e-Procurement, the counterpart to e-Sourcing that starts where e-Sourcing ends and ends where e-Sourcing begins (as outlined in It’s Sourcing AND Procurement), is the “e” implementation of the procurement cycle that is concerned with the requisitioning, receiving, and reconciliation of received goods, as opposed to the analysis, auction, and strategic award that takes place in a sourcing cycle (as defined in the e-Sourcing Wiki).
The basic cycle, which consists of up to 9-steps depending on the complexity of the buy and organizational policies, always consists of an order, an invoice, and payment. The order is made based upon organizational needs, the invoice is reviewed based upon the order that was made and the goods that were received, and payment is made based upon terms and conditions … and all three phases rely heavily on content. Before you can place an order, you need to know what the organization needs, what potential suppliers have to offer, what demand-supply matches are acceptable, and what the total cost of ownership of each option is. This is all content. Before you pay an invoice, you need to match it to the original order (were the goods ordered), to the goods received (which goods were actually received), and to the agreed upon prices and rates (in the contract or purchase order). This is all content. And before you can make a payment, you need to know who you’re paying, the payment methods they accept, their unique identifying information for the payment method chosen, the amount of time you have to pay, any discounts or penalties for paying early or late, and, if relevant, when the currency exchange might be in your favor. This is all content.
Good e-Procurement technology captures all of this data, makes it easily accessible and searchable, and organizes the data into information that knowledgeable individuals can use. But great e-Procurement technology, like that built using B2B 3.0 technology, goes even further! While good e-Procurement technology will capture the information it needs to do its job, great e-Procurement technology will make it easy to share that information between related applications through unified content exchange technologies. While good e-Procurment technologies will allow you to connect to different external catalogs through punch-out, great e-Procurement technologies will pull all of the relevant information into a single unified view that allows you to compare your different options side-by-side in an apples-to-apples comparison. And while good e-Procurement technologies are GUI-based, great e-Procurement technologies are feature rich and integrate all of the different user friendly technologies — including graphics, sound, and video — into a single application.
To read more about how modern e-Procurement is enabled by next-generation content-management technologies, check out the latest Sourcing Innovation Illumination on How Content-Enablement Enables e-Procurement 3.0.