Procurement intake is typically the first interaction a stakeholder has with Procurement in your organization. If the intake process is confusing, opaque, and slow, it is difficult to undo that bad first impression. They may then try to circumvent Procurement, increasing maverick spend, reducing spend under management, and blunting Procurement’s impact.
To avoid such problems, intake processes should be quick and straightforward for both Procurement and its internal customers. Automating your intake flow can turn a cumbersome and time-consuming process into an efficient, streamlined operation. In this blog post, we’ll be discussing what an intake process is, the benefits of automating the process, and a step-by-step guide to transforming a difficult process people are obligated to follow into something easy that people will want to follow.
What is a Procurement Intake Process?
Procurement intake is the process by which an organization manages a new purchase request. It begins with an employee raising their hand and saying, “I need to buy something.” It could be something inexpensive or something complex, even within a single category. For example, “I need to get across town for a meeting” and “I need to arrange for the entire global sales team to get to an offsite in Fiji” would both fall under “travel”, though they differ radically in complexity and cost.
A huge part of the intake process is directing the requester down the right path for the specific product or service. To get across town you might want to automatically direct the requester to a car service they can book with their corporate card, and for the offsite in Fiji there would probably be addition information gathering, approvals, and a formal quoting process using a preferred travel agency.
Digitizing this process can help streamline the entire operation. It eliminates frustration by right-sizing the process to the purchase. It also reduces manual labor and reduces errors due to manual data entry.
Step-by-Step Guide to Digitizing Procurement Intake
When digitizing your purchase intake process, there are several steps you should follow in order to maximize efficiency and accuracy. First, create an automated workflow that will move each request through its respective stages quickly and easily. This can include setting up reminders for team members regarding approvals or deadlines for fulfillment. Additionally, you should set up templates for all the information required at each step of the approval and execution process. Then, create a standard and easy way for requesters to submit that information so that other stakeholders in the process don’t have to search through multiple emails or documents to find what they need. Finally, ensure seamless handoff at each stage of the process – from initial submission to review to approval to quoting to execution and fulfillment.
1. Automate the process
Automating your purchase request flow will also allow you to reduce costs associated with manual labor such as data entry or paperwork processing. Additionally, automation will increase accuracy by eliminating errors caused by manual entry or miscommunication between team members. Furthermore, automation allows you to move requests along more quickly since there is less reliance on manual processes like emailing back and forth or waiting on signatures from vendors or other team members.
2. Make it easy to submit and track a request
People outside of Procurement won’t interact with Procurement systems frequently. You can’t ask them to remember every step of the process – you need to make it so simple that it’s impossible to get it wrong. The best way to that is to make sure they have access to the intake process from the systems they use every day: team chat, email, an intranet page, etc.
It’s also important to make sure your team knows where they can get any questions answered about their requests or any other related topics quickly and easily. By creating a centralized platform where team members can ask questions or provide updates on their requests without having to search through multiple emails or documents, you’ll be able to save time and keep everyone informed at all times about any changes in the status of their requests.
3. Ensure seamless handoff from step to step
Any procurement intake solution should also help ensure a seamless handoff between teams, departments and vendors throughout the entire process. Intake should automatically hand off to approvers if needed, then hand off to Procurement, then automatically roll into RFX/punchout/etc. as appropriate, then hand off to vendor intake, contract, and so on until the whole process is complete.
If your digitization efforts require offline work or swivel-chair integrations at any point in the chain it will negatively affect user adoption and acceptance.
Benefits of Digitizing Procurement Intake
Digitizing the procurement intake process can help ensure that all relevant information is collected on time and that any required approvals are obtained quickly, minimizing delays or disruptions to the request flow.
Having automated reminders and alerts in place natively to notify team members when requests are coming due or when invoices need to be paid, you can help ensure that everyone is on the same page as to what needs to happen at each step.
Overall, automating your purchase intake flow will save you time and money by streamlining processes and eliminating manual labor associated with data entry.
Automating your purchase intake process offers numerous advantages over traditional methods including cost savings due to reduced manpower needed on administrative tasks; quicker response times; improved accuracy due to fewer chances of human error; increased visibility into what stage each intake request is at; centralizing communication within teams; promoting preferred vendors who may offer better prices than competitors; and saving time overall when fulfilling orders quickly without sacrificing quality or service levels expected by customers purchasing products from them directly online or through third parties such as Amazon Marketplace sellers etc.
These are just a few of the many ways that businesses can use automation technology to efficiently automate their entire procurement process while providing excellent customer service at every step.
If your team isn’t taking advantage of intake automation yet, now is the time to start! Make intake management a priority and you’ll quickly see how it makes you an invaluable asset to your business’ success.
To find out why Gartner’s most recent Procurement Hype Cycle report named Vendorful as a Sample Vendor for Intake Management, book a meeting with us today!