In the procurement world, speed is of the essence and more so as companies grow and must juggle an ever-growing network of suppliers and contracts.
Procurement issues range from spend compliance to visibility of supplier turnaround of goods and services, and like so much else in the B2B world, technology can be a salve to pain points in the process.
PYMNTS recently spoke with Derrick Graham, the product manager for eProcurement and mobility at SciQuest. The firm just announced new features tied to its spend automation suite, with an eye toward data analytics and mobile capabilities.
In the latest version of the software, dubbed 15.3, SciQuest has noted that a number of typical procurement steps are streamlined, which in turn helps the cash cycle. Among other features, the company unveiled new enhancements to Total Contract Manager, which allows users to create and update supplier contracts with a range of pre-authorized clauses and templates in order to hasten the time to acceptance and approval. In addition, there is a supplier management module, which allows for better tracking of activity across the supply chain.
“What I’ve seen from my own personal experience is that the functionality of procurement is good when it's capturing things like office supplies and traditional spend across a catalog,” Graham told PYMNTS. “But it’s nontraditional spend that does not get the same focus — say, when you are negotiating service rates or speaking engagements or an event for an office where you are dealing with ordering entertainment, food and a speaker.”
With such “nontraditional” procurement, said Graham, the newest iteration of SciQuest’s software offers up what the executive termed a “wizard-like” experience to navigate ordering and tracking details across spend, referring to the software interface that takes users through step-by-step processes via dialogue boxes. In the case of the SciQuest processes, continued Graham, the graphical step-by-step popups help populate parts of an order, hypothetically speaking, that could run the gamut from pizza to speakers' fees to booking a hall.
Such relatively easy-to-use procurement technology extends well across mobile, continued Graham. SciQuest’s app, with the introduction of its mobile app, shares the same functionality and graphics as those seen in the desktop version. “Our app is tablet-friendly and operates across Wi-Fi, “said Graham, “with the ability for customers to keep better informed on cycle time.” They can be primed for mobile alerts via their devices, requests for procurement and the approval of those requests; notifications come via messaging, and even ringtones, to help keep information flowing (and acknowledged) in real time.
Graham said that the movement to mobile has been informed by some important feedback from customers. SciQuest, the executive said, found that some clients had shown “some hesitancy” toward taking the procurement process to the mobile arena, and in response, the company now will offer the option to choose from three “pre-configured” dashboards to track procurement, whereas previously dashboards were completely customizable (that option still stands, too, said Graham).
Graham noted that in reference to payments themselves across businesses and suppliers, the trend has been moving away from traditional P-cards and toward “ghost” cards, wherein vendors have a standing relationship with companies, with payment information on file and the ability to capture rebates early and often.