procurement process

Procurement Process: Steps and Strategies for Smooth Management

Managing procurement processes requires tackling tricky supply chains, dealing with suppliers, following rules, and juggling global sourcing, which is no easy task! 

Effective communication and transparency are crucial when optimizing supply chain performance. 

Securing the best terms with your suppliers and maximizing gains requires a well-thought-out strategy. And, of course, having the right procurement tools is critical to leading the way. 

Get ready for some handy tips and an introduction to the ClickUp procurement platform—your go-to tool for powering up your business objectives. The solution will help you speed up your entire process like never before. 

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What is Procurement?

Procurement refers to acquiring goods, services, or works from external sources. It’s a multi-step process covering sourcing, purchasing, negotiation, and logistics. The goal is to secure the resources needed to support your organization’s operations or projects.

Procurement is crucial for handling costs, ensuring quality, and cultivating supplier relationships—to meet your business’s strategic goals. Basic procurement covers these initial steps, but the advanced level delves deeper—analyzing procurement data, handling settlements, and crafting future procurement plans.

Your procurement strategy can include studying business requirements, tracking receipts, and updating payment terms. Yet, at the core of the procurement process, every procurement department shares the same goal: getting competitively priced supplies on time and maximizing value. 

In procurement, key steps include recognizing demand, negotiating and managing contracts, handling quotations, getting budget approval, invoicing, and maintaining records. We’ll talk more about these in later sections.

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Types of Procurement Processes

To grasp the procurement process better, let’s break it down into different types:

1. Direct procurement process

Direct procurement involves acquiring goods, services, or raw materials for your final product. It involves sourcing materials essential for producing or manufacturing your company’s core products or services.

Direct services procurement aims to secure quality inputs efficiently, negotiate with suppliers, manage contracts, and ensure timely delivery to support the production cycle.

For manufacturing companies, it’s about getting the raw materials and services needed to create the final product. Similarly, for retailers, it involves buying products from wholesalers to sell to the end customer.

This type of procurement is crucial for industries like manufacturing, where the quality and timely availability of materials significantly impact the final product.

2. Indirect procurement process

Indirect procurement is acquiring goods and services not directly related to producing the final product. It involves the purchase of goods and services that support your business’s overall operation and functionality but do not become part of the end product.

Think office supplies, IT help, marketing services, consulting services, facility maintenance, and other things that keep the organization ticking—those fall under indirect procurement.

Indirect procurement ensures the necessary resources are on hand to support your internal operations and business activities.

3. Strategic procurement process

Strategic procurement is a process that involves the development and execution of a procurement strategy aligned with the overall goals and objectives of your organization. It goes beyond the transactional aspects of buying goods and services and focuses on creating long-term value for the organization.

It involves collaboration from different departments throughout the company to ensure the correct quality goods are sourced at the right time. 

In strategic procurement, we discuss managing supplier relationships, assessing risks, analyzing the market, and collaborating with key stakeholders. The aim? Cut costs, boost efficiency, and help your organization succeed by making smart decisions and building solid, sustainable partnerships with suppliers.

4. Operational procurement process

Operational procurement is the day-to-day process of obtaining goods and services needed for the regular functioning of your organization. It involves executing routine tasks such as requisitioning, ordering, and receiving products or services.

Operational procurement is about meeting immediate needs and keeping things smooth—managing transactions, ensuring on-time delivery, and maintaining the right stock levels.

It involves tasks like processing purchase orders, transactional supplier management, and dealing with routine procurement admin.

5. Tactical procurement process

Under this procurement process,  the team executes specific actions and strategies within the broader procurement process. It focuses on achieving short to medium-term goals related to cost savings, efficiency improvements, and process optimization.

In tactical procurement, you select suppliers, negotiate contracts, and implement cost-saving measures.

It is a reactive and more transaction-focused approach compared with other procurement types. This is also ideal for meeting your business’s emergency requirements.

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Steps in the Procurement Process

Every business has its way of doing things regarding procurement. To keep it simple, let’s break down the process into nine broad steps that universally apply:

Step 1: Identify your needs

Identifying what you need is a process. First, talk to relevant stakeholders—end-users, department heads, and decision-makers—to understand their requirements and expectations. 

Then, perform a thorough needs assessment by analyzing current inventory levels, evaluating performance gaps, or considering future organizational goals. 

Clearly define the specifications and requirements for the goods or services you need by adding details such as quantity, quality standards, technical specifications, delivery timelines, and other relevant criteria.

Next, evaluate and understand your budget constraints to establish realistic expectations. Lastly, conduct a risk assessment to identify potential challenges or risks associated with the procurement. 

