Sorry for the lewd title. It was inspired by the book "Your Marketing Sucks" which essentially argues that most marketing organizations and marketing tactics, well, leave quite a bit to be desired. In my view, the same could be said of eProcurement implementations (not to mention the value most companies get out of Spend Management technology investments in general). Whether you have a bastardized version of Buyer, a sloppily-slammed-in instance of SRM or idiotic iProcurement install, my gut is that you're feeling the pain regardless of the platform. Here are a few pieces of advice to remedy the situation:
1) Deploy a central registration and supplier management hub to onboard suppliers and manage supplier content / catalog information from the start. I'm making this point first because it is probably where 99% of most wayward eProcurement implementations start to go astray. The initial on-boarding and ongoing management of suppliers and supplier information is an absolutely critical piece of any eProcurement implementation.
2) Work with supplier networks to reduce ongoing transaction costs. This point goes without saying. Not only do supplier networks speed enablement, they can greatly reduce the amount of paper flying about the office after an eProcurement implementation is in place. Consider traditional supplier network models as well as those we might lump in the "network 2.0" camp.
3) Give ERP a long-look -- and plan accordingly. Don’t discount ERP solutions today just because they've let you down in the past. The current versions of Oracle's solutions (Oracle and PeopleSoft, specifically) are more than sufficient for the bulk of many companies and so is SAP SRM (especially the forthcoming release). Still, don't make decisions based upon promised future capabilities -- base your current decision on what is available in the market today and whether it meets your specific needs.
4) Invest downstream as part of an initial roll-out. Don't put invoicing and the broader EIPP category off. Consider it part of the initial roll-out. All too often I see companies view supply chain finance and invoice automation as "nice to have" but not a critical component of Spend Management technology. This very type of thinking leads to, well, eProcurement implementations that suck.
5) Improve your technology core and associated business processes before any type of "lift-and-shift" outsourcing program. Don't think for a minute that just because you hand off indirect procurement to a third-party -- either from just a technology perspective or a broader BPO program -- that outsourcing is a panacea in itself. You'll derive even greater savings if you improve your own eProcurement processes and systems before tossing them over the BPO wall.
Got another piece of eProcurement advice that should be on this list? Please chime in.
- Jason Busch