Sourcing my extension (Part 3) – Bid Analysis

This is part 3 of Nick Drewe’s foray into a domestic eSourcing exercise for his house extension. Nick has now held all the site visits and chased in the quotes.  Time for a spot of bid analysis to prepare for the contract award.  You can catch up on part 1 here and part 2 here.

Apologies for the delay in compiling part 3 of this eSourcing project.  Amazingly over a month has passed since my last update, and what a hectic month it has been.  I had scheduled in site visits with 20 builders over the period.  3 of the builders did not turn up, which presented itself as an easy method of establishing their reliability, or lack thereof, as it happened!

The remaining 17 appointments were conducted smoothly.  I gave an extra bonus point to those who came with the drawings and specifications in hand: always good to prepare for a meeting to make best use of the available time.  I couldn’t resist the opportunity to ask them about their experience of using the Market Dojo eSourcing tool, which was thankfully overwhelmingly positive, despite a few of the guys needing to ask their siblings/cousin/mate if they could use their computer to access the internet!

Anyhow, the quotes steadily trickled in.  Some declined to quote due time constraints or an unrealistic budget (we’ll see about that minute), whilst some provided an entire bill of materials and profit and loss account!  The detail was astounding, literally right down to the last screw.

Despite this professionalism, the difficulty I faced with this as a layman was that I was lost in the detail.  I couldn’t see the wood for the trees.  I almost preferred the quote that said “This quote includes everything in the spec, except we need you to buy the kitchen and sanitaryware.”
I mentioned there were a few objections to the budget, which for the record was circa £70,000 ex. VAT.  After a fairly thorough market analysis I believe I have my defense on that, as here is the complete set of quotes I received:

There are a number of great things to witness here.

Savings!

I could have chosen to proceed with one of the two initial offers on the table from the architect, which I’ve termed the ‘incumbent’ bids.  Perhaps I could even have negotiated 10% off through a classic face-to-face discussion.  However I would not have been able to afford them in their entirety, so I would have had to make detrimental changes to the spec. by going back to the business and consulting with the key stakeholder, a.k.a. my wife!

However, with a 33% saving against the best ‘incumbent’ bid, on a like-with-like spec, we are now in a great position to secure the build that we want.  As 33% equates to some £35,000, I can say without question that this exercise has been worth my time.  Furthermore whichever outfit I do go with has such a good knowledge of what I’m looking for now that they can hit the ground running.

Finding market price
There is a clear trend towards the market price, almost like a flattened S-curve from the best bid to the worst.  This gives me several affordable options, options I shall gladly exploit in part 4 of this exercise when I make my award of contract.

Engaging market forces
The two bids I received via my architect prior to embarking upon this sourcing project are undeniably the least competitive.  I could argue this is because I ran my sourcing project on a professional level, creating an impersonal barrier between me and the market via the eSourcing tool, which in turn gives the builders the impression that I am not doing a half-hearted effort.  Consequently this can encourage more competitive offers.  Sadly neither of the previous ‘incumbents’ took the opportunity to quote again, so I can’t be certain.

It does illustrate that if you approach just a handful of suppliers in a liquid market, you have no assurances whether you have unintentionally approached the two towards the right of my graph or towards the left.  As with any statistical analysis, you need to increase your sample size to increase your certainty.  I feel that by approaching 90-odd builders, I have sufficiently achieved this.  I could have invited or proactively chased more but I would then be at a greater risk of diminishing returns.

Either way, I don’t think practically that I could have achieved this without using the eSourcing tool.  Furthermore it proves that you can achieve excellent ‘savings’ from a robust quotation process without the need to go to an eAuction.  In this case an eAuction is not on the cards given that I’ll likely revise the spec to compromise on areas of low importance (the sun-tube seemed like a good idea at the time but a light-bulb would be £700 cheaper!) in order to maximise investment in the focal areas, e.g. the kitchen, now that we have our itemised costings.
Stay tuned for part 4 where I make the all-important assessment of both the price and non-price elements of the bids to reach the award decision.

Market Dojo is 3 years old!

Last Friday we proudly turned 3.  If we were talking about a human rather than a company, we might look a little like this guy:

However, we are a business and to reach this milestone is a great accomplishment.  According to the Entrepreneur Weekly, 44% of businesses fail by Year 3.  Yet here we are, still self-capitalised having turned down investment offers along the way, and still growing at over 100% year-on-year with even steeper growth projections in our pipeline as some of our newest innovations hit the market.

