Procurement – definitions, meanings and explanations

For those new to the Procurement/ eProcurement industry we have put together a quick jargon-busting summary to help you make sense of the more popular terms, acronyms and phrases you may come across.

What is eProcurement?

eProcurement is the umbrella or catch all term for all purchasing and sourcing activities conducted via the internet or via other information and networking systems. Procurement system augment the interaction between suppliers, customers and other value chain partners in order to improve speed, workflows, transparency and effectiveness of the entire procurement process. It also helps lowers the total cost of such activities.

What is Source to Pay?

Source to Pay describes the set of activities an organisation manages from selecting a supplier through to making payments against their invoices. Core activities include supplier selection, supplier on-boarding, contract set up and management, , allocating spend against budget, processing invoices and making payments to suppliers. A Source to Pay software solution is designed to help procurement and finance departments streamline and automate all these activities to deliver spend control, cost savings and spend compliance.

What is eSourcing, or Electronic Sourcing?

eSourcing, or Electronic Sourcing, is a common term used to describe the use of online systems by organisations to collect and compare information about a number of suppliers, in order to help the buyer select a preferred supplier(s). The main types of eSourcing systems are and . eSourcing systems are designed to help generate cost savings from their supply chains, improve information management and supplier relationships.

What is Purchase to Pay?

Purchase to Pay, or P2P, is the end-to-end process an organisation follows when buying goods or services from a supplier and making a subsequent payment for those services. Purchase to Pay systems facilitate staff efficiencies, cost savings, spend control and transparency in areas such as product or service requisitions, budget authorisation, receipting of goods and invoice processing.

What is eRFx, Electronic Tendering, or an eTender?

eRFx, Electronic Tendering or eTenders is the process of creating tender documents and running tendering events online. Typically the tender documents are distributed to relevant suppliers who are to respond within a set timescale. The system will save the user time by collating all responses with automated score carding, helping to identify the most suitable suppliers from all responses.

What is an eAuction, or Electronic Auction?

An eAuction, or Electronic Auction, is an online procurement tool whereby a buying organisation can run events in which suppliers compete against each other to supply a defined set of goods or services to the buying organisation. The process highlights cost differences from different suppliers and puts a downward pressure on the price by introducing competition into the process.

What is Contract Management Software?

Contract Management Software is used by organisations to facilitate the electronic negotiation, storage and ongoing management of supplier contract documents, and ensuring supplier contract compliance.

What is EDI, or Electronic Data Interchange?

EDI, or Electronic Data Interchange, or web EDI, refers to the transfer of data from one computer system to another in a standardised format. Historically EDI was enabled via Value Added Networks (VAN’s), but more recently point to point exchange of data is facilitated via multiple methods captured under the umbrella of ‘integration’ utilising middleware solutions such as ESB’s (Enterprise Service Bus).

What is SaaS?

SaaS stands for Software as a Service and it describes the way a software solution is delivered. SaaS generally refers to a licensed, secure, subscription-based software that is usually accessed via a web browser and hosted by a third party provider. The model for accessing software online, rather than hosting software on a company premises and accessing on a company network, is also known as ‘cloud computing’ or just ‘the cloud’.

What is Invoice Matching?

Depending on the capability or policy of an organisation, Invoice Matching can be described as a two-way process (Purchase Order and Invoice), or (Purchase Order, Receipt and Invoice). It describes the workflow processes of ensuring that payment made to suppliers are authorised. This can minimise invoice inconsistencies and unauthorised or ‘’.

What is Spend Analysis?

Spend Analysis is the practice of using intelligent data technologies to help integrate various data sources from back office finance and ERP systems to gain visibility into an organisation’s overall spend data. Spend Analytics software offer users several benefits including identifying supply chain risk (e.g. fraud), finding savings opportunities, rationalising suppliers, and reducing administration overheads.

What is Direct Procurement?

Direct Procurement is a category of goods (usually raw materials) and services that are provided by a third party and are directly consumed by their end customers. They are directly related to generating income for an organisation and are core to the business offering. Sometimes referred to as Goods for Resale (GRF).

What is Indirect Procurement?

Indirect Procurement refers to various categories of goods and services that are purchased to support an organisation’s operational processes, but are not regarded as core to the organisation’s income generation or offering. Sometimes referred to as Goods Not For Resale (GNFR).

What is Accounts Payable, or AP?

This is the money owed, or a liability to a creditor, usually due to purchases of goods or services.  It also describes a function within a business that is focused on the processing of payments to suppliers for goods and services purchased.

What is Accounts Receivable, or AR?

Accounts Receivable is a function within a business that offers credit terms for its goods or services and is focused on obtaining payments for those goods and services provided to customers.

What is CIPS?

CIPS stands for the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply. It is a UK-based organisation promoting procurement best practice.

What is a Reverse Dutch Auction, or Dutch auction?

