Gatewit – a neat tool to support procurement collaboration

We told you a bit recently about Gatewit, a leading eProcurement firm and new sponsors for Spend Matters (including supporting our much downloaded paper, "The Four Faces of Procurement", still available free to practitioners on registration here!). I’ve had a closer look at their products since then, and got more sense of what they and their platform is about.

Their range of solutions is pretty extensive, running through the transactional eProcurement side of things  - requisitioning, ordering, invoicing -  and across the sourcing aspects, including RfX, auctions etc.  As such, it is one of the relatively few integrated suites across both those functional areas around in the market.  It’s very public sector friendly, not surprising given their strong heritage in that area in their home country of Portugal, but just as relevant for private.

They’ve benefited from the forward-looking policies implemented by the Portuguese government which has made the country probably the EU’s leader in terms of eProcurement. It is mandatory for all public bodies, even individual schools! So the Education Ministry bought a sourcing platform for all schools to use – now there’s an interesting idea that would really drive both eProcurement uptake and collaboration in other countries too.

One particularly interesting capability, which I don’t think I’ve seen before, is an “aggregation” module. That allows different users, in different organisations even, to contribute in order to create an aggregated requirement and go to market with that requirement.  You can see the obvious potential for that in a number of scenarios, including public sector or perhaps within a large multi-business unit private sector organisation.

In most cases, one of the factors working against aggregation is the sheer complexity, pain and time required to gather data and compare requirements. Then, having done that, one often gets into another round – or multiple rounds – of questioning specifications, asking various players if they can adjust their needs slightly to fit a more consensual requirement.. all before we even approach the market. So anything that can take some of the pain out of that process would seem to be valuable.

So in the case of Portuguese schools,  users can choose other schools for involvement, upload requirements to the Gatewit platform and share information with the other participants. There’s a strong workflow capability, to keep track of who has done or said what. Requirements are collected and collated, and come back to the initiator, who can then see the total picture across the collaborative network.

The platform then allows placing of an OJEU advert, or issue of an ITT to a list of suppliers, and leads the user through the usual sourcing process with Q & A, definition of evaluation criteria, assessment and so on. There are some nice touches such as the ability to do side by side price comparisons from tender and carry out some basic “optimization” within the platform, although it doesn’t get into full “market informed sourcing”. It does have auction capability, with a range of options and variables.

So whilst the aggregation capability is perhaps the most unique aspect of the Gatewit platform, overall it appears to be well integrated, easy to use and with features to make life easier for buyers (there’s a short cut process to tender for routine items, for instance). It’s clearly been built and developed with continuous user input, to meet real needs, which is also good.

Whilst I wouldn’t under-estimate the difficulty for Gatewit in growing outside their native country, given competition from both global providers (Emptoris/IBM, BravoSolution) and those with strong country specific positions, the product stands up to scrutiny well and we’ll be interested to see how they implement their current growth plans.

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