From my very first Yes Virginia posts (Part 1 and Part 2) in September 2007, I have believed without any uncertainty that the Commonwealth of Virginia’s eVA eProcurement platform is a model that governments around the world should emulate.
This is especially true given the fact that the vast majority of initiatives in the public sector fail to deliver the expected results.
Of course over the years, there have been those who both within the Commonwealth and the general market, have questioned my proclamation of excellence. This is a good thing in that unchallenged certainty is sheer folly. I am happy to say however that both my position and eVA have endured the test of time. An example of the enduring merits of eVA was recently confirmed by a Forrester Wave Report.
Last year Virginia engaged Forrester to assess eVA’s continuing viability. Forrester it should be noted also gave eVA a thumbs up in 2007 with the caveat that said recommendation be reviewed when a “commonwealth-wide enterprise resource planning (ERP) application” had been selected. Forrester’s most recent mandate was to determine if eVA should be integrated with the new PeopleSoft ERP or whether the the Commonwealth should “retire eVA and replace it with the PeopleSoft Procurement module.”
Obviously those contemplating this change have never spoken with other government entities who had attempted to – unsuccessfully mind you – implement ERP-based procurement modules. You simply have to do a search of this blog to read the innumerable posts I have written on poorly conceived ERP initiatives.
Over the coming weeks I will be reviewing the Forrester report in greater depth. However, with this post I thought that I would share the highlights from Forrester’s findings.
Our revised Forrester Wave evaluation of feature, function, and integration still shows that eVA provides better functionality for procure-to-pay, and better integration with non-Cardinal ERPs and with suppliers, outweighing Cardinal procurement’s better integration with Cardinal ERPs.
In the context of the above comment, I would like to refer to a February 12th, 2014 Forbes article titled “Where Cloud Computing Is Improving Supply Chain Performance: Lessons Learned From SCM World” by Louis Columbus. In the article, Columbus referenced an SCM World study finding that Cloud computing adoption in supply chains is heavily dependent on the legacy ERP systems in place, as they provide the system of record corporate-wide. Rather than using this as the basis for justifying a recommendation based on the “one turnkey system” mindset that for far too long has defined (and confined) IT thinking, Forrester recognized that eVA is more than a mere bolt-on procurement application.
It is a good thing that they did. With the emergence of new cloud-based technologies and what Cisco CIO Rebecca Jacoby recently referred to as the significant impact that IoT will have on supply chains, anchoring eprocurement within a monolithic ERP platform makes absolutely no sense. In short integration as opposed to assimilation creates an open pathway to the future expansion of capabilities. This in turn ensures that Virginia will be able to evolve the eVA platform in a manner that will increase supply chain collaboration, expedite supplier onboarding, as well as streamline the entire P2P process.
Our Forrester TEI analysis of costs, risks, and flexibility benefits shows that expanding eVA’s integration would have much lower initial investment than a Cardinal procurement roll-out, though Cardinal after full roll-out would have lower annual operating costs. On a net present value basis, eVA’s total five year costs are about 10% lower than Cardinal’s . . . Factoring in eVA’s supplier fees and its operational savings to local governments, eVA would have significantly lower costs and lower risks.
No surprise here in that lower costs are synonymous with moving away from an ERP-centric strategy to one in which a true integration capability can be achieved by leveraging the new Universal Language platform.
Even though I might at this point in time question Forrester’s conclusion that after the Cardinal roll-out the annual costs of pursuing that strategy would be lower, the fact remains that the overall recommendation by the firm is a good one . . . and not just for Virginia.
Think about it, if Forrester had recommended the Cardinal procurement module, instead of supporting their findings, the above points would have clearly demonstrated that the analyst firm had missed the mark.