Frequently Asked Questions

See the most common questions we’ve been asked about procurement and how Varis operates. Contact us if you're curious about something we haven't covered.

Procurement questions

A procure-to-pay system manages the creation and approval of a requisition, the purchasing communication (purchase orders sent to suppliers), receiving, and the payment (settlement) for goods and services. "Procure-to-pay" literally defines the different procurement processes an employee takes to acquire goods and/or services.

Procurement software, sometimes known as eprocurement software, is typically a web-based application that allows organizations to efficiently manage their spending. Procurement software allows organizations to maximize the savings from the supplier contracts that they have negotiated. With Varis, customers also get access to contracts with pre-negotiated supplier discounts in categories where they may not have a negotiated contract.

Accounts payable is one component of the overall procure-to-pay (P2P) process, focused on the receiving of invoices and arrangement of payment to the supplier. P2P includes the initial user requisition, managerial approval, and creation of the purchase order as well. The accounts payable process is usually the last step of P2P, and often the most manual, requiring the printing, signing, and mailing of payments to suppliers.

The procure-to-pay process involves five key steps to purchase a good or service.

  1. First the user selects the good or service and creates an initial requisition, typically from an approved supplier.
  2. That requisition is then sent to the appropriate managers for review and approval of the requisition.
  3. Once the requisition has been approved, a purchase order is created and sent to the corresponding supplier (supplier).
  4. The supplier will ship the item to the user and also send an invoice for the amount that was shipped. Either the initial requisitioner or another approved employee will receive the items.
  5. Finally, the accounts payable team will match the supplier invoice to the receipt and the original purchase order. If all three match together, the invoice will be paid.

We streamline this process with a marketplace of approved suppliers, so you always know you’re compliant with policies. You can shop multiple suppliers for all the items you need and send a single shopping cart through the approval process (if required). We send the PO(s) to the supplier(s) and the entire process is digitized, so there are no more manual paper-based processes.

A procure-to-pay software solution manages the procurement process from requisition creation through invoice settlement. A source-to pay-solution includes the capability to formally engage new suppliers, generally through an RFP/RFQ process. Often this will include negotiating a contract. It had been previously thought that a single solution to manage the source-to-pay process was optimal. Many organizations are now choosing a best-in-class approach with separate technologies for sourcing and procurement, reducing software supplier-related risk.

We help public sector and private sector organizations avoid tedious RFP and contract negotiation processes while still enjoying in-policy savings. Public sector customers (government agencies, schools, higher education institutions, non-profits) use Varis to easily find and purchase on sharable contracts that have already undergone a competitive bidding process. Private sector organizations and others that are exempt from the competitive bidding process can take advantage of pre-negotiated Varis Connections supplier contracts and start saving right away.

ERP systems offer broad value to organizations across disciplines including human resources, accounting, supply chain, manufacturing, etc. However, they are not designed to offer an easy-to-use shopping experience, so people often find it easier to buy what they need in a more convenient place — like a local store or an online retailer — driving up off-contract spend. Adding a curated, user-friendly marketplace integrated to the ERP solves this problem. Casual shoppers can quickly find what they need and add it to a shopping cart that automatically creates the requisition and drives the approval process.

Business-to-consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) purchasing generally differ in the level of controls associated with the buying process. A B2C purchasing process is designed to be easy for a casual user to visit a site, find a product, and buy that product.

By contrast, a B2B purchasing process requires more control. The procurement organization works hard to negotiate with suppliers for goods and services at competitive prices. Buyers need to see those products to ensure purchases are made on contract and that the organization is realizing their negotiated savings. Unfortunately, most B2B purchasing technology is built for control, making buying complex for the casual shopper.

We offer the best of both worlds. With all the controls of the B2B purchasing process, and the user-friendly interface of a B2C website, the Varis experience helps improve user adoption and increase on-contract spending.

User adoption has a significant impact on purchasing metrics. Low user adoption of procurement technology means that purchasing is happening offline — and likely off-contract. This directly impacts the procurement organization’s ability to achieve their savings goals. This also impacts the ability for procurement to audit and report on purchasing or to negotiate with suppliers.

The key to user adoption is making sure the experience is pleasant. No frustrating hoops to jump through, no need to search for the right approved supplier, and no complicated process that keeps you from doing your actual job. We’ve designed Varis to simplify buying by eliminating confusion and manual processes to save time, money, and morale.

That’s the question we asked ourselves before starting Varis. That’s why we designed a system made for casual buyers, not just highly trained procurement professionals. Legacy systems have let the need for auditability and control drive the user experience, rather than developing an easy-to-use shopping experience that supports control and auditability.

At Varis, we’re focused on building a buying experience that even the most casual user will love with outstanding controls and auditability that will satisfy your toughest finance and accounting stakeholders.

Also known as off-contract spend, rogue spend occurs when buyers purchase items from a non-contracted supplier. Usually this is because they can’t easily navigate buying policies or may not even be aware of contracted suppliers.

The main reason that organizations try to control off-contract spend is because it typically costs them money. Buyers will typically pay a higher price overall for items bought outside of negotiated discounts. Rogue spending also makes it hard to ensure purchases fall within policies, whether that’s preferred items (a particular laptop model supported by IT, for example) or spending limits on purchases (a laptop must cost less than a certain amount).

In the long term, off-contract spending can impact an organization’s ability to negotiate contract terms by undermining buying power. For instance, if a supplier agreed on a 15% discount based on $50,000 of anticipated spending and $10,000 of spending in that category goes to non-contract suppliers, the supplier may not offer the same renewal rate.

A punchout typically refers to a link to a supplier’s website directly from an ERP or other system. This is more convenient than requiring buyers to leave the application to search on a website(s), but each link goes to a specific supplier site. Buyers still have to figure out which site to use and may not have immediate feedback about which supplier to use or what to buy. The Varis experience allows users to “punch out” to a single, curated marketplace where they can search for whatever they need across all of their suppliers on a single site and know they are working in-policy.

A category manager is a dedicated associate trained in a certain set of products or services. As a member of the procurement team, they are experienced in knowing the pricing, market, and industry of that product set and negotiating favorable contracts with suppliers. Very large organizations can employ teams of category managers to oversee direct and indirect spending, but smaller organizations often have to prioritize their most strategic categories and aren’t able to realize as much savings.

Varis Connections help organizations fill those gaps by offering pre-negotiated contracts across a range of categories. These suppliers have been vetted to provide high levels of customer service, a broad selection of category coverage, and support diversity initiatives.

Questions about Varis

Varis Connections are suppliers that offer quality products you probably already use but don’t have a category manager assigned to negotiate discounts and monitor pricing. Our customers have access to and can take advantage of contracts we have in place with suppliers at pre-negotiated discounts typically only available to companies with large buying power. Besides great pricing, we’ve screened these suppliers so that they can meet your customer service expectations for things like availability, shipping, and returns. Varis Connections include several suppliers that can also help you meet your goals for diversity and sustainability.

When you build your curated marketplace, you have the option to add any or all of these suppliers to your marketplace and enjoy the savings and convenience right away.

We deliver a comprehensive procure-to-pay solution that takes the best of the consumer shopping experience without losing the control and audit capabilities needed in business-to-business (B2B) purchasing. Any employee allowed to purchase products and services can easily make on-contract purchases of products and services from approved suppliers with clear approval workflows and seamless communication to suppliers.

We've developed a user-friendly procurement program that leverages the experience of some of the most knowledgeable leaders in this industry. We've streamlined our processes to bring you an affordable solution. Our goal is to change the way buyers and suppliers connect, contract, and transact.