Document all these details in a formal document to serve as a basis for creating requests for proposals (RFPs) or quotations (RFQs) when communicating with potential suppliers.

Step 2: Create and submit a purchase request (PR)

After identifying your needs, it’s time to submit a purchase request. 

A purchase request (PR), or a purchase requisition, is a formal document or form used within an organization to initiate the procurement process.

A PR includes crucial details like a clear description of needed items or services, quantity specifications, budget information, delivery requirements, supplier preferences, and approval signatures. 

Once the purchase request is approved, use it as the basis for issuing a purchase order to the chosen supplier. This document ensures smooth communication between departments and aligns acquisitions with your organization’s needs and budget.

Step 3: Select your supplier(s)

Now that you’ve got the purchase request, it’s time to start looking for vendors who offer cost-effective services with maximum value.

After shortlisting vendors, request a quote from each. The more detailed your request for information, the easier it is to compare and analyze different prices and services.

When choosing a vendor, consider pricing, service, quality, reputation, speed, and reliability factors. The ideal one ticks all these boxes. If your organization values social responsibility, consider the supplier’s environmental commitment and ethics. 

Analyzing these factors will point you toward the most suitable vendors and create a supply chain management for your procurement needs. 

Step 4: Negotiate for the best deal

Now, it’s about getting the best deal from your shortlisted options. Chat with different vendors, see what they’ve got, and negotiate to get the best product within your budget. 

This is the step where you choose the final vendor by a competitive bidding process. 

We suggest shortlisting at least three vendors and negotiating with them to score the best possible deal. After you’ve individually negotiated with each vendor, it’s time to compare their offers. 

Assess the best deals they present, take a moment for reflection, conduct a thorough comparison, and obtain a written agreement from the selected vendor once you’ve made your choice. 

This step solidifies the commitment and avoids any potential misunderstandings.

Step 5: Initiate a purchase order (PO)

Once you’ve got the best deal, place your order

Simply fill out a purchase order and send it to the supplier. Keep things clear and avoid confusion by providing precise details during purchasing.

Quote the agreed-upon pricing and specifications, double-check everything, and put it all in writing. This careful approach makes the transaction smoother and reduces the chance of misunderstandings.

Step 6: Receive and inspect the goods

Once you receive your goods, it’s the moment of truth. It is time to check if the supplier delivered on their promises. 

Inspect the supplies to evaluate quality and spot any errors or faults. It’s your chance to review the order and make sure the quality meets your company standards.

Your efforts in choosing an appropriate vendor must pay off in the quality of the supplies delivered. 

Step 7: Perform three-way matching

After checking the goods, it’s time for invoice verification before you make the final payment to the supplier.

Follow a three-way matching technique to verify the payables by comparing the purchase order, order receipt, and invoice with each other. It will bring any discrepancies or inaccurate invoicing to the forefront. 

The centrality of this step in the procurement cycle comes from the necessity to double-check the payments made for any faults or incorrect additions. It is one of your prime responsibilities. 

Step 8: Pay the invoice

It’s time to reward your suppliers by paying them the amount due on time and sealing cordial relationships for the future. 

Like good quality and cheap pricing make the supplier outshine so many others, on-time payments are the foundation of an attractive buyer.  If the three-way matching process is faultless, proceed with invoice approval and payment via accounts payable.

Making timely payments is, thus, one of the critical factors in establishing good supplier relationships, getting rebates for paying on time, and enhancing your company’s reputation. It also prevents late fee applications and encourages new suppliers to connect with the company. 

Step 9: Keep records

The last yet most significant step in the procurement process is record-keeping. 

Record-keeping means noting every step of the procurement process, from initial price quotes and negotiations to purchase orders and invoices.

Keeping records is crucial for planning future purchases, audits, and tax calculations. It’s not just an internal benefit; it’s also a valuable asset for resolving disputes.

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Challenges in Procurement

Even with a diligent procurement process, challenges in the overall process are still possible. Some of the common pain points for most procurement teams in supply chain management include:

1. Supplier fragmentation

Are there simply too many diverse products and services that you must note? 

The supplier database often gets fragmented with multiple suppliers across categories, making it challenging to negotiate volume discounts and leading to complex contract management

Categorization and individual account upkeep can demand immeasurable time and attention from the procurement team. 

Solution: Create guidelines for supplier evaluation and keep updating the supplier database to keep it updated. Use a procurement management solution like ClickUp to streamline supplier interactions, consolidate data, and foster collaboration.

2. Maverick spending

Unauthorized or non-compliant purchases made by individuals within an organization without adhering to established procurement policies and procedures are categorized as maverick spending. 