We asked each of the three co-founders of Market Dojo for their highlights of the last 12 months:

Nic Martin:
In September we released ‘Samurai’.  Building Samurai was a much bigger project than our previous enhancements, and we learnt a lot of lessons along the way.  Working with new people and making so many improvements to MD was a great experience, particularly when it was all over.  It’s also given us the ability to tick many more boxes for our customers and allowed us to work with a much bigger range of organisations.

Alun Rafique: 
We have fantastic clients, who are all working on great things with our software from simple RFQ’s to complex weighted auctions. Many of our developments are client led and so we ensure our direction is in line with your needs. The latest client and reseller is ABM Global solutions in the Philippines who we extend a warm welcome to.  We could not do this without you all so please accept our greatest appreciation.  You can see some case studies on our website. A massive thanks to all!

Nick Drewe:  there have been quite a few to consider, such as achieving a 100% renewal rate on our annually paid licences to signing up very recognisable high street brands as customers, or even being nominated for a supply chain award by one of our customers, Arqiva.   It’s all pointing towards the fact that our clients like what we do for them.  However, for me there is one highlight that does stand out and that is the award of our second grant from the Technology Strategy Board.  The first grant enabled us to build and release Samurai, which was immense.  However, with this second grant we’ve created a whole new module within eProcurement, one that does not exist at the moment.  Fitting in somewhere between Spend Analysis and eSourcing, we hope to announce Category Dojo later this year.  Sadly I can’t elaborate too much at the moment, but drop us a visit at eWorld next month where we might be able to let you in on it!

Want your own eSourcing portal?

Earlier this year we proudly announced the release of our white labelling enhancements (http://bit.ly/13m6uMB) where you could customise your own unique web address on marketdojo.com, for example http://my-mega-company.marketdojo.com (this is not a working example in case anyone tries that link!).

Well, now we’ve gone a whole load further.   In our latest release last night we’ve given our users the ability to create their own web address, branded in their colours yet powered by the Market Dojo eSourcing tool.

Some of you may already have such a feature with other providers, but the difference here is that we haven’t done this by simply setting up a new server and popping a cloned version of our software on it – no, we are still 100% single-instance, multi-tenanted.   This gives every one of our customers the added benefit of no upgrade issues nor delays, instant access to new features (such as this one!), no implementation fees and more affordable licences fees, since we have much lower maintenance and support costs.

It’s a really simple process for you to set this up.  Simply buy your web domain from someone like LCN or Go Daddy and point it at www.marketdojo.com, then buy an SSL certificate for it so your data remains encrypted over the web.  Send us this info so we can pop the certificate on our server and assign your account with the bespoke web address and you’re good to go!

All the other great customisation features still apply, such as:

You might also like to place web links or even your own Log In / Sign Up buttons on your website that take the user to your branded sourcing portal.  But we leave all this in your own hands or those of your webmaster.

So, if you’d like to take advantage of all this, give us a call today!

Market Dojo: how to set up your mega organisation in minutes

We’ve been involved in a number of discussions and tender exercises recently with large organisations who require hundreds of users on our platform.  When we tell such organisations that they can set up all the users and the whole e-sourcing tool themselves within a matter of minutes, including the supplier databases, document templates, user permissions and even the white labelling, we are met with incredulity.  “That’s not possible”, they say, armed with a tender response from a competitor that states they require 6 weeks dedicated external resource to implement such a platform.  Well, let us tell you now, it is completely achievable.  Here’s how to do it with our software:

1) Sign yourself up on Market Dojo, completing the 8 simple fields. ~2 minutes

2) As the first user from your organisation, you will be the nominated ‘superhost’, which means you have the default Admin rights over your organisation.  Once logged in, you will see in the menu the ‘Admin’ option where you can do some great things.  Start by clicking ‘Display Settings’.  This will let you change the logo and the menu and text colours to ones of your choosing.  All your other users in your organisation will see these effects, as well as any participants your organisation invites to take part in your tenders. ~ 3 minutes

3) From Admin, select the ‘Document Library’.  Here you can upload all the templates and standard documents that you wish your organisation to use.  No more do they have to rely on their local document folders with document templates that differ from one user or hard drive to the next. ~ 5 minutes

