Electronic procurement or “eProcurement” is all about efficiency. Managing smooth work order processes for profitability and sustainable business is the main objective of computer-based procurement tools. This entails everything from optimal stock management to cost-effectiveness of materials.

We used to have to manage procurement manually. Today, we are lucky to have software to help us standardize every process. It’s not enough just to digitize the work though. Not all eProcurement solutions are made equal. Technology is constantly changing and eProcurement tool shopping can be tricky. With all the options on the market, how can you tell if you are buying the right software for your business? Here is a short list of the main features you should demand from your modern e-procurement software.

Collaboration Features

One of the main benefits of going digital is housing data in a central repository. This means employees working via the eProcurement software program can collaborate and share information internally. Information sharing amongst employees will help your company get the right materials from the right place at the right time. Externally, you should also be able to communicate with suppliers on the same platform. The ability to collaborate without needing a secondary software is the key.

Data Transparency

The secondary benefit of a central repository is that everything gets recorded. This allows you to track activity, identify involved parties, and monitor notifications about activity in the system. Not only does this set you up for clean risk management protocols, but it also gives you actionable business insight for improving your business strategy. Data transparency will contribute to your bottom line.

Functionality

Don’t commit to any software until you are sure it handles the basic eProcurement functionalities in a digital setting:

  • Spend Analysis – automated tools for efficient financials and reduction of maverick spending
  • e-RFX – a fully auditable walk-through of the RFI/RFQ/RFP process
  • Reverse Auction – creating a successful environment to promote deep savings
  • Procure-to-Pay – digital selection and ordering, automated P.O. approvals and delivery, invoice and general billing management
  • Contract Management – secure creation, execution, management, and contract performance analysis for legal compliance

Cloud Hosting

As migration to the cloud sweeps every business industry (not just procurement), investing in a cloud-hosted system is key to future-proofing your systems. On-premise central repositories were the newest technology over a decade ago. Today, the cloud takes us beyond mere accessibility. The cloud enables your employees to streamline order processes and make changes in the system with full visibility. The cloud exists in real time for both employees and suppliers so your company can finally function in real time too. Mistakes get fixed quickly and your reaction time across the supply chain improves exponentially. Going into the cloud ensures you will have the durability to improve your ROI on software purchases. Future-proofing is     even built-in because as eProcurement technology continues to evolve, the cloud environment prepares you for inexpensive integrations down the line. Cloud-hosted eProcurement software gives you the remote access of a centralized system plus the scalability, collaboration, and flexibility that only the cloud brings to the industry.

Free Demo

Even with all the features mentioned above, there’s still no foolproof way to predict an eProcurement solution will perform until you see it in action. The final feature to check for while shopping for software is a free demonstration. In the end, eProcurement tools are evaluated on how well they fit your company needs. Your end users have to put the software to work at its full potential. With a clear vision of your direction, doing an immersive test-run with free demo software will give you the peace of mind you need to make a purchase. Beware of any vendor that isn’t scrambling to show you a free demo.

Whether you are a small business or a large organization, eProcurement software shopping is an involved process. Thankfully, the commercial-off-the-shelf monolith systems are being phased out. Today’s cloud-hosted systems are more flexible and future-proof than ever, but the market is always crowded and confusing. As you shop for your next system, be sure to demand real usability and extensive features as well as a solid fit for your company. To check out a cloud-hosted eProcurement software platform that has it all, read about ProcurePort today and see if it’s the right fit for you.