In looking at the Excel addiction epidemic, CombineNet found some useful insights as they dug deeper into the respondent data set. Some of these findings suggest we further lean on Excel the more complicated our sourcing and supply market analyses become. Consider how "RFP/sourcing event size has an impact on the use of Excel for eSourcing and Procurement suite users when it comes to supplier bid analysis." In this regard, for events with fewer than 1,000 line items, users of e-sourcing suites found that Excel was central for supporting bid analysis 78% of the time versus 70% for those with broader application suites. In other words, companies are living in Excel for analysis, and relegating the use of a tool to a two-way communications mechanism and repository capable of enforcing process and workflow for only part of the sourcing process (not the actual analysis itself).
Perhaps given the limitations of how users perceive their sourcing technology, in the case of events with over 1,000 line items, "Excel use skyrockets, with 100% of eSourcing and Procurement suite users turning to Excel to help analyze bids in large events." In addition, "the use of the suite solutions for bid analysis in larger events drops to 63%, with more than one-third of suite solution users not even attempting to use their suite solutions for this purpose". Given what Spend Matters knows are the limitations of broader procurement and ERP suites (including even big name source-to-pay providers until recently), this is not surprising.
Why are users turning to Excel en masse regardless of whether or not they're using an e-sourcing suite capability or the "three bids in a box" type analysis of broader purchasing and ERP suites? CombineNet also surveyed users in their analysis about "the improvements and enhancements they would like to see in their solutions to help them do their jobs more effectively" and found that e-sourcing and procurement suite users had a host of suggestions with improved reporting and dashboards, support for more complex requirements, speed/simplify creation of RFPs, speed[ing] bid analysis topping the list (with 62%, 41%, 41% and 38%, respectively, of respondents ticking the line in each of these areas).
Stay tuned for the final post in this series, where we'll offer the Spend Matters prescription for relegating Excel to a supplier-facing role for use in filling out bidding and data requests in an offline capacity.