Monday, 25 July 2016

[Guest Blog] eAuction in the cloud is heaven

Peter Schmidt's latest article discusses the generic benefits of SAAS and what eAuctions in the cloud means to businesses.

'Software as a Service', commonly abbreviated to SAAS, carries a number of generic benefits. These benefits are particularly true for an application like an eAuction as delivered by Market Dojo

Let us first have a look at some of the generic benefits of SAAS

The idea behind SAAS is that the software can be used as a utility. The financial model behind the SAAS solution should be tailored to the majority of the cases. This makes it a strong competitor to in-house ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems, as in most cases the cost is based on licenses and excess functionality that comes with a higher price.

Once functionality becomes a pay per use utility, it makes it extremely interesting for experimenting as to how it will help to show the benefit to the business. In most cases you can test the functionality through demos, which are generally free for a period of time.

SAAS applications are often used without the permission of IT departments, IT departments can be apprehensive about the use of unknown SAAS applications. Commonly referred to as shadow IT. Therefore characteristics like data privacy, security and the location of data servers should be shared with the IT department to avoid the cloud casting a shadow over the IT people.

However as the carrier for SAAS application is the Internet, the presence is ubiquitous, which gives the customer the benefit of the world market.

The cloud addresses the world as a customer base, allowing users to learn from each other and their experiences by analysing the metadata, made available by the supplier. Individuals would be able use the metadata to glean how other users have established results through different tactics and strategies. An example of this would be deducing the most suitable auction type such as a Ranked Reverse Auction or Japanese Reverse Auction from the data produced by previous auctions.

At the same time this information can be used by the supplier to gain insight into how enhancements to the SAAS solution can be made, while at the same time listening to the user community.

The generic benefits of SAAS applied by Market Dojo

Why do I think that eAuction in the cloud is heaven? Because it is utility driven, eAuction’s are a process that usually takes place a number of times per annum. Making the business case is not rocket science. Simply the cost is known and therefore the likely savings, typically showing a very high return on investment. Also during the eAuction the savings can be seen in real time, which allows for an immediate assessment of the anticipated business case.

This part is clearly understood by Market Dojo in their pricing model which is transparent and tailored to the individuals intended use.

Market Dojo have created an experimental environment in a sandpit. Allowing users to practise creating an event prior to purchasing a license. It also shows users that the software is geared to the fundamentals of the most commonly known auction types.

Transparency in how the SAAS environment is built and how attention is given to the most common worries about Cloud Computing is clearly outlined in the language of the IT folks. White papers, guides and templates are all available as documents that can be downloaded from their site.

Market Dojo has also issued an infographic that shows the analysis of the number of eAuctions that have been carried out. This infographic shows a reflection of their experience in the field and can be used to determine the strategy for your next eAuction.

Although the software is an enabler for the entire eAuction process, it genuinely comes to life with the aid and the expertise of a procurement professional, who can create a structured process around eAuctions. Which in itself is crucial for success.

Peter is an independent consultant for P.Schmidt Consultancy Service B.V and has a long track record in sales, consultancy and procurement. He specialises in Telecoms, Managed Services and Public Cloud.

Peter Schmidt
Independent Consultant
Tel: + 31 6 217 124 72

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Thursday, 21 July 2016

“We’ve always done it this way”

One obstacle that many businesses face is changing the mindset of those that have a “We’ve always done it this way” (It even has an acronym! WHADITW) mentality. As an eSourcing provider we are always looking at ways we can challenge outdated mindsets and find innovative ways to save money especially in a constantly evolving industry such as procurement.

Recently one of my colleague started a Procurious Discussion on “We’ve always done it this way” and asked about others experiences.

  • “Working with a WHADITW colleague can be extremely frustrating! Some people are just terrified of change, I guess. Sometimes you can help them work through their fears, but often the people who are most afraid of change...never change.”
  • “Many are hesitant to embrace change for processes that are doing just fine. They believe that the risk of things taking the wrong turn is not worth the potential reward of exponential growth, and therefore dismiss the idea immediately.”
  • “Having worked in organisations that didn't like change WHADITW, it killed any creativity and innovation and therefore real growth potential to individuals and the organisation. I have also worked in companies that actively challenge WHADITW to seek better ways of doing something. Sometimes the changes worked - other times not so much.”

