Ivalua Conference – Wisdom Regarding Procurement Software Selection Decisions (and more …)

At the recent Ivalua customer event in Paris, we did not have quite as many discussions with clients as we might have, partly down to language barrier. But one conversation proved illuminating in terms of the selection process the individual had gone through before selecting Ivalua, and some other comments made around the implementation process.

We won't identify him or her, for reasons that will become obvious, but he or she works for a major and well-known global business that has chosen Ivalua for a global source to pay implementation. Let’s call this person “Charlie”, a nice sexually ambiguous name! Here are six points from Charlie we think are worth noting for anyone making major software selection decisions.

1.  “I'd never heard of Ivalua when we started the process”, said Charlie, but they came though to win what sounded like a pretty exhaustive process. The message here is clear; be open-minded when you're running selection processes. There might be someone out there you're not initially aware of who can meet your needs. Indeed, that principle is a good one and does not just apply to procurement software selection exercises.

2.  “With a couple of firms, when we indicated that their prices were too high, they came back with new offers where all they had done was de-scoped the offer and reduced the price a little”! That needs no comment really other than emphasising the need to be commercially aware during the process. Comparing prices is only relevant if you compare the product too.

3.  “One major supplier – an incumbent to some extent – tried everything to go round me when they found out that we had not selected them. They contacted the CIO, and my boss, even the CFO as they had a contact there through other business with us. It didn't do them any good because the senior people trusted my judgement and our process”. We'd suggest you need to be prepared for this, and take pre-emptive action. Make sure senior colleagues know what you’re doing, support the selection process, and understand that they may be contacted by disgruntled suppliers.

4.  “I didn't want to pay for the product on a per-seat basis. That ruled out 50% of the potential providers straight away. I don't want to be monitoring users, doing the admin every time someone leaves or joins the firm … and a cost per seat is a dis-incentive to adoption as well”. Now there may be times and organisations where a cost per seat does make sense – but think clearly about the pros and cons of the different charging models before you get too far in the selection process.

5.  “I wanted to be an important client to whoever we chose as our provider”. This in itself demonstrates Charlie is someone who has been around a bit and has had some real world experience! This point is something we find firms do not consider enough in many procurement decisions, not just when choosing software providers. Are you going to matter to the vendor, or just be “in the crowd”, another middling size customer? Whilst you should always choose a firm that is big enough to cope with your business, choosing one who is “too big” and doesn't really care is arguably just as big a risk!

6.  “I've recruited ex consultants into the team, they often make excellent project managers. But I want people working on the programme who are going to see it through”. This wasn't an argument entirely against using consultants in major software implementations, but the core message is a good one. If you are leading any major programme, having people working with you with skin in the game, who are committed to seeing it through with you, is vital.

We felt there was a lot of wisdom in this conversation – and we hope we'll be able to tell you in a year or two just how "Charlie’s" implementation worked out in practice.

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