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Market Dojo in 2018 – Our Journey

2018 was a fantastic year for Market Dojo, with many new customers, a vast increase in our staff numbers and more users in our system than ever before. We have put together the below infographic to display our 2018 journey. We’re looking forward to an extremely exciting year ahead in 2019.

Market Dojo is an eSourcing solutions provider, that offers a range of on-demand and easy to use tools for Sourcing (eRFx and eAuctions), Supplier Onboarding, Category Spend Insight and full Enterprise offering (including Savings Tracking, Contracts Management, SPM & SRM). The business is focused on helping procurement professionals save time and money, whilst they work with companies such as Aggreko, Interserve, Travis Perkins, Metroline and Emaar amongst many others.

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Market Dojo’s first Customer Support Specialist, Chris Barrett, joins the Team

As the Market Dojo team grows, so does our need for a more permanent customer support specialist. It is with great pleasure that we are able to announce that Chris Barrett has joined our team to fill this role. We believe this to be a great testament to our ongoing support and focus on customer success. Here is a short Q & A with Chris to learn a little more about him.

What made you apply to work at Market Dojo?

I saw an advertisement online and spoke with Adam Collins about Market Dojo, what they do and what it’s like to work for them. Everything I heard ticked all the boxes and I applied straight away. I have experience within Customer Services and my previous role was as a Real Time Analyst. I felt with this experience moving to Market Dojo was a no-brainer. The main reason I joined Market Dojo is that it is an ever expanding company and I am looking forward to being part of the journey going forward and hopefully becoming a success within an already successful company.

How have you found your time so far at Market Dojo and what have you found interesting?

I have only been with Market Dojo for a couple of days now and only have positives to say! The systems are all new to me but much like the Market Dojo software, all are easy to use. But most importantly everyone who works here is friendly and supportive (I have not even been bribed into saying this!)

What is the most unusual job you have ever had?

I used to work on Hastings Pier and was responsible for the smooth running of the 2p machines, what a summer!

What is the most embarrassing song you have on your phone?

Generally, my whole playlist on my phone is rubbish! I have the music taste of a teenage girl!! I consider myself a superfan of both 1D and Taylor Swift having seen them both live on numerous occasions. Unfortunately, the first time seeing Taylor Swift brings back bad memories as I broke my arm midway through her concert! But if I had to choose one song as the most embarrassing, it has to be ‘Westlife – Uptown Girl’!

What are your hobbies and interests?

I am a huge Portsmouth FC fan and travel all over the country watching them win. I also play a lot of football myself but the main sport I play is golf, nothing screams excitement like walking miles hitting a small ball into a small hole, but for some reason I enjoy it!

What is your biggest claim to fame?

When I was a wee 12-year-old boy, Wayne Rooney gave me a Jelly Baby! If you are wondering which colour, naturally, I chose a green one!

What’s on your bucket list?

Hit a hole in one during the day then watch Portsmouth win the Champions League in the evening. As this is unrealistic and will never happen as I am not that good at golf, my realistic choice would be to travel around Asia!

 

Stay tuned to hear more from Chris as his role develops. Find him on LinkedIn here.

Transformational bidding – Part 2 – Handling Rebates and a Sign On Bonus

Welcome to our second part on our new transformational bidding developments. These features allow you to create advanced pricing lot structures with a variety of new dimensions.

Some of our new capabilities:

To demonstrate a real-world example, we have created an office supplier tender.

In this example we are looking at bidding for office supplies with the following complexities:

1. A lot with 2 line items – UK and mainland Europe

Simply created by having two line items in the lot.

2. Including a sign on bonus that suppliers sometimes give

This is achieved through a component which allows the supplier to put in a sign on price which can be subtracted from the total. This is sometimes used by companies as a contribution towards marketing and internal switching costs.  The sign-on price can also be used to assign savings to the core procurement department as other savings may be assigned to local cost centres.

3. A ‘core’ list with an exact and alternative component

Please see our Office Suppliers category web page.  Normally suppliers can offer alternatives to your exact core list and we have created a multi-line item bid sheet which explains how to do this. In the lot, we can simply have two columns, one for each pricing components.

4. A picklist for the suppliers to decide on their rebate (if they do them).

This uses some wonderful new capability.  You can create a picklist with either numeric or currency equivalents.  In this case, the supplier can pick an option for the rebate and the software will input a numeric value to be used in the calculation in the totals for the rebate.

5. Multiple totals to show the value for the contract based on the exact/alternative core list and the basket.

Finally two total columns are created to represent the full contact value using with the exact core list and alternative, To make this work the formula adds the core list to a multiple of the basket (as normally the basket will be a fraction of the out of core spend) and the sign on bonus is subtracted.  Finally, it is all reduced due to the rebate.

Conclusion:

With all these features you can actually run this either as an RFQ or even an auction with all the calculations giving a live rank on the components and totals. This capability allows the suppliers to see where they are on all facets of this negotiation and adjust according to their strengths.  The picklist lets the supplier adjust additional elements and the software helps constrain these options to the correct formats. We hope you will enjoy this new functionality.

Here are some screenshots:

 

A participant bidding:

Click to enlarge

 

A participant view of the live auction:

Click to enlarge

 

A host view of the live auction:

Click to enlarge

8 Things to Consider if You’re Running a Telemarketing Tender

Carrying out telemarketing internally has many challenges in terms of management, systems, and the general tempo compared to the rest of the office. Many people who enter this role see it as a stepping stone into a different area of marketing or sales.  To move this forward internally we would suggest either to embrace the challenges and create a team. The telemarketers will feed off one another and with proper management will get the most from the data. And use this pool as a resource for your next salesperson.  

The alternative is to employ more senior people who do this for a job and are happy to.  These people tend to be ‘long in the tooth’ and are comfortable to sit there and just work through calls.  Perhaps more expensive although given time an invaluable resource.

However, maybe you want to outsource this activity.  Perhaps you don’t have the reserves to invest in the medium term ROI from bringing this in-house.  Or perhaps you want to test the water and have an expensive resource that can be turned off if it doesn’t work.   This is always a tricky area to outsource as you ideally want a provider to be an extension of your persona. However, they need to dovetail into your environment over many different areas from the processes, systems and data through to marketing and the day to day company updates.

Here are some criteria to look at when running a tender for outsourced telemarketing services:

Company

As well as obtaining the basic company information around their address and account details, you want to look at other areas which will help you judge their experience and potential risks.  

Look at how long the provider has been in business, turnover, the number of employees, retention and also how their customer base is segmented.  Make sure you think about what type of organisation would best fit your current and future needs.

Data

Data is a tricky area to manage especially given new data guidelines. Either you will supply the data in which case you will need to understand how they will handle it. Will they check for CTPS and what assurances do they need against areas such as GDPR.  Also what format is needed. Or you can throw this conundrum over to them to buy the data and take this activity from your hands. If you do this we would suggest some basic market benchmarking to ensure you will get value for money. Also if you let them take this on, you do alleviate a headache in terms of handling all the other issues that come from buying data such as data wastage and redundancy.

Systems

Ascertain what systems they use.  Is it a spreadsheet, customised CRM or bespoke system.  How do the systems handle incorrect data such as when the current contact is not correct but leads to other contacts and how will this manifests itself in data returns. This will help put together an understanding of how they work, and an idea about what data will be captured.

Reporting

During the campaign, you will want to be kept up to date on the progress.  What we would suggest is that you look at daily, weekly and monthly reporting.  

On a day to day basis you want to be informed of any ‘appointments’ or ‘successes’.  On a weekly basis, you should be updated on the current situation with regards to redundant data, untouched data, in progress data, refusals {soft and hard} and success.  On a monthly basis ideally, you would like an excel data return which you can then examine, use and potentially update your systems with. You will need to understand what format the data can be returned.

KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators)

This really comes down to risk in the contract. What is the other party willing to share in terms of risk.  If you are just paying for calling with no KPI’s then you will ultimately be carrying all the risk. A fair set of KPIs should be examined.  What happens if they over succeed, most likely a small bonus increase in fees (~10%) otherwise what you may find is that they ramp down until the next month.  If they underperform perhaps a margin where it highlights the need to a ‘crisis meeting’. If they largely underperform, will they put the time in to recover? How the agency tackles this will really show you their desire for the business and the willingness to form a real partnership.

Setting KPI’s can be challenging if you have never done this before. Understanding what the short, medium and longterm expected ROI’s can be will help. Find out their typical success rates for various campaigns to help base them on. Obviously, you will look at the high-level successes but what other KPI’s can you use. The number of dials a day isn’t such a useful metric but the number of DMC’s (Decision Making Contacts) that are spoken to does help a lot.  How easily can these stats be reported on?

Process

Many parts of the process should be examined as part of the tender.  This will form the main interaction between yourselves and will ultimately lead to a happy relationship.  Some of the areas to look at;

Costs

The cost is obviously important although try not to focus solely on this.  A Win-Win is the desired outcome here and much can be mitigated through KPI’s.  To make this work well you will need to understand what success looks like and the potential ROI to know if the pricing works for you.  You will need to understand your internal costs as well to truly model the situation accurately.

Ideally paying for the caller by the month is the simplest calculation with payment at the month end.  However, there may be a setup fee and other charging options such as per hour or per contact. Also, will there be a need to be break clauses?

Remember this is a sales exercise for yourselves as well.  Don’t forget to sell the potential for the future if the campaign is successful.  Highlight where you are going and the aims of the business.

Also, ask if they have additional services that might complement their offerings such as email campaigns or digital marketing. Potentially they may even help transition this activity in-house in the future.

Meet

You would definitely want to meet any provider.  Ideally at their office to gauge the atmosphere and set up.  Ultimately you are looking for a desire to work together and create a real partnership.  As already mentioned, it is just as important to sell yourselves to them to help create enthusiasm for the relationship.  If you are looking for any type of campaign which will deliver results which are core to your business, finding a partner who cares about your business is the most important.

Footnote:

Market Dojo provide on-demand and enterprise solutions to help streamline your data collection from suppliers.  Why not give us a try. Our customer success managers and templates will help you move away from email to run your tenders more efficiently and even negotiate online.

A New Team Member for Market Dojo: Marcin Caban

Market Dojo are very excited to introduce Marcin Caban, the business’ latest team member! Working in the Business Development department, Marcin joins the team with over 20 years of experience with a multicultural and multi-domain experience. Marcin has experience from CTO for a large governmental agency in Greece to CEO of a small IT start-up in India. And now, using his skills and experience, Marcin has joined us to help Market Dojo develop to the next level.

What made you apply to work at Market Dojo?

After seeing the job ad, the first thing I did was naturally to go on the Market Dojo website. I found there an introduction to what the company does and who Market Dojo is. But more importantly, I could directly register and experience the eSourcing tools offered by the company. I am not from a procurement background, and after seeing all the functionalities and how easy to use the tools are, I was convinced that they had a great product with a lot of potential. I then sent my CV, had my first interview, my 2nd interview, my 3rd interview, had a chance to have an in-depth conversation with the founders of the company, and had an informal chat with the other team members. And I just loved the great positive energy in the office and the displayed motivation to make a dent in the procurement universe.

What do you do at Market Dojo and how long have you worked there for?

I joined the team a few weeks ago, and I had a great welcome from all the staff who took the time to walk me through what I need to know in order to succeed. I have a business development manager role which means that I assist the people in the procurement departments to understand all the benefits they will get from using the Market Dojo tools, and given my profile, I focus mainly on the customers in the French-speaking countries and the Middle East.

How have you found your time so far at Market Dojo and what have you found interesting?

