Excel has its benefits, and it offers a lot of functionality, but it should not be your one and only procurement tool. There are a variety of technology solutions that can help procurement agents stay organized and streamline workflow. The right technology tool will obviously depend on the type of procurement needed (fleet management will require different functionality than ordering supplies), or what the end goal might be (such as guiding the workflow or providing a self-service portal). No matter what the need, check out these technology tools for a better experience than Excel.
Self-service portals – These types of tools are user-friendly and allow requests to be entered directly into procurement by requestors. The procurement agent can set everything up, including approved goods providers and even an order schedule. This is a great option for schools or other government buildings that need to order materials such as cleaning products, stocking restrooms, or office supplies.
Telematics – Procurement officers need to be on top of the latest innovations in fleet technology so their organizations remain efficient, competitive, and compliant. The science of telematics technology has come a long way in the past five to 10 years, and it's often up to the procurement officer to understand where the fleet management industry is going in order to supply their team with the proper tools. These data-sharing systems “connect” vehicles by providing actionable insights in real time. The data can be programmed to improve safety, track a vehicle’s location, schedule maintenance, and even alert the officer when it's time to procure a new vehicle.
Workflow – Now more than ever as a society, we’re looking at ways to do our jobs in a less manual, more digital capacity. If you’re responsible for a lot of paperwork and moving papers through the procurement process, a workflow solution might be the right fit for you. This type of technology tool will allow you to generate, assign, or approve forms through one interface. Since forms will be auto generated from a form fill, it also reduces the risk of human error or missing documents.
Procurement network – Agents have so much to manage, posting requests for proposal (RFPs) in multiple places or tracking down vendors shouldn’t be so time consuming. A procurement network will allow agents to post RFPs in an easy-to-use portal, and then the service does the rest. It e-mails notifications to potential vendors and organizes bids for easy review.
Analytics – If you’re responsible for the big picture, a predictive analytics procurement tool will help you get a handle on all that juicy data. These tools use a type of artificial intelligence called machine learning to look at data and then predict what’s likely to happen in the future. This type of technology is good for large supply chain management or manufacturing and could help reduce costs while boosting productivity.
The Right Tool for Every Job
Are you ready to say goodbye to Excel? These technology solutions will help government procurement agents do their jobs with less stress and with a more streamlined approach. Technology tools like these can save time and even reduce the chance of errors.
About the Author: Ben Vaught is president and CEO of e-bidding software company DemandStar and was previously director of government initiatives at Onvia.