In Parts I and II we noted that that when it comes to e-Sourcing success, you need four main capabilities, or (true) success could elude you. Specifically, you need:
- A Process
- An e-Sourcing Platform
- Actionable Intelligence
- A Sourcing Sensei
The process is easy. In Parts I and II, SI outlined a generic lucky eight-step sourcing process, which is the basic underpinnings of just about every good sourcing process you are going to come across from a services, software, or solution vendor.
The platform is essentially an ubiquitous commodity these days — especially from an e-Negotiation (e-RFx, e-Auction, and e-Contract Management) perspective where you have dozens of options. (Just remember that not all spend analysis packages are equal. Some aren’t much more than pre-packaged reports and others are just visibility tools, since they allow you to see all your data, but don’t allow you to change the underlying cube and, thus, have limited analytics capabilities.)
Actionable intelligence, at least on a category basis, while not always embedded in the platform, isn’t too hard to obtain in most categories, as there are a number of vendors that package up market indices, trends, and market insight reports that can be easily consumed and applied.
However, finding a true Sourcing Sensei could be harder than finding the bronze coated needle in the industrial farmer’s haystack, and even if you manage to find that Sourcing Sensei, luring her to your organization can be a more significant challenge still. You might be forced to settle for some category-based expert consulting from your local niche sourcing specialty firm. There’s certainly nothing wrong with this approach, as this will allow you to draw from the best-of-the-best in each category and possibly save even more on some key categories than you could with an in-house Sensei who will generally only be an expert in a few categories, but this approach doesn’t necessarily help you with process implementation, and, more importantly, doesn’t help your team use the tools at their disposal to the full extent of their capability (as the category consultants are category experts, not solution experts on your platform).
In other words, you need more than a sourcing-platform and market-intelligence subscription — you need guidance on how to best use the platform and intelligence at your disposal in your (e-)sourcing projects. You need what MarketMaker4 calls Market Making.
Founded by veteran e-Sourcing professionals, formerly of e-Sourcing pioneers that include Trade Extensions, The Ops Cube, AT Kearney Management Consultants, and Archway Consulting who realized in their former roles that one of the biggest needs of an e-Sourcing team was project assistance, especially when it came to proper utilization of an e-Sourcing suite and the integration of market intelligence for category analysis and new vendor identification, they decided that a sourcing platform, even if market intelligence was built in, wasn’t enough. That’s why they built an on-demand SaaS solution platform that not only built in market intelligence and company intelligence, but 24/5 project support from an experienced sourcing professional who is an expert in the platform and who is always a quick chat or call away. (And they mean quick. Customers are guaranteed a response to a chat request by a live person in one minute, every support person has a direct line that can be requested at any time, and the user can switch from chat to phone support at any time*1 during the chat.) In addition, as these are real sourcing professionals who work for MM4 (and not a third party or outsourced call center), these support people have full access to the MM4 suite *2 and can even perform certain tasks for you if you get stuck.
MarketMaker4, which started this decade (in 2010) promises a completely next-generation e-Sourcing system, and that is what they deliver. In our next post we’ll dive deeper into the 4 distinct parts of their solution platform from which their moniker is drawn.
* Unless, of course, the support person is already on a call, in which case you’re next!
*2 MarketMaker4 is only offered as SaaS.