I really love the team spirit. The atmosphere is profoundly serious when dealing with clients or presenting a demo to a potential new client. But then, when it’s time to relax, the atmosphere changes and becomes very light-hearted. It’s a great balance of working in an environment which is very committed to customer success whilst remaining fun.

What are you hoping to achieve in your first year?

The sky is the limit. The product is great, and our clients love it. We have fantastic references with many large and well-known companies among our customers, which empowers the sales team with a lot of credibility. And the market is still pretty young with a lot of companies still needing a robust eSourcing solution.

What one thing would you bring to the office if you could?

My 7-year-old triplets. But I am not sure my colleagues are prepared for such a tornado to hit the office 🙂

What is your favourite book/movie?

There is one book that changed the way I see the world. A book that I have read and read again, and each time it gives me new insights on how to live a happier life. It’s called ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants more from life.

What is the most embarrassing song you have on your phone?

My kids now know how to save songs on my phone. Last time, they changed my ringtone to a nursery rhyme. I had a few interesting looks when it rang in front of a customer 🙂

What is one thing about yourself that you think others would be surprised to know?

That I can speak Mandarin, as a result of living for 2 years in Taiwan

What are your hobbies and interests?

I am a Beaver Scouts’ leader, so every week I am organising adventurous activities for the young kids. And when I have some spare time for myself, I like hiking, paragliding and scuba diving.

Where have you travelled? Favourite place?

Over the years, I am lucky to have travelled to over 60 countries. One of my favourite countries is Iran. It’s one of those places where you first arrive loaded with all the preconceptions fed by the media. But once you start visiting, talking to people, you realise how culturally rich the country is, how friendly the people are and how delicious the food tastes.

What is on your bucket list?

A trip around the world on a sailing boat with my wife and kids for a few months, heading first to South America that I am yet to discover.

 

Stay tuned to hear more from Marcin as his role develops. Find him on LinkedIn here.

You don’t have Big Data…

…And you don’t need AI

At Market Dojo, we’ve seen around 25,000 auctions. We’ve seen 7000 RFQs, and received nearly 50,000 questionnaire answers, with around £10B total sourced. You’d think after eight years that all this activity would add up to some significant data sets. In some ways you’d be right, but by the standards of the age, it’s paltry.

There’s a lot of noise around ‘Big Data’ these days. It’s been important for a few years, but with the inevitable scandals around any technology, it’s coming to the attention of people who perhaps previously wouldn’t have been concerned – after all, if you’re not in the tech business, does it matter to you that someone worked out how to process exabytes of data in manageable timespans? There’s a rule of thumb that might come in handy: if your production dataset would fit on the hard drive of your desktop, you do not have Big Data. You don’t even have Medium Data. Truly Big Data is the province of financial institutions, governments, the Googles, Amazons and Facebooks of the world which rule vast empires and record every interaction their citizens have with them. YouTube for example, a small portion of Google’s data storage, receives around 270TB of video uploaded per day, each with its own set of interactions.

Despite this unimaginable scale being to some extent a prerequisite, as often happens with a new technology the buzz has permeated enterprise corporations at a level where technical decisions generally shouldn’t be made. This has resulted in another generation of ‘keeping up with the IBMs’ where entities with no need for something are seeking to adopt it purely for the cachet and buzzword compliance. Big Data is what the big companies are using, the insights and flexibility they gain from using it well are arguably the source of their global power, so in an all-too-human fashion the cargo cult gathers steam. “If we use Big Data, if we use blockchain, if we use AI…”, the thought goes, “…surely the benefits those massive companies are seeing will accrue to us as well!”

This is, perhaps surprisingly, a little backwards. It is not that having data lakes and applying complex, bleeding edge technologies to them grants power in the market will be certain to bring in clients. Quite the reverse. Having a good product, sold or given away to many clients and recording their every action eventually leads to a situation where any other approach to the collected data is simply inadequate. As fashionable as it might be to use the latest and greatest (or not so latest – some companies with only terabyte-scale datasets are still using Hadoop and Spark to run their reports for them) technologies, the vast majority of companies could have everything they need done for them across their entire corpus on their CTO’s laptop with a few hundred lines of Python and some SQL. Those who make best use of machine learning are those who have reached the point where the data they store and the questions they need to ask simply cannot be dealt with (or cannot be answered in a reasonable time) using conventional and established technology. They are those who have been digging holes with shovels, then backhoes, and have finally given up and built themselves a bucket-wheel excavator because there’s no other way to move that much earth at one time. You know when you need MapReduce and machine learning, because everything else has stopped working. Certainly, once you have reached that point you have unparalleled capacity for developing new strategies and creating new forms of automation based on the results of processing all that information, but success through scale must come before success through machine learning.

I don’t say this lightly. As a developer it is my temperament, not to mention job, to be interested in and want to work with the latest tools and most effective new technologies in order to get the most out of the resources available. However, one must be pragmatic. Data mining in the average or slightly above average company is in most cases best achieved by a human being equipped with a scripting language, SQL and patience. Even in the larger companies, data scientists spend 80% of their time extracting, cleaning and tidying up the data, long before they can begin applying their more interesting tools to its analysis. Having enough of the right sort of information is the baseline, the source from which all else flows. It is sometimes asked just how much data is necessary to train a good AI. The answer, of course, is “More. Lots more.”

A personal example, then. The data within the Market Dojo database, including every document and image ever uploaded by clients, still wouldn’t justify the use of AI, nor would it qualify as ‘big data’ within today’s standards. As much as it would delight me when asked for insights to spend my time training a neural net, tweaking its dropout rate and looking for unexpected gold in the sea of information, we can usually answer the question with a few queries against one of our replica databases and perhaps a chart or two. So that’s what we do because it’s fast, simple, and as long as it’s accurate and actionable, it doesn’t matter where the results came from. For those clients who want to get their hands dirty, we help out by doing the collection and denormalisation steps automatically and providing access to their data through our API; those who make use of this typically find that Excel or PowerBI, neither capable of handling truly significant amounts of information, are in fact entirely adequate to the task at hand.

 

 

Of course, finding actionable insights is not the only application of machine learning. What of responsiveness, of the thousands of applications promising ‘intelligent’ behaviour, which most people think of when they hear the term ‘AI’? Disappointingly for the technophile, that often doesn’t require true AI either. A suitable set of handwritten “if X then Y” statements can take care of the majority of use cases. That shouldn’t be a surprise; in a very real sense, a sequence of if/then statements is a simple definition of software. Moreover, in many cases the task itself is set in such a format. You don’t need AI to tell you that you ought to invite some people to join an event that starts tomorrow; you just need the system to check the number of participants and send an email if it’s zero. A hundred little things like that and the average person will start to think of a system as ‘smart’ even if it isn’t particularly complex.

Such advantages can be gained far more easily and cheaply in that fashion than by training neural networks and keeping models up to date. This also has the distinct advantage that if anyone happens to ask how a decision was made and what factors affected it, it is possible to give an answer. Sufficiently powerful AI, even today, is essentially opaque; provided with enough data it produces answers that happen to be true and useful, but with no recourse or explanation available even to the designers, a fact which legislators have so far failed to comprehend.

One might be tempted to take away from this that I’m somehow deluded enough to believe AI is useless, or that all its applications could just as easily be achieved in a less complex fashion. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you have dozens of terabytes of data which you need to mine for new insights and directions for your company, or you have unstructured data such as documents which you need to investigate and classify, or the X in your ‘if X then Y’ functions is actually half a million variables, then you do need AI. If you have 100,000 photographs and you want to know which of them contain birds, you do need  AI (and an extra 100,000 photographs all of which are known to contain birds).

If you just have a few hundred gigabytes to process and you’re mostly after simple insights and automation then you definitely don’t have Big Data, you probably don’t need AI, and you should look very hard at who profits when someone suggests that you do.

If you’d like to find out more about how Market Dojo can assist your business in processing its eSourcing data and creating reports through Power BI, contact your account manager today or email info@marketdojo.com

 

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our Sandpit software for yourself!

Market Dojo’s 8th Birthday!

This year on the 2nd August we were delighted to complete our 8th year in business. 

Given our tenuous Japanese association, it’s reassuring to know that the number 8 is considered a lucky number in Japan.  It gives an idea of prosperous growth, because the letter (八) broadens gradually.

As it happens, that pretty much summarises our year!

Prosperity

Our revenues have grown by a further 40% over the past 12 months.  Granted that isn’t as impressive as some of those VC-funded tech companies we read about in the news, but it’s pretty good for a bootstrapped company in its 8th consecutive year of similar growth levels.

We’ve also seen a 50% increase in customer accounts.  Since we uniquely offer an on-demand strategic sourcing tool – the GiffGaff of eProcurement where you’re “free to stay, free to go” – we are used to having a huge tail of customers who dip in and out periodically over the year.  However the past year has seen us secure longer term deals with numerous global firms, a very positive sign.

Recognition

Which takes us onto the next fantastic sign of great things to come.  We were recently listed as a Spend Matters 50 Providers to Watch for 2018 as well as flying high in the Spend Matters 2018 SolutionsMap for Sourcing, leading the way by a distance on the nimble combination of customer feedback and analyst assessment.

We’ve also achieved 5-star feedback across 20 reviews on Capterra, a subsidiary of Gartner. For example this except from Aggreko’s Head of Legal:

An innovative, powerful eSourcing tool that gives buyers absolute control over their tenders.”

We’re delighted that our clients are seeing this level of success from us and we can’t thank them all enough for their support and appreciation.

The recognition also comes from within, with our 5 star reviews from our employees, so again we can only thank our team for making it such a great place to work.

Traction

Given that the past year has seen an influx of Enterprise customers, our user numbers are starting to look like the oft cited ‘hockey stick’ graph. Certainly this period of growth has given us challenges, particularly in recruitment in trying to source local talent, but it is tremendous to see. We hope it continues strongly for the years ahead.

Since we operate a single-instance, multi-tenanted application, we can see all of our data in one place in real-time.  For example below, we now see an average of 700 eAuctions per month. That’s around 32 every single working day!

This really puts us in a great position for sharing best practice with clients and using the power of data to help them.  With our AI and machine learning developments under review, we’re in a really good position to collaborate with clients on a new level.

The future’s bright

There have been many other highlights that we could cover.  There were the successful roadshow events in Birmingham and Manchester as well as our second annual conference, this time at Englefield House.  

We’ve established our joint venture, called Bomfire, to help small manufacturing firms take their procurement into the digital era.  

We’ve pushed more than 60 software updates in the past 12 months, keeping us well on top of our ever-increasing customer ideas, or the ‘Customer Love’ roadmap item, as we call it!

But all of these things condense into one firm signal – 2019 is going to be one heck of a year and we look forward to it!

The Trials and Tribulations of a Software-as-a-Service Company

Market Dojo provides an eSourcing solution based entirely in the cloud. And whilst we boast about all the benefits of being a SaaS company, such as pay per use pricing and delivery, instant access, and the ability to try the software before committing to a purchase, it would be beneficial to explain what exactly SaaS really means.

We worked with our knowledgeable partner Kelly Barner at Buyers Meeting Point to discuss what makes SaaS different to cloud computing, how we benefit from working with our SaaS suppliers and how users can benefit from working with us.

Blog Talk Radio: Does Strategic Sourcing via SaaS Lead to Solution Disposability?

Check out the Blog Talk Radio above and get in touch if you have any questions. How do you best utilise SaaS providers? Or maybe you’re part of a SaaS company, what pros and cons have you discovered?

Don’t forget you can always sign up for free here and check out the benefits of a SaaS eSourcing tool.

