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A typical purchasing process comprises tasks such as acknowledging purchase orders, sharing shipment notices, and making payments to suppliers. While they may appear straightforward on the surface, the underlying workflows that go into making the tasks possible are quite complex and require extensive due diligence. Such workflows include comparing multiple suppliers and their pricing models and contract terms, all the while ensuring compliance with organizational, and sometimes regulatory, requirements.
Relying on manual methods to handle these tasks and workflows can make it tough to track their progress. Further, the turnaround time and the possibility of errors also increase.
A software tool brings all tasks and workflows onto the same platform, thereby consolidating the whole purchasing process. In addition to solving the challenges of using manual methods, most of the process gets automated.
This buyers guide explains about such tools, known as purchasing software, and highlights the basic aspects to know while exploring the market for one.
Here is what we’ll cover:
Purchasing software is a tool used by businesses to manage and automate the merchandise acquisition process. The tool streamlines the purchasing process, increases visibility, and helps manage contracts and documents and make informed purchasing decisions.
Purchasing software shouldn’t be confused with procurement software. Procurement is a wider, more strategic process, whereas purchasing focuses solely on merchandise acquisition.
You’ll need to understand the deployment options available before selecting a purchasing system for your business. Here are the two main types of deployments:
Cloud-based deployment: Vendors host cloud-based software on their own or third-party servers. They also take care of maintenance and support for these solutions. Users can access these solutions through any computer or mobile device connected to the internet. Cloud-based solutions usually have a subscription-based pricing model, paid annually or monthly.
On-premise deployment: Businesses host on-premise software on their own servers and handle maintenance, support, updates, and data storage themselves. Users can access these solutions through applications installed on their computers. The pricing model of these solutions is usually a one-time per-user license fee.
Key question to ask cloud-based (SaaS) vendors: What security measures do you have in place to safeguard against cyberattacks?
Key question to ask on-premise solution vendors: What is the typical deployment time for the software? Are there any additional costs besides the licensing fee?
Understanding some common features of purchasing software will help you in shortlisting products that meet your requirements. Here are the common features of purchasing software:
Inventory management: Automate inventory management by tracking inventory levels, sales, deliveries, and orders. Create work orders, bills of material, and production-related documents.
Inventory dashboard in Zoho Inventory
Compliance management: Comply with regulations by matching invoices, purchase orders, and order receipts. Make sure department budgets and additional expenses are duly approved.
Documentation sample in Athennian
Invoice processing: Automate scanning invoices and digitally populating invoice data. Track invoice status, automate approvals, manage payments, and stay on top of your expenses with detailed reports.
Invoice manager InvoiceASAP
Contract management: Automate auditing and version control of contracts. Manage the entire contract lifecycle, from drafting, negotiations, signing, and expiration to renewals.
Contract management in Icertis
Key question to ask a vendor before you buy: Is there a limit to the number of users that can access the software? Does the software have a native mobile app?
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context, and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations, obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.