1. At Market Dojo, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to make e-Sourcing simple for our customers.  We believe that software must be easy to use, and give access to the right information at the right time. So we made some changes which we think will help us do those two things even better.

    Market Dojo is a Software As A Service product. This means that all our customers will see the benefit of these changes the next time they use the software.

    Connecting suppliers and opportunities

    Many of our customers have a large supplier base, and don’t always know every supplier who is right for a particular event. To find the widest range of suppliers, customers can make their events visible on their own Market Dojo Portal.

    To make events visible, there is a new option on the Display Settings Administration area. First, ensure that you have created a custom portal URL, and then tick ‘Make events publicly visible’.

    Screenshot 2014-06-27 10.56.01.png


    Now, when people visit https://myportal.marketdojo.com , they will see a list of events, underneath the login box.

    Screenshot 2014-06-27 08.29.38.png


    Hosts - creating lots

    One of the first things that Hosts have to do is create the Lots for their event.  We have made the initial view more welcoming, with easier access to the two main options.  We are soon adding a new option to create ‘Advanced Lots’.  We now show the new option here, but it disabled for the time being.

    Before
    Screenshot 2014-06-23 21.00.56.png


    After


    The changes continue here, as you now don't need to leave the main Lots screen to add or edit.  This makes it easier to refer to the Lots you have already added,  making the process quicker and easier.

    Hosts can now also choose to add quantities which are not whole numbers.  In the examples below we have specified a quantity of 15.25 metres of table cloth.

    Before
    Screenshot 2014-06-23 21.24.24.png


    After


    Screenshot 2014-06-23 21.24.16.png

    Hosts - running an event

    When an event  is in progress, the host will want to track the bids as they get placed, and analyse what is happening. To make this easier, we now provide more information on the main screen. This includes details of each participants’ latest bid.  Having this information makes it easier to identify the differences and take appropriate action.  In other words you can now see the Lots by participant and the participants by Lots.

    Before


    Screenshot 2014-06-23 21.56.07.png


    After

    Screenshot 2014-06-23 21.55.23.png

    After - with participants visible


    Screenshot 2014-06-23 22.09.12.png

    Participants - placing bids during an auction


    Participants now place their bids on the main screen, rather than in a popup. This makes placing bids simpler, especially when the event contains a large number of lots. If the Participant is permitted to see their rank, we have made that information more prominent.

    Before
    Screenshot 2014-06-23 22.02.40.png


    After
    Screenshot 2014-06-23 22.02.00.png

    Conclusion

    We have improved the user interface for both host and participant users. We ensure the right data is available when needed. These changes will make running or participating in an e-Sourcing activity even simpler.

    These changes are the first results of our ‘Lot Matrix’ project.  The next stage will give users the ability to provide several data points for each Lot. This data will more accurately express the requirements and offers under negotiation.  We look forward to sharing more of these changes soon.

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

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  2. We had a great write up in the West of England Growth Fund newsletter after receiving a grant to help develop our e-marketplace concept.

    Bristol based Market Dojo is poised to launch an enhancement to their e-sourcing and reverse auction platform that is set to revolutionise procurement through dedicated e-marketplaces, thanks to £24,950 of funding from the West of England Growth fund. 



    The team, led by Alun Rafique, Nick Drewe and Nicholas Martin, have used the cash injection to fund the initial development of an energy e-marketplace that enables businesses to source information and prices from energy suppliers. The platform then facilitates a reverse e-auction which means that suppliers bid online against each other to supply a company’s energy needs.

    Alun Rafique, founder and director said: “Our aim has always been to offer simple to use, cost effective e-auction software that was accessible to any business looking to negotiate a more competitive price from suppliers. Rising energy prices are a key issue for businesses so this was an area we were keen to explore further.

    “Existing software didn’t provide the level of flexibility needed to take into account varying unit prices or currencies so we needed to start from scratch to develop a platform that would simplify the whole process. As a relatively young business we didn’t have the capital available to invest in that level of development and that’s where the funding from the West of England Growth fund came in.”

    The new software is currently being tested with the aim of launching the product to market later this year. The development of the new platform has also opened up a number of new opportunities for the company who plan to market the software to other sectors.

    Alun continued: “Although the platform has been developed for use within the energy market it has been created in such a way that it is easily adaptable for use in any industry, for any product or service, offering us huge scope for expansion into new sectors.

    “The funding from the West of England Growth fund gave us the freedom to develop our idea into a workable product which, once launched, has the potential to provide a real boost to our business.”

