Procurement survey: Public purchasers still rely on paper rather than automation or software
A poll of almost 500 procurement professionals shows many public organizations still rely on paper and homegrown solutions when it comes to purchasing operations. Under-automation is still prevalent, with 22 percent of purchasers surveyed saying their departments do not use procurement software of any kind.
Those are a couple of findings from the “2011 Survey on the Use of Procurement Software in the Public Sector.” The Herndon, Va.-based NIGP: The Institute for Public Procurement conducted the research. The goal of the survey is to understand the use of procurement software throughout public agencies. Its research partners on the project were Cary, N.C.-based SciQuest, Inc. and Herndon, Va.-based Deltek.
The survey, which was conducted online and through email, targeted the heads of procurement at all levels of government throughout the United States and Canada. Survey participants work in city, county and state governments, as well as public universities and K-12 district schools. A total of 2,269 received the questionnaire with 499 responding.
A few highlights from the research:
· Investments have not been made recently (among respondents, only 12 percent of their procurement systems are less than three years old), but many entities are planning to invest: about one-third of the entities are looking to invest in technology today;
· Only a small percentage of the installed base is using newer software as a service (SaaS) or cloud-based technology, with eSourcing and marketplace technologies leading the way; and
· Even larger government entities may not be using procurement software.
“There is a big difference in how small agencies use software and how large agencies use software. However, they all need to follow the same processes and tend to look at technology as an opportunity,” said Eric Zoetmulder, market director, public sector, SciQuest, Inc. “Our hope is that the results of the survey will serve as a guide for organizations looking to improve their technology solutions and a wake-up call for our political leaders to realize that investments in procurement are needed and will pay off with significant savings.”
According to Cliff McCue, one of the researchers on the project, “As part of the survey, the research team is proposing the ‘Procurement Software Adoption Framework.’ This framework is designed to measure how ‘automated’ the organization is today and to support public agencies in determining the next step in their investments to improve their technology infrastructure.”
McCue, who is an associate professor of Public Procurement Research at Boca Raton, Fla.-based Florida Atlantic University, added, “It is very difficult to make investments in this economy, but I see a shift in the importance of procurement as a solution for budget challenges in general. It is clear that more public entities are looking to realize the benefits of procurement software.”
Plans call for conducting the survey again in the future, so that it provides a benchmark for measuring changes and growth in the adoption of procurement software.
Click here to download a PDF of a report on the survey.
The survey results will be discussed in a webinar on Oct. 25, 2011, from 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. ET. Webinar information is available through NIGP.