Note: This is the first of a two-part blog series focused on the fundamental sourcing questions to ask every Sourcing Optimization solution provider. Read Part 2 here.
It’s that time of year when making a list (and checking it twice) is all the rage. But while there’s a lot of satisfaction that comes with checking items off a list, evaluating a new sourcing software solution for your team isn’t going to be as easy as shopping around for seasonal bargains, and it’s easy to experience choice overload due to the abundance of e-sourcing options available in today’s market.
With the new year’s budget decisions well underway, it’s crunch time for procurement executives who are considering following in the footsteps of their peers who have already upgraded to modernized sourcing approaches, such as Sourcing Optimization. These sourcing leaders know that optimization will set their teams on a sound path to future-proofing sourcing complexity and the challenges 2022 might throw at them, but their teams are still trying to determine their vendor selection criteria to find the optimal solution for their business needs and goals.
Why Sourcing Optimization at all?
As a tried and tested solution with one of the most substantial returns on investment of any technology, every business with a supply chain should be using sourcing optimization. But despite long years of development, several upgrades and refocused efforts, optimization tech adoption still has much room for growth.
Ultimately, sourcing optimization aims to capture value by finding the best outcome that balances price and non-price award considerations across different categories and types of events. There are plenty of options, but deciding on the right optimization tool for your business (one that’s easy for both internal users and suppliers to implement and adopt) can be tricky.
If you are thinking of making the switch, here are some things that at a minimum any optimization solution up for consideration should offer:
- Easy creation of eRFPs for a variety of bid sheet types and different spend categories
- A competitive and creative bidding environment for sourcing events
- Feedback to bidders about their standing
- Data validation rules on bid submissions to ensure “clean data” and coherent bids
- Cost models that can be configured to reflect preferences
- Scenario analysis tool to run “what if” options and easily compare options
- Reporting and central archiving/tracking
The majority of sourcing optimization offerings worth their salt promise most – if not all – of these fundamental features, so it is just as vital to consider additional benchmarks when setting the providers.
While different criteria will come into play depending on the focus and requirements of your team, we’ve compiled a list of four ‘must-have’ tool criteria as we see it, and some questions to ask any provider whose solutions you may be considering. In this first part of this two-part blog, we will discuss some questions to ask regarding two of these, 1) Usability and 2) Flexibility.
First-generation optimization tools had a bad rap for being overly complex and suited only for the largest, most difficult spends that teams had to manage. But modern optimization tech solutions shouldn’t require a Ph.D. to understand them or be frustrating for users and suppliers to take part in events, share data, or extract the necessary information in the way it’s needed. Moving internal users from the comfortable familiarity of Excel-based RFPs should be made easier with good solution design and process changes.
Questions to ask the solutions provider:
How skilled do my users need to be?
What is the app experience for internal users?
What is the app experience for bidders?
How easy is it to get started?
How can we scale its use for more events?
One of the best ways to drive tool adoption and maximize ROI potential is by ensuring that it can be adjusted to suit individual needs and allows suppliers to have substantial flexibility in how they engage with buyers.
Questions to ask the solutions provider:
What range of our event needs can it support?
Can it scale for larger events?
Can it easily adapt to our different categories?
How easily can it integrate with other key systems?
Here at Keelvar, flexibility is at the very core of our products, which we design with the user experience in mind. For example, our Sourcing Optimizer focuses on marrying optimization power with usability, enabling a quick transition to our products without a lengthy implementation project. Suppliers, too, can easily adjust to making the switch thanks to our supplier-friendly user interface and flexible bidding options.
But don’t just take our word for it; read how Keelvar fits the bill for this enterprise customer looking to streamline their transportation sourcing processes without burdening the team with additional workloads.
The Keelvar team is happy to answer these and any other questions you may have about our products. Get in touch with us today.