One of things I frequently get asked is why we don’t have software reviews as part of our Software Finder section.
There are a few valid reasons.
This short post explains why we don’t ask for, or publish, user reviews of the different procurement software we feature on the site.
Reviews of procurement software solutions are pointless
It would be easy to dismiss this, simply by saying that people are irrational or emotionally charged.
We’ve all seen a scathing 1 star review in the Google Play store, just because someone with an entitled mindset is enraged that a free app displays some ads.
Or the person on Facebook claiming that Ryanair are a bunch of mercenaries, just because their failure to bother to read the T&Cs meant they had to pay 50 euro to use the check-in desk at the airport.
But, let’s assume for a minute that all of you lovely procurement professionals will leave level-headed reviews. It still leaves so much down to subjectivity.
Buying cloud-based procurement technology isn’t the same as buying a smartphone or a backpack.
Your experience of it as a buyer or as a user will be dependent upon so many factors that are completely outside of the software company’s control.
Most solutions don’t have enough users
Digital procurement technology is still in its early adoption phase. Beyond the legacy brand suites that have been around for many years, a lot of the newer software apps are still in growth phase.
If we consider that maybe 1 in 10 users of the software would offer to give a review, we’re probably still a long way from being able to have a statistically significant sample of reviews for most procurement technology.
Who is giving the review?
A review by a Procurement Category Manager who uses the software almost daily should carry more weight than somebody who occasionally logs in to observe an e-sourcing event, or to approve a contract.
How do you quantify this, without a team of researchers to validate the user and their position within a company?
Is the reviewer’s experience up to date?
You can date-stamp the reviews when they are given, but it’s much more difficult to determine when the person submitting the review actually last used the software.
Modern procurement technology isn’t like an ERP system that you’re stuck with for at least 10 years. Cloud-based software means that new releases are constantly changing the user experience and the features offered.
Your review for a piece of software that you used just a year ago is likely already out of date.
How can we validate them?
Unless we get the 300+ solutions providers all to agree that they will confirm that the reviews come from legit users, then it’s easy to spam the site with fake reviews.
Anyone who’s sold a digital product online knows that to get traction, you usually need to call in a few favours from your mates. You need some social proof before unleashing your book / course / membership program onto the general public.
The reality is that we could never stop an eager marketing team from one of the digital procurement solution providers from doing the same with submitting reviews on our site.
Different sizes of business have different needs
So, you’ve just read a piece in a popular procurement magazine or blog. The CPO of a Fortune 500 company has been interviewed, and he/she thinks that a particular solution is the bee’s knees.
Social proof from a well-respected procurement leader. Great!
You should implement the same solution, right?
You’re the Head of Procurement for a $250 million company.
You have a team of 15 Buyers and no Centre of Excellence department. You don’t have the budget to hire an army of consultants for implementation. And you have a massive maverick spend problem because nobody has the time or patience to requisition stuff through your incumbent, legacy ERP system.
Your needs are vastly different to a mature procurement department in a large, multinational enterprise. Advanced features shouldn’t even be on your shopping list.
Organisations are at different stages of procurement maturity
The exact same argument goes for maturity of any procurement team or function. Procurement organisations who have pioneered the use of procuretech, such as Vodafone Procurement and BT Sourced, will be able to squeeze more value out of a procurement tool than a less mature, decentralised organisation.
If you’re battling dirty data, apathetic stakeholders and the lack of a C-Level sponsor for your digital procurement transformation project, then the success of the implementation hangs in the balance.
Is this the fault of the procurement software provider that you’re being asked to review?
Change management and data quality will impact experience
Organisations that attempt software implementations without the necessary change management or pre-implementation data cleansing will likely not benefit the same as those who get this right.
If “unclassified” is your biggest category of spend, then it’s highly unfair to blame that on the fancy spend analytics tool that you’re feeling pretty underwhelmed with.
Likewise, if you sent an email with a boring, stuffy 15-page PDF procurement policy document when you introduce a new P2P system. Is it really then the solution provider’s fault that you have a maverick spend problem?
So, are any reviews legit?
Before signing off, you’re probably wondering if reviews are worth bothering with at all.
Of course, if you ask 100 procurement professionals to rate a well-known piece of software with a broad user base, and 90% of them say they think it’s crap, then you’re probably onto something.
But just be cautious of any “best of”, “top 100” lists, or software review sites claiming to be the authority on digital procurement technology. Most of them are actually quite opaque about how the reviews and ratings are put together.
Then, there’s also the danger that these lists could sponsored, without any disclosure.
That’s why we don’t publish software reviews on ProcurementSoftware.site.
We’d rather let you do your own due diligence based on what your business’s individual needs are.
We exist to give you access to the breadth of solutions out there, so as you can do this yourself. And of course, our site is free for you to use.
However, if you feel you do want us to assist you, then we’d be very glad to!