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Create Smart Business Buying Efficiencies With Integrations

Integrations simplify the procurement process, reduce costs, enhance transparency, and allow for customization, ultimately supporting organizational goals and strategy.

For decades, many businesses ordered office supplies through paper catalogs or at brick-and-mortar stores. As more and more business processes have gone digital, so has business buying.


Procurement is a critical business function at every organization, helping to ensure spend stays in line with budgets and business priorities so the organization purchases the right products and services.


Corralling spend coming from multiple vendors can bring challenges, like hindering visibility into and control over spending. Multistep workflows, manual reporting, and redundant or disparate systems can cause processing delays and costly inefficiencies. All of which can impede an organization’s ability to operate and compete effectively.


E-procurement system integrations automate procurement decisions and can provide seamless workflows to speed up and streamline recurring processes. They can reduce or eliminate the back-and-forth of many legacy procurement practices that required employees to manually submit items for approval, search for and order each item (or wait for someone else to order it), and then eventually fill out an expense report to get reimbursed—a long and often frustrating experience for both employees and procurement teams.


Connecting e-procurement systems to a centralized source of supply within a familiar consumer-friendly interface simplifies comparison-shopping and decision-making, leading to more time and cost savings. Greater transparency into transactions, data across teams, and more accurate reporting can also support insights that strengthen business strategy.


“I often hear from procurement teams about how closely they work with finance and IT leaders on shared strategy and their need to streamline data,” said Satya Mishra, Amazon Business Director of Product Management. “Integrations can be the throughline that brings your colleagues together to talk about who’s ultimately owning spend activity beyond budget lines to meet your enterprise goals.”


Procurement for a Growing and Distributed Workforce

At msg group, a Germany-based company that provides systems integrations consulting, leaders saw a need to refine their internal purchasing processes as their workforce became more geographically distributed. Routing employees’ office supply needs through the procurement team became cumbersome.


By integrating its e-procurement system with Amazon Business, msg systems automated purchasing workflows and spend policies. Employees can browse and purchase products, and msg’s procurement team gained greater visibility into transactions before processing, enabling them to better monitor spending and budgets.


Tapping integrations, specifically Amazon Business’s Punchout and Integrated Search, cut the average purchasing time at msg group in half, helping to lower process costs. In addition, teams spend less time comparing products and can cut costs.

"Integrations can be the throughline that brings your colleagues together to talk about who’s ultimately owning spend activity beyond budget lines to meet your enterprise goals."

— Satya Mishra, Amazon Business Director of Product Management

Choose your own purchasing journey

E-procurement integrations can allow leaders to customize the flow of their buyers between systems to create their preferred buying journey. If business buyers are accustomed to going to a retail website before a procurement tool, they can build a connected experience that creates that sequence.


Township High School District 214 in Illinois chose to initiate its buying experience on the Amazon Business store for its business buyers with the Punch-in integration. After starting their integrated buying journeys in the Amazon Business store, users can punch into their e-procurement system.


The school reduced the steps for purchasing and provided a streamlined buying experience. In addition, the integration helps the district maintain rigorous compliance policies for public school systems.


Integrations also allow procurement teams to maintain control over purchasing by guiding employees to preferred products and brands and setting spend limits. Beyond budget considerations, these guardrails can also help organizations support supplier diversity and sustainability goals.


Level up security for your buyers

Integrations can facilitate procurement at organizations of any size in any industry. For some, one out-of-the-box integration may be sufficient and can even be self-serviced. Others may prefer to build a custom integrating buying journey based on specific business needs.


With Single Sign-on (SSO) integrations, IT teams can centrally enable and disable buyer access and maintain a secure and often one-click login experience to the Amazon Business store, just like other common SSO-integrated business tools. This can ease onboarding of staff, removing the manual process of inviting users to create logins as well as automatically blocking access if a team member leaves an organization.


SSO can be stacked on more integrations, creating a connected experience with the systems that matter most to your stakeholders’ operations.


Unify your tools and teams

In today’s fast-moving business environment, breaking down silos among teams and tools is key to quickly gathering insights. Business buying is very much a part of digital transformation. Upgrading e-procurement processes with integrations can help your organization increase efficiency, lower costs, and gain a competitive edge.


Originially published on Harvard Business Review.

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