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How Can Credit Unions Benefit from Purchasing in the Cloud? (Part Two)

We previously explored how purchasing in the cloud can be used for credit unions to eliminate the need for a purchasing department that is tasked with keeping the credit union stocked with all necessary items and equipment that are needed to successfully run a credit union.  Today we will explore how purchasing in the cloud can streamline the inventory and purchase order process for smaller credit unions that employ a dedicated individual who is specifically tasked with keeping an eye on inventory and keeping the credit union stocked with all of the essential items that are necessary in order for business to run smoothly.

Small credit unions often look for ways to reduce and eliminate costs while continuing to provide a high level of customer service for their customers and clients.  Using procurement to pay services in the cloud may not immediately stand out as a way to save money, but it is actually a great way to reduce costs overall.  The following information will explain how credit unions can utilize cloud-based software and services in order to keep track of their inventory and to place purchase orders well in advance of a shortage of materials or supplies.

Purchase to Pay Services Streamline Procedures for Small and Large Credit Unions

Whether you are operating a small credit union or a large credit union, there are some things that remain the same.  For example, both small and large credit unions need to have a supply of pens, paper, printing equipment, computer terminals, banking software and a host of other essential items in order for operations to run smoothly.  In addition, both small and large credit unions may have the issue of individuals placing multiple orders for the same thing simultaneously if there is not enough communication between individuals or departments.  The task of ordering supplies may fall to a receptionist, a teller or someone else.  Without a direct chain of command that specifically assigns purchasing duties to certain individuals, it is likely that a situation will arise where there is a shortage of certain key items and an excess of other essential items.

If you are the owner or operator of a credit union and you are already using purchasing to pay software, you may not know that you can save even more money and time by using purchase to pay software in the cloud.  Cloud-based procurement to pay software streamlines the process tremendously while lowering costs even more.  You no longer have to install purchasing software on your server or have an individual who is specifically trained to use the software because the software is maintained on the vendor’s server instead.  This eliminates the need to maintain or update software, as all such tasks are taken care of in the cloud instead.  Best of all, with cloud-based procurement to pay software, the process is fully automated so that you never run out of supplies.  Whenever you are low, the system will automatically order more as you see fit.  So if you are looking for ways to lower costs while streamlining procedures at your credit union, purchasing in the cloud is definitely the way to go.

August 30, 2012
BY Bellwether
How Can Credit Unions Benefit from Purchasing in the Cloud? (Part One)

Despite the current economic crisis, credit unions are doing quite well.  This is perhaps partially due to the fact that many people are less trusting of larger banks after there have been issues with quite a few of them in the past.  However, it can be extremely complicated and very expensive to run a credit union.  First of all, there is a large volume of sensitive information that must be taken care of.  For example, any credit union has the potential to amass a huge amount of paperwork and forms.  One way that credit unions can reduce their overall costs is by making the wise choice to take advantage of purchasing and procurement options in the cloud.  That begs the question, if a credit union can save so much money by turning to purchase to pay services, why isn’t every credit union out there already taking advantage of this option?

The answer may be as simple as that many credit unions are just not aware that cloud-based procurement software exists or that it is truly a proper option for those in credit unions.  More and more credit unions are jumping on board and are beginning the process of upgrading their practices and procedures in order to save money by eliminating heaps of paperwork and printing equipment from their printing budgets.  The following information will explain why those who are in a position that involves making decisions regarding purchasing needs for a credit union can wow their superiors by taking action to cut costs dramatically by taking their purchasing needs into the cloud.

Purchase-to-Pay Services For Credit Unions Eliminate the Need for a Purchasing Department

Many credit unions choose to have a dedicated department that is specifically tasked with purchasing duties.  For a smaller credit union, this job may be assigned to one dedicated individual who is required to take on all inventory and purchasing needs as they arise.  Other small credit unions that cannot afford to hire a specific person to take on inventory and purchasing needs will divvy up the duties between several different individuals or department which can lead to issues like having an excess of some items and a severe shortage of other essential items due to miscommunications between departments.  For example, three different individuals may see that the printers are running low on ink and then each person may place an order for ink for the printers.  On the other hand, no one may notice that the supply of printing paper is running low, thus creating a situation where there is a surplus of ink but nothing to print on.

