Source Dogg – the new puppy on the eSourcing block

I recently went to see a relatively new, still very small software company in a converted Oat House in Kent. They got me thinking about the whole future of procurement actually, but let’s just say a bit more about them first. and maybe get into that another day.

Source Dogg – named after one of their founders, whose nickname was “big dog” apparently, are a Dublin based firm producing eSourcing software. The guys in charge previously ran a rail communications firm that they sold for some £20 million to Mouchel a few years back. They’ve investing that in a small portfolio of businesses, including Source Dogg, which they acquired from its founders in 2011.

That is relevant in that it enables them to invest surprisingly heavily for a young  business. Source Dogg claims to have 25 development staff, based in Ireland – a remarkable number for a firm really still in start-up mode.  The product is true cloud based, software as a service, single-instance, new release every 4 weeks, with charging on a per seat, per month model – all that good SaaS stuff. Not surprisingly, Salesforce.com is their model, and they’re also obvious admirers of Coupa, although they will also be competitors to some extent.

Describing what the product does is simple. Because it is simple.

 It provides eSourcing that is – compared to most other systems – ridiculously easy to use. The aim is that a budget holder, perhaps in marketing, or IT, in a regional office or factory distant from the head office, can run procurement exercises easily and quickly, with no specialist knowledge or procurement training. And they won’t need training on the system either.

The product covers a range of RFX type tendering options, but it is pretty narrow currently – no auctions (yet), let alone market-informed sourcing or anything of that nature. But what it appears to do very well is take a non-expert though the process of defining a procurement event, communicating with potential suppliers, asking questions of them, and evaluating the responses. It is really well designed with simplicity as its core goal.

The aim is to do as much as possible within the system, so the user interface guides you through setting up questions for the bidders - including multiple choice questions, with single or multiple responses, or open questions. Scoring is automatic where appropriate, you can weight responses and really do all the basics of a tendering process. It doesn’t allow more complex processes, such as sensitivity analyses, but these are early days. However, as Alan Phelan, the CEO, said “given the choice between adding functionality and keeping it simple, we’ll go for simple”.

So, not really a product designed for the senior procurement person letting multi-million contracts in a complex multi-faceted category perhaps. But you may now see where we’re going with this, returning to our initial comments about the future of procurement.

Because what this sort of product does is make it very easy for an end user, a budget holder or similar, to run relatively simple but professional tendering exercises, which will be enough to stimulate some healthy market competition. Such a process may well get most of the benefits you might expect from a much more time consuming and complex procurement process, or indeed from that user handing over “their” requirement to the procurement department.

Now maybe that will free up the time of the professional procurement person to do more value-added work. Maybe...  And interestingly, Phelan says that Source Dogg are finding more interest than they expected amongst procurement people, who may still be working without any eSourcing, or with highly complex platforms that just don’t get used.

So we’ll come back and explore in future posts both that stuff about the “future of procurement”, and also look at what firms and products like Source Dogg might do to the competitive solutions landscape. But it will certainly be interesting to see just how the product gets on in the UK market.

First Voice

  1. Market Dojo:

    What one could call a paradigm shift in the market seems to be gathering speed.

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