Modern Slavery – It’s time to Act

In June, I attended the CIPS Gloucester branch event on Modern Slavery, which was presented by the hugely enlightening Andrew Wallis, OBE & CEO of Unseen. Unseen is a charity with the aim of working towards a world without slavery. It was shocking to learn how rife modern slavery is, even in the UK, with an estimated 21 million people worldwide the victims of forced labour.

As of April 2016, organisations with a turnover of £36 million with business conducted in the UK were required to report annually on the measures they have introduced to ensure there is no modern slavery taking place in their supply chain. Organisations are required to publish a Modern Slavery Act for each financial year, and it’s recommended to be published within 6 months of the organisations financial year.

If you’re in an organisation whose financial year ends in March/April, time is quickly running out to publish this year’s Act.

Procurement professionals are at the forefront in the fight against Modern Slavery. With responsibility and visibility over the supply chain, and critically, what due diligence is done and the business systems to manage the risk. Market Dojo’s Supplier Information Management system (SIM) tool, SIM Dojo can quickly and easy help procurement teams to establish the processes and policies to help detect and identify potential risks concerning Modern Slavery.

Whilst is it almost impossible for an organisation to audit and monitor every supplier within a supply chain, it is even harder to manage and track this information through Excel or an equivalent. Using SIM Dojo, you can quickly capture details from your entire supply chain on what steps they have taken regarding the Modern Slavery Act, as well as allowing them to upload a copy of their Act. Another huge benefit of the system is the ability to set automatic reminders to notify your entire supply chain to provide an update on the additional measures they have taken to address Modern Slavery since last year.

SIM Dojo is an affordable, quick to implement system to ensure that the necessary due diligence can be performed on your supply chain. Please don’t let the use of ill-equipped tools or costs be a reason for not implementing a suitable Modern Slavery Act policy. We can even provide you with a questionnaire template for the Modern Slavery Act to enable you to hit the ground running.

This article was originally published on Pulse which can be found here, alternatively, discover more on the implications of the Modern Slavery Act.

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Meet Sophia Binns!

Introducing one of the new members to the Market Dojo Family Sophia Binns. We asked our newest addition a couple of questions to find out what makes her tick.

What made you apply to work at Market Dojo?
I found Market Dojo through a sales recruitment agency based in Cheltenham. I’ve worked in sales since I was 16 years old (much to my displeasure at the time… working in a children’s clothes shop on the weekends and during school holidays isn’t exactly a teenagers dream.) I knew sales was in my future, being one of the many things I’m good at (modesty being the other) but I wasn’t exactly sure how to get there and build a career from it.

When I was told about the opportunity to interview with Market Dojo I jumped at the chance. I had never considered a job in procurement; I didn’t really know what it was. Frantically researching the Market Dojo website and stalking the directors on LinkedIn (confessions of a wanna-be super sleuth) I realised that this was a company that would be somewhere I could grow and develop with and ultimately build a career. Market Dojo and I have a lot in common; we are quick to adapt, we maintain good relationships with people, we are resilient, honest and like the colour Red.

What are you looking forward to in your new role?
It sounds a bit cliche but after meeting the directors in the interview I was excited to work for them. They each spoke with such passion about procurement and a company they had built off their own backs. Nick and Alun saw what the procurement industry was missing and made the leap to fix it. They are inspiring and such great guys it’s hard not to get excited about starting a role within a team of people who you could actually be friends with outside of work. I was also looking forward to the chance to make a difference. Market Dojo is growing and I have the opportunity to actually make a difference in something, carve my way and leave my mark. It’s something to get out of bed for knowing you’re going to make that difference and work with great people.

What is different about Market Dojo?
The company is incredibly honest and actually wants what is best for its clients. There is no up selling for personal gain or offering the world and then not delivering. Market Dojo does what it says on the tin. No ulterior motives. You are investing in a tried and tested software that will give results and will save time and money. It is refreshing to find a company with integrity and passion.

What is the most unusual job you have ever had?
As far as unusual goes, my job history is pretty much the expected for a post-graduate who was born and raised in the countryside; babysitting, pub work and shop assistant. A cool job I have done, although I don’t remember, was when I was a baby model for Mini Boden. What can I say… I peaked early.

What is your favourite book/movie?
Picking a favourite film would be like picking a favourite child… I don’t have children. My siblings and I had a very limited film selection growing up, all of which were Disney. I still love them to this day and can’t wait for my Godchild to arrive so I have an excuse to watch them again. When I finally got to have the freedom to buy DVDs with my hard earned pocket money, I was like a kid in a candy store. I have watched too many films to count but if I had to pick a few I would say The Lord of the Ring Trilogy or Harry Potter.

What is the most embarrassing song you have on your phone?
Without a doubt the most embarrassing song I have on my phone Enya ‘Sail Away’. It isn’t embarrassing because the song is bad. On the contrary, the song is amazing. What is embarrassing is my attempt to sing along.

Where have you travelled abroad? What was your favourite country?
Due to my Dad having a fear of flying, our summer holidays were limited to France. I now have the capability to go anywhere and I have been to France 3 times this year. If it ain’t broke? Besides, the French have the best wine, cheese, architecture and scenery. Why would I not go back? I do have a travel book and a few I want to tick off in 2018 is Iceland, Bali and Austria. I would love to see the Northern Lights and the beautiful scenery in Austria.

What is one thing about yourself that you think others would be surprised to know?
I have four brothers and three sisters. It is both manic and loud but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What are your hobbies and interests?
I love photography; my camera feed is full of flowers, landscapes and sunsets. My love of photography is fuelled by my desire to travel. I also love cooking. I come from a very large family and so cooking was something we all had to do to help out. It was also something we did together so for me cooking has always been a sociable time. And who doesn’t love food? I am very into fitness and am attempting to do a Tough Mudder in 2018. Watch this space.

A photo I took when I went to Paris in September 2017.

What is your biggest claim to fame?
Growing up my next door neighbour was Princess Anne.

If you could be any animal what would you be?
A corgi in Buckingham Palace. I can imagine they live a pretty good life.

What actor would you cast to play yourself in a movie?
Morgan Freeman. He might need some prosthetics.

Find Sophia on Linkedin here
Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Market Dojo hires Scottish royalty

Market Dojo is excited to introduce you to our newest member of team Dojo – Jon Pole. Coming all the way from South Africa he’ll be stepping into our business development manager position. We asked him a few questions to get to know a bit more about him.

Image result for south africaImage result for scotland flag

What made you apply to work at Market Dojo?
I’ll set the scene – It was a late November evening, rain was pouring down. I was driving down the M5 on my way home from a job interview with a terrible telemarketing company, wondering if I should accept the job offer or not – do I sell my soul? I stopped at a services station to take a break from the terrible weather, I checked a few emails and there it was an invitation to interview for a company called ‘Market Dojo’ I checked out the company, the sun broke through the clouds and the rest is history.

What are you looking forward to in your new role?
It’s not often you get a chance to be part of a small company with so much potential, having the opportunity to build it up from the foundations and see yourself making a noticeable difference. I’m excited about generating new sales and heat-seeking new opportunities also just getting the opportunity to tell people I’m a ‘Business Development Manager’ at 22.

What is different about Market Dojo?
Everything about the company is taken at face value and is transparent, what you see is what you get. It’s also very rare when you get to sell a product that sells itself. I’m just really appreciating having the opportunity as a young person

What is the most unusual job you have ever had?
Whilst at University I worked at Heart radio as a marketing and promotions assistant. The unusual thing about this job is that we spent a lot of our time driving around in giant red 7 seaters plastered with the Heart logo. Whilst doing this we were giving out cakes, setting up gazebos, face painting children and being VIP backstage at Boardmasters. It was pretty fun and I was the only man working with 23 girls. So, all in all, it was okay…

What is your favourite book/movie?
It couldn’t be anything other than Lord of the rings, huge Tolkien fan. My inner nerd will never lie about it.

What is the most embarrassing song you have on your phone
As a music student and musician I have and listen to everything I mean I could list 50 pages of embarrassing songs but instead here is a taster:

N-Dubz – Strong Again
Celine Dion – My Heart Will Go On
One Direction – Best Song Ever
Justin Bieber – One Time

Where have you travelled abroad? What was your favourite country?
I grew up in South Africa and it will always be my favourite in terms of natural beauty. The best foreign trip of my life has been going to Finland earlier this year to see the northern lights, it was the best thing I’ve ever done, absolutely breathtaking if you haven’t been before then make time to go ASAP, it’s worth it. I also love Italy the culture is amazing, the food is my favourite and I am also 60% fluent in Italian according to Duolingo.

What are your hobbies and interests?
My main hobby or passion is singing, I’m actually in an indie/electronic band I sing, play guitar and synth. So performance is a key part of what I love to do, I’ve always thought maybe it’s just because I love being the centre of attention – maybe that’s why I turned up to my first day at work in a full suit when the dress code was casual.

What actor would you cast to play yourself in a movie?
That’s easy, it’s gotta be Leonardo Di Caprio. But not the young pretty boy – think more like between Wolf of Wall Street and The Revenant, with a bad hairline and dad bod running around the park with a water pistol. There certainly are some similarities to be seen there.

How would you describe yourself for those about to meet you at Market Dojo?
I would make these lucky people very aware of my lack of common sense, it is actually a very severe case of it. I’ve been described by friends as a ‘puppy – you can’t be mad at it for messing things up because it doesn’t know any better’.
I won’t accidentally wet myself in the house but I spend days making people question how I actually got an honours degree.

Interesting facts about yourself?
Well, obviously I’m South African, not that you’d be able to tell from the well-spoken British accent with a Somerset twang.

I’ve performed at the London O2 and got a support slot with Gabrielle Aplin before she backed out and got someone else.

If you’ve seen Braveheart I’m a direct descendant of William Wallace and could be a Scottish prince if history had played out in my favour.

What are you hoping to bring to Market Dojo?
A hungry sense of ambition and a desire to succeed with Market Dojo.
Also to make sure Market Dojo has an obviously visible growth from the date I joined.

Finally, I hope to become a main driving force within this company and with that enthusiasm, I’m confident I will succeed

Connect with Jon on LinkedIn here!

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Tail Spend by Greg Tennyson

This is the second guest article by Greg Tennyson, CPO at VSP Global, discussing the importance of managing your Tail Spend.

Pareto This Tail Spend

Tail Spend generally follows the Pareto Principle of 20% input (Spend) equals 80% output (Suppliers). To state it differently 80% of your supplier base is generally equivalent to 20% of a company’s total spend. Compounding matters Tail Spend is considered a low priority, that is, each individual transaction is of a small dollar value and is typically unmanaged resulting in challenges with data clarity, integrity and visibility. Your classic garbage in, garbage out scenario.

But wait there is hope… 
Tail Spend is important and can be managed. First, let’s do the math. A US-based analytics and tail spend management startup called FairMarkIT spent the past 9 months on hundreds of conference calls and in-person meetings with CPOs, VPs of Procurement, Heads of Sourcing and Purchasing from large organizations with spend under management ranging from $2B-$XB annually. Using those engagements as a baseline if we consider 20% of the $2B in spend under management that would then represent a Tail Spend opportunity valued at $400M.

Now let’s consider how most companies manage Tail Spend…. In those same conversations had with the ‘heads of’ one question was asked every time – ‘how do you currently manage your tail spend?’ Guess what, based on the garbage in, garbage out scenario most ‘heads of’ don’t try to manage tail spend.