Cloud-based purchase to pay services and software can make the purchasing and inventory control process for a credit union much easier to manage.  With such a system, any items that are needed are ordered well before they are needed, saving time and money and lessening the amount of headaches overall tremendously.  In addition, no one will be blamed for shortages of supplies, making the workplace happier for all who work there.

August 28, 2012
BY Bellwether
Purchasing in the Cloud: How Does it Relate to the Healthcare Industry? (Part One)

Even in these current troubling economic times, the healthcare industry continues to thrive.  However, health insurance reform and new laws and regulations regarding healthcare have caused hospitals, medical offices and other healthcare institutions to seek out new and innovative ways to reduce costs.  One way that businesses in the healthcare industry can reduce their costs is by taking advantage of purchasing and procurement options in the cloud.  But if businesses involved in the healthcare industry can benefit from utilizing purchase to pay services, why aren’t all hospitals and medical practices using them today?

While the healthcare industry is a field that can benefit extensively from the use of cloud-based procurement software, many health care organizations have been hesitant to upgrade their procedures to utilize this great option.  That is perhaps because the healthcare field is one in which years of experience give a medical professional the opportunity to be promoted to positions of power that involve making important decisions such as how to take care of purchasing needs. 

Purchase-to-Pay Services For Hospitals

For healthcare organizations, purchasing and inventory control needs may be handled by a specific department that is tasked with specific duties.  However, in the case of a hospital, the wide variety of inventory and purchasing needs sometimes leads to the tasks being divided up over several departments, which can lead to miscommunication and having a shortage of some essential items and an excess of others.  For example, the nursing department may order supplies that are essential for them to do their job such as paper forms, medical equipment, medications and more.  The maintenance department may be tasked with ordering cleaning supplies, purchasing cleaning equipment and even purchasing tissues and toilet paper.  The cafeteria department may be required to place orders for food and beverages.  The list truly goes on and on.  However, it is the lack of communication between departments that leads to a breakdown in orders.

With cloud-based purchase to pay software and related services, hospitals can streamline the process so that essential items are ordered in advance of when they are needed and so that there are not multiple orders for the same items coming from different departments.  This can potentially save a hospital a great deal of money as orders that are made in bulk are generally less expensive than smaller orders.  It can also save the hospital staff time as they will no longer be tasked with completing and submitting purchase orders anymore.  Just think of how valuable that will be!  It will allow your nurses to keep their attention on tasks directly related to their job, will allow your receptionists to worry about phone reception rather than purchase orders and will enable your maintenance department to concentrate on issues far more important than ensuring there is enough toilet paper to place several rolls in each bathroom and in every room.

As you can see, procurement to pay services can be tremendously beneficial to hospitals and can help hospital staff to keep their attention focused on the essential functions of their specific positions while purchasing concerns are delegated to a dedicated service in the cloud.

August 21, 2012
BY Bellwether
Purchasing in the Cloud: How Does it Relate to the Legal Industry? (Part Two)

We previously explored how purchasing in the cloud can eliminate your need to have a dedicated department within your legal practice that is tasked with procurement and purchasing services.  In this entry we will explore why cloud-based software is a much better choice for a legal practice than conventional purchasing software.

If you are involved in the legal industry, you likely know quite well the vast amounts of paperwork that permeate every aspect of the legal industry.  Even in the event that your law practice has taken steps to streamline your business and create online databases to eliminate the need for as much paper goods and printing equipment, you still need computing equipment, software, stock, office supplies and a whole host of other items.  If there are ways that you can further streamline the purchase of items and track the inventory as needed, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of them to save yourself both time and money.  Hiring a dedicated individual to complete the necessary research and to purchase items as they are needed is one way to solve the problem.  However, that will require you to take on a new employee and provide them with compensation and perhaps benefits as well. 

