Most UK companies are failing to reap the benefits of e-procurement, despite all the excitement about e-commerce, according to a survey of 112 medium to large organisations. The survey, by ByLine Research on behalf of procurement-software supplier Tranmit plc, found that when it came to purchasing maintenance, repair and operating supplies, only 13% of companies had a fully-automated process. A quarter had a completely paper-based process and the rest were partially automated. Tranmit's business manager Shane Hussain said companies were missing out on big savings. Citing estimated per-item purchasing costs of £50, he said: 'For a large organisation issuing tens of thousands of purchase requisitions each year, these costs can run into tens or even hundreds of millions of pounds. Even by the most conservative estimate, automation could save a third of this expenditure, putting millions back on the bottom line.' Survey respondents said they were aware of e-procurement. A third had experimented with buying goods and services over the Internet, and most expected to do a substantial proportion of their purchasing this way in future. All but 11% of respondents expected to implement electronic procurement management within five years. There is a growing range of technology options for them to choose from. Tranmit itself recently unveiled Sprinter Purchase Management, an intranet-based application allowing employees to select and purchase goods and services from suppliers' websites. The system supports the completion and authorisation of requisitions. After delivery, it manages receipts for goods and matches scanned invoices with purchase orders and goods received documents. Other prominent e-procurement players include Commerce One and Ariba, arch-rivals from the US. Ariba's director of European marketing Ben Wright said: 'Over 50 major companies in the US have bought our solution, including 14 of the Fortune 100 companies. I wouldn't say the UK was dragging its heels though, particularly in the past four to five months, we've seen a dramatic increase in interest here.'
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