Profiles
FairMarkIT discovered there are 3 different CPO profiles:
1)    The CPO with minimal time who really doesn’t care. Their thought process is anything under a specific dollar threshold is too small to focus their team’s time and the trivial purchase size will limit its risk to the business.

2)    The CPO that knows it’s an important problem to address, but has no idea where to start. The procurement of these small purchases is decentralized, untracked, and spans across so many categories that it feels like they are trying to boil the ocean.

3)    The CPO that has established an initiative and is taking strategic, incremental steps to gain control and optimize unmanaged spend. This third CPO seems to always be looking for new innovative ways to challenge the status quo and has no problem shaking up legacy processes.

By using automated processes that identify and group unstructured data, FairMarkIT can aggregate your tail spend transaction history into a meaningful and actionable roadmap that a team can leverage to make business decisions around tail spend management. Most importantly, tell you where’s the best place to start.

Common Denominator
It boils down to risk. The current process to source tail spend purchases is typically informal, un-monitored, and lacks analysis, which allows people to make decisions at their own discretion. And if spend isn’t monitored, there are dominant outcomes:

1)    People take the easy path to buy the product with little to no concern about getting the best price (Price Risk)

2)    The initial purchase may have reflected the best price but the business doesn’t track pricing, so no one in the organization knows how susceptible different products are to fluctuations in price (Time Risk)

3)    If the purchase is consummated below the radar was the purchase properly vetted (Operational Risk)

1)    Price Risk
The most obvious risk is overpaying for a product or service. Those familiar with the world of B2B selling or purchasing know that pricing is not standardized and tends to be more like the Wild West. It’s no secret that companies pay varying amounts for the exact same B2B products, and if they’re not intelligently sourced, the risk of overpaying dramatically increases. I fully agree that not all tail spend purchases fall victim to this, as there are some categories and vendors that do hold fairly consistent price discounting levels, but, without tracking and reviewing the data, how can you even begin to identify your largest areas of risk?

2)    Time Risk
The second type of risk is time, which is frequently viewed by a CPO as a team’s most valuable resource. The current process to source small to medium purchases is to email or physically call 1-2 suppliers, explain the product or service being purchased, and then collect and organize the returning bids. This is a manual process. Now fast forward that process across 10s of thousands to 100s of thousands of small purchases, depending on the size of the company that are made every single year. If you do want to increase the number of suppliers participating to use competitive forces to drive pricing down, you’re just tacking on additional minutes, hours, days, months to your annual sourcing process.

3)    Operational Risk
The risks range from procurement fraud to showing favouritism and excluding qualified suppliers to potential cybersecurity concerns. If you’re not tracking or managing 80% of your purchases, how can you expect your buyers to intuitively know which businesses can supply what products at the best price, that mitigate the foregoing operational risks.

The question is …
What is in your Tail Spend that should keep you up at night and what do you plan to do about it? There are solutions out there that can help de-mystify your Tail Spend. I encourage you to consider the total Tail Spend amount, the associated risks and pull a project team together to assess next steps. In the end, your company will be better off as a result of the team’s work.

Can Procurement survive without email?
Market Dojo, a UK-based eSourcing provider, states that their #1 competitor is email.   This is certainly true when it comes to Tail Spend, where the average business can have thousands of employees emailing quotation requests to suppliers every year.   Catalogs, rate cards, framework agreements and purchase cards can be effective mechanisms to control this but there is inevitably leakage.  Besides, how does a CPO ensure compliance if there is zero visibility of these email-based
quotations?

Market Dojo’s solution is to make a quotation request easier than email.  With just 3 text fields to fill and a drop-down list of categorized pre-approved suppliers, it’s a viable alternative for busy Operations folk who are on the go.  By encouraging Operational users to invite half a dozen preferred suppliers to quote, instead of just 3 unknown ones by email, it drives competition.  Even if this only resulted in a 5% more competitive quote, against the $400m average Tail Spend opportunity it can equate to a $20m saving!

So, solutions are out there to suggest that we can survive without email, we just have to make it easier for the organization to use them.

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

My First eWorld – September 2017

Six months and here we are again, eWorld September 2017. I am sure that for the rest of the team at Market Dojo it felt like a bout of Deja Vu having gone for the past 6 years but for myself, this happened to be my first trade show since starting here earlier this month.

Luckily, this time around we stayed in a hotel the evening before so missed the 4am start which I believe is the traditional Market Dojo eWorld routine.

 

So starting the day feeling fresh at sunrise, we headed down to the QEII Centre in Westminster to set up for the day. I worked my marketing magic to make the stand look pretty great (if I do say so myself) on time for delegates arrival at 8am.
We had the privilege of being situated next to two of our close partners standsProvalido and Per Angusta.

The brilliant Claire Boffey who organises the popular event biannually, ensured all the sponsors had free bacon rolls to prepare us for the big day ahead. Unfortunately, for vegetarians like me, this meant sampling lots of chocolates from various stands which gave me the perfect opportunity to gain an insight into other competitors and procurement solutions on the market.

 

I think for ‘newbies’ like myself, it was interesting to see the range of people which attend the event. Not everyone is there for new opportunity it seemed, which surprised me (just there for CIPS points!) however the ones which were, showed just how applicable Market Dojo is to the market, as many procurement teams are so stuck in old ways and could benefit massively from using a tool to eSource.

The talk given by Interserve, our client for over a year now, grabbed everyone’s attention. The representatives on the day, Kevin Davies and Mandeep Chana, Spoke about changing behaviour through technology, such a popular choice of topic that the room had to be upgraded to a larger space (We hope this had nothing to do with the “free biscuits” title given in the pamphlet!)

 

Interserve gave an honest talk about their experience of implementing an eProcurement solution, explaining their hardships along the way with software, communication and processes. However choosing the right supplier was fundamental to their success, yep that’s right… us (MARKET DOJO) and Per Angusta.

Our prize draw for a free month licence for Market Dojo was drawn from a hat by Pierre from Per Angusta and Pete from our sales team. Our lucky winner this time, was Kunal Khanderia from Hilton Hotels.

As the day appeared to come to a close, we had some of our best conversations with people who were really keen to learn more about the world of eSourcing and also some of our other products such as category analysis. This went down very well with a glass of white wine to finish a fun first day at eWorld.

 

Finally! (nearly finished I promise) before heading off back to Gloucestershire, we went for my cuisine of choice, Italian at Colosseo just a 5 minute walk from the QEII centre for some real food (by that, I obviously mean pasta) before another day back at the office!

 

If you didn’t get the chance to come to the event or missed us for any reason and think Market Dojo could have been of interest to you, don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information or try out our free sandpit tool here!

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

[New Release] – August 2017

Over the past few years we’ve discovered that eSourcing has evolved into becoming a team effort. Whether it is the stakeholder who needs to sign off on RFI requirements or the colleague who is best able to answer a suppliers question. In recognition to this, we’ve made a key focus of our latest product update to help with this new challenge.

Market Dojo messaging has always been a great way to manage communication with your suppliers in a centralised, auditable way. However, until now it wasn’t possible to have the same benefits for communication within the buying team. With our latest release that has changed, as now you can message your fellow host as well as participants within the tool.
The new send message page :

Similar to the send to participants page, you can choose which individuals or groups the message should be sent to. You have the ability to easily select everyone with a particular role, or just choose individuals.

We are very excited to help our customers work more efficiently with their internal teams, and look forward to seeing this feature being adopted.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch! Contact us at support@marketdojo.com
Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Market Dojo in Seventh Heaven

What do Market Dojo and these photos of celebrities have in common?

Extra prizes if you can all guess who they are – we’ll tell you at the end.
The answer is that they are all 7 years old at this snapshot in time.  And so earlier this month we quietly surpassed this milestone as well, although we can only aspire to achieve the same global acclaim!

Even in this short time, it’s astounding to witness how quickly technology has moved along on the one hand, yet on the other, it’s equally astounding how slowly it has propagated through the Procurement function where we are still discovering FTSE 250 companies with no eProcurement policy in place.

It reminds me of a previous article we wrote about what life would look like if we all still used all tech from the year 2000 (& not just procurement tech).  Find it here.

Anyhow, here’s a reflection of some of the main highlights of the past 12 months:

New Clients

The past 12 months has brought us some fantastic accounts with some pretty unique challenges, from global roll-outs intended to modernise the entire Procurement function – hear more about that at eWorld this September – through to a series of eAuctions run in the course of a few weeks that resulted in savings of $50m!

Recruitment

It has been another busy year on the recruitment front.  In September we welcomed James to join our Development team, closely followed by Henry in November within Business Development.  We’re also due to welcome Angie in September to join our Marketing team, plus have a couple of available opportunities in Business Development with plenty more to come.

We’re delighted to be able to offer our current Business Development Manager, Lewis, a change in his career path to build up our Customer Success team.  As a small firm, it’s genuinely exciting to be able to offer the team the ability to progress as they see fit.

Product Roadmap
Our customers have been hugely supportive in helping us to improve Market Dojo and allowed us to build many new features. We’ve had another hugely productive year but some of our favourites moments are:

Growth
This year we worked out that we’ve saved our clients over £1.3bn across 25,000 eSourcing events, at an average of 16% saving!  Quite astonishing really.

Inaugural conference
One of the genuine highlights of the year was our debut annual conference held in April at the historic Stonehouse Court Hotel.  The event was a great success with over 100 attendees on the day to listen to insightful talks from speakers including Robert Copeland, UK Procurement Director at G4S; Rob Lees, Commercial Director at the MoD; and Simon Boggis, former CPO at CEVA Logistics.

What will the next 12 months bring?
We’ll continue with our recruitment plans as well as push our brand further overseas to build on the success we’ve already seen to once again bolster our revenues by 50%.  We hope to be doing more with you all in the coming months!
PS:  The photos were of:  Prince William, Beyoncé, Madonna and Robert de Niro.  Well done if you got them all.

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

The Journey of a Film Student at Market Dojo

Hi, I’m Harry. I’ve just wrapped up my second year of study at the University of Gloucestershire and have been in search of bright new opportunities in the film industry. This is my experience as a Market Dojo Intern.

Me (Left), Ed (Right)

Market Dojo wasn’t a place that I thought I’d be when finishing my second year of university on a film production course, but here I am, busy working in an office from nine to five and being taught all sorts of wonderful things about procurement and social media management.

When you picture working in an office you usually imagine being surrounded by a life draining amount of grey concrete and stuffy old men in suits. But to my surprise I ended up working in a cosy, bricked office building surrounded by rolling green hills and working with a team of young energetic people, an environment which is peaceful and relaxing to work in.

Unfortunately I didn’t get the typical intern experience of being the office coffee boy, but my real job while Interning at Market Dojo was far more interesting. My job was to create short promotional material which they can use to market the company, a task which I was very happy to oblige with considering my background in Film Production.

Ed happily obliging my request to sit and let me frame the shot.

We spent a morning developing a dozen ideas all focusing on Market Dojo’s USP’s (Unique Selling Points), we needed ideas which could get across the accessibility, cost saving potential and the nature of an on demand service. Generating ideas around a company’s USP’s was an interesting challenge, something which I have learnt a great deal from. This is an aspect the Film Production course hasn’t covered yet, so it gave us new opportunities to test out our abilities.

Developing an idea is no easy task though, we spent an hour generating our ideas and then another presenting and discussing them, so that we can refine them into something that is suitable to for the company to use for their marketing. We then moved on to one of the more time-consuming tasks which were storyboarding each of the ideas we wanted to bring forward or test out. Storyboarding is a key part of the pre-production process as it allows us to plan out each shot before we begin to film, it saves us from making mistakes as we have a guideline to work from on the day.

