1. 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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  2. 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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  3. On April 7th 2014, security researchers discovered a serious vulnerability (CVE-2014-0160) in OpenSSL, a very popular cryptographic library used by many websites. This library ensures secure communication between server and client but also confirms the identity of the server.

    What is Market Dojo doing about this?
    • We have confirmed that none of core systems were affected as we do not use a version of OpenSSL which was affected.
    • We have checked with our technology partners.  Our CRM, Support and Accounting systems were affected, although all swiftly moved to address the problem and are no longer at risk.  They have also confirmed that they have no indication that the vulnerability has been exploited against these systems.
    What should you do?
    • If you use the same password on Market Dojo which you also use for another service, which was compromised, we recommend changing it in Market Dojo too. 



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  4. Following a recent LinkedIn question ("Someone explain to me how a Reverse Auction is fair and equitable to the supplier ...") we had to pause for thought.  Admittedly in the past auctions had obtained a less then sparkling reputation.  This seems to be in a large part down to the pre-conception that it was a race to the bottom for price and quality.

    When eAuctions initially came onto the market (~20 years ago) as a way to negotiate quickly and effectively, they were firmly in the hands of experienced consultants such as FreeMarkets (sold to Ariba 2004).  eAuctions were primarily viewed as a way to save money.  However it does hide the fact that the consultants would put in a great deal of work.  Even five years ago when we were working for a consultancy, auctions would take us between 200 and 300 man-hours.

    The next stage in their progression was as a module of the larger ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)  applications and consultancy software offerings.  This seems to where the damage to their reputation was done. This was the initial transition of software to the hands of organisations themselves. The fact of the matter is that setting up an auction is more work up front than a traditional RFQ (Request For Quotation).  You need to have the Service Level Agreements and specifications tied down as well as have sufficient market liquidity.  By this we don't just mean having suppliers who can bid, but suppliers who will bid and to whom you are willing to award the business. In this initial transition it seems that the benefits from negotiating the price down were understood but the level of work required for a truly successful auction was not.  And a truly successful auction needs to be judged on realised savings, quality and delivery, not just identified savings. This is where suppliers were put off by badly run eAuctions.

    As the procurement professional has grown up in the last 10 years, becoming far more reputable, so has the eAuction process.  Companies understand that for success the eAuctions need to be run in a professional manner and should be viewed as any negotiation where you are looking for a win-win outcome.  For example you can weight non-price criteria or mention in the documentation that you will bring in the top three suppliers for discussions post-auction, or even include supplier presentations in the process.  The truth is that eAuctions are just another tool in the procurement tool-set for negotiation and they need to be used with care.

    The new breed of eSourcing platforms on the market also help make the process easier.  For example we strive to embed professional processes in every stage with check points at appropriate milestones.  We make it easy for the suppliers, as well as the buyers, to adopt, and we have had many different kinds of suppliers bidding from taxi drivers to one man bands.  Here is our guide for helping to onboard suppliers.

    Unfortunately that initial bad reputation is still around today.  However we less frequently see a powerful incumbent try to kibosh the process.   With the increasing professionalism and eConnectivity in supplier markets and the ability for buyers to more readily search globally for suppliers, this is becoming a risky approach for an incumbent.

    Not only that but suppliers are actually finding that eAuctions are a good way to negotiate and they have been proven to strengthen relationships.  With increased thought up front on documentation, open communication and more transparency, eAuctions are fast becoming a very efficient and fair way to do business. Suppliers are also better prepared in understanding their margins before the event and having a sufficient BATNA (Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement) in place.  This is will help negate the view that suppliers can get caught up in the furore of bidding.  Also many consumer applications from eBay to moneysupermarket.com help make the process less daunting. We have many guides and videos to help suppliers through the auction process here.

    In conclusion we would say that suppliers don't fear the eAuction itself anymore. With a greater understanding they see the advantages.  All they do fear is a badly run eAuction, so make sure your's is not one of them!

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  5. It’s been a while since we wrote about the new features we are adding to Market Dojo.  However, that doesn’t mean the development team have been taking it easy.  Even though we have been hard at work on some big enhancements (more about those very soon), we still found time for our ongoing improvements programme.

