One of the areas where companies often fail when it comes to bringing as much indirect spend under management as possible is catalog and content management. These tools enable the P2P experience by focusing on supplier self-service, multi-catalog search, configuration, and what we'll term "virtual punch-out," which includes distributed content search, aggregation and presentation of information (not to mention the application of specific rules to this distributed data). Providers in these areas can enable technically savvy business users (not IT) to administer the overall content and catalog management program once it's up and running.
How do you know it's time to invest in a separate catalog and content management toolset alongside your existing or planned eProcurement or broader P2P system? Consider the following factors as a start. If you answer "yes" to more than a few and/or the point describes your environment, chances are you should be investigating this area for investment:
- The expected level of catalog maintenance and updates is not something that a single internal resource using a standard ERP or P2P toolset can expect to accomplish across dozens or hundreds of suppliers
- IT will take a secondary role, without dedicated resources, in the administration and ongoing support of the P2P environment (and content management, to be specific)
- The ability for suppliers to control and update their own content (with validation/approval) is a known requirement
- Organizations need to manage complicated, often configuration-driven buying and specification approaches
- New catalogs/catalog content (within existing catalogs) will be added (e.g., new attributes to existing SKUs)
- Catalog content management takes on a vertical focus with specialty suppliers possessing unique sets of defined product attributes
- Federated search (i.e., across multiple catalogs either internal or supplier hosted), supplier web sites and potentially other information sets are required
- Kitting and bundling is an important part of the requisitioning process (e.g., a decision to buy one SKU can then lead to a required request/form to order another related)
- Information ontology and the potential for faceted navigation of complex information will improve the buying process
Stay tuned for the next post in this series.