Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot: BravoSolution (Part 3)

Please click here for Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

I'll conclude my Spend Matters vendor snapshot of BravoSolution today with a few additional positive characteristics of their capabilities, some negatives and an overall final word. Continuing with what stands out:

  • Bid analysis: BravoSolution brings brawny optimization with a friendly humanities face that won't scare users away. As an example of its capability, Bravo supports team-driven scenario builds with business rules that are tied to feasibility. For example, showing users the bid impact with sensitivity analysis -- where is the tipping point where your incumbent falls off, how much money do you have to leave on the table to satisfy non-price criteria such as max/min number of suppliers, or to satisfy inclusion of certain preferred vendor categories?
  • Beyond Price: The same approach applies to non-price factor comparisons. In this context, BravoSolution supports the ability to interactively rebuild the evaluation model while showing outcomes. This allows buyers to model far more scenarios and factors to see how different inputs impact their decision model -- useful when building a business case for or against switching incumbents as one example. As needed, the evaluation model can be as simple as a one-line price point, or as complex as you choose to build it -- with formulas, bid hierarchy etc.
  • Pay Buy the Pound: A Smorgasbord and Salad bar: Depending on where you stand as an organization, you can pick and choose BravoSolution modules, solutions and services -- almost down to the feature level. When it comes to sourcing, spend analysis and related areas, some firms are just dipping their feet in this area. Others are ready to dive in but need lots of floatation devices. And others, like fish in water, are born to swim and need no assistance. Bravo has great flexibility in how it goes to market by being able to provide customers with just the right level of solution and services as needed. The flip side is that clients might negotiate away so many options that they short-change themselves.
  • Power-user happy hour: the solution offers power users the ability to go in and change workflows, supplier rules (linkages), spend analysis classification rules and more on the fly. There's no need to call customer support. However, as you are well aware, if you know what you're doing, more power also means that you can get yourself in trouble quicker! Best to learn gradually and deploy increasingly powerful capabilities gradually.

Any Negatives?

We can point to a few, but not many. For one, BravoSolution has adopted a "solution within a solution" approach to manage and switch between its many modules -- an auto-hiding menu bar on top controls which of the many Bravo modules a user is in. Modules include: Program Manager, Negotiation Manager, Contract Manager, Performance Manager, Spend Manager, Optimization Manager, Contact Center, Director, Reports, Inbox, Education Network, Support Center, Live Support and personal profile management.

The resulting user experience is a little single-sign-on-like in that you smoothly get whisked to another solution, and even if the data points are fully shared across relevant modules, the UI design changes somewhat between modules. This approach works from a functional point of view, but could look better with more consistent UI across modules. For example, on the demonstration I was shown, user dashboards were module-specific. There was no "super dashboard" with content from all modules.

As an additional quibble -- and this might be my personal preference -- other than in their spend analysis module, the user interface (UI) design feels a little stale. Icons and menu bars look a bit flat, with lower resolution and less of an immediately intuitive design than I would like to see (think Ariba, SAP, Oracle, Iasta, Emptoris, etc. -- not Coupa or TradeShift -- the latter group having the slicker designs).

Yes, this is harping on something that is not really impeding functionality, but as I write this, the third-generation of the iPad has just been launched and Windows 8 went public beta a few weeks ago. In other words, UI expectations have been lifted another notch or two. Why is this relevant? Any solution with broad organizational usage potential like Bravo ultimately needs a slick UI for quick user adoption. BravoSolution told Spend Matters they are aware of this and is working on updating their design.

The Final Word

BravoSolution offers a creative suite that covers all bases. From what I have seen so far, the powerful analysis and actions that result from making so much information available across so many different modules that traditionally would be spread across an organization can only help companies drive more holistic total cost sourcing decisions.

- Thomas Kase

From selling, supporting and participating in the development of some of the best business-to-business solutions as well as briefly being involved with outright vaporware in the dot.com days, Thomas has developed a fairly keen sense of smell; helping him tell actual features and PR-speak apart.

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