Daily Archives: May 30, 2024

Proper Solution Selection is Harder Than You Think!

In Jon The Revelator‘s recent post on what can 2005 tell us about Procurement AI in 2024 he listed a dozen vendors from 2004 that no longer exist and asked if we recognized these names. To this, the doctor replied every single one and noted that the market is even more fragmented today than it was in 2004 and pointed you to the Source-to-Pay+ Mega-Map. Jon then asked if history will repeat itself, and as per the doctor‘s recent post on Market Madness, it will … with a vengeance!

This response prompted The Revelator to ask which companies would join their brethren from 2004, to which the doctor provided some indications, which were many (and even more numerous in the Market Madness post). So The Revelator then asked what do practitioners need to do during these pending turbulent times? The real answer is quite a bit and, in fact too much to address in a single article, or even a book, so the doctor decided to focus in on stable solution selection.

And while the doctor made it look as easy as 1, 2, 3 in his comment, when he said:

  1. first identify what kind of solution you need
  2. then identify which providers actually offer those solutions for their geography – market size – vertical
  3. then restrict down to those that are *stable*

It’s a lot more complicated than that, and for some companies, some of these steps will consist of many steps within themselves.

What kind of solution is complicated! At a minimum, one needs to consider:

  • what processes are you doing
  • … and which of these are properly, or not, supported by your current tech
  • what processes should you be doing
  • … and what tech will support those
  • and which subsets of tech are the most relevant (and make sense to focus on)

Which providers is harder.

  • many providers will claim to be everything to everyone, but that’s not true
  • the big analyst firms over-focus on the big vendors, because that’s who they have to (contractually) spend most of their time on
  • smaller firms will focus on the smaller vendors, because some of the big ones believe their big cheque to the big firm(s) covers all their marketing/market needs, and may not have the time to dive deep into geography – market size – vertical appropriateness
  • and logo maps don’t give you near enough detail to even get a short list

In other words, it’s a heck of a lot more than just choosing the first 5 names that come back in a Google or a “chat, j’ai pété” search!

You want a vendor that is going to be around, or if acquired, a solution that is going to be maintained because it’s growing year-over-year, wasn’t built on an oversized investment (pressuring the firm to increase prices or cut costs or grow too fast), 10+ to 50+ customers (depending on solution type and implementation / replacement time and cost and risk tolerance), etc. Where do you get that data? How do you ask in a way that won’t result in the sale person clamming up?

It’s more than most Procurement organization’s can handle as they just don’t have the TQ (Technical Quotient) or the market knowledge. They need to get help from an expert who does who is not biased towards any particular vendor and will follow a proper process, not just throw an RFP over the wall to three providers they have worked with before (as that’s no better than a refined “chat, j’ai pété” search)! And it can be hard to identify the right expert (and the only hint the doctor will give you now is you’re not likely to find one at a Big X — the Big X have them, but they are few and far between, spread thin, and unless you are a Fortune 500 / Global 3000, you won’t get the expert, you’ll get the f6ckw@d). You need a niche consultancy with experts who specialize in this. There are a few, but not as many as the space needs.