In a Reverse Dutch Auction, also known as a Dutch Auction, the price of a purchase negotiation goes down as opposed to the traditional auction where a price goes up. It is commonly used in the commercial sector as a supplier sourcing and negotiation technique, and involves the buyer playing off one supplier against each other, so the buyer can get a lower price or a better deal. Dutch Auctions usually starts with a high asking price which is lowered in decrements until one of the participating supplier accepts the lower price.

What is a Japanese Auction?

A Japanese Auction involves an organisation lowering the prices after each bid during an auction event, at which point each supplier must signal their willingness to remain in the auction at the current price. The auction is completed with the desired number of supplier remains in the process. In a Japanese Auction the buyer dictates the change of price and it ends when suppliers stop signalling their willingness to accept a price change. Suppliers are generally restricted from seeing the suppliers remaining in the process.

What is an Expression of Interest, or EOI?

An Expression of Interest, or EOI, means that a potential supplier is invited to confirm if they are interested in delivering goods or services required by the buyer. This is usually the very first step of a .

What is an Invitation to Tender, or ITT?

An Invitation to Tender, or ITT, is the process whereby a buying organisation approaches suppliers to submit information, usually in the form of commercial quotes or tenders, to indicate their intention to supply goods or services for a defined project.

What is a Request for Proposal, or RFP?

A Request for Proposal, or RFP, is the process whereby a buying organisation requests suppliers to submit a proposal outlining how they would complete or manage a project of work specified by the buyer. The requested proposal would typically ask for details of tasks to be performed, timelines for completion, service levels and costs.

What is a Request for Information, or RFI?

A Request For Information, or RFI, is a standard procedure whereby a buyer collects information regarding the capabilities and finances of various suppliers to enable the buyer to perform market analysis prior to launching an initiative to select a supplier.

What is the Three-Way Match?

A Three-Way Match refers to the validation of an invoice by a buying organisation before payment is made to the supplier. The procedure ensures that a valid purchase order number has been raised on the buyer’s purchasing system, a goods receipt notification (GRN) has been completed by the buyer to confirm satisfactory delivery, and a valid invoice has been received from the supplier.

What is Supplier Relationship Management, or SRM?

Supplier Relationship Management, or SRM, is the process and framework a buying organisation uses to manage all dealings with its suppliers to improve performance, reduce financial risk and drive down costs. This process can be facilitated using Supplier Relationship Management software systems to improve collaboration and monitor performance with suppliers.

What is Supplier Information Management, or SIM?

Supplier Information Management, or SIM, is the process of centralising and storing all supplier data to give a single repository containing all supplier information. Supplier Information Management software automates and manages the process for buyers with supplier portals where suppliers are expected to ensure all required information is up-to-date.

What is Maverick Spend?

Maverick Spend, also known as ‘wild purchasing’, refers to uncontrolled, uncompliant, and unauthorisedpurchases made by employees within buying organisations. Typically are used to provide a level of spend control and minimise this practice within organisations.

What is eProcurement Software?

eProcurement Software is a business technology that allows users to carry out purchasing and sourcing activities with computers and related devices. This usually involves the requisitioning, ordering and purchasing of goods and services over the internet or other information and networking systems.

An eProcurement Software can augment the interaction between suppliers, customers and other value chain partners with the intention of improving efficiency and transparency throughout the entire procurement cycle. The software can also lower the total cost of such activities.

What is Procurement Software?

Procurement Software is a computer program that allows an organisation to automate purchasing and supplier sourcing processes. This includes activities such as raising and approving requisitions, ordering and purchasing of goods of services, as well as receiving and managing the invoice and payment. Procurement Software can help drive down costs of procurement activities, whilst boosting their effectiveness and efficiency. Organisations can also achieve better transparency by automating and standardising their procurement process using this software.

What is Supplier Management?

Supplier Management describes the strategic planning and management of suppliers’ information, interactions and relationships by a buying organisation. Successful Supplier Management involves engaging with suppliers in a way that reflect the priorities of the organisation, and how best their requirements can be achieved. This can also maximise the value of procurement activities – from evaluation and on-boarding of new suppliers into the supply chain of the buyer, to ongoing performance review.

What is Spend Management?

Spend Management is a procurement function within an organisation. It involves managing the way an organisation spends its money in order to obtain the desired products and services in the most cost-effective way. Spend Management often includes the processes of supplier outsourcing, procurement and supply chain management. It also encompasses the analysis of supplier spend to better understand current buying trends and behaviours, in order to better inform future purchasing decision making. A spend manager has to understand all aspects of an organisation’s spending habits and use such knowledge to negotiate terms with suppliers.

What is Procure to Pay?

Procure to Pay is also known as Purchase to Pay, it is a solution that is fully integrated in order to support the end-to-end buying processes within an organisation. It facilitates the electronic raising of purchase requisitions, supporting the business workflow including delegation of authorisation to spend, order placement with suppliers, despatch, acknowledging receipt of goods and services, and processing of invoices.