2. Cloud-Based Software is a Step Up From Conventional Purchasing Software

If your legal practice already utilizes purchasing software, you may incorrectly assume that cloud based software will not provide you with vastly better results.  Purchasing software is definitely better than using traditional paper methods for your purchase orders and for tracking your inventory, but there are certain caveats with conventional purchasing software that are not present in the cloud.  For example, most conventional purchasing software requires that you install the software on your dedicated business network and that you must then maintain it and update it as needed.  This requires you to enlist the services of an IT professional and if you do not have an IT professional on your team, it means hiring an outside individual or outside business which can be an extremely expensive endeavor.

On the other hand, cloud-based software truly is a step up from conventional software.  Cloud-based software does not need to be installed on your dedicated business network and is instead situated on the server that belongs to the vendor.  All updates are done on the vendor’s end, eliminating the need for you to hire an IT professional for the job.  Furthermore, cloud-based procurement-to-pay software fully automates every aspect of the procurement process.  Ordering, handling transactions, creating graphics such as charts for business presentation – all of these tasks can be performed within the cloud.  That means that the software is essentially a procurement department in and of itself!  Better yet, most purchase-to-pay software enables you to complete transactions using any device that is able to access the Internet; and most purchase-to-pay software is extremely user friendly which means that even a novice can operate it properly. 

As you can see, purchasing in the cloud is an easy way that your law firm can streamline operations so that things run more smoothly and so that you can enjoy better profit margins by decreasing your monthly and yearly expenditures.  You owe it to yourself to learn more about this great way to update your business with the newest developments in cloud-based purchasing software.

August 16, 2012
BY Bellwether
Purchasing in the Cloud: How Does it Relate to the Legal Industry? (Part One)

Purchasing in the cloud is hardly a new concept, but as the years go by more and more industries are beginning to take advantage of procure-to-pay services.  The legal industry is one field that can greatly benefit from using cloud-based procurement software, but many legal practices have not yet updated their procedures to incorporate this novel way to keep track of inventory and place purchase orders as they are needed.  The following information will explain how businesses involved in the legal industry can benefit from utilizing purchase to pay services.

Rather than entrusting the operations of a law practice to one individual, medium and large sized firms may create a procurement department so that there are several individuals available to research items and to purchase them as needed.  However, even in that scenario, your purchasing department is only as good as the individual therein, and if they fail to perform their designated tasks appropriately, the work will fall on your shoulders once more and you may have to dig yourself out of a tight situation if you run out of key items that are essential for the operation of your legal practice.  Purchase-to-pay services are a convenient option that provides law firms with the ability to entrust these duties to a dedicated entity that is designed specifically to complete the tasks that your business requires.  Many legal business owners and attorneys overlook this concept because they incorrectly assume that it just won’t work for a legal practice, or because they think that it does not make sense financially to go outside of the company to obtain this type of services.  That could not be further from the truth!  Let us examine how procurement to pay services in the cloud can save you money:

1. Purchase-to-Pay Services Eliminate Your Need for a Procurement Department

If you are truly committed to streamlining your business and driving down costs so you can turn a larger profit, it may not seem like the best financial decision to go outside of the law firm in order to make your needed purchases.  However, if you use procure to pay software, you will no longer need an entire procurement department and can instead have a specialist who is well trained in the software and who can also dedicate other hours on the clock to other job duties.  You will no longer need to have individuals within a procurement department for communications tasks or administration duties, which as you know can save you a great deal of money.  Plus you will not have to worry about inconsistencies within a procurement department due to the large number of individuals who are involved in each individual transaction or purchase order because you will only need to employ one or two individuals and provide them with the necessary training and education to enable them to use your new software effectively and efficiently.  Just think of all of the other software programs that you will be able to cut out by adding one new type of software to your business?  

