Mobile Procurement: What’s the Right Approach?

mobile procurement
Posted by Ivy Montgomery on 02/14/2014

There’s certainly no shortage of buzzwords associated with the mobile boom – so many in fact, that after enough repetition, even the truly impactful trends risk being tuned out and their meaning lost.

“Mobile-first” is NOT one of those buzzwords. At least not for those of us here at Vroozi. When we say that Vroozi is a mobile-first procurement platform, we mean in the true sense of the term; a responsive platform that enables all employees (not just the procurement department) to compare, shop, and make requests.

As we’re starting to see, many are equating mobile-first with mobile-friendly (or in some cases, just mobile). This misperception is affecting every industry and procurement is no exception.

Take for example this recent article on thomasnet.com highlighting the interest/intent among procurement organizations for a dedicated mobile app. Before we offer our take on this matter (and how it can cause more problems than it solves) let’s have a look at some key excerpts:

A study by AnyPresence Inc., a Reston, Va., company that specializes in mobile business processes, products, and services, finds that 31.5 percent of respondents have deployed or will deploy mobile apps for procurement, among other functions, in the next 12 months. An equal proportion will do the same with apps for supply chain partners and shipping and distribution.

There you have it: a third of respondents will deploy (or have already deployed) a mobile app dedicated for the procurement department. This is good, right? Yes and no. It’s important for the procurement department to leverage the benefits of mobility, but if a company goes about it in the wrong way, it’s actually counter-productive. The article continues:

It generally takes at least three months to develop an app, more than 50 percent of respondents say, which means ROI is a concern, especially since the average cost of development is $25,000 to $50,000 for 27 percent of participants, and $50,000 to $100,000 for another 27 percent. Some companies are making considerable investments — $100,000 to $500,000 by 24.3% of AnyPresence survey participants — while only 10.8 percent bring in a custom app for less than $25,000. The remainder are not sure or don’t know their cost.

If that sounds like a lot to pay for a mobile app, that’s because it is. But aside from the cost, there is also the matter of complexity:

A mobile app for business is, of course, radically different than one for consumers. The front-end interface must be robust, AnyPresence says, and aesthetics is not as important as practical functionality. On the back end, “controlled access to core enterprise systems must be managed,” the company says. Crucial to app development and deployment is the ability of a company’s IT department to understand and adapt to enterprise mobility strategies, while assuring that standards in security, testing, and operation are maintained.

Lastly, what about practicality? Does it make sense to spend all this time and money on an app that less than 5% of an organization will leverage? Isn’t there a more optimal approach?

The answer, of course, is yes. Instead of thinking about mobility as an add-on to an existing system, companies need to start thinking of mobility as the foundation of a system. This is why we designed Vroozi as a mobile-first procurement platform that can immediately be used by all employees to shop, compare and make requests. There’s no coding involved. No custom apps. No security concerns from personal devices. Just the procurement platform you need – anytime, anywhere on any device.

While it's good to see that procurement organizations are thinking mobility, they need to be careful not to leverage the wrong mobile approach. If you’re interested in a mobile-first solution that works, we’re ready to chat with you.

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