There’s no question there are a lot of areas within procurement where efficiencies are being realized through the use of software. From human resources to travel, equipment to supplies, most enterprises now have procurement systems in place that automate the overall process and deal with vendor management. We should feel lucky that sourcing has become “strategic” so that automation became a priority and new systems developed. Generalized procurement software is now commonplace; we couldn’t do our jobs without it.

But “generalized” software has its shortcomings. When a single application tries to accommodate everything, it becomes less specific to certain tasks. Take print production, as one example. Whether we’re working on product brochures, direct mail, annual reports, promotional items… print projects are very specific purchases that often have a level of complexity not found in other types of procurement. And, while you can use “generic” procurement software to manage print projects, doing so means you won’t benefit from the full capabilities of platform that is specifically designed for print-specific procurement and all its uniqueness.

Print jobs are complex. Consider today’s annual reports that seem to be getting more and more elaborate each year. We’ve seen reports that include fold out pages, a mixture of coated and un-coated papers, special inserts, and of course die cuts and more. And, many times a project to create a corporate annual report includes mailing it to key shareholders… so now we also have a direct mail project. Imagine trying to spec a project like this using standard procurement software that’s also used for every other type of purchase. A lot of details would probably get lost.

The reality is, print procurement is special and requires special capabilities in order to fully realize the primary benefits procurement professionals bring to the table. With the right software to manage specifications, vendors, collaboration, digital assets, color processing, kitting, and more, buyers can rest assured that vendors get all the details and that bids reflect 100% of the job specifications.

The bottom line is, don’t stop using generic procurement systems. But consider the value specific print procurement software can bring to your organization to help procurement professionals do what they do best: save the company money while delivering on quality and schedule.