Just Released Gartner Research Papers Offer Promising Insights (If Only They Could Get Away from the Dogma of Antiquated Thinking in All Areas)

Posted on October 28, 2009

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I just received a copy of the October 21st, 2009 Gartner Research Papers titled “Critical Capabilities for ERP-Based E-Procurement Solutions,” and “Q&A: The Top 21 Questions for Evaluating and Implementing E-Procurement.”

The first paper which “rates 12 e-procurement solutions from six ERP vendors and two SAP resellers against four major uses cases,” will in conjunction with the companion document “Critical Capabilities for Best-of-Breed EProcurement Vendors,” assist IT and procurement professionals “to evaluate vendor offerings and shortlist appropriate solutions.”

According to the introduction, the second paper highlights what Gartner referred to as “some of the most common questions involving e-procurement.”  These include maximizing return on investment, driving adoption, integration to your ERP application, and whether funding through transaction fees is a good idea.

Over the next week, I will be focusing on this second paper and in particular how the questions that were presented and answered compare to what my research indicates is still one of the most successful programs in either the public or private sectors, which is Virginia’s eVA.

Based on my preliminary review of the “Top 21 Questions” paper earlier today, there were a few promising comments which indicate that the needed and long-awaited shift in mainstream thinking is finally happening.  I guess an 85% rate of failure will eventually lead to a positive move away from the status quo.

However, a few of the Gartner responses seem to also indicate that there is still an inexplicable tendency to recommend strategies such as vendor rationalization, which have been generally proven to be both ineffective and quite frankly damaging to the buying organization.

I am also a little dubious of the reference to the concept of an “ERP extension” and the comment that e-procurement integration with an ERP is a common task.  In this regard I do not know who Gartner might be trying to appease, a vendor base which is also a client base, disillusioned organizations that continue to struggle with over bloated under-performing initiatives, or Gartner themselves?

The above issues not withstanding, I find that for the first time in quite awhile an analyst firm has produced something which actually reflects the real-world market.   This is especially true for the second paper.

In the meantime, look for my post this coming Monday titled “Shouldn’t We have Asked eVA: Why Virginia Continues to be the Model to Emulate.”  I will be presenting Gartner’s “Top 21 Questions” with their listed answers, and where applicable provide Virginia’s corresponding approach.

It will be an interesting study referencing one of the few bonafide successes.

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