Last year, I brought you the 12 days of Christmas, which went as follows:
On the twelfth day of X-Mas
my blogger gave to me
an ounce of cunning,
another vendor hyping,
blog posts worth keeping,
spend vendors lancing,
thoughts for a shilling,
strategies for winning,
tactics for saving,
five golden rings,
four little words,
two boxing gloves,
and a lesson in strategy.
This year, in the spirit of giving, and in the spirit of Questions to Ask your Optimization Vendor, the doctor exposes the elephants in the room (Part II), and the doctor goes mental (on Auctions and on Optimization), I’m going to give you twelve posts on twelve different sourcing and procurement technologies and services that expound upon the questions you should be asking, the answers you should be expecting, and, most importantly, why, so that when you set about choosing a technology to help you with your sourcing and procurement challenges, you choose the right one.
Now, I know that Procuri and some other vendors put out a series of RFP template documents, that included The Sourcing RFP Template, The Supplier Management RFP Template, The Contract Management RFP Template, and The Spend Analysis RFP Template and that some of you might think that these posts are therefore unnecessary, but I assure you that the opposite is true. The problem with these RFP Templates is that they were written from a feature perspective, and were designed to make the sponsors look good (whether the sponsors want to admit it or not). The reality of the situation is that the number of features a product offers is irrelevant if it doesn’t support the key processes you need it to support to add value to your business. In other words, a product with only 100 features could be many times better than a product with over 1000 features if the product with 100 features supports the ten functions you need to support and enable your best-practice based business processes. For example, it doesn’t matter if a spend analysis package comes with 100 reports out of the box if you can’t build a template for the one report your boss demands to see every week.
Thus, when it comes to the technologies you use, or should use, every day, I think it’s time that you as a buyer knew the questions you should be asking, and not necessarily the questions the vendors want you to ask. Then you’ll be in better shape to select the right technologies to meet your needs.
Before the series gets started, I have a couple of things to take care of.
First of all, please understand that just because the templates I called out above (and those like them) are not appropriate templates for you to be using in your efforts to find the right product for you, this does not necessarily imply that the solutions offered by those same vendors are not appropriate for your needs. The solutions might be appropriate, and they might not. But unless you ask the right questions, how will you know?
Secondly, if you thought my blogologues were hard hitting as of late, and even a little scathing, as they used to say, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Although I’m not going to discuss specific vendors with respect to the technologies in the 12 posts that follow, I can guarantee that for any given post, there are going to be a number of vendors who are not going to be too happy after reading it – because their solution, whose last major update was five plus years ago, not only doesn’t cut it, it doesn’t even come close!