Know what you need to know to empower your decision.
Attending an S2P demo can be a particularly high stress time for a procurement professional. We use this technology more than any other, to the point where its identity is synonymous with our own reputation internally. As a result, making the right choice is extremely important.
That doesn’t even address the fact that procurement often starts the negotiation process during the demo, working hard to position ourselves as discerning, knowledgeable, functionality power users from the start of the evaluation and comparison process.
Under these conditions, it can be hard to ask questions that uncover the information required to form clear impressions that are relevant for this point in the process. Viewing a demo usually happens early on, so rather than getting into the weeds, procurement should ask some high level questions that provide insight into the technology as a whole and the team they will be working with during the selection process.
Source-to-Pay review: Knowing what you need to know.
Having been on a procurement technology selection team, as well as a procurement provider’s consulting/implementation team that was often called in during the sales process, here are the questions I would ask during a provider demo session to maximize my net takeaway:
- How much of this functionality is on one codebase and how much is integrated on the back end (having been added to the platform through acquisition)?
- How long does the average implementation take (not including the time required for elective process change)?
- How many configuration decisions will we need to make before implementation can begin?
- Can we make and change those configurations using an administrator login or do requests need to be submitted through your help desk?
- How integrated are the different areas of functionality from a centralized data or information management perspective?
- What is the first-time training commitment for internal power users? How about for the distributed buyers who will use the system to make purchases or look up supplier information?
- What is the newest area of functionality (or improvement) on your platform today?
- Does it have spell check?
- What kind of control will we have over automated system notifications to internal (stakeholder) and external (supplier) users? Can we control the copy and whether the email(s) are sent or not on a case-by-case basis?
- Does your company use the platform internally? Why or why not? Have you ever tried an internal implementation of all or part of your suite?
There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer to any of the above questions. What is important is asking them, listening carefully to the answers, and watching the body language of the person answering the question (if you are together face to face). It is also important to note any questions that the demo-provider doesn’t know the answer to, and whether they follow up with answers later – and how quickly.
Comparing S2P providers by establishing a baseline.
Not quite as critical as the above, but equally enlightening, is learning a little bit about the sales team providing the demo. How long has the lead sales representative been with the company? Did they previously work at other enterprise technology firms (whether in procurement or otherwise)? Have they ever worked in a non-sales role? If there are technical team members present, learn about them as well. They may not be the ones sitting across from you at the negotiating table down the road, but it is their depth of knowledge of the technology that will form the basis of internal decisions about the value and suitability of the platform.
In this post, I focused on what questions to ask. In my next, I’ll share the kinds of things NOT to focus on – because they have more to do with “impressing” the provider than determining whether the platform meets your company’s likely S2P needs.
Whether you’re a platform veteran or just starting your digital transformation, using point solutions or suite configurations (or paper), arm yourself with Kelly’s questions during your provider comparisons. Start with Determine — contact us to schedule your own personalized demonstration of the Determine Cloud Platform and modular source-to-pay solutions.