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Automated Purchasing Process: How to Get Started

It wasn’t that long ago when most forms of automation were only accessible to very large companies. But thanks to all the rapid advances in technology that have brought costs down over the years, businesses of all sizes can benefit from automation. One area where automation can be very helpful for small to medium businesses is with purchasing. Specifically, a more automated purchasing process can help take a business to a new level of efficiency. Not only will this help save time for everyone who is involved, but it’s also a proven way to help keep costs at an optimal level.

How can a business start transitioning towards an automated purchasing process? That’s exactly what we’re going to answer in this post, so be sure to keep reading:

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August 21, 2015
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BY Bellwether
What Trends Will Shape Procurement This Year?

Although we’ve all settled into 2015, there’s still quite a ways to go before we reach 2016. Since there is a lot that can happen between now and the end of the year, many procurement professionals are looking at different trends which are expected to shape the landscape of procurement this year. If you’re curious about which factors may have the biggest impact on your profession, we’ve pulled together a list of trends that you should know about:

A Focus On Organizational Alignment

More companies are realizing that organizational alignment is an important part of staying ahead of the curve. Because many companies are looking for ways to create greater synergy among departments, it’s important for procurement to get on board with this change. That can mean having more direct communication with departments like IT or marketing. While it can take some time to adjust to this change, procurement departments that embrace this idea will actually stand to gain a lot.

Shifts in Inventory Strategies

Shrinking product life cycles and supply chain simplification are just a few examples of things that are driving the need for procurement to take a more holistic approach to managing inventory. As a result of this changing tide, it will be important for procurement departments to keep their eye on ways to accomplish goals like serving multiple channels with a single pool of inventory.

Managing Performance in Real-Time

Purchasing software is having a big impact on the way that procurement processes are carried out. One example of the impact of purchasing software is that more things are being done in real-time. Another impact is that lots of data is being collected. While most companies have no shortage of data available to analyze, translating that data into actionable information can be a challenge. Procurement departments that are able to figure out how to properly harness different types of data will have a significant competitive advantage.

The Influence of Emerging and International Markets

Apple recently announced that iPhone sales in China beat the United States for the first time. Not only are established international markets like China influencing what’s happening throughout procurement departments, but emerging markets like Latin America are also having a noticeable impact. Since these changing markets are impacting everything from logistics to pricing, it’s important for procurement departments to be on the lookout for new opportunities.

Building Stronger Relationships with Suppliers

Many businesses are really emphasizing the importance of building long-term relationships with suppliers. While that doesn’t mean procurement departments should avoid negotiating, it does mean that purchasing managers should look for ways to engage in win-win negotiations. By taking the initiative to really strengthen these relationships, procurement departments will be in the best position to weather any changing circumstances that may come up down the line.

Bellwether Purchasing Software offers a suite of resources for all of your purchasing department tasks. Contact us today to learn more.

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May 12, 2015
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BY Bellwether
Common Procurement Mistakes to Avoid

Running a successful procurement department isn’t something that generally happens overnight. In order to get this department to an optimal position, it’s important for there to be clear goals in place. In addition to setting clear goals for what the department should focus on achieving, it’s also important for everyone who works in procurement to be aware of common mistakes. By knowing what’s most likely to go wrong, every member of the team can keep an eye out for procurement mistakes and correct them if they ever come up.

Since we are in a position that allows us to speak with purchasing managers and other procurement professionals on a regular basis, we want to share the most common mistakes that have been brought up to us:

Rushed Buying

This mistake is especially common in new businesses. And even if a business is established, it can still happen if the procurement department has just gotten up and running. The most common reason that rushed buying happens is because a company or its procurement department feels like they need to get everything ordered as soon as possible. While securing what’s needed in a timely manner is important, that doesn’t mean the procurement process should be thrown into overdrive. By focusing on a striking a balance between thoroughness and promptness, procurement departments can do an optimal job.

Not Being Flexible with Plans

It’s definitely good for procurement departments to have plans in place. Not only can this keep things moving along, but it’s also a great way to avoid common obstacles. While there are clear benefits to planning, that doesn’t mean members of a procurement department should be tied to a plan forever. Since conditions can change, it’s important to review plans on a regular basis. By making reviews part of a team’s culture, the department won’t have to worry about getting stuck in any negative patterns.

