Direct vs Indirect Procurement: Know the Key Differences


When it comes to procurement, there is no room for misunderstanding. Buying goods and services from suppliers is vitally important to any company’s bottom line. It can help you save money and increase efficiency. Still, only some companies understand how different direct and indirect procurements work and need the right tools to accurately monitor their spending.

That is why understanding your direct and indirect spending is key to improving your processes, increasing savings, and optimizing your supply chains. You can also get a better handle on your financials – and it couldn’t be easier!

But what’s the difference?

The main difference between these two types of procurement is that in direct procurement, you deal directly with the supplier, while in indirect procurement, you deal with a third party. In this article, we will explain each type of procurement and its advantages and disadvantages so that you can easily choose which one suits your business best!

Table of Contents

What is Direct Procurement?

Direct procurement is a process in which the buyer purchases directly from the seller. It is also called a walk-in purchase because it involves walking into a shop or store, making orders, and paying for them immediately. This type of procurement is mainly used when the buyer and seller are close to each other, like a local market or departmental store.

In direct procurement, you can choose suppliers who sell raw materials, finished products, or services used in the final product sold to customers. It can be done on a large scale and is an integral part of any company’s supply chain.

Direct procurers can include manufacturers, retailers, governments, and public organizations responsible for purchasing goods and services for their benefit (for example, schools).

When do you Need Direct Procurement?

Direct procurement makes sense in a variety of situations. That includes:

When the Value of the Goods and Services is Reasonable

If you want to save money, it is essential to know when you can buy directly from the supplier.

First, the value of your purchase should be reasonable. If it costs more than what a competitive supplier could offer with its competitive pricing and terms, then it isn’t worth buying from them directly.

The same goes for risk if there is any chance that something will go wrong with your order (such as receiving an inferior product). Direct procurement may not be suitable for this type of deal. This is because it could cause further problems if something goes wrong in transactions and when there is poor communication between the two parties involved.

Issues That Require Immediate Attention

In addition to the general case, certain situations require direct procurement.

  1. When you need a specific product or service quickly, and no other company can provide it. This is particularly true if your company is based in an area where there isn’t a large enough market for your products or services at low volume.
  2. When you need something that is not available elsewhere. For instance, if one of your suppliers needs to deliver quickly but lacks the necessary resources, such as transportation. Now, the smart decision is to outsource the delivery of the products to you. Instead of waiting for the product until after production and sending it through retail channels or by email, which can take much time.

Mitigating Compatibility Problems

When you have a complex and unique product, it is essential to mitigate compatibility problems when integrating your supply chain. This is especially true if there are multiple suppliers involved in the process.

For example, if you are using an ERP system that requires different software versions for each vendor (or even an entirely new one), you will need to work with them to ensure their systems can be integrated smoothly into yours.

Moreover, reducing compatibility problems is essential for organizations that want their supply chains streamlined by direct procurement. This is because they often lack resources or expertise within their own organization – or simply don’t want those resources used elsewhere in the company.

Intellectual Property Protection

If you are developing a new product or service, it is essential to ensure that another company does not copy it. You may need to sign an intellectual property agreement with the other party before starting any work on your project.

If you buy a unique service from someone else, there may be additional legal requirements. This can include how long they can use that information without paying for it again (e.g., if they only get paid if their customers pay them). It is important to check this out with your supplier before signing anything so that both parties know their responsibilities.

In general, when purchasing goods and services off marketplaces like Amazon or eBay there is no guarantee as to whether these items will arrive exactly how described (or even at all). It is also possible for sellers on these platforms not to live up to 100% when delivering agreed-upon specifications/delivery dates. So always check reviews/ratings before placing orders with these types of businesses.

Recurring and Continual Services

Ongoing and repeat services can be a good use case for direct procurement. It is more cost-effective to buy the services directly, as you can get better pricing and quality of service. This is especially true if the provider has access to your business data, so they know exactly what you need and when you need it done.

Unique Circumstances

When you need a specialized service or product. For example, if your company is looking to purchase new software and you are still determining what it will be used for. In such cases, going through a specific vendor is better than using one of the many available options.

Not all companies can afford to purchase these types of services or products on their own. Suppose you are looking into buying something that isn’t available in the marketplace (such as an oil spill cleanup kit). In that case, direct procurement may not be an option because there aren’t any other sources that specialize in these solutions.

Direct Procurement also comes into play when there are unique situations where neither traditional vendors nor others within your industry can provide the solution required by your business needs. This includes situations where no other suppliers exist anywhere else aside from yourself.

