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Transform public sector procurement with spend management software

by Stanton Jandrell

The adoption of digital solutions is becoming increasingly prevalent, with more business sectors deploying automated, cloud-based solutions to streamline operations. Government and public sectors are no different and, like their counterparts are seeing the value in adopting purchasing best practices, automation and a streamlined approach to procure-to-pay processes that a digital procurement strategy certainly offers.

The US Federal Government spent an astounding estimated $790 billion in 2017 for goods and services from various suppliers (the Department of Defense accounting for more than 50% of this spending budget). With legacy federal acquisition processes traditionally stretching out over months or years, it’s safe to say that streamlining government procurement processes is top of mind for most institutions. This concern extends beyond government, as taxpayers are directly affected by antiquated, manual procurement processes and associated cost implications.

Following an increase in COVID-19 related public initiatives, higher spending thresholds have been introduced, and government agency spend is now self-managed, placing an even heavier burden on organizations to effectively manage the increased spend with absolute transparency. The weight of improving auditability is driving the necessity for technology solutions that provide internal controls and visibility of organizational spending activities.

This marketplace gap means that many spend management software providers have stepped forward, touting respective systems that solve government organizations' particular requirements.

With a myriad of offerings to choose from, how does your state or federal agency identify a complete solution that streamlines your procure-to-pay process, while remaining compliant?

Five biggest challenges in public sector spending

Governmental organizations have a responsibility to the public at large, and as such, are held to a much higher standard of accountability than most businesses. Support from an online, US Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) approved cloud service provider curtails risks, while maintaining levels of compliance and audit regulations. FedRAMP compliance is a crucial component for government agencies; software providers must meet the requirements to provide secure cloud services to the US Federal Government.

There’s a distinct need for government agencies to reduce federal exposure to high-risk factors and ensure that indirect costs are compliant, while improving terms and conditions for better pricing and improved vendor relations.

1. Full transparency across acquisition life cycles

Transparency across all transaction life cycle stages is key. Lack of transparency equates to a lack of spend visibility, often resulting in rogue spending.

In government organizations, transparency is invaluable, with larger groups of stakeholders in play, and more stringent measures of accountability. A well-oiled procurement process balances fairness and transparency to maximize taxpayer dollars—a daunting task when utilizing a legacy solution.

2. Flexibility on the platform and within the organization

Agility in the procurement process is a critical differentiator for successful organizations.

Some of the biggest challenges that government organizations face are: A) manual procurement processes B) reforming legacy procurement systems, or C) updating and synchronizing disparate modular systems.

3. Compliance

Public sector procurement is subjected to rigorous compliance adherence.

Strict regulations that govern the purchasing process lead to unnecessary delays and increased costs along the way.

While compliance ensures that taxpayer funds are appropriately allocated, keeping up with these regulations may become an inescapable burden, if you haven’t deployed robust spend management software.

4. Accountability

Responsibility for procurement and purchasing is often spread across multiple departments or offices throughout federal organizations—a manual system that lends itself to fallibility.

With all of these touchpoints, a distinct lack of accountability and visibility often entails doubling back on efforts, which could be better managed by smarter, automated, cloud-based solutions.

5. Data accuracy

Manual, paper-based requests and approval processes, along with spreadsheet budgets and manual data entries, lead to a longer purchasing cycle. These result in delays and bottlenecks, and inaccuracies from human error. The deployment of technology and automated processes significantly reduces these complexities and risks.

The proven efficiency of cloud-based technology is almost immediate, with adopters claiming savings in both time and money, with rapid time-to-value.

How does your government agency rectify pitfalls caused by outdated manual or legacy solutions, and, in doing so, get ahead of the technology curve?

Five quick tips for improving government procurement

Speeding up your purchasing and procurement process while reducing costs and enhancing your government agency’s ability to fulfill your core missions is the ultimate goal. However, with so many difficulties in the form of complex structures and bureaucratic restrictions, how can you start to remove obstacles and eliminate inefficiencies, and guide your organization into the cloud-based future? Here’s your quick-fire checklist:

Step 1: Establish a holistic view of organizational spend and procure-to-pay processes

With siloed decision making across departments, discovering that different teams are buying the same items from the same suppliers, but using different purchasing channels, is not uncommon. This is where a unified process and holistic view within your government agency is critical, and can enable organization-wide cost savings.

