"We Try Harder" — Beeline Takes Avis' Motto to Heart in Services Procurement (Part 2)

Click here to read PART 1 of this post.

Since Spend Matters started looking at VMS solutions a few years back, we've seen a number of different approaches and philosophies towards navigation and analytics (the two areas vendors often position themselves as differentiating their solutions on). The general UI experience has improved across the board in recent years, with IQNavigator perhaps winning the prize for the most improved experience relative to what it was (and Fieldglass maintaining a top position as well). But after seeing every top solution in action in the past 12 months, I'd argue that Beeline has taken the most differentiated path in creating an approachable, highly navigable and information rich UI that truly puts insight at one's fingertips. It doesn't solely rely on what I'd describe as typical tabular structure with pull down menus. Nor does it require multiple clicks to navigate to accomplish a task.

Rather, Beeline takes what first appears as a dumbed-down approach to presenting information (e.g., "my-to-dos," which may include approvals for time sheets and expenses, particular actions related to either employee request or contractors, etc.) and puts it front and center, alongside quick access to reports, calendars, etc. But in reality, there is nothing dumb about it. Rather, it simplifies complexity, in a right-brain kind of way that stands apart from how others have gone about modeling an ideal user experience and workflow.

The thoughtfulness that goes into the material Beeline presents in these up-front employee views through a customized portal/landing page transcends the initial impression that other solutions provide upon logging in to the application. Take the "my snapshot" feature of Beeline (which is also on the first page). Here, a user might see a myriad of personalized facts based on administrator-defined KPIs presented to them (e.g., 30% of your assignments are above rate card, 20% had overtime last pay period). Depending on the "my snapshot" sub-tab, which does not require a screen refresh, you might also select other views including personalized data, team information and team KPIs.

On the portal and sub-pages (where you'll find yourself rarely having to go unless you're engaged in a specific task), mouse-overs lead to further information, often on a highly detailed level. Throughout the application, Beeline presents contextual information as well -- not just on the front page. For example, a search for "IT analyst" as part of creating a requisition leverages Beeline's embedded analytics capability to contextually present relevant data (e.g., wage ranges for the position based on locations, number of active assignments with this job title, fill-time, fill-rate, etc.) As important as what information the application presents is how it presents it -- in this case, in a sentence structure rather than dense matrixes or excel-like tables.

I know there are some people who really don't care about all this thought around the edges (or more accurately, thought "inside the box", versus having to click outside of it). But quantitatively enthusiastic types like me, who are completely at home with a less friendly UI provided the underlying power is there, typically make up a minority of contingent labor and services procurement types. In contrast, Beeline's approach presents data in a completely nonthreatening way to more typical services procurement staff members. And it's literally at your fingertips based on where you are in the contingent labor management lifecycle within the application itself. Now, it's not perfect. To date, Beeline is not leveraging collected intelligence across its deployments or third-party benchmark data for rate-cards (as some others are) and other related information in the contextually presented information. But it's still useful, especially in the case of broader deployments with large data-sets to leverage.

Such thoughtfulness is not limited to contextual reporting and data presentation, however. Beeline lets users sort through candidates and compare skills back-to-back more like a dating site than an enterprise software application. By looking at attributes (e.g., hard skills) as well as qualitative internal feedback/ratings and any potential flags, requisitioners can quickly gain an understanding of how different candidates stack up compared with each other. Simple sliders (that mask complexity) also allow users to narrow or expand candidate pools in a manner that reminds me more of relational and faceted navigation tools like Endeca than other VMS applications.

Stay tuned as our Beeline analysis continues.

Jason Busch

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