Elance to launch services procurement suite

Elance is scheduled to roll out a new services procurement suite, designed to allow enterprises to increase visibility into one...

Elance is scheduled to roll out a new services procurement suite, designed to allow enterprises to increase visibility into one of the largest components of corporate spending.

Elance 3.0 is designed to streamline all facets of services procurement and management, including planning, sourcing, payments, vendor network support, and reporting, according to company officials. The company will introduce the solution at the Demo 2002 conference in the US.

Although companies typically spend more than half of their purchasing dollars on services, few companies know where these dollars are being spent, said Timothy Reed, Elance vice-president of product strategy marketing. Lack of control over services can lead to unsupervised spending, over-billing, and low project success rates, he said.

The suite will offer four modules: reporting for visibility into costs, process automation for project sourcing, process automation for contingent labour hiring, and a services transaction engine.

"You can go create an RFP [request for proposals] that is completely customised to the project you are working on and also completely compliant with corporate guidelines," Reed said. "That RFP can be routed for internal approval [and] you can select your target vendors and publish to them. Once all the vendors have responded ... there are a lot of analysis tools that allow you to compare these different vendors."

The solution also checks that milestones - and terms required for payment - are met and that vendors follow corporate best practices.

Pequot Capital, an investment firm, has been a beta user of Elance 3.0 since September. The company had been experiencing difficulties tracking money spent on research services and determining if the investment was appropriate, said Carol Holley, senior vice-president of Pequot's venture group.

"The approval is now done online," she said. "We can also generate receipts and track what we're spending and which vendors we're using. It allows us to get the consultant in on the job faster because we can figure out when it's been approved."

Elance 3.0 can be used to manage all categories of services expenditure including IT, marketing, and other business services, Reed said. The entire application is designed to integrate with e-procurement platforms from Ariba and Oracle, and the suite is designed to integrate into financial applications from PeopleSoft and Oracle.

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