Thursday, 6 June 2013

Managing your auction?

Market Dojo - we have added some useful new tools

The Market Dojo team have been working on some exciting new features over the last few months and today we are very pleased to be able to announce the availability of some of this work.

Innovation Portal

This is our exciting new tool to aid collaboration across the supply chain.  A lot of people have been asking us for this, and we are really looking forward to hearing how you use it.  We have written a
blog article which gives the full lowdown on Innovation Portal.

Proxy Bids

Proxy Bids allow hosts to enter bids on behalf of a participant.  Proxy bids are useful in situations where the Participant is unable to enter their bids, but still wants to take part. To place a proxy bid on behalf of a participant, click their name on the Participants tab or the ‘Active Participants’ popup on either the RFQ or Auction tab. When a proxy bid is placed an email is sent to the participant so they know a bid was placed on their behalf.  Proxy bids are marked with a green ‘P’ to make it really clear who placed which bid.

Pause Auction

During an auction, hosts will see a new pause button next to the the countdown timer.  Use this to pause the event.  Once paused, a message will be sent to active participants and the countdown timer will stop. Pressing the play button will resume the auction.  We have added this feature to help in situations where an issue occurs during the auction.  It can be used to give everyone time to resolve a problem without having to re-run the auction from the start.

Running Auction controls

On the Auction tab, hosts will see a new ‘Settings’ widget at the top of the screen, clicking on this will reveal some fields to allow the settings of a running auction to be modified.

For a Japanese auction, hosts may change the bid round time interval and bid decrement.  For an Open or Ranked auction, hosts may change the dynamic close period and minimum and maximum bid change.

Auction controls may be useful in situations where the auction is not going according to plan or you want to be able to change settings to fit the bidding.  For example to encourage participants to reduce their price more quickly in an event which is running for much longer than expected.

Control over active Participants

A participant may now accept an event after the auction has started.  We think this will help people who wish to take part, but have either misunderstood when the auction is starting, or have left it very late to enrol.

The host can now re-accept or reject participants during the auction.  For example, to remove a participants access during the auction, or to give access to a previously rejected participant.  The host can control the list of participants from the participant tab, using the same controls which are used prior to the auction.

The host can also add a participant back into a Japanese auction, even after they have missed a bid round.  This is for situations where the participant made a mistake, or ran out of time, and really did want to continue to bid.  To add a participant back, just click on the ‘Active Participants’ link on the Auction tab, and then click the ‘Re-accept’ button next to the participant.

Message Board

We have made a couple of improvements to the message board.  

Firstly, we have given the ability for a host to select groups of participants (for example all participants who have been invited but not accepted the invite).  We hope this will be useful to hosts who have a large number of participants in their event, and quickly want to contact a specific group of them.

Secondly, we now have the ability to include an attachment with a message.  For example, if you add or update a specification, you can send all participants a message to alert them to that fact, and include the new document with the message.

The controls for these new additions are on the new message popup.


We have improved the performance of certain key parts of Market Dojo.  This changes will improve the experience for everyone, but will be particularly noticeable in events with long questionnaires; many participants or a large number of lots.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Performance improvements

We have improved the performance of certain key parts of Market Dojo.  This changes will improve the experience for everyone, but will be particularly noticeable in events with long questionnaires; many participants or a large number of lots.

We also took the opportunity to further increase our hardware capacity which will enable us more scope for expansion in the future.

This update will be of particular importance as we roll out the 'Lot Matrix' developments later this year. These developments will give users the opportunity to create their own 'lotting' structure and break it down by line items and components. We will reveal more on this fantastic addition in the months to come.

The Innovation Portal - expanding the buyers toolbox

'Creating a Request for Ideas’

Sourcing over the last 20 years has seen the evolution into the electronic age.  Paper-based quotation processes have been replicated.  Auctions were born out of the desire to negotiate efficiently. However, most new developments in this arena seem to be only incremental improvements on these existing capabilities.

At Market Dojo, we have already applied innovation to these areas by making them more accessible to an increasing number of professionals who want to use these tools. Now we have turned our attention to actually expanding on the procurement professionals toolset.  

The first of these real innovations has been realised on the back of a grant from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) whose mantra is ‘Driving Innovation’. We have unsurprisingly called it the ‘Innovation Portal’.

In our previous careers we ran reverse auctions on behalf of clients. A common objection from the procurement managers would be that the negotiation was too focused on price.  As we moved into the software business ourselves as an e-Auction provider, we were compelled to quickly add a Request for Quotation capability (RFQs) and then weighted events (which can take account of non-price criteria).  However, price is obviously still a major factor.

This made us think of how companies can drive blue sky thinking and real innovation from their supplier base by taking price out of the equation.  Essentially a ‘Request for Ideas’.  With efficiencies becoming increasingly important, addressing innovation in the supplier base becomes very challenging outside of a few preferred partners.  For procurement professionals, time simply isn’t there for this enterprise and R&D departments do not have the relationship with their supplier base.

Many companies have asked us about approaching their supplier base and tackling this type of activity.  For example helping with questions such as ‘How do we attain a 5% cost down of this component?’ or ‘Have you ideas for new packaging for this product?’  Your suppliers may have patented processes, new materials, special relationships that they can draw upon to be able to offer unique solutions.  But how do you efficiently approach your supply pool and find this untapped knowledge?

Market Dojo came up with a solution, the Innovation Portal. We knew we would have to make it stand out from a simple questionnaire or a form submission (anyone can do that).  It would need to include:

  • two-way collaboration
  • appropriate scoring and comparison mechanisms
  • the centralisation of information
  • an ability to manage the interaction with the suppliers

Our Innovation Portal allows companies (we call them Hosts) to suggest a topic to their suppliers (we call them Participants), attach documents and even highlight possible rewards such as gain-share arrangements.  Hosts can invite as many Participants as they wish with obvious efficiencies from doing this electronically. Participants can then suggest detailed ideas including critical information around cost and implementation.  

More importantly, Participants are also able to suggest their own topics and ideas to the Host for true two-way collaboration. Such topics can be further expanded by the Host who can then open it up to a wider audience of Participants.

Hosts score the ideas against criteria such as resource, urgency and financial opportunity.  These component scores are then combined to create two driving factors:  ‘ease of implementation’ and ‘priority’, which form the main axes, and it is against these criteria that all ideas can be assessed. This not only lets the Host consistently compare ideas within a topic but also compare ideas across a variety of topics thus enabling accurate prioritisation and planning.

Compare your ideas against the priority and ease of implementation
(with the size of the bubble representing the financial opportunity)
Understand where your ideas fit against the six scoring criteria

Communication around ideas can be tracked through the Message Board to give both the Host and Participants an auditable history, centralising all communication in one area instead of disparate conversations and emails. This means that the Innovation Portal is not just a place where the supplier ‘fire and forgets’ ideas but we give the Host the ability to challenge the Participant and refine the detail.
This simple, yet effective, way for managing the early stages of ideas will help pave the way for a possible Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Information (RFI).   It gives the opportunity to efficiently examine blue sky thinking and forge closer relationships with your suppliers.  It truly allows for a collaborative framework with your suppliers to rapidly progress innovation.  

In fact the other fitting name we were going to give the product was the ‘Collaboration Portal’.

Contact us today and we'd be very happy to show you how your organisation can benefit from this innovative tool.