Commerce One Gears Up for E-Procurement

It seems like only yesterday that enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors were rushing to enhance their solution-set offerings with supply chain management capabilities. But Internet time refuses to abide, and the task now facing ERP vendors is to transform from supply chain management to a new enterprise model: e-procurement. With the unveiling of version 6.0 of its Commerce One BuySite electronic procurement (e-procurement) package, Commerce One Inc. (www.commerceone.com) hopes to get a head-start in a market space that many analysts expect to explode.

Most ERP applications do a good job managing and tracking production purchases, states Tim Minahan, a senior analyst in electronic commerce at Aberdeen Group (www.aberdeen.com), in a white paper titled Strategic Procurement: The Next Wave of Procurement Automation. But these systems do a less than satisfactory job when addressing the requirements of nonproduction purchases, such as office supplies, computer equipment or repair parts. It is here that e-procurement software applications have a niche.

According to Commerce One, BuySite 6.0 helps users to process transactions in multiple international formats. This is important, the company explains, because in an age of multinational corporations and a global economy, many enterprises support operations in different countries and in different languages. Rather than forcing organizations to implement separate procurement systems for each location, BuySite natively supports German, French, Japanese and English language and currency models.

"Global companies are demanding solutions that can support their complex organizational structures, as well as different languages and currencies, so they can more effectively participate in global trading communities," says Chuck Donchess, vice president of marketing and business development at Commerce One. "With Commerce One BuySite 6.0 our customers can leverage the power and intelligence of a centralized system while supporting the unique requirements of various offices, divisions or subsidiaries."

E-procurement applications typically use open standards and Internet Protocol technologies to shift the task of product selection and order initiation to the desktops of front-line employees. In this sense, e-procurement applications allow enterprises to maintain their existing corporate contracts, business rules and process workflow models.

In keeping with this idea, BuySite’s browser-based user interface can be accessed by distributed global employees over the Internet. BuySite also features e-procurement amenities such as configurable approval workflow, order management, receiving and end-to-end procurement card support.

While the e-procurement space is maturing, Commerce One is receiving attention from established enterprise players. In early September, the company entered into a marketing partnership with Compaq Computer Corp.: Commerce One will participate in Compaq’s "NonStop Solutions for eBusiness Program" as a provider of software for electronic procurement applications.

Compaq’s partnership with Commerce One was prompted, says Steve Mahoney, vice president of application integration services at Compaq, by Commerce One’s reputation in the e-procurement space. "Compaq chose to partner with Commerce One because the company offers superior procurement solutions and a growing network of global trading communities," Mahoney says.

The e-procurement space, though young, has top-notch enterprise competition. Aberdeen’s Minahan singles out Oracle Corp. and its Strategic Procurement software as an example of a comprehensive, leading-edge e-procurement software solution.