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A data visualization tool to benchmark government tendering process: Insights from two public enterprises

Amit Agrahari (Information Technology and Systems Group, Indian Institute of Management Lucknow, Lucknow, India)
Samir K. Srivastava (Operations Management Group, Indian Institute of Management Lucknow, Lucknow, India)

Benchmarking: An International Journal

ISSN: 1463-5771

Article publication date: 22 January 2019

Issue publication date: 28 March 2019




Government e-Procurement systems are generating tender-level process event data which are not being analyzed much. The purpose of this paper is to present a data visualization tool to benchmark the government tendering process. This tool collects, collates and presents e-Procurement process data in a meaningful way that enables comparisons and benchmarking leading to insights for process improvements and identification of the best practices. This tool is accessible on the website of South Asia’s first public procurement observatory ( founded by the authors.


The authors started with an initial set of key performance indicators (KPIs) based on extant literature and existing practices. The authors got them verified by various relevant stakeholders through a series of formal and informal discussions. Some of them were dropped due to observed variations or their inability to offer insights to arrive at the final set of KPIs. In this paper, the authors use actual process-level data. Government of India’s National Informatics Center has implemented e-Procurement portals in various states and public enterprises (PEs) in India which provide tender-wise detailed e-tendering process data. The authors designed a web crawler that collects these data in a tabular format, which allows an easy analysis and comparison to measure and compare government tendering process performance for the last five years for the two large PEs. The authors also engaged in discussions with the procurement executives of the two PSEs to derive meaningful managerial insights from the results obtained.


Using the public procurement data visualization tool, the authors compare the procurement process of two of the largest Indian PEs, Coal India Limited and Indian Oil Corporation on the developed KPIs and draw insights. The results show significant difference in their procurement process performance due to different practices followed by them. Through interaction with the procurement managers of these two organizations, the authors identify few good procurement practices that can be applied to improve public procurement process.

Research limitations/implications

This paper uses actual process-level data which can be used not just to identify improvement opportunities but also to gauge the impact of any process-level change. It presents a data visualization tool to generate insights from data generated by a procurement/tendering system. Such visualization and benchmarking can uncover better procurement practices and provide an impetus toward data-driven policy formulation. Apart from the two PEs as reported in this paper, this tool has also been applied on the public procurement data of eight Indian states.

Practical implications

The KPIs presented in this paper are aligned with the various dimensions of public procurement’s objectives. The visualization tool presented in this paper is based on the Open Contract Data Standard and has a universal application.

Social implications

The use of technology and open data sharing as the enablers of benchmarking and process improvements help in establishing a dynamic competitive environment leading to financial savings, better services to citizens and proper use of taxpayers’ money.


This paper presents an original work carried out under the aegis of South Asia’s first procurement observatory at IIM Lucknow. The benchmarking tool presented in this paper uses open contract data standard and can be applied in most of the public procurement processes. This paper takes the discussions on e-Procurement to the next level, where the concern is no longer restricted to only adoption and assimilation issues, but also on how to make use of the data that these e-Procurement systems generate.



The authors are thankful to the Emerald Group Publishing Limited for adjudging their research proposal as highly commended for the 2015 Emerald/IAM Indian Management Research Fund Award and providing the initial funding [FR-152]. Subsequently, this research was carried out under a seed money research grant from the Indian Institute of Management Lucknow [SM-242] for the broad theme of activities being carried out by South Asia’s first procurement observatory, set up at IIM Lucknow. The authors are grateful to the procurement executives of Coal India Limited and Indian Oil Corporation for fruitful discussions. These discussions helped the authors in the interpretation of the findings to draw useful insights.


Agrahari, A. and Srivastava, S.K. (2019), "A data visualization tool to benchmark government tendering process: Insights from two public enterprises", Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 836-853.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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