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From specialists to full suite providers, there are around 200 digital tools for shopping on the German-speaking market. The systems support you operationally (eCatalogs, P2P), tactically (eRFQ, eAuctions) and strategically in supplier, product group and risk management. A well-founded selection decision does not fall into the lap of purchasing. You should therefore follow a structured 3-phase process for system selection.
eProcurement: three steps to the right system
The goals of digitization projects in purchasing are very individual. Just like the time and functional requirements. You should clarify these questions in advance:
What are your goals with the system changeover,
which function blocks do you need at which point in time,
What other framework conditions are necessary for a quick and positive realization and implementation from your point of view?
1. Where do you stand and where do you want to go?
To clarify which system support you need, first analyze your purchasing processes. The aim is to determine how standardized, measurable and IT-supported your processes already are. For each process, you determine which target maturity the process should achieve (read the article "The foundation of digitization are mature processes"). In the next step you prioritize your improvement goals. This gives you your target image for purchasing to optimize your processes, including the necessary system support (digitization roadmap).
You formulate in detail which functions you need at what point in time and how they should be developed to meet your requirements. Three methods are possible:
List requirements: In medium-sized businesses, a list of the requirements in tabular form is often sufficient.
Specifications: Significantly more effort is associated with a specification sheet that allows providers to develop a better understanding of your requirements. The offers that you will receive later have been adjusted accordingly.
Use cases: Use cases are a good alternative to the specification sheet. They describe in a structured form and using case studies what the departments and purchasing expect from the e-solution. Such use cases are often already available and can be adapted to your requirements with little effort. They can also be used for proof-of-concepts and quality assurance and serve as the basis for the final tests during implementation.
2. Who is eligible?
The BME online tool eProcurement-Matchmaker, for which the amc Group provides the content-related input, helps with digital sourcing. Buyers can currently find around 150 eProcurement tools in the open area of the eProcurement Matchmaker, which can be roughly pre-selected for an initial matching. Anyone who needs more detail can register (free of charge) and receive significantly more information on the individual systems and possible applications in the detail view. This will take you to a meaningful hit list for your further selection process (longlist).
Important: Allow sufficient time for the inquiries for the providers to develop the solution concepts. Very short-term tenders usually mean that only standard concepts are offered without any real reference to the defined requirements. It is advisable to allow a processing time of 3-4 weeks for requests with specifications or use cases.
To evaluate the offer, you define an evaluation system together with IT and the relevant departments. It enables everyone to make a selection decision. This also includes questions about data protection / data security, project management methods, usability, implementation experience and your change management needs.
3. Which tool wins?
The result of the evaluation is a shortlist of 3-4 providers. Quality assurance and fine-tuning take place in the context of proof-of-concepts and supplier workshops. The following methods are available:
You question the concept weaknesses on the basis of the specifications.
You can present the system on the basis of defined use cases and test them yourself, which also allows you to evaluate the usability of the solution.
CONCLUSION: This very systematic approach to system selection appears to be very complex at first glance. However, our experience from a large number of projects shows that every minute of identifying possible concept weaknesses in the implementation project and especially in the subsequent rollout pays off several times over. Therefore, do not save in the wrong place and make sure you plan enough resources, support and time for the concept and tendering phase. Those who proceed methodically, make fact-based selections and include all stakeholders will find the right digital roof for purchasing more quickly.
Check now: Are your purchasing processes ready for digital tools?
Joachim von Lüninck
amc Group - management consultancy for purchasing and supply chain
Email: joachim.lueninck (at) amc-group.de
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