November 4, 2021

Source-to-Pay software vendors lack procurement skills and it shows

By Patrick Chabannes

Although digital is seen as a necessity by procurement departments, the virtual absence of practitioners within the product teams of source-to-pay software vendors raises questions about their ability to support the function in its future challenges. Analysis and deciphering.

Read the article directly on Lettre des Achats – November 2021

Curious, fine analysts and concrete by profession, buyers contribute to their company’s results through cross-functional collaboration. Who could doubt their ability to bring business value to Suite Source to Pay software vendors?

Buyers, meet with the software vendors’ VPs of Product and refuse to work in the absence of professionals in the field and a common professional repository, which is the necessary foundation for effective collaboration. 

Without business expertise, no roadmap, no vision

The software vendor’s vision is communicated by its roadmap. A circumstantial adaptation will be covered by a specific development. In both cases, the imperative condition for success will be the presence of a business person at the head of the Product Management team, bringing understanding, vision and execution. Avoid the software vendor’s consultants and sales people who, for the best, learn your business by listening to you. 

Without business expertise, there are no usable new features

I remember the astonished look of a stock management manager when faced with the absence of basic functions in this type of solution, the despair of a Procurement Director who tried to describe the necessary risk management functionalities of his Supplier Portal to a P2P software vendor that only included orders, invoices and third party accounts, the stupefaction of a Procurement Director when faced with a demat invoice vendor describing (in 2021! ) its procurement module as the sourcing module, the irritation of this digital procurement director at the software vendor’s lack of understanding of the complex and necessary requirements of supplier data management in a multi-ERP environment. And the list is long!

Without business expertise, there is no user experience.

Developing a new, reusable functionality requires a cross-section of procurement practitioners from different backgrounds. On the software vendor side, you will need to be able to translate this into an IT application, while on the user side, it is important to have at least three customers with three different perspectives to define both the functionalities and the user experience requirements, which will bring value to your teams. 

Without business expertise, integrations will remain imperfect

Integration is not just a technical issue. It’s about the data and flows that are part of your business processes. Whether it’s creating an API or an ad hoc integration, the functional description, exceptions and business rules require collaboration and the business competence of the flows being handled will be a condition of success. 

Businesses must return to the product departments of software vendors

Product management is the key place for practitioners, the place where they are most absent today in the large software vendors. Customer Success Management positions are more often offered to practitioners, interesting but with little impact on the solution. Implementation consultant positions will undoubtedly be of interest to young buyers with a digital bent. 

Business software publishing is too complicated to be left in the hands of technologists who like nothing more than automating processes. For 40 years I have always noticed, and my father, a CIO and doctor, before me, that 10% of professionals are digital.  Buyer, make sure that Mercury does not replace Vulcan, that commerce does not supplant the practitioner, whether he is a buyer or financial controller, accountant or contract manager, etc.

Illustration : Jean-Michel Ucciani

Lectori salutem, Patrick Chabannes

In an age of universal deception, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” G Orwell in 1984.