Category Archives: Auctions

Promena’s Upgraded Platform Packs a Rich Caffeinated Turkish Punch

Promena is a two-decades old company (founded in 2001) that has been offering e-Sourcing (and, more recently, source-to-contract) solutions to Turkish enterprises to major enterprises in Türkiye that you likely never heard off on this side of the world until their coverage over on Spend Matters in 2019 (Vendor Analysis Part I and Part II by Nick Heinzmann, Pro/ContentHub subscription required), if you’ve heard of them at all.

However, they are another mid-market source-to-contract (with some e-Procurement capability) that you should be aware of, as they are a two-decade old company with an annual transaction volume nearing 3 Billion that is now expanding throughout the European market and into North America (mainly through partners for integration and services). The solution is solid, time-tested, modular, multi-lingual (13 languages at the present time), being improved annually (with new capabilities in development for late Q4 and 2024 release), and offered at an affordable price-point for mid-markets. In this article, we will overview the main components of their solution and highlights. (We’ll refer you back to Nick Heinzmann’s Vendor Analysis on Spend Matters for a deeper dive as well as Xavier Olivera’s 2022 Update, especially if you want analyst commentary. Note that a Pro/ContentHub subscription will be required for all of these.)

The typical entry point into Promena for most buyers is e-Sourcing project creation, which allows buyers to define an e-Sourcing project (with basic meta-data like name, department/child company, owner, description, etc.), define the RFX and Auction events that will constitute that project (so you’re not mixing categories, creating projects where only a subset of suppliers can bid on each item or lot, and balancing the need for detailed RFX events for strategic or high value products or services with low-value/non-strategic products or services that can be sourced through a quick-hit auction), define the project milestones and project tasks, and create the team (which will allow different team members to be responsible for sub-events, milestones or tasks). Overarching documents can also be attached at the project level. Note that the platform also supports a Gantt chart view of a project if the milestones and tasks are given start and end dates and tasks associated with the milestones.

RFX functionality is more-or-less what you would expect from a mid-market sourcing platform. You can attach any RFI/RFP/Qualification survey forms that you want the suppliers to fill out (that can be constructed in the internal form builder), select the products from the internal product management functionality (which we’ll cover later) or define new product/service requirements free-form, define the quantity, select the suppliers who you want to invite (from the built in supplier management functionality, more on this later), and immediately send it off. Once the bids are returned, the associated team members can score each supplier-product or supplier-service combination based on the qualification surveys and then see the total price for each supplier-product or supplier-service combination, with the lowest price for each pairing highlighted. In addition, it will show you the lowest bid by supplier across all products/services as well as the savings if you cherry pick the lowest bid for each product or service. Also, the user can, at any time, pop up a complete bid change history for every supplier, which is incredibly useful if you’re doing a multi-round RFX and/or want to see the drop between current system price and the new bid price. Note that, currently, it only supports unit prices (and calculates total prices based on demand), but the 2024 roadmap includes the ability to breakdown the unit price by primary component type (item, freight, interim storage, waste, etc.).

e-Auctions are similarly easy to set up. Simply define the products / services, indicate the quantities, define the auction parameters (starting prices, weightings, start and end times, bid requirements [equal allowed, min/max changes, auto extension, etc.]), invite the suppliers … and go! As with all auction tools, you can see the bids change (graphically) in real time, and suppliers can see where they stand by rank, or, if you so choose, rank and distance to next competitor. It’s important to note that they support Dutch as well as English/standard reverse auctions as not all platforms support Dutch auctions.

Once RFX events and auctions are complete, awards can be defined in the system through the creation of award document. These award documents can then be used to kick off contract creation. In the current release, contract management is foundational and is essentially a searchable electronic filing cabinet that stores meta-data indexed executed contracts with complete pricing information (extracted from the award documents), but a new version with negotiation support is currently in beta and final (security) testing and should be released by year end.

For every contract, you can define system-wide foundational meta-data fields, additional fields that may be specific to that contract, or the product/service category the contract falls under, parties (and who signed on behalf), associated documents and addendums, add it to a group, and break out the price for every product or service in the contract for easy access.