Failing to Negotiate

Although we’ve already talked about negotiating on the blog, it’s a topic that’s worth bringing up again. Even though most procurement departments are conditioned to look for deals, far too many completely overlook the possibility of negotiating. Simply put, as long as it’s done in a reasonable manner, there’s no reason that purchasing managers shouldn’t negotiate.

Making Major Decisions in Isolation

One of the roles of a procurement department is to keep things moving along smoothly for the entire company. While it doesn’t make sense to seek input for every purchase, there are times when the department should loop others into the conversation prior to making a final decision. By opening up the lines of communication, a procurement department can avoid the wasted time and resources that go along with making an incorrect decision that then needs to be corrected.

Contact Bellwether Purchasing Software today to learn more about our purchasing software and how we can help you avoid these costly mistakes.

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May 12, 2015
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BY Bellwether
What’s the Biggest Negotiation Mistake Procurement Departments Make?

We’ve recently written about the fact that many purchasing managers don’t negotiate at all when they speak with suppliers. We have also gone over some of the strategies that purchasing managers can use to successfully negotiate with suppliers. While this has allowed us to cover many of the best practice for procurement negotiations, there’s still another topic that we want to touch on.

Although many procurement departments don’t negotiate, there are those that make negotiations a standard component of how they run. However, just because a procurement department has a standard process for negotiating doesn’t mean that they’re doing things in an optimal way. Forbes recently covered a common mistake that’s made by procurement departments in the logistics space and other industries.

Not Knowing When to Give a Little

The negotiation mistake that the Forbes article addressed was procurement departments getting too aggressive with their terms and conditions. Specifically, this is an issue that has started to become quite widespread over the last few years. The problem with this trend is instead of using the industry standards that have been in place for a long time, companies are making the decision to come up with their own rules and contract terms. By doing this, they end up putting an unreasonable amount of risk on their service providers and carriers.

So, what happens when procurement departments put themselves in this position? Although they may be operating under the belief that they’re in control, the reality is that taking an overly aggressively stance can negatively impact the leverage that a purchasing manager has during the course of negotiations. Once a supplier realizes that they’re dealing with a department that has unreasonable demands, they’re going to be far less motivated to make the deal work than if they only had to meet in the middle on more reasonable terms.

How to Remedy This Problem

Since this trend has become a noticeable issue, many companies are looking for ways to remedy it. The good news is there are several steps that can be taken to get negotiations on the right track. The first is to hire and train the right candidates. By ensuring that purchasing managers understand the optimal approach to negotiating and have the skills to carry out this process, aggressive tendencies can be eliminated.

The other step that companies should take is ensuring they cultivate a culture that’s focused on a long-term vision. While it is true that really squeezing the terms of a deal can seem like a win, any gain is only temporary. If a company wants to build a mutually beneficial relationship that will help it thrive over the long-term, this is a mission that needs to be shared with everyone in the company.

Let Bellwether Purchasing Software help your company improve supplier neogtiations with our flexible and comprehensive purchasing software. Contact us today to see why Bellwether Purchase Software is the software to choose.

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May 12, 2015
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BY Bellwether
Should Your Purchasing Department Automate Its Invoice Processing?

While there’s no denying the fact that technology is now everywhere, that doesn’t mean it always lives up to its promises. Most businesses have gone through the process of getting excited about a specific piece of technology, only to have it fall short of the claims it makes. Because this can cause a business to invest time and resources into a solution that ultimately ends up not working out, plenty of businesses have a healthy dose of skepticism about adopting any new types of technology.

Although this outlook on things is completely understandable, it’s important for businesses to maintain the right perspective about technology. Despite some bumps along the way, that simple reality is that modern business is driven by advances in technology. Since technology is the best way for businesses to save time and money, businesses that constantly adopt the right solutions are able to gain a significant advantage over their competitors.

If you want to ensure that your business stays at the forefront of its industry instead of being at risk of falling behind, it’s important to be open to utilizing technology solutions with a track record of saving time and money. One solution that falls squarely into this category is to have your purchasing department automate. Even though it wasn’t that long ago when businesses had no choice but to manually process purchasing orders, that’s no longer the case.

