The process of selecting a business software solution such as in Procurement, or in any other business function for that matter, requires a carefully thought through approach. Matching the nuances of your organisation’s processes and structures, probably evolved over many years, against the features of commercial off-the-shelf software can sometimes feel like a leap of faith, without investing the right time up front.
Whilst detailed demonstrations and workshops with a vendor can in many cases bottom out the technical and functional detail (we have a thorough process at Wax Digital for example that works for most customers), in some instances it’s worth considering going one stage further with a proof of concept (POC) prior to roll out. This may be the case when any promised outcomes need testing in hard-to-replicate real world scenarios, or perhaps known prevailing attitudes to change within the business are creating uncertainty about user adoption, for example.
Using proof of concept
Proof of concept (POC) is a well-known and popular method to help make final decisions about an investment in any technology solution. In simple terms, it is a sample or a trial applied to a specific area of business, which will demonstrate if the solution can be applied to meet the wider requirements of your business, before the software is purchased.
You’ll generally have to pay for a POC, often raising the overall project cost as timelines are extended and some re-work would be expected in the full deployment, but POCs can nonetheless help secure the business case overall and save on unwanted (and potentially more costly) changes to the scope of the system further down the line. They can also identify key user behavioural blockers, or issues with other internal systems and processes.
So, how can POCs help your company?
Specifically, POCs can help to answer questions such as:
- Is the solution appropriate for your business?
- Will the solution work within your business culture and environment?
- How easy to use do users think it is, and does it do everything your team needs it for?
- Are there any additional features that your business needs identified during the process?
- Are there any integration issues with other internal systems that need ironing out?
- What kind of technical and user support will your business receive from the vendor?
Ultimately a POC can save your organisation the heartache of committing money and resources before a solution is scaled up enterprise-wide, and calm any nervousness connected to ‘big bang’ deployments. POCs provide evidence which will support the decision-making process within the business and help identify any needs and issues the business were not aware of earlier in the scoping process.
Proof of concept in practice – Thomas Cook choose an eSourcing solution
Recently one of our customers, and one of the world’s leading leisure travel groups, Thomas Cook, ran a POC with us. They were searching for an intuitive, easy to use system which could support multiple currencies and languages for supplier sourcing and evaluation. Thomas Cook chose to trial our web3 eSourcing solution to run an eTender event as a POC. The successful event confirmed:
The ease of use they were hoping for to run their electronic tenders and auctions
How the solution facilitated better management of supplier data and supplier relationships
Positive user acceptance through a easily accessible, highly intuitive cloud based platform
The POC clearly showed value, with Sam Warden, Head of Procurement & Property at Thomas Cook commenting: “The ease of use and functionality offered by cloud-based web3 eSourcing has given us a way to accurately share buying information in real-time, and improved lines of communication, compliance and transparency between us and our suppliers”
If you would like to discuss the merits of running a POC, as well as other ways you can plan for best outcomes for your procurement tech project, please do get in touch.