Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need ESM Solutions?
ESM Solutions’ SaaS-based solution suite streamlines your procurement process with intuitive applications that integrate with your general ledger financial system of record. As many organizations have learned the hard way, simply ordering online does not ensure you are getting the best price. ESM Solutions has created a flexible, affordable spend management solution for the public sector that gives you easy access to contracted pricing and catalogs, as well as full visibility into your spend and user data.
We are upgrading our general ledger to a newer version, is this a good time for ESM Solutions?
This is an excellent time to implement an eProcurement process from ESM Solutions. When you upgrade or switch to a new general ledger, it is easy to integrate your ESM Solutions applications to the new GL system, with little-to-no change to your user interface and established processes.
Why would I want to use ESM Solutions if I already purchase online through supplier websites?
ESM Solutions integrates your purchasing process to your general ledger system, eliminating the need for multiple logins, centralizing the management of account codes for purchasing and controlling company spend across all suppliers. Our sourcing solution allows you to post bids and award contracts to suppliers that offer the best pricing, thus creating contracted catalogs for you and your users to buy from. Our application also eliminates the need to click through multiple catalogs to find what you need with our hosted and Level II punchout catalog capabilities.
What is the value of having a SaaS-based spend management application over licensed software or hardware?
SaaS-based applications have many advantages over licensed software or hardware. For one, there are no software or hardware installation costs. Costs for upfront and annual subscriptions to SaaS-based applications, like easySourcing and easyPurchase, are much less than paying for licensing at a capital expense, plus continuous maintenance costs. Licensed software also takes longer to install and configure, and requires more time and resources from IT departments to provide ongoing maintenance and upgrades. SaaS-based applications are all-around more flexible, easy to use and accessible anywhere, anytime with Internet connection.
We already have a sealed bidding system. How can ESM Solutions help?
ESM Solutions differs from many sealed bidding systems in the market today. Our approach is to provide a completely electronic bid solicitation process that can create a sealed bid, quote or request and communicate it electronically to your supplier community, while facilitating online awards. ESM Solutions offers a complete sourcing solution, featuring modules for line item bids, quotes, discounts and projects. Our solutions communicate and integrate with each other, making awarded bids visible as electronic contracted catalogs within easyPurchase.
Does ESM Solutions provide access to an unlimited number of suppliers?
Our experience has shown that the best spend management approach is to focus on your most effective supplier relationships because having an excess of preferred suppliers can dilute your buying power. Our Professional Services consultants can help you identify which suppliers currently receive the bulk of your organization’s spend. We can always add more suppliers at your request as you expand your product categories and needs.
Does ESM Solutions follow the Payment Card Industry guidelines?
Yes. ESM Solutions will continue to meet the requirements for Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliance as determined by the PCI guidelines. As noted by the PCI Standards Council, Compliance is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process.
Are your solutions expensive?
ESM Solutions offers various pricing models to provide affordable, value-based spend management solutions to public sector organizations of all sizes and complexities. We deliver what few other eProcurement providers can – compelling return on investment, typically in six months or less. Through partnerships with innovative public financing organizations, we can also offer deferred payments out of the current fiscal year.
What kind of return on investment can I expect with ESM Solutions?
When it comes to ROI, ESM Solutions is at the head of its class, due in large part to a dramatic and immediate decrease on hard dollar costs such as printing and postage from electronic procurement. Additional ROI comes from better utilization of staff time, compliance with contracted catalogs and supplier relationships, and the improved accountability of the system that helps you meet mandated reporting requirements.
Do suppliers object to paying bid fees?
We have spoken to hundreds of suppliers, including most of the national suppliers that do business with schools and government organizations. These suppliers participated in sealed bids and paid a percentage bid fee. They understand and appreciate the substantial savings that ESM Solutions makes possible for them. The value they gain far outweighs the bid fees they pay. If you know of a specific supplier with questions, we would be happy to contact them and explain how our electronic sealed bidding works.
Is it better to wait until I have a more computer-savvy staff to implement ESM Solutions’ applications?
It is not necessary. ESM Solutions has developed our eProcurement solutions to be intuitive for all end-users. We know from experience that our applications are easy to deploy, easy to learn and easy to use. We also provide various training vehicles for end-users and administrators, including how-to videos, reference guides and live customer support. Keep in mind that you control the depth and breadth of deployment. Unlimited end-users may have different levels of access to the system.
What if we are not comfortable with the idea of our staff creating purchasing requisitions electronically?
