In our previous post, we covered how the way in which companies manage the exchange of information with their supply chain has evolved over the last few years, from one-to-one communication to the current B2B networks, that allow millions of companies to interact with each other following the model of social networks.
For the last few years, the technology has given a boost to electronic commerce, and within this framework we have witnessed the parallel development of multiple tools for supply and supply chain management. In this post, we are going to focus on the features we should look for when choosing one of these tools.
What should we look for in a tool that helps us manage the supply chain?
In the market we can find different suites and platforms to manage and optimize the procurement processes. There are three main capabilities that these tools must support to be competitive in today’s digital supply chain transformation framework:
- Electronic purchases and access to Marketplaces. These solutions should make purchasing tasks easier for employees by accessing catalogues and creating Marketplaces, as well as allowing the exchange with suppliers of purchase orders and other documents in electronic format.
- Allow the receipt of electronic invoices. The benefits of electronic invoicing are maximized when the transmission, receipt and processing of electronic invoices is fully automated.
- Automation of the Accounts Payable process. Achieving shorter invoice processing times and paying suppliers earlier can be achieved through technologies that help automate and simplify invoice verification and approval processes by reducing manual work.
Beyond these basic capabilities, there are several additional features that will serve as differentiators when selecting a tool:
- Access to a B2B network. The emergence and development of B2B networks in recent years has led to a revolution by transferring the social network model to supply chain management. Buyers will have access to a global network of suppliers while suppliers will have a platform to give visibility to their products and access new customers. Tradeshift or Ariba are two examples of highly developed B2B networks.
- Ease of adoption. The adoption of new solutions in the supply chain can end in failure if the employees themselves resist using them or do not know how to do it. The fact that providers have to pay a fee to access and use B2B networks to send invoices to their customers, as is the case with some of the B2B networks, can be an issue. Success is in adoption, so the best tool will be the one that is used.
- Suppliers can access relevant information. Related to the previous point, it is interesting to offer an information point to your suppliers about the status of their invoices, which will reduce the number of queries that employees must attend.
- Compliance. Regulatory compliance, both in the field of tax obligations and electronic invoicing, are fundamental aspects that we must take into account when selecting a tool, and more so in a global market.
- AI and machine learning. The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning is important when it comes to reducing manual work, relieving employees of tasks with little added value.
- Scalability. When selecting a tool, it is interesting to choose one that has the capacity to grow as the company grows, and that also incorporates new technologies and solutions without this entailing embarking on tedious upgrade projects.
If you are looking for a tool to help you manage your procurement process, and your supply chain, we would be happy to help you take the decision for the best solution.