The bid preparation and procurement processes of SMEs are still predominately based on traditional approaches, tools and communication means. Re-using bidding data in subsequent procurement tasks is currently rarely supported. The heterogeneous data structure within the construction business and the absence of international standards impede the access to and exchange of up-to-date product characteristics and therefore an efficient co-operation within the tile supply chain.
The objective of the e.bip project (http://www.ebip.net) is to overcome these drawbacks by establishing an advanced business-to-business broker service in the supply chain of the tile industry that significantly improves the bidding and procurement processes, while reducing costs and time in the stone and ceramic tile industry. The developed internet marketplace serves the needs of manufacturers, distributors/wholesalers and tile layers in the tile supply chain by increasing the market transparency and availability of product characteristics (including precise colour information) as well as by supporting electronic transactions for bidding and negotiating. Additionally, supportive software tools have been developed to ease the exchange of information with the marketplace and the existing IT environment at the user’s sites. This best practice report summarises the approach taken and presents the results which were achieved. It provides a useful insight into the developed software system as well as the experiences made during the pilot phase. Being written in co-operation by the industrial, software and academic partners, the book aims to cover both the practical and theoretical viewpoint of the project.