Purchasing, or procure-to-pay (P2P), is the downstream subset of the overall procurement (source-to-pay) process. State-of-the-art purchasing software offers a unified purchasing platform, a single database and one collaborative workspace, enhancing an enterprise’s end-to-end P2P operation with a full range of purchasing tools — from item search and purchase order management, all the way to invoicing, payments and reporting.
Leading purchasing and procurement software like SMART by GEP is securely built in the cloud, native to mobile technologies, and features intelligent, visually appealing digital interfaces that boost user satisfaction, adoption and productivity. More importantly, it’s system-agnostic and seamlessly integrates with all major ERP or legacy systems. It also boasts extensive multi-regional capabilities including language, currency and legal, as well as tax-regime compliance vital for global corporations and their intricate supply chains. But all this just represents the starting point for the truly transformative results that procure-to-pay software can help enterprises achieve.
More Than “Purchasing Department Software”
Early purchasing software systems were sometimes dubbed “purchase order software” or more narrowly “purchase order tracking software,” given their modular limitations and/or lack of functional depth. But in the context of modern platforms, purchase order processing is merely one function among a multitude of others. In fact, full-fledged procure-to-pay suites have advanced capabilities that extend well beyond purchasing to impact the larger procurement function — and the enterprise — as a whole.
Here are some of the new and emerging technologies to watch out for in best-in-class purchasing software — their power and potential can help procurement teams achieve all-round business transformation:
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Procurement
AI is instrumental in alleviating the hands-on workload of present-day procurement. Top procurement software suites come with pioneering AI capabilities that execute processes across the source-to-pay spectrum. These AI engines can sort, organize and carry out hundreds of transactions per hour. The benefits to procurement are real and immediate: enhanced service delivery, more accurate processes, better scalability, and improved reporting.
Blockchain in Procurement
As an emerging technology, blockchain is expected to help reduce the time and costs associated with lengthy back-and-forth business processes and bring transparency to the supply chain while safeguarding sensitive data. Tamper-proof contracts, improved purchase order management and real-time settlements could all become a reality. From payments and audits to tracking inventory and assets, blockchain technology could deliver a new level of visibility and traceability to supply chains while enabling the procure-to-pay (P2P) process to realize huge operational gains.
Internet of Things (IoT) in Procurement
IoT has the potential to change how procurement professionals accomplish their everyday tasks, such as the way orders are placed in the information cycle. Companies worldwide are embracing IoT-led disruption in essential functions all along their supply chains, from product tracking to order processing, from inventory management to warehousing. Purchasing software equipped with IoT technology will generate significant quantities of data which can help procurement pros react faster and more effectively to opportunities and threats. It will likely support blockchain through smart devices that will be interfacing with systems up and down the supply chain.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in Procurement
RPA combines AI and machine learning to automate routine, mundane and predictable tasks of a highly repetitive nature — freeing up resources and allowing personnel to focus on more strategic work. It can offer significant cost and efficiency benefits when automating transactional P2P processes and when executing simple bidding transactions by leveraging systemic controls and well-defined business rules.
Big Data Analytics in Procurement
Using the analytical capabilities of modern purchasing software such as data mining and assessment, procurement organizations can uncover the true value of copious amounts of structured and unstructured data, gain insights that improve planning and effectiveness, and attain a step change in performance. Big data helps procurement teams become proactive by forecasting demand based on identified patterns, effectively broadening their traditional scope of action.