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Technology plays an integral part in today’s government procurement environment, especially as e-bidding allows agents to go paperless and reach a wider vendor range. Technology will drive government procurement advancements in the coming years through machine learning and AI integration. 

Technology solutions have already transformed the government procurement process. What was once a completely manual process full of photocopies and desktop filing bins has been brought into the modern era. In order to make the best use of time and resources, technology advancements within the procurement vertical have helped to guide today’s government procurement officers to finding the best service suppliers. With additional strides including machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), technology will continue to be a driver of government procurement in the future. 

Why stay up to date?

Just like any other industry, government procurement officers will want to stay up to date on the latest and greatest technology advancements in their industry. This will help ensure that they can find the best suppliers and vendors for their agencies. When a procurement department falls behind on technology, it limits their vendor pool and makes their job (and that of any government contractors interested in the business) more challenging.

Before technology advancements in procurement, officers needed to physically post RFPs, reach out to potential vendors individually by phone or email, invite them to bid and then receive physical paper copies of bids to review. This is incredibly time consuming and allows for bids to be received only from those government contractors of which the agent is already familiar. This process was not the best use of time or resources. 

What does technology offer to government procurement now?

There have been incredible technological advances within government procurement in the form of e-bidding platforms. E-bidding allows agents to post RFPs online and receive bids through their selected marketplace. The e-bidding process is beneficial for both the procurement officer as well as the government contractor. Here are a few benefits to the current technology:

Get the word out – By posting an RFP in an e-bidding marketplace, government procurement agents can reach a wider range of suppliers and vendors. This can help them look beyond their normal procurement boarders to find great options in a neighboring county or even on the other side of the nation.

Standardizes the process – It can be hard for government contractors to keep up with the different types of bidding requests. Using a marketplace standardizes the process and allows vendors to become comfortable with one user interface, making the bidding process familiar.

Email alerts – Government contractors can sign up for email alerts when RFPs fit their skill set. That means they don’t have to go hunting through the postings of each individual government agency and alerts are sent right to their inbox. Additionally, government procurement agents will save time by being able to send out updates via the marketplace, so all vendors will be on the same page as far as deadlines and when a contractor has been selected.

Use an algorithm – With e-bidding, procurement officers can utilize an algorithm that allows them to set minimum requirements and only deliver those bids which meet all specifications. This saves a ton of time and is scalable, meaning the specifications can be as broad or as specific as desired. 

How will technology drive the future of government procurement?

As we look ahead to the future of government procurement, technology will drive the process. The current benefits of a technology-first e-bidding marketplace will likely grow, and integration of big data solutions such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) will enhance the procurement vertical into a smarter overall process. Here are just a handful of benefits coming in the future:

Predictive analytics – Looking at past data to anticipate procurement needs will help procurement agents stay on top of the demands of their agency. Insights gained through technology could also help analyze and recommend the best solutions for procurement problems, giving government contractors a clear picture of what is needed. 

Project budget development – Develop appropriate budgets and timelines based on a variety of previous data sets. This will help agents and vendors create realistic project parameters, and it will also help save taxpayers money. 

Touches a variety of areas – Everything from construction to software procurement will benefit from a more efficient, technology-driven process. 

Manage contracts – There is so much to consider when hiring a government contractor. Contracts need to detail every part of the project up through the final deliverable. Technology solutions will be able to help procurement officers create, manage and track contracts. This will also provide suppliers and vendors with clear-cut direction and the ability to manage expectations. 

Vendor qualifications – Procurement agents also need to make sure that government contractors have up-to-date certifications. AI can keep track of these deadlines and prompt vendors to send and file updated certifications when needed. 

Purchases – Purchases that are needed on a regular basis such as office supplies including soap, toilet paper, printing paper and ink cartridges could be placed on a regular rotation based on usage. The AI could order and approve the expenditures without the procurement agents having to manage that in addition to their larger projects. Imagine how much more efficient if, for example, a whole school district received supplies on a regular rotation based on past use.

Agency budgets and payments – Machine learning will be able to help establish budgets and track/send out payments. It will also be able to flag mistakes or suspicious activity, helping procurement agents stay on top of money going in and out of their agency.

Find areas of improvement – Engaging with machine learning and AI can help procurement departments run more efficiently and effectively, helping officers identify areas of potential improvement. 

In the driver’s seat

Procurement has come a long way when it comes to technology integration, and technological advances will continue to drive procurement in the coming years. From the benefits provided through the e-bidding process, technology solutions will continue to grow and include big data solutions such as machine learning and AI. These technology-first additions will help procurement agents do their jobs to the best of their ability, managing multiple processes, predicting needs and even finding areas of improvement to facilitate an efficient and effective government procurement process.

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