eProcurement & Procure-to-Pay Resources

The 'Field of Dreams' for eProcurement: Part 1

Published February 3, 2016 at 1:59 PM
Jack Mulloy

If they find it, they will buy it. But will they find it?

In the movie Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella hears a voice whispering, “If you build it, they will come.”

If you’re new to the movie or simply need a refresher; Ray builds a baseball diamond that every young (and old) ballplayer dreams about. To Ray’s delight, famous baseball players from the past come to the field and play games on this beautiful field.

You may be asking yourself ...

How does a baseball field relate to enterprise procurement applications?

Does the ‘If we build it, they will come” approach work in enterprise eProcurement?

How can we ‘prep the infield’ and ‘chalk the lines’ so that users will eagerly adopt the eProcurement application?

Grab some Big League Chew (bubble gum, of course) and let’s kick this around….

Since the inception of eProcurement in the late 90’s, eProcurement solution providers have tried the ‘build it and they will come’ approach. Unfortunately, these software solutions haven’t provided a ‘baseball diamond’ that encouraged use. As a result, end users didn't adopt the solutions, spend was not captured in the eProcurement solutions, and promised ROI was not achieved.


In the past, enterprise business applications were deployed to a sub-set of highly trained users within an organization. If we needed to train those users to buy widgets from XYZ supplier, MRO items from ABC supplier, Office Supplies from ACME supplier, etc…. we could manage that training requirement because the eProcurement users were a limited group.

In order for eProcurement to be successful today, we cannot limit the user participation to a limited number of trained users. We need to deploy the solution to all users across the enterprise.... Training? No way!

For BuyerQuest customers, the number of users within our customer base ranges from 2,000 to 500,000. With this many users at any single customer, we must ensure that the eCommerce experience in BuyerQuest is intuitive and the application is attractive. We must strive for the “field of dreams-like” experience for our customers.

I spoke recently with a procurement executive from a Fortune 100 Financial institution that was an early (circa 2002) adopter of eProcurement technology. This executive was frustrated that, after 14 years of use, approximately 100,000 non-catalog requisitions were placed in the eProcurement application each year. Of these non-catalog requests, 85,000 were for cataloged items enabled via Punchout catalogs in the eProcurement application!

The financial service executive had the following thoughts to share:

  • “The eProcurement system has become a glorified ‘non-catalog request form.’”
  • “Why is my organization generating such a high % of non-catalog requests? Are my users so lazy that they won’t search and find what they want?”
  • “Our company continues to pay a BPO provider a fee (per transaction) to simply find things in the eProcurement application and process the non-catalog requisitions.”

We laughed and talked about the need for a Ouija Board (“weejee board”) to find anything in the typical eProcurement solutions.

‘Findability’ is a pillar of a good website experience in B2C eCommerce. In the legacy eProcurement applications, not so much.

That’s all for today. Join us for Part 2 where I’ll share why 90% of all catalog content is impossible to search in nearly every eProcurement solution, except BuyerQuest.

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