Technology and procurement: A perfect match

By Rob Cook, Marketing Manager, TenderLink

There’s no doubt that when applied smartly, technology can be a powerful business enabler. The right tools and the appropriate processes can transform almost any business activity from an administrative challenge to a competitive advantage. The only limitations are understanding how the tools can be applied and getting everyone in the organisation to embrace the change that is often required during implementation.

Despite its strong requirements for relationships, negotiations and general ongoing management, procurement has quietly made great strides as a business activity that embraces technology.

Today, a number of aspects of the procurement process have been systemised, streamlined and/or automated by a growing arsenal of technological applications. These range from planning tools that enable organisations to simulate various supply strategies and market dynamics, to vendor management tools that ensure all stakeholders do their part and get their just rewards.

As early starters in the automation of tender processes, we know the value delivered by electronic lodgement.

Just as the electronic submission of documents has created efficiencies in a range of sectors, from taxation to job applications, our technology has transformed the tender box from a physical receptacle in which hard-copy documents have to be submitted, to a virtual instrument that saves time and money, while also adding convenience and probity.

Remember the horror stories of people flying to another city to ensure that their submission made it into the tender box on time and in full? That’s a far cry from our e-tendering portals which not only enable organisations to get their tenders into the market, but also allow interested suppliers to submit their tender responses electronically.

Our electronic tender boxes also recognise the need for flexibility by allowing for two styles of electronic submission.

Suppliers can scan their hard copy request for proposal (RFP) responses and submit them as an electronic file. This approach merely replaces the need to get hard-copy documents to a physical address, and essentially continues the tried and tested method of tender response.

The second approach streamlines the whole tender process. Instead of the usual RFP cut-and-paste response, interested suppliers respond directly via an online form created by the purchaser within our system. This procedure provides exactly the information required by the purchaser to make an informed decision. When custom-built online response forms are coupled with our evaluation toolset, this allows the tender evaluators to compare and score responses quickly, easily and, more importantly, accurately. By asking the same questions of all bidders and ensuring they reply in the same format, buyers are able to compare apples with apples.

For tendering, electronic lodgement ticks so many boxes: it is easy for suppliers to respond without the need to post, courier or hand-deliver responses to a physical address that can be on the other side of the continent. When using the online response form method, the burden of tender responses is reduced, with the supplier made aware of exactly what information is required - and in what format. The e-tenderbox is open 24/7 and can be configured to interact with would-be suppliers around the clock, either answering frequently asked questions (FAQ) or acknowledging receipt of enquiries or documents.

For the buyer, these tools can simplify the collection and evaluation of responses, producing robust reports based on verifiable scores from predetermined criteria. So, not only is it easier than wading through reams of often-irrelevant “pitches”, but it is also totally transparent and repeatable.

And, with time stamping of every transmission, no one can ever argue that they were wrongfully disqualified for not meeting a deadline. In fact, no one need ever miss a deadline again – or argue that the courier must have got lost on the way.

Of course, at the end of the day, organisations will always need procurement professionals to plan and monitor the tender process, no matter how much technology is applied. But by removing the need for tedious paper shuffling, electronic lodgement can free up your procurement resources for the real challenges and allow them to spend more time on strategy and less on number crunching. Technology takes care of the details and the procedural requirements while your procurement team can spend time planning for onboarding and ensuring the new supplier meets the needs of all the stakeholders in your organisation.

*Copy supplied by TenderLink