High-level employees and management across departments might independently conduct purchases, bypassing the standard procedure. This could impact your company with costly purchases, missed saving opportunities, and inconsistent quality. 

It’s a loss for the company and creates recordkeeping challenges for the procurement team. The budget might falter, or the purchases might be missed from the records altogether. 

Solution: Prevent this by setting well-defined purchasing rules for all employees. Use procurement management software like ClickUp that helps centrally manage all aspects of your procurement strategy.

3. Limited strategizing

Procurement teams might get caught up in the day-to-day needs of the business, concentrating solely on sourcing the purchase requirements promptly.

With the primary focus on operational needs, strategizing such as supplier consolidation, cost savings, and partnerships might take a back seat. It may serve short-term goals, but it puts the core role of procurement management at stake. 

Solution: Use ClickUp to create, monitor, and manage your procurement process strategically with team collaboration, simplified views, and much more.

4. Compliance and risk management

Ensuring compliance and managing risks in procurement is challenging. It requires careful adherence to regulations, considering legal implications, and implementing proactive risk mitigation strategies to safeguard against unforeseen complications.

Working as per these compliances and mitigating risks caused by data breaches or seller non-compliance is of prime importance for the team. Once again, this is a time-consuming and time-sensitive process. 

Solution: Use ClickUp to track compliance, weave in risk management protocols, and centralize your procurement processes. It’s a systematic approach that cuts down errors, increases visibility, and encourages smooth collaboration—making compliance and risk management in procurement simple.

5. Manual challenges

Handling purchase requisitions, invoices, and payment approvals can be challenging for procurement teams still hooked on manual processes. This process is labor intensive, prone to errors, time-consuming, and inefficient. 

Relying on manual processes slows down speed, decreases accuracy, and hampers overall productivity, making it challenging to keep up with the fast-paced demands of procurement.

Solution: ClickUp’s automation streamlines data entry, approvals, and communication, letting your team concentrate on strategy while it takes care of routine tasks, boosting accuracy and productivity in procurement.

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How to Optimize the Procurement Process

Need a platform to handle over half your manual procurement tasks and boost overall efficiency? Your solution is right here.

ClickUp is the ultimate solution for your procurement needs, featuring dedicated procurement software that combines tasks, docs, whiteboards, analytics, chat, and more in one integrated platform.

With everything in one place, you can relax and stop juggling between platforms for even the most basic tasks.

ClickUp Gantt Chart View

ClickUp Gantt Chart View enables you to visualize and manage different stages of the procurement process like never before. 

Track dependencies and manage priorities with your team via a shared visual timeline. Easily schedule tasks, view progress, manage deadlines, and identify bottlenecks, all under one dynamic chart view.

ClickUp Gantt Charts
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ClickUp Gantt Charts

ClickUp Mind Maps

ClickUp Mind Maps help you visualize the different steps of the procurement process flow by mapping out workflows with drag-and-drop nodes and drawing connections between various tasks. 

ClickUp provides task-based and Node-based Mind Maps to streamline work and better plan it. You can also share this Mind Map with your team to have everyone working towards similar goals simultaneously. 

ClickUp-Mind-Maps
Draw connections between tasks and ideas, map out workflows with drag-and-drop nodes, and more

ClickUp Automation

Allow ClickUp Automation to do the heavy lifting while you focus on more pressing demands. The platform offers 100+ automation opportunities to accomplish routine tasks and streamline workflows. 

You can also use pre-built automation options to customize them per your requirements. Alter priorities, apply tags, and change status to keep your team informed and your business operations up to date. 

ClickUp Procurement Templates

ClickUp Procurement Templates extend assistance with standardizing procurement processes,   simplifying and streamlining them, and saving time and money. The primary advantage of a clear and consistent format is reduced errors. Some central elements of the ClickUp Procurement Template are:

  • Custom Statuses: Identify the different stages during the procurement process with 21 status tags such as Open, Clarification Needed, In Progress, etc. 
  • Custom Views: Gather insights from 8 different views, including List, Supplier Tier, Supplier Risk, Tier 1 Mission Critical Suppliers, etc., to help you perform tasks speedily
  • Custom Fields: Categorize and add attributes to your tasks by adding visuals such as Supplier Contact Name, Procurement Approved, Contact Email, Supplier, Requester, etc. 
  • Project management: With all the features highlighted above, simplify project management and achieve your goals faster

We hope you can better manage the process by understanding the types of procurement, different steps, and limitations. While the needs of all companies vary, a general understanding can help you analyze your specific requirements and tap into valuable resources. 

Further, ClickUp procurement processes can help you sail through instantly with their extensive features. With multiple advantages knocking at your door, sign up for ClickUp procurement management today and get rolling toward efficient operations quickly!

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