Difficulties with buying within your organisation are often associated with the use of inappropriate user-facing technology. Fundamentally it is because there is no Buyer Portal. There is a “purchasing system” and a “process”, however, there is no user-centric access to this. This is what a Buyer Portal provides – it is the user-friendly way of presenting a buying process.
If you don’t have a buyer portal, then you can be sure that one of three things will happen with your users. They will:
Of course, you are investing in digitisation of procurement processes. However, ask yourself the question: are you focusing too much on the issues of the Procurement and Finance departments?
If your systems and procedures help these people or groups to do their job more efficiently and effectively, then these people are on your side and there is no barrier. However, if your systems and procedures do not, then there is a poor perception of Procurement and an opposition within your organisation to using your systems and procedures.
Whether you already have an ERP or not, you can use a buyer portal to enable your users to make hassle-free purchases. Automating transactional processes in a way that the user actually wants to engage!
Where system usefulness is the focus, a user perspective of what is useful must be taken. If the system is only looked at from a “use to Procurement perspective”, then it is unlikely that users will see the resultant system as useful.
What is important to the user in terms of timeline to make a purchase may not be supported by the purchase process itself. Plus, for sign off, it is unlikely to be aligned with a senior managers diary, especially if the purchase value is insignificant in terms of their overall budget.
Any new eProcurement system must address user issues to encourage user eProcurement adoption. If I am merely automating what already happens, I am likely to fail.
The focus in promoting a procurement portal solution should not necessarily be on productivity, as this implies a lack of productivity of users and can have negative associations. However, users should experience productivity gains from the use of the solution, making it quicker and easier for them to do their job.
Acceptance of the system can be encouraged through access to branded catalogues on the portal. Catalogues, to a user, represent a useful system in that for the most frequently purchased items they can readily re-order:
Also, process chains that guide users through the stages of a procurement process
from catalogues and ordering
through to receipt and invoicing,
help the user to understand where they are and where they can find the information they require.
The ease with which purchase orders to suppliers can be raised, expense reports obtained, and invoices reconciled all affect how useful the system is from a user perspective and will impact on user’s adoption of the new process and system.
Relating to the adoption of procurement systems and processes, there are several generic questions that can be asked about any proposed investment in technology:
Reliability drives trust in the system and process. In a manual procurement process, quite often paperwork is misplaced causing great frustration for the users.
A user procurement portal needs to be reliable, in the sense that all the transactions and electronic documents prepared by users are protected. That is they can be readily found and can be retrieved with ease whenever they are needed.
Considerable gains can be made in adoption if the system operates reliably and predictably; secures all the information obtained during a purchase process; and allows ease of access to this information.
Another aspect of reliability is associated with repeatability and ensuring that errors are minimised and where they do occur that they are flagged to the user. You should expect that a solidly designed user interface will reduce errors, since users will be somewhat familiar with the input fields, if not the intricacies, of the system.
Repeatability, also, includes the ability to copy and reuse critical forms and information. Readily placing repeat orders or requesting quotations for common specifications.
Reliability of the eProcurement system itself also exerts influence on the acceptance of the system, since any system that is unavailable when needed or where you cannot readily find the transactions and documents you need, just frustrates a user and encourages the use of alternative manual processes.
So, reliability is not just about the system up-time. It also encompasses aspects of repeatability and ensuring that the process itself is reliable and not prone to errors being made.
Any portal should also be robust enough to handle a huge volume and a wide variety of transactions. Including:
Placing all quotations and orders through a portal can result in high volumes of traffic and the portal must be designed both to scale and respond under load.
Placing the portal in the Cloud helps with this scalability and response, plus offers several additional benefits:
Cloud-based systems have many advantages:
Key for any buyer portal is an ability to be able to support four methods of purchasing and be able to combine these as appropriate:
Plus, to support the transactional activity that will occur, for different currencies and languages (for organisations operating in multiple countries) an easily scalable solution is required. This includes being able to add and subtract office portals quickly and as needed.
Best of breed portals have the flexibility to allow users to buy the way that best meets their needs, in their language and currency.
Whether you already have an ERP or not, you can use a buyer portal to enable your users to make hassle-free purchases.
Why not contact Claritum today to discuss how we can help you make buying easier.