order has been completed, the application analyzes receipts for invoice approval and reconciliation.

One of the obvious benefits of these applications and supplier relationship management systems in general is its ability to effectively manage the mass amounts of data that accumulate after an organization’s many purchases. Once purchasing terms have been agreed, e-procurement software submits the information to all necessary parties for immediate approval, ensuring that the procured products can be delivered as soon as possible. For future reference, the program also stores these approval documents as well as the expense figures for each purchase, which will be used in the next sourcing cycle when the organization once again looks to cut costs.

Specific features of an electronic procurement system include:

Selection & ordering Purchasing solutions organize product information in a format that makes it easy to compare products to make the best selection. Although this makes all purchasing decisions easier, where it really adds value is in the selection of commodities, where there are no variations in product features or quality.
Purchase order approval & delivery Organizing the data in one place makes it easy to identify product and purchase order approvals, ensuring that nothing is ordered without the right people knowing about it. They then deliver the POs to the vendors through their preferred delivery method.
Billing As part of the billing functionality in these systems, it should match invoices to orders, and handle electronic bill paying as desired.
Spend data analysis The business intelligence side of these applications analyzes purchasing trends and evaluates vendors to identify potential areas to improve on economies of scale and otherwise improve negotiating position.

Evaluating Procurement Systems

When evaluating purchasing software, it’s a good idea not to get caught up in the individual features of each product. Rather, look for something that matches your current and past use, that will simply expedite decisions you’ve already made.

One of the main decisions you’ll make in purchasing this program is to go with a traditional installation-based system or a software-as-a-service “e-Procurement” system. Procurement applications must handle compliance issues, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 which placed harsher regulations on accounting practices. That means you also need to ensure your application is SOX compliant—maintaining full and reliable disclosure in financial reporting.

Ask the following questions when evaluating solutions for purchasing:

  • Does your department primarily manage direct procurement or indirect procurement? Does this system match those use cases?
  • Is the application SOX compliant?
  • How will this program support you in your commodity purchasing?
  • What’s the PO approval and delivery process?

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