4) Now pick ‘Participant Database’ and do an unlimited bulk upload of all your participants (e.g. suppliers) using our really easy templates provided on our website.  Only the typical details such as e-mail address, company and name are needed.  Categorise them if you wish, using free-text definitions of your choosing.  Put suppliers into multiple categories, as we all know they can have multiple offerings.  Now your organisation will have an excellent database of participants to invite to their sourcing events.  ~ 4 minutes

5) Move to ‘Host Groups’.  Here you can bulk upload your own users, those who will be creating, viewing or editing sourcing events.  A few minutes later you can have them all populated in the software and put into your own organisational groups, be it by spend category, by department, by site or whatever you like. ~ 2 minutes

6) Finally in Admin, use the ‘Host Permissions’.  Add any users here that you wish to give specific rights.  So, your UK Purchasing Manager might want to see every event run by the UK team, likewise the Manager in the US for the US activities.  The Group Purchasing Director might want to see, but not edit, everything that is happening.  Set it all up here.  Some users might want to have the ability to edit other people’s sourcing events.  You might even want to let that external consultancy have an input into your events.  ~ 5 minutes.

Hit the ‘Email user(s) of any changes’ button and everyone you’ve just added to the Permissions will be given an activation link and can be up and running a minute later.

Grand total:  21 minutes to get the whole thing set up and in the hands of your team.  Granted we’ve assumed that you have the information at your disposal, such as your colleagues e-mail addresses, but it really is that easy to populate the tool itself.

At this point, tell your invited colleagues to head to the ‘Sandpit’ and they can play about with all types of sourcing events from both the buy-side and the supplier-side until they are confident how it all works and want to use it for real.  You can even check that they have used the Sandpit before you  give them a licence, a bit like your Driving Test if you will.

Of course, the one final piece in this puzzle is to ensure they all have valid licences to use the software.  Whilst you can buy these yourself through the software, we would hope you might involve us in this bit as we’d love to hear from you!

Many hands make light work

We are delighted to announce our second major upgrade of the year.  Log into marketdojo.com today and use our new User Hierarchy feature.  It has been released to help our more enterprise customers collaborate on their sourcing activities.

Some of the key features include:

Here are a couple of scenarios where you might find this feature very useful.

Showcasing your work

You’ve put in weeks of hard work preparing your tender documents, managing the suppliers, chasing in timely proposals and validating the responses to ensure all is on track.  However, you’ve largely done this in isolation via your Market Dojo e-Sourcing event.  Next step you want to conduct negotiation via e-Auction and you want others to witness your accomplishment, especially those overseas stakeholders.   Well, this is now very easy: simply add them as a user and give them view rights over the auction event.  Our software will send them a viewing invitation, guiding your colleagues through the process.  Let them sit back in amazement at your success!

Being assisted by consultants
Many of us wish to have a helping hand with our work.  With User Hierarchy you can either run the sourcing events yourself yet give a third party edit rights over your events to keep things on track, or you put the consultant in the driving seat who can then give you access to their sourcing events – it’s your choice!

Managing a team
Finally, with User Hierarchy you can build your own online sourcing team.  Define which team members can have edit rights over things like the Supplier Database or the Document Library.  Pick a team leader who can be given a team-wide view of the sourcing events.  Have multiple team leaders if you wish and give yourself complete visibility over everything that is going on.  It is completely up to you on how you wish to structure your team.
We really hope you find this useful.  Best of all there is no cost at all to add a user to view sourcing events – licences are only required for users who wish to create or edit events.

Two French students came to Bristol…

Here is an article written by our second intern, Antoine Boton, from École Atlantique de Commerce in Nantes.  Here he empathises with how British people may view their arrival.Please note that all views of expressed within belong to Antoine and are definitely not those of Market Dojo!

It’s a usual British Friday night; two young people disembark the Paris to Bristol plane under a torrential rain. You can’t really tell that they are French because they don’t wear a béret nor a striped sailor shirt, which is odd. You only can tell when they begin to speak with a horrible accent and complain about the bad weather.  Surprisingly, they looked almost clean, which is  rare for French students!

After a brief tour of the city, they were shocked, of course, by the left-hand traffic (which is the better way to drive), and by the lack of space in the street because of the parked cars. We don’t need garages, that’s a French word!

First Saturday night in England, aside  from the fact that they can’t figure out what each coin is worth (easy, the biggest coins are worth the least, duh!), they also have troubles to understand our (magnificent) British accent. Of course we help them progress by speaking as quickly as possible.

