Any organization must manage expenses and spend for financial strength. But when an entity operates on public funds, the need for transparent, controlled spending becomes more critical.
Public charter schools are often strapped for funding and resources, making spend management paramount. Unfortunately, those same resource restrictions also make it harder for charter schools to invest in the technologies they need to gain greater control over their spend, according to Marco Rafanelli, co-founder and CEO of BuyQ, a group purchasing organization that provides procurement solutions for public charter schools.
“Often, charter schools are not large enough to either afford or properly manage the deployment of a procure-to-pay software system for purchasing,” Rafanelli explained in a recent interview, “or to take advantage of tools larger organizations can use to control rogue spending, manage every dollar and standardize vendors — all best practice[s] in purchasing and procurement.”
A lack of spend management solutions leads many teachers to fall back on their consumer shopping habits when making purchases with school money, he explained. Though eProcurement and B2B eCommerce solutions providers have largely looked to provide a “consumer-like” shopping experience for end users, reliance on consumer portals and websites can derail schools’ spend management efforts.
Rafanelli noted that teachers procuring on consumer sites, like Amazon, means that schools cannot get supplier discounts and negotiated rates, causing overspend. Furthermore, consumer sites aren’t always equipped to provide reconciliation data or to integrate into back-office accounting and finance systems. This adds an entirely new layer of friction to the procure-to-pay process, said Rafanelli.
BuyQ’s recent initiative to address these challenges includes a partnership with expense management solutions provider PEX. Their collaboration, announced earlier this week, will see PEX’s employee prepaid card solution — which lets managers view and control employee spend, with transaction limits and supplier guidelines — integrated into BuyQ’s existing procurement solutions designed for charter schools.