Why Can't eSourcing Be Easier for EVERYONE?

We recently completed an online RFP for a prospective customer who's looking to replace their existing eSourcing platform.

Monday, October 26, 2015
BY: Betina Nygaard, CEO Scanmarket A/S

This is a prospect that we're very interested in engaging so we put a lot of time and effort into the response. This involvement included multiple stakeholders from executives to consultants to sales to I/T.

The RFP was being conducted on the incumbent provider's software, as well it should be. We at Scanmarket are strong advocates that any time you CAN run an RFx online, you SHOULD run an RFx online. We dutifully signed up for a username and password on the competitor's system, read and agreed to the T&C's and downloaded the RFx so that we could work on it offline. So far, so good.

That's when things started to go wrong.

  • I forgot the password for my log-in. I have so many passwords that it's hard to remember them all. It wasn't hard to get a new one, but it was certainly an extra step in the process.
  • We had to carefully manage who was "in" the response so that we didn't trip over each other and end up in the Version Control ring of Dante's Inferno (is that ring 4 or ring 5)? There was no way for us to respond in parallel.
  • On the due date, we thought we had everything locked and loaded and only needed to upload the responses into the tool. I went off to a sales meeting and asked one of our sourcing consultants to upload the spreadsheet into the system with a few hours to spare, just in case.
  • When she tried to upload the response, she got all kinds of crazy error messages. With me out, and knowing that time was short, she reached out to others in the organization. Of course, everyone was busy.
  • It turns out that there were both multiple embedded questions that weren't visible to users of the spreadsheet and multiple responses that didn't conform to strict data entry definitions. We had used all the correct drop-down's, text vs. numerical responses, etc but it still didn't work.
  • In order to get the response in on-time, our CEO (!!!!) had to spend several hours revising and editing the responses in the online system.

Today's lesson on how to make your CEO frustrated

  • Make them spend hours on tactical work that should be done by someone else
  • Make them do it in a competitor's product
  • Have the work be as unintuitive and confusing as possible
  • Needless to say, I'm now in the dog-house for a few weeks.

Remember, we are an eSourcing company. That means that we like to think of ourselves as eSourcing experts. Most of us have many years' experience with tools from multiple different providers. We spend our days advising our customers on how best to structure and execute their eSourcing events so that they can get all the benefits in savings, transparency, efficiency and compliance that eSourcing provides.

If WE have problems giving clean, timely proposals in an eSourcing platform, imagine how hard it must be for "normal" suppliers!

At Scanmarket, we believe there's a better way. While the benefits of eSourcing are very real, the results only happen when people actually USE the tools. Therefore, those tools need to be easy to use, easy to implement, easy to get help for, and easy to do business with. Everything we've done over the last 14 years and 250+ customers is designed to provide just that.

We're still hoping to win the prospect's business. If for no other reason than giving this company an easier way to conduct its business with suppliers.