The benefits of taking the purchasing process paperless
When people think of going paperless, they often think of the environmental benefits. When it comes to purchasing professionals, environmental factors may play a role in the decision to forget the paper and switch to an e-sourcing solution as well. However, there are many benefits of a government organization going paperless with their purchasing processes in addition to going green.
When using hard copies of everything, a single solicitation can generate a lot of paper. It is often standard practice that purchasing professionals keep copies of all solicitations, including addenda and submitted responses, for seven or more years. Depending on the requirements of a given solicitation, each received response could be hundreds of pages long. When you think about the fact that any given solicitation may receive multiple responses; that is a lot of paper to store! And that is only for one solicitation. If an agency puts out more than a handful of solicitations a year, they often have to house dozens of responses for several years, requiring a lot of physical space to store all of this paper. However, going paperless by distributing the solicitation and addenda online, and accepting electronic responses, eliminates the physical space required for housing that information. An e-procurement solution like BidNet Direct allows agencies to receive bids online, and the platform keeps all relevant information, including the submitted responses, on hand for however long an agency requires. While many agencies don’t limit their bid submissions to only online, many that utilize an e-procurement solution take a hybrid approach and accept bids both online and hard copy. While they still receive these hard copy submissions, many decide not to house the physical copy and instead decide to scan and upload the submission. This still saves space, but it can be time consuming.
Whether it be through sending emails, or through an e-procurement solution, the time previously spent for vendor outreach can be significantly cut when an organization goes paperless. Not only do these processes save time, but they are being done without paper as well. That can also include providing vendors with bid information. No longer do organizations have to take the time to print multiple copies of the solicitation. Instead, they are attached to emails or available within the e-procurement solution. Some solutions, such as BidNet Direct, have options for bid evaluation as well. With guidelines provided by the issuing organization, BidNet Direct’s Bid Evaluation module grades all received bids for any given solicitation, and ranks them based on the provided priorities. This saves purchasing professionals time from the back and forth between an organization’s internal bid evaluators, many of whom have other priorities. Now the entire process is online and automated, relieving the evaluation administration from having to chase down evaluators. It also eliminates the need for a single, or often multiple, paper copies to be printed and distributed to the internal bid evaluators. By cutting out this step, all bid results can be compared at once. Not only does this eliminate the time spent evaluating bids, but it also allows purchasing professionals to make a decision on their purchases quicker, saving even more time.
However, just because a bid has been awarded, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the end of the solicitation records. As previously mentioned, purchasing departments are often required to hold on to relevant bid documentation from their solicitations for a minimum of 7 years. To do so, many organizations are taking their received bids and manually scanning them into their computer or, even worse have a storage closet full of paper! This process is no longer required when an organization uses an e-sourcing platform for closed bid storage and/or elects to receive their bid responses electronically. Having the documents stored online makes documents easy to find if needed, even years later. Purchasing professionals can easily access any information they need at the click of a button, as opposed to the time-consuming process of searching through printed or scanned copies of bids and solicitations.
Saving tax-payers money
A paperless purchasing process allows organizations to save their tax payers money, not only through the saving of time and space, but also through the reduced cost of paper and ink previously used for solicitations. The cost of printing out solicitations for vendors to pick up can quickly add up. This can include a large amount of paper being purchased for the solicitations to be printed on, as well as the ink needed to print with. For a single solicitation that has only a handful of vendors, that can be hundreds of pages printed by the organization. For organizations that have dozens of solicitations across upwards of hundreds of vendors, that cost can be exponential. It can be even higher when you include postage for mailing of solicitation information to vendors. None of this takes into account the manual resources required to do all of said printing and mailing. By going paperless and utilizing an e-procurement solution such as BidNet Direct, local government organizations can reduce or even eliminate the costs of these resources. They will no longer have a need to purchase paper and ink for printing solicitations at the same rate as before, and the employees that previously spent time with these functions can now spend it on strategic purchasing initiatives and other projects.
These are some of the more substantial benefits of taking the purchasing process paperless. E-procurement solutions allow organizations to save space, time, and money throughout the entire purchasing process. While environmental reasons for going paperless are certainly a popular direction, the other benefits are equally as important and readily proven to public organizations, their purchasing professionals, and their tax payers.