“We Try Harder” — Beeline Takes Avis’ Motto to Heart in Services Procurement (Part 3)

Click to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this post.

While contextual analytics is at the core of Beeline's application for all users (you can read about this capability and what makes it different than other VMS platforms in the last post in this series, linked above), the application's more powerful analytics engine, built on top of TIBCO Spotfire, enables power users to drill into data, considering variables such as KPIs, trends, scorecards, cycle time and related areas either individually or collectively to identify trends, report on performance, spot opportunities, etc. As part of this capability, Beeline steps out of the OLAP box by allowing users to quickly create visualizations -- even geospatial mapping -- of information in concert and conduct what-if and similar types of analysis and scenarios.

Having looked closely at these capabilities, I personally believe that Beeline has some of its competitors outflanked on contextual analytics, but the more robust analytics reporting component may or may not impress users relative to IQNavigator, Fieldglass and Peopleclick Authoria depending on what they're after and the degree to which they want to run highly specific queries to drill into data. Moreover, those accustomed to Business Objects may prefer the native analytics capability in the last vendor on the list, above.

Personally, if it were me, beyond reporting, I'd probably want to dump different datasets into a tool like BIQ, but I realize that for 99% of companies, even power users want a single reporting and analytics capability embedded in their VMS tool. Regardless, Beeline SmartView, the solution name for the analytics engine, provides a base of 50 visualizations for report-types, coverage across 20 standard data fields/categories, the ability to eliminate outlier information, etc. In other words, it's a decent package for those who are not overtly statistically inclined and for those who fancy visualizations over cubes, which is probably a great majority of the potential user base.

To this point I would add that from a sourcing perspective in both the contingent and non-contingent services areas, any company using a VMS like Beeline would be wise to also consider the advanced sourcing capabilities in optimization providers. Vendors such as Trade Extensions, CombineNet, Iasta, Emptoris and BravoSolution can complement providers such as Beeline and drive drive detailed analysis and reporting across collected sets of constraints and scenarios in a services procurement sourcing-specific context (rather than just leveraging analytics across the broader contingent and non-contingent lifecycle).

Getting back to Beeline and the main focus of this post, their new platform feels like it's built from the ground up to enable a typical front-line VMS user to do a better job with minimal fuss and extremely limited (if any) user training -- rather than enabling the power user in the enterprise to achieve analytical breakthroughs. This thinking and philosophy is extremely apparent in a capability that Beeline describes as "Guide Me," which walks users through a specific requisition process that the company or company+MSP can tailor.

The entire "Guide Me" framework is configurable using a set of scripts that users can prescribe for different purposes (e.g., based on region, user role, etc.) Under one set of workflow, for example, the interface may begin by asking about the "criticality" of a position and the expected length of employ. It might then progress to questions around worker types (hourly or otherwise) and subsequently request field types. Of course users can skip "Guide Me" and manually fill out a requisition search, request, etc., but for those new to VMS tools or periodic users, it may provide a great way to leverage the application without actually taking the time to learn how it works.

In terms of references, Spend Matters recently spoke with three different Beeline users, all of whom were candid -- and generally very enthusiastic -- about their experiences. Perhaps the most common thread among users has been Beeline's quick responsiveness to customer concerns or issues. For example, one customer going through a rapid global expansion "felt that we were growing faster than Beeline's ability to keep up with us" but the vendor quickly reorganized its support efforts on a global basis to once again rise to meeting the organization's evolving needs.

This same Fortune 500 company, managing in excess of $500 million in spend through the Beeline system (across North America, Europe and the Asia/Pacific region), suggested that Beeline has a "great culture of customer support" that is so good, it has helped to make up for occasional functional shortcomings relative to others. Moreover, this customer's experience mirrored that of other Beeline users who also observed that the vendor would rapidly snap into gear at the earliest indication of any suggestions or complaints.

Stay tuned for our final post in this series on Beeline, when we conclude sharing what we believe to be our most consistent set of reference calls yet when covering any vendor on these virtual pages.

Jason Busch

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