… but what has your vendor done to abate it? There’s a reason that the new iteration of Spend Matters’ Solution Map, designed by the doctor, has two subcategories dedicated to Workflow and Project Management (and two other sub-categories dedicated to Data and Document Management) … and that’s because of the importance of project management to your sourcing and procurement efforts.
Remember, while project management works good with the physical world, it doesn’t work so good with the virtual world. For example, where software development is concerned, there is a rough definition of what is desired, but the beginning and end is a best estimate that is no more accurate than a wild guess in some cases, the resources required (while defined as software architect, developer, network specialist, etc.) are not well understood (as a non-skilled software architect cannot define what makes, or identifies, a good software architect), and the amount of money required is relatively unknown (due to uncertain work effort requirements, unknown support requirements, etc.). And that’s just software.
When it comes to supply chain, the difficulty is intensified. There’s the management of the sourcing, the management of the negotiation and contracting cycle, and the management of the procurement. But before that, there’s identifying the right supplier, which requires detailed understanding of the product technical requirements and the supplier production capabilities. There’s identifying the expected costs, based upon understanding material costs, labour costs, energy costs, tariffs, and overhead. There’s managing the supplier relationship. There’s dealing with disruptions and disasters. And taking corrective actions.
Most supply chain projects don’t have well defined beginnings, or endings, or static workflows. There’s no one-size fits all and the platform needs to be able to adapt.
But even before we get to workflow and adaptation, we first need the ability to define a project and a workflow to support it – be it a full strategic sourcing project with supplier discovery, supplier selection, multi-round RFI, and online negotiations; a simple 3-bids-and-a-buy RFI for a services engagement; an automated auction for regular MRO purchases; a deep optimization project for multi-national transportation or services; a regular catalog buy for a regularly occurring purchase; etc.
How many platforms can define an appropriate project? They all have the capabilities, but in many platforms that’s it. You can’t define a workflow. You can’t capture basic category intelligence. Everything is one step at a time, where the steps can only be performed by an experienced platform master. You can create an event, and then do stuff in the event, but you can’t abstract the workflow, just copy it and edit it for next time.
And if you need a new workflow, you need to create a new event.
Even four years later, only a few platforms have any real semblance of project management, and that needs to change. But will it?
(If it doesn’t, at the very least the platform should integrate with a project management workflow tool like Per Angusta which was built to do precisely this and integrate your disparate best-of-breed Sourcing and Procurement modules into a unified platform with workflow and project management.)