What is The Best Procurement Software for the AEC Industry? Here’s a 5-Point Checklist
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How do you know if you’ve found the best procurement software for architecture, interior design, and construction?
You’ll know it’s the best when it meets your procurement needs and makes your life easier. Here’s a 5-point checklist you can refer to when deciding on the best procurement management software for your AEC firm.
1. Does it track your orders?
Let’s start with the basics. Top procurement software — or really any procurement software, for that matter — should be able to answer fundamental questions like, Have my accessories been ordered? Did they ship? When is it supposed to get here? Did they actually arrive?
In Fohlio, the answers to these questions can be found in a few different places.
a. You can go into your purchase orders and manually look them up that way.
b. You can go into your order tracking tab.
c. Or, you can be an absolute overachiever and set up a dashboard dedicated to tracking orders. These columns will be automatically updated based on purchase order data.
Travis Reese shares why having this information at your fingertips is crucial: “With Fohlio, I can respond to managers in the field, letting them know where their orders are so that they can line up the subcontractors and get that work scheduled.”
2. Does it help keep your project within budget?
Another sign you’re using the best procurement software available is when it makes it easy to keep all your financial data front and center. While a software by itself won’t keep costs in check, having all the necessary information easily accessible means you can make informed decisions.
In Fohlio, for example, you can set an overall budget that’s always visible. Travis takes care of costing projects at his firm, so it’s important for him to always have that number. “We’ll need to get maybe a hundred items and we just need to figure out if we’re in the ballpark, you know, before we would get close to doing purchase orders or anything like that,” he explains.
Costing in Fohlio also allows you to get granular with your budgets. You can allocate a certain amount for a certain area or product division, then constantly compare and contrast with actual costs when you start specifying.
3. Does it sync design and purchasing?
Speaking of specifying, here’s a big one: The best purchasing software will allow your procurement team to skip manually entering data into a separate platform.
You know how it goes: Designers finish specifying products then turn over Excel sheets or PDFs to the procurement team, who then dutifully type or copy and paste that information into a purchasing software.
It’s a terrible system: It takes forever and is extremely prone to costly human error.
The solution? A specification and procurement software that allows purchasers to simply select items, click a button, and create POs or RFQs that way.
4. Does it help reduce cost in more ways than one?
So far, all the questions we’ve answered help reduce cost in some way, either by saving time or having more transparency.
But in what other ways can you keep costs low? Here’s Travis again: “Field managers can look at the specifications that are coming out of Fohlio and refer to them as they receive deliveries on the job site to make sure that the right things are coming. And they’ll also mark that up and let me know if a quantity is off or if there was damage and then I’ll do a reorder if necessary or make claims.
“The purchase order part of Fohlio has been a game-changer for our office in the amount of time we spend creating them, tracking pricing, and all of that stuff,” Travis adds.
Heather Parker agrees, explaining how, whether they other hundreds of SKUs and just one piece each, or 30-40 SKUs with higher quantities, “Fohlio handles either of those just as easily. It’s just as easy for creating purchase orders and tracking.”
Fohlio also automates the PO approval process: You can set a threshold amount, over which approval is required. For example, anything over $500 will necessitate approval from one or more team members, while anything below that can automatically be sent out.
5. Does it keep everyone on the same page?
At Fohlio, we live and breathe collaboration — and this way of thinking is evident in our product.
We think emailing is a poor method to keep track of projects and keep stakeholders up to date. That’s why everyone involved in your project can be invited to Fohlio, with the caveat that you can decide exactly what they can and cannot see.
That means selection approvals, value-engineering, and status tracking can be a breeze. “Fohlio is something we really use as a tool between the designers and myself, in that they don’t even have to email me and say, Hey, what’s the status of this or that. We’re really good at just looking in there and seeing where the projects stand,” Travis says.
6. Bonus: Is it backed by a digital materials library?
This item is really just a summary of everything we’ve discussed — but it deserves its own line item. The reason is that these functionalities are possible because your FF&E specification and procurement platform is supported by a digital materials library. Take all of these things together and you get the additional utility of a product information management software.
So is Fohlio the best procurement software for the AEC industry? We think so.
It’s a bold claim for sure, but don’t take our word for it: Schedule a demo or book a consultation with one of our account managers to explore Fohlio‘s procurement features today.