"Integration for the Masses"

PurchasePro rolls out solution to speed buyers' integration with suppliers' back-end systems

Las Vegas  June 20, 2002  e-Procurement and sourcing software provider PurchasePro took the wraps off a new solution this week that the company said will help buying organizations overcome one of the key challenges to electronic purchasing, automating connections with hundreds or thousands of their suppliers.

PurchasePro rolled out its OneConnect solution, a Web-based platform the provider said will speed the integration of PurchasePro's e-Procurement and e-Source applications into both buyer and supplier legacy systems, including enterprise resource planning (ERP), order management, fulfillment and financial applications, as well as into competing procurement or back-end application.

The new solution addresses the challenges that buying organizations have encountered in achieving genuine connectivity into the back-end systems at a large percentage of their supply base, according to Chris Benyo, PurchasePro's senior vice president. In many cases, suppliers with disconnected Web-based, e-commerce front-ends and back-office order entry systems have staff that must re-enter data from one system into the other.

This "disconnectivity" has meant that many companies adopting e-procurement have effectively linked only with a small number of their largest suppliers, leaving manual processes in place for most small to midsize suppliers and essentially nullifying the efficiency gains that buying organizations and suppliers had hoped would come out of e-procurement. "We believe that if the supply side isn't linked up with your buyer, you don't have a procurement system, all you have is a really expensive fax machine," Benyo asserted.

OneConnect, according to PurchasePro, facilitates electronic document-to-document data exchange across PurchasePro's trading network, enabling organizations to monitor and access transaction data while helping to eliminate the need to send and receive purchase orders and bids over the fax machine or through the mail. Based on standards such as electronic data interchange (EDI) and XML, OneConnect can take a purchase order created in an ERP system, pass it through the network to a supplier's legacy order management system, pass the advance shipping notice back to a legacy receiving system, and then pass an electronic invoice into a legacy financial system. The PurchasePro network facilitates the document travel, while OneConnect facilitates the connections.

Benyo said the direct integration that OneConnect allows for will help eliminate the supplier's "human middleware," providing efficiencies for the supplier while eliminating such bugaboos of manual processes as order entry errors, missed shipments, delayed product distribution and over payment.

Greg Ducharue, director of information technology at Desert Gold, a Las Vegas supplier of specialty meats, poultry and seafood and a OneConnect customer, said, "By integrating bids and purchase orders from our customers directly into our existing systems, OneConnect has made our operations four times faster, enabling our employees to reduce their purchase order and bid response time by 90 percent while simultaneously eliminating more than 100 hours of weekly data entry from our employees responsibilities."

While declining to put a price on the OneConnect solution, Benyo said the cost is going to be "a fraction" of what a traditional system integrator might charge for the kind of large-scale connectivity that PurchasePro said its new tool is going to provide. "We built a tool set we think is affordable down to the small to medium-size supplier, where they can get some of the benefits of integration," Benyo said. "It's integration for the masses."