What is e-Procurement?

Procurement isn’t what it used to be. Over the past couple decades, e-procurement has slowly developed but is now widely considered to be best practice for procurement departments globally. We're often asked, "What is e-procurement?", "How does it work?", and "What can it mean for our business?" So, we’ve broken out everything you need to know about e-procurement, how it works, how to get started, and the benefits it can provide.

Also known as electronic procurement, e-procurement is essentially the digitization of the procurement process. It refers to the purchase and sale of goods, supplies, and services over the internet or an internal network. With e-procurement, paper-based purchasing processes are replaced with a fully electronic, and ideally automated, workflow that streamlines all aspects of the purchasing process.

How e-procurement works

E-procurement streamlines the procurement process, by eliminating manual processes. Rather than exchanging contracts, distributing proposal documents, and completing supplier onboarding questionnaires manually, every step of the process is handled digitally, which boosts efficiency and minimizes the risk of errors.

The e-procurement process typically involves the following areas:

Sourcing and contract management – Identifying and sourcing goods and services. This part of the process involves handling strategic sourcing activities and managing contracts.

Procurement – Covers the initial ordering of a product or service, encompassing product or service ordering, supplier requisitions, budget authorization, and the receipt of goods.

Supplier management – Managing supplier information, performance, relationships, and communication. This requires complete visibility via a supplier database. Supplier management covers both Supplier Relationship Management and Supplier Information Management.

Analytics – E-procurement should also include an analytics platform that allows procurement and finance teams to identify areas for improvement, make informed decisions, and adjust the process where needed.

What is the e-procurement process?

E-procurement tasks typically involve the following:

  • Identifying and anticipating the need for goods or services
  • Evaluating potential suppliers
  • Selecting suppliers and contracting
  • Establishing eCatalogs and Punchouts
  • Requesting, approving, ordering, and receiving purchase orders
  • Budgeting for projects and cost centers
  • Monitoring and managing supplier performance
  • Reporting and analysis of spend

Of course, the stages may vary between organization, depending on the products or services they are sourcing and their internal processes, but most e-procurement tasks at least include the above.

What tools are used in e-procurement?

Some e-procurement tools include:


Powered by an advanced database of product information, easy catalog uploads from suppliers, punchouts that allow users to visit suppliers’ websites (e.g. Amazon, Staples, etc.), and consumer-friendly navigation, this functionality gives users the familiar shopping experience they’re used to while you reap the benefits of up-to-date pricing and item selection.

Approval workflows

These make it possible for an action to be taken on different procurement line items upon their approval, without waiting for the approval of other line items.


Built-in procurement dashboards allow the user to track on-contract and maverick spend across the entire organization. You can view spend by category, vendor, geography, or business unit for easier analysis. Use the data to find opportunities where approval times can be accelerated, get more spend under management, and monitor supplier performance, all from one platform.

Strategic sourcing

Sourcing functionality that delivers automated capabilities so you can be more strategic about how you request bids, host sourcing events, and connect with new suppliers.

Where does e-procurement fit in supply chain management?

Supply chain management is an important element for your team to include in the procurement strategy. As supply chain management is responsible for the flow of goods and services through an organization, the ability to improve and streamline your supply chain management makes e-procurement a critical investment.

Two key ways that e-procurement fits into supply chain management:

Automation – e-procurement software can implement automated activities alongside traditional procurement processes, managing manual activities such as workflow approvals, vetting suppliers and sending out RFPs, to free up staff to focus on more valuable tasks – like evaluating contacts and locating potential cost savings.

Efficiency – e-procurement has many roles in the context of supply chain management, but the overarching goals are streamlining processes and boosting operational efficiency.

What is an e-Procurement strategy?

An e-procurement strategy outlines the business’ approach to procurement, including supplier selection, payment terms, contact negotiations, and goods/services purchasing. Implementing an effective e-procurement strategy will result in significant savings of both time and money.

Learn more about e-Procurement

E-procurement offers many benefits, saving time, money, and resources, while optimizing productivity and minimizing risk. To find out more about e-procurement and how it could benefit your business, contact us. Or check out our How to Implement e-Procurement at your Business  page to put your strategy in action!