The next major area of the system is supplier management. Supplier Management in Promena is essentially information, relationship, and baseline performance management. Supplier management starts with basic profile creation (company details, HQ address, and third party identification numbers) and onboarding. Onboarding asks a supplier to identify the products they provide, their banking information (for payment), and additional information (through buyer defined forms) specific to the organization’s need (which could be around ESG, product reliability metrics, etc.). Individual forms can be assigned to different individuals in the organization to review and approve (as the platform allows for approval flows across each major platform area, which will be discussed later), and suppliers onboarded (and approved) as soon as all information is completed and reviewed. Once a supplier is onboarded, it’s quick and easy to access all of this information and maintain it going forward.

One differentiating feature of the supplier information management module is that the supplier suitability score for specific products and services is continually assessed through supplier responses to the buyer’s form-based questions using the company’s pre-defined weighted criteria. This score, while providing insights to the buyer during the onboarding process, is kept continuously updated through subsequent sourcing events, contracts and addendums, and development projects.

Moving on to the relationship management, that is primarily accomplished through Action Management, where a user can make a CAPA (Corrective Action/Preventive Action) request, assign an owner/reviewer, send the request to the supplier, and then evaluate and either accept or reject the response from the supplier. A request consists of defining information (name, reason, category, supplier, product, required completion date), a detailed overview of the problem and the resolution needed, any associated (e-)documentation (which could consist of multimedia files), and the log of all accesses/activity on the action. It’s also really easy to search for actions, which can be queried by id, name, status, category, supplier, assigned supplier rep, assigned team member, reason (which is limited to a standard list, which the buying organization can configure in the company settings upon implementation), date range, and/or success status. It’s also easy to use this capability to find all actions associated with a supplier, product, or individual, by status.

Moving on to performance management, it’s specifically survey and KPI-based performance management. At the present time, they don’t integrate with third party data feeds to automatically bring in data that can be used to automatically compute KPIs such as on time delivery / average delivery time, average response time, defect rate (based on returns), etc. Thus, if you want this data included in a supplier performance scorecard, you have to define the KPI you want and the organization user who is going to provide it. But once the KPIs are defined, the relevant organizational users can be identified to either fill out (or validate) the data (if you are asking the supplier to provide metrics) and then you can see a summary by supplier in the performance management area or see a summary across suppliers / products / categories in the reporting section (which will be addressed later). Note that evaluations, and KPIs, can be defined for arbitrary periods, which means that you can collect and track KPIs over time (and the ability to display and analyze those trends in the reporting section is on the roadmap for 2024).

The platform also contains a section for ESG Management, but it’s just a named section for collecting surveys and centralizing KPIs related to ESG. It doesn’t specifically address Scope 2/3 carbon, integrate with third party data feeds (with audited data), or provide ESG best practices. In other words, it doesn’t contain any unique capabilities. However, for many firms that need to track ESG data from suppliers / for their associated products, it’s great to have a separate named section. Plus, Promena is in the process of integrating with third-party data providers to enhance data-driven decision-making and when those integrations are launched in 2024, the data will appear in this section (assuming the buyer licenses the appropriate data subscriptions).

Moving on to reporting, while the platform does not contain a full self-serve reporting engine or spend analysis capability, it does have a number of built-in drill-down dashboard reports built in Qlik Sense that provide the users with a lot of information. Standard reports (and more can be built by Promena or their partners using services) include Project Reports (across sourcing events) and Event (RFX/e-Auctions) reports, SRM reports (on supplier statistics, participation and performance), and Contract Reports. There are also reports on POs (for the purchase order capability we’ll define soon), and the ability to drill down to REQs (data related to individual purchase requests, which we’ll discuss later). When we say Project or Event reports, we mean that each of these groups contain one or more sub-reports (pages) that a user can drill into. For events, this includes category analysis, participant analysis, auction analysis, RFQ analysis, and authorized person analysis. Similar breakdowns exist for other reporting areas.

This more-or-less completes coverage of their Source-to-Contract capability, with the exception of configuration settings (that will be discussed later), so now we will move onto e-Procurement.

The first capability we will overview is the product management capability of the Promena platform. Within the platform, the buying organization can define its own category hierarchy, and once this is defined, an organization can define the products and services it needs (and buys) across the category hierarchy. Products can have all necessary meta data information (name, id, units, dimensions, etc.) along with associated prices by supplier, which can be defined for individual time frames (so if a contract has price escalation or de-escalation, the price table can be adequately captured), and images. The latter is important because the platform also supports catalogs.

