Seven tips for a successful digitisation project in purchasing

End-to-end digitalisation of business processes sits atop the list of priorities for companies of all sizes. For a modern and agile procurement department, process automation is a key driver of digital transformation. However, the implementation of digital automation solutions in procurement is often more difficult than expected. One challenge is the sheer mass of digital tools: From specialists to full-suite providers, there are around 200 digital tools for purchasing on the German-speaking market. The systems support purchasing operationally, tactically and strategically in supplier, commodity group and risk management. To make an informed decision and to implement a successful digitisation project, purchasing should therefore rely on a structured approach and follow certain steps. 


1. Cooperate with internal IT

Purchasing should not simply delegate the digitisation project to the IT department. Although IT plays a central role in the digital strategy, it is not advisable to leave the entire digitalisation topic to a single department as it is too important for the business. The various digitalisation topics are multifaceted, so the IT department’s technical understanding alone is not sufficient. In addition, internal IT is usually busy with its core business. Consequently, a digitisation project in purchasing must be supported across departments to ensure technological, strategic, personnel and structural components are interlinked. 

With that in mind, purchasing should ensure that the internal IT is on board right from the start. A quick and easy implementation and a smooth roll-out is important to achieve quick value-add for both purchasing and IT. The amount of work involved for IT should be considered in the decision-making process when selecting a software solution. The Netfira Platform, for instance, can be implemented with minimal effort from internal IT teams. As part of the implementation process, there are only 5 tasks that require action from internal IT teams.

2. Evaluate own starting position

At the beginning of the digitisation project, purchasing should ask itself where it stands, what its goals are and which project steps are necessary to achieve them. In order to determine which system supports purchasing needs, the team needs to analyse the purchasing processes. The analysis should aim to determine how standardised, measurable and IT-supported the processes already are. For each process, purchasing should determine the target maturity level it wants to reach. 

3. Formulate the requirements

In the next step, the purchasing department needs to prioritise its improvement goals. There are a number of things to consider and evaluate before undertaking the software selection process. Well-defined specifications will help the team to define the business problem and accelerate the software selection process. Purchasing needs to determine, in detail, which functions they need at which point in time and how they should be designed to meet the requirements. Netfira has created a checklist to help purchasing work through the process of defining software specifications. 

4. Coordinated search of software providers for digitising purchasing

For the evaluation of offers, purchasing should define an evaluation system together with IT and the other relevant departments. This enables a selection decision that is supported by everyone. It should include questions about data protection and data security, project management methods, usability, implementation experience and the business’s change management needs. Netfira offers a software selection checklist to support purchasing departments in defining goals that meet the SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) and selecting suitable software that meets their needs. 

On top of that, procurement teams should consider the following criteria when selecting eligible service providers for digitising purchasing processes:  

5. Industry recognition

Industry recognition often equates to expertise. Buyers should choose a software provider that has repeatedly proven in the past that it can support purchasing departments in their digitisation efforts in an uncomplicated, fast,and reliable manner. Learn here how Rosendahl Nextrom successfully digitised its operational processes with the Netfira Platform.

6. Flexibility of the provider and the software solution

Procurement is different in every industry and every company. Each procurement department has specific requirements, challenges, and needs. A flexible solution, easy implementation and high ease of use are preferable to rigid systems. Read here how Fissler GmbH benefitted from Netfira’s flexibility when carrying out the digitisation project in purchasing.

7. The solution’s future potential

Purchasing must consider, with foresight, what future enhancements the department might need. The software solution purchasing uses should grow with the department. For this reason, modular solutions that can be introduced and expanded step by step are beneficial. The Netfira Platform is a SaaS solution that is hosted in the cloud. Cloud solutions are efficient, flexible and easy to scale so they are tailored to users’ needs.

Conclusion: How to digitise purchasing successfully

With a structured approach, businesses can carry out digitisation projects in purchasing smoothly and successfully. Cross-departmental collaboration, a good evaluation system and the definition of software specifications are among the crucial factors for preparing and implementing a successful digitalisation project. Keeping these seven tips in mind will help you find the right software solution that meets the needs of all departments involved.  

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