Organisations still using manual sourcing methods – such as gathering item prices in spreadsheets, corresponding with prospective bidders individually via email, and collecting numerous data separately from prospective suppliers – can face a time-consuming challenge sourcing most cost-effective and quality items.  Without the proper tools, sourcing professionals can’t determine formal bids, RFPs, budget allowances, stock levels, current contracts and contingencies in purchase order releases.  Thankfully, sourcing professionals can use the following tools for seamless vendor management and requests to generate long-term sourcing success.

#1 Electronic RFP & RFx management

Sourcing professionals can waste valuable time corresponding with prospective vendors via email for requesting purchases, especially when prospective vendors’ information is held in disparate locations.  User-friendly and configurable electronic sourcing management platforms enable intelligent workflow for RFP management with real-time visibility.  The essential sourcing management system includes:

  • purchase requisitions
  • order management
  • budget approvals
  • RFx templates
  • clause libraries
  • bid advertisements
  • online vendor Q&A
  • electronic bid submissions
  • bid evaluation tools
  • line-item bidding
  • vendor response ratings and scorecards and vendor awards
  • document version controls
  • electronic signatures
  • searching and reporting
  • notifications and alerts.

#2 Electronic bid document creation and advertisement

Manually drafting bid documents, then advertising them on a different platform can create a time-consuming and disorganised process that makes it difficult for sourcing professionals to match the appropriate bid documents to their advertisements.  This process can also create a chaotic archive and disrupt proper record history.  A centralised electronic bid management system can help organisations generate accurate, detailed and timely bid documents.

You can manage various document templates and versions with the ability to merge pre-approved data fields and clauses.  Additionally, an electronic bid management system supports the easy exporting of documents to standard file formats.

After generating a document, you can promote your bids publicly or by invite-only.  Web-based bid authorship and advertisement features can simplify the bidding process.  Plus sourcing professionals can pre-release bid opportunities before their official opening date to allow greater bid exposure and vendor participation.

#3 Online Q & A portal

Receiving and answering bidding vendors’ questions can be challenging to keep track of through email, phone or other manual correspondence.  With multiple competing vendors asking a range of questions, sourcing professionals like you can find it difficult to answer their bidders promptly while avoiding answering repetitive questions.

Bidders can also bombard sourcing professionals with unsolicited questions after a closed deadline.  Thankfully, a centralised sourcing platform allows potential vendors to ask questions through a user-friendly portal that streamlines and simplifies the communication process between vendors and buying organisations.

Rather than sending email reminders about due dates to respondents, buying organisations can establish a timeline for questions and answers within the bid process.  Per a buying organisation’s deadline for question and answer correspondence, their sourcing contract management system can restrict question submissions to streamline the sourcing process per their needs.

#4 Electronic line item bids

Awarding vendors different aspects of a bid can be challenging.  However, a centralised sourcing platform with line-item response functionality can help you enlist specific electronic bids for individual items.  Sourcing professionals can identify specific bid items, respondents can enter expected unit prices for selected items, and buyers can easily compare responses.  Line-item functionality can streamline bid processes that require awards to various vendors for differing aspects of a single bid.

#5 Online bid reviews

Sourcing professionals assessing bid variables in a disparate system of emails, spreadsheets, documents can spend more time searching for item variables than comparing them.  Reviewing bids with information stored in ranging locations can create an inefficient and frustrating process. 

Thankfully, you can leverage user-friendly bid reports to seamlessly compare scoring, pricing line items, Q&A, and more for a swift bid overview process.  And you can leverage bid tabulation reports for a centralised and data-driven way to compare bid responses. 

#6 Electronic vendor awards, contract creation and integration

Awarding vendors and thanking participating vendors by manual and non-integrated means such as email, phone, snail mail or other manual processes can cost sourcing professionals tremendous time and energy.

Manually drafting a new contract and sending it to the awarded vendor for review and negotiations can prove difficult and laborious.  Tracking changes in a disparate system can delay the signing process and – ultimately – the purchase order.

Luckily, you can save time with sourcing software functionalities that allow for seamless vendor selection and direct email to vendors from the sourcing record page.  You can send either a templated bid award or a message that thanks participants for their interest while informing them that a different vendor has been chosen.  After a buyer awards a vendor, the standard contract process can commence.

A source-to-contract management solution can help you with the automated drafting of a new contract – or the use of a pre-approved contract – directly from the sourcing record page.  Once the new record is created, the contract lifecycle process begins between the buying organisation and the vendor in a single platform.  Buying organisations can leverage secure e-signatures and pre-approved contract templates to expedite the contract collaboration and signing processes.  Integrated contract creation and E-signatures promote visibility that tracks contract changes and signatures for increased accountability.

Once the contract is executed, an advanced sourcing tool can ensure that contract obligations are met, and that the organisation remains in compliance and adherent to regulations through renewals.  In contract renewal, notifications can be pre-set for re-evaluating the contract promptly, ensuring you don’t miss out on future opportunities.

#7 A centralised eSourcing platform

Sourcing professionals who tend to use a disparate manual sourcing process with incongruous tools such as spreadsheets and emails can miss opportunities and waste resources.  Without a centralised eSourcing platform, it’s easy to undermine workflow and reduce overall productivity.

But with a centralised source-to-contract management platform, you can monitor suppliers and vendors.  Your sourcing professionals will know if a request requires a new or existing purchase order or contract.  They can also determine if a purchase order can be released, if a company’s budget is available, if a request requires an RFP or formal bid, which items are in stock and which contracts are in place.  A unified eSourcing tool amalgamates these tasks, yielding a seamless request and vendor management workflow.

Unparalleled sourcing with Contract Insight

Contract Insight – award-winning, trusted, fully integrated eSourcing software from Four Business – streamlines sourcing and solicitation processes with reduced friction, optimal governance and heightened transparency from sourcing to post-award contract management.  This flexible, scalable and user-friendly solution seamlessly integrates with mission-critical applications, centralising and streamlining vendor management, contract lifecycle management, supply chain contract management, purchasing and electronic bidding etc.

Contract Insight is a cloud-hosted (SaaS) or deployed (on-premise) contract management solution.  The acclaimed platform is trusted by thousands of professionals for their contract management, legal document managementprocurement and sourcing needs.  Used by many Fortune 500 companies, Contract Insight gives you real time visibility into your contracts. It doesn’t just shore up your security; it will help you meet contract compliance regulations, centralise your contract management and improve your overall contract administration process.

For more information, contact John O’Brien, CEO at Four Business Solutions, global business consultants and software integrators providing business processes improvements in Finance, Supply Chain and Operations, across a broad range of industries.