Purchasing software is used to manage the acquisition of products and services. Many applications are modular and scalable, and may support business functions ranging from the creation of requests to the approval of purchase orders (POs) for payment. Both Web-based and Windows applications are available.
Types of purchasing software range from simple purchase order software to complex procurement systems. Typically, procurement software includes features such as order expediting, supplier quality analysis, and traffic and logistics (T&L) management.
Purchasing software may also allow organizations to create requests for proposal (RFP) and requests for quotations (RFQ), transmit them to suppliers, and review the results. Suppliers of turnkey programs may provide on-site or classroom-style training, limited or unlimited software support, and periodic application upgrades.
Selecting Purchasing Software
Selecting purchasing software requires an analysis of product capabilities. Automated purchasing applications are designed to support just-in-time (JIT) inventory and other aspects of the supply chain. This type of purchasing software generates purchase orders automatically and recommends quantities, items, and vendors. Procurement software that is designed to avoid stock-outs and increase inventory turns is also available. Purchasing managers can set minimum and maximum stock levels, set re-order points, and define an economic order quantity (EOQ) for each item. Purchase order creation, a core capability of purchasing applications, allows buyers to select products and services based upon item number, model number, or other defined attributes. For example, buyers can specify vendor part numbers and transmit purchase orders to vendors via email. Some purchasing software exports data to spreadsheets and databases. Other applications can be integrated with inventory control software, material requirements planning (MRP) applications, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, accounts payable (AP) software, and warehouse management systems. Inventory control software is used for managing stock levels, recording physical inventories, and tracking trends in item movement and location. Material requirements planning (MRP) software enables schedulers to define processes with multiple tasks. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software supports an organization’s entire business process. Accounts payable (AP) software may include PO payment functions. Purchasing software is also used with warehouse management systems (WMS) that can manage the movement and storage of materials in a warehouse.