Optimize your workflow with procurement automation - By Heidi Humphries, DSSI LLC

Whether it's process optimization or minimizing spend, procurement leaders have traditionally under-prioritized indirect materials in favor of direct materials. This is primarily due to the overall impact on the budget as well as the complexity in the buying process and supply chain of indirect materials. While taking the time to truly optimize a business's indirect materials procurement workflow can have a big payoff, it can require an organizational shift in thinking. Procurement professionals must be open to new solutions and technological tools that can streamline workflows and manage the entire process, giving them the information they need to be analytical.

For businesses to overcome the hurdles presented by a manual procurement process and fully realize the opportunities for cost savings and improved operational efficiency, they need an automated procurement system. With intelligent automation, the right procurement software can deliver a distinct advantage by integrating process optimization, strategic sourcing, and spend and supply chain management tools into your procurement department. This enables you to streamline and automate your workflows while discovering hidden cost-savings opportunities in your indirect materials spend.

What is procurement automation?

Traditionally, a manual procurement process is time-consuming, labor-intensive and does not lend itself well to minimize expenses, increase efficiency and evaluate vendor performance. This is especially difficult when spend is spread across a diverse supplier network and indirect procurement is not managed at an item level. Not only does this impact operational efficiency, but without a centralized procurement department or platform, businesses can also wind up purchasing duplicate products from disconnected departments.

A procurement process automation solution is a software tool designed to optimize the entire process. When you work with DSSI, we start by benchmarking your current spend information to see opportunities for cost-savings. Then, you can use our Dynamic Procurement tool to receive your benchmarked results and see exactly how much you could be saving when you work with us.

When it comes time to purchase, we manage an extensive catalog of items from trusted suppliers and negotiate pricing on behalf of our large client base to ensure that you receive high-quality products at a consistently competitive price. As a single vendor managing numerous sub-suppliers, DSSI also consolidates all of your purchases from each provider into a single invoice, automating your workflow and increasing accounts payable efficiency.

Regardless of the industry, the indirect procurement function plays a vital role in every business. Automating procurement processes not only makes this more efficient and cost-effective, but it also frees up time for the procurement team to focus on more critical tasks that require a human being's complex problem-solving skills.

The challenges of manual procurement

In a competitive landscape that is rapidly turning to digital solutions, maintaining an advantage over competitors requires businesses to leverage every tool at their disposal. Despite this, many companies continue to rely on the manual process of paper-based procurement workflows. However, before a business can utilize automated procurement to build value and strengthen its bottom line, it's important to understand the three primary challenges associated with traditional procurement processes.

  • Lack of spend visibility: Indirect spend visibility is often opaque due to fragmented vendor networks and disconnected departments. Procurement staff need to be able to monitor the entire process of indirect procurement to optimize it and identify opportunities to save money.
  • Inefficiency and errors: Manual procurement is a tedious process with little consistency in the buying process. This leads to inefficient time usage, increased overhead costs and complicated invoices – all of which result in errors and wasted time.
  • Sourcing and supplier relationship issues: Typically, procurement organization is reserved for direct materials vendors, meaning they're prioritized for things like customer service and strategic sourcing. Companies are missing out on cost-saving opportunities by not focusing on building strong relationships with their indirect suppliers.

Should your business automate its procurement workflow?

While every business is different, they all want to boost operational efficiency while minimizing costs in indirect procurement. Procurement automation software provides you with the powerful and immediate benefit of indirect procurement optimization throughout the entire procure-to-pay process. It helps reduce human error and leverages category management combined with advanced analytics to identify strategic sourcing options in compliance with your organization's rules, policies and financial parameters.

The best processes for procurement automation

To take full advantage of your procurement platform, there are a few processes that are ideal for automation.
Benchmarking spend info: With Dynamic Procurement, it’s easy to upload your existing indirect spend information and receive insights on where your organization could be saving money. We also provide a comprehensive catalog of strategically sourced items at consistent prices to help you find everything you need.
Maintaining records: For historical and compliance reasons, it's critical to keep accurate records. This traditionally paper-based method is prone to errors and files can easily go missing. An automated procurement tool solves these issues and boosts operational efficiency with a centralized database for financial reporting.
Managing invoices: A diverse supplier base can help businesses find the best costs, but manually managing multiple invoices can be a daunting task. Procurement software can automate this process and consolidate suppliers into a single invoice for each payment term, reducing the manual workload of setting up and paying suppliers.

The benefits of procurement automation

Procurement automation can deliver a competitive edge to any company, regardless of the industry. With an automation software solution, businesses can streamline and optimize all aspects of indirect procurement, significantly improving the efficiency of their procurement process while minimizing costs. Here are just a few ways procurement automation can benefit your business:

High-quality products
Customers are often used to buying certain products from specific manufacturers. However, when these items are no longer available, it can be difficult to find equivalent alternatives. Whether your favorite product was discontinued or disappeared due to supply chain disruptions, DSSI has extensive knowledge of buyers and supply bases and a vast inventory of quality products to help you find the perfect replacement.
Improving visibility for spend management
Visibility into spend history is essential to properly manage procurement processes, including things like purchase order history, supplier quotes, contracts and more. Procurement automation solutions provide a consolidated view of historical expenses to help procurement leaders drive informed decisions.
Promoting a better supplier relationship
Building a strong relationship based on transparent communication with your supplier base is critical to supplier relationship management and prospering as a business. Procurement automation platforms make it easy to track purchase orders in real-time, facilitating accurate communications between buyers and suppliers. It also enables procurement professionals to evaluate individual suppliers based on performance, ensuring optimal costs for your business.
Centralizing data for contract management
When dealing with multiple suppliers, it can be difficult to manage all of the contracts, even when the terms and conditions remain the same. Procurement automation software centralizes all of your procurement and contract data. These solutions make it fast and convenient to find the data you need, onboard new suppliers and ensure compliance with critical guidelines across your contracts.
Boosting operational efficiency and productivity
Automating procurement processes means reducing the time and money spent on repetitive and redundant manual tasks. When employees are freed from these functions, they have more time to focus on higher-value tasks and strategic initiatives. On top of increasing operational efficiency, procurement automation software also makes it easy to access necessary information from a centralized data repository. This data can then be used to drive decisions that focus on improving overall productivity.

Automate your workflow with Dynamic Procurement from DSSI

Intelligent automation software, like Dynamic Procurement from DSSI, can help you optimize your entire procurement workflow process from beginning to end. From strategic implementation through optimal execution, DSSI can help you automate your procurement process, saving your business time and money while significantly increasing operational efficiency.

With Dynamic Procurement, users receive expert category management for strategic sourcing and supplier relationship management, supply base consolidation to identify the optimal sources for each product, and cutting-edge analytics powered by advanced business and artificial intelligence for increased spend visibility. DSSI also offers access to Epic, a convenient and centralized eProcurement platform with a strategically sourced and continually managed catalog customized to your business's needs.

Want to learn more about what DSSI and Dynamic Procurement can do for your business? Download our eBook here.