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Decideware: Vendor Analysis (Part 3) — Summary & Competitive Analysis

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In the world of marketing “spend,” there is a decisive irony. On one level, agencies (and marketing organizations) tend to leverage extremely detailed analytical data (campaign performance analysis, competitive reporting, etc.) to manage and improve digital marketing efforts. Yet marketing and procurement organizations still tend to apply a less quantitative and rigorous approach to managing agencies of record themselves, including selecting them for specific projects and campaigns in a truly analytical manner.

In short, applying a category lifecycle management approach to strategic marketing services providers remains more art than science. And today, only a minority of procurement organizations typically having the upper hand — or an equivalent — as an agency when it comes to the age old question: “Who is managing whom? Granted, while digital campaigns may be managed and administered in a rigorous analytical manner, agency relationships and project/program selection are not.

Many procurement organizations work — or have worked — with consultants at one point in time to develop strategies and implement programs to shift this equation. Yet far fewer have invested in technology to address the same challenge. Decideware is the only technology vendor we have encountered that specializes in addressing this challenge, albeit the level of maturity in customer deployments and usage varies dramatically (based on the organization).

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Decideware provides a SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis. It also provides a summary analysis and recommendations for companies considering Decideware and some of the general challenges organizations encounter in attempting to strategically manage the lifecycle of agency engagement from a procurement perspective. Part 1 provided an in-depth look at Decideware as a firm and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses, as well as a review of the product’s user experience.

Decideware: Vendor Analysis (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

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In the marketing spend category, sourcing an agency is not necessarily a fair description of the process of selecting an agency of record. Unlike suppliers in the majority of categories, when it comes to strategic marketing spend, the source-to-pay process does not focus significant effort on the collection of catalog data, certificates, insurance and other documentary elements relating to real world products — or, for that matter, rate card, job classification or other contingent labor specifications. Rather, the process emphasizes the collection of information on key resources, representational projects and campaigns and production fees, and often includes the equivalent of a paid pilot or test run as part of the competitive process.

Sound unique? It is. Even agency self-identification and validation is different. For example, each agency can say it’s a "digital" expert and may even offer software to help track digital results and performance. We call this “fox watching the hen house” syndrome when an agency offers technology to monitor itself. But if more than half of a firm’s revenue comes from media management (planning, buying, reselling), digital may in fact be a secondary core competence for them.

Decideware offers a specialized suite of capabilities that address the nuances of managing agency spend and supplier engagement. This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Decideware’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider it as an underlying technology solution to manage their marketing and agency spend. The first installment of our analysis provided a company and solution overview, as well as a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Decideware. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Decideware: Vendor Analysis (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview

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Trying to apply a generic source-to-pay technology solution to marketing spend at the agency level would be the same as using a mountain bike to compete in the Alp stages of the Tour de France. Both less favored approaches could certainly work, but the pack would leave you far behind on the first hill. Moreover, the strategic sourcing processes for marketing spend can look materially different than for other categories.

Granted, when it comes to procuring and managing agencies, sourcing best practices apply at a meta-level, but their implementation is drastically different from the identification of vendors through the award of a contract. For example, in agency sourcing, the goal, of course, is to enable optimal resourcing, project outcomes and key deliverables based on specialized knowledge and skills brought together to arrive at a targeted objective. It is also important to ensure these elements come together and do not deviate from the methodology and underlying creative components that drove the selection of a particular agency in the first place, although the ultimate campaign may in fact change from an original pitch as an agency learns more about the project, client and situation later in the process.

It is within this unique category, with truly unique requirements, that Decideware, a global provider of an agency lifecycle management solutions, presents a compelling case for a category-specific strategic procurement solution that is fundamentally different than standard procurement suites. This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Decideware’s specialized procurement technology capabilities — and showcases one approach to agency sourcing and management based on Decideware’s methodology.

Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Decideware in the procurement technology area. It also explores the strategic sourcing process for the procurement of agency services. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.