Daily Archives: May 6, 2024

Dear Sourcing/Source-to-Pay/Procurement Founder: Please STOP Making These Mistakes! Part 2

In Part 1, we reminded you of the 12 best practices for success that we published last year and noted that, since this obviously wasn’t read enough (or properly) understood, as the doctor is still seeing founders make the same old mistakes year after year, he needed to do more. So, using his 18 years of experience as an (independent) analyst and 20 plus years as a consultant, during which he has researched and/or engaged with over 500 companies, of which 350 were publicly covered on Sourcing Innovation or Spend Matters (between 2016 and 2022), he’s decided to make plain at least 15 of the same mistakes he has seen over and over again, in hopes that maybe he can prevent a few founders from making them again.

Then, we covered the first of the 15+ mistakes we promised you, namely:

  • Assuming that because you were a CPO, you don’t have to do your market research. (Part 1)

If the mistakes stopped here, we’d be done. But they don’t. So, today we’re going to cover the next three.

2. Assume you can serve any company that shows interest in your product.

If you recall, best practice #1 was to identify the market sector you are competing in and best practice #3 was define your target industries because you can’t be everything to everyone. More importantly, if you try, you will fail miserably chasing every deal, building features your ideal market has no interest in (and that can’t compete with other companies already there), and wasting time and money for naught (as you will close very few deals this way). In order to compete, you need to do something very well, and better than the majority of your peers, not do the 60% solution from a number of competitors.

3. Assume you can go for disruptive or innovative first.

It doesn’t matter what great new feature your product has or how innovative or disruptive it is if you don’t solve one or more of the customer’s core problems AND have all of the baseline functionality required and expected for a product in the category you are selling in. For example, in sourcing you need to have very extensive and configurable RFX functionality as even e-procurement platforms have simple RFP now. Supplier Management needs to be able to not only store any information of interest about a supplier (extensible and organizable/tagged into categories), but support a more specific organizational need around simplified Procurement (especially in direct where you need to replenish quick after contracts), compliance, risk, or program management. e-Procurement has a whole host of requirements around PO (compliance), catalog support, order acknowledgement, approval requirements, etc. (And in our Source-to-Pay+ series we did overview a lot of the baseline requirements for core modules.) The reality is that when it comes down to a face-off evaluation, if your solution doesn’t check core boxes, you won’t get the deal, even if your functionality, usability, and customer commitment are far superior.

4. Assume you can take Tech Shortcuts and Fix It Later.
There’s a reason that best practice No. 5 was understand the data needs and design the full data model and that’s because if you take shortcuts, you will never get it right and you will never be able to fix it. You need to understand that every single line of code written without forethought and care will become technical debt the second it’s checked into the code repository, vs. technical debt five to ten years out when the language and stack you use is deprecated. If you start in the technical debt hole, you never get out of it.

Moreover, as per our last mistake, if you can’t capture the right data, no one will want your product, and if you can’t support the right process, no one will want your product. This means that, at the foundational level, you can’t take shortcuts. You see, just like you can’t build a 10 story apartment building on a foundation you poured for a two-story house, you can’t eventually build a best-in-class solution for an enterprise on a foundation that doesn’t even support a micro-mom-and-pop shop!

And while we still have many mistakes to go, we’ll stop here for today. Come back for Part 3.