The Best SolutionMap Persona: The Whole Nine Yards

Spend Matters’ analysts have been writing personal essays on their favorite SolutionMap personas: Nimble, Deep, Turn-Key, Configurator, CIO-Friendly as well as Optimizer for sourcing providers only and Global for CWS vendors only. The personas help companies select which solution provider is right for them. This week’s essay is by Michael Lamoureux, our lead analyst for strategic procurement technologies and a futurist.

My favorite persona is the one we don't publish — the whole nine yards, which is basically the raw SolutionMap with every single requirement evaluated and weighted full. It's a persona that almost no vendor would do well in, so why is it my favorite? Because it gets to the heart of what the vendor can't do and what its limits are.

To understand why this is important, we have to go back to why I agreed to partner up with Spend Matters to create and evaluate these "solution maps" in the first place. After covering the space for a decade, I had heard vendors go on and on about how they could do it all, met all of their customer needs, had the best roadmap and owned the best customer reviews on the planet. In 2016, my Sourcing Innovation blog was looking for a way to get to the truth of what vendors really could — and could not — do. And while I do accept that some vendors can do a lot, meet the majority of their customer needs, have a well thought-out roadmap, and have happy customers, no vendor is perfect. Despite their many, many claims to be.

And while no vendor needs to be perfect to provide you with a great solution that can deliver a high ROI year after year, it's important to understand their strengths and their weaknesses before making a selection. If the vendor is weak in a capability that you expect to need three years into your journey, and it's not on their roadmap, where will you be in three years? But if the vendor has that capability as a potential development project, and the vendor has a track record of delivering new development on promised timelines, then if you ensure that your contract has this as a future capability, you will be fine. And if it's a capability for which you don't foresee the need over the next five years, then maybe, as far as you're concerned, the vendor does it all.

But the reality is no vendor does it all, and knowing what they can't do or are weak at is as important as knowing what they can do well. You need a vendor that meets all of your needs at a basic level without weaknesses that could impact your ability to carry out day-to-day processes. That's sometimes even more important than the absolute best vendor — the reality is that, most of the time, the 80% solution will do for anything you need, but a 0% solution won't. It's a balancing act. Especially when you have unusual requirements.

Plus, this is the data that allows us to build both our out-of-the-box and custom personas, so it's the ultimate from an evaluation viewpoint. It's good to go-deep-or-go-home, but nothing beats going the whole nine yards.

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