At the very basic level, an ERP system can enable you to match invoices with receipts and purchase orders so that what you pay for is what you ordered and what you received. The purchase orders, receipts, and invoices are all in the same system, so the system can compare them and immediately determine if the invoice is valid and should be paid or if it’s not. This can eliminate overpayments or duplicate payments to vendors, reduction of paperwork and manual comparisons reducing administrative overhead.

An ERP system can also manage your contracts with vendors, including pricing and terms of payment. This means that data from invoices can be instantly compared to contractual terms to make sure the invoice is correct. The benefit is another way to eliminate overpayments. If your enterprise is large and is processing a large volume of vendor invoices you are bound to have at least a small percentage savings – say 5% of the amount you spend — and 5% of a big number may be enough to pay back at least part of the ERP investment.

A price-shopping or auctioning application or an online buying service can be an extension of the ERP system so that you can search for the best price for your materials, goods, or services, select the vendor, and place the order.

Usually these apps and web-available services are specialized according to what you are buying, such as transportation and delivery services, office supplies, basic materials such as standard corrugated packaging, shrink wrap, paper stock, chemicals and industrial supplies, and more recently energy sources such as electricity and natural gas.

The benefits here are getting the best price and terms and automatically creating a purchase order which is integrated to your financial system for proper payment. The dollar benefit can be a percentage of your total spend, especially if you think you haven’t opened up your purchasing to alternative vendors for awhile.

When purchasing is part of your ERP the proper postings to financial accounts are automatically done. When you issue a purchase order an entry is made in the ERP system that authorizes receipt of whatever you are buying. When you receive what you are buying a payable is created which goes on the balance sheet as a liability. All the accounting is taken care of, and your financial controls are in place as long as your system permissions reflect proper internal controls. This is a huge benefit for regulatory compliance and tax audits.