Monday, 24 November 2014

Take control of your own category planning tool

Last weekend we released a great new enhancement to let our users white-label the Category Dojo opportunity assessment tool.  

Whilst our Market Dojo eSourcing tool has been white-labelled for quite some time now, even to the extent of hosting it on your own bespoke URL, for example our US partner:  http://eauction.aggate.com, we were yet to roll this out on Category Dojo - until now!

So from now on anyone can take the advantage of bespoking the tool to make it feel like part of their own toolset.  Procurement consultants:  we're looking at you here!   The next time you're running a client workshop to uncover the procurement opportunities across their spend profile, consider badging up our tool to demonstrate your expertise and professionalism with the very latest technology.

You can even operate the tool in your own licence yet give clients the rights to see their own data.  Therefore you'll give yourself a permanent reason to stay on their agenda instead of just a one-off project.

Alternatively, you can resell the tool into your clients and sell your services to help them get the most from it. 

Whatever you choose, you'll at least now be able to blend our technology into your procurement strategy planning.

Cloning from the Sandpit
 
As well as the above upgrade, we also released a whole host of other great things.  This includes one of the most asked-for features to have the ability to create a test event in our unique Sandpit and run it through to completion before copying it over to the Live environment ready to send out to your participants.

As they say, "practice makes perfect"!


About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

Friday, 21 November 2014

5 Security Questions to ask your SaaS provider

When evaluating Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions one of the most important things to consider is security.

Our customers usually ask about security as part of their evaluation process.  We thought it would be interesting to compile our list of the top 5 questions to ask. When using a SaaS solution your information will pass through several systems.  Your data will be passed from an application front end (often a web browser), across the Internet to a server in a data centre where it will be stored. Each step in the process has risks associated with it. Each risk has precautions that should be used to mitigate it.

1. What security features are built into the application?

The provider should be able to explain how the authentication (to identify who a user is) and authorization (to identify what a user is allowed to see) systems work within their application.
They should also be able to explain what audit systems are in place, so that there is a way to determine how changes to your data occurred.
They should also be able to give details of how they perform Quality Assurance (QA) to test the security of the application.

2. How is communication across the Internet secured?

Any sensitive data should be transferred using the https rather than http protocol.  This guarantees that your data cannot be intercepted and understood by a third party.  The https protocol requires use of an SSL certificate from a provider such as Thawte.  SSL Security costs are a small price to pay in order keep your data secure.

3. How secure is our data on your servers?

Using a SaaS provider usually means that your data will be held in a location that is not under your direct control. The provider should be able to give assurances about the standard of security they adhere to. This information should include:
What system testing is performed to ensure the data is secure?
How do you track who has access to our data?
What policies and procedures are in place to ensure that data is disposed of securely?
What physical controls are there to limit access to the datacentre where your data is held?
Where is my data physically held? 
You should be aware of what data privacy laws exist in the country where your data is held; and your company may have rules around what data can leave the country.

4. What accreditations do you have?

Accreditations show that the provider takes security seriously, and have been audited by a 3rd party.
There is a range of accreditations relating to the security standards in place. For example, ISO 27001 for Security Management and ISO 20000 for Service Management, BS25999 for Business Continuity and Data Recovery. You can also ask about what other customers they have which may require a high level of security, for example the UK Government give services a ranking according to how secure the data they are cleared to hold.


5. What is your Disaster Recovery Plan?

Although we hope a Disaster Recovery (DR) plan never has to be carried out, it is important that one is in place. Understanding the DR plan ensures you can assess the potential impact on your business. 




About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

Monday, 17 November 2014

What's great about our auction platform?

We are very proud of our eAuction platform.  It was our initial business proposition and still draws in the crowds.  We have users from companies ranging from one million in turnover to many billions, running tenders on all types of goods and services from values of thousands to hundreds of millions. 

No other platform gives gives you the ability to call in in the morning and run an auction in the afternoon without the need to train the suppliers.  We recognise that preparing for an eAuction can be challenging, and the system should help with this challenge, not be an additional hurdle to overcome.  

Our platform also has many capabilities from including a Pre Qualification Questionnaire to weighted auctions. See more of our functionality here.

However, in this blog we really wanted to show you the cool parts of our interface. (Click here for the video) 

Overview:

This is an overview of the eAuction screen. Colourful, compact and nearly everything is 'click-able' for further information, which can be seen in the following images.


Settings

These can be changed live during an auction.  You can see the pause button and also the ability to change the heart of the eAuction settings such as the duration, the dynamic close, changing who it applies to and also altering the min and max bid decrements.


Live feed

We have a great live feed to keep you up to date with the goings on without the need to look at all the lots individually.  It is also there for the suppliers so they can see the latest and greatest.


Lot Matrix - 'The summary'

See an overview of the event from a lot perspective with bespoke total calculations.

Notice the 'stock market' type updates highlighting where the bids have been placed.

Lot Matrix - 'The lines'

See the event overview from a line item perspective with a click of a button.

Lot Matrix - 'The suppliers'

See the line items by supplier.