    About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com
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  3. Building on the rapid success of our latest product, Category Dojo, we are now proud to announce a new enhancement to the tool to help our enterprise customers.

    User hierarchy


    Our Category Dojo clients can now allow their colleagues to have various permissions over each others' categories, be it to create new categories, edit existing ones or just to view the results.   Trusted colleagues can also be given the right to manage their own user permissions. 

    We see the real benefit of this feature as being the one-stop online tool for procurement teams to collaborate together when scheduling their tender activities or sourcing plans, as it gives excellent visibility on what the team is working on and aspiring to achieve.

    Furthermore any users that are added into Category Dojo are also synchronised with the users in Market Dojo, so you only ever have one central database of users to manage across your organisation.

    The tool also adopts the Market Dojo heirarchy rules in that whoever is the first to register with either Market Dojo or Category Dojo becomes the 'Superhost', i.e. the person with the default Admin rights.  Rest assured this can be transferred if one of your colleagues beats you to it!

    So, for those of you with multiple members in your procurement team, please log into Category Dojo today to set up their respective permissions. 

    About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com
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  4. Every procurement team has a method for scheduling their tender activities across their financial year.  Some teams may decide the order based on their existing contract end dates.  Some may decide based on what they ran last year.  Others may plan their efforts around their available resources.  

    Yet all teams share a common goal:  they are looking to cover as much spend as possible to secure best value for their organisation by the year-end.  In some cases this can mean hitting their savings targets.  

     
    The challenge is what you do next once you’ve put together your accurate spend report, a sample of which may look a little like this:

    Typically the next step is to interrogate each of the sub-categories in turn to establish historical activity, contract information such as expiry dates and rebates, purchase price & cost driver movements, market forces, product lifecycle & new product development.  These and other critical analyses then fuel the objectives of your tender activities, be it cost reduction, cost avoidance, supplier rationalisation, risk mitigation, etc.

    Conducting this thorough analysis can be time-consuming but it really does ensure you invest your resources where it matters most.  Saving 30% on line items that are not going to be purchased in 6 months time whilst omitting other line items that are due to triple in volume is a sure-fire way to concede best value for your organisation.  

    The trick is to engage with stakeholders across the spend categories to solicit this information in a consistent, robust way.  This ensures that each category has been prioritised against the same measures to create a set of unified reports.

    Ideally you’d want to do this in a fully auditable tool so that if you ever need to drill into your report to establish why a particular tender was given the priority over another, you’ll have all the information laid before you.  This is especially important when communicating your plan back to your line manager or CFO, to ‘show your working’ so to speak.
    Here are some of the typical reports that our clients have consulted to derive their optimal tender activity plan:
     
    Summary of key information
    Picture1.png
    This ties back to the advantage of comparing all your categories against the same set of inputs.  If your line manager ever asked you what data and assumptions your reports have been based on, a summary such as this provides the perfect answer.  It will also enable you to tweak your inputs to help further refine your reports.  

    Route to market
    Your various tender activities are going to follow their own unique path.  However, assuming you are looking to run a tender activity, there are a finite number of ways to do so.   By segregating your tenders into the route to market, which in the example above is for the public sector, you can have an early indication into the complexities, risks, resourcing needs and upside potential that you may subsequently face.

    Expected savings
    One of the key performance indicators for most procurement teams across the globe is the ability to deliver savings on 3rd party spend.  Estimating the savings potential from one category to the next can be a challenging task, given how many factors can influence them. You could start at the most fundamental question of all:  ‘do we need to even buy this?’.   

    Savings can be readily achieved by reducing the spec. of what you buy, so setting that solution to one side, other key factors can include when you last negotiated the category and what approach was taken, how competitive the supply market is and whether they are likely to bid on your requirement, and what the key cost drivers have done since the last negotiation.

    By comparing the savings potential across your categories, and taking into account the timescales to deliver each of them, you can assess which categories are your classic ‘low hanging fruit’ and which are to be streamlined with minimal resource.

     Understanding supplier relationships
    Before you package up your spend category and take it to market, or perhaps before you write that email to your incumbent to ask that they revise their pricing for the coming year, it is wise to have the facts at your disposal.  

    In particular, it is worth assessing how important that supplier is to your organisation, not just within a specific spend category but across the board.  Likewise, it is important to understand how much they rely on your business so you can then combine the two perspectives into a single estimate of risk vs. leverage.  
    This will prevent you from leaving money on the table with a supplier that is willing to concede more, and, conversely, prevent seeking a negotiation with a supplier that is unlikely to cooperate.  

