3 types of procurement tools every business needs

Procurement tools are digital solutions that help businesses navigate purchasing and procurement processes quickly and easily. These tools can be as simple as an online form for a single task or as complex as a dedicated software platform that helps manage specific aspects of the sourcing and purchasing process.

Below you’ll find three areas in which every business should be using procurement management tools, and you’ll discover some solutions — from simple to more complex — to choose from.

1. Vendor selection tools

Vendor selection can be a lengthy process. Online procurement tools streamline that process and help you get to the relationship-building phase of supplier management much more quickly. Here are some examples of them.

  • Digital request for quote (RFQ) templates are a simple and efficient way to gather information from prospective vendors about product specifications, delivery timelines, and itemized costs. Suppliers then respond to the RFQ with a quote and any comments regarding the specifications.
  • For larger organizations that frequently use requests for proposals (RFPs), requests for information (RFIs), and requests for bids (RFBs), RFx software is an option. Solutions like DeepStream, Lascom, and others cut down on the time required to generate and analyze these requests, and they keep all your communications in a central location for easier management.
  • E-sourcing procurement software, like SourceRFX and SourceSuite, can help manage and track the sourcing process from beginning to end. Many solutions use automation to speed things up. They also serve as a central repository of information about past, present, and prospective suppliers, and they make it easy to forecast costs.

2. Contract management tools

As the foundation of all your vendor relationships, contracts make up a big part of the procurement puzzle. But a lot of effort goes into drafting and completing contracts — processes that you can streamline with the help of procurement software and other online tools. Here are some procurement tool options for contract management.

  • For small and medium-sized organizations, contract templates provide a good starting point for structuring all your purchasing contracts. You can customize them as needed to include your most important terms and reuse your templates for future deals. This process saves time and reduces the likelihood of mistakes.

Jotform contract templates allow you to set up electronic reviews and signatures, and you can also print them as PDFs. They’re also securely stored in Jotform’s cloud storage database so you can access them anytime for easy reference.

  • For large organizations tracking hundreds of contracts, a contract management platform might be more appropriate. Two popular examples are Agiloft and Concord.

These platforms provide better oversight of the entire contract process and a centralized storage space for purchasing contracts. They can also alert you when supplier contracts are coming up for renewal, giving you ample time to review contracts and determine whether to make a change.

3. Inventory tracking tools

Inventory management is crucial for strategic planning because demand often fluctuates throughout the year, especially for industries that see spikes in business around holiday seasons (e.g., florists, grocers, and retail).

  • Inventory checklist templates are customizable online forms you can use to efficiently keep track of item descriptions, conditions, quantities, and prices. You can collect and provide results in the form of professional PDFs that are easy to download, print, or view on any device.
  • Bar code scanners and radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology are beginning to replace manual inventory management, increasing accuracy and, in the case of RFID, supporting real-time reporting.
  • Inventory management software is a more comprehensive solution that allows you to gather and track detailed information about your inventory. Some platforms, like Odoo, trace the lifecycle of inventory items and even account for new items as you order them. As a result, you have better control over your inventory and can easily stay ahead of business needs.

Such systems also store your inventory data in a way that makes it easier to identify purchasing trends or seasonal requirements and uncover instances of misuse.

Finding vendors, negotiating contracts, tracking inventory, and managing contract expiration dates are all time-consuming, cumbersome processes that slow down the procurement cycle and make it more difficult to find and evaluate suppliers. Streamlining tasks with procurement software can help you secure quality products at the right time and the right price.

Photo by Tyler Franta on Unsplash

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