As a Business Development Representative (BDR), I am the person you talk to when you ask for information. My job is to understand your needs and direct you to the right member on the sales team to help answer your specific questions. Sometimes, I get calls from prospects in the very initial stages of researching what products are available. They’ve outgrown their current solutions and they’re shopping for what might meet their needs.
I had a recent conversation with a prospect about what one should expect from a good eSourcing tool. I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the procurement best practices we talked about. Even if you already have a sourcing tool, you might learn something here to get more from it. So let’s get to it.
The purpose of an eSourcing tool is to help your business manage the sourcing and procurement process more smoothly, optimizing your spend better than you could using emails and spreadsheets, and ultimately contributing to the bottom line. It’s an investment in the enterprise – and just as with any investment, you’ll need to do some research to make sure it has all the ingredients for success before you dive into it.
Every company’s needs are a little different, based on the size and growth of their business. There are, however, some basics, what we call “the five C’s” of procurement, essential to the implementation of any eSourcing tool. They will help facilitate the adoption process to get the greatest return on your investment.
- Collaborate. Ideally, your eSourcing tool should make it easy to collaborate with colleagues, supervisors and suppliers. It will streamline the communication and bidding process so that all RFx and other data can seamlessly flow where they’re needed, no matter which application each entity is using. The right tool should be compatible with several platforms and have built-in communication and sharing features, so that everyone is always on the same page.
- Compare. Your eSourcing tool should make it easy to compare bids by collecting all supplier information in one central hub. By simulating different scenarios with criteria you enter, it should take the guesswork out of choosing a bid, enabling you to make smart decisions based on dynamic facts.
- Connect. The ideal eSourcing tool interacts well with other crucial elements of the process, like your contract management system. The sourcing process should automatically flow into contract creation, and past contracts should be highly visible to provide insight while new bids are being collected.
- Clarify. A smart eSourcing tool should turn data and analytics into reports that are easy to understand and use. With the proper information at hand, it will increase your ROI by a huge factor. Investing in an eSourcing tool isn’t worth it unless you can use it to make better business decisions. The right software should provide you with actionable insights that allow you to see where your dollars are going and how you might distribute them more effectively. Your eSourcing tool can provide visibility and clarity, which are absolutely key to optimizing the greatest return on your investment.
- Configure. And of course, none of these features matter if you can’t configure your eSourcing tool to the unique specifications of your business. The software should be flexible to adapt to your requirements; and show you exactly what you need to know in real time with the dashboards, activity trackers, and task lists you’ve decided are most relevant for your business.
Our SmartSource® solutions have all five C’s covered, and then some. We provide flexible, intuitive tools for enterprises that want to increase visibility and efficiency in their sourcing and procurement processes. Contact us to find out more about how we can help.