    Prioritising the categories

    Having obtained all the background data for your categories, you’ll be in a great position to prioritise your tender activities based on your own blend of criteria, be it timescales, complexity, preparation overheads, savings potential, market competition, buyer risk, potential for eAuction etc.  

    This will help you plan the optimal strategy across your spend to reach that goal of securing best value for your organisation.  

    Please note:  all of the reports listed above and more are available within our latest tool, Category Dojo.  To try it out for free on your own spend categories, please visit:  www.marketdojo.com/categorydojo
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  5. Targets. Based on savings, number of eSourcing events, other contract KPIs? What do you do? In procurement you quite literally have a myriad of different ways you can be assessed. This is an endless debate. Do you base on number of auctions? We have seen this carried out very well but we have also seen this abused where auctions are run with no thought. Sometimes you get what you measure. Target contract KPIs are a great way to move forward but add many layers of complexity to the process. There is no right or wrong way. However, this is not the reason for writing this article. 

    We have spoken to many organisations where they set targets for eSourcing. Mostly we find these are based on either savings, user adoption or number of eSourcing events. These targets are normally not stand alone and there are other areas where the professionals are measured. However what we have seen over and over is that these targets can be limiting. eSourcing is easy to use. Most people use Amazon and eBay so why not eSourcing. The point is that these targets should not be something to aim for but they should be something to smash. We have seen many organisations that strive for adoption and ask for quotes for many users when year after year they only increase by one or two. We believe with an accessible platform, you should look at everyone using it, 100’s of eSourcing activities instead of just a few on the big ticket items. Why do this? Well, quite simply to ‘Be the Hero!’. 

    Too cliche? Well think about it. If you smash those targets you may have a higher bonus but more importantly higher recognition. A better CV. Move up or even move on. To make this statement for a sales person would be more challenging given the competition and maturity in the market and the profession. However eSourcing is a perfect arena for this over-achievement. Saving several percent on purchasing spend puts many percent on profit, perhaps as much as a 1:10 ratio. It effectively makes you the salesperson and we know how much recognition they get. The time is right and you should be looking at exponential growth given the timing and the accessibility of the technology. So come on, what's stopping you?






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  6. We recently met up with a small french consultancy, Effixens at cafe Lala in Hammersmith. On the menu was some fantastic mediterranean food as well as a healthy dose of eSourcing discussion. Over the obligatory espresso, conversation turned to whether the majority of procurement professionals really understand the returns of eSourcing. To put this in perspective, in France eAuctions are not very popular so the primary use of eSourcing is for eRFx’s (such as Request for Information/ Proposals/ Quotations).


    (Source iSource report by University of the West of England, 2010)

    Earlier that day I had had a discussion with our insurance company who asked to confirm that our software is a back office operation. And as you can probably guess, it isn’t. This is a very pertinent point. 

    eSourcing is a more complex beast to Contract management for example where the Return on Investment (ROI) is more difficult to judge. The difference being that contract management is more of a back office operation whereas eSourcing is used for collecting prices and information from the suppliers and also negotiation in real time. It is on the front lines, the vangard of the procurement department. The knock on effect is that eSourcing has the potential to deliver a much higher ROI more quickly. Thus the adoption of eSourcing is crucial for any organisation. 

    Even if eSourcing is only used for eRFx’s, rather than eAuctions there are many benefits over the traditional approaches. 

    1. Scalability and efficiency 

    Processes can be standardised. This enables repeatability and especially scalability of any tender activity delivering higher savings without an increased workload. 

    2. Centralisation of data 

    All data is held in one place. Should anyone leave or be off sick all the data can be easily picked accessed. Supplier databases can be centrally controlled helping rationalisation. 

    3. Auditability 

    Secure electronic records of all activities are maintained which can be accessed easily many years after the event. 

    Thus the adoption of eSourcing is crucial for any organisation. Recently we discussed on Thomas.net how we can beat email, eSourcing’s greatest competitor especially for eRFx’s. The main driver has to be to make a platform that people want to use. It will need to have a gamification element, excellent reporting and has to make life easier. Combined with the obvious benefits, it’s got to be a must for any organisation.

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  7. We have released some new improvements to both Market Dojo & Category Dojo.  We hope you like them and we also have some great releases in the pipeline so keep your eyes and ears open!