Reducing Maverick Spending

Maverick spending is the one where rogue spending is done when the vendor chooses to break the corporate procurement rules. The first step in managing the process is to reduce maverick spending in direct procurement. This can be done by implementing a policy that mandates that all purchases are made through a centralized purchasing system. The centralized purchasing system will allow for better control of the money spent on purchases, and it will also allow for greater transparency in the spending of corporate funds.

The second step is to implement an automated system that tracks all purchases made by the company and compares them against budgeted amounts. This automated system can be implemented by using a software application like Cflow that allows for real-time tracking of all purchases made on a monthly basis. This software application also allows monitoring spending levels across all departments within a company and across multiple companies within an industry sector.

The third step is establishing an internal audit department or committee within the company. They will regularly review all company purchases and compare them against budgeted amounts. This can help detect any irregularities before they become significant problems causing damage to the organization’s reputation with its investors and stakeholders.

What is Indirect Procurement?

Indirect procurement refers to the process of procuring products and services that are not part of a company’s finished goods, such as those for facility maintenance, marketing, and IT. This can include everything from office supplies to HR and security systems.

The term “indirect” refers to the fact that the vendor does not make an outright offer to sell you the item but instead sells it on behalf of another party who has already purchased it. This can be done using vendor-vendor contracts.

In this type of contract, one company contracts out its procurement need to another company whose employees handle all aspects of payment processing and delivery logistics (including pickup).

The former company then receives reimbursement from its client for expenses incurred during the transaction process, including shipping fees or customs duties paid by importers wishing to import products into countries with high tariffs for certain goods like electronics components or pharmaceuticals.

Indirect Procurement Strategies

When you are trying to manage your business’s costs, one of the most effective ways to do it is by outsourcing the procurement process. This means that you will be able to save money by buying supplies directly from suppliers rather than having a third party do it on your behalf.

You will also get better quality materials and services at lower prices because direct purchasing involves fewer middlemen. But there are other benefits to indirect procurement strategies too: they can help save time, improve efficiency and reduce risk. Here is how you can use indirect procurement strategies in your business!

Make a list of your business’s most important indirect spending categories

The first step in identifying your indirect spending is to list the categories of indirect spending that you have. You should prioritize them in order so that you can identify the most important ones and focus on them first.

You may want to consider including some of these categories:

  • Suppliers
  • Dealerships
  • Advertising agencies, and marketing firms.

You may also want to consider including any other relevant categories for your business and industry.

Create a strategic procurement plan for each category

The first step in creating a strategic procurement plan is identifying your business’s most important indirect spend categories. To do that, you will need to know what kinds of products and services are being used by your customers. This can range from anything as simple as office supplies or IT equipment to more complicated items like furniture and even whole buildings!

Once you have identified these categories, it is time to create an action plan for each one based on their importance within your business. Take some time now – this information mustn’t be forgotten once the project begins.

Conduct market research to learn about competitors and the industry

Conducting in-depth market research can help you gain valuable insight into your competitors in the industry. This will help you formulate your strategies better. You can:

  • Understand what your competitors are doing.
  • Learn about the industry and how it is changing.
  • Use this information to inform your strategy and decision-making process, allowing you to make more informed decisions that will help you achieve success in your business relationships with suppliers or other companies within their industry.

Write an RFI or RFP

An RFP (request for proposal) is used to solicit information from vendors. An RFQ (request for quotation) is used to get pricing information from vendors. Both of these documents should be written with the help of a professional procurement consultant who can help you determine which strategies will work best for your company and its needs.

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Select suppliers based on delivery times, quality, price, and other criteria

The suppliers you select should be based on basic measures such as price, quality, and delivery times. It should also include some other advanced measures considering the impact of vendor selection on your supply chain. Use a selection process that reviews the supplier’s history and performance.

Consider outsourcing indirect procurement to experts

Outsourcing is an excellent way to save time and money and improve the quality of supplies. It can also speed up procurement by outsourcing some of your indirect procurement activities.

Outsourcing may be part of a larger strategy that involves making sure that all processes are appropriately managed and controlled. This includes

  • having clear job descriptions for each role (such as “procurement officer”),
  • creating clear roles for people within the organization (e.g., “procurement specialist”),
  • creating processes for vendors/suppliers who need approvals before working with them on projects; etc., so there is no room for any errors.

