E-procurement (electronic procurement, sometimes also known as supplier exchange) is the business-to-business or business-to-consumer or Business-to-government purchase and sale of supplies, Work and services through the Internet as well as other information and networking systems, such as Electronic Data Interchange and Enterprise Resource Planning. Typically, e-procurement Web sites allow qualified and registered users to look for buyers or sellers of goods and services. Depending on the approach, buyers or sellers may specify costs or invite bids. Transactions can be initiated and completed. Ongoing purchases may qualify customers for volume discounts or special offers. E-procurement software may make it possible to automate some buying and selling. Companies participating expect to be able to control parts inventories more effectively, reduce purchasing agent overhead, and improve manufacturing cycles. E-procurement is expected to be integrated with the trend toward computerized supply chain management.
E-procurement is done with a software application that includes features for supplier management and complex auctions. The new generation of E-Procurement is now on-demand or a software-as-a-service.
There are seven main types of e-procurement:
- Web-based ERP (Electronic Resource Planning): Creating and approving purchasing requisitions, placing purchase orders and receiving goods and services by using a software system based on Internet technology.
- e-MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul): The same as web-based ERP except that the goods and services ordered are non-product related MRO supplies.
- e-sourcing: Identifying new suppliers for a specific category of purchasing requirements using Internet technology.
- e-tendering: Sending requests for information and prices to suppliers and receiving the responses of suppliers using Internet technology.
- e-reverse auctioning: Using Internet technology to buy goods and services from a number of known or unknown suppliers.
- e-informing: Gathering and distributing purchasing information both from and to internal and external parties using Internet technology.
- e-marketsites: Expands on Web-based ERP to open up value chains. Buying communities can access preferred suppliers' products and services, add to shopping carts, create requisition, seek approval, receipt purchase orders and process electronic invoices with integration to suppliers' supply chains and buyers' financial systems.
The e-procurement value chain consists of Indent Management, eTendering, eAuctioning, Vendor Management, Catalogue Management, and Contract Management. Indent Management is the workflow involved in the preparation of tenders. This part of the value chain is optional, with individual procuring departments defining their indenting process. In works procurement, administrative approval and technical sanction are obtained in electronic format. In goods procurement, indent generation activity is done online. The end result of the stage is taken as inputs for issuing the NIT.
Elements of e-procurement include Request For Information, Request For Proposal, Request for Quotation, RFx (the previous three together), and eRFx (software for managing RFx projects).