Our client is a European provider of e-Procurement and e-Sourcing solutions. The award-winning software is used worldwide including the European Union, Canada, Australia, Japan, China, Singapore, and the United States both by private and public sector companies. Abto Software has been responsible for the development and maintenance of the whole suite of e-Procurement and e-Sourcing software products since 2014.
Project Goals and Challenges
Our client was looking for a partner that could help them achieve and maintain a steady growth of the e-Procurement platform’s customer base. The devised strategy included:
- adopting state-of-the-art technologies;
- focusing on the high quality of services provided by the e-Procurement and e-Sourcing platform;
- retaining existing customers by expanding the set of features provided by the platform;
- adhering to the EU and OECD regulations on e-Procurement as well as UK procurement legislation after Brexit.
Comprehensive SaaS e-Procurement Software
The developed cloud platform offers a broad range of e-Procurement and e-Sourcing solutions that meets the needs of both private and public organizations.
- E-Sourcing tool streamlines the sourcing process. Transparent supplier selection is ensured through 4 steps:
1. Submitting e-Request through intuitive eRFx tool for proposals (RFP), information (RFI), quotations (RFQ), and tenders (RFT);
2. Inviting suppliers for reverse and forward e-Auctions;
3. Comparing received quotas with adjustable evaluation tools and custom reports;
4. Choosing the right supplier.
- Supplier Master Data Management (SMDM) enables creating and maintaining a strong supplier base. The comprehensive set of supplier management tools includes supplier master data collection and cleansing, new supplier on-boarding, internal requisitioning, automated supplier profile updates, and integration with external supplier data sources.
- Supplier Onboarding is part of the comprehensive Supplier Master Data Management solution. It gives companies complete toolset to evaluate, register, and communicate with the suppliers. The main features of the digital supplier onboarding include:
- Custom supplier landing pages;
- Automated approval workflows;
- Adjustable supplier questionnaires;
- Integration with external systems.
- Supplier Data Verification tool automates the collection and refinement of the supplier information maintaining high data quality. It ensures the accuracy and consistency of the supplier data across the whole suite of e-Procurement solutions. Other benefits include simplified supplier data access through searchable repositories of supplier datasheets, brochures, and certifications. The information is presented with the help of descriptive dashboards and custom reports.
- Contract Management service offers an electronic repository for managing contracts that makes storing, processing, and tracking e-Requests smooth and easy. It ensures full contract transparency and performance security while facilitating timely purchasing decisions.
- Catalogue Management enables organizations to browse through a wide selection of products and services from approved suppliers. The eCatalogue is an efficient search tool that automatically converts the items not found during the search into eRFQs (electronic requests for quotation). Integration with finance and purchase order systems allows buyers to complete orders with reduced operating costs.
Upgrading the e-Procurement Platform to Draw in New Customers
According to our client’s strategy to achieve steady growth of the platform’s customer base we developed and implemented several new features to upgrade the e-Procurement platform. It allowed us to draw in new buyers and suppliers while retaining existing platform users.
- Requisitioning Module simplifies the process of managing e-Requests, contracts, documents, and supplier profiles. It facilitated raising, reviewing, and approving requisitions for purchase orders, suppliers, products, and services. Additional reduction in administration time is achieved through automatic generation of contracts and converting requisitions into eRFx (electronic requests for proposals, information, quotations, or tenders).
- Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) Module offers tools for proactive management of supplier relationships. Organizations can establish collaboration with their key vendors by scheduling meetings, monitoring progress, evaluating suppliers through scorecards, publishing surveys, and collecting supplier feedback. The SRM module is an effective mechanism for recognizing new opportunities, selecting the optimal supplier engagement model, and proactively identifying and tackling poor supplier performance.
- Supplier Evaluation is an extension to the e-Sourcing tool that allows organizations to audit suppliers so only the top ones can present their portfolios. Flexible evaluation methods and intuitive analysis reports simplify shortlisting of the suppliers and minimize the risk of poor supplier performance.
