Common Types of Procurement Automation Solutions

Charlotte Sutton
Charlotte Sutton,
The application of newer technologies can significantly improve what Finance and Procurement organisations can achieve in the pursuit of goals: cost reduction, efficiency gains, compliance and control, risk mitigation. These solutions include:

1. Spend Analysis


Solutions that offer invaluable insights into spending patterns, process mechanics, compliance and performance status. It aims to understand a high level of what goods and services are bought, by whom, from where, suppliers providing similar goods or services, volume of orders, invoices and expenditure per supplier and purchasing policy adherence amongst employees. Also consider Purchase-to-Pay (see below) to capture 'spend at source'.


2. Supplier Relationship Management (SRM)


Solutions that provide a central Portal for all supplier and buyer collaboration. It helps procurement build and maintain a strong supplier base by structuring and streamlining the entire supplier lifecycle - from initial identification through adoption, approval, transacting and analysis. Also includes the ability to manage supplier credentials to mitigate the impact of supplier risk, failure or disruption.


3. Sourcing


Solutions that help to find, evaluate and engage suppliers of goods and services by providing support for electronic RFx tender publication, eAuctions, supplier bid submission and buyer bid evaluation. Core functionality includes specification management, requirements publishing, buyers posting of RFx online, sourcing event evaluation, timeline management, and acceptance and rejection communications.


4. Supplier Engagement


Solutions that support finding and engaging with suppliers, ensuring staff are connected to the best supplier agreements and reducing the overhead of managing suppliers. Often used to kick-start a spend control and eProcurement initiative, it combines consulting and software solutions: spend analysis, supplier management (supplier recruitment, evaluation and self-service), catalogue management and electronic trading techniques.


5. Supplier Maintained Records & Catalogues


Solution that enables the reduction of cost and overhead in managing supplier catalogues by sharing the responsibility with suppliers for managing catalogue content. Core functionality includes the ability to upload catalogue categories, items, prices and images, set catalogue policy, trading regions, tax strategy and additional item attributes such as colour, weight, size, model and manufacturer.


6. Contract Management


Solutions that improve visibility and control of contracts throughout the contract life cycle and ensure the organisation consistently uses them when buying goods and services. Core functionality includes a central repository for all contracts, automatic reminders and alerts, custom attributes that can be linked to contracts, scheduled event and timeline monitoring, performance analysis and purchase integration.


7. Purchase-to-Pay


Solutions that support the purchasing transaction process by making it easy for employees to submit their requests while ensuring financial control and compliance. Core functionality includes requisition/purchase order creation, content source integration, workflow, budget and approvals management, supplier submission, goods received and troubleshooting, invoice receipt and matching, posting to financials.


8. Invoice Receipt


Solutions that improve the input of an invoice document, extending registration from simply manual keying-in to more advanced automation techniques. Core functionality includes PO Flip, email import, CSV file load, XML feed, EDI, and OCR linkage to remove the keying-in element which is often both time consuming and error prone.


9. Invoice Matching


Solutions that support the validation of invoice data and subsequent workflow. Core functionality includes the ability to set workflow based upon supplier, user, value and/or finance codes, to apply tolerances by value or percentage, at document or at item level, to set policy on two-way or three-way match priorities, to add coding templates and set ‘learning’ engine parameters to achieve better match rates and reduce human intervention.


10. Employee Expenses


Solutions that support quick entry of an employee’s expense claims with multi-line selection, defaulted finance coding, favourite items and recent journeys. Core functionality includes the ability to restrict items by user, enter multi-currency claims, code to projects, recharge to clients, the ability to add attachments (scanned receipts) and approve by email. Validation can be applied to ensure adherence to corporate policy whilst the flexible workflow ensures compliance.


To learn more about Spend Control and eProcurement solutions visit

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