    Market Dojo...
    • Improvements to the end of event report to make it clearer when a Participant has not taken part in a Lot.
    • Improvements to the text prompts shown to users.
    • New styling for our calendar and popup controls, to use Market Dojo colours.
    New popup, less grey more red!
    New calendar, brighter and less blue.

    Category Dojo...
    • Allow for data items which are much further outside of normal bounds.  For example, if creating specifications takes a long time, you have more options about exactly how long.
    • Give better instructions to the User, to help them enter the right values.
    • Some tweaks to the algorithms to give more accurate results, based on real-world feedback.

    General...
    • This release includes lots of smaller tweaks to address areas that our QA team and customers have noted.


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  8. Jon Hansen and Colin Cram from Procurement Insights published our take on the report on Local Government Procurement.  Once again we would like to pass on our thanks helping to promote our foray into Westminster.

    "On the 25th of November, 2013, we had our calling to go to Westminster and change the face of local government procurement. Well, that was how we saw it although in reality there were over 10 sessions, 60 pieces of written evidence [see an overview of ours here] and more than a few Members of Parliament. This was part of the Communities and Local Government Committee covering Local Government Procurement.

    A report has now been produced and we wanted to scrutinize how the recommendations fared compared with our views. What did they come up with? Were there any earth shattering conclusions? We will tackle a few of the report sections in turn..."

    Read more here
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  9. In between the ritual consumption of chocolate eggs over the Easter weekend, we released a set of new enhancements to our software for all to enjoy.

    Amongst the highlights include some great usability tweaks for Category Dojo based on some valuable client feedback:

    Improved Summary page
    You can now scroll through your multiple categories from the top of the page to easily compare and retrieve information.  Your answers to each question are neatly aligned and sectioned into the 4 key steps, with quick edit links within each step to help you quickly make amendments to the specific set of questions. 

    New category hierarchy creator

    One of the more challenging developments given the shear variety of web browsers that people use, from Internet Explorer 8 to Safari to smartphones, was the re-jig the category hierarchy mechanism, which was a bit clunky.  We now have a dynamic, interactive hierarchy where you can select, create, edit and delete categories and subcategories all within the single user interface for to 5 levels:

    It also lets you answer the questions for any previously created category or subcategories in the hierarchy, which greatly helps you to compare the category strategy at the top-level as well as for the subcategories beneath it.

    For example, if we purchased IT Hardware on separate contracts for our London office to our Sheffield office, we might assess the two contracts independently via subcategories called 'IT Hardware - London' and 'IT Hardware - Sheffield'.  Then we could populate a parent category called 'IT Hardware' and analyse the pros/cons of creating a single centrally-managed contract, along with the impact that would have on competition levels, expected savings, timescales and complexity.

    General improvements

    Along with the two above enhancements, we continued our bug fixing and general performance improvements to the software to ensure it fulfills our client expectations.  

    Happy Easter everyone!

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  10. We are delighted to announce our most recent reseller partnership, penned with Ondrej Hajnik of eBidding.cz, to help promote our products throughout the Czech Republic and Slovakia. 

    Ondrej is a genuine eSourcing expert, having worked as a category manager for Ariba for nearly 4 years, as well as having numerous managerial roles for industrial companies.   We have no doubt that there is a lot we can learn from one another.  It also enables us to offer Ondrej's services to any client that might be looking to expand into Eastern Europe, be it for market research, strategic sourcing or project management. 

    The Czech Republic and Slovakia are very interesting markets to us, given that we were awarded our first Technology Strategy Board grant partly to make eSourcing more accessible to EU accession states, who may not have the budget or resources to invest in the more complex and user-intensive eTendering products that exist today.  This is all the more relevant given the 2016 deadline set by the European Commission to make eProcurement mandatory for all public sector buyers. 

    Furthermore, the private sector is very much in our sights as well.  The UK and Czech markets are comparable, whereby large companies tend to have legacy solutions in place, whilst medium-sized companies have dipped in and out of eSourcing over the years, and smaller companies are yet to experience the benefits.

    Ondrej feels that there is huge potential here, given the extreme ease of use of our software combined with our affordable on-demand pricing model.  Many local competitors tend to have basic eAuction dashboards without the rich bid and vendor management procedures that exist in our software.  This will help eAuctions be run more professionally to further embed eSourcing as a daily consideration. 

    Ondrej is currently helping us to translate the software into Czech ready for the first client investment. 

    If you would like to know more, please get in touch with us or Ondrej via his website:  http://www.ebidding.cz/en/

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