The catalog functionality makes it easy for organizational end-users to purchase standard, approved, on-contract, products and services they need to do their daily jobs (such as office supplies, MRO, and repair services). The catalog functionality is standard and straight forward. A user can select a sub-catalog by supplier or category or simply search the integrated catalog (maintained by the buying department, it is not a supplier maintained catalog) by description or product number/code. When the user finds what they want, they can define a quantity and add it to a cart. Once they’ve found everything they want, they can “checkout” which will automatically create a PO and send it to the associated supplier(s) by default. Alternatively, if they are requesting a large quantity, they can create a REQuistion and send it to the supplier(s) who offer the product in hopes of getting a better price quote. When the REQuisition is returned, if the user accepts, it can be converted to a Purchase Order.

Purchase orders complete Promena’s e-Procurement capability. Purchase orders basically consist of order information against a catalog item, REQ, sourcing event (RFX, e-Auction) award, or contract and allow an organization to track orders, and spend, in the platform. This is useful because, for every category, the organization can define a budget, the platform can track PO-based spend against that budget, and prevent a PO from being issued (using rule configurations) without approval if the budget would be exceeded.

The final capability of the platform is the (self-service) configuration for user and platform management. We’ll start with platform management. The buying organization administrator(s) can define general company information, approved users, locations (for shipments from POs), organizational structure, default organizational currencies (which can be associated with different levels of the organization), units of measures (metric system used), standard organizational payment terms (for awards and POs), inco terms, any additional terms to be included in POs (such as delivery, invoice requirements, etc.), account codes for products and services, their category hierarchy, their cost centers, event settings, supplier search/internal discovery settings, and approval flows (for award creation from RFXs and e-Auctions, supplier onboarding, contracts, actions, REQs, and Purchase Orders). User definition is simply the user, organizational profile, and their platform roles (and thus permissions). Finally, the company settings area displays the Promena platform license the organization has acquired and when it renews (or expires).

Finally, while this is not platform related, we should also point out that Promena offers on-demand professional services. While the buyer can use the platform as a self-service solution, they can engage the Promena Account team to take over and manage end-to end sourcing activities on their behalf at any time. Their account teams currently manage more than 5,000 sourcing activities a year.

While you may not find anything truly unique in the Promena platform if you compare it to high end suites (which come with high-end seven figure price tags), it’s a very solid platform for mid-market enterprises and one where the entirety of the source-to-pay workflow that is supported is tightly integrated, easy to use, and affordably priced (and supported, with 10 global partners for integration and support services). Given that there are only a few such platforms out there (due to all the M&A activity in the later part of the teens), Promena’s global expansion is definitely a welcome addition to the marketplace.

MarketDojo has stepped up it’s Mid-Market Game!

The last time we covered MarketDojo (which recently had a majority stake in the company acquired by Esker) was in 2016 where we noted that marketdojo opens the dojo to suppliers as well after introducing you to MarketDojo in 2014 back when it was a simple RFX/e-Auction platform with some category intelligence and SIM (in our posts on how you could walk your own way and plan your own path). Since then, they have improved the platform greatly. For details on some of these improvements, we recommend their 2016 Vendor Analysis on Spend Matters by Jason Busch (Part I, Part II, and Part III) and their 2020 Vendor Analysis on Spend Matters by Magnus Bergfors (Part I, Part II, and Part III) [Pro or ContentHub subscription required].

Today, we’re going to quickly overview the primary capabilities of the platform, and then focus in on the new and advanced capabilities added since our last review.

MarketDojo is primarily an e-Sourcing platform with foundational supplier management (information and relationship capabilities) and contract tracking (baseline governance). (They still have their categorydojo solution, where they identify current market opportunities that you may want to pursue, but that isn’t the focus of this piece, so we will refer you back to previous articles for details on that functionality.)

e-Sourcing primarily consists of (multi-round) RFX capability, lot-based e-Auctions, and quick quotes (for quick one-time buys/quotes where full sourcing events are not needed). e-RFX creation is quick and easy — define some basic meta-data under settings, add any necessary documents, create the specific questionnaires and additional supplier data collection forms, define the items (which can be lotted in RFX as well as Auctions), add the collaborators (that can be given full access or limited view access), and even invite new suppliers (which can be onboarded later if the responses to the survey forms look good).

