shoppingcartCatalog management software is one of the best tools for making purchasing more efficient. This software is just one of several useful apps – e-procurement, expense management and supply chain management are some others – but catalog management is one of the most effective at connecting you with internal and external vendors. However, you need the right policies and practices in place to get the most value out of your solution.

First, you need a comprehensive purchasing policy that covers a broad range of transactions. Without a policy, you won’t be able to negotiate effectively with vendors for customized pricing deals. You also won’t get full advantage of any special offers and discounts you do negotiate. In short, your policy needs to cover as many purchase transactions as possible in order to keep the process efficient and controlled.

Insights on Vendors’ Inventory and First Word on Sale Prices

A good catalog management application also can help make your purchasing policy more comprehensive. For example, it allows you to limit purchases to pre-approved vendors. At the same time, direct connection to vendor catalogs keeps you up-to-the-minute on prices. That lets you take advantage of specials, discounts and closeouts when they come along. With a direct connection, you also know what’s in stock and what will take more time to receive. The application also can improve the accuracy of employees' ordering activities through auto-populate and drop-down capabilities in its interface.

But even if your purchasing policies are comprehensive, getting all your employees to follow them takes a lot of time and effort. You need to ensure that everyone knows the rules. That requires both distributing guidelines to all affected employees and keeping those guidelines updated. You also have to enforce the policies. In some cases, that means making employees get approval in advance. In other cases, it means informing them afterwards when they have failed to follow the guidelines. In either case, there is abundant opportunity for confusion, not to mention inefficiency. And the more flexible your purchasing has to be to cope with a fast-changing business environment, the harder it is for employees to both keep track of and comply with the latest policies.

Policy Enforcement is a Key Element

Fortunately, the same catalog management application can help you enforce your purchasing policies as well. It lets you, for example, automatically limit purchases to the list of pre-approved vendors, without employees' needing to confirm before every purchase which vendors are on the list. In fact, the application can restrict purchases according to any rules desired. It can, say, enforce spending limits and authorizations based on catalog items. And it can make sure all purchases conform to policy before allowing employees to make them. By lessening the need to have employees informed of all the details of policy changes, it saves time and effort for both management and employees.

Integration overall increases the value of catalog management software. Integration with contract management applications specifically, makes more information available for purchasing decisions, including details about pricing, quantity and shipping costs – all of which can positively impact your company’s bottom line.

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