Last edited 17 Sep 2019

E-procurement

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'E-procurement' refers to tendering processes carried out online and through information and networking systems. It can be a highly-effective way of managing complex supply chains with multiple tiers of suppliers.

Very broadly, e-procurement might include:

  • E-informing: the process of gathering and distributing procurement information both from and to internal and external parties.
  • E-tendering: the process of tendering using online technology.
  • E-auctioning: web-based software that allows potential suppliers to compete online, in real time, to provide prices for the goods/services under auction.
  • Vendor management: an application that acts as a mechanism for business to manage and procure staffing services.
  • Catalogue management: the process of suppliers enabling product content to be made available to buying organisations in order for them to procure goods electronically.
  • Order status: the ability to track orders online until delivery.
  • Advance ship notice: notification of pending deliveries.
  • E-invoicing: exchange of the invoice document between a supplier and a buyer in an integrated electronic format.
  • E-payment: the e-payment system facilitates the acceptance of electronic payment for online transactions.

E-procurement software automates procurement-related functions, procedures and processes, reducing the need for paper-based and human processes. E-procurement platforms can usually be customised according to the needs of the user, often with accessibility through smartphones and tablet devices. It frees up an organisation’s procurement teams from low-value tasks, allowing them to focus on higher-value activities such as contract negotiation.

There are several potential challenges for an organisation implementing e-procurement. These involve considerations such as the installation and integration of software with other enterprise systems, training requirements, and liaising with suppliers to ensure a successful transition to the new system. However, there are some significant benefits that can be achieved. These include:

  • Lower transactional costs.
  • Better reporting through automation.
  • Pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQ) can be dispatched and responses automatically evaluated.
  • Tender-cycle times can be reduced.
  • The whole tender process can be scheduled, with milestones automatically managed and participants alerted.
  • E-evaluation can appraise and give different weightings to bids automatically.
  • The system can be extended to handle routine clerical procedures after contract award, such as invoicing and payments.
  • There can be simpler contract management as all documents can be stored centrally.
  • Because of the ease of contacting, more suppliers can be invited to tender, meaning there is greater competition.
  • Integrated data solutions allow for accurate cost estimates and a source of accurate costing data in a direct feedback loop from the tender process.
  • Substantial reductions can be made in paper and energy use.
  • It can lead to closer, more structured communication and cooperation with supply-chain partners.
  • It streamlines change management as requirements are properly documented.
  • It increases accountability by formalising and documenting the tender process, and creating audit trails.

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