- Multistage RFx Module guides organizations in e-sourcing for large scale long-term projects. Along with usual features, it allows buyers to create additional stages in an RFx event. These stages can be used to ask suppliers more specific questions or reiterate already gathered information for projects with changing specifications. The multistage approach also facilitates easy transition from RFI to RFP, to RFQ with easily adjustable questionnaires and evaluation tools.
Technology Upgrade and Migration within the Project
The Abto Software team has been working on this project for more than six years now. During that period we have performed several technology upgrades and migrations.
- Untestable, highly coupled n-tier architecture was upgraded to loosely coupled, testable n-tier architecture that conforms to test-driven development (TDD) and Clean Architecture principles.
- We migrated the e-procurement platform from .Net Framework 4.0 to .Net Framework 4.7 while upgrading .NET Standard to 2.0 version and .NET Core – to 3.1 version.
- We performed migration from Backbone (Marionette) to React & Redux.
- In order to ensure fast deployment and smooth implementation of Azure extensions we migrated the platform from Azure Cloud Services to Azure App Services.
- Migration of the front end technologies from Grunt to WebPack allowed us to reduce loading times and perform complex transformations easily.
- We split previously used single database into main and reporting databases and performed horizontal scaling with Azure App Services Auto-Scale.
- The application performance monitoring management was changed from New Relic APM to Azure Application Insights.
- The OCR engine was upgraded from open-source Tesseract and TikaOnDotNet to Azure Cognitive Services.
- The rudimentary database-based search was changed to Azure Cognitive Search cloud solution.
- We replaced StructureMap IoC Container with Autofac IoC Container.
- We migrated from Entity Framework to Entity Framework Core.
- As Azure Scheduler fully retired on December 31, 2019, we migrated to Azure WebJobs in Azure Web Apps.
Ensuring the e-Procurement Platform Regulatory Compliance and Data Security
In order to adhere to the e-Procurement legislation and security standards in the countries of operation of the developed e-Procurement and e-Sourcing platform, we have covered a couple of integrations and adopted a few security regulations.
Integration of the e-Procurement Platform with External Procurement Databases
- We integrated the e-procurement and e-sourcing platform with TED (Tenders Electronic Daily) and Contracts Finder so the buyer can publish tender opportunities and RFx notices to these services with the help of an intuitive interface within the platform.
- We added the feature to publish public procurement notices to a new UK e-notification service Find a Tender (FTS).
Security Compliance of the e-Procurement and e-Sourcing Platform
- ISO 9001 Quality management systems
- ISO/IEC 27001 Information technology — Security techniques — Information security management systems — Requirements
- EU GDPR The General Data Protection Regulation
Team and Technologies
Team: project manager, solution architect, 2 developers, QA.
E-procurement platform deployment: web-based (Azure DevOps), cloud, SaaS.
Tech stack: .Net Framework 4.7, .Net Standard 2.0, .NET Core 3.1, MS Azure, ASP.NET Web API and MVC 5, ASP.NET Core, OWIN Middleware, Autofac, Entity Framework ORM, Backbone Marionette, React.js, Grunt, Webpack, Single Sign-On (SSO) support for Azure Active Directory and other Identity Providers with SAML 2, OpenID Connect (OIDC) protocols, SendGrid, Mandrill, Git, Unit testing with xUnit.
Azure Services: Azure App Services, Azure Web Jobs and Function, Azure SQL, Azure Tables, Azure Queues, Azure Blob Storage, Azure Redis, Azure App Insights, Azure Search, Azure Translate.
Azure DevOps Services: Azure CI/CD Pipelines, Azure Boards, Azure Test Plans, Azure DevOps Wiki.
Computer Vision tools: Azure Cognitive Services.
Business Value Delivered
Abto Software has delivered comprehensive, cloud-hosted e-Procurement and e-Sourcing software for public and private bodies. Performed technology transitions and implemented new features ensured a steady growth of the customer base and, as a result, increased income for our client.
Our cloud-based e-Procurement and e-Sourcing management software improves procurement strategies of the organizations and generates more value and innovation. Business partners can share and execute processes with increased flexibility and agility as a response to customers’ needs.