2018 09 Purchasing and Procurement

Location: Bonfire, 121 Charles St W, Kitchener, on N2G 1H7  Directions
Date: Monday, 17 September 2018
Time: 7:00-9:00PM

Does your organization buy things? Do you go to the local store? Or do you issue Requests for Information, Quotes, or Proposals? How do you evaluate those RFIs, RFQs, and RFPs? How do you find suppliers? Contractors? Vendors? Does your organization have minimum standards for vendors? How can you ensure vendors making bids meet these standards? Isn’t there some software that can help with all this?

Yes! Local company Bonfire (https://gobonfire.com/) creates purchasing and Procurement software. Special guests Danielle McCormack and Ethan Driedger will give us an overview of what a Non-Profit organization should look for in purchasing and procurement software, and will give us a demonstration of the Bonfire software.
–Marc Paré & Bob Jonkman


Meeting Notes

  • Introductions
    • Danielle McCormack, Account Manager for the Not For Profit market
    • Ethan Driedger, Account Manager and technical advisor
  • Presentation was recorded, hope to have video available shortly
  • What concerns do people have?
    • Spend time and effort to evaluate RFPs, only to have management choose the lowest bid
    • What is the relationship between purchasing and making grant/funding applications?
      • “Purchasing” is not always commercial. Grant application tools help to make decisions, similar to satisfying an RFP
  • Q: Does Bonfire help an RFP respondent?
    • A: Yes. Vendors can use Bonfire to submit online responses
    • Vendors can subscribe to notifications to learn about new RFPs
  • Danielle recognizes the resource constraints experienced by Not-For-Profit organizations
    • NFP funders require accountability and transparency in the purchasing process
    • Need to know the why and how of decision making
  • Interesting stats: 15% of the workforce is employed by Not-For-Profit organizations
  • 7.1% of the GDP is generated by NFPs
  • Q: How easy is it to “divorce” Bonfire? How is the data portability? Is there integration to other applications? Databases?
    • A: Yes, Bonfire has an open API. Glue apps (middleware) are not provided, but Bonfire can be hired to create them
    • May be out of reach for Non-Profit organizations
    • There was some discussion on data structures and interoperability
  • Q: Integration with financial applications?
    • A: Bonfire can import legacy purchasing data from spreadsheets, &c.
    • Other integrations can be done via the API
  • Q: Project management software?
    • A: No direct integration
  • Q: Existing purchasing departments?
    • A: Bonfire software facilitates communication between purchasing agents and the end-user requiring the purchase
  • More discussion on data exchange. How is the data structured for different sectors?
  • Vendors submit the outcome of their bids, used to build knowledgebase of successful strategies
  • Q: Integrations with MERX? (online database of government RFPs)
    • A: No direct connection
  • Q: Conversion from hard data?
  • Bonfire provides alerts to Not-For-Profit organizations of new grant available for application
    • NFPs can apply to these grants for free
    • Sort of “purchasing in reverse”; Bonfire clients are the grant providers, respondents are the NFPs applying
  • Subscribe to different categories for notification (for vendors?)
    • eg. based on geographic location: “Any RFP in Ontario”
    • eg. based on industry codes (SIC, UKSIC)
  • Municipalities (technically Not-For-Profit organizations) have additional constraints imposed by legislation
  • The purchasing process doesn’t allow innovation in responses
    • eg. software company loses bid because they’re not offering a tangible solution to a traditional problem
    • The solution offered by the respondent isn’t compliant because purchasing requirements are too rigid
  • Bonfire recommends multi-stage RFPs
    • This means stakeholders don’t need to answer all the questions
    • eg. a Chief Technical Officer doesn’t need to answer financial questions
  • Bonfire scales well to small respondents (vendors)
    • Q: Does it also scale to small customers? (purchasers)
      • A: Perhaps. Bonfire removes the arduous tasks of the purchasing process, freeing resources at the NFP
  • Classification discussion
    • Steve employed librarians to classify books for University courses
    • Bonfire has search functions for both classification codes (well-defined) and keywords (arbitrary, free-format)
  • Revenue model: Annual subscription
    • Contract management option?
    • Vendor management option?
    • Bonfire is entirely cloud-based (on AWS infrastructure), not software purchase or licence
  • Q: Is there a short-term subsciption? ie. 1 or 2 months?
    • A: Future availability
  • Q: Real estate?
    • A: Technically, it’s no different from any other purchase
    • Bonfire can help in advertising the bid (less reliance on real estate agents)
  • Pricing
    • For Not-For-Profit organizations, work with grant providing organizations who can purchase a blanket subscription for the NFPs they provide grants to
    • Q: Have vendors purchase the subscription, allow NFPs free access as purchaser?
      • A: Vendor-pay may be not be legal for government and public sector organizations
    • Q: Pro Bono subscription to Bonfire for Not-For-Profit orgs?
      • A: Bonfire is still a startup.
      • Perhaps as a charitable donation?
  • Hope to have links soon to videos demonstrating the use of the Bonfire software

Many thanks to the Danielle McCormack, Ethan Driedger, and all the staff at Bonfire for hosting the KWNPSA meetup on Purchasing and Procurement!


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