Digital tools have become essential in procurement. They offer businesses and organisations the opportunity to lower spend, simplify processes, improve data accuracy, source goods or services more globally, standardise workflows and, generally, operate better.
However, investing in digital procurement tools is a procurement decision in itself, so how do you choose the right tool?
Analyse your requirements
You can’t invest in the right tool if you don’t already know where you are. A detailed analysis of your current systems will help you spot risks and gaps in them. Note that there may be deeper issues in a department or organisation that the tool could mask when you start using it. Make sure you understand which processes tools can benefit and how.
Read testimonials and case studies
A website or social media account tells you a lot about a company and their tools, but it’s important to see what the end users have to say about their experiences with them. Happy clients are often willing to provide testimonials and in many cases, you’ll find them on the company’s website.
Case studies are another powerful tool that companies use to build trust with potential clients and show them the value of different elements of their offering. Just like testimonials, you can often find these on the company website. If not, simply ask, and the company is likely to be able to supply you with relevant case studies.
Make sure the tool is easy to use
Normally, transactions are straightforward when you’re working with suppliers and know what you want. If you want to involve others in the process, things can get complicated. They might not know as much about procurement as you, so you need a tool that is easy to use, will guide them through purchases and keep purchases in line with policies.
Ensure you can track spending and approval
In procurement, you have to track spending and budgets, and report on them. Look for tools that give you real-time spending oversight, allow you to follow team and project budgets, and make it possible to compare spending with previous periods.
Remember the chain of responsibility for money spent. Your tool should include rules about who spends what, what they buy and the process for authorisation. This will lessen business risk within the organisation.
Ask for demos
You need to verify that the tool will function as promised, so ask for a demo. Advise the tool provider of the challenges you’re facing and your requirements so they can show you how it will conquer them for you. The demo will display the tool in action and give you a chance to see its different features and how it works, and assess whether it will be a good fit for your organisation and its projects. You can also compare it against current software and processes.
If, after a demo, you’re still unsure, don’t commit. Keep looking. You may even hire the services of a digital procurement consultancy directly and let them take care of all the analysis for you.