Integrated People, Product Procurement For Merrill Lynch



Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. is tapping three vendors to develop Web software that lets its employees procure goods, services, and people.

Deloitte Consulting LLC will integrate Ariba Technologies Inc.'s B2B Buyer application for procurement with Nitorum Corp.'s Intelli-Gage system for acquiring contract help. The expected result? One networked application that serves 700 Merrill Lynch offices in the U.S. and some international sites. It will look to Merrill Lynch users like a single piece of software, says Neil Ostrower, first VP of global procurement services for Merrill Lynch.

Each vendor is taking a considerably different approach to online procurement. Ariba's approach typically involves catalogued products and volume discounts from vendors. But Nitorum's Intelli-Gage is designed to help companies find quality consultants and contract workers for projects, and assist in evaluating candidate skills and competencies. "Talent is not a catalog item," says Mark DeLuca, an account manager for Ariba.

The $4 million project will pay a tremendous return, says Ostrower. "When we talk about the E-procurement of goods and services and the consolidation of vendors, we're looking at $50 million that we're going to be saving," he says. "It's really a no-brainer." Merrill Lynch plans to have the software installed by the end of the year in the United States and the United Kingdom, and the Asia-Pacific region in early 2001.

There are no plans to sell an Ariba/Nitorum procurement system beyond Merrill Lynch, says John Ginelli, CEO of Nitorum. But this experience and the recently formed Deloitte alliance will allow Nitorum and Ariba to consider similar projects on a customer-by-customer basis, says Ginelli. "We look forward to seeing more of this integration."

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