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3 Ways your Procurement Software can Help Shape Social Change

Recently, Ready Contracts (powered by Open Windows) General Manager, Shane McInnes wrote about the ways procurement professionals and their suppliers can shape a sustainable world. Shane’s insights boiled down to a simple philosophy: no single organisation can rid the world of carbon emissions, or modern slavery, or supply chain instability. But plenty of small steps can be taken to reduce these complex social and environmental issues. If more of us are willing to take these steps by strengthening our organisation’s sustainability initiatives and supporting our top-tier suppliers in doing so, making a difference – even a small difference – is possible.

To an extent, Shane’s ethos also applies when we consider how to make a difference here in Australia, within our social fabric. Small steps taken within the procurement function can help to diversify our supply chains, address complex societal challenges, and slowly shape tangible social outcomes for the community at large.

However, to sustain long-term change, these steps must be measured and strategic. Simply committing to a social procurement strategy is not enough. To carve out sustained, significant change within Australia’s social fabric, everything in between – the sourcing, the supplier relationships, the contractual obligations – must be shaped with consideration.

Your procurement software should help you shape each phase of the procurement lifecycle successfully, and with your social procurement strategies front of mind. How? Keep reading to find out.

1. Use your sourcing and tendering tools to facilitate best-practice sourcing, and fair, inclusive competition during the tendering phase.

To successfully deliver on your social procurement outcomes, you must think strategically from the very beginning of the contract lifecycle.

This requires one of the following approaches – or even both, if possible:

  • Clearly defining social procurement criteria in your RFX communication, so potential suppliers are aware of their obligations from the get-go, and
  • Providing all potential suppliers with the opportunity to compete, to ensure that your organisation is directly delivering on your social procurement objectives.

Online, comprehensive, and easily accessible sourcing and tendering tools are the key here. They will enable you to reach into the very corners of the Australian tendering stratosphere and target the suppliers you’re looking for. On the supplier side, they will allow respondents to swiftly evaluate their submissions against your pre-approved, weighted criteria.

Taking either of these two approaches requires clear, inclusive communication. Clear, inclusive communication can only occur if your medium – your sourcing and tendering tools – can effectively facilitate your message.

The strategic thinking shouldn’t stop there, of course. Once the contractual relationship begins, you will need to provide clear contractual specifications that again, can be easily accessed, so your suppliers are equipped with the information needed to put your social impact specifications in practice.

2. Unbundle contracts with the aid of your contract management software, so specific areas of the contract can be tailored to incorporate social impact specifications.

To maintain a successful approach to social procurement across the contract lifecycle, you must provide fair and equitable contract terms for your suppliers. If you’re seeking to purchase from an organisation unable to meet the scope of your contract – a social enterprise, Aboriginal business, or Australian Disability Enterprise, perhaps – decreasing the size of the contract will allow these organisations to participate in the client-supplier relationship.

Your contracts software should enable you to do this smoothly, without risk of fragmenting key information or eliminating important data altogether.

You want to maintain a successful relationship with these suppliers, but you also need to effectively manage the contract itself, and the risk that may come with it. Contract management software that allows you to manage your master contracts alongside these small sub-contracts, that makes visible and accessible the sections of the contract relevant to these organisations and your social procurement objectives, will help you balance contractual risk and socially responsible outcomes.

If you’re not quite ready to progress this far into your social procurement strategy, starting small can still make a difference.

3. Start with the suppliers you already have – communicate the importance of social procurement via your SRM Portal, and enable them to communicate back.

To carve out a sustained, successful social procurement strategy, sometimes you need to start small. Start a dialogue with your suppliers on social procurement – encourage them to consider and disclose their current company policies using a questionnaire. The Ready Contracts SRM Portal enables suppliers to do this by completing and submitting a pre-qualification questionnaire on the spot, without having to access any external platforms.

This questionnaire can be your first of many measured, strategic steps towards sustained social change. Remember – improving Australia’s social fabric requires strategic thinking and consideration throughout the entire contract lifecycle. If your medium facilitates effective two-way communication on social procurement between client and supplier, your organisation is well on its way towards contributing to this improvement.