Background: Salons Solutions is the premiere event in Europe for all things related to the fields of digital transformation, Big Data, e-procurement and e-business in general – more than 6,200 visitors attended in 2017. As a major presenter hosting six roundtable discussions, Determine covered many topics of critical interest regarding source-to-pay. While I did not present all of these topics, I thought it would be informative to put them into a series of blogs, which we are sharing this week.
There are two very contradictory trends that affect the implementation, setup and usage of procurement and contract management solutions. Solutions now aim to address not only mainstream or general needs, but also very specialized business cases. These run the gamut from upstream (suppliers, sourcing, contract) to downstream (procurement, invoicing, payment, compliance).
Ease of use + advanced features on one source-to-pay platform.
On one end, as the market matures, more and more advanced capabilities are added, allowing companies to address increasingly complex use cases. On the other end, technology enables the development of amazing products with a great focus on user experience and performance. Balancing these two poles when developing business solution is tricky. It can be difficult today to find the perfect solution — one that is both mature and easy-to-use at the same time (Determine comes very close).
But the way the solution is scoped and implemented by companies has also a huge impact. For example, Determine has deployed our solutions in a leading global biotech company. During the project, our consultants configured more than 400 processes with templates and many data entering constraints. After deployment, the customer found that the solution was considered too complex by most users, affecting the initial goal of having full control over related processes. That meant simplifying the setup to reduce the number of templates and constraints in order to amplify ease of use, drive adoption and achieve the goals for making the deployment successful.
User-driven procurement and contract management innovation.
The lesson learned is critical (and simple): Take into account all users and personas, not just those who are designated as power users and main stakeholders. In addition to focusing on the areas of efficiency and simplicity that will cover most business cases, it’s equally as important to ignore exceptions requests that complicate the processes, if they have a negative influence on fast, widespread adoption.
Another important lesson is, there’s no hurry to try and address all needs once. SaaS / cloud-based solutions are constantly evolving, innovations and improvements come online regularly. That means some newly available technologies are going to drastically improve productivity and user experience over time, like mobile/desktop convergence, smart analytics, task automation, artificial intelligence, real-time collaboration, intelligent assistants and many others.
The takeaway advice from all this is to make sure your solution provider is customer-centric, with constant communication between client teams and implementation managers and other provider representatives. Verify that the solution provider has a strong internal product organization that’s able (and willing) to understand the business needs of all customer user groups, and be able to translate those into an achievable product roadmap.
To help customers manage business complexity, a provider ultimately has to keep its focus simple. Otherwise, the provider (and customer) will end-up with solutions that perform okay for some users, instead of performing well for all stakeholders.
Next up, our blog topic from Salon Solutions in Paris is Millennials and Technology: Better Get Ready for a Revolution in Procurement Solutions.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can simplify business complexity at your organization, schedule a personalized demonstration of the Determine Cloud Platform. Also check out the range of resources we have available in our Thought Leadership Library: