Raising the profile of procurement through better sourcing software
For public procurement teams, strong stakeholder relationships are not a nice-to-have or an afterthought. They are at the core of your ability to drive value for your organization. In fact, in Deloitte’s 2018 CPO Survey, public sector procurement leaders identified ‘internal client satisfaction’ as a priority of equal importance to supplier performance.
With this in mind, the best eSourcing platforms go beyond unlocking efficiency for the procurement team; they also deliver enhancements to your stakeholder relationships internally and externally.
This was a key theme that emerged from our webinar discussion The Challenges of Supplier Selection in Transit Sourcing, with special guest Michael Brinton, Principal, Contracts Manager at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
Facing growing project volumes, his team implemented Bonfire’s eSourcing platform to bring their time-consuming paper and manual RFx process online. Their team realized significant efficiency gains (which were the subject of a Bonfire Case Study).
However, the impact of their successful implementation extends beyond efficiency. They have also seen improvements in the way that the procurement team is perceived by stakeholders within and outside the organization.
Laying the foundation for a strong business relationship
The procurement process is often the first interaction between an organization and a supplier, setting the tone for the business relationship to follow. When you think about it that way, it’s clear that the method through which you engage suppliers is an important first impression.
Michael Brinton and his team were well aware of the impact their former paper processes might have on the supplier community. Paper submissions present obstacles to suppliers, from the cost and inconvenience of printing and preparing paper copies, to the time required to deliver the bids before the dropbox closes.
But there was another risk to relying on a paper process.
“You want to be an attractive business partner for the consultant community,” explains Brinton. “If you’re still conducting your operations in a method that is 20 to 30 years old while the rest of the community is moving to mobile or cloud-based applications, you can make yourself a hurdle to do business with, because you’re dated.”
In their search for eSourcing software, Brinton and his team sought a platform that represented their organization the way they wanted to be perceived by suppliers: professional and modern. To ensure this, they not only considered the software’s functionality but also how it looked and felt from a user’s perspective.
The result has been “universal positive acceptance” from suppliers, according to Brinton. The seamless digital submission process offers convenience, clarity, and ease to bidding suppliers, setting a positive tone for the business relationship.
Developing trust internally
Every organization has tech enthusiasts, the early adopters who are the first to try out every new app on the market. On the other side of the spectrum are those who are resistant to change and skeptical of the value of technology.
It’s easy to get the first group excited about eSourcing, but much more difficult to sway the latter group. However, Brinton and his team have found that prioritizing an intuitive user experience in their eSourcing software selection has ensured that even the reluctant adopters are now big proponents of the system.
“Psychologically, both for our team and for the rest of the staff, it makes people feel good when they can use a tool that works the way it is supposed to, that looks good, has a good user interface, and that your business partners like.”
A modern eSourcing platform provides structure and simplicity for evaluators and other internal stakeholders, fostering a positive working relationship with procurement departments, and instilling trust and confidence in the agency’s procurement process.
Launching point for further innovation
The smooth adoption and tremendous efficiency improvements following MTC’s implementation of eSourcing software have given the procurement team the ability to pursue other forward-looking process improvements. For example, they have since introduced e-signatures and transitioned their public bid openings to video conferencing.
“Across the board, it has raised the status of our contracts group throughout the agency, and it has put us in the position to lead other efforts of electronic efficiency that are going to have an impact agency-wide.”
Now, the MTC procurement team is preparing to roll out a workflow system to completely eliminate all paper in their procurement and contracting process. They are frequently consulted by local agencies looking to launch similar initiatives at their own organizations. And it all started with the successful implementation of eSourcing, which opened the door for further ambitious projects.
As Brinton reflects, “Taking one small step towards change can really open the door to new things.”