7 Unexpected procurement software questions to ask

Shopping for procurement software can be overwhelming. So before you get lost in a sea of requirements and endless stakeholder meetings, understand  7 important (and less obvious) questions you should ask providers to help differentiate your options.

Procurement and sourcing are slowly but surely becoming more digitally innovative. The number of procurement software tools available is continually growing as millennials take charge of the workforce.

According to a recent SAP & Oxford Economics survey:

35% of Procurement Executives (across the globe) would like to see “implementing and training in new technology” be a primary focus for their organization today (42% would like it to be a main focus within 2 years).

And as the insightful writers at Buyers Meeting Point said in their Affirmative Defense of Procurement Automationpost:

Procurement shouldn’t ask should we automate as much as what should we automate, where are machines (whether software or hardware based) better positioned than people to create value and achieve success?

If we divide the end-to-end procurement process into its major components, there aresubcomponents of each that are prime targets for automation. [Empahsis added.]

In other words, most of us are searching for some sort of vendor management tool, be it RFP software or a better invoicing system. We have more options than ever, so it’s even more important to ask the right questions so you can truly understand your options.

Questions to ask internally

So the first step is to figure out what you need most. As in any vendor selection, when you can identify key criteria it’s much easier to shortlist.

Start your procurement software search with a thorough stakeholder discussion. Ask questions like: 

  • What are our crucial “deal breakers?”
  • Where do we spend/lose the most time?
  • What can tactically go wrong?
  • What “workarounds” have we created? Save
  • Where can we add value to the process?

These priorities will serve as a compass, helping you decide factors like if you need a full suite solution or if a best of breed system would be a better fit. Once the yardstick has been established, you’re ready to start interviewing providers.

Questions to ask procurement software providers

Regardless of which niche procurement tool you’re after, these simple questions can help you quickly differentiate your options. Some of the questions are obvious, some less so. They’re a starting point we recommend to all our customers and prospects who are shopping for software.

It’s surprising how factors like the implementation time frame can drastically differ. Some procurement software can require weeks or even months of training to get you up and running, plus extensive setup/consulting fees.

The pricing model can also be a crucial factor, for example, if you’re a consultant and your business fluctuates, you might need your pricing plans to be flexible (volume based, etc.) as well. Whether the provider outsources their support help can also be an important consideration, as it could result in a language or expertise barrier. 

It’s also very appropriate to ask providers who their competitors are, and even why they lose business to their competition. Depending on how honest the provider is, you can learn something you never would have thought to ask.

Lastly, as you should with any big product purchase, always, always read customer reviews. Look at industry-specific review sites like Capterra which have whole sections dedicated to procurement software so you can see your all options as well as what real customers say about them.

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