Earlier this year, I conducted my yearly procurement benchmark study, CPO Rising, and surveyed more than 300 Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) and other supply management leaders and practitioners on current trends in procurement people, processes, technologies, goals, strategies, and challenges. This year’s resultant research report, CPO Rising 2017: Tools of the Trade, focused on procurement technologies, adoption trends and deployment plans, and solution selection criteria. The findings are quite telling.
Recent technology trends and innovations, like cloud platforms, self-service applications, and the availability of feature-rich solution suites, have changed the technology marketplace while also placing greater control over technology investment decisions in the hands of the business process owner. This means that going forward, procurement departments will continue to gain more control over the solutions they select and ultimately use.
In the report, CPO Rising 2017: Tools of the Trade, we include the criteria most frequently rated as either most important or very important in the evaluation of supply management technology – criteria like “usability” and “features and functionality.” Perhaps most notable is the fact that price is not a top consideration for most procurement teams when awarding supply management technology contracts. The reality is that the investment of political capital and team resources are far greater than the cash outlay for a technology project.
Speaking of usability, one of the main trends in supply management technology over the past few years has been that solution usability has taken precedence over other considerations, including specific feature/functionality. Most procurement departments have come to the realization that the first step in transforming a process is getting the users to adopt the solutions. Robust functionality is still important, just not at the expense of usability.
“When you start looking at these tools, their features all have slight variations,” said Gary Lambert, Assistant Secretary for Operational Services, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, “so it’s less a comparison of features and functions. It becomes a comparison of user interface, their willingness to partner, and where we’ll sit in the development cycles how much influence we would have. It is also how well the application would fit with the business needs as opposed to how much of our business would need to change to fit with the application design.”
Since technology can be a powerful enabler of the sustainable efficiencies and strategic value that can transform operations and improve performance, selecting the right technology has never been more important to a procurement department. Accordingly, CPOs should develop an approach to evaluating and selecting technology that clearly defines and quantifies the key selection criteria and stay focused on identifying the provider that is most likely to deliver it. Then, they need to take a step back and ensure that their recommended solutions and solution providers will be a good fit for the larger enterprise.
This is just a snippet of many revealing business insights found within Ardent’s flagship research report, CPO Rising 2017: Tools of the Trade. Click to download and get your hands on it while you still can (ends September 30).