E-Procurement Evolving in Europe
By Beth Ellyn Rosenthal
Vincenzo Marino worked for a company that used robots on an automobile industry assembly line. There, he watched as workers sat idle while the plant waited for a crucial part that someone had forgotten to order. "Every time you make a mistake, the company loses time and money," observes Marino.
In 1989 Marino left to join Unitec, an outsourcing supplier specializing in supply chain management and logistics. The company has two offices in Europe, one in Augsburg, Germany, the other in Saubaudia, Italy. Marino, the CEO, was determined to improve the process.
Marino says his goal was to offer his customers the ability to consolidate their buying and make Unitec their sole purchasing office. The outsourcing provider would help its buyers avoid costly purchasing errors, consolidate purchasing to save money and simplify billing.
Marino started his outsourcing venture with the auto industry, because that's where his expertise lay. Now Unitec has added the printing, rubber and chemical industries to its client roster. Its typical customer has 10,000 or more suppliers.
In 1995, to avoid the growing mountain of paper, Unitec began to use an enterprise resource planning (ERP) application for its procurement activities. Marino, who is also a programmer, wrote the ERP program himself. Unitec was paperless in 24 months. Going paperless eliminated the need to store old receipts or archive the information on microfilm, saving the customers money.