The problem:

A big part of your job is managing vendors and costs. There are a lot of vendors charging a lot of different prices for a lot of different items. Some of the vendors are good, some are bad, and most are mixed. Maybe each member of your team individually has a grasp on the vendors and their offerings, but there’s no way everybody knows everything. You want a solution where all the experiences you’ve had with vendors is in one central database: every purchase, every price, and every review.

Potential solutions:

1)Shoeboxed: a service which promises that you can send them paper invoices or electronic invoices, and they’ll perform OCR for you. But this would only be a way of keeping track of costs, not vendor or product quality. Besides, the standard plan costs $40/month, and only allows you 150 docs/month.

2)Gatekeeper: a heavy duty vendor management software. It allows you to track vendors, manage them, and pay them all through the software. But it’s intense, heavy, and so expensive that they don’t even list their prices on their website.

My solution:

My free Google Sheets add-on walks you through how to easily process receipts and invoices yourself through OCR. Take a picture, use the OCR I recommend to process the picture, and use my add-on’s tools to quickly clean the scan. Then use my add-on to tag the line items using your own-self created categories. Finally, you can add your own reviews to both the vendors and the individual line items.

If you want to look back at your past receipts or invoices, they’re all there in Google Drive. Or, if you want to just look at your data from a certain vendor, from a certain time period, or regarding a certain item (like tomatoes or stuffed animals), you can do that as well using my add-on’s analysis tools. Or, if you want to look at and analyze your own past reviews for vendors and their offerings, it’s also easy to do straight in Google Drive.

Then, with a premium account, it’s easy to link each team member’s account. Prices, reviews of items, reviews of vendors, and any comments that the team member had about their experience is easily accessible. Finding the best vendor of a specific item or the cheapest overall vendor is as simple as using my add-on’s filters directly in Google Drive. And the data stays between your team’s spreadsheets. It’s never put onto any other server.

My add-on is a lightweight, cheap, secure solution to basic purchasing management.