Lot Matrix - 'The detail'

Lastly, with another click, you can see the suppliers, by component, by line item in real time during the eAuction


Other features

See who is active, send messages, place proxy bids and you have the ability to delete bids all from within the auction interface


See the graphs

Check out your results graphically displayed in real time.  No need to wait for a periodic refresh as we use new technology to display bids as soon as they come in.


If you want to see this for yourself then you can simply sign up for free and try everything out in our sandpit.  Welcome to the Dojo!




About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com


Thursday, 13 November 2014

How to untangle tied bids

What would you do if two bids tied for first place in your tender process? Put a plan in place to avoid tying yourself up in knots, says Nick Drewe, co-founder of Market Dojo.

In a most economically advantageous tender (MEAT), bidders are allocated an overall score based on their price evaluation and their quality/non-price evaluation. However, there are often inconsistencies in how tied bids are treated during a MEAT or weighted tender. Although a tie is unlikely, it can and does occur. It does not have to be an exact tie but a statistical tie, i.e. within acceptable margins of error. Therefore even if the two overall scores are not identical, they have to be sufficiently distinct not to be considered a tie. So, in the event of a tie, how can the authority finalise the award decision?

Use of tie-breakers

The UK Practical Law website outlines some solutions, such as building tie-breakers into the evaluation model and disclosing to bidders upfront how such a mechanism would be used. Examples include setting additional questions, re-valuing (up or down) previously specified points or re-evaluating parts of the tender. This correlates with some publicly available tender documentation such as the Legal Services Commission, the South West Devon Waste Partnership and the Learner Access and Engagement Programme. Examples include the final award being decided by interview, by the use of tie-breaker questions included within the original set of tender documents, or the supplier with the best price being awarded the contract. Another option is to avoid the situation altogether by re-evaluating the tied proposals in private to define which is most economically advantageous. However, this can be highly subjective and is not recommended.

See the rest of this article in its original form as published by Supply Management here.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

Friday, 31 October 2014

Competition works! But only if customers want it - guest post

This is a guest post by Vlado Prosenik from Efekto Pro. Efekto Pro are our consultancy partner in Slovenia.  They help customers make purchase more efficient. You can read the original article here

Competition works! But only if customers want it.

The Slovenian Consumers' Association (ZPS) has demonstrated that a fresh approach can save money. In cooperation with external partners ZPS conducted an auction for the purchase of electricity and natural gas for households. The result was an average 21% reduction in electricity prices and a 15% reduction in the price of natural gas. 24,000 households joined the "change and save" campaign and will benefit from significant reduction in their energy bills, with the same service level they are used to.

Reverse auctions have become available to both businesses and individuals.

10 tips for creating savings with the reverse auctions:

  • Choose the right partner and the right tool for the execution of the reverse auctions
  • Select goods or services which have significant value and several providers are able to supply
  • Make the auction attractive to providers
  • Do not give providers details of the other suppliers who will be involved in the auction
  • Do not give special treatment to any suppliers who may not wish to participate in the auction
  • Use a weighted auction, where the price is not the only criterion for supplier selection - specify other important criteria and weight accordingly
  • Think carefully about how long to run the auction, and whether to offer a dynamic close period, which ensures suppliers will always be able to respond to the offer of their competitors
  • Think carefully about  the minimum and maximum price change you will allow
  • Help providers to understand the principles and techniques of participation in the auction and to provide ongoing support
  • Assign the contract to the winner of the auction

Auctions by the EFEKTO PRO perform for our clients usually bring savings of between 10 and 40%.



About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

Friday, 24 October 2014

Some of the things we've seen @ the Dojo!

As we now enter into our fifth year of business, we'd like to share with you some of the more unusual goods and services that we've seen tendered via our software!
 
For example, foodstuff seems to be a recurring category of choice.  We've witnessed eAuctions on anything from gourmet cheese, whipped deserts, biscuits, cooked chicken, banana purée and even pet food!  
eSourcing prevents you making a dog's dinner of your negotiation
It certainly makes the weekly shop more interesting, as we know the back-story of how that supplier's products came to be on the shelves.
 
We've encountered eAuctions on goods that we will never fathom, such as 'Gas Spuds' or our personal favourite 'Pig Launcher/Receiver'. 
The infamous pig launcher
We truly hoped it might be something to do with Angry birds or perhaps even a fantastic device for aerially transporting swine from A to B in a highly efficient manner.  Sadly we have since been told it is something to do with cleaning industrial pipelines.

Speaking of industrial, we've witnessed a number of eAuctions for items that seem like your everyday, run-of-the-mill product but quite simply aren't!   Dishwashers that can clean up to 3000 dishes per hour.  Ice machines that produce up to 24,500 ice cubes per day!  These are quite serious pieces of kit.

Then we move onto quite literally life-saving products that have been reverse auctioned.  Vaccines, medicines, drugs, medical sutures.  The old adage seems to apply: if you have a liquid supply market and you can define precisely what you need, you can auction it.
Sometimes reverse auctions can be a tough pill to swallow
Something we hear quite a bit on our travels is that only commodities or products can be eAuctioned.  Well, looking through some of our past successful events, it would appear that not everyone holds this view.  We've had auctions on pre-employment checks, canteen services, voice outsourcing services, print management and design agency services amongst many others. Our Lot Matrix can give you the detail required for those complex tenders with many pricing aspects.

