Being in the market for a comprehensive spend management solution, Procurement and Sourcing heads work with colleagues in IT and Finance to consider a relatively short list of viable options. What often times gets hidden is the implementation details, an equally important element of investing in a spend management capability.
Clearly, selecting the right source to pay technology for your company is a strategic imperative, but selecting the right partner to help transform your procurement environment is equally critical and should not be treated as an afterthought. I can speak from experience as a former CPO for many years, it’s easy to make assumptions about implementation services. Once you’ve made the difficult decision to buy the right software solution(s), it’s easy to take a lazy approach to selecting a partner for the implementation phase.
Typically, the software provider recommends or leads you to their preferred deployment partner. Could be the services arm of their own company. It could be one of the large consulting (Big 4) firms. It is no secret that large companies tend to migrate towards the larger consulting firms over the smaller, niche “boutiques” for reasons which are most often based on a few assumptions, including:
- Known consulting firms can warrant a higher degree of confidence
- Less risk of blame on stakeholders if something goes wrong
- Greater level of expertise
- Greater bandwidth and better ability to accommodate required timelines
- Most experience with the latest versions of the technology
- Lower Total Cost because of all the above
But let’s look at those assumptions more practically.
You can’t argue that contracting with a familiar name is the easier route because in most cases, they can demonstrate ample evidence of relevant positive outcomes and reduce the level of risk to executives and project champions from blame games if a project goes unsuccessfully for whatever reason. Better the devil you know.
But is the true risk really minimized? Are the large consulting/implementation firms always the right choice?
Focus and dedication:
Smaller boutique firms can offer a far more focused team of functional and technical consultants. Being 100% dedicated (those that are as such) to a specific technology should offer clients some assurance that their expertise is more than comparable and their alliance to your technology is pure.
Customized configurations and demonstrations:
Boutique firms, particularly those exclusive to a specific spend management technology, like Ariba for example, often invest in their own instances (realms) and can turn your business requirements into customized configurations and demo the system, as part of the deployment cost. Typically, the large firms either do not have that capability or may charge significant incremental fees to do so. Boutique firms offering configured demo capabilities most likely have all of the latest versions of software so that they can accurately illustrate a systems’ functionality.
Agility may be another underappreciated consideration. Smaller firms can often be more flexible in start/stop dates. I have seen where large deployment firms require several months of wait time before their assigned resources can get to a project. Often times, clients cannot wait that long as financial calendars and project team availability are impacted with extended delays prior to project commencement or may no longer be available if projects are extended beyond original completion dates.
If cost is a consideration, boutique firms can absolutely provide very competitive rates as they aren’t forced to inflate fees due to big company fixed costs nor the reputation factor. A thorough review of consultant profiles should alleviate any concerns that the talent is somehow less qualified. If you’re a large company, your chances of being assigned an A talent from a boutique firm are much greater than from a much larger firm, unless your investment is quite substantial.
The moral of this story is, don’t make assumptions on what type of deployment partner is best for your company, regardless of size. Do some shopping and understand that how you ultimately journey through this transformation will be at least as important as what tools you chose.
At ExceleratedS2P, we help companies like yours to choose the right P2P solutions, implement them rapidly and ensure your entire team experiences the full potential of your investment.
Our experience includes high street banks, major car manufacturers and leading fashion houses, and our locations in New York, London and Melbourne enable us to support global organizations with the most challenging procurement environments.
If you want to know how technology can transform your procurement operation, or how your existing software can work harder, then contact our consultants today.