5 Questions on Finding Your Best Fit e-Procurement Technology Featuring Magnus Bergfors

Friday, March 20, 2020

5 minute read

5 Questions on Finding Your Best Fit e-Procurement Technology Featuring Magnus Bergfors

We sat down with Magnus Bergfors, VP of European Research and Lead Analyst at Spend Matters, to hear his take on the selection, adoption, and integration of electronic procurement solutions. Read more to learn how your organization can best determine the need for procurement technology, how to select the right technology vendor, and how to choose between end-to-end and specialist e-procurement solutions. Read the interview.


Question 1: How do you determine the need for an increase in procurement technology?

There’s a lot of ways to go about that. And it really depends on your needs and your context. What are you trying to achieve? Ask yourself, "Why are we looking at doing this?" "Do we need to free up resources?" "And are there specific areas where we need to do that?"  It's really about asking as many whys as you need to get to the real business objective. I think that's the approach you need to take and not just say, "Hey, we need to digitalize all of procurement with an end-to-end suite. Then we're going to implement it in six months." It's just not realistic.

There are benefits in a slower approach. One is that you have a much higher chance of success because you're not trying to swallow the whole elephant in one go. It's not only about technology, but also the processes and the skills of the people using it. You just don't throw a solution in there and hope that is solves your issues.

Question 2: What’s the best way for a company to decide on the right vendor for them?

It comes back to having identified critical use cases and what it is that you're trying to achieve. And then it's a matter of going out to scan the market and find vendors that can help you achieve these results. There are a lot of resources out there, including Spend Matters, that have good material to help you identify the best fit for your requirements. You shouldn't be overly focused on specific technology requirements, but rather on the core business objective.

You need to really identify your "must haves" versus your "want to haves." There might be features that aren't on your "must have" list but maybe it will help you drive adoption or maybe it will help you get more spend under management. Sometimes you will need to spend a bit more to get more. Don’t focus on cost but rather focus on value.

Question 3: Specialist versus end-to-end source-to-pay suites—what’s the best approach?

An end-to-end source-to-pay suite often seem more appealing than a specialist solution. And there are advantages to it. But there are many practical issues, too. You have to ask yourself, "How much specific functionality are we all willing to sacrifice to get the unified suite?" When you start to sacrifice too much, though, it starts impacting your ability to actually manage that spend.

The idea of a broader suite is appealing for a number of reasons. The most practical one is, from an IT management perspective, you have fewer solutions to deal with and fewer integration points. Another one is that you get a similar look and logic across multiple solutions, making it easier to use. The third one is in analytics where you can have data from multiple modules in one place.

And just because a solution provider has designed a solution in a specific way doesn't mean that it meets your full requirements. There really isn't any solution provider that has the flexibility and capability to be able to cater to everything in the market today.

Question 4: What are the gaps that you see specifically within the P2P domain where providers come up short?

The AP side because the procure-to-pay vendors and the source-to-pay vendors tend to come from the procurement perspective. A lot of them have built out invoice matching capabilities - not necessarily the full AP requirements. And some of them have better capabilities, but in a lot of cases we're seeing them address this from a very procurement centric point of view, which means that it will not really work for managing all your invoices.

Most of the solutions today can have approval workflows for non-PO invoices, but matching against other PO sources, or purchase orders from other source systems, or doing multiple lines per invoice, etc. is something that you really need to look at if you have those types of requirements.

Question 5: What are some best practices going forward that companies can use to establish procurement technology within their processes?

You're better off with a phased approach where you look at a country or a business unit that makes sense to roll out with a manageable scope. You’ll need to convince people to do things in a new way. And there are regional differences as well, especially on the invoicing side.

Solutions are getting better and easier to use. It's all about how you get people to actually use it and make it simpler for them to follow the path of least resistance. If you can make it the easiest way for people to order something, then you probably have a higher chance of getting adoption.

Learn more

Ready to read more about top e-procurement vendors in the market? Learn about Basware’s ranking in the Forrester e-Procurement Wave. Download the report here.