Organisation-wide purchasing is often the responsibility of the procurement team with the business reliant on them to source the right goods and services at the best price. But different departments within an organisation will often have very specific and specialist requirements and there are significant merits in empowering selected personnel to source exactly what they need, when they need it.
Many forward thinking procurement teams are taking a more collaborative approach to procurement in their organisations and empowering other parts of the business to purchase their own goods and services via the use of e-sourcing software. It enables end-users to source their own suppliers within the bounds of necessary procurement and compliance rules. The procurement team no longer has to control the supplier selection and approvals process as supplier selection rules are already programmed into the e-sourcing solution.
It enables buyers to quickly and easily go to market for competitive pricing from a number of suppliers via e-tendering. For example, an engineer will know the most appropriate tool for a specific job and which tool offers the best quality and is fit for purpose. E-sourcing can facilitate this choice and create “buyers” outside of the procurement function.
One of our customers, a leading UK charity, is taking this approach and its procurement team is using e-sourcing to collaborate on purchasing within the business. They believe in taking a flexible approach to sourcing, and the procurement team sees itself as having a wide knowledge and acting in an advisory capacity, providing the support, tools and systems to enable buyers to source confidently and independently. E-sourcing enables this as buyers make their choices within the system safe in the knowledge that these are transparent and in accordance with the organisation’s purchasing guidelines.
For some organisations, sourcing is a global affair and e-sourcing can help different territories collaborate on spend. With multilingual and multi-currency functionality, it enables procurement teams to better manage group spend across multiple projects and categories, consolidating multiple territories with a single view of all activity – and allows stakeholders to remain involved throughout the process.
E-sourcing enables collaborative supplier choice and selection as it is intuitive and easy-to-use and imposes compliance. Ultimately it empowers other departments to take care of their own purchasing needs, freeing up procurement personnel to spend more time at a strategic level, tackling the total value chain for the business and nurturing important supplier relationships.
Alun Morris is senior e-sourcing consultant at Wax Digital