Little to differentiate between purchasing technology vendors

9 March 2011

9 March 2011 | Lindsay Clark

The difference between the mainstream procurement software systems is marginal, according to Forrester Research.

While specialist procurement technology suppliers hold a slight advantage in terms of functionality, providers of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software who also support purchasing functions, are closing the gap.

Report author Duncan Jones, principal analyst at Forrester, said: “Overall, there was little to broadly differentiate among the 11 products [evaluated], which are all proven solutions with loyal customer bases and talented product management teams. Procurement executives looking to choose an enterprise-wide solution should therefore drill into the detailed evaluation criteria, where clear differentiation exists.”

The report said Ariba has the most complete range of functionality and the best user experience, while Basware scored highly for its broad category and supplier support.

ERP vendors Oracle, SAP and Lawson provided “very good” systems that are a logical choice for customers of their ERP suites. However, the major weakness for these products was “the over-reliance on a portal approach to connect with suppliers”, the report said.

Procurement teams should evaluate the available software systems according to how they best fit with their strategy and organisation. This could include global reach, such as multi-lingual and multi-currency support, and the ability to integrate with existing ERP solutions.

Buyers should also look at category support. “What are the biggest causes of rogue buying and invoice discrepancies? For which categories do you have custom-developed or overly manual solutions?”

These questions should help assess a vendor’s suitability and define software requirements, the report - The Forrester Wave: eProcurement Solutions, Q1 2011 - said.

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