And given the fact that manual processing has significant costs and resource requirements associated with it, this is something that businesses should automate as soon as possible. If your business understands the savings benefits associated with this form of processing but is concerned that implementing this type of system is going to be a major undertaking, you’ll be happy to know that Bellwether Purchasing Software offers a simple but powerful solution.

The Ideal Automation Solution for Small Business and Mid Market Purchasing Managers

The reason that Bellwether Purchasing Software has such a good track record is because it was specifically designed with small business and mid market purchasing managers in mind. Since it was built to make it possible to easily automate purchasing processes and eliminate paper, it has all the necessary features without any unneeded bloat.

Because our software was built with user friendliness in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it is incredibly easy to get up and running. Thanks to its availability as a secure SaaS solution, purchasing managers can fully use Bellwether Purchasing Software without needing to pull IT away from their other responsibilities.

Requisitioning, approval processes, PO generation, receiving, inventory, invoice matching and reporting are all features of our purchasing software. So if you’re ready to enjoy all the benefits of upgrading purchase order processing from a manual process to an automated one, contact us today.

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May 11, 2015
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BY Bellwether
Mobile Stats Purchasing Managers Need to Know About

One of the many features that Bellwether Purchasing Software offers is the ability to approve requisitions and purchase orders from anywhere. As long as you have access to email or a web browser, you can complete this task. A big part of why this flexibility is good news for purchasing managers and others involved in the purchasing process is modern workflows continue to become more mobile.

A simple way to understand why mobile is having such a big impact on how people work is to look at existing consumer behavior. Since most people consistently use their phone from when they get up until they go to sleep, it’s easy to see how this behavior carries over into the workplace. The fact that the average person has their phone within reach for 14 hours a day is why Apple and other technology companies are betting so big on wearable devices like watches.

Understanding Just How Big Mobile Has Become

Although you can see mobile devices anywhere that you go, it’s still easy to forget just how much of a societal shift that these phones have caused. The best way to put the full impact of mobile into perspective is to dig into the numbers.

Currently, 378,000 iPhones are sold a day, while only 371,000 babies are born on a daily basis. The incredible popularity of the iPhone and other smartphones is why more people on earth own a mobile phone than do a toothbrush. It’s also why projections point towards the presence of 10 billion mobile connected devices by 2017.

Shopping is one of the behaviors that consumers regularly rely on their mobile device to do. Not only do 80% of consumers use their smartphone to shop, but 56% believe their mobile devices make shopping more enjoyable. And what may come as the biggest surprise is a full 25% of consumers do all of their online shopping via a mobile device.

Since these stats put into perspective just how big mobile has become, it’s easy to see why failing to embrace this trend would be a mistake for a business. But by making the transition to a more mobile workflow, businesses can ensure that their best practices don’t fall out of step with what’s happening around them.

Mobile Provides An Advantage in Both B2B and B2C

Regardless of the specific industry you’re in, your personal productivity will benefit from being empowered through mobile. Not only will mobile provide you with flexibility and the ability to stay on top of your work, but it will also benefit anyone who works with you. So if you want to feel more in control of your daily processes and less stressed out by your responsibilities as a purchasing manager, Bellwether Purchasing Software features like mobile accessibility will greatly benefit you. Contact us today to learn more.

 

April 23, 2015
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BY Bellwether
Can Your Company Benefit from a Procurement Approval System?

Whether you’re a purchasing manager or an employee from another department, if you’re looking at Bellwether Purchasing Software, you may have already spent enough time reading about this product to know that it’s going to improve your efficiency and productivity. However, before you can start reaping all the benefits that our Purchase Manager Software has to offer, you may need to make a case about how your company can benefit from a procurement approval system.

Since Bellwether Purchasing Software is committed to reducing stress and increasing productivity, we thought it would be helpful to put together a post that explains exactly how a company can benefit from a procurement approval system. Once you finish reading this post, feel free to use as much of it as you need to build a compelling case for how your company will benefit from utilizing Bellwether Purchase Manager Software.

