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Do suppliers hinder digitisation in procurement?

 

On the one hand ... To be fair, it should be noted that many internal discrepancies also hinder or prevent significant success in purchasing. For example, dealing with colleagues from the IT department requires a sure instinct – to put it mildly. The IT people undoubtedly have Herculean tasks to cope with. You are exposed to a large number of heterogeneous systems and singular tools in the company. On top of that, digitisation hovers over the roofs like a sword of Damocles. This requires from “old hands” a new approach to processes that have been supposedly proven for years. You have to set impulses and evaluate the benefits of not yet fully developed and sometimes highly acclaimed partial solutions. Moreover, you have to implement in all units at the same time to provide technical support for complex rollouts (often globally!), and then to adjust the parameters again. IT projects are actually never finished. This won’t change at a time when “uncertainty” and “disruption” have long since become more than trendy buzzwords. And now  the purchasing department comes up with new ideas? 

 

On the other hand … Everyone involved knows that it is extremely tedious to oblige delivery partners to a complex and expensive process such as EDI. And they also know that there should actually be an uncomplicated standard from which both sides benefit equally without exception. Purchasing has to ask itself to which traditional solutions it can say goodbye. These include, for example, OCR and EDI.

 

The good news is: There are now innovative apps that save everyone involved a lot of time and process costs, for example when onboarding suppliers or customers. The purchasing side can use various connection options for suppliers via a convenient cockpit. With a self-onboarding tool, purchasing can automatically connect suppliers itself – in three simple steps within a few minutes and without the internal IT.

 

By the way, AI (as used by Netfira) now makes it possible to seamlessly exchange all types of documents and forecasts, certificates, supplier self-reports or foreign trade documents in both directions.

Purchasing knows its potential very well, but it is far from being sufficiently technically equipped to provide significant benefits for colleagues in other departments as a resilient business partner. Three quarters of the companies are using the first isolated e-tools for “purchasing automation”. Nevertheless, the majority of buyers are still struggling with mountains of paper and manual interfaces. There are still separately managed, error-prone Excel lists created to be on the safe side. Automation and digitisation work differently. Many buyers admit that they are far from what is technically possible. 

Consequently, suppliers cannto be passed the buck per se. Admittedly, it may be true that operational purchasing often encounters problems and obstacles in digitisation and automation as soon as it comes to connecting suppliers. But that is not the only reason why purchasing is still a long way from unlocking its potential. Internal discrepancies and the challenges that IT is confronted with are just as important as the fact that suppliers often do not find the right conditions and offers. Complex and expensive processes such as EDI and OCR do not create the conditions that smaller suppliers in particular need in order to benefit from a connection or to be able to carry it out at all. Consequently, it is precisely at this point that we must start.

 

Conclusion

The solution can be found in the form of a learning, flexible platform that can be easily docked to all common ERP systems, including SAP, that can support existing processes and that immediately offers users considerable advantages. The tools are there … now it’s time to use them. 

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