CCP Connects Buyers, Suppliers

A Chicago-based systems integrator is offering a service that mediates between the systems of a buyer and a supplier so they don't have to rewrite their B2B procurement software.

CCP Global Inc., a business-to-business software and systems integrator, earlier this week introduced a new managed service to enable streamlined electronic purchasing between suppliers and buyers.

The GPS (Global PunchOut Suite) creates a connection between a suppliers e-storefront and online catalog and a buyer connected to Ariba Inc.s ACSN (Ariba Commerce Services Network). This provides the buyer with real-time access to product description and pricing information, as well as to configuration tools.

GPS, which uses technology similar to Aribas PunchOut software, also supports all PunchOut levels – including create, edit and inspect – and all PunchOut types – that is, store, aisle and item. It also logs transactions, events and errors.

At its core, the software intercepts orders presented on the ACSN via XML, transforms them into a format that the suppliers e-commerce software understands and then ships it to the suppliers order management system.

Because Chicago-based CCP Global uses a repeatable methodology it developed in 37 Ariba Buyer implementations, the service reduces the time it typically takes to set up this punchout facility from 2-6 months to only two weeks, according to Michael Vitagliano, CCPs vice president of marketing and planning. The cost to the supplier also is reduced from $100,000 to $10,000 plus a monthly fee of $1,000. The hosted service can connect multiple buyers to a single supplier.

CCP Global will rearchitect the service by June to work with B2B transaction software from other major vendors including Commerce One Inc. , Clarus Corp., and the big enterprise software developers. Officials also said they are creating adapter to link the transactions into other back-end processes, such as enterprise financials and inventory management.

Consolidated Graphics Inc. used GPS to create an interface between a big buyer and its COIN (custom interactive ordering network) software, which enables buyers to order online printed materials, such as letterhead and envelopes. The buyer was already using ACSN and Ariba spend management software to enforce company-wide e-procurement rules.

When the buyer using the ACSN initiates a transaction (the process is called a punchout) a cXML (commerce XML) document, called up setup request, is sent via GPS to Consolidates COIN application. COINs response is routed back through GPS, said James Cage, vice president of information technology at Consolidated.

"Without GPS we would have had to have written our own integration of COIN to the ACSN to be able to handle the processing of these XML transactions; weve never done that," said Cage, in Houston.

CCP set up the service in a month at a cost lower than other systems integrators had bid, Cage said.

Consolidated likes the hosted model because it means that if there is a change in the ACSN or GPS software it will be automatically updated.

Cage sees the connection to ACSN buyers as a value-add that the printing company can offer buyers. He plans to add a GPS connection to Commerce Ones Global Trading Web when the technology is ready.

B2B software was all the rage a few years ago but even as the spotlight has turned elsewhere, many companies are finding that they are beginning to save money on purchasing by reducing or eliminating maverick spending, Vitagliano said.

"Buyers that have rationalized their buying are more readily accepting of technology to do this sort of thing," he said. "You have to break down the process wall, and you have to break down the [perception that some] suppliers are sacred cows."