Many organizations we work with deploy ESM Solutions’ applications selectively, for example, only to the business office or only to purchasing administrators. We also work with organizations that deploy our solutions across their end-users’ desktops. The level of deployment is completely under administrative control and can be changed at any time. Additionally, using an electronic solution (vs. manual solution) reduces errors and risks associated with entering incorrect information.
How do I bring my local suppliers on board, and what if they do not wish to work with ESM Solutions?
ESM Solutions works with thousands of national, regional and local suppliers. A member of our Supplier Relations team can easily import supplier records from your general ledger system so you can continue purchasing from your local suppliers without interruption. Furthermore, our sourcing solution gives you immediate access to all suppliers within our database for sealed bids, quotes or other requests. If you know of a specific supplier with questions, we would be happy to contact them and explain how our system works.
What can I do about our auditors who require a hard copy of every purchase order?
Any purchasing order can be printed for filing or mailing purposes. All transactional data remains available to you online for three years. During that time, you also have online access to all reports that come with your specific application.
How long does it take to implement your solution?
It is not uncommon for customers to have all suppliers enabled, employees using the system and the organization saving money within a couple of months. Since we are a SaaS provider, you can access your solution through the Internet without having to load any software. You do not need to maintain version control of software or buy any hardware. Minimal staff is needed to administer the system. ESM Solutions manages your supplier enablement; we host and maintain the system 24×7. Additionally, we provide 8am-8pm EST customer support via email and phone.
Will ESM Solutions force us to be more centralized than we want to be?
Over the years, we have worked with organizations that are entirely centralized, extremely de-centralized, and everything in between. No matter how your business processes are structured, it is easy to deploy our eProcurement solution for control at any level. At the same time, we provide visibility to supplier contracts that enable you to take full advantage of combined buying power.
What if we are afraid to change our process?
eProcurement solutions are a means to save time, money and resources. It is all about the ability to make the most of what you have available so that more resources can be reallocated to other projects. We would be happy to show you how you can maintain your organization’s unique character and still save substantial time and money with ESM Solutions.
When creating a requisition, sometimes upon release, the action will be “transmitting” or “pending.” What should I do when this occurs?
Sometimes requisitions may take longer to process than expected. Check with your Network/IT department to ask if you site is experiencing any type of communication issues that may be affecting requisition processing. If there are no problems, we encourage you to call ESM Solutions Customer Support at 877-969-7246 x3.
I created an order that was more than 100 line items and the system stopped and would not allow me to add any more lines. Why?
Due to limitations of most general ledger providers, a requisition cannot contain more than 99 line items. Users who have selected more than 99 items from a catalog will receive a system error when they attempt to return to their cart from the catalog. As a result, in many cases, the items are lost and the users have to recreate their cart from the beginning. We would like to remind you to be attentive to the 99 line item limit and create multiple requisitions if you are ordering large quantities of line items from a single supplier.
I do not always receive email approval notifications. Is there something wrong?
If an approver is set up to receive email notifications in the system, but has not been receiving them as expected, it may be because the user has not logged into the system since their last successful notification was received. The system requires that users login after each email notice is sent, otherwise, future notifications will not be generated by the system. Also, please check to see if your local network spam filters caught the email notifications and sent them to your junk/spam folder.
How do I register as a supplier?
If you support K-12 institutions, register under the eSchoolMall Version here. All other suppliers should register under the Mercury Version here. If you support multiple customer segments, you should register for both eSchoolMall Version and Mercury Version. Follow the instructions to fill out the various fields with your information and continue until you submit your registration.
I do not know my Employee Identification Number (EIN); what should I enter while registering?
If you do not know your EIN, also known as a Federal Tax ID number, you may leave this field blank. However, once your registration is processed, you can update your EIN by going to My Contact Profile, which can be found under “Profile” in Vendor Response.
How do I reset my password?
After reaching the login screen in the appropriate application, click “Forgot Password?” and proceed to enter your username/email address, then click “Submit.” You will receive a notification indicating that your password request has been submitted. You will then receive an email within 90 seconds with a link to reset your password. If you do not see the email, please check your spam or junk folder. This link will direct you to answer a security question and ask you to provide a new password. After clicking “Submit,” your password will be reset.
How long does the registration process take?
The online supplier registration process only takes a few minutes to complete. Once completed and submitted, ESM Solutions’ Support team will receive the registration request and process it within 48 hours.
Is there a fee to register for bidding opportunities?
