Turning Procurement Data into Valuable Insight

Sushil Garg, CEO at BirchStreet Systems
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Sushil Garg, CEO at BirchStreet Systems

Data never sleeps. For years, companies have struggled to glean meaningful insights from data in order to better run their organizations. BI, or Business Intelligence, has changed the way that companies around the world optimize their operations. However, quarter after quarter, the amount of data coming in is increasing exponentially and the sheer volume of information can be overwhelming.Centralizing this data effectively is the key to turning raw data into something intelligible and actionable.

“The key to running successful, efficient and profitable operations is having accurate and accessible data.”

Moreover, many companies today face the challenge of differentiating good data from noise. Just collecting valuable data is difficult for businesses who have not yet automated their back-office processes. Indeed, automation of operational processes (business process improvement) is the first step in collecting the right BI for insight into the world of procurement. Automation creates an audit trail, and when connected to a system where spend is made visible and tracked, data will expose trends, issues, and successes.

“Knowledge is power” when it comes to spend and purchasing data. For maximum effectiveness, BI data should be viewed in a dashboard environment that visually represents the information in a way that is easy to understand. Storing this data in the Cloud gives organizations the power to use this data anytime, anywhere. Instant access to business data means CIOs and CFOs can improve and speed up decision making, cut costs, adapt to ever changing environments and increase efficiency. Effectively leveraging BI will significantly improve the bottom line.

Procure-to-Pay (P2P) Automation enhances BI by connecting, managing and tracking processes for procurement, accounts payable, inventory, recipe management and capital budgets. Capturing the majority of spend electronically provides a clear view of budget data by department, GL, region, company, supplier, product category and more.BI dashboards are designed to give decision makers a high level overview while also providing the means to drill down into budget and line item details, and even examine purchase orders and supplier pricing, simply by clicking through the dashboard. BI tools will also alert users to price fluctuations and help them choose the right supplier at the right time.In addition, greater business intelligence allows organizations to effectively leverage supplier deals.With all these tools, companies can increase compliance for both system users and their suppliers, effectively reducing costs by increasing visibility and control over their spending.

BI gives companies the opportunity to better predict, forecast and react to real-time information. Having an agile business model that provides instant BI easily puts companies in a better position with more control over suppliers and spending. Several hospitality case studies have shown that companies can save thousands or even millions of dollars a year once they start tracking their purchasing by supplier, compare pricing, and increase compliance by putting purchasing programs in place.

Furthermore, when companies automate other operational functions, such as inventory, they capture more data that improves their overall analysis. An inventory control system alerts users when item stocks have been depleted and will automatically generate purchase orders to bring the quantity on hand back to par levels. Reports can show inventory levels, replenishment, which items are selling, or being transferred, and more. Users can then use this data to make better and more effective purchasing decisions based on quantity levels and usage.

Bottom-line: the key to running successful, efficient and profitable operations is having accurate and accessible data. In the era of big data, the use of dashboards, analytics and business intelligence is growing rapidly as companies leverage their data to gain a competitive advantage. Industry pundits agree that not only do leaders want information on company purchasing and spend, but the BI trend is here to stay.

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