How e-procurement can reduce your print buying time by 30% (and be fair to suppliers too)

I love choosing my books on Amazon.  I find it really easy to find new authors.  I get suggestions when I look at a title.  And I can a whole list of recommendations by choosing a category and sorting by highly recommended books.  It’s a whole lot quicker than going to a bookshop and browsing randomly along the shelves.

Amazon is a great example of using efficient e-procurement.  And, these days, e-procurement is something that print buyers need to be open to.

What is e-procurement?

Print buying e-procurement

Print buying can be much more efficient if you do it witht eh click of a mouse

E-procurement is using technology to make your buying more automated.  This means that the buying process is faster and more efficient.  And that print buyers have more time to spend on other projects.

Print buyers who use e-procurement have much greater control over their print buying.  This is because e-procurement gives them much more information.  They also have better relationships with their print suppliers.  This is because the suppliers do not have to turn round lots of quotes manually.  E-procurement is also a much faster process.  So print buyers can achieve much more in their working day.

Print buyers who don’t use e-procurement waste lots of time

This is because they are using lengthy manual quoting processes.  And they are waiting for their print suppliers to come back with prices.  Those print suppliers are often fed up with having to produce endless numbers of quotes.

And never ask a print buyer who does not use e-procurement for any management information.  They will struggle to put together any meaningful information because there is no central database for their work.

Of course many print buyers do not use e-procurement because they are suspicious of it.  And the most common objection is to do with e-auctions.

E-procurement means running e-auctions, doesn’t it?

E-procurement need have nothing to do with e-auctions.  E-auctions are often not the most effective way to run print purchasing.  E-procurement is all about using technology to make your chosen method of print buying more efficient.

There are now a number of specialist e-procurement print buying systems available.  They bring e-procurement to the print buyer.  Here are three ways in which these systems can help to you.

1) E-procurement reduces quoting time

In some instances quotes can be instant.  Some print buying systems have price matrices   for common products.  And some advanced systems even hold much more detailed information about the printer’s pricing.  This allows them to create instant prices for most specifications.

Even systems that don’t have instant pricing still speed up  communications.  They also create many of the e-mails involved in quoting automatically.

2)  E-procurement achieves excellent reporting

Print buying systems keep a record of everything that is quoted and bought.  And it is very easy to create reports from this data.  This means that buyers have immediate access to important information such as:

  • Spends with suppliers and how they change
  • Spends per product type
  • Spend per person
  • Numbers of quotes and jobs carried out

3)  E-procurement makes everyone accountable

If you have a team of buyers, a print buying system lets you know exactly what they have been up to.  It is possible to check which suppliers they are using.  And to benchmark the amount of work that teams members are carrying out.

These are just some of the advantages that come from a print buying e-procurement system.

Let’s look at a print buying system in action

One of my clients uses a web-based e-procurement system.  (So they have no complicated software issues.)  They were initially unsure about using a system like this.  But now they love it.

One worry from the client was that their quotes would be going out to printers that they didn’t know.  But they have a system where only approved suppliers can quote on their jobs.  The jobs are sent out from a quote form.  This means that reprints and similar specifications can be sent out with virtually no work.

The printers have entered their pricing automatically on the system.  This means that quotes are generated instantaneously.  And there is no input required from the printer.  This makes quoting more efficient and less time consuming for everyone.

Reporting is efficient.  And it is much more comprehensive that could have been managed manually.  It allows the client to monitor supplier and spend on a real time basis.

As a result of using the system, the team have coped with a 30% increase in jobs.  And they haven’t had to recruit extra members.  They have found using an e-procurement system very efficient.

Doesn’t this efficiency threaten the role of a print buyer?

Print buyers should not feel threatened by e-procurement.  A print buyer’s knowledge is still very important.  The right suppliers need to be chosen.  And the right specification needs to be carried out.  And these are areas which can’t be managed without specialist knowledge.

Print buyers should welcome the opportunity to carry out less administrative work.  And these systems also allow them to spend time on more complicated projects.

E-procurement systems also allow buyers to create better supplier relationships.  This is partly because of the extra time freed up by a system.  And it is also because the systems can produce good performance data on print suppliers.  Supplier management is still important when using e-procurement.

Don’t imagine that relationships aren’t important when using e-procurement

Talking with suppliers and building relationships is still vitally important.  E-procurement automates the administrative and operational side of print buying.  But it cannot automate the personal side of print buying.

Here are three steps to help you find out more

  1.  Find a supplier of print purchasing software
  2. Set up a meeting with them
  3. Ask them to demonstrate the efficiency savings they can make

You might be surprised at the benefits that this meeting might bring.  Becoming more efficient at print buying has even let me start reading all the books I’ve been buying on Amazon!
P.S.  If you have found this piece useful and would like to receive more information like this, you should sign up for the Print & Procurement newsletter.  Click here to make sure you receive articles like this regularly, and to receive the free e-book “10 common print buying errors and what to do about them”.

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