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Overcoming Procurement Challenges: How B2B Saas Can Streamline and Automate the Procurement Process

Updated: Apr 8

For B2B organizations, managing the procurement process presents unique hurdles compared to business-to-consumer operations. With complex supply chains, diverse vendor networks, and multilayered compliance requirements, procuring goods and services is often a manual-intensive process that suffers from a lack of complete visibility into data. However, cloud-based procurement software is emerging as an effective solution for modernizing procurement and supply chain management.

Leading SaaS providers like Automation Anywhere are helping companies digitally transform procurement through configurable automation platforms. By eliminating manual tasks and aggregating disparate supply chain data, these new procurement tools empower procurement teams with the real-time insights needed to maximize operational efficiency, manage strategic vendors, and maintain regulatory compliance across business units.

Common B2B Procurement Challenges

Marketing organizations face unique challenges depending on their industry. For example:

  • Manufacturing companies struggle with siloed supplier data across plant locations, making it difficult to accurately track component quality. Order management and inventory control are highly paper-based, undermining productivity.

  • Retailers lack end-to-end visibility into supplier order fulfillment timelines and changes. They have poor demand forecasting abilities due to inability to aggregate spend analytics.

  • Healthcare procurement teams have difficulty centrally managing medical equipment suppliers. As a result, the procurement lacks consolidated records management for regulatory compliance.

  • Logistics providers grapple with low load tracking visibility and manual invoice auditing. Their providers audit freight invoices through intensive paperwork without analytics.

These pain points often stem from reliance on manual processes and lack of a centralized system as the followings:

  1. Limited Visibility into Spend Data: Without a centralized system to track all vendor interactions and expenditures across the enterprise, procurement leaders have limited insight into true supply chain costs and activity. Resources are spent repeatedly requesting itemized invoices and purchase orders from departments when compiling spend data for analysis.

  2. Manual, Time-Intensive Tasks: Core procurement responsibilities like sourcing new vendors, administering contracts and purchase orders, and supplier performance management require too much manual labor. RFP processes, vendor onboarding, approvals, and renewals are slow and inefficient without built-in workflow automation.

  3. Compliance & Supplier Management Difficulties: Juggling supplier audits, insurance documentation, shipping logs, certificates, and other compliance materials without a centralized repository results in organizational risk. Maintaining ongoing supplier performance tracking and corrective actions is laborious without systematized processes.

  4. Inability to Negotiate Strategically: It’s challenging to identify savings opportunities or renegotiate contracts proactively without a consolidated view of all facets of procurement spending, vendor contracts, product categories, and more. Leverage over suppliers is harder to achieve reactively versus proactively.

These limitations translate to procurement inefficiencies, higher than necessary supply chain costs, compliance exposure, and inability to optimize vendor relationships strategically. Implementing procurement automation addresses all of these challenges.

Automating Procurement with SaaS Implementation

Procurement is ripe territory for cloud-based automation given the diversity and volume of manual tasks required. Leading SaaS providers have developed configuration-driven platforms that unify supplier and spend data while streamlining routine procurement processes. Supplementing manual workflows with configurable automation brings welcome relief for procurement teams.

Automation Anywhere’s procurement platform exemplifies next-generation SaaS designed from the ground up for procurement digital transformation. With pre-built modules and configurations tailored to strategic sourcing, contract management, invoice processing and more, the solution enables organizations to efficiently digitize end-to-end procurement. Configurable rule-based workflow automation streamlines requisitioning, purchase order approval routing, data entry, reporting and more. Automation Anywhere also provides an open architecture to integrate additional systems as required.

With Automation Anywhere, procurement operations gain the following capabilities:

Centralized Supplier & Spend Data Visibility The procurement hub aggregates vendor profiles, product catalogs, contracts, invoices and other procurement information for unified visibility. Automatic classification and tagging ensures granular supplier insights.

Configurable Procurement Workflow Automation

Drag-and-drop workflow design simplifies customizing purchase order creation, contracts routing, sourcing, invoice coding and other semi-repetitive tasks. Automate error-prone manual steps.

  • Multi-dimensional Spend Analytics: Dashboard and analytics capabilities provide insight by supplier, material category, department spend trends and other key dimensions for strategic planning.

  • Intelligent Document Management: An OCR equipped document vault handles POs, invoices and other unstructured paperwork with search, auto-tagging and retrieval.

  • Flexible Integration Options: Integrate ERP, CRM and other line-of-business systems using native connectors or via REST APIs for a complete procurement ecosystem.

These capabilities equip procurement leaders with unprecedented operational control, data-driven decision making tools, and the ability to shift focus from rote tasks to higher value strategic initiatives. By automating manual processes and aggregating procurement data, B2B SaaS like Automation Anywhere enables procurement teams to function as consultative partners across the enterprise in driving optimal spend outcomes.

Use Case: Streamlining PO Cycle Times

 As an example, many manufacturers grapple with inefficient paper-based purchase order cycles that undermine productivity. A leading auto parts manufacturer utilized Automation Anywhere to automate PO data capture, route multi-step approval processes, and integrate with SAP and Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Previously relying on faxes and manual data entry, decentralized plant purchasing departments created redundant entries and delays as administrators manually entered POs. Overall, the procurement automation delivered:

  • Near real-time visibility into spending activity and supplier performance metrics

  • Configurable multi-step approval routing integrated with ERP and CRM

  • Automated data capture and classification from invoices and packing slips

Purchasing teams regained more than half their time to focus on strategic sourcing. Supplier satisfaction improved through faster order processing and fulfillment response. With total visibility, procurement could negotiate better terms based on specific category spend. Overall procurement productivity increased dramatically through intelligent automation of a core manual process.

While traditional systems remain crucial for transactional procurement tasks, augmenting those systems with intelligent process automation accelerates core procurement operations in ways not previously possible. For strategic procurement shops tackling complexity, uncertainty, and the need to compress cycles times, a progressive approach to tools like Automation Anywhere offers clear advantages.

With mature, scalable SaaS like Automation Anywhere, procurement can overcome common challenges through strategic and targeted digitization of core functions. Progressive implementation supports procurement’s vital role as a strategic business partner.

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