Another weird thing, they weren’t eating junk food at 3am in the street like everyone else. Also, they looked very silly with their warm clothes and their hood on despite the pretty good weather (see picture).  Oh, and we successfully trapped them in our galleries by locking them in at 6:15pm, classic!  They seemed to not know that we close our stores early in order to eat early which means drink early!  And when it’s time to drink (7pm to 7am), we do it with heart and soul so that we sometimes sleep in our neighbour’s house by mistake because of the likeness of our houses.

Aside from all of that, we try to make them feel welcome by using all of our French vocabulary: “bonjour”, “Paris” and “crème fraîche”.

Anyway, we hope that they will enjoy their stay in England and have fond memories of our beautiful land.

Market Dojo – eSourcing made simple

Our first upgrade of 2013, with so much more to come!

Over the weekend we completed our first 2013 upgrade, following on from the second upgrade to Samurai back in December of last year.  Such is the elegance of the Software as-a-Service model, each and every one of you can benefit from the upgrade when you next log in.

Quite simply, there are too many improvements to list (70 to be precise), so here are some of the important highlights:

On top of this, we have made a number of upgrades to our infrastructure to keep ahead of the increasing demands of our customers.   We are now sending several thousand e-mails a day, practically becoming a MailChimp in our own right, and so we have upgraded our e-mail account to ensure uninterrupted communications between our Hosts and their respective participants.
We have also upgraded our servers (again) to ensure we maintain our 99.9% uptime record.  Some events have even had over 500 participants involved, and so we’ve learned a great deal about where potential bottlenecks may lie and catered for them accordingly.

What’s next?
We have a number of exciting new features we are working on that will be released imminently.  For example, in collaboration with our customer Arqiva, we are in the final steps of testing and improving our User Hierarchy feature.  This will allow our users to invite friends, colleagues and countrymen to view their sourcing activities, or even to have edit rights should they have a licence.  You can manage all your internal users from a central place, see all the events across your organisation from your own Dashboard, and even invite external users such as consultants to have their input on your activities.

We are also nearing completing of an enhanced white labelling feature with another collaborative partner in the US as we help them with an exciting new venture.  Our users will be able to define their own URL for the sourcing events, such as www.esourcing.marketdojo.com, which will have your logo and menu colours with your own log in, sign up and password reset facilities.  In short, it will be your own portal: even the e-mails will come from you.

Here’s to a fantastic February ahead!

PS:  If there is anything you’d like us to work on, get in touch and we’d be happy to talk.
Market Dojo – e-sourcing made simple

First impressions of the UK – by our intern Camélia Chiguer!

For the next few weeks, we are lucky enough be working with two interns from France, Camélia Chiguer and Antoine Boton.  Here are the observations about the cultural differences they have encountered, through the eyes of Camélia:

Ever since I’ve arrived in the magnificent mother country of Hugh Grant and Coldplay (big fan here), I’ve had lots of opportunities to notice random details that are slightly – or sometimes considerably – different from France to England.

Above all, I can say that everyone here loves Frenchies – everyone that I’ve met so far anyway. Not to mention this (awesome) obsession about what we sound like when we talk: when I try and make an effort to speak proper English, some people even ask for my “real accent”!

In fact, the main difference between us is how friendly and welcoming English people are. It is a huge change compared to France, which is full of people doing nothing but being grumpy and looking unhappy all day. People here are polite and a stranger will always answer with a smile when you ask for your direction in the street. I am not used to it. A stranger smiling at you is something you should almost be afraid of in France, it definitely hides something.

Another area where England is way ahead of France is music. Lennon once said “French rock tastes like English wine“. Need I say more?

Well, enough with putting our English fellows on a pedestal. There are some daily things that got me really confused ever since I’ve been in this country.

First of all, what’s up with the taps here? There are no signs of any mixing valve. The water is either ice frozen or boiling hot, never in the middle. How practical.

I’ve also had the chance to experience the “typical English weather”: I saw some snow when I came out of the plane, then a lot of rain on my way from the airport, quite good weather the next day but then 5 min later a storm, lightning and even hail stones; and all of this happened in less than two days. I can say that at that point I was really missing France.

I’ve also noticed to my great surprise that English people and especially young ones aren’t actually sensitive to this lovely weather, and they don’t seem to like wearing clothes that much: even whilst out at night I could see people wearing nothing but a simple t-shirt, when I, on the other hand, was struggling with keeping my fingers attached to my body, wearing several layers of clothing, a scarf and everything.