The major improvements and/or differentiation since we covered them last is in the

event instantiation
they now support templates, with a library of out-of-the-box templates (for the categories they track in categorydojo and then some) for RFX and e-Auction as well as custom templates built by the organization
survey creation
(in beta) you can now use Bard to identify common questions / characteristics of a category or product/service and then edit the form accordingly [which is a decent use of NLP, gives you some good ideas you might miss but keeps you, the intelligent human, in full control]
lots now support transformational bids (where bids can be marked up by a percentage or a fixed amount to implement switching costs or penalties for reduced quality/utilization rations) as well as bids in DPD (Dynamic Parcel Distribution), FOB (Free on Board), and EXW (ExWorks).
bids can defined as a complex formula over an arbitrary number of bid components and they support a brand new formula builder
collaborators weren’t part of the initial solution, and they didn’t have tiered access
bid ranking
easily see the top bid for every item in every lot in a default lowest cost award scenario and easily dive in to see all the bids for every item of every lot in rank order
bid component ranking
see how every bid component ranks against all supplier bids for an item; this helps you identify the cost components that a #2 or #3 supplier (that you want to do business with) is not competitive on (such as freight, overhead, etc.), which might allow you to work with the supplier to get those cost components down to make their bid more competitive
dynamic RFX round creation
you can easily create a new round and control which suppliers and collaborators from the current round get invited to a new round

And, of course, the quick-quote functionality is brand new. These are super simple. All that a requester has to specify is what do they want, when do they want it by, what requirements must be satisfied, what are the payment terms, and which (approved) suppliers should it go out to and off the quote request can go. They can also attach spec documents, add special instructions, and request physical copies, but that’s not necessary. And if they want a certain currency or quotes in a certain unit of measure, that can also be specified. When the quotes come back, they’ll see an easy-to-understand quote summary and can choose one for award. Easy-peasy and, most importantly, the spend is captured and can be managed.

The supplier information management primarily covers the onboarding of new suppliers, to ensure that the appropriate information is captured, and then supports ongoing maintenance of the data. Onboarding is quite simple. A buyer defines the basic supplier information (name and corporate e-mail address), adds any mandatory and optional tags (such as DPST Tier, ESG, Minority, specialized category, etc.), selects the questionnaires they want the supplier to answer (of which a default set will be automatically selected upon tag definition), identifies the business users, either by role or by name, that will approve the forms as the supplier returns them, and then the corporate/contact email the onboarding request will be sent to (and the language the request should be sent in — it’s relevant to note that MarketDojo now supports 23 languages in its platform, but if you want the forms in 23 languages, someone will need to translate them, unless you are using MarketDojo out-of-the-box forms where those forms have already been translated).

The relationship management solution is straight-forward as well and is primarily designed to track supplier contacts and organizational users, associated sourcing events (that they participated in, not just awards), onboarding status (by requested survey/form) and associated surveys, contracts, identified innovation opportunities, and activities. Activities have a type (such as call, task, objective, audit, review), an assigned organizational user who is responsible for ensuring the supplier completes the activity, associated documents, organizational (and user) notes, and possibly even an (optional) associated hierarchy of sub-tasks.

Reporting has been updated and is currently supported in PowerBI through MarketDojo’s OpenAPI (and it is also supported by MarketDojos partner SpendKey) and the default built in reporting suite is pretty decent for a Sourcing platform with click-through dashboards on contracts, sourcing events, suppliers, overall spend, spend by category, spend by supplier, spend by country, spend distribution, PO (vs non-PO) Analysis, Compliance, and even Supply Chain Geographic Coverage. While not a full-fledged analytics platform by any stretch of the imagination, it’s enough to give buyers some insights as to where they may want to begin their analytics efforts if they are looking to increase savings, increase diversity, increase compliance, or decrease risk.

Contract management is baseline. It’s basically a searchable meta-data index of contracts, which can be associated with suppliers. However, for smaller mid-size organizations, that might be all they need.

MarketDojo is a great mid-market SIM-powered sourcing platform at an affordable mid-market price point.

SourceDogg dogs the Sourcing Process so You Don’t Have To!

