Top 4 Trends and Practices in Digital Procurement Today

The world of digital procurement is always changing. As technology improves, organizations' purchasing teams, suppliers and other industry stakeholders find themselves adapting to changing standards and new efficiencies almost every day. It can be hard to keep up with all of them, but these four must-know trends and practices will ensure your organization is positioned to lead instead of react, foster a greater sense of inclusion, and save time and costs down the road.

Supplier diversity

At its core, supplier diversity is "a business strategy that ensures a diverse supplier base in the procurement of goods and services for any business or organization." It emphasizes the creation of a diverse supply chain that works to secure the inclusion of diverse groups in the procurement plans for government, not-for-profits and private industry.

A diverse supplier is a business that is owned and operated by an individual or group that is part of a traditionally underrepresented or underserved group. Examples include small-business enterprises, minority-owned business enterprises, and woman-owned business enterprises. Diverse suppliers are certified through third-party certification and membership agencies, such as the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council, Women Business Enterprises Canada Council and the Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

Supplier diversity brings significant benefits to not only the traditionally disadvantaged supplier communities, but for buyers who bring a supplier diversity mindset when purchasing goods and services. These benefits include:

  • Lowering supply chain risk
  • Promoting innovation and new talent
  • Lowering costs and gaining more leverage in spend
  • Gaining stronger positioning to compete in international markets
  • Increasing public accountability and fostering an equitable approach
  • Creating intentional economic growth for all communities
  • Aligning with social responsibility and sustainability mandates

Learn more about supplier diversity programs and how to create an effective program that works for your procurement team.

Incorporating a truly end-to-end system

In addition to the many advantages digital procurement systems bring, such as streamlined bid management and evaluation, contract management, more compliant bids, reduced spend and significant time savings, more and more platforms are incorporating features that truly make them end-to-end.

From the moment a bid is drafted and released to the moment that a supplier is awarded the opportunity and work begins, more can be done within a single, centralized and integrated system, and better workflow efficiencies are possible for all stakeholders.

For example, some of bids&tenders' latest features, including Award Approval and Contract Builder & eSignatures, seek to build on this idea and truly bring the end-to-end concept to life. With Award Approval, buyers can better automate their internal award approval process through improved document circulation and tracking. Stakeholders involved in the award can simply be sent an email generated by bids&tenders, view the awarded opportunity and provide their approval from a link in the email. Everything needed to complete the award process can be performed through the system.

Using Contract Builder & eSignatures, organizations will be able to build contracts within the system and authorize them with digital signatures. Once a vendor is selected for an opportunity, all parties are able to fully sign and execute the contract entirely online and within the platform.

Learn more about contract management on bids&tenders and tips on managing supplier performance for successful contracts.

Infusing digital procurement beyond purchasing teams

While there are clear, obvious benefits to organizations' purchasing departments using digital procurement systems to better conduct business and efficiently procure goods and services, it's also worthwhile to expand the use of these systems beyond the department to the rest of the organization!

Often, many different teams and other departments within a single organization have their own needs and priorities. Sometimes, these employees don't need to immediately involve their procurement department when exploring the fulfillment of an opportunity, especially if the budget for the opportunity does not exceed a certain threshold. The ability for all members of an organization to use and work from the same digital procurement platform when purchasing and seeking quotes helps vastly streamline and improve internal knowledge sharing, communication and purchasing processes so that all team members are working from the same playbook and speaking the same language. This also brings enhanced visibility and a holistic view of the organization's overall purchasing activity.

Through focused education and training, such as informative webinars and recordings, online instructions, experimenting in sandbox environments, and of course, intuitive platforms, leveraging a single digital procurement system for all departments' purchasing activities only boosts the cohesiveness of employees in multi-faceted and multi-structured environments.

Discover more about how to work effectively with internal teams when performing procurement.

Comprehensive data collection and reporting

Aside from enabling better, more compliant bids and streamlining the end-to-end procurement process, digital procurement systems also shine in data collection and reporting. Long gone are the days with filing cabinets and stacked boxes full of binders and years of paperwork. Now, valuable information is not only virtually collected and stored, but analyzed with actionable insights.

As ProcureCon Europe notes in a recent report, spend analysis is the most popular automated procurement process among its survey respondents, with 66 per cent using platforms that compile, classify and clean supplier spend information. In the data, Rowan Lemley, Head of Product Marketing at OpusCapita states, "It doesn't surprise me at all that spend analysis is the most commonly used element within the procurement process, as the goal of modern procurement is to get 100 per cent of spend under management  ̶  and continue to optimize. To optimize, you need data." Additionally, 75 per cent of chief procurement officers surveyed reported that they are already using predictive analytics, and 25 per cent report that these analytics will be most useful in the future.

In its report titled "The Future of Procurement in the Age of Digital Supply Networks", Deloitte shares this assessment, stating that "Digital procurement solutions are allowing for many more physical and digital inputs to be connected, driving better decision-making and improving efficiency, and ultimately producing results in the form of improved insights and strategies, leading to accelerated cost leadership."

Data-driven decisions are especially prevalent with bids&tenders users. Procurement professionals can easily build custom reports or use a Report Library of existing reports, build custom dashboard views specific to an individual's responsibilities, view online supplier databases, and view and download reporting on the history of suppliers associated with their organization.

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