What work-from-home means for paper-based & manual procurement processes

  • In ten years’ time, the demand for remote work will increase by 30% as Generation Z fully enters the workforce.
  • 64% of today’s professionals say they could work anywhere, while work-from-home policies are in place at 71% of surveyed organizations.

Inefficient tools in the spotlight

Added friction to procurement operations

Procurement & supply lifecycle


  • Without a central supplier database, it is difficult for staff to find suppliers when they need them.
  • It is hard to drive process governance amid the shortage chaos. Many sourcing events may not be documented for future audits. This lack of visibility represents risk for management.
  • Pre-agreed rates with suppliers before COVID-19 may not be accurate anymore. The updated information may be buried in someone’s email or spreadsheet.

Prequalification & compliance management

  • Paper-based document storage causes issues when staff cannot easily access the information they need relating to vendors or projects
  • Documents are normally held on internal servers, not cloud-based: questions around access, which may lead to the same situation as paper
  • Documents buried in email chains or Dropbox folders: wasting valuable time in retrieving information

Approval workflows

  • For those that are used to printing out documents to peruse and hand to relevant people for approval (wet signatures), this is now very difficult.
  • For those that use email and/or phone to obtain approval, chasing subject matter experts in even more dispersed locations would be more time consuming.


  • Apart from inefficiency, back-and-forth phone calls and email chains can leave organisations exposed to probity issues
  • A high risk of email phishing, unverified vendors/claims leaving organisations exposed to fraud (more on this in the next instalment of this series)

Other issues

  • Key personnel are not available: particularly if there is no one else who knows where the correct information is, or if the system requires expert knowledge to operate
  • Limited access to on-premise system or the system becomes unavailable
  • Inefficiency: Waiting for data to be sent from team members with access to it, instead of being able to access information from a central repository autonomously

Success factors for remote work in procurement


Process & policies

  • Ensure business continuity through critical processes (e.g. sourcing supplies)
  • Manage exceptions as they arise
  • Evaluate roles, responsibility, location of resources and set clear expectations


  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Project management/visibility

About Felix



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store