Controlling your spend, staying on budget, increasing profits, decreasing costs, reducing waste, maintaining compliance, and helping employees be more efficient and effective—a tall order indeed. Yet each day, finance leadership and often chief procurement officers are tasked with seeking new ways to improve all company processes and systems in an effort to meet these objectives, while staying one step ahead of competitors.
These responsibilities are compounded by the fact that all C-level executives know that nothing lasts forever. In spite of the current economic stability, the fact remains that it is not a matter of if an economic downturn is coming, it’s a matter of when it is coming. To mitigate the negative impacts of the forthcoming downturn, strategic financial and procurement leaders are refusing to rest on their laurels and are instead proactively planning for the next downturn now.
That’s why these CFOs, CPOS, and heads of procurement—in entertainment, beverage manufacturing, rental car companies, chemical companies, assisted living facilities, service delivery companies, film industry, amusement parks, facilities management companies, and more—are making the move to a digital approach. They are investing in modern and mobile procurement platforms now to ensure success throughout an uncertain future.
How digitizing procurement helps you control your spend
Investing in new technology comes with challenging change management and risk in existing business processes and specific business commerce. However, the best time to take on these challenges is when the economy is strong and profits are high. Today, in the current climate of economic and business growth, financial and procurement decision makers have the resources and time to successfully transition from manual and disconnected paper-based processes to more fully digital business processes. As a finance and procurement organization moves to digital, they can expect cost savings to compound for themselves and their suppliers—resulting in improved pricing and greater discounts.
Businesses of all sizes are investing in digitizing their business processes such as purchasing, invoice processing and payment. The cost savings realized through digital not only increase profits today but makes companies better prepared for the next economic downturn.
Digital catalogs, supplier marketplaces, electronic POs, and electronic invoices provide a business commerce platform that improves payment timing and reduces overall costs. Additionally, digital payment systems that help finance leaders move away from check payments also add to overall digital business commerce benefits. This transition includes business systems that go mobile with today’s employees. Mobile is where business is done today and business applications that can go mobile drive higher adoption, greater compliance, and ultimately, greater savings.
Consider that the move to a mobile platform provides immediate visibility and control of corporate spend for company leaders who conduct business away from their desks. By switching to a mobile procurement application, CPOs and CFOs have up-to-the-minute access to corporate spend, from literally anywhere in the world, allowing you to stay on budget by offering pre-spend approvals in real time. (For younger companies and startups, going mobile now enables you to manage spend from your earliest days.)
This 24/7 visibility and accessibility from any mobile device aids in ensuring compliance, reduces redundancies in terms of tracking purchases, and ensures that receipt of goods can be easily matched to electronic invoices. In other words, moving to a modern, mobile platform provides better management of your cash flow because each dollar spent is tracked in a single platform.
By switching to a mobile-first procurement application now, you’ll be prepared to act immediately when a downturn hits. From any mobile device, employees can purchase what they need and approve spend and resulting invoices. Behind the scenes, the business application enables finance and procurement and allows executives to adjust workflow and budget approval controls instantly. This can slow spend, provide more careful budget monitoring, and lead to reducing spend. The finance and procurement groups can use a digital procurement and invoice system to adjust different aspects of the system to optimize or even reduce use of existing budgets. Strategies include recategorizing purchases, switching to lower-cost suppliers, real-time adjustment of business rules related to cost controls, and ensuring alignment of spend with profit goals (regardless of how deep the downturn goes). This ability to adjust quickly provides a more nimble financial controls environment and helps you stay ahead of your competitors.
Mobile procurement for time, money, and resource savings
Transitioning to a digitized, mobile, procure-to-pay platform is accomplished through an easy-to-implement extension of your company’s financial system, and immediately reduces waste of your most valuable resources. Specifically, company CFOs and accounting executives can expect savings virtually overnight by adopting a modern and mobile, paperless, procure-to-pay system. Invoices, purchase orders, and payments are digitized, resulting in a true three-way auto-matching system. When finance and procurement work together and leverage a digital platform that employees enjoy using, they lower costs—through the efficiencies of aligned and connected electronic invoices, pre-spend-approved digital requisitions and resulting POs, and electronic goods and services receipt documentation. This means that the hours required to process invoices shrink substantially, and much of this operational platform processes touchless in the background.
When the next downturn hits, CFOs who utilize a mobile purchasing platform will be able to immediately change the timing of payments to align with new budgets and overall corporate spend so as to mitigate cash-flow issues before they occur.
How does digitizing procurement benefit employees?
A modern and mobile procurement system allows employees to shop for goods and services from pre-sourced and pre-approved vendors while they are at work, the same way they shop for personal items at home, but with a system designed to maintain the appropriate business controls. Deploying digital catalogs managed by suppliers allows employees to make purchase requisitions from mobile devices and leverage a business rule–driven workflow, designed for both visibility and pre-spend approval.
Rather than purchasing from multiple sources, employees have a single platform for buying from all approved suppliers. By being strategic and onboarding all the pre-approved vendors into a private business marketplace, employees can find what they need while maintaining business-purchase policies. Additionally, a mobile procurement and e-invoice platform allows employees to secure approval from anywhere, not just from a desktop application—allowing the business to move faster and reducing the time wasted in paper-based processes. Real-time posting to your financial system also makes visible all liabilities immediately, improving employees’ ability to leverage their budgets at the right time for the right purchases.
Employees find that the ability to place orders from a phone or tablet makes them both more effective and more efficient while also ensuring that they remain in compliance. With more control of their spend when the economy slows, employees will also be able to adjust rapidly. From adapting to a modified budget to having immediate access to backup or secondary suppliers, the digital platform empowers employees, enabling them to proactively adapt to a downturn rather than scrambling to react to a slowing market.
The future of procurement is here and it is modern and mobile
As part of your strategy for continuing to increase profits while cutting costs, even during a downturn, C-level executives should begin the process of streamlining procurement by transitioning to a modern and mobile platform. Immediate results to expect include greater control of your spend, pre-spend approval capabilities, reduction of wasted accounting resources (through paperless ordering, PO matching, invoicing, and payments), and increased employee efficiencies.
When the economy slows, you’ll find yourself in a stronger position to immediately adapt, thanks to the complete visibility provided by a mobile procurement platform, which enables you to adjust workflow, budget, and even suppliers from your fingertips, whether you’re in the office, at a conference, or anywhere in between.
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