Gartner eProcurement report (part 3) – wrapping up our comments

We featured the Gartner eProcurement report here and here, with an overview of the report and our own calculated “top ten” providers.  To wrap up, here are a few more thoughts on how to use it – and other material that you may find useful if you’re looking at P2P solutions.d

We’d stress again that you should look at your specific needs closely in the context of the Gartner report or indeed any other external information.   And there are some absolute “deal breakers” in our experience that have to be considered particularly carefully.

For instance, in a devolved environment where procurement has limited direct authority, factors such as ease and speed of implementation, and the user-friendliness of the solution are absolutely critical. If the users – budget holders, requisitioners etc – have the ability to say “no, we’re not going to use this” if they don’t like the look of it, you better make sure you’ve got something that is easy to use and shows some clear benefit to those users.

Look very carefully at integration issues – that’s an area where most providers have improved greatly over the last few years, and most solutions are compatible with most other systems that you may want them to work with. But the word is “most” – check that out carefully. And there’s obviously the debate to be had around software as a service / cloud or running it inside your firewall.

And when we get into the more technical functional aspects, one differentiator between organisations is the balance in your spend profile between “catalogue buying” or ordering of routine, repetitive standard items (often direct materials, spare parts etc) on the one hand, and more “free form” categories such as professional services, contingent labour on the other.  Solutions may have relative strengths and weaknesses in those different areas.

Finally, consider whether you are prepared to take the risk on a vendor who is not fully established in your geography. As we commented last week, some of the solutions that “scored” well in the Gartner report are not global by any means. But don’t just assume limited local presence is a negative - you may get great service as they look on you as a potential anchor client / reference site in your country or region.

In terms of further reading, I can thoroughly recommend various Spend Matters US research papers and indeed blog posts.  Some are general, covering the whole topic, such as A Foundational Look at P2P Technologies. Then Jason has written insightful posts about most of the major vendors – if you are looking for specifics, do a search on the US site (note - the search box is a long way down on the right hand side of the page). For example, here’s material on Sci-Quest and on iValua. And if you’re particularly into the e-invoicing end of the P2P process, Pete Loughlin at Purchasing Insight is well worth checking out.

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