Microsoft Aims at Mid-Sized Market with E-Procurement Software

A recently acquired subsidiary of Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), Great Plains Business Solutions, announced Tuesday that it is partnering with business-to-business (B2B) software provider Clarus Corporation (Nasdaq: CLRS) to offer B2B e-procurement software.

The new product, called eProcure, is designed for use by businesses looking to integrate their e-procurement with other functions, including payables management and reporting functions.

Microsoft said that eProcure would allow organizations to integrate with online marketplaces in order to conduct auctions, reverse auctions, and comparison shop.

Microsoft plans to fully integrate eProcure into Microsoft Great Plains’ eEnterprise, Solomon and Dynamics products. It is scheduled to be available during the fourth quarter.

Follow the Money

“Common procurement processes are costly and inefficient as a result of bottlenecks, maverick spending and time-consuming paper-based processes,” Microsoft Great Plains vice president of e-business Lynne Stockstad said.

According to Stockstad, eProcure will help organizations reduce costs by gaining control of interactions and purchasing from a multitude of suppliers.

eProcure’s search engine will also let buyers search supplier Web sites for pricing information, Microsoft said.

Mirror, Mirror

eProcure’s architecture can be configured to mirror any organization’s operating structure, Microsoft said. The new product will also allow purchase orders to be routed for approval based on price, category, job classification and other attributes.

For example, capital expenditures can automatically be routed to the appropriate department for review, the company said.

Microsoft and Clarus boasted that using eProcure could save companies up to 15 percent on the cost of goods and services by streamlining the purchasing process and allowing buyers to easily analyze supplier performance.

Companies can either deploy eProcure in-house or have it hosted through a Microsoft Great Plains certified application service provider (ASP).

Wooing Small Biz

eProcure is Microsoft’s latest effort to gain a foothold in the market for B2B online transactions between small and mid-sized businesses.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft acquired privately held e-business software company NCompass Labs in May. NCompass Labs’ flagship product, NCompass Resolution, is a software package that helps small and mid-sized companies design and launch personalized e-business Web sites.

In April, Microsoft announced a new alliance with Partner America, aimed at helping small businesses venture into the world of e-commerce. The two companies said they will co-sponsor a series of Microsoft seminars and workshops across the United States to teach small businesses how to succeed online.

Also in April, Microsoft announced that subscribers to bCentral, the software giant’s online service center for businesses, would have access to the Microsoft bCentral Commerce Manager, a product that allows businesses to add e-commerce functionality to Web pages created with FrontPage 2000.

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