A Procurement, e Tendering and e Sourcing Management Software System Which Gets Results
E Procurement Software systems abound, but many focus mainly on simplistic sourcing events based on SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) and can be categorised as simple Tender Management systems. These systems can never fulfil the requirements for large bespoke projects, which require a specialised CAPEX procurement software solution. Policy & Procedural Compliance is crucial to ensure employees are following proper protocols, with the goal of mitigating potential losses as a result of fraud or administrative error.
GRC (Governance, Risk, Compliance) is a discipline that aims to synchronise information and activity across governance, risk management and compliance in order to create efficiency, enable more effective information sharing and reporting and avoid wasteful overlaps. While interpreted differently in various organisations, GRC typically encompasses activities such as corporate governance, enterprise risk management (ERM) and corporate compliance with applicable laws and regulations organisations reach a size where coordinated control over governance, risk management and compliance (GRC) activities is required to operate effectively.
Each of these three disciplines creates information of value to the other two. Each of the three GRC disciplines touch and impact the same technologies, people, processes and information in any organisation. Where governance, risk management and compliance are managed independently from each other, the organisation will have substantial duplications of tasks. Overlapping and duplicated GRC activities negatively impact both (i) operational costs and (ii) GRC metrics. For example, each internal service might be audited and assessed by multiple groups on an annual basis, creating enormous cost and disconnected results. This is where e Procurement software such as iSpec can play a crucial role.
A disconnected GRC approach will also manifest as an inability for the organisation to provide real-time GRC executive reports. Like a badly planned transport system, every individual route will operate, but the network will not have the qualities that allow them to work effectively together.
Due to the changes in technologies, the increases in data storage, market globalisation and increased regulation, the number of GRC related requirements that most organisations must sustain has become unmanageable if tackled in a traditional ‘silo’ approach. iSpec’s in depth audit trail and work flow processes, ensure compliance and reduce risk. The internal messaging (e-mail) facility is a critical part of the GRC discipline. iSpec as an e Procurement software solution ranks in the top tier for its GRC features.
Contextual Communication for Online Tender Management
One of iSpec’s key features is the email facility included in the system. This internal messaging facility is a critical part of the GRC discipline. Many Online Tender Management Systems rely purely on external emails or a simple list of messages – neither of which properly fulfils the stringent requirements of GRC rules.
This feature has a number of significant benefits, including:
- All communication from the date tender is established in iSpec until contract award through final delivery, is controlled and stored in context to the item it relates to within iSpec. This includes both internal emails between tender team members and external emails with the tenderers and external parties;
- Compilation of documentation in the event that the agreement relies on the RFT and all prior representation;
- Ease of access for tender evaluation, clarifications and negotiations;
- Full traceability;
- Ease of audit and probity;
- Ease of retrieval in the event of discovery or Official Information Act requests
Templates can be created for vendor pre-qualification purposes or RFIs, and other formats. Before publishing a tender the customer can publish a Pre-qualification RFI. Once the vendors have responded with the requested information, they can be evaluated (scored) and can then be invited to respond to the actual tender.
Vendors can also be flagged/tagged for quick identification or grouped for automatic addition to a tender. In most basic Procurement solutions this is a manual process, however in iSpec vendors have direct access to enter this information themselves and therefor reduce internal administrative effort.
Accurate document Preparation – an essential part of Tender Management
In the iSpec E Procurement Software module, each tender is prepared by the tender/project team nominated and authorised to access and work on the tender that has been set up in iSpec. Numerous tenders can be simultaneously processed and each tender’s team/project members must be set up individually to each respective tender.
This means that some people may be allocated to and can work on numerous tenders and secondly, each team member can have varying levels of authority set for each tender. For example, a team member may only have contributing rights on one tender, but have full approval rights on another. Based on each team member’s role and authority, the various aspects of the tender are prepared by using the appropriate templates drawn from the master database.