Training and consulting seem popular choices as well, from contract management training to general management consulting.  It goes to show that not everything needs a like-with-like spec as you can instead opt for a weighted auction to normalise the proposals. 

Anyhow, back to bizarre stuff.  There have been quite a few auctions on dangerous chemicals including quite a worrying amount of Sodium Hydroxide.   Add to that the Aluminium Chlorohydrate and Potassium Permanganate and it sounds like we have something from Breaking Bad!
Hope you ran a reverse auction for that stuff
Before we go too off-piste, let's end with a couple of interesting automotive items we've seen eAuctioned, such as machined parts for Maserati, BMW brake pedals, golf carts, fork-lift trucks and some shiny new transit vans.

Lastly, we've seen a fair few construction and extension tenders, including the house extension and loft conversion for Market Dojo's very own Nick Drewe.

As for what is next going to be tendered via Market Dojo, I think you can see for yourselves that it is anyone's guess!


About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

Monday, 20 October 2014

Which is better? SaaS or On-premises software

When we started working on Market Dojo, we decided early on that we would use the SaaS model. This was an obvious choice for us, and has helped us and our customers throughout our history. Because we often get asked about this, I wanted to share the reasons for our decision in a bit more detail.
Google Trends - comparing interest in SaaS, Enterprise Software and On-Premises search terms.

History

Over the last 15 years, enterprise software has undergone a radical shift. In the 1990's, customers would usually install software on their own servers. Today it is now usually hosted by the application provider, and delivered over the Internet. For a more detailed definition of the two terms - see Wikipedia articles on On-premises Software, and SaaS.

So what are the benefits of SaaS?

Running Costs

Running and support costs are lower, in all except the largest on-premises implementations. This is because all clients share the cost of servers and operations staff. On-premises software would duplicate these costs for each installation.

Time / cost to implement

Implementation for SaaS software is almost always much faster than for on-premises.
Staff must install an on-premises solution at the customers data centre and integrate it with an existing IT infrastructure.

In the case of Market Dojo a new customer can enroll themselves and setting up licences can be done in a few minutes.  Here’s an earlier blog post of our’s that shows how you can set up your organisation and be fully operational in 21 minutes.

Support cost and time to resolve issues

Support is simpler, as access to log files and identical system environment is available to the support team. This leads to a cost reduction and also to faster resolution of issues.

Contract length / agility

Because of the reduction in time and cost to install, SaaS vendors can be offer shorter contracts. It also means that they can add or remove users faster. Market Dojo can be purchased on a month by month basis with no minimum contract length.

New versions

New versions are immediately available to all users, without the need to be installed on customer systems.

Maintenance

On-premises solutions tend to be bespoke to each customer. This increases the maintenance costs and ability to roll out new features.  A SaaS application usually has only one version, which means these issues do not arise.

Software costs

Due to all the efficiencies that come from true multi-tenanted SaaS applications software companies can supply their SaaS solutions at a much lower cost than on-premises applications.


So why isn’t everything SaaS?

Great question!

There are some good reasons why not everything is SaaS. SaaS (as it exists today) is a newer concept, so some older software solutions are on-premises for historical reasons.

There are applications which are not so well-suited to a SaaS. Video editing software involves processing huge volumes of data, and is often done more efficiently on a powerful workstation, rather than across a network. This may change as technology improves.

For some classes of applications (e.g. Bank Networks) the risks may outweigh the benefits.

Here are some points that a buyer should consider when evaluating a SaaS product.

Data Security

Data security is a key issue with SaaS software. It has made the headlines due to events such as revelations about the US Government PRISM programme. These are valid concerns. SaaS companies are taking steps to secure their products from these risks, but a wise buyer would consider this point.

System availability

SaaS solutions usually have less downtime than those hosted on-premises, but relying on external vendors is a risk which should be considered.

Dependence on high-speed internet

SaaS applications depend on an internet connection to function. Several factors will affect actual network requirements. These include number of users, type of application, level of interaction.


Conclusion

We believe that most enterprise software is moving to the SaaS model because the benefits of this approach outweigh the disadvantages.

The preferred architecture for computing has swung like a pendulum between a centralised and distributed approach. In the 1970's a mainframe computer with many dumb terminals was state of the art. In the 1990's a distributed, client-server model ruled the roost. Long term, we cannot be sure if the pendulum has settled or will swing again. Will current innovations such as MS Office 365, Amazon AWS and Google Chromebook continue? Will the end of Moores law and the Internet of Things give rise to new and better tools and usher in a return to a more distributed model?

Unfortunately, we don’t have a crystal ball*. However, we do believe that, in the short and medium term, at least, SaaS will be the preferred choice for most applications.


*For more information about the Moores Law and accelerating technology, these links are a great place to start:
https://www.ted.com/talks/ray_kurzweil_on_how_technology_will_transform_us
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9wFXHYJgdo



About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com