Over the past two months, I've taken Spend Matters in a direction which I promised readers earlier in the summer. And that was to downplay vendor analysis and coverage in favor of looking at other aspects of Spend Management.
Much of what I've fixated on during this time period has been global sourcing -- namely China sourcing, to be exact. To be candid, I still feel what's going on in China -- and subsequently other regions that companies are evaluating as a result -- is of far more consequence than a vendor selection process.
Take eProcurement. I mean, is a company really going to gain advantage over their competitors because one provider had a few more bells and whistles in their transactional purchasing application? Probably not. They're going to win because they are successfully deploying the right set of strategies and they're getting the most from their investments -- technology, people and otherwise. Seriously, if I were in the market for an eProcurement myself, the first question I'd want to ask a vendor is what percentage of their sold seats and features are actually in use -- not about some whiz-bang desktop integration or uber-cool UI.
If you can see the direction I'm taking this, good for you. Like many practitioners, I'm fed up with vendor hype and incomplete deployments or rollouts. To vent this frustration, part of my vendor coverage going forward will focus on how their customers are using what they've bought – not just why they bought it in the first place. Yeah, we'll mention the proverbial shiny fast cars on occasion (you know, the Reardens and CombineNets of the world). But they'll only be part of my newfound vendor focus as we dig deeper on the operational side of technology use in addition to looking for what's coming around the corner.
Most important, I'll continue to be brutally honest with what's working out there in the solutions world, never being afraid to call a spade a spade or shooting the dog that just won't hunt (which we'll serve up on our next trip to China if we get it past customs). So stay tuned as we keep up our coverage of global issues while once again going deep on technology and solutions -- but this time, in an even more exacting, scrutinizing manner. Hopefully, this will keep everyone happy. But there's one constituency who should be worried. To wit, if you're a vendor who prefers pimping rarely-used features and shelf-ware rather than delighting your customers, be afraid. Be very afraid.
BTW: from a timing perspective, look for enhanced vendor coverage to start again in the next few weeks.