Procurement-as-a-Service: High Priority or HYPE HYPE HYPE!

Next month, the public defender will be hosting a webinar on the evolution of procurement: alignment, flexibility, and Procurement-as-a-Service where he will be discussing whether Procurement-as-a-Service (PaaS) is high priority for your Procurement organization or just hype. Guess which way SI is leaning?

First of all, let’s define what Procurement-as-a-Service (really) is. Procurement-as-a-Service is the new name for the service you get from a Managed Services Provider that combines technology, personnel, and expertise to take over part, or even all, of your Procurement operations in a transparent and effective way. They use technology to identify what you are spending on, what you need, and where savings likely are; choose categories for sourcing and assign category experts; modern technology to do the sourcing and procurement; and track the purchases and payments and do m-way matching to make sure you only pay for what you get and that you get what you are supposed to when you are supposed to. They also make the process visible through, at a minimum, a reporting and progress portal, and may even give you some access to the analytics and procurement tool to run your own reports, record inventory, and upload payments.

Second, let’s break it down.

1. Technology

Nothing new here. Given that MSPs are typically using someone else’s tech, there’s nothing new here. In fact, they’re probably using inferior tech as they are looking for something that works best at managing multiple client procurement portfolios and not at conducting that best sourcing event, bringing the best analytics or optimization solution to the table.

2. People

Note that we are using people here, not talent. MSPs have people. A lot of people. Because they have to fill a lot of seats, but not all are talented, or at least not talented with respect to your business. And this is key. Talent is appropriately educated, experienced, and relevant to your business. This brings us to:

3. Expertise

While there will likely be a number of people at the MSP with expertise in your categories, this number could be a dozen or two among thousands. And you won’t likely get them working your account, nor are you guaranteed to even get the results you would get from a GPO (Group Purchasing Organization).

Third, let’s analyze what we broke down. No guarantee of even best of breed technology. No guarantee of the right talent for your organization (based on your categories or industry). And no guarantee of the right expertise, or sufficient expertise to go around.

So what is PaaS? In SI’s view it’s a quick-fix band-aid for those organizations without enough tech, talent, or transition management capability to handle its own Procurement operations. But for any organization with any capability to acquire and manage even basic tech, attract talent, and acquire and employ expertise, what does a PaaS provider offer, especially when there are GPOs, niche consultancies, and SaaS solutions that have been offering the same, if not more, for quite some time now? The answer: so far, nothin’.

So, in SI’s view, it’s hype, hype, hype. But it will be interesting to see what the public defender has to say when he goes head to head with Comensura‘s Jon Milton on March 7, 11:00 EST, 16:00 GMT.

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