Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

4 Ways Cloud-Based Procurement Processes Help SMBs Compete

Angela Wilson
Senior Solutions Architect, CSS
This is a syndicated post, view the original post here

While large companies with procurement departments often have the personnel and resources to negotiate significant savings and better terms, small and medium businesses (SMBs) typically don’t. The good news is that the digital era has created new opportunities for medium businesses to improve their procurement practices and outcomes, especially with cloud-based processes.

There are very different business requirements for how small and medium businesses (SMBs) source goods and services. Using modern cloud procurement solutions is the best way today to meet these requirements,” according to Angela Wilson, senior systems architect with CSS, a systems integrator that helps companies create supplier management and logistics programs. With the right tools, companies can realize a number of advantages.

Oracle’s recent ebook “A Guide to Developing a Responsive, Cloud-Based Procurement Process,” highlights some of the critical benefits of a cloud procurement process.

Sourcing: Finding the right provider for the job and getting the best price can mean time-consuming research. Strategic cloud sourcing can save time and money. By having all of the information about past engagements and pricing in an easy-to-access format, your team can speed up awards and get projects moving faster.

In some cases, suppliers need additional vetting, such as for highly regulated industries or to ensure proper credentials for a job. Cloud-based qualification management systems can deliver a list of appropriate suppliers in far less time than other systems. Such systems can alert you to potential issues and key deadlines, helping ensure that the right supplier is chosen for the job.

In addition, building an effective supplier portal into your system shifts onboarding responsibilities to the supplier, which can eliminate bottlenecks and free up your time for more valuable work. Such portals often become much-needed, automated transaction centers, allowing transmission of documents, estimates, contracts, and other communication directly through the portal.

Contract management: Once a supplier has been located, the work isn’t over. Contract review can cause delays and add on additional costs. By using cloud-based tools to streamline contract management, standardize contract creation, create a language clause library, and adopt other useful practices, you can cut time and expense out of your contract management process.

Why is automating and streamlining supplier contract management so important? Procurement delays equate to missed deadlines, rush fees, and—in the worst-case scenario—an inability to complete critical tasks or fulfill order components. Inefficient approaches can be costly and damage supplier relations through delays and misunderstandings. Having a streamlined, cloud-based system goes a long way toward solving these challenges. Often, Wilson says, companies that rely on these systems develop stronger, more collaborative relationship with vendors because the emphasis shifts from transactional to true partnership.

Strategic spending: One misconception about cloud-based systems is that they’re too complex or expensive for SMBs. Wilson says that CSS, using solutions like Oracle Procurement Cloud, can create nimble systems that are built as needed. Your midsize company can start with a solution that targets your most immediate procurement issues, then adds modules to address others as the company needs them.

As the cloud-based procurement process becomes a part of your company’s operations, one of the key benefits is the power of data. Analytics allow your team to spot spending patterns, budget overages, savings opportunities, and other important, big-picture spending factors. These insights and others support you in developing more strategic approaches to spending.

Employee engagement: Employees also benefit from these Procurement Cloud systems. Self-service procurement allows your procurement team (or person) to access what is needed when it is needed without going through lengthy approval processes for every purchase. Of course, you set the parameters, but if a team member needs, for example, a new chair or printer, they can order it directly without delay. As more employees work from mobile devices, ensuring mobile enablement for purchases and approvals is also important. Such autonomy has been shown to improve employee engagement.

Clearly, the benefits of cloud-based procurement systems can be significant for small and medium organizations. Wilson explains more in a recent interview about how her firm helps companies adopt effective cloud-based procurement systems.

To learn more about the benefits of cloud-based procurement processes and how they can benefit your business, download Oracle's new ebook, A Guide to Developing a Responsive, Cloud-Based Procurement Process.



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