b-Pack: Packing It In for A Brave New World, Part III

Two weeks ago, in Part I, we told you how b-pack, hot on the heels of Ivalua, had decided to cross the Atlantic and join in the conquest to bring the bohemian revolution to the world of Procurement and P2P with their extensive solution suite that actually closes the P2P loop. Then, last week in Part II, we expounded on a few additional capabilities, which are relatively unique in the marketplace, that extended the basic value offering beyond what a standard P2P application delivers. Today, we’re going to dive into a few more value-adds, some of which are also relatively unique in the marketplace. But first, a recap of the story to date.

In Part I we described the base b-pack platform that takes you from the start of a traditional sourcing cycle (RFx), through a contract, to a requisition (which may be from a catalog), against a budget, to receipt of the goods (which can include asset tracking information), and the invoice, to payment, reporting, and supplier management. We dove into the basic P2P cycle and covered the requisition, approval, receipt, invoice, matching, payment, and reporting cycle in detail as well as the solution delivery options that are available to you.

Then, in Part II we detailed some of the integrated applications that build out the core capabilities to also provide the organization with expense and travel management, asset management, dispute resolution, and procurement business intelligence reporting.

Today, we’re going to address inventory management and its integration with asset management, budget management, fleet management, and internationalization. Then, in the fourth and final post of this initial series, we’ll tackle some of the advanced invoice management and viewing capabilities, document management, administration, and the supplier portal.

Inventory management, which is tightly integrated with asset management, allows you to track not only how much product you have at each (warehouse) location, but where the product is stored. The tool can handle multiple locations, which can each belong to a different (management) company, multiple rooms at each location, and assign multiple departments, managers, and clerks to each room. In addition to tracking the products (and counts) in each room, it can also track all of the inventory moves associated with each product into, within, and out of the warehouse. Like any good inventory management system, it allows for the creation of manual and automatic replenishment orders, which generate purchase orders against existing contracts and which are pushed through the appropriate approval channels if desired. The replenishment workflow is detailed and allows for multiple states, including fill, approval, standby, warehouse, in order, received, and shelved (put away) states. Finally, in addition to the basic inventory, asset, budget, and catalogue information, the user can also define custom fields, notes, and documents to track against each item.

Budget management is very powerful and allows the user to define budgets at the invoicing company, department, or user level and assign them to a manager and a chief. Each budget can be assigned a budget code, a group code, and a cost centre for accounting purposes and the administrator can define individual purchase authorizations, monthly purchase authorizations, and / or annual purchase authorizations. Approvals can be against global budget amounts, monthly budget amounts, individual purchase amounts, or always and automatic rejection rules can be defined for requests that are obviously unreasonable against the budget. Finally, budgets can be rolled up for reporting purposes.

Fleet management, their newest module, was built at the request of a customer who wanted a way to track their fleet vehicles in a manner that was tightly integrated with asset management and invoice management (to insure that vehicles were properly tracked, serviced, and that payments were at contracted rates). It lets you quickly retrieve vehicle records, fuel utilization statistics, and maintenance contracts and allows you do define alerts based on (fixed) budget utilization, kilometres, taxes, department utilization, preventative maintenance rules, and suspect expenses (with respect to predefined rules). It comes with a number of built-in reports, including total vehicles by type (gas, diesel, hybrid, electric), owned vs. leased summary, manufacturers and lessors, and make and is integrated into their global reporting engine that allows you to create your own reports. For each vehicle, it tracks the original order information, unique asset ID, VIN, type, category (sedan, SUV, truck, etc.), manufacturer, manufacturing location, make, description, grey card info, kilometrages, financing information, insurance information, fuel consumption, service history, maintenance schedule, trip history, and costs per kilometer as well as the division, department, and manager it is assigned to — and every field is searchable to allow you to quickly find the record(s) of interest. The detail of information that is tracked allows for a very deep analysis which will not only tell you which vehicles are the most expensive to operate, but why (fuel, insurance, service, etc.). This will allow you to make much better fleet decisions in the future.

With respect to internationalization, not only is the product multi-lingual and multi-currency, but the tool includes an integrated translation feature that allows text to be translated, automatically, between English, French, and a few other European languages. The buyer can define which currencies are supported, which countries they are supported for, the display properties, associated tax rates (at the country and state level), the conversion rates, and the (auto) update rules (when and from what data source).

In summary, b-pack provides a comprehensive P2P e-Procurement solution that also includes some very useful capabilities above and beyond the basic procurement cycle requirements that can provide significant additional value to many buying organizations, including the inventory management, budget management, and fleet management capabilities described in this post.

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