We were working on a fairly tight schedule so we had to get everything ready to shoot quickly while still keeping the production quality high. But as film students a tight schedule with looming deadlines is all too familiar to us.
During the pre-production stage we decided to do two sets of video’s, one being a promotional video which is under a minute in length and another being a video which details what Market Dojo do. We chose to do these two videos as they can be used across multiple platforms while grabbing attention and informing the viewer, both being useful and covering different aspects.

We started by recruiting our friend Joe to be our puppet (or as he prefers it “actor”), who graciously agreed to help us out for free. After sizing him up for outfits we got straight into filming, a process which takes a lot longer than some might think. But we were wrapped within a couple of days! Once we got the footage we went straight into edit mode, we decided to do a few different versions of the film, each with minor tweaks to ensure we had all our bases covered.

Me expertly framing a shot.

The most difficult part of being a student filmmaker is dealing with limited resources and accessibility. We didn’t have access to transport, meaning certain locations are out of the question, and our kit is on loan from the university, meaning with have limited time to be able to shoot. All these aspects are difficult to work around, but we will always find a way!

I’m very pleased with how all our videos turned out and I’m excited to see what the public thinks! Overall I’ve had a great experience working at Market Dojo and feel that I’ve grown as a filmmaker with this new experience under my belt. I’m thankful for being given this first step into my professional career, so thank you Market Dojo!
You can the “eSourcing Made Simple” and “What is Market Dojo?” videos on the Market Dojo Youtube Channel

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Behind the scenes at Market Dojo

Hi, I’m Ed, And this is my Market Dojo experience.
Firstly, I had no idea about the company apart from my own research. In my research, I kept on seeing words which were unfamiliar with myself. Procurement, eAuctions and eSourcing. This all sounded very confusing at first, but I was confident that I’d be learning about it all soon enough.

A day in the Office.

The office was not what I was expecting. Its location was surrounded by fields. Lots of friendly people working hard (or at least most of the time). It was a fun looking place, dealing with high-level procurement organisations. I soon learnt more about my unfamiliar words, and by the end of the first day I felt like I had been learning a whole different language (SaaS, RFx, MLIBS and MOFA).

Myself and Harry

Myself and Harry joined the internship to get some work experience in a business and to create a film. A film which would explore the benefits of Market Dojo. Hopefully, with the learning from our University course and the brain power from the two of us (Majority mine), we would create an engaging piece of material.
Pitching the Film ideas was a fun experience. Before the pitch, we got a few test questions to ease us in pitching and breaking the ice. Let’s just say that the University didn’t prepare me for these types of questions, but I’ll get back to this later. Before the pitches, myself and Harry had come up with 12 quick but well thought out ideas which then the crew at Market Dojo had to sit through.

Myself congratulating our actor

Afterwards, we planned to create two types of films. One a promo/advert style video and the other a simple getting the co-founders to explain to the camera/audience about Market Dojo and eSourcing. This was what was decided by ourselves and the Market Dojo crew.

We spent time learning about running the social media side and website design marketing. As well as learning that we would be adding our own blog up on their blogger page. Hoping so far so good.

On Tuesday we did our first bit of filming. We had previously been in contact with the Cheltenham Museum to collect some artefacts as props for the film and the Monday we picked up the filming kit. The film promo idea was to tell a quick story through time with eSourcing.

Improvised desk

Harry having a quick drink before filming

On Thursday we were back at Market Dojo to do some more filming, shooting the interview/explaining styled film and the office scenes for the promo film. We found a lovely spot to film the founders of the company using a field for the background to represent their free spirits.

The next week was spent editing the films. Myself and Harry edited the films back in Cheltenham ready to show Market Dojo on Friday.

I had a great time at Market Dojo; learning the trade, creating some films and meeting some genuinely really nice people. I’ll leave Market Dojo asking myself one question. Why did I choose the armpit dispenser over the ham hand?

You can the “eSourcing Made Simple” and “What is Market Dojo?” videos on theMarket Dojo Youtube Channel

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

New Release – April 2017

After our responsive design update a couple of weeks ago, we had a chance to go back and collect up a number of smaller changes that have been waiting in the wings. Here are the latest features and enhancements added to the software as requested by customers.

Supplier Onboarding – SIM Dojo

Disable notification when approving supplier
In SIM Dojo, participants are automatically notified when a decision is made that affects their status. However, for some customers this decision may be an internal only workflow change.  To prevent participants receiving confusing messages we have added an option to disable the automatic notification.

Hosts can choose not to notify the participant

Remove from groups when approving participants
When re-approving an existing participant, you may wish to change the groups they are associated with. Previously this had to be done from the admin section. Now you can change the participant groups by unticking the groups when approving participants in the individual participant section.

Assigning participants to supplier groups

Email updates to scorers
Subject lines reference the participants company name instead of their name, which is easier for scorers to recognise, especially if they are dealing with a large number of participants.

Live chat support in SIM Dojo
One of our most popular support channels, especially for participants, is live chat. This is now immediately accessible by clicking the button that appears on every page of SIM Dojo.

Questionnaires
Questionnaires are used in both Market Dojo and SIM Dojo.

Auto-accept participants
We have changed the default option for ‘auto-accept participants’ to be Yes.
This is usually the right choice and makes for a much better user experience, especially for new users.

Visual feedback on whether questionnaires are complete
It can be hard for participants to keep track of which questionnaires they have submitted, and which are still outstanding. We have added visual feedback on the tabs to show which are finished.

Participants can easily see which questionnaires are finished

Empty sections in questionnaires
Empty sections in questionnaires can be used to give additional information which doesn’t directly relate to a specific section.

A questionnaire including a section with no questions

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Responsive Design for Market Dojo

Market Dojo has now rolled out the responsive design for our flagship product, Market Dojo. This is designed to be optimised visually across all computer, smartphone and small tablet devices to maximise the user experience and interface.

Screenshot of the new responsive design for a multi-lined RFQ

You can now use the responsive design for Market Dojo through our platform by logging in at https://secure.marketdojo.com.
Alternatively, you can revert to the old design by going tohttps://previous.marketdojo.com. Any events created or actions made within the tool on either the responsive design or the old design will be consistent within the platforms.

Screenshot of the existing design for a multi-lined auction

In a short time, the site hosting the existing design will be removed andwww.marketdojo.com will only run through the fully implemented responsive design. The responsive design has been built and designed in-house to ensure the consistency of the platform but with a refreshed visual design.

Key features of the Responsive Design

If you wish to continue to use our existing design, just login athttps://previous.marketdojo.com and the data will be consistent with that of the tool in the responsive design platform. This functionality will only be available for a limited period of time and if you wish for more information contact us at support@marketdojo.com.

A key focus of the responsive design is giving users a better experience of the tool, offering users the ability to take onboard more information than ever before.

Nicholas Martin, Chief Technology Officer & Co-founder of Market Dojo said:
“As the use of mobile devices and tablets continue to grow rapidly, so does the range of devices and screen sizes on which people are using our tools. Our new responsive design allows users to reach critical content faster with a refreshed design that adapts to their device.

“It is only thanks to our fantastically dedicated team and incredible clients that we have been able to do this. We will be eternally grateful for all of those who have given us their continual support and look very much forward to rolling this out to become the live platform.”

For more information, contact us at support@marketdojo.com

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Five minutes with award-winning consultancy Odesma

Before our inaugural Market Dojo Event on Thursday 6th April 2017, we caught up with presenter Nick Ford. Nick is an Executive Director of Odesma and has over 28 years experience within procurement and supply chain consulting.

What lesson stands out that you have learned in your career?
My biggest learning is that people in businesses often seem to lose a perspective on value for money. People need to treat company money like it is their own. Often they don’t, especially in bigger organisations. Having started my own business, Odesma, I can confirm I treat every penny like it is my own – gone are fancy hotels, high-cost technology solutions, expensive centrally located offices and the like.

What has been the biggest and proudest achievement in your procurement career?
Being involved in setting up Odesma, a successful on-demand Procurement consultancy based on the principles of the cloud (everything drawn from third parties; technology to independent contractors). In our business we have essentially outsourced everything, this has allowed us to start the business with very limited capital and very quickly grow it whilst servicing a range of multinational as well as national customers at competitively, whilst delivering very fast to a high-quality standard.

Which single tool or best practise technique would you implement into any organisation to save money?
Harnessing new or bleeding edge technology. The B2C world is heading towards convergence with B2B. Businesses continue to operate in the old World, whilst the new world now offers solutions on an on-demand call off basis with no tie in at low cost. Freeware / Open Source is prevalent, on demand solutions are readily available ie Google mail, CRM solutions at a fraction of the corporate cost with greater security.  New suppliers entering the market offer much stronger easy to use interfaces at a fraction of the current cost.

What are you looking forward to in the Market Dojo event?
I am looking forward to networking with other procurement professionals and meeting up with colleagues, old and new! In addition, it’s great to be able to present and support our partners, Market Dojo with their event.

What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about sport. I love to watch Port Vale F.C play when I get a chance as well as catching up on the horse racing.

What makes Odesma unique?
Our business advisory solutions are founded on experience, expertise and insight, providing mobile resources anywhere in the world. With 100 experience we focus on doing things fast and cost effectively to suit any organisation. Odesma’s flexibility allows us to mobilise our strategy

Click the following link if you want to find out more about the Market Dojo Event at Stonehouse Court Hotel. Nick Ford presented at the procurement event on the subject of “Using eSourcing to Transform Organisations into Procurement Leaders”

You can find more information about the full agenda for the event at www.marketdojo.com/event-2017
Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Five minutes with Executive Search specialist Iain Mckenna

We caught up with presenter Iain McKenna, before the 2017 Market Dojo Event.  Iain is the Managing Director of Sourcing Solved and presented “The Human Condition: Finding The Talent To Match The Technology” at our event on Thursday 6th April 2017.

What do you think is the secret to success in business?
Good social skills are probably the most important thing; if you can’t build strong relationships with people then you’re not going anywhere. Take the time to listen to others; remember we have two ears for a reason!

What lesson stands out that you have learned in your career?
I’ve learned the importance of taking time to really know your client. Executive search is not a one size fits all process, and every project must be viewed with a fresh pair of eyes.

What has been the biggest and proudest achievement in your career?
Setting up Sourcing Solved has been a huge challenge and has taught me so many valuable lessons. To have grown so much in seven years and have such a great team of people to support me is something I’m very proud, and thankful, for.

If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?
Believe in yourself; you are always only one decision away from changing your life!

What are you looking forward to in the Market Dojo event?
Meeting like-minded people who are really trying to make a difference in the procurement community, and in-person! As is common when interacting on LinkedIn, there are quite a few people who I’ve connected with but have never actually met, so I’m looking forward to finally putting faces to names.

What are you passionate about?
Fitness, it’s good for the soul. Over the last year I’ve been taking time to focus on improving my fitness, and the path to developing that physical and mental discipline is hugely challenging but equally rewarding. I have huge respect for people who take part in endurance events such as marathons and triathlons; the strength of character that it takes to succeed is not to be undervalued.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career? And how have they helped shape you?
Undoubtedly my mother, who always told me to pull my socks up and get on with it! Though I may not have appreciated it at the time, this attitude has carried me through a lot.

If you want to find out more, check out the details of the Market Dojo Event at Stonehouse Court Hotel. Iain McKenna presented at the procurement event on the subject of “The Human Condition: Finding The Talent To Match The Technology”
You can find more information and the full agenda for the event at www.marketdojo.com/event-2017

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Join our inaugural procurement event, Thursday 6th April

Market Dojo is hosting its inaugural procurement event on Thursday, 6th April. The event will offer procurement professionals the opportunity to network and learn from the experts.

