July 15, 2020

Conflicts of interest in the small Procurement IS environment

By Patrick Chabannes

Milton Friedman, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, stressed that “A meal is never free.” 
The purchasing IS ecosystem, as it has developed in recent years, cannot avoid the emergence of conflicts of interest between the various players – software vendors, consulting firms, analysts and buyers. Haven’t you noticed that vendor’s events are largely supported by a theory of consulting firms? Let’s decipher the small world of Purchasing IS by distinguishing their roles in a project and the avenues for improvement.

Making a precise distinction between the roles of the players in fact limits the areas of conflict of interest. The external resources available from the design to the implementation of a business digitization project can be classified into 6 categories. If consulting firms or software vendors can legitimately claim to operate on more than one of these activities, knowing the malicious effects of a mix of genres will be the buyer’s responsibility.

  1. Business strategy with a vision of End to End business processes is the pre-square of the so-called strategy consulting companies.
  2. The definition of an end to end process with the key elements of ROI calculation, organization and IT urbanization will be done with consulting companies.
  3. Helping in the search and choice of the most suitable software solution is the role of a consulting company knowing the digitized End to End process without link with editors.
  4. The review of the imagined processes in order to make them fit into the logic of the chosen software solution will have to be carried out by the editor or the integrator while the consulting company will be able to remain in assistance to the project owner for the continuity of its action.
  5. The implementation and project management can be done with the certified editor and/or integrator. The presence of the consulting company is also advised here.
  6. The change management can be entrusted to another specialized consulting company as long as the Plan has been designed with it in the early stages of the project.

Organizing the project with an optimization of the roles will avoid conflicts of interest when actors are Judge and Party.

Curious cases of collusion have undesirable effects on your Source to Pay projects. For example, surprisingly for Purchasing professionals, it has become frequent to see a consulting firm required to help in the choice of a software solution while having, in full view of everyone, an Implementation Practice dedicated to one or two editors. Why should we be surprised by the lack of enthusiasm of other vendors to participate in the competition and by the irritation of consulting firms that avoid such a mix of genres?

Lectori salutem, Patrick Chabannes
“The mind likes what confirms its knowledge better than what contradicts it.” Gaston Bachelard.