E-Procurement Streamlined via the Cloud

By Eric Haun

Marine Procurement Solutions (MPS) has built an electronic platform that aims to enhance the purchasing cycle for the maritime industry. MPS provides software, consultancy services and other customized solutions through its Direct Connect e-procurement trading platform that is designed to unite buyers, vendors and other members of the supply chain via a cloud-based interface that allows users to electronically process requests for quotations, purchase orders, confirmations and documents associated with supply management transactions. And by removing manual data entry, purchasing cycle times are reduced, with the added benefit of increased order accuracy.
“MPS emphasizes the importance of logistics,” said  Joseph E. Royce, CEO. “Direct Connect links the freight forwarder to the shipowner while providing real-time track and trace details directly from the PO.”
Direct Connect also offers options for real-time report/KPI customization, detailing purchasing patterns and key performance indicators to help users to track results. “Data flowing through the system can be easily captured and presented to the end user. Having quick access to this data empowers buyers and provides management with the necessary tools to increase productivity,” Royce said.
At the core of this technology’s effectiveness is cloud computing. “Few technologies have affected our industry as profoundly as cloud computing, which delivers computing as a service or utility,” Royce said. “Part of cloud’s appeal is clearly financial; it allows organizations to significantly shed their expensive IT infrastructure and shift computing costs to more manageable operational expenses. Small companies typically have more modest, in-house IT resources, which make it easier for them to look to less traditional IT methods such as cloud computing.”
Royce explained that his company’s cloud-based e-procurement platform fully leverages this model to offer ship owners and marine suppliers a full-featured solution at a fraction of the price, especially important for owners and operators working with tighter budgets.
“We see potential in the smaller operators who previously thought modernizing their supply chain process was out of reach financially,” Royce said. “We offer many options, including access to a free non-integrated product, all the way to full outsourcing of the entire purchasing operation.”
Royce cited “drastic results” seen by one of MPS’ first customers that benefited from Direct Connect from day one, improving procurement efficiencies to the point that it was able to reallocate a staff member to another department; going from four people in purchasing to three. “After the integration of the Direct Connect e-Procurement platform, this customer has seen a substantial reduction in manual data entry. Purchasing cycle time has been reduced by more than 25%, with the added benefit of increased order accuracy. Electronic Procurement has streamlined their purchasing process allowing each buyer to manage their time more strategically,” Royce said.
Further enhancing its integrated marine procurement systems and electronic trading, MPS joined forces with Stolt Tankers in October 2014 to offer a product line that includes on board order system ReqLite, order processing and contract management tool Sea Manager as well as the Direct Connect e-Procurement trading platform. The agreement will see MPS act as exclusive marketing arm for the ReqLite and SeaManager software products, while Direct Connect will improve Stolt’s market coverage and drive down its spot purchasing costs.
Royce said MPS is currently partnering with several software providers to add even more processing capabilities, including e-invoicing, on board light requisitioning and contract management systems, door-to-door freight forwarding as well as full maintenance and purchasing software. The company is also in the process of creating a system called Bunker Connect, a fully unified module within Direct Connect enabling users to immediately access web based software to plan, execute and report on fuel.
And though the maritime industry can be notoriously averse to the adaptation new ideas and technologies, Royce asserts that companies that implement MPS’ services stand to reap its rewards quickly. “Regarding technology, the maritime industry has always been resistant to change. This conservative approach has cost companies real money and has negatively impacted the bottom line,” Royce said. “Once operators realize the immediate impact our systems have on productivity, overhead and cost savings, they will positively embrace the technology.”


(As published in the April 2015 edition of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News - http://magazines.marinelink.com/Magazines/MaritimeReporter)

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 93,  Apr 2015

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