As we approach the 3rd decade of e-Procurement’s existence it’s important to look back at its roots. E-Procurement began as an extension of an organizations’ procurement department. If we look back to the late 1990’s, when an organization needed supplies such as pens or paper there may have been a few possible ways to get your items. There may have been a form to fill out and submit to the purchasing department. If the size of the order was large enough you would submit an RFQ. You may have even gone down to the local office supply store and picked up the supplies directly. Let’s focus on those smaller purchases, how do you know you are getting the best price or the organization discounted price?

In comes e-Procurement with data. e-Procurement started by simplifying the process of buying everything from the simple supplies we are talking about, but also more complex process of bidding, RFQ’s, RFP’s and collecting vendor data. Buying those same supplies via an e-Procurement allows an organization to ensure pricing discounts are enforced and preferred vendors/contracts are utilized. Let’s not forget about that approval process. The old paper form may have included a requisition form, a purchase order form to then an approval form. Multiple pages requiring signatures from different departments that may have been faxed, scanned or emailed. If someone goes on vacation the form may sit on someone’s desk for a week at a time. Or even worse yet having a user directly buy an item and submit a reimbursement request for their (often called) rogue spend.

Fast forward to today where all this procurement data where all this data is available in one place with a few clicks. Your e-Procurement system knows who the preferred vendor is, but also how to purchase from them. It knows what you paid last quarter and if the price has increased since last year. It knows how you should be ordering, whether by a hosted catalog or a punchout catalog. It knows how the vendor would like purchase orders to be submitted. It knows the payment terms of the vendor and how the vendor submits their invoices.

Recently we’ve even seen artificial intelligence make it’s way into e-Procurement. We’ve seen data analytics that allow organizations to compare their data against an organization of the same size and run various “what-if” scenarios. We’ve seen systems that learn how a supplier sends invoices to automatically accept/reject the attached invoice. Procurement has come a long way from the simple catalog ordering systems of the 1990’s.

So as a company that works with suppliers needing to connect with e-Procurement systems, that’s why we’ll be at Ivalua NOW next month. Come visit us in the New York and learn more about our punchout catalogs, electronic PO & electronic invoice solutions for suppliers, but also why some of the world’s largest organizations use Ivalua’s e-Procurement.