Putting the Role of Procurement Into Perspective

In order to properly demonstrate the benefits of a procurement approval system, it’s important to put this practice in the right context. While procurement has evolved over time, its core is still tied to keeping purchasing costs low and ensuring that inventory remains properly stocked.

While those tasks may seem fairly straightforward, if you take a step back and look at them, it becomes clear that they impact many areas of a business. From ensuring that margins are strong to enabling a business to properly service its customers, a lot of what a business does relies on procurement.

The Benefits of a Procurement Approval System

Now that we’ve clarified why procurement is so important to a business, it’s time to explain exactly how a procurement approval system will benefit a company. Because this type of system guides the entire procurement process, it covers requisition, approval, purchase and receipt of goods.

The first reason this type of system is beneficial is because it ensures business is only done with approved suppliers. Second, it requires a valid purchase in order to obtain goods or services. Third, this type of system encourages supplier competition, which in turn can lead to more favorable pricing.

Fourth, information like confidential procurement practices are properly safeguarded. And finally, a procurement approval system not only minimizes conflicts of interest, but also provides a system for dealing with any that arise. Because a procurement approval system has so much to offer a company, the only question left to answer is how to best implement one.

The Best Way to Implement a Procurement Approval System

Utilizing Bellwether Purchasing Software is the best way to implement this type of system. Not only does our purchasing software suite make it possible to easily automate purchasing processes and eliminate paper, but it works without requiring any IT support. And because Bellwether Purchasing Software has numerous other features that make it possible to save time, it’s simply the best way to start using a procurement approval system. Contact us today to learn more.

April 22, 2015
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BY Bellwether
How to Decide on Purchasing Software for Your Business

When it comes to selecting a purchasing software program to help improve purchasing in your company there are several things to consider in your decision-making process. Purchasing software is one of the best investments you make in managing your business, cash flow, and purchasing activities. However, how much benefit you will receive and the ease of attaining those benefits depends on the type of software program that you have chosen. To ensure you don’t end up making the wrong choices, put the following factors into consideration and you will decide on the right software. You must always have the right picture of why you want to have such a software program in place for your business. You should not make the purchase and installation without a clear mind on what you expect at the end of the day.

People purchase software for different reasons, but it is important to take this decision seriously and give it the consideration necessary. Ideally, it must help address some of the recurring issues you are facing with purchasing and other supply or inventory related functions. List some of the main challenges that you expect the purchasing software to address in your company and that will be the starting point for your search, providing the necessary guidelines. After that, it will be good to come up with a workable budget as per the amount of money you have available to invest in new software. Look at the actual cost of the software and any subsequent costs related to installation or purchase of accompanying hardware. Getting rough estimates of that will give you an idea of the type of budget to draw up.

In the market, you will come across different companies selling different software programs. Consider several different ones and then narrow down to one that you will purchase. Look at the features of each software, its pros and cons to make sure your final choice is an informed one. Don’t fall for the first software that you come across without exploring several options across the market. Features of specific software will be the key to helping you decide on the best one. Make sure you put more emphasis on that whenever you are looking for the best purchasing software in the market.
Always ensure you have factored in the input of employees who will be using the software on a daily basis. They are the ones who understand the exact needs of the company and bypassing them would be a bad choice to make. They must be part of the software purchasing process and their input must be treated with importance. It will not be a bad idea to seek referrals from close friends or business associates you can trust on the best service provider to offer you a quality, effective and reliable software. This will be well complemented by making a detailed market research of the many purchasing software programs available.

You should buy purchasing software only after you are well aware of what you are embarking on and the reasons for doing that. Consider aspects like available budget, where to buy and who to involve in the whole process. That is the only sure way of buying purchasing software that best suits your company or business needs.

March 25, 2015
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BY Bellwether
Advantages of Cloud Based Purchase Order Software

Most of the small and medium enterprises are now turning their attention to cloud based purchase order software programs. This is one of the ways to maintain a growing business, especially now that modern technology has become an essential part of nearly every business worldwide. You don’t want to be left behind and converting to this type of software will be a big step in the right direction. But you don’t want to jump on board just because everyone is doing it. What are the benefits of this software program to your business? The main concept of cloud computing is to allow a company to gain access to any software or server from any internet connected device – your office computer, laptop, tablet or even your phone. That is generally a key motivation for businesses to utilize cloud based software programs.