    Here are some of the highlights…

    Performance

    Our customers are running bigger and bigger events, with more Participants and more Lots.  When running these big events, we noticed some areas that might act as bottlenecks.   We have been looking at where things were not as fast as they should be, and improved them.  You should see a marked improvement in response times if you are running an Auction with more than 30 lots or participants where a lot of bids are received in a short period of time.

    We know that speed matters, and we have lots more planned for this area, but we believe this is a good start.

    Bid upload

    As part of the drive to support big events, we have added the ability to upload RFQ and Qualification Bids using a spreadsheet. This means that Participants can submit bids copied in from a spreadsheet, rather than having to re-enter them to the application.  This can save a lot of time if you are providing information on 100+ lots.  To learn more about this feature, please see the demo video.

    Category Dojo

    We launched Category Dojo at the end of last year. Since then we have been working with customers and looking for ways to improve. The changes include...

    • Fine-tuning the algorithms to make the recommendations more accurate
    • A ‘clone portfolio’ feature, to allow new portfolios to be created more quickly.
    • Improvements to the Prioritisation Report, to make it easier to weight the different factors you want to consider when planning your strategy.

    Support

    We have created a support portal. This links our live chat, CRM and bug tracking systems, so if you do have a problem, we will be able to help you even more quickly.

    General

    We have also included more than 100 smaller tweaks and bug fixes to make using our products more enjoyable, even if you are still using older versions of Internet Explorer.


    A lot of these changes came as a result of customer suggestions.  We think they will improve the product for all our customers. We would love to hear what you think.
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  6. This is the opening gambit of a guest publication by Nick Drewe of Market Dojo on the highly respected Information Age magazine, whose objective is to help their readers become more confident and successful in their use of technology, in their choice of suppliers, and in their management of people and partners.  The article discusses why offshoring IT was the right choice for Market Dojo, but wasn’t without its challenges.

    On 12 March 2014, the World Wide Web commemorated its 25th birthday. The internet has evolved to enable our corporate world to globally communicate in real-time via a diverse set of media.

    We have never been better equipped to implement strategies that stretch across all continents of the planet. Even start-ups working from their local cafe can build businesses with global operations, something that was near impossible pre-internet.

    The benefits to offshoring IT requirements are clear. The average cost for an equally skilled web developer in India is a third of that in the UK. Continue further east to Indonesia and it’s possible to halve the cost again. In some cases, even Indian companies offshore their IT services to Indonesia.

    Offshore services can be purchased on a rolling monthly basis, and so, should a particular contractor not fulfill the obligations, another can be sourced. This is a much less risky and less costly process than trying to hire, house, equip and train your own employees. It gives a business real scalability, as it can flex its resources from one month to the next across a broad range of services – be it hosting, software testing, web development, project management, quality assurance or customer services.

    However, there are recognised challenges....[read the full article here]

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  7. 'We have the pleasure of a guest post from one of our clients, Terri Hudson, who represents Baker Wanless and eQuiddity.  She is has many years experience of running auctions and has shared her thoughts on the Japanese auction format.'

    Many people often question the use of Japanese Auctions with me.  Why use them?  What are the benefits?  How is this fair?  So I thought I would share my views on Japanese Auctions to illustrate the benefits of this auction type and when and why to use it.

    So what is a Japanese auction?  A Japanese auction is where there is no free bidding by suppliers.  The software drops the price automatically (typically 1% every 5 minutes) and the supplier simply needs to ‘Accept’ or ‘Decline’ that price drop.  The Market Dojo platform makes it very easy for bidders to take part.  The screen is fresh and bright.  Accept is coloured black and Decline in red to avoid mistakes and the screen refresh is fast so bids are received in no time at all.  The platform also gives the buyer the ability to adjust the decrements and time gaps during the live auction so as suppliers get familiar with the process the buyer could look to reducing the time between drops from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.

    Throughout 2013, Baker Wanless / e-Quiddity ran between 45 and 50 Auctions through the Market DoJo platform and 90% of those were deployed as a Japanese build and identified savings in the region of €20m for our clients.  Some would argue that you could achieve the same or similar results through more traditional auction builds, however this is debatable.

