Maybe you are thinking about abandoning email for your next sourcing project? Are you wondering how to get started using e-tools to run a RFP or Reverse Auction? Have you recently used E-tools for a sourcing project and did not get the supplier participation that you expected? What changes do you need to make in your sourcing process when you adopt e-tools?

E-sourcing tools automate parts of your sourcing process and provide a central repository for your suppliers, RFP’s and supplier bids. At the conclusion of the bid process, e-tools will provide you with reports that you can use to analyze the results of the event. You can test out free tools at or

Many people think that the e-tool will do the work for them. Frequent mistakes Buyers make with e-RFx’s are:

1. Forget to invite suppliers
2. Don’t contact suppliers before sending RFx invitation
3. Don’t invite the right suppliers or the right person at the supplier
4. Include poor specifications
5. Make sure the supplier’s are comfortable with the tool

Running an e-sourcing event without inviting suppliers is like having a party without inviting guests. The chances of anyone showing up are slim to none. Researching and inviting the “right” suppliers is critical the outcome of your sourcing initiative. Schedule time with invited suppliers to review your specifications, your award process and the tool set. Engaged & educated suppliers will provide cleaner and more accurate bids.

Many Buyers will send suppliers invitations to their event without contacting them first. Why should a supplier invest their time to respond when you did not take the time to engage them in the process? Sending RFx’s to suppliers blindly leads them to believe that you are not serious about their participation. For more on this, read this blog post: Stop RFP Spamming.

Automating your sourcing process does not eliminate the need to prepare clear specifications and identify capable suppliers. Comprehensive specifications and proper supplier on-boarding to the event will have a dramatic effect on the results of your event.

You should also make sure that you are conducting the right type of sourcing event. Running a reverse auction with 50 line items will create a situation where suppliers are unlikely to participate because of the complexity of the bidding during the event. Similarly, if you have a single item that is highly commoditized, it may be ideal for a reverse auction instead of an RFP.

So what is the bottom line on e-tools? They will help you with efficiency and organization and can help to expedite your sourcing process. However, they will not eliminate the human element of supplier identification, specification preparation and supplier engagement.
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Steve Belli

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  1. Using the traditional method of a paper based solicitation for bid is a standard practice in government and public sector entities. Even though the process is antiquated and inefficient, it does fulfill the legal requirements of many state regulatory requirements.

    However, many vendors are now looking for bid opportunities using online internet based applications. The vendor process of responding to paper bids will be around for many years to come, but it is becoming more common for vendors to utilize online systems to receive and respond to these solicitations.

    With the internet becoming a tool that allows a supplier to search and then respond electronically to a solicitation, the supplier can now be more selective of an opportunity. Once an entity publishes a bid electronically the vendor can easily retrieve the bid online to review the terms and conditions to determine if this opportunity should be pursued.

    Gravity Gardener