In our last post, we noted that many organizations are still in the Procurement Dark Ages, conducting procurement using the age-old three-bids-and-a-buy technique and the fax machine running over a 64 kbit digital ISDN circuit. And that, in the low end of the mid-market in particular, this was the norm and not the exception. Scary!
We also noted that there were a number of reasons for this dismal state of affairs including, but not limited to, a lack of foresight and faith in Procurement by the organizations, the high price tag that used to be associated with these products, and the complexity of the suite solutions that were often thrust upon the technologically illiterate organizations that, sadly, were just not ready for sophisticated solutions.
Some companies need to take it one-step at a time, and like a kid on the beach for the first time, dip their toe in the open ocean before getting comfortable enough to walk, and eventually, dive in. To this end, Scout RFP has decided to launch a new RFP solution to help those companies, and other companies who are using RFP solutions that are overpriced or too advanced for their needs.
Does this make sense given that they are not the first company to offer a stand-alone RFX product, or at least a stand-alone RFX module, and that there are a number of companies on the market that have, or started with, this strategy? For example, EC Sourcing, ThomasNet, and PurchasingNet all offer low-end stand-alone RFX solutions that can be obtained at low cost.
Unless they do something different, definitely not. But the founders recognize this, and might find a way to brighten up the space just a little. (Time will tell.)
So what’s different about ScoutRFP? Especially considering the maturity of RFX technology? Not much, but when you consider the market they are going after, it probably doesn’t take much to make a difference to have an impact. (With the majority of players chasing the same Global 2000, there is still a big unexplored blue ocean when you move further down the corporate food chain.)
Scout RFP is currently focussed on differentiating themselves in the following ways:
1. Ease of Use
The solution is 100% web-based and designed to work with minimal inputs. Like all other modern RFX products, it guides the user through a minimal workflow to create the RFX, select the suppliers to receive the RFX, and evaluate the responses, side-by-side, when they are returned.
Whereas many solutions force the user to create an RFX section by section, question by question, the ScoutRFP solution allows the user to create the RFX at their desired level of detail. They can cut and paste entire sections from a Word document into an entire section, break it up into individual questions, or go somewhere in between.
3. Control & Visibility
It allows for the definition of hierarchical visibility and control that allows a CPO to view the work being done by his or her directors who can see the work betting done by his or her buyers.
Like other modern tools, ScoutRFX also has a dashboard view, supplier response and status tracking, and side-by-side comparisons.
And it’s brand new. The company has not officially been around for a year, and has accomplished quite a bit of development in that timeframe as well as landing over a dozen customers in that time as well. So it’s very likely that the next year will see quite a bit of new development, the creation of a knowledge and template library, and other useful advancements to jump start your dark-age Procurement enterprise.
If you’re a mid-size company without an RFX solution, it’s worth checking out. It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of some more established solutions, but it doesn’t have the price tag either. And the founders, who know what it’s like to be stuck without basic tools to do your job, won’t beat around the bush or try to shovel you a side of bullcrap with a modules, services, or license seats you don’t yet need. (After all, when you’re selling enterprise systems in the low five-figures, you can’t afford to!)