Atos Procurement Technology Report finds High Levels of Dis-satisfaction

The Atos Procurement Technology Satisfaction Survey 2014 does not sound like the most revolutionary report we’ve ever seen, but in fact its findings are rather shocking and should make many in the procurement world sit up and pay attention. Let's start with the background to the report. This is how the consulting firm explain the genesis of the report.

“In 2013 Atos ran a webinar on the business case for investing in procurement technology and carried out a snap survey asking the two hundred participants to say whether or not they were happy with their procurement technology. 78% of respondents said they were unhappy so we decided to follow this up with a structured, on-line survey to explore this response in more depth in the UK.6.

The survey covered four types of procurement technology - applications supporting:

  • „„Purchase-to-Pay (P2P)
  • „„eSourcing and Contract Management
  • „„Spend Analytics and Procurement Business Intelligence
  • „„Supplier Management

Atos don’t quote overall response numbers, but the sample was somewhat biased towards public sector organisations (56%) and larger entities, as 87% of respondents worked for organizations with more than 250 staff.

Now Atos say that this time, compared to that first snap survey, “the results were a little less negative” than that initial unhappy 78%. But to our eyes, the new findings are not exactly a ringing vote of confidence for the procurement technology industry, with 67% of respondents being “unhappy with their procurement technology”, 63% saying that functionality did not meet their requirements and 57% saying that their technology did not represent value for money.

Let’s get this into some perspective. If 67% of car owners were unhappy with their vehicles, or 57% of package holidays were considered poor value for money, it would be a scandal and the whole industry would be castigated in the media. If these results are really representative of the procurement community, these are pretty shocking figures, we’d suggest, showing a large-scale dissatisfaction with a major technology sector.

We’d also suggest that it is not just the industry side that needs to look carefully at this. It takes two to tango, and there are always two sides to any story of a failing relationship. So the procurement user side needs to take some of the blame for this state of affairs. Have professionals specified or selected the wrong software products or providers too often? Or failed in the implementation phase, perhaps because of problems with adoption and user acceptance(which any of us who have been through large scale procurement technology implementations know are real issues)?

Something to consider, and perhaps this report will be something of a wake-up call. We'll come back to it in part 2 and look at the findings related to specific sectors, and the factors that drive the results. But you can get hold of the report here in the meantime.

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Voices (2)

  1. David:

    RJ – Have you read the report? It makes the comment very articulately that dissatisfaction is not purely about the vendor / technology. The example given in the eSourcing session is particularly relevant… how eSourcing has been made unusable by over-implementation of workflow rules. Most eSourcing technology contains workflow capabilities but is is the choice of the user (or its organization) how to deploy them. This report does a good job of moving the conversation beyond “who are the goodies and who are the baddies” as we see in the typical Magic Quadrant to explore some practical reasons why some implementations succeed and others do not.

  2. RJ:

    Before leaping to too many conclusions it might be worth understanding the levels of satisfaction that some other user groups have with their own specialist technology. I don’t know many people in the Finance community, for example, who would be ecstatic about the services provided by Oracle or SAP, which most organisations of this size would be using. The report doesn’t comment on specific applications and it owuld be interesting to see a Gartner-style Magic Quadrant on the applications themselves as I suspect most users who are tied into one of the major ERP systems would be at the top end of dissatisfaction whereas maybe some of the up and coming specialist technology would fare better.

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