Searching for Help

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2001-11-05 Print this article Print

Searching for Help

Its little wonder, then, that e-procurement buyers and sellers are looking for outside help managing catalog content. At Ametek Inc., of Paoli, Pa., officials knew from the beginning of their e-procurement project in June of last year that they didnt want to try managing suppliers and their content. The company was implementing Oracles Internet Procurement application as part of a larger Oracle ERP (enterprise resource planning) project. The task of managing supplier content would cut into the potential savings from the $1.5 million e-procurement project and require adding to the staff of four involved in managing e-procurement, said Sue Eckel, Ameteks director of e-procurement. Thats because, although a principal goal of e-procurement was to reduce the number of suppliers, at the time the company was working with about 7,000 suppliers of indirect goods.

So Ametek looked to solve both problems—managing the electronic catalogs and aggregating its suppliers—through outsourcing. It contracted with ICG Commerce to use its Managed eProcurement service, which reformats supplier catalogs into consistent file formats and online presentation and also aggregates the purchases of multiple buyers to drive down product costs. Ametek also signed up for services from catalog-management service provider TPN Register LLC—now owned by General Electric Co., of Fairfield, Conn.—to streamline access to the catalog content of suppliers that were not part of the ICG network.

E-procurement was rolled out in May, and Ametek has seven supplier catalogs available through ICG, in Jenkintown, Pa., and another four through TPN Register. By next May, Eckel said, she expects a total of about 18 suppliers on board. That will encompass about 70 percent of the companys spending on indirect goods—something that would have taken years had Ametek tried to manage suppliers and their content on its own, she said.

Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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