1.2 Background to the Study
E-Procurement is one of the technology advancement in the purchasing and supply departments in the public sectors. Confusion exists in defining the term e-Procurement (Vaidya, Yu, Soar & Turner, 2003). While the terms “e-Procurement” and “e-Purchasing” have been used synonymously in many jurisdictions in an attempt to prove their involvement in the e-Commerce revolution (MacManus, 2002), the term “purchasing” has a narrower scope.
E-Procurement refers to the use of Internet-based (integrated) information and communication technologies (ICTs) to carry out individual or all stages of the procurement process including search, sourcing, negotiation, ordering, receipt, and post-purchase review (Croom & Brandon-Jones, 2004). While there are various forms of e-Procurement that concentrate on one or many stages of the procurement process such as e-Tendering, e-Marketplace, e-Auction/Reverse Auction, and e-Catalogue/Purchasing, e-Procurement can be viewed more broadly as an end-to-end solution that integrates and streamlines many procurement processes throughout the organization. Although the term “end-to-end e-Procurement” is popular, industry and academic analysts indicate that this ideal model is rarely achieved (DOIR, 2001) and e-Procurement implementations generally involve a mixture of different models (S&A, 2003). Although such end-to-end solutions offer robust and usually rich functionality, they are designed specifically to excel in just one or a few applications and thus pose various challenges (Cuthbert, Hamzic & Archer, 2003). Nevertheless, this study will refer to the end-to-end e-Procurement system in order to avoid confusion but will not consider general email, electronic fax, voice communications, or non-Internet/Web based approaches, which are regarded as partial traditional e-Procurement solutions. As one of the core enablers of an e-Business supply chain, e-Procurement in this study is conceptualized as a subset of e-Commerce. While e-Commerce is simply a transaction conducted electronically, e-Procurement is the automation of many procurement processes via electronic systems, especially the Internet. Having defined e-Procurement for the purpose of this study, it is also important to also define the term “implementation”. As with e-Procurement, implementation has been defined in different ways. A typical general definition from the Information Systems (IS) literature, states that implementation is “an effort beginning with the first thought of developing a system and not ending until the project is completed or abandoned” (Ginzberg, 1979, p. 408). Chan and Swatman (1998), however, state that IS implementation is best described as a process of organizational change that extends over a considerable period of time. More recent definitions of the term stem from the diffusion-based models of innovation adoption in relation to e-Commerce/e-Business (Srinivasan, Lilien & Rangaswamy, 2002). Cooper and Zmud (1990) proposed a five-stage framework of initiation,adoption, acceptance, routinization, and infusion explaining how an IT solution (application) is implemented in organizations, which, with the exception of infusion, forms the framework of this analysis. Infusion is the stage at which the e-Procurement solution is used within the organization to its full potential. As most e-Procurement initiatives are in their infancy, this sort of approach will guide the selection of some e-Procurement initiatives in the public sector and identify the most relevant CFs for the purpose of this study.
Over the last years, while private and public sector organizations have been utilizing Information Technology (IT) systems to streamline and automate their purchasing and other processes, it is only in the past decade that e-Procurement systems have attracted attention. While there is debate about how recently e-Procurement has emerged. (Dai &...