ERP systems are intended to be a platform for supporting the full range of an organisation’s business processes. Running your business on the same platform and adopting the vendor’s modules for each business process leads to better integration and synergy. Or so the theory goes.
However, in our experience, when monitoring, managing and shaping procurement processes, there are clear benefits to choosing specialist procurement software to work in tandem with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions.
A targeted, tailor-made solution
Procurement is only a small part of an ERP system’s overall functionality. As such, many of its nuances are often missing from ERP systems, so insight is limited. Specialist procurement software, built by procurement experts, is tailored to ensure end-to-end and in-depth monitoring and management. Effective eProcurement adoption requires flexibility – combining both control and enablement to help users benefit. Simply enforcing a restrictive – and often inappropriate – process or tools leads to frustration and inefficiency.
User-friendly and flexible
In order for ERP systems to be used productively, staff members require a great deal of training. This is clearly impractical in a fast-paced, demanding environment. With specialist procurement software, however, the user interface is intuitive, enabling shorter periods of familiarisation. Furthermore, comprehensive procurement software suites offer front-end configurability, unlike the more rigid ERP, and so provide valuable elbow room for the end user.
Procurement software enables deeper insight by providing a comprehensive, accurate and centralised view of the supply base. This enables procurement executives to see the whole picture and make informed, timely choices.
Bespoke procurement software ensures that data and process models are customised for each organisation ensuring better quality, accurate data. ERP, on the other hand, uses limited, set data models which will not be a comfortable fit for every company.
Speed and responsiveness
For quicker, more responsive solutions, specialist procurement software wins easily over procurement ERP which can take an inordinate length of time (months or years). Moreover, users can make changes themselves instead of submitting a request to IT reducing waiting time to days rather than weeks.
Lower cost and support overhead
Procurement software doesn’t require the number of resources as ERP in order to operate and can be learned faster, leading to significant cost-savings.
Working with external parties
Being internally focused, ERP systems tend to tread gingerly when interacting with external parties, such as suppliers. In particular, their security is entirely focused on transactions within the organisation. Suppliers therefore have very limited access to the system; typically, they can only submit documents online, and any data entry is done on the buyer side leading to extra work, the possibility of error and incomplete data capture. Procurement software is more balanced, enabling smoother collaboration between internal and external parties and giving suppliers greater access.