August 14, 2012
BY Bellwether
Service vs Manufacturing: How to Apply Cross-Industry Best Practices

It is easy to see how purchasing for both the service industry and the manufacturing industry overlap due to the way both industries overlap as a whole.  That means that there are purchasing best practices that can make things easier for all involved in any such transactions.  Many purchasing professionals incorrectly assume that there is an unbridgeable gap between the purchasing practices that are best for the manufacturing industry and those that are preferred for the service industry.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Cross-industry best practices do exist, and once a purchasing manager knows of them they can be used for great benefits.  Here are some thoughts on how such best practices can be identified and utilized.

Organizations that specialize in manufacturing purchasing generally buy goods but leave the issue of purchasing services to other individuals.  At many businesses, the purchasing department buys all of the products, but then each individual department makes its own purchases for services.  This can have catastrophic consequences if it is not given the proper oversight.  That is because not everyone employed at the business has the necessary training, experience and knowledge to be able to make the best purchasing decisions.  That is why there is a Purchasing Department in the first place!  Purchasers in the service industries sometimes do buy goods, but generally only when they are necessary to achieving the goal of selling services.

So how can the two industries come together?  What are best practices that can be employed both by professionals in the service purchasing industry and professionals in the manufacturing purchasing industry?  The first things to consider are the various similarities between the two industries.  Professionals in both industries need to keep costs low, need to monitor the performance of suppliers and need to maintain good relationships with the suppliers they work with.  That means that any practices that achieve those goals well for one side will likely work just as well for the other.

One manufacturing purchasing practice that is an excellent best practice for service industry purchasing as well is consignment.  Certain types of items can be purchased on consignment rather than purchasing them brand new, which can save companies a tremendous amount of capital, especially when the company is making extremely large purchase orders.  For example, if a large company is going to purchase office supplies or office furniture for a new location that is to be opened, choosing to purchase via consignment is an excellent idea whether the company is a manufacturing business or a service business.

Individuals who work as purchasers in the service industry can keep up to date with trends and best practices in the manufacturing industry by continuing their education.  As in any professional industry, continuing education is essential to staying abreast of the new changes in the industry.  Large businesses may even wish to consider building a library of purchasing books that is updated quarterly and then establishing a professional reading program that requires purchasing managers, buyers and purchasing agents to read at least three new purchasing books every year.

August 9, 2012
BY Bellwether
Purchasing Managers Wear Multiple Hats

The term ‘purchasing manager’ can be difficult to define, because purchasing managers truly do wear multiple hats.  The following is a brief overview of the various types of duties that are traditionally assigned to a purchasing manager, purchasing agent, buyer or purchasing director.  Management duties, procurement duties, contractual duties and analytical duties are explored in length, to show how versatile an individual has to be to have a great level of success while employed in the industry.

Management Duties

At a large business or corporation, the Purchasing Department will generally have its own set of managers and directors who are tasked with directing the department and supervising the employees who work within the department.  Management duties generally include creating and implementing policies, procedures and best practices; managing all resource needs and inventory controls; and planning for future projects and growth.  There will usually be a separate position for a contract manager, but that individual will usually meet with the manager(s) and director(s) whenever it is necessary to negotiate contracts with supply companies.

Purchasing management also involves a great deal of interdepartmental cooperation, because the Purchasing Department is essential in all transactions involving the business and the supply companies that provide the necessary products and services for the business.  It is extremely important that positive relationships with vendors are developed and nurtured in order to obtain the best prices and the best value.  Purchasing management also needs to have a good idea of trends and new technological developments within the purchasing industry as a whole.

