We are in a very different and exciting time in the procurement industry.

Unlike year’s past, where there were limited avenues through which a practitioner and service provider could come together, in today’s social media world access to anything and everything is virtually unlimited.

The bounty of information that is readily available at a single touchpoint is of course, wonderful. However, information abundance is not without its challenges. As a practitioner or end-user client, how do you navigate the waves of information constantly coming towards you to determine which options may best serve your requirements?

A more pressing question is how you differentiate one provider from the next. While there are unique features and benefits in each platform you review, by and large, it is what exists beyond the technology alone that will determine your ultimate best choice.

Beyond the Technology

What does it mean when we say that you must look beyond the technology to find success? In the digital age with RPA and AI, isn’t “technology” the story?

According to a December 2019 Procurement Insights article, one might say no, it isn’t about the technology, or at least it should not solely be about the technology.

In the article, there is a reference to a recently published Deloitte Global CPO survey reporting that “most companies that have fully implemented digital technologies are not satisfied with the results.”

As a service provider of procurement technology, these numbers can be somewhat disconcerting. After all, today’s by-the-drink solutions are from a functional standpoint sound. They must be because revenue for the provider is the result of customer usage. If the technology isn’t being used or is not delivering the results, then there is no revenue.

So, what is the problem?

Situational Expertise

There is an old, familiar saying about necessity being the mother of invention. While I probably do not have to elaborate on the meaning, what it means from our standpoint is that when the need for a solution to a problem or challenge becomes imperative, you have no choice but to find a solution. Regarding procurement’s automation, technology is a solution, but it is not the starting point.

The starting point is having a deep understanding of the problem you are facing before prescribing a solution. Specifically, possessing situational expertise that ultimately determines how technology will align with your business objectives both now as well as going forward. In short, don’t look at the technology alone or first, look at the situation in which that technology has succeeded in solving a businesses’ challenges. Then, and only then will you know which provider is best suited to your organization’s specific industry and needs.

Making A Case

As a service provider, how do you demonstrate your situational expertise?

You can provide customer references. You may even produce high gloss brochures that feature accolades from industry experts. These are all important.

However, and similar to the distinction between technology and situational expertise, most information that is available focuses on the functionality of the solution versus the expertise of approach in solving a customer problem.

In this context, the recent Making A Case assessment of ProcurePort by Procurement Insight’s Jon Hansen fills an important gap in the provider identification, analysis, and selection process.

As a noted third-party industry thought leader with a reputation for telling it like it is, he talked with one of our clients directly and without our involvement.  The resulting case reference provides an unfiltered breakdown of the problem that the client was facing, how we – the client and ProcurePort, approached solving it, and quantified the outcome – in the client’s words.

Once again, I am not suggesting that this assessment alone is all you need, but it is a good starting point because your success begins with understanding the problem before implementing a solution.

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