The eProcurement FAQ
As many new agencies look to implement eProcurement during the COVID-19 crisis, we answer some of their most frequently asked questions.
FYI: As of Spring 2021, Negometrix is now Mercell
A few weeks ago, in response the outbreak of COVID-19, we began to offer 6 months of free procurement software to agencies and organizations. Our goal was to make sure that anyone who wanted to continue their solicitations digitally could do so, uninterrupted.
We held several webinars detailing our platform and how it can help in these challenging times (we have two more scheduled for this month, if you want to join!). And in connecting with dozens of buyers around the country, we realized that folks had a lot of questions about how eProcurement, and Negometrix specifically, can help them!
In our eProcurement FAQ, we’re sharing some of these frequently asked questions and our answers. It is our hope that agencies can get a better sense of how eProcurement can help them to continue their critical work online, from anywhere.
Going Digital with eProcurement
Q: What is eProcurement?
A: eProcurement, or Digital Procurement, is the practice of bringing the entire procurement process – from creating a solicitation, to receiving bids or proposals, to evaluation, to awarding contracts – entirely online. This is most effectively done using a full-service eProcurement platform like Negometrix. eProcurement has a number of benefits, allowing agencies to save time, cut down on physical material costs (for both buyers and suppliers), increase supplier participation, and more.
Q: How does my procurement team access Negometrix?
A: Negometrix is a cloud-based solution, which means that it is hosted directly online, and users don’t have to download any kind of software. After getting set up with a license, Agency staff can be set up as users, allowing them to log on and work on any aspect of the procurement process from anywhere.
Q: Is there support for all web browsers? Is login from mobile devices supported?
A: Negometrix supports the latest versions of all of the most commonly used browsers (e.g. Microsoft Internet Explorer, Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox, etc.). The platform is mobile responsive, allowing for login and use on any internet-connected device.
Q: How long does it take to implement an eProcurement platform.
A: One of the benefits of a cloud-based platform is that implementation can be done quickly. At Negometrix, new agencies are trained and onboarded directly by our staff consultants. They will help with the setup of solicitations and ensure a smooth transition. Implementation of an eProcurement platform can be completed in a matter of days.
Q: Is there a locked repository to hold all bids until official opening?
A: Leveraging “Lockbox” technology, Negometrix incorporates a digital vault, guaranteeing that the purchasing organization cannot view submitted offers (if the lead buyer opts for a sealed procedure) until after the deadline for submission (or at the time of a later specified ‘opening of offers’ date).
Q: On Public announcements, how do you reach people who have not yet submitted their solicitations? You don’t know who all will be submitting, if, for example you move the solicitation due date for some reason.
A: Communicating with Suppliers is much easier through the platform than it is with a ‘paper’ process. You know who is participating and who the interested parties are. Interested suppliers have to click a ‘participate’ button in order to view details of the solicitation and stay updated on any changes/announcements. Once they select participate, they will be registered as suppliers within that solicitation, and you can communicate with them through the platform’s messaging module as well as through publicly posted addenda or notices.
Q: Is e-Signing available with this platform?
A: There are many forms of e-Signatures and e-signing. Within Negometrix it is easy to ask a supplier to digitally acknowledge something: e.g. receipt of addenda or agreeing on terms and conditions. Another form of e-signing, signing a pdf document, can be done through other applications (e.g. Adobe DocuSign) to then be uploaded onto the Negometrix platform.
Q: How does data ownership function?
A: All data related to your organization can be saved, archived, purged or exported using standard functionality
Q: Do suppliers have to purchase Negometrix or pay for use? How do suppliers get into the system?
A: The software is free to use for Suppliers. Once they are registered, they can see all available solicitations. Registration is quick and easy, and can be completed online within a few minutes.
Q: How would a supplier edit their bid or response if necessary, before the due date/time? Can they recall their proposal?
A: Suppliers can recall/un-submit, edit, and re-submit their response as often as they like up until the deadline.
Q: When you post RFP’s how are suppliers notified?
A: When they register, suppliers can select states they wish to do business in as well as NIGP codes that they wish to be notified for. After an RFP is posted, suppliers registered with the relevant NIGP codes will receive automatic notification of the opportunity.
Q: Can a vendor or contractor view all of my agency’s solicitations directly?
A: Using Negometrix, you will have a public agency profile page that will contain all open and closed solicitations of your agency. Any supplier directed there will be able to see the complete list of your solicitations. This page is typically linked on the agency’s website.
eProcurement Flexibility and Functionality
Q: With the lockbox functionality in place, can we see who has bid? We would want to be able to know if a vendor reaches out to ask if they’ve submitted correctly.
A: Once a vendor has submitted an offer it will be visible that they have made a “submission,” however the content of their bid is not visible until after the deadline. Suppliers will see a submission timestamp and receive an email notification confirming their submission. If Vendors had any questions of that nature, they can also always call the Negometrix Service Desk, which is free of charge to both suppliers and buyers.
Q: Can the software handle open quick quotes? We may have a three day turn around and not need a sealed process.
A: Yes. For a quick quote you wouldn’t activate the lockbox. The platform is configured to allow for multiple procedure types.
Q: Are there integrations to ERP systems, such as PeopleSoft Finance Supply Chain?
A: Yes. Negometrix has a rich history of integrating with other systems. We use standard API’s that can easily communicate with other systems. For several ERP systems, such as Oracle, SAP, and PeopleSoft we have already created this integration which can be re-used. If we do not have an integration in place, we would be happy to have a conversation about implementing one.
Q: Are bids visible to the public after the opening or only after the Notice of Intent?
A: The agency has complete control over what information you want to share and when. You are able to share details along with your pre-award notification or you can wait until final award notification to share information.
Q: How does supplier Q&A work. If questions are answered as received, when are addendums issued?
A: Negometrix comes equipped with a robust Q&A module, allowing your suppliers to ask questions and provide further detail. The system has a lot of flexibility, allowing you to answer questions as received or in bulk. You can then publicly publish answers and are able to add addenda as desired.
Q: Are we able to build a template for our solicitations?
A: Yes, in Negometrix you have the ability to load in or create your own templates/boilerplate solicitations. This can dramatically cut down on the time it takes to generate and publish a new solicitation. During implementation, one of our implementation consultants can help you to digitize your existing templates.
Get Started with eProcurement
We hope this eProcurement FAQ was helpful! If you want to learn more about how Negometrix can help you bring your procurement process online and enable your team to continue their important work from anywhere, request a demo here!
Sign up below if you want to get started using the platform for 4 months free to help you manage the current COVID-19 crisis: