Ageeps: An Agent-Based Electronic Purchasing System

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In many organizations the purchasing function is  of substantial strategic importance-all purchase decisions should be done right and in a timely fashion. Due to advancements in technology, organizations have started noticing the enormous potential benefits of applying Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to this function. Of special interest is the use of agent-based technologies in implementing purchasing solutions and ensuring that this is implemented on suitable stages or phases of the purchasing process. So as to reach as many suppliers as possible and ensure competitiveness is purchasing decisions, a web-based electronic purchasing solution is desirable. Due to the open nature of the web, technologies that are amenable to this open nature should help develop applications that would naturally fit this important business aactivity. Agent technology holds a lot of promise in this respect when carefully deployed in some stages of the purchasing process.

     In an effort to address the application of agent-based technology in electronic purchasing, this project report discusses some of the agent properties that make them suitable for electronic purchasing, approaches used to implement agent-based systems and market-based approaches to electronic purchasing which can be used by agents to support this important activity. This culminates in a framework for agent-based systems for buyer-centric electronic purchasing. To achieve this, a case study is done with JKUAT-it looks at the current purchasing process and recommends on how it can be enhanced using agents.

     Beside the research, this project also involves the development of an agent-based electronic purchasing system (AGEEPS) prototype to test the framework. The prototype system was created using Java and Java Agent Development Framework (JADE) for programming, MySQL for the database and Prote’ge’ for ontology development. The prototype and research were successfully achieved though  not without a few hiccups like technological factors and tool support.

Keywords

Agents, agent-based system, multi-agent system (MAS),  electronic procurement, JADE, GAIA

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