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It is wonderful to see people come together in these times of coronavirus-induced uncertainty to solve problems.

I’m very proud of my colleagues at NYU Tandon who have come up with innovative ways to manufacture face shields for healthcare workers. They have moved quickly to share their designs and processes with anyone who can help so that hospitals in the New York City area can restock this desperately needed equipment.

It is also a collaboration between actors within NYU (the NYU School of Global Public Health, NYU Langone Health, in addition to NYU Tandon) and external manufacturers including Daedalus Design and Production Inc., PRG Scenic Technologies, and Showman Fabricators.

Speed, transparency, and collaboration are vital for sourcing now, more than ever. This is true not just for those in a life-and-death struggle on the front lines of healthcare, but also for those who are struggling to keep their businesses afloat. We have written previously about the issues with supply chain transparency the coronavirus pandemic has exposed.

But people need to move fast and fix things now.

Flexible systems can handle the load. Inflexible systems are brittle.

With these inflexible systems, you can be quick or compliant. Pick one. Typically, transparency is not feasible and there is no place for collaboration within the sourcing context. Any cooperation takes place in parallel to procurement. The urgency of the situation makes procurement vulnerable to waste, fraud, and abuse.

Check out the corruption charges in Puerto Rico related to the response to Hurricane Maria, for example.

“Prosecutors said public officials engaged in a range of corrupt practices around the agencies, alleging that contractors hired consultants who had ‘government influence’ and paid them commissions through secret side deals for the business they secured.”

“Public officials leaked private government information, sometimes through personal email accounts or the encrypted messaging app Telegram, according to the indictment …”

But, short of fraud, it is not difficult to imagine procurement staff for any organization scrambling to recover from damaged supply chains by suspending the protocols in place to purchase goods and services. The business risk of failure is too high to use the current cumbersome process involving a disciplined reverse auction, particularly one with new suppliers.

Even if it leads to overpaying or missing alternative solutions that might be better suited to the crisis at hand.

We think that there is a better way, a way in which procurement can be fast, transparent, and collaborative. The EdgeworthBox platform is simple to use as a supplement to the existing procurement infrastructure. Think of it as a patch to the business process for the “wartime” procurement officer.

First, the easy-to-use interface means that anyone can learn how to use the system quickly to access data, quickly draft RFPs, and execute an RFP cycle. This means harried operations staff can take junior employees and turn them into additional procurement staff with short notice.

Second, it is transparent. Everything happens through the platform with a full audit trail and visibility to everyone within the purchasing organization.

Third, it has collaboration tools for working jointly with your suppliers (including novel suppliers), as well other buyers. Key to these is a Slack-like messaging platform.

Fourth, buyers can onboard new suppliers quickly, once the suppliers have gone through onboarding with EdgeworthBox. Suppliers answer due diligence questions with EdgeworthBox once, including supplying supporting documentation, as required. They then have the ability to grant permissioned access to any new buyer relationship with the flip of a switch.

Fifth, it is fast. Once the RFP is written, the principal constraints are on the amount of time it takes for suppliers to draft a response. Buyers can even use it to post Requests for Quotation to get quotes on items with dollar-value thresholds below the RFP cutoff that they might execute otherwise.

Generally, we have built something flexible at a high-level for quick adaptation to multiple categories. We’d love to help you in this hour of need. And we’ll be here when we get to the other side of this crisis. Give us a shout. Or just check us out. You can even sign up for a free trial.

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