Step 2: Streamline internal operations

Government agencies traditionally split operations sequentially, resulting in immense time gaps, with one department waiting on another to fulfill a specific step in the process. Streamlining your organizational processes with automated workflows, email notifications and in-app alerts enables an accelerated purchasing and procurement process.

Step 3: Introduce agility

Being agile means identifying a solution not just for now, but enabling scalability as your organization grows. Cloud solutions enable agility through automation and remote productivity, and the benefits include greater and lasting cost reduction, less complexity and more effective risk management.

Step 4: Automation

Spend management software provides end-to-end efficiency and transparency of your procure-to-pay process, starting with the initial request and culminating in the delivery of the final product. Deeper levels of visualization of your overall procurement process provides actionable insights, through precise reporting and analytics. Automation ultimately enables process efficiency that saves time, and eliminates bottlenecks and delays.

Step 5: Streamline purchasing

Taking a hard look at your processes serves to identify any gaps in your current purchasing process. By introducing a digital solution, you can streamline and automate purchase requisitioning, and fast-track approvals to purchase orders (POs). Through streamlined, technology-driven processes, you’re able to improve efficiency for your purchasing departments and accelerate the entire purchasing cycle. The results include:

  • Remote work enablement—purchase requests can be submitted, reviewed and approved from any location

  • Automated approval workflows route requests for authorization

  • Quoting policies enforce lowest-cost purchasing

  • Immediate visibility, with alerts for non-compliance, high-risk purchases or rogue spending.

  • Verification in the form of uploads of accurate supporting documentation

  • Improved auditability and transparency—access to complete audit trails that include date and time stamps, and user activity.                                      

How Fraxion’s spend management software brings it all together

Key differentiators that Fraxion’s spend management software offers government agencies include, but are not limited to:

  • Fraxion is a Microsoft Azure hosted solution; this cloud delivery platform is FedRAMP compliant.

  • Delphi users can access Fraxion audit trails for transactions over the post COVID-19 threshold of $25,000.

  • The end-to-end solution encompasses purchasing, approvals, strategic procurement, expense management and spend analysis.

  • Internal operations are streamlined, to accelerate your procurement processes, and to automate approval workflows and compliance steps.

  • Proactive spend management allows your organization to have complete control over procurement processes, to ensure that all requests are tracked, approved and within budget, before any costs are incurred.

  • An intuitive, easy-to-use platform simplifies day-to-day procurement processes.

  • Data security, with strict permissions for all individual users, along with delegation of authority for teams and departments, provides additional control and compliance measures.                                                                                                                                                                                                              

As a proven solution provider to public sector and government agencies, here are more examples of Fraxion’s broader spend management software and benefits for this sector:

Transparency

Complete transaction visibility, from the initial request to product delivery, complete with detailed audit trails, allows for transparency in your organization. This transparency and auditability is crucial to government agencies, with oversight of transactions and audit trails for all actions, workflows, settings, admins, users, approvals and changes—your agency can be completely compliant with regulatory requirements.

Streamline and automate your processes

Automate internal processes and eliminate inefficiencies, human error and time delays. Replace manual forms, signatures and approvals with automated workflows that enable faster processing and reduce your purchasing cycle.

Purchase requisitioning

Automating your requisition-to-purchase order process means further streamlining your ordering process from approved requests. This includes streamlining invoice approvals, receiving, and three-way invoice matching—all consolidated and simplified by a single solution.

Flexible approvals 

Configure multi-level approvals that route requests according to value, roles or departments. Mitigate risk and enable internal approvals before submitting requests to Shared Services or Treasury.

Reporting and spend analysis

Advanced analytics and reporting power enable you to understand how your agency spends, and to identify saving opportunities. With real-time spending data, you have a holistic view of spend by category, from users and departments, to spend with vendors.

Budget control

Access and report on real-time budgets and commitments. Authorized employees have access to budgets at specific decision points, to enable better decision-making before committing to spend. Budget controls ensure that spending remains within predefined budgetary restrictions at the GL account level, department, project, or vendor level.

Procurement

Fraxion’s solutions enable centralized procurement, requests for quotations, supplier approval, and spend analytics.

Compliance

Adhere to FedRAMP compliance and gain access to tools that enforce policies, spending limits and budgetary restrictions.

Expense management and travel

Quickly and simply manage expense claims and travel requests through electronic travel forms and streamlined approval processes against budgets.

Reach out to learn more about spend management software. Accelerate  digital transformation in your organization; book a free demo and see how Fraxion can streamline your procure-to-pay process and reduce operational spend.

Stanton Jandrell

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