In many organizations, if an employee needs something, even something simple like more sticky notes, there’s often a procurement process associated with that purchase. This means that just to restock the office supply closet with some sticky notes, or pens and paper, or paperclips, or whatever your office-supply-vice maybe, you’ll likely need to go through an entire bureaucratic process, just to put in the order. This is a pretty bulky and inefficient process for simple office supplies, hence, the newly recognized best practice in procurement known as guided buying.
Consider the example above extrapolated across an entire year, or even five years for that matter, and also extending to each and every category of employee purchase made. The time wasted on purchase requisitions and purchase orders filing through your system really adds up and becomes significant.
Guided buying, though, aims to address these inefficiencies within the purchasing practices of an organization, and is an important aspect in establishing your seven-step strategic sourcing process.
What Is Guided Buying
Guided buying is a principle that aims to ease the employee purchasing and employee spending process. While the procurement professionals need to attend to organizational needs and industry-sized contracts, it adds a lot to their plate if they’re also responsible for micro-level purchases.
Guided buying is a one-stop portal for employees within your organization. And it’s persona-based. This means that an admin of the company can appoint certain profiles to various individuals throughout the organization, as needed. These profiles have a certain amount of access and limitation based on the user and their level in the organization, as well as the types of purchases they’ll be making regularly.
Then, individuals with guided buying profiles are able to log in to their portal and make pre-approved purchases on a rolling basis with almost no involvement from the procurement team. This takes a huge step forward in the pursuit of creating a more effective and efficient employee purchasing process within your organization. This also substantially reduces the amount of purchasing oversight that the procurement professionals on staff are responsible for, which opens them up to refocus and reallocate time and energy toward more pressing business and procurement activities, making guided buying an excellent element to add to your spend management solutions.
Traditional Methods of Employee Purchasing
Purchase requisitions and purchase orders are both mentioned briefly above and represent a more traditional employee purchasing path. While guided buying is a big step forward, it doesn’t eliminate the need for purchase orders and requisitions.
Guided buying will drastically reduce how much time your procurement department spends on normal office purchases made by employees on a regular basis, however, there’s still a good chance that one-off and special purchases need to be made from time to time. In these instances, there may not be a user profile with these options available, and therefore the employee making the purchase would need to fill out a traditional purchase requisition form.
The Impact of Guided Buying
Implementing a guided buying practice will bring a lot of value to your organization. For starters, empowering employees to make regular and common purchases without the need for oversight or approval is a huge boost to employee morale. Giving employees more control over their everyday activities as they relate to the organization provides them a higher sense of loyalty and a higher sense of worth.
On top of that, guided buying innately brings an emphasis back to efficiency. By cutting out the middleman, so to speak, when it comes to employee purchases, an entire layer of bureaucracy that is bogging down your purchasing process is eliminated from the purchase cycle completely. This acts as an immediate spike for efficiency and time saving as employees no longer have to wait days or even weeks to receive approval for a purchase, before it can even be made.
Guided buying is a practice that weaves a variety of values into your organization, all by empowering your employees to make purchases without involving the procurement department. This, in turn, leads to employees with a higher sense of worth and loyalty to your organization, higher rates of efficiency, and a much quicker turn-around on employee purchases.
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