Services available over the internet are typically sold on a subscription basis so it will be upon you to choose the best one. Reduced upfront cost is a great reason why cloud based software is such an affordable option for smaller businesses. The subscription fee typically covers all ongoing costs including software updates and happen in the background on the server without having to involve your business or interrupt your operations.

Cloud based purchase order software allows you to track your cash flow effectively so that you don’t end up paying your suppliers more than you owe them. Businesses that do this manually get tripped up with errors and losses through irregular payments, but that is no longer a concern with such a software program. It will let you know if there are any fiscal commitments that are pending thus making accountability easy. Cases of the company losing cash through procurement will be effectively dealt with once you have installed cloud based purchase order software to your company.

The fact that your suppliers will be paid on time without any delays is an added advantage coming with this software. It is possible to set reminders which ensure you don’t miss due dates on any outstanding debts. Having a reputation for on time payment can make negotiations easier. There is enhanced accuracy and lowered errors when making purchase orders with a cloud based software program. The software makes any updates to invoices and purchase orders automatically which eliminates chances of errors occurring. You will find this software very useful in case your employees frequently make such mistakes either deliberately or not. Whether its supplier details, inventory records or accounting details; all that will be updated in an accurate manner using this software program.

The speed at which purchase orders are done increases once your company is using a cloud based software program. The system has the ability of integrating all processes involved in making a purchase order saving you sizeable amount of time that could be consumed when doing it physically. You just require a single click and the purchase order will be sent to the supplier. With the internet, you can send the order through an e-mail and the feedback is always prompt. You have a reason and half to get cloud based purchase order software for your business.

Cloud based purchase order software programs have numerous benefits that will push you into having one for your business. They improve speed for sending purchase orders, improve accuracy and offer cash flow control among other benefits. Consider Bellwether Purchasing Software: for all your purchasing needs.

March 17, 2015
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BY Bellwether
Considerations when Choosing Procurement Management Software

Procurement management software will help a business take care of any risks associated with purchase as well as suppliers. The procurement chain is usually subjected to many dangers that can result in heavy losses but you will be well protected with a software program. Since there are many programs in the market today, you should be extra careful on how you make your choices not to end up frustrated. The following tips will be helpful once considered. You must first have a good understanding of the diverse procurement management tools existing in the market. These will be helpful in collecting data about certain procurements, manage the workflow, manage the performance of suppliers as well as take care of the risks that might come up.

For the procurement software that you are considering make sure to look at the version that is currently in the market and when it was released. You should go for the latest release because it has all the advanced features and its effectiveness will be unmatched. You will only have yourself to blame in case the version you have selected has expired features and cannot help in streamlining your company procurement. Even though it’s impossible to have any software that is entirely free from viral attacks; that should be a key consideration when making purchases. It should have high resistance to such attacks through active scanning and elimination of detected bugs.

You must consider the analytical prowess of the procurement management software you buy because you are well aware that procurement responsibilities are many at your company. The software should be in a position of handling all the information collected from the supplier and that will help in making good decisions for the sake of the company. Don’t just choose a program because you have come across it or your competitor has one. There are several other tools and hardware that your software program will require in working effectively. You have to ensure the software you have purchased for your procurement management is compatible with all your other systems. It should never work as a lone-ranger but in tandem with other related tools.

The software program should also not experience problems working with your computer system. The reputation of your procurement management software program matters a lot and must be among the considerations you make during purchase. Is it suitable for performing as you expect? Is it reliable enough? Those are the queries you must seek answers to in determining its reputation. The company that manufactures the software must as well have the best reputation including good market presence and enough experience. Never gamble around with such a vital decision that will have great impact to your company’s procurement process. Contact us at Bellwether Purchasing Software today for your free live demo.

The procurement management software program you end up choosing for your business should be the right one and not one that which will give you problems. It should be reliable, effective and of good market reputation for a guarantee that it is well suited. Don’t just choose any PO software you come across without proper considerations.

February 27, 2015
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BY Bellwether

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