The fourth annual survey on procurement user experience, conducted by Media Dell'Arte for Décision Achats and its partner, the CNA (Conseil National des Achats — French national procurement council), gives a positive assessment of the development of e-procurement tools. These solutions have become essential for procurement departments. Their use has been adapted for the crisis and they have highlighted some areas for improvement in the future.
Overview of e-procurement tools
Whether it is a question of e-procurement, repository management or other solutions, e-procurement tools are now seen as essential to every buyer's daily activity. In fact, almost three quarters of respondents use them very regularly, that is, every day or at least several times a week.
From an operational point of view, these tools are mainly helpful for following internal procedures and improving compliance (traceability, adherence to standards etc.). Eventually, they will be able to assist more with sharing data between different stakeholders or with forecasting to facilitate decision-making. To do this, procurement departments will have to look towards cutting-edge solutions that have not been very widely used until recently (artificial intelligence, chatbots, RPA or robotic process automation etc.).
It is also interesting to note that the health crisis has transformed users' expectations of these tools. Two key characteristics have now become far more important for these users: security (of data etc.) and possible remote use, as a result of the heavy increase in remote working.
The pandemic: A catalyst for e-procurement tools
Unsurprisingly, the companies that have been relatively unscathed by the health crisis are those that were the most advanced digitally. E-procurement tools have made them more resilient, in terms of their ability to react, adapt and be flexible to the numerous difficulties they have faced.
However, regardless of their level of digital maturity, procurement departments have also learnt about the shortcomings in their processes and want to address them.
Following on from COVID-19, three factors need to be looked at as a priority:
- Completely rethinking supplier risk management with next-generation tools.
- Changing the procurement department's perspective and behaviour regarding corporate social responsibility, while equipping themselves with the relevant tools.
- Strengthening the inclusion between procurement and supply chain.
In this crisis, procurement departments have become profit and value-creation centres. To address the challenges brought about by the crisis, they are going to accelerate their plans for digital transformation in particular, by using these e-procurement tools.