The procurement process is notorious for being tedious and protracted due to data gathering and prolonged negotiations. With the emergence of the World Wide Web, more and more companies have established a visible presence by publicizing their products on their Web sites. If this information can be accessed automatically, ideally without the need for human intervention, the time required for procurement can be reduced. Intelligent Software Agents (ISAs) can potentially fulfill this function. In this article, an implementation of electronic sourcing using ISAs is discussed. An intelligent software agent was created using Java-To-Go™, a template which extends the Java Programming Language™. A client agent from the computer of the sourcing organization visits the Web sites of prospective vendors to determine if they can supply the product according to the procurement specifications. A rudimentary example of sourcing for spur gears is discussed. The demonstration conducted has proven the viability of software agents in undertaking the task of procurement in electronic commerce. Further research and development is necessary before software agents can be used more extensively in electronic procurement.
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