SciQuest NextLevel: Dispatch 3 (Solution and Customer Engagement Philosophy)

When it comes to enhancing its current modules and building out new ones, either organically or through acquisition, SciQuest behaves much more like a solutions provider that takes a keen interest in user outcomes than a pure software/SaaS that behaves in the spirit of an arms dealer. I found it fascinating, for example, how the vendor grades its own customers as "A's, B's and C's" based on the level of value they're getting from solutions and their commitment to SciQuest tools and adoption. On that note, Spend Matters knows SciQuest makes it clear in the sales process about its interest in partnering over longer-term relationships (often three year contracts) that meet minimum revenue thresholds, rather than simply trying to sell a small module here and there as a way to penetrate an account.

This commitment to broader relationships goes both ways, however, as SciQuest takes an active interest in measuring and improving KPI-based customer outcomes. I'd wager that this is one of the reasons I've never spoken to a customer that's left SciQuest (I'm sure they exist, but they're certainly hard to find). Consider that last year, one-third of SciQuest customers saw a 10% increase (or more) in supplier enablements (i.e., additional suppliers onboarded) and 85% of all content/price submissions updates were completed by the supplier, relative to 67% in 2009. It's a commitment to tracking and managing to improvements in these outcome-based metrics that really separates out the SciQuest philosophy and has created a cult of loyal users in different verticals.

SciQuest also does a commendable job of listening to customers and basing a significant part of its own product development initiatives on user-recommended enhancements. As part of this two-way feature prioritization dialogue, they allow users to vote on enhancements in a private online community with an actual currency that they can throw entirely behind a small number of enhancements or spread their votes across numerous potential enhancements (users can also volunteer new ideas to be voted on by the user community as well). This predication-market type approach to prioritizing development efforts is something I've not seen elsewhere in the procurement sector. Once features are voted on, prioritized and then finalized by SciQuest's product teams, the winners go to one of six development teams to incorporate one of the three product releases SciQuest brings to market each year.

Does this approach satisfy customers? Based on SciQuest's own surveys, they've found that 98% of respondents "would recommend SciQuest to Colleagues or Friends," 98% of respondents are "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with SciQuest, and 99% of respondents are "satisfied" or very satisfied with SciQuest support. Those are some pretty high numbers, especially if you consider them in the context of solution churn, full or partial shelfware and general customer apathy at a number of other well-known vendors in both the ERP and business applications market, SaaS or otherwise.

- Jason Busch

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