Wireless-equipped traders and brokers step aside— e-procurement managers may be joining you on the airwaves. Elcom International Inc. last week announced that its e-procurement software has gone wireless.
Running on Windows CE and Palm OS—and soon on Internet-enabled cell phones—Elcoms eMobileLink application, based on PECOS, or Personal Electronic Catalog Ordering System, Internet Procurement Manager, lets users receive e-mail notification-of- approval requests and OK them from their wireless devices.
The application works like this: A purchasing director is on the road when a request for quote, or RFQ, comes across the wire and pops up on his or her PDA (personal digital assistant). The director then downloads the RFQ, reads it, approves it and routes it to the next appropriate person.
The application currently has routing and approval capabilities only, which makes it pretty rudimentary. It remains to be seen how many IT departments want this kind of functionality, though some procurement professionals are excited by the idea of saving time when dealing with vendors and customers.
Elcom, of Norwood, Mass., is not the first e-procurement software provider to add wireless capabilities to its product. Las Vegas-based PurchasePro.com Inc. announced a wireless application in September last year. PurchasePro Anywhere allows the companys customers to access notification of RFQs and new purchase orders from buyers.
Some in the procurement field welcome wireless access to quotes. Jamie Zapko, a vice president of national accounts for PowersourceOnline.com, a business-to-business trading hub for computer equipment, said speed is essential in working with clients, which are large hardware makers.
"In the service-parts business, time is a huge factor," Zapko said. "You have to get stuff on location in a promised amount of time. So if you can key in to your Palm and be notified that a part will be there the following day, youve got yourself a perfect world."
Christopher Kulp, manager of new business development for Richman Chemical Inc., in Lower Gwynedd, Pa., agrees that timing is everything in procurement. "Were a small custom manufacturing company for fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals," Kulp said. "In the custom industry, everything is on a very short time line. I need an RFQ quickly. I need pricing quickly."
PurchasePro plans to upgade Anywhere next quarter with the ability to approve requisitions on the buyer side, as well as to approve purchase orders and shop catalogs. On the supplier side, it will offer the ability to accept and approve RFQs and purchase orders, as well as to respond to both.