Business & Technology Nexus

Dave Stephens on technology and business trends

SciQuest Post on eProcurement

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A few days back Procuri’s Tim Minahan yielded his SupplyExcellence mic to SciQuest’s Suzanne Miglucci to post on the benefits of globalizing your eProcurement implementation.

This is a worthwhile topic and a good read. As I have written in the past, SciQuest is a very good firm that’s proven easy to do business with, especially in the higher education and research markets. Congratulations guys & keep up the good work!

I do want to highlight some differences of opinion on the post, mostly due to my extensive experience advising and watching the Fortune 100 with their global eProcurement implementations. While at Oracle, my biggest eProcurement customer was GE – they ran a global single instance of Oracle iProcurement that spanned 80,000 users, 17 countries, and 7 languages. And their processes surrounding system rollout were just as impressive as the 16B in spend they pumped through annually.

First, ignore Suzanne’s advice when it comes to consolidating vendors. This is a silly political battle to fight. Pursue it later once you’ve proven the new globalized processes and established more credibility with regional organizations. And even then it’s probably not going to help you make your quota of savings for the year. Better to yield some automony to the regions or independent business units and use your political capital elsewhere.

Instead, consolidate vendor RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT. This is an easy win, and is usually where the lion’s share of the savings is anyways. For example, don’t have a resource in each business unit “managing” Dell or Corporate Express. Instead, appoint a global lead & use your new-found global visibility into spend to negotiate better rates. Then quickly pass those savings along to the business units you’re serving. Market your success!

Also, think think think about how you intend to run the system once you’ve globalized it. Don’t paint yourself into a corner giving every region veto power over system changes or up-or-down votes on system downtime. Once you have a global system there is NO GOOD TIME to ever upgrade it, NO GOOD TIME to ever back it up, etc. Late Saturday night U.S. Pacific time may become your only window for operational changes, so think it through.

I enjoyed Suzanne’s recommendations to consider localizations, support for multiple currencies, and multiple languages. This is certainly basic & straightforward advice.

Here’s my take – avoid being an engineer when it comes to currency rates. I can’t tell you the number of times customers have gotten all wound up around forward rate hedging in simple indirect buying. It’s overkill. Plus, everyone gets excited about local language support. Just remember, once you’ve rolled out a language you’re cooked. You can’t take it back. I remember nearly all of my former Fortune 100 customers regretting the day they rolled out Castaellan and Mexican Spanish. Don’t do it. Minimize your language choices if at all possible – remember, all your supposed “global content” will need to be accessible from every language you load. And text search engines that are tuned to operate on a single language get VERY CONFUSED when half the words they come across are French and the other half ENGLISH.

Lastly and very importantly, don’t walk the globalization path alone. Seek out friends who have done it before and milk them for all they are worth. There’s a few of us here at Coupa who have just about seen it all, and we welcome questions & would be happy to connect you to those who have done it before.

Good Luck!

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Written by Dave Stephens

08/20/06 11:33 PM at 11:33 pm

Posted in Opinion

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