There is no fee to register as an ESM Solutions supplier. There is a nominal annual subscription fee to respond to sourcing events from customers within the system.
Is there a fee if I am awarded a bid?
It is important to read the Terms and Conditions section on each posted sourcing event carefully, as this area will contain information relative to any fees that may apply for responding to the customer’s bid.
Can I see all sourcing opportunities that are currently open for responses in the system?
Our customers choose the suppliers that they publish their sourcing events to. If a customer selects you to respond to an open bid, you will be able to view and respond to that sourcing event.
Where are your customers located?
ESM Solutions supports customers nationwide with Internet-based procurement, tailored specifically for higher education institutions, K-12 school districts, government agencies, buying cooperatives and commercial entities.
Does your sourcing system allow me to only respond to the customer that I am interested in working with?
Yes. Our application allows you to continue to work directly with your customers as you do today. In the event that you are invited to participate in a sourcing event that you are not interested in, you can simply decline the invitation.
How do I market my company to your customers?
During the supplier registration process, you are encouraged to select from a listing of classifications that best describe the type of business or service that you provide. Our customers can search for you by these classifications and have the opportunity to invite you to sourcing events based on them. To gain additional exposure to ESM Solutions’ customer base, learn about becoming an Premium Supplier in the ESM Supplier Network.
What are these classifications, and are they necessary at the time of registration?
The classifications are called NIGP codes, a product of the National Institute of Government Purchasing, Inc. They assist potential customers in finding your company by the products and services you offer. At least one NIGP code is required at the time of registration, and they can be updated at any point after your registration has been processed.
What if I am having trouble finding NIGP codes relevant to my business?
There are many websites that offer in-depth databases dedicated to NIGP codes. Try using umbrella terms to guide you in the right direction. For example, if your company is in trucking sales and you want to search the NIGP code for a flat-bed tractor trailer, try searching “truck” or “trailer” and filter through the results. For most cases, it is best to search a broad term than a specific product or service you are offering.
How many NIGP codes can I use for my company’s account?
You may use as many NIGP codes as you find that apply to your company’s products and services, but it is prudent to keep the list as accurate as possible to direct those most likely to offer bid invitations.
I am only interested in working with one particular customer. What is the best way for them to find me?
By providing the email that you use to register, the customer(s) will be able to find you directly and extend a bid event invitation to you. This process makes the bidding process easier and quicker for the customer, thus you are able to respond to the bid event in an efficient manner.
Can I present my catalog online with ESM Solutions?
Yes. ESM Solutions provides two options to present online supplier catalogs to customers: hosted catalog and punchout catalog. A hosted catalog gives customers access to their supplier catalog through ESM Solutions’ easyPurchase interface. With a dynamic punchout catalog, the supplier and ESM Solutions work together to create a real-time link between our applications. The user begins in easyPurchase and then connects to the supplier’s website for shopping and cart creation. Upon checkout, your cart is transferred back to easyPurchase, where it is routed for approval. ESM Solutions also offers Level II punchout capabilities.
How many suppliers participate in your system?
Currently, there are more than 80,000 enabled suppliers participating with ESM Solutions.
An employee no longer works at our company; can we change access to that account to a different employee?
Yes. In order to change the password and security question, you will need to contact Customer Support. Once you have the credentials, you can login and change the contact information to reflect that of the new user by going to “Profile” under Vendor Response. From there, select “My Contact Profile,” and you will be brought to a page where you can change the identifying contact information by replacing the information already in the fields and clicking “update.”
How would I receive the orders placed in your system?
Once a requisition has been approved and a purchase order has been created, it can be delivered to you electronically or in physical form. The preference is yours, but electronic transmission is by far the most preferred and utilized delivery method and includes transmission via XML, email, and fax.
What is XML and how is it distinct from cXML?
XML stands for Extensible Markup Language and is a text-based file extension that has become the international standard by which data is transmitted between distinct environments. The protocol we use at ESM Solutions to transmit this very well-defined and robust type of data is referred to as cXML (commerce XML) and is presently the most widely used B2B protocol to implement punchout transactions.
How exactly does ESM Solutions leverage cXML for punchout transactions?
Put simply, ESM Solutions utilizes cXML to provide our customers with the ability to access web-based, punchout catalogs directly from within your eProcurement application. This would subsequently enable you to browse your cXML-compliant catalog and add items to a cart that will ultimately be returned to your ESM Solutions system as a pending purchase order.
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