Technology Trials 2012 – Part III

In our last post, we assumed that you need to find a new solution, either partial or full, for one or more of your supply management functions (procurement, sourcing, logistics, inventory management, etc.) and discussed the second (set) of question(s) you need to ask when initiating the process to find a new solution. Today, after determining that you need a new solution and have time to find (and implement/integrate) one, and that you know what the critical functionality of that solution needs to be, we are going to discuss the next (set) of question(s), which is:

(03) Do you go with an end-to-end solution (suite) or best-of-breed point solution(s)?

In order to make this determination, you need to answer:

  (03.1) What are the relative costs?
  (03.2) What are the relative benefits?
  (03.3) What is the ROI?

and look at the answers over multiple time-frames, with 3 years, 5 years, and 7 years being common (especially if there are solutions with significant up-front license, implementation, integration, and/or training costs or long term benefits, such as support for upcoming regulations or standards).

When looking at the costs, you need to do a detailed cost analysis (such as the one outlined in SI’s post on How Much Does That Enterprise Supply Management Solution Really Cost) and take into account every cost.

When looking at the benefits, you need to look at the ability to reduce hard costs (by freeing up resources for other activities or by providing you the ability to strategically source more and get more costs under control), reduce soft costs (by facilitating SRM, minimizing support or third party system costs, etc.), and generate value (through better support for New Product Development, an open system that can be used by the entire enterprise for Contract Management [for example], or significant analytic capabilities).

When calculating the ROI, you need to assign each benefit an associated dollar value for the time period in question, and then calculate the expected ROI of an end-to-end solution for the target timeframe(s) and the expected ROI of (a) best-of-breed solution(s) for the target timeframe(s). If one is clearly greater than the other, then that is the path you should take. If they are about equal, you generally sway towards the solution with the quicker implementation timeline. After all, given the choice between generating an ROI in 3 months or an ROI in 12 months, which is going to make your CFO and CEO happier (and allow you to get more of the technology and talent you need to succeed)?

And now the real trial begins! (More to come …)