Lessons in eProcurement: Raleigh, North Carolina

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Governments have long focused on developing efficient procurement processes, and creating modern procurement systems that make use of technological advances create their own challenges. The City of Raleigh, North Carolina, was grappling with these challenges and had grown frustrated with its traditional procurement process, which relied heavily on a paper-based system and made spending difficult to track. In an effort to modernize its approach to procurement and take advantage of the technology now available, Raleigh’s finance department started work on an electronic purchasing system.

The finance department started by focusing reliability, looking for a system that could streamline the purchasing process, reduce costs, and improve efficiency. The city needed an electronic procurement (eProcurement) system that would: 1) enhance the buying power of city departments by increasing the number of pooled purchases and by collecting more data on buying history; 2) quickly link users to pre-negotiated catalogs and contracts; and 3) offer an easy-to-use online marketplace (like Amazon and eBay) that would work with the city’s ERP system.

Once the system was chosen, perhaps most beneficial of its many features was the ability to load negotiated contracts into a searchable database. This allowed users to locate pricing and availability in real time and select from pre-approved vendors, saving time and money by allowing users to purchase items with pre-negotiated contract prices. The new system also enabled the city to send electronic purchase orders and receive electronic invoices, expediting the procurement process and allowing employees more time for other projects. Overall, the city gained a 79% satisfaction rate with the new eProcurement system among users, with 40% of users reporting that they had stopped using paper entirely.

Raleigh’s fully integrated eProcurement system connected its existing ERP system to vendors and supplies, allowing the city to make smarter purchases that offered price comparisons between vendors and synchronized purchasing request with the city’s current contracts. Ultimately, the investment to implement the eProcurement system helped the city maximize its resources, saving time through streamlined workflow processes and hard dollars through better vendor contract management.

For more information on Raleigh, North Carolina’s eProcurement click here.

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