Finance & Procurement in Higher Education Conference: A Review

eMarketplaces: Delivering the Benefits and Avoiding the Pitfalls

22nd August 2017

In early August, Science Warehouse attended the Finance & Procurement in Higher Education Conference at Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia.

The theme for the event was ‘Staying Ahead of the Game’ which referred to universities and higher education providers being able to respond appropriately to challenges while anticipating what the future might hold. The conference provided a forum to explore shared challenges, discover new technologies, learn from each other’s successes and failures and gain practical experience and insights into what it will take to transform work practices ready for the future.

I attended, along with Connie Bianchi, our Australia Supplier Relationship Manager, and took part in a panel discussion “chaired” by ArcBlue Consulting Group entitled ‘eMarketplaces: delivering the benefit and avoiding the pitfalls’, along with other panellists from organisations including Unimarket and Think Procurement.

Within this blog, I provide a review of some of the discussions.

What do you see as the challenges for those who are considering, or already have, an eMarketplace and how do you promote ease of use and remove barriers for adoption?

One of the main challenges when considering or implementing an eMarketplace, is to ensure that there is a smooth onboarding process to enable your Suppliers to be added to the eMarketplace network and begin trading with you as quickly and efficiently as possible. Many of these processes can be manual and time consuming, so having an automated solution in place, which allows Suppliers to take charge and onboard themselves easily is key.

In terms of ease of use, we all generally use eMarketplaces in our personal lives to buy items in the B2C world, so the experience needs to be similar for a B2B eMarketplace – you need to be able to find the items you want to buy and they need to appear on the first page and not the 100th page. You also need to be able to compare the same products, cross vendors and filter these down by the attributes that are important to you. This allows for a good customer experience and good decision making.

In terms of removing barriers for adoption, it is important that all stakeholders are involved in the process and are committed to making the project a success, not just from the day of launch but that they continue to invest in their eMarketplace. There are also additional services which support an eMarketplace to deliver more value to an organisation including capturing services spend, allowing Buyers to contact Suppliers to get ad-hoc quotes and eInvoicing.

Taking these into account ensures that the eMarketplace delivers efficiencies and real value back to the organisation, it also enables the procurement team to get better visibility on what is being purchased and gives them the ability to influence and manage their organisation’s spend and build better relationships with their suppliers.

What advice do you have specifically around Suppliers, in terms of getting them engaged in the process, onboarding them onto the eMarketplace – any top tips you can share?

Much in the same way that we work with Buyers at Science Warehouse, we also consider the Suppliers as a key piece of the jigsaw to ensure the success of an eMarketplace.

We take the Suppliers on a journey, we introduce them to the eMarketplace so we get their buy in and dedication to make the project a success. Working with the Buyers, we also look to consolidate the Suppliers that are added to the eMarketplace so that it is the most frequently used Suppliers who join the network – this also improves the user experience for the end users, as they quickly find items what they require – they are given the right results, the first time round.

Working with Suppliers, we also offer solutions specifically to help them. We provide services to manage their data to ensure it is of a high quality so that when Buyers are making purchasing decisions, they have all the information they require to do so. We also seek to achieve a high level of system integration with our network of suppliers, increasing efficiencies their end and often reducing their cost to service.

With regards to cataloguing products, some items just will not fit in such a format. How do you propose other items which are not catalogable, can be captured through an eMarketplace?

The purpose of an eMarketplace, is to make the entire procurement and purchasing process as simple and as easy to use as possible.

At times there are items which will not easily fit into a catalogue, just by the nature of what it is.

Services cannot easily fit into a catalogue as there are many different variables which may make up a requirement. At Science Warehouse, we provide an eServices module which allows for services to be ordered through the eMarketplace and ensure that spend remains in a central place and solution.

We also provide an eQuotes module. There are often occasions when you may need to order a number of items and rather than ordering this as a bulk order through the eMarketplace, you can send your requirements to a number of Suppliers who will then provide a quote – this can lead to greater cost savings readily through the eMarketplace, which would not be available otherwise. So it is correct that not everything can be captured or will easily fit into an eCatalogue, but if you are able to offer alternative solutions which work alongside product and service catalogues, this creates a good, holistic procurement solution, all at a single point of purchase and information environment.

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By Adam Bowles, Head of Operations – Australia

Adam has an undergraduate degree in politics and postgraduate qualifications in finance and project management. He joined Science Warehouse as a project delivery consultant (PDC) in 2012, after 10 years of project management experience in the UK construction Industry.

As PDC, Adam successfully implemented Science Warehouse’s solutions with multiple public sector clients, in three different countries. Adam became Science Warehouse’s Head of Service Delivery in 2013 and in 2015 was seconded to Melbourne, Australia to establish and grow our Science Warehouse ANZ subsidiary.

Adam spends most of his work time with existing and prospect University clients in both Australia and New Zealand, as well as managing our Melbourne office and staff. The rest of the time Adam loves exploring every state in Australia with his family.

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