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Forrester Establishes E-Procurement TechRankings

Few businesses manage to navigate the maze of enterprise software applications without some guidance from analysts or consulting firms. For companies that are in the market for new e-procurement systems, Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR) has added a category to its TechRankings.

Forrester said its laboratory-based evaluation of e-procurement products was conducted against more than 800 benchmarks solicited from IT and purchasing experts. In the end, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based research company devised 10 factors by which to judge the e-procurement offerings.

Sizing Up the Majors

All of the major vendors in the space took part in the eProcurement Application TechRankings, according to Forrester. Along with its partner, Doculabs, Forrester assessed offerings from five key vendors: Ariba Buyer 7.0, Clarus eProcurement 6.1, i2 RightWorks 7.05, iPlanet BuyerXpert 4.1 and MRO Software's MAXIMO Buyer 4.1.1.

"From start to finish, the initial launch of the eProcurement TechRankings took about five months," Forrester analyst Sharyn Leaver told She said that time was spent conducting interviews with 50 companies looking at e-procurement products and developing the more than 800 ranking criteria before conducting the hands-on lab testing of the products.

The study found that companies want applications that are easy to use and that integrate with existing ERP systems and suppliers. They also seek out e-procurement apps that reduce transaction costs, improve contract compliance and reduce total spending.

Integration Matters

"While the e-procurement pure plays have spent the past few years building increasingly extensive and flexible software specifically for e-procurement, enterprise software veterans are using their back-end procurement expertise and installed base to extend their e-procurement presence," Forrester analyst Sharyn Leaver said.

"These vendors are making strides, but no single solution can satisfy all e-procurement situations," Leaver added.

Leaver explained that pure-play products that are designed to integrate well into existing ERP systems -- and that come with top-notch professionals who can build a system that encompasses the entire procurement process -- are the ones that will gain the biggest market share.

Ariba, Clarus Stand Out

"Each product is appropriate in different scenarios," Leaver told CRMDaily. "But, Ariba received superior results in several areas like process configuration and supplier enablement," she said.

"They also show signs of understanding and supporting the entire procurement process with their new release of Ariba Enterprise Sourcing and vision to provide complete integration between their Sourcing and Buyer products -- and add contract management capabilities," Leaver added.

"Another notable vendor is Clarus, who also scored strongly in purchasing and process configuration capabilities as well as sourcing and settlement features," Leaver said. "Though a bit less flexible than an Ariba solution, they are a good fit for small or midsize firms with simple yet comprehensive procurement processes."

Forrester said its TechRankings are designed to provide businesses with an objective, independent assessment for evaluating products -- similar to a specialized "Consumer Reports." The company said it plans to add more vendors and products to this TechRankings category as it completes more lab research.

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