27 February 2009 | Paul Snell
Buyers should aim to implement a complete e-procurement process to take advantage of the technology's full potential, an expert says.
Duncan Jones, senior analyst at technology research firm Forrester, believes working towards a fully automated system is important.
Often buyers only concentrate on implementing either strategic or transactional procurement e-purchasing systems - but not both.
"If you want to harvest the savings, aim for a complete solution on the strategic and transactional side of e-purchasing," Jones told delegates at the eWorld Purchasing & Supply conference in London this week. "You don't have to go for everything at once, but whatever you are selecting you need a roadmap of the complete solution."
He said it shouldn't matter if the approach was to tackle certain technologies first, such as spend analysis or e-sourcing, or to implement a complete system in certain categories - providing the ultimate goal is to use all the types of technology for all the categories available.
But he warned of a potential backlash from supplier and internal customers when introducing new systems.
"A lot of these technologies are not well liked by the people who have to use them," he said. "Sellers hate doing this because it takes the skill and fun out of it. So bear that in mind and go for technology that is attractive and easy to use."
He gave the example of a new CPO at a financial services firm who had to find technology suitable for his purchasing team.
"He realised he couldn't change the mindset of his people, he couldn't get rid of all his old buyers and replace them overnight. So he said 'I need a tool appropriate for the people I work with. I don't want lots of bells and whistles, I want something easy to use so I can run a few online auctions, online RFP and RFI events.'"