    To begin with, Japanese auctions provide a level of commercial confidentiality on categories that sit under goods for resale.  For example, one bidder would not find it difficult to work out what another bidder’s margins are if they were given full visibility of the end result and positioning during the live event, because the retail selling price is in the public domain.  This is particularly sensitive with incumbent suppliers.  In many cases, the time between the live auction to award of business and the first delivery of the goods can often take around 3 to 4 months and it is important that the buyers maintain healthy relationships with their suppliers during a tender process.

    The other benefits include the fact that when a supplier has reached their exit price, they are free to exit the auction and leave.  It does not stop the auction for others, only for them, and means there is no benefit to them watching the auction further.  Other methods may result in the supplier continuing to watch the auction whilst it continues with the other bidders in order to gain free market information.

    As a buyer, you would notice that in more traditional eAuction methods, incumbents don’t tend to perform well.  They typically will tailgate the leading bidders and remain 2nd or 3rd ranked in an attempt to demonstrate a competitive yet non-leading bid.  This is because they feel they don’t need to be the best price. If the difference between them and another bidder is not significant the buyer is unlikely to change supplier.  The Japanese format removes visibility of the ranking meaning that they are unable to tailgate and must put their best foot forwards when bidding.

    Why not give it a try?  We are experts at running them now and would be delighted to work with you and show you how it’s done, so get in touch.
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  8. Supply Management recently posted an article by Nick Drewe of Market Dojo outlining some top 10 tips for running an eSourcing event, based on his experience of using an eSourcing tool to find a builder for his own home extension.  Here are the opening few paragraphs, and the rest can be found on Supply Management here.

    At the end of 2013 Nick Drewe decided to use his professional expertise to electronically 
source a ground floor extension and loft conversion for his 
house. Here are 10 things 
the process taught him.

    When none of the initial RFQs my wife and I received via a traditional email and face-to-face process for a ground-floor extension and loft conversion were within our budget, we decided to change 
our approach.

    Instead of reducing the scope of works, we embarked upon a competitive bidding process, underpinned by e-sourcing software, involving 96 local building firms. The exercise resulted in a £35,000 (33 per cent) saving against the best of the three initial RFQs and, if anything, an increase in the scope of works due to some excellent market-informed suggestions.

    Conducting a full-scale strategic sourcing project on something so close to home (sorry) can feel both risky and daunting. And so I’ve listed the top 10 tips from my professional experience that enabled us to achieve this result.

    [The top 10 tips can be found on the Supply Management website here.]
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  9. We recently returned from another fantastic eWorld event in Westminster.  The most noticeable difference for us between this event and previous ones was the absence of Market Dojo co-founder, Alun Rafique.  Alun and his wife Justyna are expecting their first child imminently and so a trip into central London was strictly off the cards, as you can imagine!

    Having to make do with two of us on the stand, quite simply we were overcome by the sheer quantity of great discussions with passing delegates.  For any of you who approached our stand and did not have the chance to talk to us, we apologise profusely!

    If it is any consolation, we missed the 2pm cut-off for hot lunches and had to make do with a chicken wrap and fruit salad for nourishment shortly before 3pm!  We’ve learnt our lesson and will ensure we have more colleagues on hand next time.


    This year was another first for us as we held our own Innovation Briefing seminar entitled, “From identifying opportunities to realised savings” in conjunction with our client and partner, eQuiddity.   The 30 minute talk covered two major areas of procurement that are poorly defined, specifically:

    1. Opportunity assessment:  how to build a procurement plan addressing what it is that you should tender in the next X months, what approach you should take, what resources you should allocate and what you are looking to deliver back to the business;

    1. Implementation:  how to implement the tender outcomes, as post-tender all you have are a set of figures on a computer screen and some supplier names.  Here we outlined how you implement those results and even enhance them in the process.  

    The seminar, which was held concurrently with other events, was very well attended with all 80 chairs taken and some attendees even standing at the back!  eWorld are excellent at providing detailed feedback from delegates so we look forward to learning from that in due course.  

    For those of you who couldn’t make it, or if you’d like to own a copy of our presentation, you can download a PDF copy here (please first sign in or sign up to Market Dojo for the link to work).

    It’s also great to see that eWorld have taken on board their own feedback and have provided free tea and coffees, which was possibly the most popular event of the day!  The queue snaked past our stand, which provided us a captive audience to engage with.  I hope we made your waiting time fly by!

    Thanks again to all of you who came by and we look forward to a repeat event in September.
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