Save money and improve the quality of supplies

An example of how indirect procurement can be used to save money and improve the quality of supplies. Imagine a small business owner who wants to purchase office supplies for his employees but does not have enough cash in hand. Since he doesn’t know which suppliers will likely offer competitive prices, he will use indirect procurement. He will send requests for bids (RFBs) on their behalf instead of going through individual vendors directly. This saves him time as well as money because it allows him to select multiple suppliers without having any interaction with them at all!

Difference between direct and indirect procurement

DifferencesDirect ProcurementIndirect Procurement
Main FunctionDirect procurement is a process of buying products and services directly from suppliers.Indirect procurement is a process of buying products and services through an intermediary, such as an agent or distributor.
The suppliersThe suppliers in direct procurement focus on securing the core supplies that need to be processed and delivered to the customers.The suppliers are usually more flexible in indirect procurement, and they focus on delivering goods and services needed for different operations.
The volumeHere, it is done in planned purchases in large quantities and low frequencies.Here the purchases are made spontaneously in small quantities and high frequencies.
The relationshipIn direct procurement, a sufficient amount of time is spent on establishing and maintaining relationships with the suppliers.Here, the company establishes more of a transactional relationship with the vendors than their direct procurement counterparts, thus focusing more on optimizing expenditure.
The strategyA direct procurement strategy is focused on the products and services.An indirect procurement strategy focuses on the supplier.
The focus on product/servicesDirect procurement focuses more on the products and services.Indirect procurement can be used for both types of goods or services.
The importance of business survivalIn a competitive business world, it is important to have a strong foundation of suppliers. If your company’s goal is just to survive the present market climate, then direct procurement is the best way for your business to survive.If your company has specific goals for selling a product but has no knowledge of where to buy them, then indirect procurement is the best way for your business to survive.

Using the Best Procurement Tools

First, let’s see why you should use an indirect purchasing tool.

Time and money:

  • If you don’t have the time or resources to manage this process yourself, using an indirect purchasing tool is a winning solution.
  • You can save time by delegating some of the work to someone else and having them do it on your behalf.
  • You also won’t have to spend as much money because there are no upfront costs associated with using them.
  • In addition, if there are any disputes between suppliers and buyers, having an indirect purchasing tool can help you and your supplier to be on the same page.

Avoiding disputes:

  • Many companies get into disagreements with their suppliers over price changes or delivery dates. However, these problems could be avoided by using indirect purchasing tools.
  • Instead of wasting valuable company resources trying unsuccessfully to deal directly with each other over details like this one-time issue needing attention immediately because “it’s urgent!”

Now let’s see why you need a direct purchasing tool.

Direct procurement is the most cost-effective option, but it’s also the fastest way to get products.

  • It is more efficient because you can save time and money by going directly from manufacturer to customer.
  • This allows you to avoid any delays or misunderstandings in the supply chain, which can happen when buying from multiple suppliers at once.
  • In addition, direct purchasing saves your business money on shipping costs because it eliminates middlemen and their cut from the transaction process entirely.
  • Finally, since there are no middlemen involved in this type of transaction between buyer/seller pairings, everything will be handled directly.

Direct and indirect procurement have significant differences that should inform your purchasing decisions and strategies.

It is important to remember that a direct procurement tool is not a substitute for your existing procurement system. It helps you identify opportunities and make better decisions about what should be purchased when it should be purchased, and how much it will cost. The indirect procurement tool gives you insight into the costs of suppliers so that you can make informed decisions about which ones are most likely to meet your needs at the lowest possible price.

This is where you can use a procurement tool like Cflow, which allows you to make informed decisions, whether it is direct or indirect purchasing. Cflow has been proven to help businesses for both direct and indirect procurement purposes through its sophisticated automation and advanced features. You can easily centralize all your procurement processes with Cflow, such as quotation management, purchase request processes, purchase orders, inventory management, vendor management, and much more.

We hope you have enjoyed this post on direct and indirect procurement. We have covered many aspects of the subject, from what is direct procurement to finding the best software for your company. The most important thing to remember is that if you are looking at buying a product or service, then always ask yourself if it is worth paying more for a more expensive product that will provide better results than an alternative one. If not, then go with the best, which is Cflow.


With the increasing customer demand and escalating industrial standards, it has become extremely daunting for organizations to reach the requirements because of the complexity of the business processes. Specifically with the procurement process, a lot of persistent challenges such as lack of transparency, inaccurate data, inefficient supplier management, improper inventory management, and the lack of trust can make the process detract from the outcome it has to deliver. Therefore, an ideal step businesses can embrace is to understand the procurement process, and the types, and to invest in a procurement-perfect tool like Cflow. To acquire a first-hand experience of what Cflow can offer, sign up now!

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