“Creating Real Value from eSourcing”

 Thursday 6th April at Stonehouse Court, GL10 3RA.
The event will be hosted in the beautiful setting of Stonehouse Court Hotel and feature presentations from CPO’s, Procurement Directors and thought leaders within Procurement.

The full agenda can be found here.

Alternatively, fill in the short registration form here.
Consult with experts throughout the day to discover how you can make real savings on a number of different categories and learn new sourcing techniques.

Who will be presenting on the day?

Who else will be attending the event?
A number of senior procurement professionals from renowned brands will be attending the day including Next, Travis Perkins and McCarthy & Stone.
In addition to the attendees, a range of different procurement solutions will be on hand to offer procurement solutions for Sourcing, Contracts Management, Spend Analysis and Supplier Onboarding.

What do our attendees say?
“We are eager to be attending and finding new ways to generate real savings within procurement. In particular, we are interested in the new strategies that are being adopted within retail and freight procurement. – Philip Corbett, Procurement Manager, Travis Perkins

“It’s great to be invited to the Market Dojo event, for us the major benefit of the day is to find new ways in which we can increase eSourcing adoption with our procurement team and learn new best practice techniques.” – Daniel Higginson, eSourcing Manager, Next
“I’m looking forward to uncovering new ways that we can expand our sourcing categories, in particular Market and Energy procurement as key areas that we can produce further savings.” – Edward Dring, Procurement Manager, McCarthy & Stone

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

[Case Study] Aggreko create ‘Freight eMarketplace’ using the Market Dojo tool

Chad Thibodeaux is the Central Logistics Manager for Aggreko North America-Americas. His duties involve the strategic sourcing for Aggreko’s transportation needs

When did you first consider using Market Dojo?
At Aggreko, we are the leading global provider of modular, mobile power, cooling, heating and air solutions. We supply to over 100 countries including to a number of major events such as the PGA tour and Formula 1 Race Days. This is in addition to our regular deliveries of rental solutions and power solutions to refineries, power plants and major construction sites.

We use multiple modes of transportation services to get our equipment moved throughout North America, but for the sake of this conversation, I will divide it into two major categories: local & long haul deliveries. The field service centres that are in close proximity to the delivery location are categorised as ‘local deliveries’. For the majority of these deliveries, we use regional service providers to deliver the equipment. For all of our long-haul deliveries which are further away from our service centres, we use approved service providers that can cover a much larger territory.

Initially, we recognised an opportunity change the way in which we procured our long-haul freight needs. For a number of years, it had been the responsibility of the local service centre teams for the arranging of vehicles and suppliers to long-haul destinations.

However, we felt that if we centralised our long-haul needs into a single central procurement team we might be able to generate high levels of savings and gain greater visibility on our spend. It was at this point that we considered using a tool that included an eAuction solution as it would give us the greatest potential for savings. We were recommended Market Dojo by a partner and have since been implementing it globally.

How have you been using Market Dojo?
Specifically, we’ve been using Market Dojo to create a ‘freight eMarketplace’, centralising all of our long-haul freight needs in North America and reducing costs through Reverse Auctions with suppliers. We have used our list of existing suppliers in addition to specifically chosen new suppliers to generate increased competition for each of the lots. Part of my role as the Central Logistics Manager is to liaise and manage suppliers and to oversee the outsourcing long-haul freight project.

What is your overall aim of using Market Dojo?
Our overall target is to capture and relay the data on a large scale, using those teachings to create further savings and thus getting better value for money, without compromising either the service from our supplier or the quality of service that we provide to our customers.

From the success that we have already had, it’s obvious that we will always be using an eAuction tool. Simply, the success has far exceeded any of the negatives and hopefully, we can continue to streamline and adopt the process on a greater scale.

What challenges did you face with the Freight eMarketplace?
Initially, we struggled with centralising all of the long-haul needs in North America to the new central team. Previously each of the field teams had organised with suppliers for deliveries in their local areas. However, we quickly found that in the past both our local teams and the suppliers had been using a different process to organise deliveries. Consequently, it took time for all of the suppliers to adapt to the new system.

Another issue was the resources needed to manage suppliers. Previously the workload had been spread across numerous teams in the continent. However, we found that with the workload we had to create an internal place within the central team to manage those vendors.

What didn’t you consider until you started the eMarketplace?
One aspect that we didn’t realise was the importance of sending a clear and consistent message to the freight suppliers regarding the eAuctions. In the freight transportation industry, eAuctions are not the norm. Therefore we had to educate many of our suppliers as to the process. At the start, we found a few issues with suppliers such as aggressively bidding but being unable to meet their obligations.

What have you heard back from suppliers?
To be honest, we have heard mixed feedback from suppliers. Some suppliers are unhappy with the process, mostly because those suppliers had previously been awarded a larger amount of business and only had to compete with a small number of other suppliers. Whereas we have heard very positive feedback from other suppliers regarding the process such as the immediate awarding of lots on completion of the eAuction and the increased level of competition, allowing for a greater number of suppliers to be considered.

Click here to read more about our work with Aggreko

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Travelogue of a frenchxit

Antoine Le Bras, French intern who has joined Market Dojo for 8 weeks shares his feelings and his analysis of his first days in our beautiful country.

It only took an hour to discover the grey sky of the United Kingdom. When I arrived, I was shocked by the gentlemanly spirit. In France, people don’t care about people, we are very independent and in my opinion, mostly selfish. In my experience in the UK, when people have issues, others try to understand your difficulties and try to help you. In France, we see but often we don’t even bother to try to understand.

After taking a small train on tracks in Birmingham and another train to New Street, I had to fight against the British train station. Why? Because there are lots of trains with lots of different tracks and on one track you have differents numbers for the different train stops! So much, almost too much to factor in when you’re waiting for your train.

It is after this adventure, that I arrived in the good city. Since arrived I was disturbed by a few things. Firstly, you drive left on the road! Your steering wheel is on the right! And when you want to cross the street you need to check your right first. It is hard to do the opposite. Please, drive on the same side like all the European Union’s countries… Oh, I probably shouldn’t say that!

My journey lasts 8 weeks, 8 weeks of eating hundreds of different types of crisps  (I have already tried mature cheddar with red onion but it is an acquired taste).

I would like during the trip to go to London for a weekend, discovering the capital. To see landmarks of London like the London Eye, the Tower Bridge, Westminster palace and of course Big Ben…

My ambition is also to watch a football match in a Stadium. To feel the passion, the strength, to hear football songs and thrill with fifty-thousand people.

I have found that when I talk about my beautiful country and our traditional food, it is often perceived with a lot of stereotypes. Firstly, we don’t eat snails and frogs everyday or have a baguette in the kitchen  or have mouldy cheese in the fridge. We don’t wear a berets but yes, you are right. We are grumpy people and we become grumpy for no reason! But… we have a strong history and as we like to think, one of the best cuisines in the world. I do now and always will miss eating a traditional baguette with salted butter caramel from Guérande (if you haven’t tried it, you must it!), crepe, and all the other wonderful things of France.

One of the things that I have noticed since the beginning of my trip, was that your British houses all look the same, I find it very disturbing. But set apart from all of the crazy cultural differences, what stands out is  the music, your music. Before my trip, I was thinking that we have the same music with the same artists, everthing similar. However I was totally wrong. The first thing I heard when walking into a supermarket was the music, a different sound then you would hear in France.

If I have to conclude now, I would say you have a beautiful country, with so careful, outgoing and drunky people, I will never forget this trip, this adventure. But please, let me see the sunshine sometime!
Antoine Le Bras
Stay tuned for to hear more about my adventures!

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Why you should budget for an eSourcing solution

Yes, it’s that time of the year again, John Lewis have released their masterful Christmas advert (as usual), the Coca-Cola truck is on its way and we begin the final countdown towards the end of the year.

If you’re anything like me, you might already be thinking about your savings targets and budgets for next year. Hopefully, you’ve reached a point where you are considering introducing an eSourcing solution.

Spending a lot of your time and money on buying goods or services from suppliers? Then we might just have the perfect present for you! Market Dojo!

Wondering just how an eSourcing solution can help?

Centralise your information – Say goodbye to emails and those excel spreadsheets! Take your sourcing activities to a single online portal and you’ll increase visibility amongst your organisation, de-mystify the market, and still have a complete audit history of your activities that your accounts team will love.

Standardise your approach – Have you ever considered inviting more suppliers to take part in an RFQ and stopped yourself because of all the extra emails, questions and different templates you’ll receive back? By utilising an eSourcing solution this is no longer an issue and you’ll be thankful for the extra competition.

You can increase the number of suppliers you invite with no extra overhead. Pre-qualification questionnaires will be centralised through the tool and help you to make more efficiencies of the process. In addition, all of your suppliers will be responding in the same fashion through the system saving you some precious extra time.

Hit those savings targets – Start 2017 off with a bang by aggressively attacking those savings targets. Run an eAuction to determine the true market value. If you’re having to run 3 bids and a buy, then why not run an eAuction to ensure you’re getting the best value. After all, average savings from an eAuction in our tool is an impressive 21%!

Fear not, if you’re just running RFQ’s, then an eSourcing system will allow you to easily invite more suppliers, increasing competitiveness and potentially helping you make those all-important savings.

It doesn’t cost as much as you might think – Market Dojo offers affordable and flexible options. You can run unlimited monthly events from just £500, and there’s no minimum contract duration!

You can even use the software for a couple of months to understand its value before committing to a longer term deal. Simply, the potential ROI is stupendous! We regularly see our clients see ROI savings % in triple figures and yes I did say TRIPLE figures!

Isn’t it about time that you treated yourself and bought that procurement tool that you just know will make your life that much easier and better?
Contact Lewis for more information.

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

[New Release] Answering for your participants and quick identifiers

We have added some new features to Market Dojo, based on feedback from our users. We believe these will make our products more useful and our customers more productive.

Answer questionnaires on behalf of your participants
Hosts can now answer questionnaires for their participants. This is something our customers have requested, because, from time to time, they want to involve participants who are unable to complete the questionnaire themselves. This complements our existing proxy bid feature and means that you could potentially run an entire weighted event without any of your participants logging on to Market Dojo. To make sure everything remains fair and above board, participants will be alerted when an answer is submitted on their behalf. Questionnaires in both Market Dojo and SIM Dojo benefit from this feature.

Unique IDs
Some of our customers run a large number of very similar events. This leads to a challenge when identifying which event is being discussed after the auction has completed. A common solution is to assign each event a unique ID. Then, when referring to the event, everyone can use the ID rather than a combination of product names, codes and dates. The unique ID will be displayed prominently to Host and Participants across Market Dojo. Because some people have their own ID conventions, it is necessary to turn this feature on in ‘Display Settings’.

Questionnaire Progress Bars
One of the major additions is the inclusion of questionnaire progress bars. Some questionnaires that we have seen include over 100 hundred questions. Such as document uploads, text as well as numerical values. To assist suppliers, we have included a progress bar that informers participants of how many answers they have completed.

Other changes
We have made many smaller tweaks and fixes to make the product work more smoothly for all our customers.

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

eWorld Sept 2016 – A Brave New World

This years eWorld Procurement and Supply Summit was a first time for three members of our team. All of us armed with the prior experience of tradeshows but were surprised by the range of procurement innovations and technologies on show.

