Making Government Procurement Ready for the Digital Reality
The 2023 Canadian Public Procurement Council (CPPC) Forum in Calgary brought together procurement leaders across the public sector to exchange insights on modernizing procurement processes and supply chains.
Infosys Public Services had the pleasure of hosting a discussion on “Making Government Procurement Ready for the Digital Reality.” Participants from public sector ministries attended our session to understand procurement’s digital shift and how the Government of Canada is navigating this shift with its CanadaBuys system. This blog summarizes insights from the session.
Procurement’s Digital Transformation
Procurement modernization has always been on the agenda for public sector organizations. After several years of incremental progress, we saw a lot of activity in this space during and post the pandemic. From traditional paper-based processes supported by legacy on-premise systems, public sector organizations are transforming their procurement functions to be more digital, transparent, and agile.
Six key imperatives are shaping this transformation for procurement functions.
1. Global Digital Network of Buyers and Suppliers
Competition is good. It drives cost down and encourages innovation. Access to a network of suppliers can help organizations get the most value for their dollar. Public sector organizations realize this and are exploring options like digital marketplaces to expand their supplier network.
2. Suppliers as Partners
Public sector organizations recognize the need to develop better relationships with their suppliers and treat them as partners, working together to increase citizen value and drive mutual growth. This requires a series of changes to procurement systems and processes to deliver a simple, intuitive procurement experience while ensuring regulatory compliance. For example, implementing an improved procurement process with no paper submissions and pallets of binders. I have had the experience with both – rushing to deliver a big box with fifteen printouts of submission documents and sitting at my desk uploading the documents when they were ready. Both went in with five minutes to spare but which was better? Of course, the one that saved me from driving across the city, carrying a heavy folder and navigating crazy traffic.
This is a very important objective for public sector organizations. They need to ensure relevant information is accessible to all, enable public reporting, and simplify oversight. A digital procurement system makes it easier, giving stakeholders real-time visibility to any procurement and leveraging analytics to provide multiple views of data.
4. Sustainability and Social Procurement
Public sector organizations are looking at procurement to deliver financial and social benefits, and support their ESG initiatives. Engaging a wider base of suppliers, defining metrics to track the social, cultural and environmental impact of procurement, and ensuring supplier performance are a few ways organizations are enabling social procurement. We had discussed this in our last blog. A digital procurement system makes it easy for public sector organizations to do all of this and more, advancing their sustainability and social procurement goals.
5. Data and Insights
It has become more important than ever for public sector organizations to track and analyze data for measuring benefits from their procurements, tracking supplier performance, fighting fraud, and enhancing efficiency. Digital procurement solutions focus on analytics, enabling public sector organizations to turn data from disparate sources into insights and actions to improve decision making, enhance experience for all the stakeholders, and help ensure compliance.
Supporting new business requirements at speed, enabling hybrid work, adapting to new technologies, and scaling quickly – public sector organizations have had to transform their procurement systems and practices to keep pace with changing business realities. This is where cloud-based solutions score and what public sector organizations are turning towards for desired agility and resilience.
Getting Ready for the Future of Digital Procurement
Canada is navigating procurement’s digital shift with its new CanadaBuys system. As part of its procurement modernization program, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) deployed an electronic procurement Solution to make its procurement practice simpler, less administratively burdensome, and capable of delivering modern comptrollership. The solution has been enabling PSPC to:
- Achieve better value for Canadians through improved procurement outcomes.
- Improve client service by providing easy, web‐based access to procurement information and services to Departments and Agencies.
- Provide easy, web‐based access to information and services that reduce the burden on suppliers participating in the procurement process.
- Achieve an integrated approach to the management of government spend.
- Empower procurement professionals with new tools, technology, and processes to deliver effective client services.
CanadaBuys combines SAP Ariba with an integrated portal for government buyers and suppliers to transact more effectively. The portal is designed to be the primary platform for all public sector tenders with features like business managed procurement content, predictive search, notifications, etc. It includes all procurement notices including Tenders, Awards, Contract History, is Protected-B certified, accessibility complaint, and bilingual.
The portal connects PTMASH, other government departments, and PSPC with Canadian, US, EU, and NATO Trade Agreement Suppliers (e.g. CETA, USMCA).
Used by over 1700 users, hosting 20,000+ registered suppliers and averaging over 200,000 hits per day, the portal is enhancing the capabilities for Social Economics procurement by streamlining access to the programs, eligibility validations, and attestations.
Key Features and Benefits of CanadaBuys
CanadaBuys offers a single central location for all public articles related to the Government Of Canada Procurement, News and Events, and Alerts. Instead of going to different sites, Suppliers can search for tender opportunities and related specifications on CanadaBuys.
The user-friendly search makes it easier for suppliers to find what they are looking for quickly, identify other suppliers who may be interested in responding to a particular opportunity, and explore partnership opportunities.
There’s a multi-channel service deck which can be accessed by users through the device and channel of their choice (email, chat, phone etc.) and users can also set up notification subscriptions through email, atom or RSS feed.
How are Organizations using CanadaBuys?
CanadaBuys extends the SAP Ariba-based eProcurement system with an intuitive portal, offering procurement officers across different provinces the opportunity to engage with suppliers from Canada, Europe and the US.
Buyers (procurement officers) upload the tenders to CanadaBuys through APIs and automated interfaces. Where automated interfaces are not available or feasible, organizations use a Tender Management Application (TMA) to load their RFXs.
Suppliers can view these tenders and source system documents by accessing CanadaBuys through the device of their choice, using the different features to engage with buyers or their partners and responding to the RFXs.
As of today, most of the provinces and territories are leveraging CanadaBuys through the automated API mechanism and multiple entities have been on-boarded on to the TMA . Broadly, there are three ways organization can leverage CanadaBuys and make their procurement ready for the digital reality.
- Request access to the Tender Management Application, which is an easy to use online system, for uploading tenders. This is a great option for organizations that publish only a few tenders every year.
- Use the CanadaBuys preconfigured APIs to facilitate direct connection. This option can automate the entire process for tender publication and enhance efficiency.
- Deploy their own instance of the source to contract solution and the portal to make procurement process fully digital and paperless. This option also provides more control to organizations, enabling access to all the features offered by the core SAP-Ariba platform.
I summarized the key points that we discussed during our session, i.e., how public sector procurement is changing and becoming more digital, how Canada is navigating procurement’s digital shift with the CanadaBuys system, and how a broad range of public sector organizations can take advantage of this system to make their procurement ready for the digital reality.
The session was very interactive and there were several questions on using the system such as how to publish their tenders on CanadaBuys, how to use the Tender Management Application (TMA), how to navigate to third party procurement systems from CanadaBuys etc.
We continued our conversations, answering these questions and several more, well after the session was over. If you have similar or other questions, please feel free to contact me at Anjana_raman01@infosys.com. Happy to exchange insights on how to navigate the transformation of public sector procurement.
Anjana has 27+ years of experience in procurement, transit, financial services, manufacturing across a wide spectrum of industries including government. As the Program Manager, Anjana is leading the EPS and CanadaBuys program on the Infosys side, supporting and enhancing the implemented solution. The CanadaBuys website supports the needs of all Canadians and meets the requirements for Accessibility and CETA compliance.