Software service simplifies upstream e-commerce

May 1, 2011
Over 20% of electronic invoices sent to Chevron by its suppliers are despatched using software devised and maintained by Amalto.

Over 20% of electronic invoices sent to Chevron by its suppliers are despatched using software devised and maintained by Amalto.

The company was formed in 2006 in Paris by four individuals who had either launched e-procurement projects as employees of oil and gas companies, or worked as suppliers to these companies and other operators.

e-Business cloud schematic.

“First there was electronic data information exchange, but that was expensive,” says Business Development Manager Elaine Rothman. “Then from the late 1990s to the early 2000s, the ‘hub’ concept involved, under which trading partners had to send documents in a ‘one size fits all’ format. What we do is more flexible.”

Amalto has developed a range of options to facilitate structured electronic data exchange between customers and their suppliers, according to their respective needs. These are managed using “Amalto e-Business Cloud,” a scalable and secure set of hosted software solutions supported by wide-ranging connectivity permutations.

The client can use this service to set up a “Private Community,” with parameters tailored to the client’s needs; alternatively, the client can join an “Open Community” to participate in an existing e-commerce program. Another option is for the client to establish direct connectivity with selected partners, using “b2box” Amalto’s standalone business-to-business server solution.

For Chevron, Amalto created a Private Co-mmunity which the company’s suppliers (the “community members”) access via Amalto’s proprietary b2een software. They can either download this themselves, or log on via the portal version.

Under this system, suppliers generate invoices using an Excel or CSV template. They can drop these with supporting documents such as scanned field tickets into a specific folder, or attached as an e-mail via the b2een user interface. These submissions are checked for supplier ID and transformed by the Amalto e-Business Cloud in PDIX format, then relayed to Chevron, which in turn sends back an e-document acknowledgement to the suppliers.

“Basically, we simplify things to speed up the process and minimize errors,” Rothman explains. “We work with Chevron to implement the system with suppliers in all their main upstream operating regions – Nigeria, the Gulf of Mexico, Europe, Australia, and so on.” User training only takes around 10 minutes, she adds.

“One of the advantages of our system is that it’s not intrusive. We don’t oblige Chevron or any other client to change their existing processes at all – rather, we adapt what comes from their suppliers to what they need. We give the clients a document format in a protocol which they expect and which they can integrate into their system. For suppliers, the benefit is that if the invoice is correct, it’s not sitting on someone’s desk – they do get paid faster.”

Amalto’s technology has proven effective, she claims, in driving efficiencies to large oil and gas capex projects, including offshore field developments managed by EPC contractors. These companies typically have to deal with thousands of contracts and exchange a high volume of purchase orders, invoices, and other documents of the Purchase-to-Pay cycle, with a large number of suppliers.

Amalto also provides services to Total’s downstream division, to GE Oil and Gas in the US, and most recently to Bahrain Petroleum Co. Amalto is currently establishing an office in Bahrain with a view to expanding its business in the Middle East region.

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