There are currently around 300 e-procurement systems in Europe. Certain systems have achieved excellence in performance, reliability, security. However, some systems are not easily accessible to foreign users, who may need to use country-specific tools to access them. Moreover, the proliferation of user interfaces makes it difficult for companies to respond to calls for tenders run on multiple platforms. Companies often have to learn how to use various platforms which are far from reaching a common "look-and-feel", unlike other e-commerce tools such as airline booking websites.
The EU e-Procurement single market is therefore facing two barriers: lack of cross-border interoperability and interface complexity. The Commission launched two projects to address these issues:
- The Golden Book of e-procurement practices. The study, carried out by a consultant, analyses in depth around 30 electronic platforms used for public procurement in the EU. The report, the "Golden book of e-procurement", presents good practices in the area of e-procurement but also practices that should be avoided. These practices are aimed at helping to improve e-Procurement systems. Good and bad practices take into account, amongst other criteria, the needs of SMEs and cross-border suppliers when using an e- procurement platform.
- The e-Tendering expert group (e-TEG). The e-TEG developed a “blueprint” for an ideal pre-award e-Procurement system. Using this blueprint as a model, the Expert Group presents recommendations targeted at contracting authorities, policy makers or software developers that aim at simplifying the way e-procurement is conducted, particularly for SMEs and cross-border suppliers.
The two projects are complementary and take different perspectives. The e-TEG recommendations are forward looking, as they are meant to influence the way e-procurement systems could be designed so as to reach an ideal situation. The Golden Book is identifying and analyzing only existing good practice, which was actually experienced by the consultant while using 30 e-procurement platforms. However the two projects, independently run, converged to homogeneous results.
Combined, the two reports (The Golden Book and the e-TEG report) address all procurement actors by offering practical means to assess the current state of their business and by providing guidelines for future development.
(1)See the Commission's communication "A Strategy for e-Procurement" of April 2012