Having travelled down to the QEII Centre from our office in the south-west, we were able to enjoy a few of the sights of Central London in the very early hours of the morning as we walked across Westminster Bridge and past the likes of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

As we arrived it was a hive of activity with our business development managers getting ready for the day and early delegates arriving eager for the opportunity to discuss the very latest progress in procurement technology.

The day also gave us a fantastic opportunity to meet some of the other exhibitors at the event such as our partners Per Angusta and Odesma.

We also had the time to ‘get involved’ with some others that we saw at the event, such as the team from Procurious who were running their social media clinic and some of the presentations that we going on throughout the day.

However the highlight of the day was the presentation from Nick Drewe of Market Dojo and Nick Ford of Odesma discussing the ‘Transforming Aggreko to Procurement Leaders’ (which will shortly be released on our resources page).

Once we got back, it was time to choose the winner of our eWorld competition and Adam Creme from Innovators International was the lucky individual to win a free month’s license of Market Dojo’s software.

A big thank you to Claire Boffey and all of her team at Revolution for the amazing event as well as everyone who took the time to attend and participate in the day.

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Supply Management Awards 2016 – congrats to Odesma!

It is with a fuzzy head that I am writing this blog to commemorate the fantastic evening that we enjoyed at the Supply Management Awards courtesy of our consultancy partner Odesma.

Odesma were rightly shortlisted for “Best Procurement Consultancy Project of the Year” for the fantastic work their team did with Aggreko over the past 12 or so months. Considering how early Odesma is on their own journey, it’s an amazing achievement, particularly as they faced tough competition with Efficio and Jaguar Land Rover.
However….

…they won!!! Nick Ford, one of the Directors of Odesma pictured holding the award above, made the comparison between them winning the award and Leicester City Football Club winning the Premier League last season – if only I had taken a bet!

A huge proportion of the success was of course down to the incredible team of experts that were rapidly assembled to deliver the project, a few of which were able to make it on the night to join comedian Ed Byrne on the stage.
Ed Byrne was pretty good actually, making some oft-heard jibes at us Procurement folk for cost cutting such as not turning the Air Con on for the enormous room that held over 1000 of us. He also called out the Heathrow Airport table for wanting to expand into the neighbouring tables!

Anyhow, back to the celebration:

We also felt special to be a part of this as we got a call-out in this winning project for the “use of a cutting-edge eSourcing tool”. More of that to follow at our seminar at eWorld later this month.

There was also a band with a cracking singer, provoking plenty of Dad dancing – I won’t name names!

I’ll leave you with one more photo from the evening, most likely snapped once most of the champagne had been consumed!

A huge thank you to Ed, Nick & Steve of Odesma for inviting us to join in their revelry, and to all the guests on the table that helped make it such an enjoyable evening.

Congratulations once more and look forward to what may transpire in the next 12 months!

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

[Case Study] Kent County Council generate a 40% saving for their public sector needs through Market Dojo eAuction Platform

Katherine Clark is a Procurement Officer at Kent County Council. Her duties involve the strategic sourcing for the information technology needs of one of the largest county councils in the UK.

Tell me about yourself?
I’ve been working in the procurement team for Kent Council for the last few months, my role revolves around the IT needs for the council.

How do you use Market Dojo?
We use Market Dojo in our procurement departments for eAuctions and questionnaires to weight auctions. Typically we use it on tenders greater than £50,000 however we have auctioned for values of only a few thousand pounds.

What is your most notable success using Market Dojo?
My first eAuction involved comparing suppliers for an identification tracker system. Kent county council had been using an incumbent supplier for a number of years on the same contract terms but we wanted to discover the current market value and whether we could produce savings as a result.
We choose to conduct a Weighted Ranked eAuction, with 70% based on value and 30% based on the quality. The result was a huge success with our incumbent and preferred supplier offering a value that was 40% less than the previous price we had been paying.

We also received very positive feedback from the suppliers that took part in the eAuction, some of the suppliers mentioned that they found the system easy to use and were happy to have taken part and been considered in the eAuction.

How will Kent County Council continue to use Market Dojo?
Here at Kent County Council, we are always looking at ways we can use Market Dojo. The success we have had has changed the mentality of our procurement teams into a focus on generating greater savings turning us into a team that thinks “why should we not use Market Dojo, rather than why we should”.

Lastly, what is your favourite thing about Market Dojo?
We love just how easy it is to use. When I was first tasked with creating an eAuction I was quite daunted with having had no prior experience of conducting an auction or using an eSourcing software before. But after creating a few demo events using their Sandpit tool and the support from Market Dojo, I felt confident in my ability to use the software and produce great results.

You can read more about our work with 
Kent County Council here.

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

The Dojo 6 years later….

August 2nd marks an important date in the Market Dojo calendar, as each year on this day our firm becomes one year older. This year we have now successfully reached our 6th year in business.

According to Statistic Brain, there is a 60% chance that we should have failed by now – may the odds be ever in our favour! As it happens, the last 12 months have been fantastic.
Here are some of the highlights:

Continued growth
This time last year we were delighted that our registered users had increased by 53%. Well, this year we’ve seen a further increase of 57%, showing no sign of slowing down. We’d also like to congratulate Daymark for becoming our 100th paying client, joining some other fantastic clients this year including:

We’ve also seen a 100% renewal rate on our annual clients, a testament to the value our software has brought them, giving us such a great foundation to grow from. We even have our first client, Hamworthy Combustion, still on our books since joining us when we were just a few months old!
Anyhow, bottom line, or should we say the top line, is that our revenues expanded by 53% compared to last year, exceeding our 50% target. But we’re not going to stop there. Our target for the next 12 months shall be 62.5% growth, which we think is realistic because….

Our expanding team
In the last 6 months, we’ve brought in Lewis, Pete and Craig to bolster the sales and marketing team. For reference in the photos, purple shirts are not our corporate uniform, must be a millennial thing!

We’re not stopping there either, as we’re currently advertising two further roles, one in sales development and the other in software development.

New office
This summer we’ve had the enjoyable view of watching our new premises being built across the road from our current office. It’s nearly double the size and will give us room to grow for at least the next 12 months. Here’s how it looks today, taken on a classic British summer’s day!

Roadmap
Lastly, our year of success wouldn’t be complete without some amazing progress across our product offerings. This year we’ve announced 8 major releases, plus countless minor enhancements.
We even managed to launch a whole new module, SIM Dojo, developed in collaboration with PHS Group, who simply could not find an intuitive, self-service and affordable supplier information management solution on the market.

We also released the multi-currency feature to let participants bid in their preferred currencies, yet keep the bid comparisons in the currency of choice for the client.

And finally, another highlight was the MBA student project where we released our initial Analytics tool to be able to assess your eSourcing efforts at a high level across your company. We’ve seen some hugely impressive statistics as well, with some clients averaging over 50% saving across more than 1000 spot eAuctions – more on that to follow!

So, in summary, it has been a great year but really, the journey is still just beginning. Thanks again to all our wonderful clients and partners, look forward to more to come.

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

[Guest Blog] eAuction in the cloud is heaven

Peter Schmidt’s latest article discusses the generic benefits of SAAS and what eAuctions in the cloud means to businesses.
‘Software as a Service’, commonly abbreviated to SAAS, carries a number of generic benefits. These benefits are particularly true for an application like an eAuction as delivered by Market Dojo.

Let us first have a look at some of the generic benefits of SAAS
The idea behind SAAS is that the software can be used as a utility. The financial model behind the SAAS solution should be tailored to the majority of the cases. This makes it a strong competitor to in-house ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems, as in most cases the cost is based on licenses and excess functionality that comes with a higher price.

Once functionality becomes a pay per use utility, it makes it extremely interesting for experimenting as to how it will help to show the benefit to the business. In most cases you can test the functionality through demos, which are generally free for a period of time.

SAAS applications are often used without the permission of IT departments, IT departments can be apprehensive about the use of unknown SAAS applications. Commonly referred to as shadow IT. Therefore characteristics like data privacy, security and the location of data servers should be shared with the IT department to avoid the cloud casting a shadow over the IT people.

However as the carrier for SAAS application is the Internet, the presence is ubiquitous, which gives the customer the benefit of the world market.

The cloud addresses the world as a customer base, allowing users to learn from each other and their experiences by analysing the metadata, made available by the supplier. Individuals would be able use the metadata to glean how other users have established results through different tactics and strategies. An example of this would be deducing the most suitable auction type such as a Ranked Reverse Auction or Japanese Reverse Auction from the data produced by previous auctions.

At the same time this information can be used by the supplier to gain insight into how enhancements to the SAAS solution can be made, while at the same time listening to the user community.

The generic benefits of SAAS applied by Market Dojo
Why do I think that eAuction in the cloud is heaven? Because it is utility driven, eAuction’s are a process that usually takes place a number of times per annum. Making the business case is not rocket science. Simply the cost is known and therefore the likely savings, typically showing a very high return on investment. Also during the eAuction the savings can be seen in real time, which allows for an immediate assessment of the anticipated business case.

This part is clearly understood by Market Dojo in their pricing model which is transparent and tailored to the individuals intended use.

Market Dojo have created an experimental environment in a sandpit. Allowing users to practise creating an event prior to purchasing a license. It also shows users that the software is geared to the fundamentals of the most commonly known auction types.

Transparency in how the SAAS environment is built and how attention is given to the most common worries about Cloud Computing is clearly outlined in the language of the IT folks. White papers, guides and templates are all available as documents that can be downloaded from their site.

Market Dojo has also issued an infographic that shows the analysis of the number of eAuctions that have been carried out. This infographic shows a reflection of their experience in the field and can be used to determine the strategy for your next eAuction.

Although the software is an enabler for the entire eAuction process, it genuinely comes to life with the aid and the expertise of a procurement professional, who can create a structured process around eAuctions. Which in itself is crucial for success.

Peter is an independent consultant for P.Schmidt Consultancy Service B.V and has a long track record in sales, consultancy and procurement. He specialises in Telecoms, Managed Services and Public Cloud.


Peter Schmidt
Independent Consultant
Email: peter@pscbv.nl
Tel: + 31 6 217 124 72
@peterschmidt01

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

[New Release] Making Market Dojo more productive

Our development team have been working hard to bring you the latest improvements to Market Dojo. This month, we have focused on productivity issues which our customers have told us about.

Participant Filters
One advantage of using an eSourcing tool, rather than email and spreadsheets, is that it is much easier to process responses from a large number of participants. Inviting more participants means that you can be more confident of finding the best value offer for your tender.

Although the average is 27, our customers have invited as many as 600 participants to an event. To help manage all these participants, we have added the ability to filter them.

The event participants view, with new filter options displayed.
The filters make it very simple to find all the participants who, for example, have not accepted the invitation or answered the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire. You can also filter on their name, email or company and various other aspects of their current status.

We believe that Participant Filters will make it even easier to use Market Dojo to manage participants in a sourcing event.

Currency Selection
We have also made it easier to choose the currency or currencies you want to run your event. Previously we had a drop down list which had become quite lengthy as we added different currencies from around the world, as well as some non-standard items, such as Rate. We have replaced this with an ordered, categorised list which also a search feature. Here it is in action:

Other Changes
In addition to these two features, we have also made a number of smaller improvements requested by our customers. These include:

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Sourcing New Recruits for Team Dojo

Market Dojo are very excited to introduce the latest members of Team Dojo. Helping out on the Business Development side, Peter and Lewis, both Cheltenham based, passed the Market Dojo interview process with flying colours and we are really pleased to welcome them both to the team.

We asked Lewis and Peter some questions to help you get to know them better.

Where did you go to university?
Lewis:
I went to Cardiff University to study Human Geography and Planning.
Geography was my favourite subject and I had always enjoyed learning about the world and concepts and our relationship with it.

