Digital procurement – a field report

When I joined Urben AG over 5 years ago, I realized that our order system at the time was 100% analog. This resulted in the following weak points.

But first, let’s briefly explain the process:

  1. Order comes in by phone.
  2. The order is handwritten on a pre-printed slip of paper.
  3. Planning of the appointment is made in a physical agenda.
  4. Delivery bills (or other documents) for spare parts are attached to the order
  5. There are different compartments in the office for the different statuses of an order:
    • Order must be planned
    • Waiting for spare parts
    • Order has been completed and is waiting to be invoiced
  6. When everything is ready, the invoice is written and the order is filed in a folder.
  7. Thanks to reliable customers, practically no invoices need to be reminded, and if they do… We hardly notice it anyway, because everything has to be checked manually.

Problems from analog procurement

This process has weakened at every turn:

  • Payment reconciliation was only possible with great effort -> was therefore hardly ever made. I don’t even want to know how much money was lost. But if you had done it, someone would have to go through all the bank receipts, check off the corresponding invoices and then the outstanding reminders.
  • If there is only one person in the office planning the orders, then planning is still possible, but at the latest when I was looking after the office in between and customers called and asked what was going on with order XY, I got into a rut. With luck, the piece of paper could be found somewhere and there were useful notes on it. Very often, however, I was simply unable to provide any information.
  • Changes in planning often led to confusion, as ink on paper cannot be erased so elegantly.
  • There was hardly any transparency and information could only be provided by the planner. If this failed spontaneously, it inevitably led to chaos.
  • Planning was time-consuming as there was no overview: increases rapidly as the number of employees rises.


This is how orders are rescheduled.

Digital procurement – no witchcraft

Urben AG is a mini-SME. The solution had to be lean and affordable. We didn’t want gigantic, all-encompassing software that takes days of training and does everything and nothing.

So we decided on and introduced two tools:

  1. A tool for billing (currently Bexio)
  2. A tool for planning(MFR)

Not much has changed in the process yet:

  1. Order is placed by telephone (now also by e-mail or direct booking)
  2. Order is recorded and planned in MFR
  3. Status changes, photos and completed work are all recorded in MFR
  4. When everything is ready, the invoices are written via Bexio (currently still have to be copied manually from MFR to Bexio)
  5. Bexio automatically takes care of reminders, we no longer lose anything here

Lean and flexible for small companies

Even in this process, there are still manual steps involved. However, process digitization should always follow the principle of proportionality. Yes, it would have been possible to connect both tools via interfaces, but it was simply not proportionate.

Meanwhile, MFR offers corresponding options, but is it proportionate? Bexio is very well integrated into the Swiss banks and also handles our bookkeeping, so we won’t be rushing into anything.

Personally, I’m a fan of small specialized tools that do something well and can talk to other applications.


If I have to cover the office and answer the phone in between, I can pick up seamlessly where the other person left off the day before.

Do you have processes that are still analog? Or that are complicated? At best, it is worth reconsidering this.