Below we have highlighted some of the WHADITW mindsets that we have encountered in procurement professionals with regards to eSourcing and our viewpoints:

  • “I get the results I want anyhow” - But is your result the best result? If you only ask a limit number of suppliers, how do you know if you have found the market price? Yes, it can take more time, although if you use an electronic tool, then you can scale easily.
  • “I can get a much better price in a face to face negotiation” - Perhaps yes, perhaps no, although one thing is for sure, if you want to negotiate face to face with a lot of suppliers, you will have no time left.
  • “My way might not be the best but I like it” - Why not examine other ways as you may even like them. Integral to the DNA of procurement is the desire to create further efficiencies and savings. If you aren’t changing for the better, then what will you put on your CV?
  • “I have used an eSourcing system before, but I don’t see the benefits?” - eSourcing is similar to any form of technology and over time it develops. One of the founders of Ford was famously told ‘The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty.’ However if the technology provides benefits that surpass the cost of adopting the product, then the value of changing is greater than the cost.
  • “It will ruin the supplier relationships - How much do these relationships cost? Also eSourcing has been proven to strengthen the relationships by the very fact that it is much more open and transparent.
  • What I buy is so specific, eSourcing wouldn't work” - eSourcing and eAuctions are just tools to help. There are not any inherent differences in the processes.
  • “There’s no driver in the business to do this” - Essentially it isn't mandated. Any change is tough to drive through. However all organisations need to evolve. Change for change's sake it not worth it but every now and again you need to step change to improve. Inefficiencies creep in and better practices are always out there. Also once you have driven forward with change, in a few months you simply won't remember or crave for the old ways.

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

[New Release] Making Market Dojo more productive

Our development team have been working hard to bring you the latest improvements to Market Dojo. This month, we have focused on productivity issues which our customers have told us about.

Participant Filters

One advantage of using an eSourcing tool, rather than email and spreadsheets, is that it is much easier to process responses from a large number of participants. Inviting more participants means that you can be more confident of finding the best value offer for your tender.

Although the average is 27, our customers have invited as many as 600 participants to an event. To help manage all these participants, we have added the ability to filter them.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 14.11.55.png

The event participants view, with new filter options displayed. The filters make it very simple to find all the participants who, for example, have not accepted the invitation or answered the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire. You can also filter on their name, email or company and various other aspects of their current status. We believe that Participant Filters will make it even easier to use Market Dojo to manage participants in a sourcing event. Currency Selection
We have also made it easier to choose the currency or currencies you want to run your event. Previously we had a drop down list which had become quite lengthy as we added different currencies from around the world, as well as some non-standard items, such as Rate. We have replaced this with an ordered, categorised list which also a search feature. Here it is in action:


Other Changes

In addition to these two features, we have also made a number of smaller improvements requested by our customers. These include:

    • Improvements to the event download report.
    • Better support for emails in the sandpit when using languages other than English
    • Better support for managing suppliers who have already been invited in SIM Dojo.
    • Performance improvements for editing large questionnaires

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Thursday, 14 July 2016

What eSourcing can learn from social media

Over the last decade, social media has become ever more streamlined. From the creation of Facebook over 12 years ago, allowing individuals to represent themselves on a single page. The evolution of Twitter, limiting the number of characters that can be used in a single ‘tweet’ to 140. To the eventual creation of Tinder that matches couples based on their physical attraction to each other. Social media has revolutionised the way we socialise on a daily basis.

We have broken down social media into 6 main aspects that we believe are integral to the success of social media and what eSourcing can learn:

1. Engagement
2. Expanding networks
3. Ability to express opinions
4. Dissemble information
5. Sharing content
6. Create events

Aspects of Social Media

1. Engagement

Central to the success of any social media platform is its ability to engage users. Engagement in social media is measured by how much and how often others interact with each other and their content. This is influenced by content, usability of the system and its reach.

Successful SaaS sSourcing providers are typically easy to use and have the ability for suppliers as well as hosts to use the application anywhere in the world. Ideally an eSourcing platform would allow users to create content, potentially increasing the use of the software for enjoyment. In the future there is potential for further gamification as an avenue to explore to encourage user engagement.

2. Expanding networks

Social media platforms such as Linkedin and Facebook have the ability to bring together contacts from around the world. In recent years you can expand your network and connect with individuals who you don't know but share a common interest such as sports teams, universities and previous job history.

Most eSourcing platforms are similarly moving down this route to connect hosts with more suppliers and also hosts with other hosts. Ideally an eSourcing system would have the ability for hosts to expand their networks of suppliers. An example of how you could do this would be a database of suppliers that would allow new hosts to invite other suppliers to their network. Thereby using the SaaS application to expand networks and find new contacts.

3. Ability to express opinions

Integral to any modern social media platform is the ability for a user to express their opinion over a particular topic. This can be done in the now popular method of ‘liking’ content.

In this case eSourcing platforms typically don’t have an option of expressing opinions due to the limited content that is shared between hosts and suppliers. However, could platforms integrate this ability as an alternative way to gain additional feedback on tenders.