These draft elements are populated in accordance with the scope of supply of the project and/or organisation requirement. The draft elements and documents are only updated to their respective final approved form once they have been approved by the authorised approvers. BoQs (Bills of Quantity) spreadsheets can be imported directly into iSpec a feature which few Tender Management Systems have, opting rather to attach spreadsheets. This means manual rather than automated comparison and evaluation – adding unnecessary effort.
A select number of team members (including the Tender Manager and Procurement Manager) are authorised to approve those elements and documents that have been prepared by the project team. It is generally not advisable that the approvers are also assigned to compile the tender, but this hierarchy of authority is determined by each organisation.
The review of the tender’s draft documents can go through as many iterations of review as deemed necessary by an approver. Request for review and notification of re-work/approval is done by means of the iSpec email system; details of which are set out above. Not many other Procurement Management Systems have these features integrated into one solution.
A tender cannot be released and published until all of the elements and documents have been completed, approved and formally released to be published. This is a crucial GRC element of the Tender Management process.
All tenderers are sent an email advising them that the tender has been published. They are invited to consider whether they wish to respond or not, and advise the tendering party accordingly.
e Tender Management Auction Module
iSpec fully integrates Auction and Reverse Auction functionality into the solution, unlike many other e Sourcing software solutions where this is done as a separate part of the process. These modules further accelerate the tendering and procurement processes, but are best utilised where the client is requiring fully compliant responses to prescriptive requirements and wishes to promote/leverage keen pricing and terms out of a highly competitive and elastic market.
Q&A and Submission
A tenderer is provided with a unique access code for entry into the e Procurement software module of the system enabling access to the appropriate tenders and can therefore commence immediately with on-line completion of the tender documentation and communicate with the tender team regarding any clarifications that may be deemed necessary.
The Tender Manager has the option (depending on the nature of the clarification/query received from a tenderer) of replying to all tenderers or the individual tenderer that raised the clarification. All fields/documents that require completion by the tenderer are “flagged” red in the tender.
The flag turns black (neutral) when the tender information required has been populated in the required fields and in a format predetermined by the organisation. iSpec allows the tenderer to complete the required information in stages and at their convenience by automatically saving newly uploaded information each time iSpec is accessed.
Part of the tender publication process is setting the tender closing date and time. This allows for the tender to automatically close on-line and those tenders not complete cannot be submitted as those outstanding “red flags” will prevent a tenderer’s partially completed tender from being submitted.
The flexibility of the iSpec software also provides for supplementary information to be attached in specific areas of the tender where it is appropriate that additional information is required to support/clarify the primary/compliant information required to effect evaluation – a vital part of the Procurement process.
The online approach to iSpec tender management makes tender evaluation far easier and more efficient for the project team. As opposed to most other Procurement software, iSpec provides for immediate price/compliance evaluation and identifies those aspects of non/partial compliance where further clarification is required before evaluation can be completed. Separate evaluation teams can be assigned for technical and commercial evaluation. Evaluations can be structured to be a simple process or include more complex weighted-score evaluation criteria.
This is an area where, again, iSpec’s internal email / communication tools become material to the evaluation process, ensuring it prime position amongst e Tendering systems. Upon completion of all price affecting and non-price affecting clarifications with the tenderers, the organisation can make a final assessment of the price and remaining risk elements with the aim of selecting preferred tenderers and commencing negotiations. Upon the selection of preferred tenderer(s), tender status letters can be sent to all tenderers via iSpec.
Tender Negotiation and Award
Where appropriate, elements of negotiation can be progressed on-line, and where necessary face-to-face meetings can be held for the Procurement Manager to conclude outstanding matters. It is advisable, however, to conclude all matters in writing in iSpec so that a fully conformed agreement can be produced by iSpec for execution by the respective parties’ executives.
Procurement contracts in the iSpec e Tendering system have been certified as legally binding in more than 67 countries in terms of using only software copies and not requiring hard-copy documents.
Auditing simplified by the iSpec Procurement Management System
Using iSpec, the procurement process can be audited online from a single location. This makes iSpec the preferred Procurement Management System amongst enterprise auditors as they can audit all CAPEX projects globally from a single point without having to inspect reams and reams of paper. This results in significant savings in both time and money.