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eSourcing vs. Traditional Sourcing: Unleashing the Power of Digital Procurement

eSourcing vs. Traditional Sourcing: Unleashing the Power of Digital Procurement

from  October 11, 2023 | 5 min read

Today’s digital age has brought significant changes in the way businesses source their goods and services. eSourcing, or electronic sourcing, has emerged has a powerful alternative to traditional sourcing methods.

In this blog article we will delve into the key differences between eSourcing and traditional sourcing, while pointing out the benefits and challenges that each approach poses. By the end you’ll have a clear understanding of which method might be the right fit for your organization’s procurement needs.

Understanding Traditional Sourcing

Traditional sourcing is the conventional method of procurement that has been in practice for decades now, involving a manual and paper-based process, where procurement professionals interact directly with suppliers, negotiate terms, and make purchase decisions based on historical data and personal relationships.

This method relies heavily on human intervention and typically involves the following steps:

  1. Supplier Identification –Procurement professionals manually identify potential suppliers through industry directories, personal networks, or recommendations.
  2. Request for Quotation (RFQ) –The procurement team prepares RFQs and sends them to select suppliers via email, fax, or physical mail.
  3. Bid Evaluation – Suppliers submit their bids, which are then manually evaluated by the procurement team. This process can be time-consuming and error prone.
  4. Negotiation – Negotiations with suppliers often take place in person or over the phone, requiring significant time and effort.
  5. Contracting - Once terms are agreed upon, contracts are manually drafted and signed.
  6. Order Placement and Management - Orders are placed through various communication methods, and order tracking is typically done manually.

The Efficiencies of eSourcing

eSourcing on the other hand, leverages technology to streamline and automate procurement processes. Platforms like Scanmarket are designed to enhance efficiency, transparency, and cost-effectiveness in procurement.

eSourcing encompasses a wide range of activities conducted electronically, including:

  1. Electronic RFQs – Requests for quotations are generated and distributed electronically, allowing suppliers to respond through the platform.
  2. eAuctions – Reverse auctions and e-bidding are common in eSourcing, enabling completive bidding and significant cost reductions.
  3. Automated Bid Evaluation – eSourcing platforms can automatically evaluate bids based on predefined criteria, reducing human error, and greatly speeding up the process.
  4. Digital Negotiations – Negotiations can take place through the platform, with real-time communication and negotiation tracking.
  5. Contract Management - Contracts can be generated, reviewed, and signed electronically, simplifying the contracting process.
  6. Order Automation - Orders can be placed and tracked electronically, improving order accuracy and efficiency.

Comparative Analysis of eSourcing vs. Traditional Sourcing

Now that we understand the basic principles of both eSourcing and traditional sourcing, let's delve into a detailed comparison in terms of cost-effectiveness, transparency, visibility, speed, agility, and risk management.

Cost Efficiency

Traditional Sourcing - may involve higher operational costs due to manual processes, travel expenses, and the potential for inefficiencies.

eSourcing – is generally more cost-effective as it reduces manual labor, travel, and administrative burdens. The transparency in pricing also leads to better negotiation outcomes.

Transparency and Visibility

Traditional Sourcing – offers limited visibility into real-time market trends and supplier performance, resulting in missed opportunities and inefficiencies.

eSourcing – provides real-time data and analytics, offering unparalleled visibility into supplier performance, market dynamics, and cost-saving opportunities.

Speed and Agility

Traditional Sourcing – tends to have longer procurement cycles, which can hinder an organization’s ability to adapt quickly to changing market conditions.

eSourcing – accelerates procurement processes, allowing organizations to react swiftly to any market fluctuations, demand changes, and emerging opportunities.

Risk Management

Traditional Sourcing – relies heavily on personal relationships, which can be a risk if key personnel leave the organization or supplier change.

eSourcing – promotes a standardized and structured approach to procurement, reducing reliance on individual relationships and minimizing risk.

What are the Challenges eSourcing Poses?

While eSourcing offers numerous advantages, it’s also important to acknowledge the challenges that come with it:

  1. Technology Adoption – Transitioning to eSourcing may require significant technology investments and training for procurement teams.
  2. Supplier Resistance – Some suppliers may be reluctant to embrace eSourcing, which can create some initial resistance.
  3. Data Security – The digital nature of eSourcing requires robust cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive procurement data.
  4. Integration Complexity  – Integrating eSourcing platforms with existing procurement systems can be complex and time-consuming.

So, which Approach is Right for my Organization?

The choice between eSourcing and Traditional sourcing depends on various factors, including:

  1. Organisation Size – Smaller organizations with limited resources may find eSourcing more accessible and cost-effective, while larger organizations larger organizations may have the resources for both methods.
  2. Industry and Complexity – The nature of the industry and the complexity of the procurement process play a significant role. Highly regulated industries may benefit from eSourcing's transparency and compliance features.
  3. Supplier Relationships – Consider the importance of personal relationships with suppliers. Some organizations prioritize these relationships and may lean towards traditional sourcing, even tough is already proven that eSourcing also fosters supplier relationships.
  4. Budget and Technology Infrastructure  – Assess your budget for procurement technology and the readiness of your technology infrastructure to support eSourcing.
  5. Risk Tolerance - Evaluate your organization's risk tolerance and how well each method aligns with your risk management strategies.

In Conclusion

eSourcing and traditional sourcing each have their strengths and weaknesses. In many cases, the best approach lies in finding a balance between eSourcing and traditional sourcing.

Organizations can adopt a hybrid model, where they leverage eSourcing for certain categories while maintaining traditional sourcing methods for others.

As technology continues to advance, eSourcing is likely to become even more integral to the procurement landscape, offering increased efficiency, transparency, and cost savings for businesses willing to embrace digital transformation in their sourcing processes.

Henrik Leerberg

Vice President, Global Procurement Marketing - Marketing Scanmarket

As Scanmarket's Vice President, Global Procurement Marketing Henrik oversees all marketing activities globally by fueling growth and creating value for both existing and new customers. Henrik has worked in software and electronics businesses throughout his entire career, operating in B2B markets. With more than 25 years of leadership experience from a range of software companies, Henrik has built a solid foundation for a broad business understanding within all aspects from engineering over marketing and sales to administration. Henrik holds degrees in Marketing and Business Administration and in Electrical Engineering.

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