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How To: Remote Procurement Amidst Coronavirus Outbreak

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These days, work from home is mandatory in most cities around the world. But if you’re a procurement professional - how do you manage your activity away from your office? How do you manage your suppliers and negotiate your contracts?

The most obvious answer would be via telephone, email, and video conferencing apps like Skype or Zoom. But as interaction with suppliers and coordination with colleagues remains paramount, there’s actually an easier way to keep structure and traceability in the process - by using Prokuria.

Organizations everywhere are forced to change their organizational cultures and adopt remote procurement to be able to continue their activities.

After weeks when China, the world’s largest exporter of goods, has functioned at roughly 40%, Chinese factories are finally re-entering into a normal rhythm. But with the rest of the world now in distress, including major economies like the US, UK, and Germany, buying organizations need to figure out new ways to adapt to this situation.

Fortunately, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, we can just take advantage of what technology has to offer. From procurement automation platforms to chat apps, video call apps, and resource sharing platforms, procurement departments have everything they need to continue work away from the office.


Remote procurement was here before COVID-19

NASA engineer Jack Nilles was the first to coin the term “telecommuting” back in 1973. At the time, he estimated this style of work to become the norm in about 20 years. And he was right - remote working did pick up in many parts of the world, including buying organizations, thanks to the benefits it offers. Benefits like:

1. Increased productivity

A FlexJobs survey found that 66% of professionals think they would be more productive working remotely than in a traditional office, while 52% say they go to their home or home office when they really need to buckle down and get work done.

Working from home typically leads to fewer distractions, fewer office politics, a quieter noise level, fewer or more efficient meetings, and the ability to dress more casually and comfortably.

2. Time savings

The average one-way commuting time in the U.S. is 26.1 minutes. Remote work eliminates or lessens a commute, so employees have more time for themselves. In fact, employees who work remotely part-time gain back 11 days each year that would have been spent commuting.

3. Money savings

Besides time, employees who work remotely also save between $2,000 to $6,500 a year. Gas, car maintenance, parking fees, a professional wardrobe, lunches bought out, and child care can all be reduced or eliminated entirely.

As some organizations offer employees company cars, at least part of these savings can remain in employers’ pockets.

Now, with most of the population under lockdown, buying organizations everywhere can reap the same benefits if they choose to use the tools they have at their disposal to continue their activities.


Keeping procurement functions at 100% with Prokuria

Traditionally, the procurement process requires a great deal of manual effort. However, modern tools enable manufacturers to hand off many of these manual tasks to procurement automation solutions. In exchange, the resulting procurement process improvement frees valuable internal resources for business-critical decision-making and strategizing efforts (which is what you should actually be focusing on right now).

Here’s how Prokuria can help you keep procurement functions at 100%:

Keeping procurement functions at 100% with Prokuria.

1. Easy RFx management

Spreadsheets only slow things down. By using online RFIs, RFPs, and RFQs, you can communicate with your suppliers more easily and track every step of the way in real-time automatically.

A comprehensive view of every supplier on your list will allow you to make an informed decision without having to jump between multiple sheets. Tracking responses that align with the best pricing and scorecard rating make it easy to compare offers and choose the suppliers who best fit your requirements.

2. Online auctions

Top-performing companies go beyond RFIs and RFQs. They use e-auctions to ensure major cost savings (which, considering the situation, are more than welcome).

Prokuria enables you to use six different e-auction types (British Reverse, Vickrey Reverse, Dutch Reverse, Japanese Reverse, Sealed Bid, and Weighted/Multi-attribute) to dramatically cut down your spending.

3. Online document approval

From requisitions to custom approvals, from purchase orders to invoices and three-way matching, Prokuria enables procurement managers to sign and approve any document online.

This doesn’t just enable procurement professionals to collaborate more efficiently but also ensures transparency. Since all changes are registered, this makes it easier to audit your company’s spending.

4. Supplier management

Supplier management platforms like Prokuria help create positive buyer-supplier relationships by streamlining and improving processes between a buyer and its suppliers. Supplier management focuses on developing a mutually beneficial relationship with suppliers, especially those deemed as most strategic to the brand, to promote quality, efficiency, innovation, reduced costs, reduced waste, and strengthen the supply chain.

5. Contract management

Contract management is an integral part of the procurement cycle. Prokuria can assist contract managers to properly manage contracts by addressing transition management, performance monitoring, and by helping to ensure that both parties, the buyer and their supplier, fulfill their commercial and contractual commitments.

In short, Prokuria is perfect for managing procurement remotely because:

  • It’s a cloud platform that works in your browser, meaning both buyers and suppliers can access it from anywhere in the world, including their homes. You don’t need to be at the office to launch, manage, or participate as a supplier in an eRFQ or e-auction.

  • It offers you the possibility to remain on the same wavelength with your relevant colleagues via the Prokuria web app, as well as other third-party apps (see the apps mentioned in the section below).

  • It offers you an audit trail. Your compliance department will be able to audit all processes even when they’re not completed while physically present in your office.

  • It provides you with communication tools such as real-time chat and event-level queries to keep in touch with your suppliers.


Must-have tools for managing procurement remotely

1. Chat apps

Besides email, any applications like Microsoft Teams, Skype, Slack, Google Hangouts, Discord, or Cisco Webex enable your team to easily communicate and exchange ideas and information.

2. Video conference platforms

Regular meetings are essential for the good functioning of your procurement department. And once again, technology can enable us to hold them without leaving our house.

Besides the apps mentioned above, there are other dedicated video conference apps (GoToMeeting and Zoom) that you can use for either internal meetings or meetings with suppliers.

3. Resource sharing apps

If your company’s policy allows it, you can use services like Google Drive and Dropbox to enable your team to share resources.

If that’s not possible, an alternative would be to have your own shared server that your procurement department can use.

According to the most positive forecasts, the Coronavirus is here to stay for at least a few more months, which means lockdowns will not be suspended anytime soon. Considering this, organizations everywhere need to adapt to these new conditions and make use of whatever tools they have at their disposal to carry on with their activities. Otherwise, they might be out of business.


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