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Best Procurement Solution Persona? Configurator!

05/20/2019 By


What’s my favorite Spend Matters SolutionMap persona? In one respect — as we begin a series of personal essays on buying personas (Nimble, Deep, Turn-Key, Configurator, CIO Friendly as well as Optimizer for sourcing providers and Global for CWS vendors) — it’s sort of a silly question.

Every persona is great. Is an extrovert better than an introvert? Is an Olympic weightlifter a better athlete than a marathoner? Is the procurement organization at Uber better than the one at P&G? Uber might need a Nimble solution, and P&G may need a Deep solution. But if we change the question to “what type of solution is generally most appealing to the most buyer personas,” then I’d have to pick Configurator.

[persona persona=”configurator” organization=”Moderately to highly sophisticated; Unique process requirements from unique, often complex supply/value chains” need=”Emphasis on flexibility, modularity, configurability and internal/external integration to ultimately support my organization’s diverse and evolving needs” ]

Here’s why:

  • Nearly all procurement groups need to be more agile. So, agility requires an eminently configurable solution.
  • Flexibility demands excellence in design. In the manufacturing world, Toyota’s Takaoka plant is the epitome of flexibility to create a huge variety of models. A software manufacturer should be no different.
  • Configurable solutions are platform-like and have a “platform layer” to allow customers and ecosystem partners to build category-specific or industry-specific solutions on top of them.
  • Personas are like audio equalizers. There are preset settings for Jazz, Pop, Rock, Lounge, but if you want something custom (e.g., Steely Dan), then you want to set your own switches. This is why we offer custom solution maps — with 700 switches on that soundboard!
  • Most of all, solutions built for the Configurator persona can also meet the needs of other personas, and can help eliminate the trade-offs between ERP and best-of-breed solutions, including:
    1. “Deep.” Looking for specialized functionality such as advanced analytics? No problem. Configurable solutions with purpose-built open APIs can allow partner apps (available in an app store) to plug right in.
    2. “Nimble” and “Turnkey.” Want fast and inexpensive? No problem. Look for stripped-down versions of configurable solutions. Want it delivered as an outcome-focused managed service? Look for native or partner-provided managed services with SaaS at the core.
    3. “CIO Friendly.” Want the CIO to love your app choice? Find one that plays nicely in your infrastructure (e.g., Microsoft, Amazon AWS, Oracle/SAP, “Open Stack,” etc.) and that also can provide native MDM functionality that can not just co-exist with ERP, but sit on top of multiple back office systems.

As a final word on this topic, let’s see what’s actually happening in the market. If we look to the >1,000 customer-provided scores in our SolutionMap database (and that directly determine the X-axis score in our graphical persona-based maps), which providers do the best. Well, let’s take my coverage area, CLM, as an example. For the providers participating in the latest Q2 2019 scoring, it looks like Agiloft will have the highest customer satisfaction score. And guess what, Agiloft is basically a CLM and service management application suite built on top of its own low code platform (a very clear manifestation of configurability).

Here’s another example … what if you had a procurement application suite that was able to shape-shift itself into various industry-specific applications, from low-end public sector to high-end manufacturing, with a single polymorphistic architecture and code-base. Pipe dream? Nope, Ivalua is currently beginning this rollout as we speak.

The bottom line here is that complexity requires agility, and agility-at-scale requires configurability — whether you’re a procurement organization or a third-party digital solution provider.