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Rise of the procurement cloud – one step closer to the ‘Amazon experience’

by | July 19, 2016

When considering procurement, many people ask “why can’t we provide a purchasing experience more like an online retailer?”

There is a consensus that for many companies the greatest obstacle when it comes to managing spend is not a lack of clear procurement processes or unreliable software but is often simply down to poor user adoption of a system that is overly complex or slow.

In this post we explore why traditional on premise solutions struggled to recreate the user experience of online retailers, and why procurement cloud solutions are beginning to catch up, as well as the repercussions for businesses.

The utopia of an online retailer experience

Rise of the cloud – one step closer to the ‘Amazon experience’ for procurement - The utopia of an online retailer experience

Online retailers can provide such a slick and intuitive experience and have the ability to upgrade or change something about this experience every 5 minutes if they so choose. In the background they have automated monitoring software running that can pick up the impact of any change. Those changes that have a positive impact are kept, those that don’t are removed. From an end-user perspective you wouldn’t know, but it’s a constantly improving service as a result.

On Premise woes

Rise of the cloud – one step closer to the ‘Amazon experience’ for procurement - On Premise woes

The reason that on premise solutions cannot follow suit is due, in a large part, to their highly customisable nature. Whereas retailers only have one site to maintain; there are potentially as many variants of on premise software as there are customers.

Rolling-out an upgrade becomes an expensive and time consuming affair as the originating software company needs to take extreme care that what they build is compatible with the large variety of customised solutions deployed. On average, an upgrade would only be performed every 2-3 years.

Cloud solutions are getting closer

Rise of the cloud – one step closer to the ‘Amazon experience’ for procurement - Cloud solutions are getting closer

Procurement cloud solutions can help clients reach that Amazon-esque experience. Whereas previously there were thousands of different clients with implementations around the world, software as a service allows you to go back to a multi-tenanted single code line – i.e. one application with partitioned client data. And because it’s one application with no customisation, new releases can be done more easily and multiple times a year.

It’s much more responsive to what people want and allows software companies to be more proactive in terms of what they believe people will want moving forward. This provides a huge impact on usability of the system for the customer and a massive implication on the effort required in managing the software afterwards.

Market leading user adoption

Rise of the cloud – one step closer to the ‘Amazon experience’ for procurement - Market leading user adoption

The goal of an online retailer-like experience and the capability of procurement cloud solutions to evolve at this unprecedented pace, has seen the rise of platforms like Coupa delivering a user experience that is intuitive and consistent, with the capability to seamlessly guide end users through compliant purchasing.

The result: it is very easy to use and requires minimal training.  And it achieves the industry’s highest user adoption rates.
Xoomworks can attest to this as our clients have often reported 100% user adoption!

But beware; things happen faster and more frequently…

Rise of the cloud – one step closer to the ‘Amazon experience’ for procurement - Things happen faster and more frequently

As a result of cloud solutions rolling out 3 or 4 major releases a year you have to become slicker at managing new releases and testing.

You need to make sure you understand how the new functionality can benefit your business and make sure that it doesn’t conflict with any current configuration, process or policy. While there is nowhere near as much testing required following an upgrade as previously encountered with on premise solutions, you still need to have the people in place to run through it.

Find out more

If you’d like to find out more about how businesses are being affected by procurement’s shift to the Cloud, you can download our latest whitepaper which, along with summarising what we consider the five key differences of the Cloud, contains a mini case study all about our own transition to the Cloud.