A Hitchhiker’s Guide to e-Procurement: Catalogs & Contracts, Part I

Mostly Harmless, Part XIX

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A(n e-)catalog is an online catalog that lists products and services that a supplier is offering for sale. It can take many forms. It can be a simple flat file listing all products and services that the supplier sends to the buyer (who can then maintain it in their catalog system). It can be a database that can be queried. It can be the supplier’s website. It can be a punch-out marketplace. It can be an e-marketplace. It can be a virtual supplier network. As long as it lists item for sale and prices, it can be considered a catalog for the purposes of e-Procurement.

A contract is an agreement between two parties which, if it contains the elements of a valid legal agreement, is enforceable by law. In the procurement realm, a contract is usually between a buyer and a supplier for one or more services, under one or more conditions, at contracted rates. Contracts are generally managed by a contract management system, which may or may not be part of the e-Procurement system as contract management is a key part of the (e-)Sourcing cycle.

At the end of a procurement cycle, and before the next cycle begins, the catalogs and contracts need to be revisited to make sure they are still relevant and up to date. This is because, over the course of time, the following will happen:

  • the number of products purchased not in the catalog will increase

    over time, new needs will arise and replacements will have to be found for items no longer being manufactured

  • the number of items in the catalog no longer purchased will increase

    over time, needs will change and certain items will no longer be required

  • the number of items purchased against a contract will decrease

    as needs change and old items are no longer needed and new items not contracted for are required, the usefulness of contracts will decrease

  • contracts will expire

    and the pricing they contain will have to be renewed, revised, or removed from the system

The next post will outline some of the challenges associated with catalog and content management, some best practices, and some of the benefits that can be expected.

Next Post: Catalogs & Contracts, Part I

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