Furthermore, I have also been disconcerted by how everything closes at   6pm, if not 4:30pm. I found myself locked in some mall at 6:15pm after   having dinner really early (trying to get used to the British way of life, ya   know). Similarly, most of pubs close down at 1am on the weekends   (whereas in France it wouldn’t be before dawn). On the contrary, nobody’s   surprised to find dozens of restaurant open at 3am… no offence guys, but   you have got a quite nonexistent sense of time management

Anyway, back in France, as you can imagine, we have a few preconceived   ideas about English people. We always imagine you really blonde and   really pale (not true (well, not always)). You’re famous for your food   across the Channel – not in a good way though – and we have this idea of   you eating all the time what we just call “pudding”, which is this jelly-ish   Christmas pudding of yours (not quite true again). However, you do drink tons of tea. And you cherish your favorite sport teams in a way I can’t describe. I mean, I’m not sure that entirely disguising yourself is required when supporting your team at the local pub, but then again it’s only my opinion.

Conversely, you have a stereotyped representation of us as well. So sorry to break it to you, but we do not hang around carrying a baguette and wearing a beret. If the cliché of us eating lots of bread isn’t that incorrect, the only time I actually saw someone wearing a beret was here in Bristol on my first night out.

PS: I have learned about you calling us “frogs”. Well, back in France, your nickname is “rosbeefs” so that’s one all I guess.

PS 2: we are so going to beat you up at the VI nation game France vs England! (But then again, I don’t really care if we don’t. I’m just saying this because I’m trying to fit in the British spirit, remember?)

Guest post – Successfully Implementing e-Auctions for Legal Services

Back in 2012, we received a great deal of interest from customers and prospects considering the use of Market Dojo for sourcing of legal services. Today we are pleased to welcome a guest post from Jason Winmill, Partner at Argopoint Consulting LLC, a management consulting firm dedicated to helping corporate legal departments address their most significant management and strategy issues.  Read this article to learn more about legal sourcing.

Sophisticated supply management professionals are introducing electronic sourcing solutions to their legal departments, and in doing so, delivering millions of dollars in savings. The media is gradually beginning to pick up on these successes: a recent article in the Wall Street Journal noted that several companies (including GlaxoSmithKline, Toyota, Sun Microsystems, and eBay) are using competitive bidding and e-auctions to purchase legal services. As with other important services, effectively sourcing legal is a delicate process with major upside.

Strategic implementation of e-auctions for legal services represents a radical change for most legal departments. While competitive bidding is commonplace in many other sourcing categories, it has been received with skepticism by many in-house attorneys. Legal services are highly complex, sensitive, and high-risk; supply management professionals face the difficult challenge of building credibility in the legal department and moving along a steep learning curve without losing sight of short-term savings goals. In spite of these difficulties, savvy sourcing and procurement departments are earning the appreciation of their legal colleagues and earning public recognition through the use of e-sourcing technology.

Three Important Steps to Successfully Implementing e-Auctions in Legal:

Into the Sandpit – head first…


Photo courtesey of tawalker

The one feature of Market Dojo that gets me most excited is the Sandpit area, where we invite you to come and experiment with Market Dojo. Everyone likes the option to try something before they buy it.  It helps you feel secure and confident in your purchasing decision. It just makes sense!

A key part of our philosophy is transparency, and we already deliver this in other areas (e.g. pricing).  So, we wanted to expand that to show everyone what our product can do, before they reach for their credit card.

For those lovely people that have already made the leap to become fully fledged customers, the Sandpit now offers the valuable opportunity to test different strategies before running an event, and to keep these tests separate to the results of real negotiations.

The Sandpit is a great asset for both these groups.  It’s available to all our users, it’s really easy to get started using our intuitive user interface and we offer helpful guides providing additional advice.  We’ve even made a video to show how it works!

Once you have your feet in the Sandpit, you can test all the features available in a regular event, including RFQ, Questionnaires, different negotiation strategies, and reporting.  You can quickly switch between acting as a Host and acting as a Participant (so you see exactly what your suppliers would see).

So, if you wondered what Market Dojo is all about, but haven’t tried us yet, give our Sandpit a go.  It’s free to sign up, there is no obligation.  We’re really excited about it, and would love to know what you think.

Come on in and have a play!

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