Procurement Duties

At a large business or corporation, the Purchasing Department typically contains two different types of purchasing agents: capital purchasing agents and non-capital purchasing agents.  The non-capital agents need to know much about materials acquisition, and also have to have the necessary skill set to make professional judgments regarding bids, quotations and pricing.  They also need to be able to select the right vendors to work with.  Purchasing agents typically receive a request from a specific department and then must find the proper vendor, negotiate a fair price with the vendor, order the necessary goods or services (typically done via a Purchasing Information System), and then keep track of the order until it arrives.  Purchasing agents also need to ensure that all purchase orders and supply requests that other departments present to them are in accordance with all relevant company policies.

Contractual Duties

Purchasing agents also have certain contractual duties.  For example, entering into a contractual agreement with a supplier that is regularly used will generally produce the most favorable prices for essential equipment and supplies.  The negotiation and contract drafting process usually is very time intensive and can be a bit tedious, and sometimes involves the assistance of an attorney.  Some Purchasing Departments have a contract manager who is tasked with all contract negotiations between the company and its suppliers.  The contract manager’s duties do not end once the contract is signed.  The contract manager also has to keep an eye on the transactions to ensure that the supplier continues to comply with the terms of the contract.

Analytical Duties

Analytical duties are an important part of business within a Purchasing Department.  Every Purchasing Department needs at a minimum one expert who can analyze all of the data for all transactions that take place on a daily, monthly, quarterly and yearly basis.  That individual may also be tasked with creating metrics and scorecards for review.  This individual will also work closely with other departments and point out any errors, discrepancies or concerns; and likely will help out in creating a budget and reviewing all business conducted by the Purchasing Department.

August 7, 2012
BY Bellwether
Purchasing Manager Job Outlook and Projections

Those who are wishing to enter the job market as a purchasing agent or purchasing manager will be glad to know that the job outlook for purchasing agents is far more favorable than the national average, both when percentages and growth projections are examined.  Recent projections indicate that the number of individuals employed as purchasing agents, purchasing managers and buyers will grow as much as seven percent in the upcoming eight years.  This is due to the large number of companies that are scaling up the size of their existing purchasing departments as the local and national markets continue to give way to the rapidly expanding global marketplace.

While computers and the internet may have made it easier for purchasing departments to do their job by streamlining the actual purchasing process and creating easier access to product suppliers and manufacturers globally, the Internet has caused purchasing departments to need to take on additional responsibilities such as making computer-related purchases for equipment, hardware and software.  In addition, international consumers are now able to utilize the Internet to buy goods that were previously unavailable to those within specific geographic locations.  New EDI capabilities within wholesale, retail and manufacturing businesses are also responsible for the creation of additional jobs.

One purchasing industry that may not see as high growth and thus may not have as sunny of a job outlook is the retail purchasing industry.  This is because of the effect of mergers and acquisitions.  Even for the farm and agriculture product purchasing industries, while there may be more positions, technology will continue to create more automation for certain jobs and others will likely be outsourced, which will greatly limit job growth.


The industry does not look so bad for the purchasing industry, as detailed above.  Projections indicate that there will be many more positions created for those who wish to work as a purchasing manager, purchasing agent or buyer.  If you are already working within the industry, this means that you can enjoy a reasonable level of comfort regarding your job security that others in different industries may not be able to have.

If you are to be graduating college soon with a business degree, an economics degree or an engineering degree, you will be glad to know that job prospects look pretty good for those in your position.  Here are a few statistics you can consider if you need more specific information regarding your likelihood of landing a job fresh out of college:

  • It is projected that the number of jobs for purchasing agents, purchasing managers and buyers will rise by about 38,500 jobs to a grand total of 565,900 jobs in the industry by the year 2018.


  • It is projected that the number of purchasing managers will rise by about 1,200 positions to a total of 71,400 jobs in the industry by the year 2018.


  • Projections also indicate that positions for purchasing agents and buyers will rise by as much as 37,400 jobs to a total of 494,500 jobs in the industry by the year 2018.
August 2, 2012
BY Bellwether

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