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Top eProcurement System Challenges and How to Solve Them

Sarah Fixel, Solutions Director, State and Local Government
October 27, 2023

When it comes to procurement in state and local government, agencies’ main complaint is that they can’t buy the goods and services they need fast enough. That’s even at agencies using a digital eProcurement system. 

[ Want to learn more about eProcurement? Read What Is eProcurement: Definition and Best Practices. ]

While an electronic procurement system should in theory streamline the acquisition of goods and services, many eProcurement systems still abound with stumbling blocks. So what’s slowing down the procurement process, and how can we speed it up?

Factors slowing down the government procurement process.

  • Manual processes. While the name suggests otherwise, most eProcurement systems today still require many manual processes. They offer a few automatic functions but still require people to perform a lot of manual work outside the system. As a result, much of the information needed to create requirements packages, evaluate vendors, and manage awards is stored in various spreadsheets, shared drives, SharePoint, Word documents, and so on. 

  • Data is not centralized. Procurement processes are complex and involve multiple entities, including legal, compliance, accounting, and technology. Even agencies that think they are organized typically have disparate systems for procurement data, contract management, finance, accounts payable, invoicing, and other tools used in procurement activities. This makes it hard for stakeholders to find the information they’re looking for, slowing down their work. Often, it also means duplicated effort and more errors.

  • Lack of flexibility. Most eProcurement systems don’t offer the flexibility to make changes in the approval workflow. This is a real hindrance in government procurement, where regulations frequently change.

  • Lack of functionality. Procurement teams often find it challenging to stay ahead of contract activities, such as contract expirations, renewal periods, and funding needs across the organization.

  • Reliance on external methods of communication. When stakeholders like the program office, contract specialists, and vendors are forced to communicate outside the system, typically via email, it is difficult to track communication history and it’s easy for information to get lost. And when a new contract specialist takes over the contract, as is often the case, they don’t have access to their predecessor’s emails so they don’t have the information they need to procure the right item or service. 

  • Employee turnover. Government agencies are facing the issue of newer, less seasoned staff replacing experienced purchasing agents, who are retiring and taking their procurement knowledge with them.

All these issues translate to longer procurement cycles.

How a good eProcurement system lets you move faster.

A robust eProcurement system can help address the challenges faced by state and local government agencies. Procurement leaders should look for a solution built on a unified platform that infuses the latest technologies for their procurement automation and workflow needs. The solution should allow users to view all contract activity and plan for future budget needs.

[ Find out how next-generation procurement technology minimizes risk. Get the whitepaper. ]

Appian has developed a complete suite of configurable eProcurement solutions that simplify, automate, and accelerate procurement, from requirements gathering and solicitation to contract award and management. It enables teams to manage the full procurement process in a complete, compliant, and consistent way for increased staff productivity and improved program outcomes. 

Built on the Appian Platform with low-code tools, Appian eProcurement solutions add efficiencies through workflow automation, AI, and robotic process automation (RPA). They eliminate time-consuming, manual tasks with automated document creation, filing, and approval. And they ensure compliance with laws, regulations, and agency policies, with the flexibility to adapt to changes in real time.

And Appian’s data fabric integrates your previously disjointed systems, pulling in the right data when you need it in your automated workflow. The workflows are centralized in a single view that provides transparency to all stakeholders—improving collaboration and reducing lead times. You can also communicate with stakeholders directly in the system for easy tracking and more visibility.

The Appian eProcurement suite gives teams a single hub to:

  • Create complete procurement requirements packages.

  • Evaluate vendor proposals and quotes.

  • Manage relationships with vendors.

  • Develop contracts with the right terms and conditions.

  • Proactively manage contract award processes and meet all deadlines thanks to automated notifications and alerts.

By using an eProcurement system that unifies your data and disparate systems, automates workflows and processes, alerts stakeholders about upcoming deadlines, and reduces the learning curve for less experienced employees, your teams can speed up decision-making, experience cost savings, and choose the right vendor with confidence.

Watch this fireside chat between two procurement experts to learn how state and local government organizations are unifying and automating all aspects of the procurement process.