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Supplier technical support

Getting started with e-procurement is a pretty dexterous process. The right software platform needs to be adopted that would fit in with other functions of the organization. There are several different platforms or e-procurement software in the market. Several major players providing e-procurement software include SAP, Oracle, and Sage Groups PLC. Different platforms are designed differently and it is vital to note that these softwares are not a “one size fits all” kind of a deal.

Hence, as noted by Robert Picani – General Manager of supply chain strategies at Lucent Technologies, it is very important for business to thoroughly evaluate their business processes before buying the software to ensure that the desired business objectives are met. A typical e-procurement sofrware according to Morrison, CEO of Morrison Informatics, should entail the following essential capabilities: 1. Web interfaces: The software needs to be able to establish a connection to the internet. 2.

Content control for users: This is needed to ensure proper internal controls such that respective users are granted access only to content that they need to carry out their specific tasks in. 3. Product comparisons: The software should be able to comprehensively compare different aspects of products offered by various different

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suppliers on the network. 4. Requisitioning: The software should be integrated and run in real time such that materials are automatically requisitioned as required by the production department. 5.

E-quotes: The software should have the capability to solicit quotations from different suppliers. 6. Purchase orders: The software should have the capability to generate Purchase orders that have legal value. 7. A systematic approval process needs to be tailored to enable a legitimate electronic procurement. Further, the software should have the capacity to produce legally significant financial documentations. In addition to that, a typical software should offer customized purchase options and provide comprehensive coverage of items purchased in the past.

Apart from that when buying an e-procurement software, a company should look for certain standards in the provider such as secure payment methods and a clear disclosure of privacy policies. In addition to that, it should be ensured that there are adequate consumer protection policies and grievance reporting system. What makes an e-procurement software different from traditional EDI system is that e-procurement provides additional value added services like direct access to online catalogues, 24 hour access to supplier technical support.

It also provides access to the inventory systems of the supplier and enables auctioning and bidding through the extensive trade networks of the e-vendors. Several procurement experts at the UK’s Improvement and development agency have developed a step by step procedure towards successful implementation of e-procurement. First of all the employees of the company need to be trained and the benefits of e-procurement need to be clearly laid out to avoid non-compliant buying by untrained purchasing agents.

It is very easy to underestimate the need for training when the process gets automated. It is imperative for the employees using the system to understand proper contract laws, procurement procedures, and possess necessary supplier and contract management skills. The officials at the Improvement and Development agency recommend starting with developing an e-procurement policy that lays out clearly how to use the software applications in accordance with the organizational objectives. Furthermore, the suppliers need to get adequately involved into the process.

This step is known as supplier adoption. To reap the benefits of e-procurement, a high level of trust needs to exist between the buyers and the suppliers; otherwise, the technology alone would be under-utilized and the undertaking of e-procurement may fail miserably. Hence, a company would typically start by adopting e-procurement between highly trusted partners and then gradually attract other suppliers to compete. It is also very important to regularly communicate with the suppliers and to make sure that their issues are well understood and dealt with.

Once, a network of suppliers has been established, a spend analysis needs to be conducted by the purchasing department which would help in selecting a supplier with the greatest value for money. In order to make the most out of the e-procurement solution, it is preferable to aggregate demand to a few, carefully selected, supply partners in order to reap economies of scale. Further, the solution should be complemented with other e-commerce solutions to ease information sharing and measure performance of different suppliers.

Regardless of how automated the process gets, or how advanced the technology becomes, it is important to form a highly trained supply chain management team that takes a wholisitc approach towards a transactions and is value-driven rather than merely price-driven. The team should be responsible for applying advanced strategic sourcing methods and avail every value creation opportunity that they may get with the suppliers outside of the e-procurement environment.

In implementing the system, there may be certain caveats that should be dealt with such as certain internal barriers that accompany any change. For instance, the employees may not take part in the implementation if it is merely imposed upon them. Hence, employees need to be made a vital part of the process as they may fear that their current roles may lose prestige or become redundant owing to the implementation of the system. To counter such barriers, a forum for communication needs to be developed by the team implementing the system where questions and concerns would be dealt with.

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