December 13, 2021

Is it reasonable to ask a Procurement Software vendor for a specific development?

By Patrick Chabannes

Back to the standard! This seems to be the cry of reason from the Source to Pay Buyers. Admittedly, the unfortunate experiences and lack of business skills of certain software vendors tend to prove them right. But shouldn’t the digital tools of the procurement function evolve with the challenges of the business? Let’s lay the foundations for mutual understanding so that we can manage the risks together.

Read the article directly on Lettre des Achats – December 2021

First of all, without exhausting the subject, let’s try to define the terminology: parameterization is in the hands of your administrator; advanced configuration or design mode is in the hands of the software vendor or its integrators; specific development is a functionality developed for a customer and which may or may not be made available to all customers; the Roadmap is a promise with no guarantee; renunciation is the opposite action to development, consisting of adapting the organization to the tool.

The functional analysis of Source to Pay solutions allows for the identification of gaps before the implementation phase. So what happens?

The functional evaluation of a solution allows you to highlight the difference between the needs expressed during the scoping phase and the capabilities of the solutions by identifying what needs to be configured, advanced configuration or specific development. Let’s imagine the situation for a moment: you are looking for an IS Procurement solution and you like the solution but it only lacks one or two functionalities, the sales person has created confidence and the pre-sales person has built it, you sign and meet the consultant to collect your specifications… Huge mistake! Only the Product Director defends a vision and decides.  Therefore, deciding to co-construct functional gaps will depend on the access and the business competence of the Product Director.

A Product Director who knows your business is the key to the success of a specific development. In his absence, run away!

To be truly included in the standard code, an add-on feature must be part of the Product Director’s vision. Make sure this person understands your business and that your request is part of his or her product vision. Maintain the link with him/her during exchanges with the operational staff, impose a reasonable rhythm and prefer a specific development integrated into the standard. 

Never take it for granted that your Procurement IS software vendor knows your business

By unbundling the company’s functions, the Source to Pay Suites offer user experiences to a variety of business profiles. But don’t forget that if hundreds of customers reassure you by demonstrating the richness of standard functionalities, they also dilute your ability to impose an idea. In addition, business expertise is often lacking. Instead, look at the possibilities with their network of specialized integrators who often combine both business and technologies skills.

A specific development requires passion and shared business skills.

Vertical or niche solutions, sometimes recent, are driven by passionate peers who, one day, used digital to solve a business problem. With them, you are sure to understand each other and to progress, one for his company, the other for his organization and together for your business. Co-construction is the very essence of this type of software vendor contract, which requires the buyer to have supplier development skills. Your attention will be focused on their ability to do, the adequacy of your needs with their vision of the market and of course do not forget to propose a fair price.

The Contract allows you to control specific developments and their consequences 

Apart from the question of skills, the contractual clauses proposed by the software vendor before any negotiations will allow you to judge the promises made in substance. For example, if a clause specifies that a specific development can have an effect on updates, you will identify a risk on the promise of a development integrated to the standard.

Lectori salutem, Patrick Chabannes
“In an age of universal deception, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”