Although eProcurement software is critical to help automate, streamline, and standardise the many different activities involved in Spend Control, the essential ingredient is an approach based first and foremost on an understanding and improving of business processes.
The technology is an essential ingredient, but it is not the full answer to the problem. The bottom-line results come from a combination of both the software and the approach taken by the spend control vendor to help solve the problem and realise the vision of your organisation. This approach is based on the following:
Just like a good doctor, firstly the problem must be “diagnosed” before it is “prescribed”. It is important to start by understanding the environment of an organisation before recommending the particular solutions. A Spend Control vendor should ask basic questions about things like spend volume and categories; number of suppliers, contracts, POs and invoices; company, Procurement and AP staff levels; organisational structure and locations; systems environment; and most importantly, your organisations immediate and long-term goals.
Focus on your biggest opportunities
Once there is a clear picture of your organisation’s environment and goals, the next step is to identify the biggest opportunities for savings and create a development plan to realise those savings. Focus on actions that will return the greatest ROI in the least amount of time. The Spend Control vendor should recommend the solutions and services that will most directly address your goals. They should outline the deployment options, help you choose the approach that best fits your needs and set clear, measurable objectives so you know when we’ve achieved success. And they should help you get the job done with whatever resources you need to complement your own team.
Gaining effective Spend Control is a journey that takes time. But few organisations today want to undertake monolithic multi-year projects that don’t yield results until “year x”. That’s why it is important for the Spend Control vendor to identify incremental steps that deliver measurable results within less than one fiscal period. Ideally, each step in turn funds the next.
A flexible view of the path to effective Spend Control
The Spend Control vendor’s ultimate goal should be to help every customer achieve a high level of Spend Control performance that delivers maximum bottom-line value. That’s why they should never lose sight of that objective. But they should also recognise that there is no one way to get there. If the organisation’s vision is to build a comprehensive approach to Spend Control around integrated solutions tied to your core financial systems, then the vendor should be ready to help you do that. But, if you just need a small subset of our solutions to fill holes in your existing eProcurement framework, they should be happy to help you do that as well. Regardless of the scope, the key ingredient should be the Spend Control vendor working closely with you to achieve the results you are after at the pace that best suits your needs