February 15, 2019

Why a content strategy for e-procurement matters

by Procurement Trends, Source-to-Pay, Sourcing, E-procurement

No content strategy for your e-procurement process? It’s possible to live without one if you haven’t really modernized your procurement process lately but if procurement transformation is in your near future then you should definitely read on.

Why a content strategy for e-procurement matters

A few weeks ago I was talking to a sales person about why we lost a deal. It turns out the competition made a strong case for having a content strategy. Content strategy? So he explains it to me and I said, ‘but we do exactly that. We have all that capability and even a better approach.’ He agreed but there it was, we simply hadn’t recognized the value of demonstrating our ability to solve that particular issue for the prospect - our loss. But as we ARE in the business of selling gains in efficiency and effectiveness, we are always interested in raising our game.

As said, our capability was not a material differentiator in the customer’s decision. And in practice, our approach to content was not dissimilar either. It was our articulation of the topic which was lacking and therefore my responsibility is clear. Let me now, briefly, articulate an e-procurement content strategy which our solutions, our services and our partners support.

Like any good strategy, perhaps job 1 is to understand the terrain so you can better understand how you can traverse it. So what do we mean by content? Content is everything which feeds and supports your corporate catalog. It is all your suppliers, their information, the contracts and pricing, the products and services, their catalogs, punch-out catalogs and external marketplaces which all come together to support searching, requisitioning and ordering of goods and services - all considered spend under management.

The terrain (still using the Sun Tzu analogy) then equals your supplier landscape coupled with the spend categories they inhabit. Rather than fight one big war against them all, let’s divide and conquer (I know - Caesar). We want to split your suppliers into 3 groups and go after them individually. First, we have your largest suppliers, second; your long tail of suppliers and lastly, your key categories of spend.

We like those three groups because of the different tools we employ to create efficient procurement processes from their content. In brief, we start with key suppliers. These are your largest and/or most important suppliers. Our strategy includes going after them directly and individually, negotiating pricing, payment terms, etc and then using our own tools to automatically validate, approve and update the customer’s catalog with the contracted goods and services. Sometimes with this first group you might need to punch-out to the supplier’s catalog - no problem, pricing and other options can still be agreed and configured for a seamless shopping experience. We provide self-service tools for their catalog submission, but we also have a full-blown Catalog Management Service which really does all of the heavy lifting for you.

Let’s take the second group. This is your long tail of suppliers. Here you find many, many small suppliers, possibly infrequent suppliers typically offering basic goods. The challenge with this group is that you don’t want to invest too much time and effort sourcing, contracting and engaging - there are just too many and the categories are often basic commodities. So we just avoid it entirely and plug an existing third party marketplace into the customer’s catalog. Someone like Amazon Business, Mercateo or Beke are already integrated to our platform and so it’s an easy choice for our customers.

I’m oversimplifying lots of this but a single blog post doesn’t give you much space for details (to say nothing of attention spans these days). The last group includes some key spend categories. Now, it’s fair to say not every customer has this third group and also, not every customer can solve it the same way. The first way to solve it is similar to the group 1 - this is individually. Alternatively, it may be possible to find  a more vertical marketplace (like Mercateo Unite) where a specific category is well represented. This one integration point offers a single creditor model for invoicing and the simplicity of having all vendors and catalogs aligned under the terms & conditions of the provider. In some markets there are more options than others. But similar to group two, this is a handy way of covering a group of suppliers with one integration point.

Having a content strategy is a means to an end and the context we like to place it is the effort to get your spend under management. I may have oversimplified and omitted a few things (like supplier onboarding, information management and performance management, sourcing, contracting, budgets, services procurement, MRO, and likely a few others) but you get the point. It’s good to have an idea how you are going to use the tools we sell you to get your spend under control, cut costs and actually support your organization’s requirement for buying goods and services.

Until next time, watch this space.

If you’ve read this far you absolutely deserve something special. While I could suggest you download a white paper or report I think you might be better served with this factsheet: Catalog Management as a Service.

If you didn’t know that catalog (content) management could be offered as a service then you should absolutely find out more and then get in touch.


Rowan Lemley on catalog content management

Rowan Lemley

Rowan has more than 10 years of experience in the purchase-to-pay arena. During this time, he has managed the go-to-market for a diverse set of portfolios including Accounts Payable Automation, B2B Networks, Financing Services, eProcurement and Product Information Management.

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