How eProcurement Systems can Help Senior Living Operators Streamline Purchasing
Time is valuable when running senior living communities. Operations need to be streamlined as much as possible to help create efficiencies so that property staff can give residents and their families the attention they need.
For property managers, eProcurement systems can offer senior living communities a solution for better managing their spend.“The business office manager or director is really pretty busy,” says Patrice Danaher, a former senior living property manager who is RealPage Senior Living’s Director of Product Development. “This person has varying skill levels depending on the company and its philosophy, and is typically responsible for handling HR, accounts payable, plus invoicing residents, and more.”
Because more and more companies are relying on community staff to handle operations, streamlined invoicing and purchasing processes are critical, she says. Too often, managers are slowed by the traditional manual methods of accounts receivables and payables, and burdened by “rogue” purchasing practices that can exceed budgeted expenses.
Ops systems in can help eliminate ‘rogue’ purchases in senior living
Initiating an automated purchase order not only kicks off the ordering process but helps eliminate “rogue” spending – those additional purchases that may result through traditional processes or none at all. Automated purchasing prevents staff from going over spending limits because the purchase is controlled by an approval process that can go beyond the site level.
Rogue spending, says Danaher, often happens when the buyer – such as a maintenance tech or office staff member – isn’t restricted to a purchase order, either made in advance or, at all. A lot of times, especially when making last-minute repairs or maintenance to a unit that is about to turn, a trip to the store for one item results in the purchase of three or four that may not be necessary. Afterward, a purchase order is initiated.
Automated spending levels and checklists keep expenses in line
With an eProcurement system, properties can dictate how the purchasing process works, to avoid overspending, says Sarah Upchurch, RealPage Vice President of Business Development.
For example, each time a unit is turned, there may be 20 things that have to be done, from cleaning carpets to touching up walls. The system enables the maintenance team or manager to see what has to be done, so that tasks aren’t forgotten and last-minute purchases made, often at a higher price than if pre-ordered.
“If they’re supposed to order paint for the walls and they forgot to do that, that person will have to go buy paint, and we’ve got rogue spending again,” explains Upchurch. “If you set it up such that every time you turn a unit of a certain type the correct supplies are ordered, nothing ever gets left off. So you don’t end up in that situation.”
Accounting is seamless with electronic invoicing
With paper systems, purchasing limits can be exceeded and approvals take days. Paperless eProcurement solutions can harness expenses and save time, as invoices move through the approval process.
The electronic routing of approvals eliminates the need to send paper purchase orders from person to person to person. An electronic ordering process automatically sends copies to vendors, who can more quickly fulfill and send invoices back, along with delivery information.
“The biggest benefit is that at the end of that process, an invoice is sent from the vendor and automatically updates to the AP system, which eliminates the need for any data entry, and automatically routes if approval is needed,” Upchurch says.
Online senior living solutions raise the bar on service
The senior living sector is unique from its multifamily counterparts because people with special needs are moving in, Danaher says. Highly personalized service and attention are the Gold standard today. How well a community attends to its residents is critical.
Solutions designed to relieve community managers and staff of the extra time it takes to procure necessary supplies and services that are vital to day-to-day operation can return valuable time spent on manual practices.
And communities can maintain higher levels of service for new residents.