SourceDogg was founded over a decade ago (in 2009 in Ireland, with the UK subsidiary opening a decade ago in 2013) by founders from the construction industry who decided they just didn’t have any good tools for sourcing products and managing suppliers. Since then, it has evolved into a full indirect Source-to-Contract application for requesting (intake support) and sourcing products (and services) (through traditional RFX and e-Auction), managing suppliers (with information, relationship, compliance, performance, and development support), and managing contracts for customers across a wide range of industries, including a strong customer base in manufacturing, pharma / health-care, and CPG/F&B.

Like the majority of modern Source-to-Contract applications, it is a fully SaaS-based product that can also be integrated with your organization’s ERP to pull supplier and product data, especially on initial product deployment. And, like the majority of modern Source-to-Contract applications, it has a fully functional Supplier Portal that allows suppliers to fully interact with all of the sourcing, management, and contracting processes employed by the organization.

The process starts with intake, where an organizational user can request a product or request a supplier. When a user needs a new product, they can go to the web portal and select the appropriate option (by clicking on the appropriate tile) that lets them do a general product request or a request in particular categories defined by the organization. When they make a general request, the application walks them through the process (using wizard-like functionality) to collect the appropriate information on category, volume, expected cost, requirements, etc. so that a buyer can kick off the appropriate sourcing process. Category specific requests function similarly, but are designed to minimize the process steps and information required for commonly requested categories. Now, if you’re using our core requirements for intake, as defined in Part 37 of our Source-to-Pay+ series Investigating Intake – Diving in to the Details, it’s not quite a full intake platform as there’s no budget tracking and process visibility (and in-process messaging depends on whether or not the requester is made a member of the sourcing event team), but it’s better than what many traditional sourcing platforms offer with respect to intake (if they even offer intake at all). Plus, SourceDogg is continually improving their product and we do expect their intake capabilities will continue to improve over time.

From intake, we move onto sourcing which supports full, multi-round, e-RFX and e-Auction with all of the typical functionality that you expect. One thing that stands out is their ability to include matrices (and built-in formulas) in not only the quotation fields, but all forms and elements of the process, allowing the organization to collect matrix options for product/packaging configurations, team configurations (on services), compliance/certification options, and so on.

As expected, setting up an event in SourceDogg is super easy. You define the typical sourcing event meta data (name, description, products, team, internal budget estimates, scoring system, etc.), create the content (forms and bid matrices), invite the suppliers (who need to already be defined/onboard in the core supplier management module), create the FAQ (which can be extended as needed during the process), and release it into the wild. (Suppliers can then login to their portal upon receiving the notification and fill it out within the designated window. If the bid sheets or data collection forms are complex, they can be output or collected using every Purchaser’s favourite tool and format, Microsoft Excel.) When the event concludes, the responses can be viewed, various side-by-side reports generated (and output to multiple standard formats including DOCX, PDF, and, of course, Microsoft Excel), responses scored, and final decision(s) recorded in the tool (and an email auto-generated and sent to the winning supplier[s] if desired). There is also the ability to capture notes at a question level (by individual who reviewed/scored the response), the supplier level, and the project level.

e-Auctions are setup similarly, and, as expected, run for a much shorter time. The degree of feedback presented to the suppliers depends on the configuration. Upon event completion, the platform automatically generates reports ranking the bidders on cost or, if the event was preceded by an RFI/RFP with a qualitative component, on a weighted score. (And, of course, the buyer can always go in and view the complete bid history.) Note that the Q&A feature can be used to post updates during the auction to all suppliers, a supplier group associated with a lot, or just a specific supplier who asked a question or obviously needs guidance.

Supplier Management consists of four primary modules: Supplier (Information) Management (SIM), Supplier Relationship Management (SRM), Supplier Performance Management (SPM), and Action Plans.

Let’s start with Supplier (Information) Management. The system tracks all the core supplier meta-data you would expect as well as all associated contacts, product data sheets, RFX and other data from specific collection effort (from SRM, SPM, or Development Actions) responses, certifications, contracts (including full version history support), other relevant documents (the organization wishes to track), and any critical notes. It also maintains a full-history of interaction with the supplier that can be viewed and queried as well as allowing the supplier to be tagged using category and location tags (that can be defined by both the buyer and supplier.

