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Users: Facilities management and procurement personnel

Purpose: Provides private, customized e-procurement marketplaces enabling automated purchase of maintenance, repair and operations products.

Contact: FacilityPro1200 Ashwood ParkwaySuite 450Atlanta, GA 30338(678) [email protected]

Price: Starts at $12,000 per year for a one-million-sf portfolio; prices vary based upon number of buildings, users and total spend.

Comment: Tired of placing the same order for a thousand light bulbs every month, then tracking down a supplier to fulfill it? FacilityPro’s e-procurement marketplace is designed to automate the process of purchasing facilities-management supplies. The company’s online catalog is said to contain about 125,000 items across a spectrum of maintenance, repair and operations categories including janitorial and electrical supplies, lighting products and air filters.

FacilityPro executives say that the firm’s services save time by allowing procurement personnel to place orders in one central location rather than dealing with multiple suppliers. Additionally, the company claims to provide discounted rates on per-item costs.

According to marketing VP of Jerry Goldstein, FacilityPro’s supplier relationships and bulk purchasing power enable price savings of 5% to 10% per item. An additional 50% to 70% process savings is possible through the software’s back-end integration capability. This, Goldstein says, enables FacilityPro to interface with the client’s payables system to process, invoice and pay orders automatically.

“Before using us, Cushman & Wakefield had about 2,400 vendors and suppliers,” claims the VP. “We’re able to provide the same coverage with our base of 30 vendors while functioning as the one supplier of record for them, which makes a dramatic difference in the number of checks cut and vendor records maintained.”

At the time of my evaluation, the company would not provide me with access to the software but only with a detailed walkthrough of a demo version. As a result, I cannot provide an assessment of its performance or usability. Nevertheless, here is the play-by-play of the operation:

Clients can access the product line in a variety of ways. One way is through a personal catalog, which FacilityPro pre-populates for each of its clients. “We get an understanding of what products they order and then build a catalog so that when clients begin work they’ve got the most commonly ordered products already available,” says Goldstein. It’s also possible to locate products by drill-down or by conducting a comparison search within product types.

After the product is selected, it goes into a shopping cart that can be saved for later processing or submitted for order immediately. Once the order is submitted it moves to the system’s approvals center.

The approval process can be customized based on client needs. “Some companies have a simple purchase limit that they want to incorporate; others might have two to four different levels of people that they want the order to go through,” says Claire Bernot, director of product management.

Approvals are tied into e-mail notification, so designated approvers receive notice that orders are waiting. Participants may check the progress of an order by referring to a status flowchart graphic depicting the position of the order in the approval process.

Once the order is approved, FacilityPro routes it to suppliers for fulfillment, which the company promises in two to three days. Post-delivery, the system links to the client’s back-end accounting system, allowing integration of detailed general ledger, accounting and costing information as well as enabling automated payment.

The system contains several usability enhancements. For example, any past order can be turned into a template for future orders. And if a client wants a product that is not contained in the catalog, a spot-sourcing team will track the requested item. Additionally, drawings or other files can be turned into attachments that follow the shopping cart through the approval process.

FacilityPro has been around for just over three years. The company began as the internal purchasing arm of facilities-management organization Service Resources and was spun off into a separate entity in August, 1999.

According to Goldstein, the firm has processed 26,000 purchase orders in the past four quarters and has a client list that includes Cushman & Wakefield, Federated Department Stores and Toys-R-Us. Last October, the company secured second-round funding of $35 million, $25 million of which came from real estate industry consortium Constellation Real Technologies. An investment of that order suggests that FacilityPro isn’t alone in thinking that this product can save time and money, and may indicate that FacilityPro is on its way to becoming a major player in the field of e-procurement.

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