4. Dissemble information - Twitter via 140 characters

Twitter has created an incredible ability to disassemble content into 140 characters or less. By limiting the number of characters in a ‘tweet’ it allows users to easily process information in small chunks.

eSourcing as with other industries are still looking for ways to further condense information into smaller forms, however the development of visuals over the last few years has gone further to dissembling information into easy to read content. Twitter has been used by past clients to advertise their tenders to a wider audience and then is certainly more scope for this.

5. Sharing Content

Social media platforms have advanced in recent years to make the process of sharing content both straightforward and effective. By using already existent content and distributing it to other users, it both lessens the need for new content and encourages or develops the relationships between users.

A form of sharing content is already being used in eSourcing through templates, guides, forums, and just in the process of general tenders. We foresee this to increase as eSourcing becomes even more integral to businesses, especially with respect to the community as a whole sharing ideas and experience.

6. Create events

Events are being used by social media applications to interact and develop relationships between users. Whether it’s scheduling your social calendar with ‘Events’ on Facebook or reacting to real-time events with ‘trends’ on Twitter.

eSourcing systems such as Market Dojo already use events such as Reverse eAuctions as a method of interaction between users. However the ability to show events taking place by other users and what is going on for other suppliers to join might be beneficial to create interaction and ultimately success.. Obviously there are issues with confidentiality and security that need to be upheld.


Social media has many aspects that are being used in eSourcing, while there are some aspects such as the dissembling of information into a very limited number of characters that have yet to be adapted. Here is a breakdown of different features that we believe eSourcing can adapt from social media.

What can eSourcing learn from social media?

  1. Gamification for the software, to make eSourcing ‘enjoyable’
  2. Making eSourcing software ‘easy-to-use’
  3. Software that generates simple suggestions on how to increase success
  4. Open databases of suppliers & hosts, to allow expansion of networks
  5. Allow for expression of opinions and easy interaction between all users
  6. Dissembling complex information into visuals or limited characters
  7. Ability for users to easily share content amongst themselves
  8. Possibilities of increasingly open auctions that allow other hosts to view and participate in 

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

'A Good Chef Should Taste Their Own Food' Prioritising Our Product Roadmap

“That was the thing about the world: it wasn't that things were harder than you thought they were going to be, it was that they were hard in ways that you didn't expect.” ― Lev Grossman, The Magician King

When looking at creating a roadmap, they are many dimensions that need to be accounted for.  It is very challenging to prioritise the possible developments from many different angles.

What is it?  Is it a bug, feature, enhancement or an entirely new product?

What’s the ROI (Return on Investment)?  To calculate this you need to not only estimate the development time (which is a challenge in itself without a detailed specification) but also work out the potential return.  And is the return related to a decrease in support time or an  increase in sales or simply better branding?

Image result for return on investment
“Out of clutter, find simplicity.” ― Albert Einstein

So how do we go about deciding on which development to do first?  Is it the quick bug fixes for current customers or the new product developments with larger returns and aimed at a new audience.

We are great believers in the Pareto rule.

“The Pareto principle is a principle, named after economist Vilfredo Pareto, that specifies an unequal relationship between inputs and outputs. The principle states that, for many phenomena, 20% of invested input is responsible for 80% of the results obtained.”

And hence we looked internally at Innovation Dojo where we have already defined an excellent prioritisation system.

Our two dimensions of prioritisation for Innovation Dojo are implementation and priority. 

Implementation - this is made up in turn of three keys areas:

  • Time - how long will it take?
  • Resource - how many people will it take?
  • Investment - how much will it cost?

Priority - this is also made up of three key areas:

  • Urgency - Is this a pressing issue?
  • Importance - Where does this sit with respect to our business strategy?
  • Financial opportunity - A difficult area to assess although if you break it down  it becomes quite simple.

“Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it.” 
― René Descartes, Discourse on Method

We look at the financial opportunity opportunity from many angles: Reduction in the support and future development times, customer retention and growth, new opportunities and many others.

The great thing about breaking down the analysis into the constituent parts is that (hopefully) the instability is worked out of the system.

How can you breakdown the analysis into parts?

Category Dojo is a perfect example of this. This is a tool, which in its basic form, helps procurement professionals prioritise their categories.  Now, this is also a task that all teams do as a matter of fact. However how do you robustly determine the procurement opportunities between 2 categories which are quite similar, yet managed by different people.

Category Dojo breaks down the complexity of each category through a simple set of questions that allow the differences to come to the forefront through empirical calculations. Any particular reply which may not be quite in line with the general trend should be dampened out by the other replies. The more questions you ask, the more stable the result, although there is obviously a tradeoff with usability.

This was the joy of using our Innovation Dojo methodology. A 1-5 scoring system is used for each of the 6 axes and then it is a simple method of combining them to give the top priorities. It has worked out so well we encourage others to try out this methodology and see what you think.  After entering all the data, the results just popped out and we are glad to say made a lot of sense!

And you can read more about Innovation Dojo here.

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!