Daily Archives: May 15, 2009

Before You Sponsor Any Blog … Get the Facts!

Continuing my recent post on Making Sense of Web Stats, before you sponsor any blog, including this one, you should get the facts … and do your own research. While they don’t capture all of the traffic, or even every site, used in conjunction, the free traffic ranking sites of Ranking, Traffic Estimate, Compete, Quantcast, and, most importantly, Alexa are usually directionally accurate and are a good place to start. For example, if you were to check up on the major blogs in the space on August 15, 2009, you’d find:

Blog Alexa
Traffic Estimate
Visitors (US)
Spend Matters 317,868 47,000 12,000 7,760 188,166
Sourcing Innovation 324,279 47,200 4,400 159,761
Supply Chain Matters ???,??? ??,??? ?,??? ?,??? ?,???,???
(AG) Metal Miner 573,991 25,200 924,425
Supply Excellence 960,349 10,700 1,767 217,056
Procure Insights 1,546,610 2,000
Purchasing Certification Blog 3,080,943 370
e-Sourcing Forum 3,108,516 2,300 873,926

This says that Sourcing Innovation, which briefly held the top spot on Alexa from June 10, 2009 to August 15, 2009 (and still holds the top spot on Traffic Estimate and Ranking), is currently ranked as the second most trafficed niche blog in the supply and spend management space. Not bad for an Upstart Blog that’s only three years old.

Furthermore, since you are also concerned about how much new traffic a site will attract, as new traffic is key to continued growth, the site’s ranking with respect to relevant searches is also important. For an overview of how each blog ranks, I refer you to the Google Rankings of the Sourcing Blogs of June 19, which is summarized below for a corpus of 99 relevant search terms:

Blog Top 10 Top 20 Top 30 Top 50 Top 100
Sourcing Innovation 8 10 13 17 23
Supply Excellence 4 4 7 10 15
Spend Matters 2 4 5 7 10
e-Sourcing Forum 2 4 5 7 10

This is one of the reasons why, from a new traffic acquisition perspective, Sourcing Innovation, which continues to grow anywhere from 3% to 30% month-over-month, is one of the top two blogs, and why, one day after the blog’s three year anniversary when Sourcing Innovation claimed the Top Supply Management and Spend Management blog ranking on Alexa, Sourcing Innovation has, in the past year, at least temporarily, ranked #1 on all five of the major traffic ranking engines.

Now that you’ve informed yourself, you can make the right choice. For more information on SI sponsorships, see the Open Pricing Model. (For more information on other blog sponsorships, if available, contact the respective blog owners.)

Are You Taking Full Advantage of Sourcing Innovation?

While Sourcing Innovation is, first and foremost, a daily blog dedicated to bringing you the latest and greatest in best practices, education, and innovation in sourcing, procurement and supply management, it’s more than that. In addition to its archive of almost 1,300 deep and insightful posts that remain as relevant as the day they were written, Sourcing Innovation also offers one the most extensive resource sites in the space, and a growing collection of wiki-papers, white papers, and presentations.

The SI Resource Site, which is completely searchable through the Site Search page, catalogues more events, on-demand podcasts and webinars, publications, and societies than any other site in the space. It also contains:

  • A Glossary
    with about 30 articles on core topics, each complete with reference links to more information
  • The Illuminations
    which represent Sourcing Innovation’s branded thought-leadership white papers
  • New Presentations
    which are designed to distill key pieces of information from long posts, articles and white papers

Then there’s:

  • The e-Sourcing Wiki
    where the doctor authored or co-authored almost 35 wiki-papers on relevant supply management subjects
  • The (new) Linked-In Group
    where you can ask the doctor questions and participate in conversations with other supply management leaders
  • And Slideshare
    where the doctor has started to post presentations for those of you who like viewing presentations on-line

I encourage you to check out all that SI has to offer, and I welcome any suggestions you may have.

An Enterprise Software Buying Guide, Part VIII: Contract Definition & Management

In this, our final post in this intial series on the successful acquisition of enterprise software, including e-Sourcing, e-Procurement, and other Supply Chain Software Solutions, we discuss the contract review and performance management steps.

7. Comb the Contract

The legal minds behind traditional software vendor contracts excel at including all kinds of seemingly benign terms and conditions that can turn out to be big cost gotchas if you’re not careful. My personal favorite is the mandatory maintenance clause that states if you stop paying maintenance, you lose the right to run the software. Sure you still own the perpetual license you paid big bucks for up front, but you’re not allowed to use it unless you pay maintenance, which usually has you paying the entire cost of the software every 4 to 5 years.

Other good examples of “gotchas” that you need to watch out for include:

  • The mandatory upgrade on the vendor’s schedule
    The vendor will usually try to insert a clause along the lines of “you must upgrade within 90-365 days or lose support” if you’re not careful, regardless of how long they say they will support an older version.
  • The free lunch
    There’s no free lunch. Someone always pays … and in enterprise software, that someone is YOU! Either the “free” training, support, or modules are included in the price or being offered as an incentive to lock you in for a long term that will ultimately increase the vendor’s margin and salesperson’s commission.
  • The toothless SLA
    The majority of SLAs are designed for one purpose — and one purpose only — to give you a false sense of security that causes you to overlook the fact that the wording was carefully designed by the vendor’s legal counsel to insure that the vendor gets to keep your money for the length of the contract, no matter what.
  • The Escrow
    You get the code if the vendor goes belly-up. Whoopee. Unless you have a large team of expert software developers in house that can quickly familiarize themselves with an application that contains (tens of) millions of lines of code and get you up and running again quickly, escrow is pointless. What matters is that you have guaranteed complete data access 24x7x365 and that the vendor is required to give you 30 days warning and a complete data export in a standard, product neutral, format before a material change in operations or ownership, so that you can shunt your data into another system and keep on truckin’ if, for some reason, the system stops working for you.

8. Manage Performance

You can do everything right up to the time you sign the contract and still have everything go to hell in a handbasket (and your costs go through the roof) if you don’t carefully manage vendor delivery and support throughout the contract lifetime.

It’s critical to create a project management team who will mange the implementation, monitor uptake, collect feedback, quickly identify issues, and work with the vendor to get those issues resolved in a timely manner. Otherwise, you might not get the uptake, utilization, productivity improvements, and savings you expected to get.

That’s it for this initial series on how to successfully buy enterprise software. I hope you found it useful. And remember, if you’re planning on acquiring RFX & e-Auction,
Spend Analysis,
Contract Management,
Supplier Networks & Catalogue Management,
GPOs & Marketplaces,
Market Intelligence,
Strategic Sourcing Services,
Trade Data Management,
Supply Chain Optimization, or
e-Payment platforms, a good starting list (that you can customize to your needs based on the outputs of Step 2) can be found in the X-emplification series (PDF). Have fun!