The Supplier Relationship Management module allows the organization to define supplier reviews, track the results of those reviews, and define actions to be completed by the supplier and followed up on by buyer personnel when the supplier indicates the action has been taken. It’s nothing fancy, but it gets the job done efficiently, and that’s what’s important.

The Supplier Performance Management module allows the organization to design and track KPIs and supplier scorecards in support of processes to measure, analyze and manage supplier performance. The scorecards can be simple or complex across a wide range of metrics and categories. It really depends on what data the organization has and is willing to collect (through surveys) or enter into the application. (At present, it does not integrate with risk/etc. data feeds out of the box, but if these feeds are pushed into your ERP and associated with suppliers and products, that data can be pulled in.) Creating a Performance Review is easy. Once simply creates an instance, and a record for every area, sub-area, and rating that one wants to record. The review can then be sent to as many team members as you want and they can be limited to rating specific areas, sub-areas, or records, as appropriate.

The Action Plans module allows for the creation of specific improvement plans and non-conformance reports for a supplier that needs to improve generally or specifically on one product. The Action Plan modules supports multiple default plans (called forms) that can be used to quickly an initiate a new action plan. The forms can be used as is or modified to the appropriate situation, and the monitoring team can include as many organizational personnel as required. Once a supplier responds, the team can then accept or reject the response, and once all responses have been accepted, the response can be approved and archived. If performance slips or the issue comes up again, an action plan can also be “reactivated” and parts, or all, of the plan kicked-off again.

Layered on top of all of the supplier related modules is a supplier visualization dashboard for non-procurement organizational users and executives that make it really easy to get statistics on organizational suppliers (total, approved, by-size [SME, MM, Large], by type [Product, Services, Subcontractor]) and filter down by category & sub-category, status, and other key identifiers as well as see the (subset of) suppliers on a map. From this primary visualization screen, the user can jump into individual supplier records (with key performance dashboards also displayed)

The contracts module, which revolves around contract governance, is very straight-forward and easy to use as well. Contracts can be grouped by area for easy human location, searched on key metadata and tags, and viewed within the tool. The default meta data is fairly extensive (and can be extended by the organization on implementation) and should capture all of the key information necessary to locate a contract, track expiry, track key terms, and track key clauses. While there’s nothing fancy about the contracts module, we want to re-iterate just how straight-forward it is for an average user to add a contract (addendum or updated version), define or edit the metadata, and locate any contract in the system quickly and easily. Some of the more advanced CLM tools focussed around negotiation support or analytics lose sight of the fact that the average person who needs to retrieve a contract is not a Procurement or Legal or Technology super user and just need a system that follows the KISS principle.

The entire suite also contains a fully modifiable tile-based entry dashboard that allows an average user to define the parts of the application they use, as well as any customized intake forms or application modules, organize them by frequency of access, and see which modules have updated information or new actions assigned to them.

This fully modifiable tile-based entry dashboard with alerts is also the first thing a supplier sees when they login to the platform (and, to complete the tri-fecta, a non-Procurement organizational stakeholder who needs to make a Procurement request, review an RFX, or participate in a supplier development initiative). While simplistic, this is a key feature as you can ensure that supplier or organizational users are not overwhelmed with over-crowded dashboards or 40 menu items they will never use (and likely never understand).

The application is also highly configurable by the client admin who can define the organizational profile and branding, the settings, the certifications it requires from all its suppliers, data-sheet categories, security settings, users and user categories, guides (which can also have an access tile on a main dashboard), default fields for core system objects (requisitions, auctions, supplier profiles, contracts, action plan forms, etc.), supplier onboarding workflow, tags and tag groups, SourceDogg Connect (for ERP and/or organizational data feed pulls), etc. Plus, the SourceDogg team can make additional customizations across the product during implementation and support initial data loads as required.

Finally, they have extensive support guides and courses on their customer web site to help you extract maximum value from the platform. (And those constant iOS/Android action required alerts will dog you through the process of getting things done.) If you’re a SME or MM company looking for a modern best-of-breed S2C (Source-to-Contract) suite (especially in construction/facilities, manufacturing, pharma / health, O&G, CPG, and F&B) to get the job done, SourceDogg is a platform we suggest that you check out.

