What to look for in an eProcurement platform?
- Work with a supplier that is trustworthy and reputable.
Suppliers source products and services for you so that you can receive a competitive price and excellent quality. While many suppliers have great software, what is often lacking is an ability to actually procure the products that you buy. Before making a commitment to a platform, you must inquire about any limitations with their ability to source your products. Make sure your eProcurement platform is not just great at the “e”… they must also be experts at the “procurement” side as well.
- Have a dedicated representative
Make sure you have a dedicated representative to call if something goes wrong in the system or you don’t receive your order. An eProcurment platform makes the purchasing process easier. However, if something goes wrong, you’ll need to contact customer service. Many times this customer service function is outsourced to a third party or improperly managed, which can cause nightmares for orders that didn’t go as you intended. But, if there is a dedicated person on staff to answer questions and solve any potential problems, you’re time-savings will remain intact.
- Evaluate time savings vs. hard-costs
When implementing an eProcurement platform, the order process should streamline purchases and reduce the amount of time staff dedicates to procurement. This is the biggest factor to consider when implementing an eProcurement platform. So make sure your supplier provides detailed training on how to use the system so that you can be efficient when you order. If you are, you could see savings of 60% or more in time spent.
- Software Flexibility
Look for flexibility in your platform. Your supplier should allow you to add customized products and services that are vital for your practice. If you can’t, then you will likely be forced back into using multiple vendors and systems as your practice needs change. If they do, then you know they are able to go the extra mile to source what you need and ensure you are getting the best deal possible.
What to do after implementation?
- Commit to the system
Let’s face it… new systems bring resentment with some factions in any organization. Not everyone understands the reasons why a new system is implemented, and they don’t need to. They just need to understand that what is good for the practice as a whole, is good for them as well, “it keeps the lights on,” as they say. Implement the system and ensure that it is properly communicated… that this system will save everyone time and reduce errors, so that they can focus on what they do best – their role at the practice.
- Commit to training
Anyone that orders products for the practice in some fashion should have a voice in the products that go into the eProcurement platform. But, they should also be trained on how to use the system efficiently. Luckily, we live in an era where most people understand how to navigate and use a website, so front-end ordering should be straightforward. However, it’s vital that everyone understands the inevitable uniqueness that each system provides so that ordering is fast, efficient, and accurate.
- Create an error plan
Errors are going to happen, whether it is an employee’s fault or the eProcurment provider’s fault. Create a document that clearly communicates the procedures on what to do when something goes wrong. This should include who to contact internally and externally to ensure the problem is rectified. Once the problem is resolved, in our experience, it’s also a good idea to have a procedure that documents how and why the problem occurred, to make sure similar mistakes are avoided in the future. If necessary, update the error plan document if anything has changed… such as a new rep or internal procedure.
- Evaluate success metrics often
No single platform will fill every need of your organization, but many will fill most. Make sure your eProcurement platform is keeping up with the needs of your organization. Do this by running reports on system usage, cost-savings, and time-savings. Remember that in the long-run an eProcurement platform will likely save your practice time and money if properly implemented and evaluated.