Ten Types of Procurement Software

Procurement software options constantly evolve. In this article I will focus on standalone solutions, not those that reside within Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, such as Oracle or SAP.

1. Spend Analysis. Spend analysis software allows you to uncover purchasing patterns and identify opportunities for cost savings, performance improvements and overall efficiencies. Using spend analysis software, you can research spend by category, supplier and more. As the spend analysis market has matured, most pure-play spend analysis vendors have been acquired by — or expanded to become — providers of other types of procurement software.

2. Supplier Discovery. Supplier discovery software allows you to search for suppliers that meet criteria that you specify, such as capabilities, location, supplier diversity status and more. Examples: ThomasNet, Ariba.

3. Supplier Information Management. Also called supplier onboarding/enrollment/registration, supplier information software allows you to collect and maintain supplier information — from contact information to certification status and more — directly from suppliers, ensuring efficiency and accuracy. Examples: HICX Solutions, Hiperos.

4. eSourcing. eSourcing software enables you electronically solicit quotes and proposals from suppliers in real time. You can configure eSourcing events to be private or to allow suppliers to see their rank among bidders and/or other bidders’ pricing to leverage competitive pressure. Examples: WhyAbe, K2Sourcing, Trade Extensions.

5. Contract Management. Contract management software enables you to quickly prepare contracts using pre-written templates and clause libraries. It can electronically route contracts for approval, track revisions, notify you of impending contract expirations and serve as a central repository for executed contracts. Examples: Selectica, Prodagio.

6. eProcurement. eProcurement software allows end users to search catalogs of pre-approved products and services from contracted suppliers, create requisitions and have those requisitions turned into purchase orders (either manually by buyers or, when certain criteria are met, automatically). Example: ePlus, eBid.

7. e-Invoicing. e-Invoicing software — sometimes called “ePayment” — enables you to receive supplier invoices electronically, improving efficiency and accuracy. More advanced solutions offer “dynamic discounting,” which allows suppliers to offer to reduce the amount your organization owes in exchange for faster payment. Examples: Taulia, Tradeshift.

8. Supplier Management. Supplier management solutions enable you to track and/or rate supplier performance. There are options to use manual, scorecard-style ratings; capture actual performance data from other modules/systems; permit suppliers to submit data; and more. Some software includes risk assessment capabilities. Examples: Aravo, BravoSolution.

9. Combination Solutions. When buying organizations can also pay suppliers with their eProcurement software — as opposed to having to pay them via their ERP systems — that type of eProcurement system is referred to as “procure-to-pay,” or P2P. And when procure-to-pay systems also offer the option of soliciting quotes from suppliers, they are referred to as source-to-pay solutions. Examples: Coupa, Puridiom.

10. Complete Suites. Some software vendors offer most or all of the solutions described in this list. Such comprehensive collections of solutions are referred to as “suites.” Examples: GEP, Zycus, SciQuest, iValua.

These 10 types of procurement software do not comprise an all-inclusive list. Technology always evolves, and I encourage you to regularly research the procurement software market to keep yourself up to date.

This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of College Planning & Management.

About the Author

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3, is the president and chief procurement officer of the Next Level Purchasing Association (www.NextLevelPuchasing.com), a leading provider of procurement training and certification. He is also the lead author of The Procurement Game Plan: Strategies & Techniques for Supply Management Professionals. Prior to founding the Next Level Purchasing Association, Charles managed procurement for three leading organizations, including the University of Pittsburgh.

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