Procurement Software: Unified vs. Stand-Alone
With the vast range of procurement software and tools available on the market, identifying and implementing the right procurement solution that aligns with the overall business goals can be difficult.
Often, the discussion boils down to whether you should adopt a unified procurement software platform with comprehensive source-to-pay tools in a single system, or have a stand-alone application for each process. Here are a few things you should consider before you decide:
The key disadvantage of stand-alone procurement applications or modules is how do you get these systems to exchange critical data across the source-to-pay process with other tools. So your spend analysis tool might not be able to communicate savings opportunities to your sourcing tool. How do you get your sourcing software to connect with your contract management software and ensure that all completed sourcing events are quickly converted into contracts if required?
In case of a unified procurement software platform, all the tools or applications for different source-to-pay processes are interconnected with each other by design, allowing end-to-end automation and seamless flow of data across all processes, boosting efficiency and minimizing the source-to-pay cycle time.
Visibility and transparency
Today, enterprises have units spread across the globe and so it gets even more important for every function, be it finance, manufacturing or sales, to be able to access critical information related to sourcing, contracts, suppliers and SLAs, etc., to ensure smooth functioning of the business. Unlike stand-alone implementations, a unified procurement software platform improves the flow of procurement-related information and helps improve visibility and transparency across all source-to-pay processes. This transparency also boosts cross-functional collaboration and facilitates higher compliance on account of a higher level of stakeholder involvement.
User adoption and compliance
Imagine having to go through several different applications to get a particular set of data points for analysis and optimization purposes — tedious, isn’t it? This is one of the key challenges when you have different stand-alone applications for each process of the source-to-pay cycle. The results? Low user adoption and sub-optimal effectiveness of the implementation. On the other hand, with an integrated source-to-pay suite, users can access all necessary information on a single screen, using a single system — allowing them to get detailed drill-downs or big-picture views. Results? Better analysis, reporting and decision-making capabilities, along with smoother processes and seamless information flow.
Implementation and ongoing costs
While on-site implementation of stand-alone procurement solutions may seem more cost effective, the total cost of ownership (TCO) is much higher compared with a unified procurement software solution. The TCO includes hardware costs, software licensing and renewal fees, overheads as well as IT costs for the upkeep of the system. Implementation of multiple stand-alone applications will require multiple downtimes and training programs for each software. When TCOs are compared, unified procurement platform solutions prove to be more cost effective in the long term.
Impact on overall source-to-pay operations
A unified procurement software platform such as SMART by GEP helps automate and steamline all source-to-pay processes rather than parts of it, delivering far greater efficiencies and performance compared with a stand-alone procurement software. Users have to learn and use a single system for all their sourcing and procurement operations, boosting overall adoption and impact of the solution.