Though still in its nascent stage, e-procurement has been able to develop its own body of language and as such regardless of its model, each has similar components that must be properly considered and managed to ensure a successful system. These components include Catalog content, Processes, User maintenance, Establishing buyer/seller relationships, Billing management, Price establishment, Data transmission, and System maintenance.
At the heart of every e-procurement process lies an electronic catalog. Similar to a traditional mail-order catalog, electronic catalogs contain detailed information on products or services available for sale. Suppliers customize the content to address the specific needs of targeted buyers. This content is manipulated and imported into a database that the e-procurement application integrates into web pages
The management of catalog data can be handled using import and aggregation tools or by outsourcing the task to companies specializing in content management. Content providers generally offer the following services:
• Convert catalog data into a uniform language and format
• Gather and aggregate data from multiple suppliers into one catalog
• Publish and maintain the product catalog
Once a catalog is created, various cataloging strategies are used to provide access to the content. Strategies include using a centralized catalog model where the aggregated data is hosted at a central location, a distributed model where data resides at multiple sites, or a content-retrieval method where suppliers present catalog data directly to buyers.
There are three types of catalogues that address various buyer needs :
• Product catalogs: Contain data on tangible items such as office products, medical supplies, rolls of steel, etc.
• Service catalogs: Offer professional service “intangibles” such as office maintenance services, temporary personnel services, etc.
• Commodity-specific catalogs: Offer specific product families or groups such as chemicals, paper, or other raw materials