Serex Procurement: Easy e-Auctions for the Small Enterprise and Lower Mid-Market

Serex Procurement is a point-based solution with one purpose: to replace the spreadsheet that most e-Procurement departments in smaller companies still use to manage their procurement (as well as eliminate the thousands of emails needed to collect prices and update that spreadsheet).

You might ask why, with so many auction-centric mini-suites available on the market, and over 70 e-Sourcing solutions available, we would focus on a niche solution centred around e-Auctions, request-for-price, and centralized buyer-supplier communications. The answer is simple — not every Procurement department is supporting a large enterprise and not every Procurement department needs advanced functionality, a mini-suite, or a pricey solution with bells and whistles they aren’t going to (be ready to) use at the current state of their Procurement evolution.

It may be 2023, but there are a still a large number of Procurement departments still running Procurement events from a spreadsheet, still stuck with an archaic ERP, and, especially in the small enterprise / mid-market, still burdened with a very limited budget for Sourcing and Procurement software. Furthermore, for these departments, this single step up is sometimes everything they need from an e-Sourcing perspective at the current step of their e-Procurement journey which gives them incredible value today. (And, as per our stance that what Procurement needs is a platform that allows them to add one module at a time on their digitization journey, it’s the puzzle piece they need right now.) Also, there are organizations that bought into super suites that have an end-to-end Source-to-Pay process but no auctions, an archaic process that doesn’t support quick and easy auctions, or a user-based licensing model that prevents roll-out to the entire organization. For these organizations, a point-based auction solution with an API that supports data pull and award push through the API (or fixed-format spreadsheets where the current solutions don’t support a modern API) is exactly what they need.

Plus, the blended pricing model Serex Procurement offers makes it very affordable for companies with no budget to start on a gain share and, once the value is proven, move to a fixed price model with no gain share. More specifically, an organization can sign up for as little as $300/month by giving up 50% of their savings, or get unlimited events with 0% gain-share for $5,000/month. (Or pick a tier somewhere in between — Sourcing Innovation recommends doing the math based on the conservative end of the estimated savings on the events you will be running and picking the tier appropriately.) Furthermore, while there is a minimum contract term, an organization can upgrade their tier at any time during the contract term (once they are confident they’ll save more by upping the tier.)

The fully SaaS e-Auction solution has all of the core capability you’d expect from a modern SaaS e-Auction platform, and then some. One of the key differentiators is that the platform is SKU-based and supports the definition of SKU groups in a manner that makes it just as easy to source a direct Bill of Materials as it is to source an indirect lot of office supplies. Not many sourcing/auction platforms make it easy to do both, but Serex Procurement does.

In addition to product groups, the platform also allows the definition of bidder groups which allows an organization to group suppliers that it typically invites for a certain category (indirect) or Bill of Materials (direct). Combine this with the fact that an auction can be defined on a set of product groups and bidder groups, and this makes it extremely quick to define a new auction from scratch, and even quicker to define a new auction as a copy of a historical auction, as this only requires changing the start and end dates and times to make the copy. (Once the copy is made, a buyer can edit whatever they wish.)

As we indicated above, the auction platform supports the standard parameters you would expect, including:

  • start and end time
  • auto-extension of y minutes with a bid in the last x minutes
  • show/hide bidder position
    by setting to “hide”, the platform can be used as a simple request for price
  • tie bids accepted/rejected
  • bid increment
  • max bidder position
  • bid validation window
  • landing factors (% of savings required to leave an incumbent to acknowledge switching costs;
    basically it is a penalty factor on new suppliers)
  • shipping factor (to acknowledge additional transportation costs / currency exchange costs)
  • product yields (to account for variable wastage due to packaging/sizing)

It also supports new bidder definition, new product definition, import from spreadsheet or API for bidder or product definition, and Excel-based bidding for suppliers. Product sheets can be uploaded and attached with as little or as much information as needed, and in-platform messaging allows for easy direct or group-based communication between the buyer and suppliers.

The platform allows the buyer to setup as many email / message templates as they like, to make supplier communications quick and easy as events are created / modified. It’s also very easy to search products, bidders, and past events (to find the perfect instance of the event to copy for quick setup).

