This is a tough question, but SI knows one feature that’s almost always overlooked:
Order Automation Integration
A good e-Procurement Solution will contain, or integrate with, a good invoice automation solution because the average organization takes at least 16.3 days to process an invoice and spends somewhere between $30 and $40 on that invoice, if everything is A-OK with the invoice. If it’s not, the invoice could take months to get processed and the processing could well exceed $200. Furthermore, manual data entry of (e-) paper invoices can account for as much as 75% of overhead in an Accounts Payable department, and if the organization gets hundreds of thousands, or millions, of invoices a year, less than 10% will get any reasonable level of review or validation. (For a deeper insight into the value of invoice automation, download SI’s recent white paper, sponsored by Nipendo, on An End-to-End Invoice Automation Framework: Benefits & Best Practices, registration required.)
You’ve got your invoices under control, and this is good. But where are these invoices coming from? Your suppliers. And why are they coming from these suppliers? Because you’re issuing your suppliers hundreds of thousands, or millions, of purchase orders a year. Hundreds of thousands, or millions, of purchase orders that these suppliers have to get, process, and push into their fulfillment systems in order to fulfill the orders for you.
If you need these invoices received, acknowledged, processed, and fulfilled quickly, then the supplier has to be able to get these orders into their system quickly. And if you happen to be sending a supplier 20,000 purchase orders a day, because you’re a retail or restaurant chain with that many locations that needs product refilled on a daily basis due to space constraints and freshness requirements, you need to know that if an order is sent 30 minutes before the cut off, it’s going to be processed when it gets to the supplier.
The only way the supplier that is getting tens of thousands of purchase orders a day is going to be able to process and acknowledge the order as soon as it is received is if the order is in a file format compatible with their order automation system and is picked up by the order automation system as soon as the order is received.
This indicates that a key requirement of a good e-Procurement solution is support for the file formats used by the popular order automation systems and support for the protocols used by the popular order automation systems to transport the invoices and accept the acknowledgement, or error messages, that then need to be appropriately handled by the e-Procurement system.
Supplier Portal, Supplier Network, and e-mail delivery of orders only works if you are delivering a small number of orders to a set of suppliers without order automation who have a few days, or more, to process the orders — not a few hours.