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Grainger E-Procurement Survey: Results and 4 Key Questions

2/1/24

Procurement technology has come a long way.

Over the past few decades, more and more companies have transformed their procurement processes, making the leap from paper to digital to the cloud. These changes have affected companies of all sizes, in all industries.

E-procurement platforms have been at the heart of this transformation. E-pro systems are central, digital platforms that can handle all procurement activity, from sourcing and requisition through bidding, payment and invoicing.

They range in scope and complexity from simple implementations that offer straightforward connections between companies and their suppliers to advanced systems featuring automation, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and other high-tech capabilities.

Grainger conducted a survey to better understand how organizations are using e-procurement for maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) spend today. The online survey was completed by 500 Grainger customers between Oct. 19 and Nov. 2, 2023. Respondents were from a mix of business sizes and all self-identified as being familiar with e-procurement platforms. Questions sought to learn more about how they saw the advantages, challenges and opportunities associated with their procurement systems.

The survey results give an important snapshot of the state of e-procurement for MRO in 2024. Analyzing the responses from these Grainger customers resulted in four questions that professionals in MRO procurement roles may want to answer for themselves as a way to evaluate their operations and plan for future success.

Questions 1: Are you taking full advantage of your organization’s e-procurement platform? 

Our survey data suggests that MRO professionals may be under-utilizing their organizations’ e-pro platforms.

Most of the MRO professionals who responded said their organizations use e-procurement platforms, but less than half were very familiar with the platforms.

And more said their organizations use the platforms for relatively simple uses tasks, such as placing orders and tracking spend, than for complex applications.

Question 2: How good is your procurement data and reporting?

Our survey responses suggest that data and reporting for MRO procurement is good but not great.

About three out of four survey respondents said their organization's data quality was very good or better, but only one in four said their data quality was excellent.

About three out of four survey respondents said that more than half their procurement reporting can be aggregated, but only about one in three said it can all be aggregated.

Most respondents said their organization is considering measures to improve procurement data, with new training processes and spend consolidation being the most popular steps.

Question 3: What technologies are you using today, and what technologies can drive your MRO procurement forward?

Our survey data suggests that organizations are using relatively basic technological capabilities in their e-pro systems today, but they’re excited about the potential impact of advanced technologies.

According to the survey, the two most used technologies today are e-procurement marketplaces, which integrate product, pricing and inventory information from multiple vendors into a single platform, and automation, which can eliminate manual data entry and simplify processes.

Meanwhile, survey respondents indicated that AI, machine learning, predictive analytics and API integration could benefit their operations in the future, though fewer are using these innovations today.

Question 4: How can you benefit from an e-procurement system for MRO, and what are the main barriers to platform use?

Our survey data suggests that MRO e-pro users are benefiting most from simplicity and efficiency. The most-cited advantage of e-pro platforms was that they make it easy to work with data and create reports. But fewer survey respondents reported that e-pro can drive monetary savings or spending compliance.

Just over half of survey respondents who are using an e-procurement platform reported encountering problems with it. The most-cited problem was that suppliers won’t share all the data they have.

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The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.