Your organization recently decided to modernize your purchasing system in Community Brands MIP, the technology grant you applied for was awarded, or you are simply researching your options. That is great news! Now what? Now you need to figure out which purchasing system will best suit your needs.
The topics of modernizing, centralizing or decentralizing, and going paperless for purchasing and procurement are something that we come across at JMT Consulting quite often. We recommend clients looking to migrate their purchasing process stay with one of the two products that directly and immediately integrate with MIP’s GL for one simple reason: instant access to live data. When a purchasing system is directly connected to MIP’s GL, you have instant, real-time, live access to important secondary and tertiary information related to purchasing (eg. Do we have enough budget for this purchase?). When you have a system that is not directly connected, there is a lag time associated with finding out those other underlying questions. The only way to connect the information is through a definition file import (which is a one-way, flat file import – executed at your leisure. It does not run automatically). It’s important to keep the systems connected at all times to allow for the bilateral back and forth transfers of information.
So, what are your options? You have two.
(There are, of course, other 3rd party purchasing systems available on the market, but none of them directly integrate with MIP – which is something we consider a must.)
Option 1: MIP Purchase Order/Encumbrance Module
MIP has two main purchasing/requisition systems that directly integrate with its general ledger (GL): the MIP Purchase Order/Encumbrance module, paired with the Electronic Requisitions and eReq users. This option is a native module offering to MIP, meaning it is just an add-on module (two modules, actually) for MIP. All of the functionality is built within MIP. Compared to the next option, or even outside 3rd party products, the functionality of MIP’s native purchasing module is limited. The users who get the most value out of MIP PO/Encumbrances are using it only for purchasing, but not remote-based requisitioning and approving. Users who add the Electronic Requisition module to the purchasing suite often start noticing limitations in functionality.
Option 2: Microix
The name Microix alone means so much. The “Croix” part is referencing from where their founder hails, while the “MI” part references the fact that Microix ONLY makes add-on software for MIP. That’s rather important, so I’ll expand upon that for a moment.
Yes, Microix is a separate software system from MIP, but it resides on the same server (whether on-premise, or Cloud), so it is always connected and pinging off the same database in real-time. There’s no lag time associated with using Microix’s products as it relates to financial data or numbers. In addition to their Purchase Order/Requisition product, Microix also provides solutions for Time Keeping, Budgeting, and Inventory (Did a light bulb just go off in your head as you read the word ‘Inventory’?).
In the past 10 years, we’ve seen the majority of clients looking to modernize their purchasing system opt for the Microix Purchasing/Requisition software over MIP’s purchasing modules for the following reasons:
- Workflow Capability: While there is workflow capability as it relates to approving documents in the MIP system, Microix just simply does a better job with it. Do you have a PO that would require 3 different managers approving for 3 different cost centers to sign off? MIP cannot handle that. Microix can handle that with ease.
- Deployment Options for Users: In MIP’s purchasing system, they offer low-cost options for users that will only be requesting and approving documents. However, there is one significant limitation: those users can only operate within the physical or technological bounds of your network. Unless you are hosted, they cannot request or approve documents from the Cloud. Microix addresses this differently, by offering ‘Cloud Companion’ user licenses, specifically designed for requesters and approvers and available through a web-based login. Those user licenses start out at $25 per user, per year, so they are super affordable, to say the least.
- Extras: In MIP you get a rock-solid, well-functioning purchasing and requisitioning system that always interacts with your GL in real time. But sometimes we want a little more out of the system. For example, maybe you want approvers to be able to approve a PO simply by clicking one link in an email, rather than having to log into the system. Or maybe you want to be able to alert your requester that they are within $1,000 or 10% remaining on their budget. With MIP, you cannot have those extras. In Microix you can. That Inventory comment from above is still burning bright in the back of your mind, I’m sure. When Inventory is added to Microix purchasing, it integrates fully with the suite of functionality. Scan items in, check them off the POs, deal with partial shipments, trigger restocking alerts – Microix does it all.
- Cost: Did you think I’d be able to wrap up this blog without touching on the dollars at least once? Despite Microix’s winning attitude in each of the aforementioned categories, you would think it would be more expensive, right? Wrong. Both in initial cost and total cost of ownership, we see Microix systems coming in cheaper than MIP purchasing systems almost every time.
In closing, when it comes to system and process optimization, it sometimes makes sense to stick with what you have, stay close to what you’re familiar with, and not deviate outside the norm. This is not one of those cases. When a client comes to us asking about electronic purchasing systems for MIP, we always help them evaluate Microix in conjunction with MIP and Microix often comes out on top.
That being said, the comparison we’ve outlined here is not to be taken as the be-all-end-all of a purchasing evaluation, and our experts know that every nonprofit organization’s needs are unique.
We’d love the opportunity to learn more about your purchasing needs and how we can help you optimize and modernize the way you’re making purchasing decisions. To chat with one of our nonprofit experts, contact us here.