Tis the Season for … Procurement Conferences! Plan Your Schedule Now

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”. (L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables)

Yes, we’re almost into October, that month which brings us apples and Halloween, colour to the trees, the Rugby World Cup, and a whole rush of procurement conferences!

This seems to be the season for the leading solution providers in our industry to present themselves to their clients and the wider world through their conferences. So over the next few days we will give you a run-through on four major procurement solutions firms who are holding events in the coming weeks, but we will start today with a short general overview, including some hints and tips.

If you are already a customer of any of the firms we are looking at here (Trade Extensions, Ivalua, Coupa, and Basware), then attending their event is generally recommended. You will find out more about the likely future development track for their product; meet senior people from the firm; and perhaps most importantly, pick up good ideas from other users. That is often more beneficial to be honest than the formal speeches – the tip another customer gives you over coffee that opens up some whole new way of getting value from the software, perhaps.

If you are a potential customer, then much the same applies, and if you are going to be selecting software in the near future, this can provide good insight. Do remember that even the firms who quote a fee for the event will usually waive it if you get in touch and convince them that you are a genuine “prospect”!

If you are not a current or potential customer, then the events can still be interesting and useful, but you need to weigh that up against the benefits from attending other non-vendor-specific events, such as ProcureCon, eWorld (tomorrow in London), Procurement Leaders and so on. You will probably get a greater variation of topics at such events, but on the other hand if you are really into P2P, or market-informed sourcing (optimisation), then going to an event run by a leading supplier in that field will give you a focused experience.

Another variable to consider is the type of agenda. Some firms focus very much on client case studies and presentations about their own software. Others provide a more general agenda, with a wider focus and a less sales-y approach perhaps.There is no right or wrong in eitehr approach, but it is worth understanding which most appeals to you when you choose your event.

Whichever events you attend, do take advantage of the opportunity to speak to other delegates, the “partners” who are often there, and speakers as well as folk from the vendor itself. I often see people looking miserable and giving off the “don’t talk to me” vibe at events and wonder – why did you bother coming? You’re giving up a day or two of your valuable time, make the most of it!

And if you are a manager whose staff attend such events, I would always ask for a short report from them on their return covering the event. That can be circulated around your team and perhaps identify areas for further research or new ideas to try out. What did they learn? What should we as an organisation be considering? (More on that idea when we come to the Coupa event later this week, by the way).

So, after that introduction, we will be back shortly looking at the events in chronological order; so Trade Extensions followed by Ivalua, Coupa and then Basware.

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