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A PunchOut catalog is an integral component of the PunchOut technology, a new technology in the e-procurement process. PunchOut catalog plays a vital role in making the e-procurement process flow seamlessly between the buyer and the supplier. It allows for a buyer to PunchOut of his e-procurement system and to access the supplier’s system for the supplier’s catalog. PunchOut catalogs are therefore part of the entire procurement solution. The entire workflow process is facilitated by the cxml protocol. For greater clarity on PunchOut technology visit http://ift.tt/2g3muAZ

In traditional e-procurement systems, a line item is added when a purchase order is created. Also it is available in the master catalog for the buyer, a static list of items, which is then added to the purchase order.

In 1996 the e-procurement company Ariba was launched. Over the years Ariba introduced CIF — Catalog Interchange Format. With this option one can enter the product and pricing information into a template using Microsoft Excel. This format was an improvement to the earlier processes that required the buyer to manually enter the line item information or convert one version of a file to another. But with CIF a suppliers can publish their catalogs and the buyers can import them. This helped in saving time and using it for purposes such spend management.

In such cases there would be no need to replace catalogs frequently. If the number of items is not very large in and do not change significantly over long periods of time, CIF could be useful.

But environments are highly dynamic today with a global economy and companies having a global presence, it’s a very real scenario for a buyer from one country ordering from a supplier situated in another. Flexibility at all levels would be preferred to make the process seamless. There is more flexibility required from the seller side to ensure that they get the orders and not lose out to competitors. In real-time there are constant changes being made to products, pricing and contractual information. The list of products is no more restricted to a small list and therefore manual entry is near impossible and very tedious. The inability to exchange information of different formats also leads to extra manual intervention. The static information from a CIF catalog in a fast-paced environment is almost pointless.

To adjust to and accommodate this global economy scenario, dynamic system was built that adapts itself to the different buyer and seller environments. The cXML standard markup language and PunchOut technology was a result of this need. A PunchOut enabled e-procurement website has several benefits.

The PunchOut technology once enabled allows the buyer to PunchOut of his system, enter into the seller’s system and into the seller’s catalog called the PunchOut Catalog (which is far more robust in comparison to the CIF Catalog), search the catalog items, add them to a shopping cart and revert back to the buyer’s system with a pending shopping cart.

The PunchOut enabled catalog or website allows for dynamic interaction with the supplier, eliminating the need for any manual update of any product specifics either at the buyer or the seller end. PunchOut catalogs are real time as compared to CIF catalog, which is static and is therefore the preferred format of the two.

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