When you think about its intended market, about the only thing missing is better quick-hit RFP functionality, as the way you do it now is to set up a private price-based auction. Since they already have document management, bid sheet support, supplier and messaging support, and history management, it would be quite simple to add easy three-bids-and-a-buy RFPs where suppliers can get requests, upload their own options to fulfill a request as well as corresponding prices (at different volume breaks), and provide more detailed information and the buyer can then select one or more to either direct award to or invite to an auction with pre-certified options. Serex has acknowledged that this would be useful, and is in their queue for future development, but they are very customer driven and the queue gets prioritized based upon what current customers are asking for. However, should multiple customers converge on this, it would not take them very long to build it as they have three decades of software development and implementation experience (with the first 20 years in CRM system selection, implementation, and custom integration add/on development — an area their other division are still leading experts in).

If you are in the market niche, we strongly encourage you to check Serex Procurement out as you can get a great, unlimited use, e-Auction solution for a few thousand a month (plus modest gain share, or unlimited use platform for only 5K/month) without the need to bite off more than you can chew solution capability (and cost) wise.

The 39 Steps … err … The 39 Clues … err … The 39 Part Series to Help You Figure Out Where to Start with Source-to-Pay

Figuring out where to start is not easy, and often never where the majority of vendors or consultants say you should start. They’ll have great reasons for their recommendations, which will typically be true, but they will be the subset of reasons that most benefits them (as it will sell their solution), and not necessarily the subset of reasons that most benefits you now. While you will likely need every module there is in the long run, you can often only start with one or two, and you need to focus on what’s the greatest ROI now to prove the investment and help you acquire funds to get more capability later, when you are ready for it. But figuring out how much you can handle, what the greatest needs are, and the necessary starting points aren’t easy, and that’s why SI dove into this topic, with arguments and explanations and module overviews, both broader and deeper than any analyst firm or blogger has done before. Enjoy!

Introductory Posts:
Part 1: Where Do You Start?
Part 2: Where Should You Start?
Part 3: You Start with …
Part 4: e-Procurement, and Here’s Why.

Part 5: Defining an e-Procurement Baseline
Part 6: There are Barriers to Selecting an e-Procurement Solution (and they are not what you think)
Part 7: Over 70 e-Procurement Companies to Check Out

Interlude 1
Part 8: What Comes Next?

Spend Analysis
Part 9: Time for Spend Analysis
Part 10: What Do You Need for A Spend Analysis Baseline, I
Part 11: What Do You Need for A Spend Analysis Baseline, II
Part 12: Over 40 Spend Analysis Vendors to Check Out

Interlude 2
Part 13: But I Can’t Touch the Sacred Cows!
(including Over 20 SaaS, 10 Legal, and 5 Marketing Spend Management / Analysis Companies to Check Out)
Part 14: Do Not Stop At Spend Analysis!

Supplier Management
Part 15: Supplier Management is a CORNED QUIP Mash
Part 16: Supplier Management A-Side
Part 17: Supplier Management B-Side
Part 18: Supplier Management C-Side
Part 19: Supplier Management D-Side
Part 20: Over 90 Supplier Management Companies to Check Out

Contract Management
Part 21: Time for Contract Management
Part 22: Contract Management is a NAG: Let’s Start with Negotiation
Part 23: Contract Management is a NAG: Let’s Continue with [Contract]Analytics
Part 24: Contract Management is a NAG: Let’s End with [Contract] Governance
Part 25: Over 80 Contract Management Vendors to Check Out

Part 26: Time for e-Sourcing
Part 27: Breaking Down the ORA of Sourcing Starting With RFX
Part 28: Breaking Down the ORA of Sourcing Continuing with e-Auctions
Part 29: Breaking Down the ORA of Sourcing Ending with [Strategic Sourcing Decision] Optimization
Part 30: Over 75 e-Sourcing Vendors to Check Out!

Invoice-to-Pay (I2P):
Part 31: Time for Invoice-to-Pay
Part 32: Breaking Down the Invoice-to-Pay Core
Part 33: Over 75 Invoice-to-Pay Companies to Check Out

Part 34: How Do I Orchestrate Everything?
Part 35: Do I Intake, Manage, or Orchestrate?
Part 36: Over 20 Intake, [Procurement] [Project] Management, and/or Orchestration Companies to Check Out
Part 37: Investigating Intake By Diving In to the Details
Part 38: Prettying Up the Project with Procurement Project Management
Part 39: Deobfuscating the Orchestration and Fitting it All Together