Magic Quadrants (Minus the Curtain): Your Invitation to Share Information

Spend Matters is getting into the research-driven, comparative technology analysis business. Our first analysis is focusing on foundational (and advanced) sourcing toolsets.

We’re hoping that our approach to gathering information and evaluating providers is going to be quite different than others that have gone before us (even if the up-front homework for providers and our team alike will be substantial).

But of course technology solution providers are already used to this!

As a sourcing vendor, you often have to respond to RFPs – some with five hundred to a thousand (yes, one thousand) feature questions around minutiae such as "does your solution require no fewer than 140 characters, but permit no more than 500 characters in field XYZ – if not, when can you make this available as a standard feature"?

wizard of ozSeriously, is this really worthwhile to assess when choosing an enterprise sourcing solution? BTW, if you are a practitioner issuing these RFPs, please let us know which consulting firm “recommended” those “detailed” questions, how they helped in your selection process, and ultimately how you now view this approach post-award and implementation?

Along the same line of thinking – i.e. that more features translate into greater benefit – is the Magic Quadrant (MQ) approach. If you haven't seen an MQ chart, think back to the "cash cows, dogs and stars" product assessment graph used in Marketing 101. As a refresher, reference the chart in this link. Just as college marketing classes are dropping this analysis approach, at Spend Matters we don't think it is overly useful in assessing complex technology solutions, and now we have put pen to paper to document what to really look for when evaluating a sourcing tool.

Based on our experience from both sides of the negotiation table, and armed with deep insights into current solution provider capabilities, we want you to position your inquiry around a real business use case and let the providers show you how this is addressed in their solution.

The last part is critical. Don't assume that there is only one practical design and only one suitable way to accomplish tasks. Open yourself up to other approaches and you might transform your business. That's what this is all about!

To some degree, it comes down to assessing solutions via some form of checklist or other grid of data points. It can’t be an entirely subjective process around what “feels” right. So while we eschew most of the arduous nitpicking that is often part of the RFP process, we have included some level of solution feature detail.

We worked with providers to see what was broken with the current process, and have tried as best we can to incorporate their feedback. We are adopting the principle of ‘market-informed sourcing’ (as our colleague Peter Smith terms it here), which is really the precursor of ‘expressive bidding’, and letting vendors put their best foot forward.

Our hope is that by opening up the process in letting vendors express themselves, there should be a refreshing change to all parties involved. Just as best practices for sourcing have changed away from necessarily bidding rigid, apples-to-apples specifications, so too have practices for evaluating (and buying) technology!

Spend Matters readers can expect snippets of our findings from our deep-dive efforts this spring. Spend Matters PRO subscribers will be able to access the full body of our research, findings and analysis, including lessons learned in the process of structuring RFQs and analyses in a manner so as to encourage vendor innovation and creativity versus stifling it.

With the above as a background, the sourcing solution vendors in the marketplace will shortly receive a Sourcing “RFP” from Spend Matters. Our approach inevitably incorporates some elements of the traditional approach, and a guiding hand along the way.

Stay tuned for more details as this activity unfolds!

- The Spend Matters Research Team

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