From deadlines and budgets to program revamps and more, gearing up to buy Software as a Service (SaaS) products can be a little tricky and intimidating, especially if you’re navigating the process while managing many other things.
The good news, however, is that you have myriad resources at your disposal to alleviate some stress — especially through Routeware.
At Routeware, we make the purchasing process as easy and stress-free as we can — even if you’re up against complex procurement procedures and red tape.
So, how does buying SaaS work? While every process will be a little different depending on a variety of factors, here are a handful of steps and tips to help you through.
Preparing to buy – The Procurement Process
Before you search for and purchase any SaaS, you’ll need to get a handle on your needs and your situation. Gather as much information as you can, including your budget, timeline and internal approval process.
No matter the company you choose to work with, this information will help them guide you to the best solutions for your situation, which ultimately will help you meet your goals as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Connecting with the right company with the right products for you
Once you have an idea of what you need — and who you hope to purchase it from — plan to speak with each vendor you choose at least a few times. Share with vendors early on some information about your typical procurement process so everyone is on the same page.
Then, potential vendors may ask some high-level questions to determine whether they can meet your needs within your perimeters.
With Routeware, your next call would be with an account representative who can talk with you more about your goals, measurements of success, best practices and more.
Time to buy
In our experience, organizations typically either buy SaaS directly through their department budget, use a competitive bid, or they use cooperative purchasing. Here, we’ll weigh in a bit on each:
- The Efficient Choice: Purchase Directly
While every organization or municipality operates under a different set of rules and regulations, buying a product directly is usually the most efficient way to purchase SaaS. Typically, all you need to purchase is a credit card or purchase order. You also may request our standard service agreement which is designed to reflect the contingencies of SaaS.
- The Second Most Efficient Choice: Cooperative Purchasing
Competitive bids are difficult to navigate for individual governments for many reasons, but especially because they’re time consuming and require a lot of research. With cooperative purchasing, however, governmental departments can buy high quality products quickly and easily.
Some vendors — Routeware included — work with other companies such as Sourcewell (formerly National Joint Powers Alliance), which is the only government body to also tackle cooperative purchasing, and HGACBuy, a nationwide, government procurement service striving to make the governmental procurement process more efficient.
Through partnerships such as this, government agencies can procure products produced by outside vendors without having to create their own Request for Proposal. Instead, they may piggyback on the international joint procurement vehicle to purchase more quickly, affordably and easily.
How does cooperative purchasing work?
Cooperative purchasing organizations are public or private agencies that execute procurements on behalf of another organization. In Routeware’s case, we can connect our customers — from municipalities and beyond — with Sourcewell.
While Sourcewell functions as its own lead agency, it’s actually a government entity that requests proposals for purchases on behalf of its 50,000 government, education and nonprofit members to nearly 200 national vendors.
When you connect with a company such as Sourcewell, its analysts will help break down the procurement process and develop RFPs and IFBs that are within local requirements. Because Sourcewell connects so many organizations to vendors, it can provide you with preferential pricing and other benefits while keeping in alignment with your contracting processes.
Another government procurement process that can help is HGAC Buy. Units of local government, including non-profits providing governmental services, are eligible to become participating members of the HGACBuy Cooperative.
All contracts available to participating members of HGACBuy have been awarded by virtue of a public competitive procurement process compliant with state statutes.
Before signing up with HGACBuy, check that your entity can purchase through HGACBuy. The Texas Interlocal Cooperation Act permits joint participation by local governments, states, state agencies, and certain non-profit corporations.
Most states have interlocal cooperation authority or other joint power provisions that allow participation in cooperative activities.
Government entities join HGACBuy by executing an Interlocal Contract to become a Member. This document sets out the conditions, requirements and processes through which an entity’s purchase orders are received, confirmed to contract, and processed.
There are no annual membership dues required to purchase through HGACBuy.
Overall, working with organizations such as Sourcewell and HGACBuy can help you avoid creating duplicate requests for proposals (RFPs), eliminate low-bid and low-quality issues, reduce vendor protests and more, all while allowing other state and city governments, education agencies and nonprofits take advantage of nationally sourced RFPs.
Other modes of purchasing include:
- Sole Source Agreement
Through a sole source agreement, your vendor can highlight unique features of the product in question to improve your application for sole source justification which are unique to your organization.
- Host a Competitive Process Purchase
In situations where governmental organizations cannot take a more efficient route to purchase, they often will use a competitive process to source bids called a request for proposals, request for quotes, or a three-quote scenario.
While this process takes time and makes for a lot of work for all sides, vendors will often offer to take a consultative approach to developing the necessary request documents, such as building a business case for the required product and noting the features each product must have.
Need help? Let’s Talk.
Purchasing and procurement isn’t an easy process, but you have resources at your disposal to make it as painless as possible.
Do you need a little help to get started? Explore everything Sourcewell & HGACBuy can do for you and let’s talk about how we can help you meet your waste and recycling goals while walking you through the purchasing process.