Pete:
I attended UoG at the Park Campus in Cheltenham. I studied Marketing and Advertising as part of a sandwich course which included a placement year in Reading working for a Marketing Agency.

What made you apply to work at Market Dojo?
Lewis:
I liked the idea of working for a new, vibrant company, which had made impressive steps in its short time. I also wanted the opportunity to work within the technology/software sector, with co-founders who had an infectious passion for the product.

Pete:
Working directly with the Co-Founders of Market Dojo was a huge attraction. Hearing Alun’s passion for Market Dojo in my initial phone interview cemented my decision in applying for the role.

What aspects of the Business Development role do you find most appealing?
Lewis:
I’m interested in talking to and meeting with new people, I like the sense of achievement and satisfaction you receive when assisting clients to meet their needs and I also like the challenge and competitiveness of securing new business.

Pete:
Hitting targets is something that I have always enjoyed, whether this be academically throughout education or physically at football each Saturday. Bringing a level of competition (winning new business) into the workplace was a natural step in my career path.

What is different about Market Dojo?
Lewis:
The in-house expertise of the founders, the passion which they have for the business and the product, and the friendliness of the whole team. The benefits of using the software are also clear. On our first day, we got to observe a real e-auction event where the cost savings to the client were monumental. To the extent where if I hadn’t have seen it, I would not have believed it, but it certainly helped with understanding the features and benefits of the product.

Pete:
The honesty and transparency of the pricing. Too many businesses hide costs and add-ons, Market Dojo operate a ‘what you see is what you get’ policy throughout the business which is refreshing to see in a SaaS environment.

If you didn’t go into sales, what other profession would you have considered?
Lewis:
I think I’d have been a teacher, either geography or sport. I’ve taught children sports previously and having a direct impact on people’s future is pretty cool and rewarding!

Pete:
I’d have liked to be a personal trainer or nutritionist. During a bad two-week school placement at a local gym my days consisted of cleaning and admin. After thinking this was all the industry could offer me, I avoided healthcare and from that day I decided to pursue a career in business.

What is the most unusual job you have ever had?
Lewis:
Not really an unusual job, but with my last role, I got to do lots of travelling across Africa which was really interesting and something which I believe enabled me to grow both personally and professionally.

Pete:
While living in Scarborough, I helped organise and promote two UK hardcore raves. As the work was for friends the jobs were unpaid, but it was certainly an exciting experience.

What is your favourite book/movie?
Lewis:
Book and movie… Harry Potter!
Pete:
My favourite book is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography. If Arnold wants to do something, he does it, whether it’s bodybuilding, acting or politics. He has always achieved what he set out to do – the book is great proof that hard work really pays off.

What is the most embarrassing song you have on your phone?
Lewis:
Unsure – although Britney Spears – ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ was the first single I ever bought as a besotted early teenager!

Pete:
If by embarrassing you mean amazing, and by song you mean album then It’s Justin Bieber’s Purpose.

What is one thing about yourself that you think others would be surprised to know?
Lewis:
I had never drank a hot drink until the age of 26!

Pete:
At the age of 13 I got through to the final of the North Yorkshire Amateur Boxing Association Championships.

What’s your biggest claim to fame?
Lewis:
After watching Gloucester playing rugby, I got Jonny Wilkinson to sign my trainer.

Pete:
In 2015 I got all the way through to the live interviews to appear on The Island – Channel 4 Reality tv programme.

Have you ever travelled abroad? What was your favourite country?
Lewis:
Yeah I went to South Africa in my previous job. I attended a conference and had the best steak I’ve ever had. I can still taste it if I close my eyes!

Pete:
I haven’t actually traveled out of Europe but I went to France as a toddler and was speaking French to the locals when I was 12 months old.

What are your hobbies and interests?
Lewis:
I like to think of myself as a fit and active person, I play a lot of sport; football and cricket, but I also like to get lost in a good TV boxset; I’m currently watching The Walking Dead and I’m excited for the new season of Game of Thrones to begin very soon!!

Pete:
I’m currently training twice a week for a charity boxing match which is raising money for Cancer Research UK. The 8-weeks of free training has been supplied by a local boxing gym and the black tie event is being held at the Cheltenham leisure centre.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Lewis:
The attraction of working for such a small company is the possibility of shaping your own career destiny. Hopefully through my business development efforts the company continues to grow, and in 5 years time I’d like to still have some involvement in business development but perhaps with more of an influence on strategy and future innovations. Personally, I’d like to be a homeowner, and hopefully a parent too.

Pete:
I see myself as an eSourcing specialist with my own Business Development team at Market Dojo. On a personal outlook, I’d also like a newer car and a mortgage on my own house.

If you could be any animal in the world, what would it be?
Lewis:
Cat – they have such an easy life but are still independent with a great sense of adventure. Plus I have 2 cats!

Pete:
Lion – nothing to worry about as lions are top of the food chain, plus it’s lovely and warm in Africa.

What actor would you cast to play yourself in a movie?
Lewis:
Leonardo Di Caprio because he’s my favourite actor.

Pete:
Will Smith because he’s gifted. Will can sing, act and dance. That portrays my life philosophy quite well. Also, we look quite similar, right?

Connect with Peter and Lewis on LinkedIn.
A HUGE welcome to you both! 🙂

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

[Guest Blog] One Man’s Experience with eAuctions

Peter Schmidt writes a guest blog for Market Dojo on his past experience with eAuctions. Peter has a long track record in, sales, consultancy and procurement. He specialises in Telecoms, Managed Services and Public Cloud.

I was asked to write a guest blog for Market dojo and I immediately had to think about my past experience with eAuctions, the surprises and the interesting properties of the eAuction.
My first eAuction was at the supplier side, where I was a deal architect and gave directions as to feed the system while staying in close contact with our subcontractors during the eAuction.
What I found exciting during the eAuction was the enormous team spirit among the various disciplines to win the business and some business was indeed won. One thing that intrigued me during this event was that one of the subcontractors dropped his price for more than 50%, which apart from some laughter during the eAuction, made a couple of people wonder of how this was possible.

The downside of this auction was that the purchasing team at the beginning had not been clear about the rules of engagement, which gave rise to some problems during the awarding phase.
My last eAuction experience was as a procurement consultant, where the entire event was prepared with clear rules of engagement and time scales. Paramount was that after the eAuction, the business would be awarded straight away to the winning bidder. It was also emphasised during the process that price wouldn’t be the only determining factor.

The interesting thing about eAuction’s is that not only price can be auctioned but also something like flexibility. In this particular case the flexibility was expressed as a percentage of the amount of sites of a network that could be closed without incurring a penalty.

It was therefore decided to carry out two auctions, the first auction would give rise to the best percentage, which then would serve as one of the factors for the second eAuction that reflected the price performance ratio of the provided solution.

The surprise here was that one of the contenders offered 100%, which in my opinion showed the power of eAuction, as this figure would most unlikely have emerged from a negotiation cycle.

From the purchaser’s view it was exciting to see how the results came to us in real time, which was also conducive for a good team spirit around the management console as we could exactly see what was going on.

What I personally like about eAuction is that the process is clearly outlined, straightforward and transparent for all of the participants, because of the level playing field that needs to be created throughout the purchasing cycle.

It is not only interesting for the purchasers but also for the sales people, as they will exactly know when the deal will be awarded. They can also increase their chances during the process as long as they are actively participating and grasp a good understanding of what the requirement are.

Obviously an eAuction cannot be adopted for every negotiation, however if the strategic direction of the procurement professionals points into this direction, then it is worthwhile the effort.
To find out more about the services that Peter Schmidt provides, click here

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Latest Recruit for Team Dojo

Market Dojo are pleased to announce the arrival of our newest member of Team Dojo. Working as part of the marketing team Craig adds his buzzing personality to the mix.
We asked Craig a few questions to help you get to know him better.

 

What made you apply to work at Market Dojo?
I wanted to work for a company that had a real passion for what they did and after meeting the directors knew that it was a place I wanted to be.

What are you looking forward to in your new role?
I’m very keen to work with the team, developing the brand of Market Dojo as well as learning more about the procurement industry. I am also looking forward to working on some of the interesting marketing campaigns that we have planned!

What is different about Market Dojo?
The passion of the team. When you speak to any of the guys at Market Dojo, you know that they want to do their very best to help their clients. Whether it’s assisting their clients with eAuctions using ‘Market Dojo’ or helping them to use the on-boarding tool ‘SIM Dojo’. They have a real desire to help.

If you didn’t go into marketing, what other professions would you have considered?
I think I would have been looking at a professional career as a male model, I heard that Southern Comfort were looking for younger, rounder model for their latest beach body advert and I think I might of been the right man for the job (see the video here).

What is the most unusual job you have ever had?
During a six month period where I was working in America, I also helped coach for a youth football team in North Carolina. I call it unusual because I was pretty much teaching them the rules of football.

What is your favourite book/movie?
I will shamefully admit that my favourite film is ‘What Women Want’, a rom-com with Helen Hunt and Mel Gibson. When I was young, I liked the idea of influencing what people are thinking.

What is the most embarrassing song you have on your phone?
I once ‘had’ a one direction song on my phone, It’s not something I talk about anymore.

What is one thing about yourself that you think others would be surprised to know?
I broke my back when I was 16 and had to wear a back brace for last few years of my teenage life.

What’s your biggest claim to fame?
I once met the entire Chelsea football team. Had a chat with John Terry, got snubbed by Jose Mourinho and was kissed on the cheek by the lovely Eva Carneiro (controversial ex-physio at Chelsea Football Club).

Where have you travelled abroad? What was your favourite country?
I have been to a few places around the world. I once went on safari in South Africa when I was young and I still remember most of it to this day.

What are your hobbies and interests?
I’m a big football fan and like most sports but I also have a bit of a geeky side. You can often find me enjoying a good fiction novel or playing video games.

If you could be any animal in the world, what would it be?
A domestic dog, they get to live a pampered life and don’t have to worry about being someone else’s dinner. They also spend their lives making others happy which I think is a good motto to live one’s life by.

What actor would you cast to play yourself in a movie?
Probably Simon Pegg, as someone who doesn’t take himself too seriously he would probably be a good fit. My life also seems to have a few Mr Bean elements to it, such as chasing miniature ponies around a field (yes this really happens on a frequent basis and these are the culprits).

What are you hoping to bring to Market Dojo?
I hope to bring an extra bit of creativity and perception to the team. Hopefully influencing future marketing campaigns with my personality and my own brand of humour.

Connect with Craig on LinkedIn.

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

What Procurement can Learn from Sport

Whilst putting together our article ‘Are Procurement Professionals stuck in the Stone Age?’, which looks at B2B technology in comparison with B2C, myself and Ed got on to the topic of sport. And it became clear that we are both very driven, not just in terms of our work ethic, but also in our passion for our chosen sports. We then thought about how this passion and determination translates to our work, and how important having a growth mindset vs a fixed mindset is. And what better time to write this article than in the run up to the 2016 Rio Olympics, with less than 100 days until the Opening Ceremony.

[RADIO PODCAST] Check out the radio interview with Kelly Barner of Buyer’s Meeting Point.

Triathlon and training have become somewhat of a compulsion for Ed. Others might call it an all consuming passion. It all started 8 years ago as a means to get fit and stay healthy – having not competed since school in athletics; “it started as a goal to encourage me to stay fit and eat and drink sensibly”. It has culminated in Ed racing IronMan triathlon’s across Europe and a growing ambition to represent GB at Age Group level, and the opportunity to be coached by a professional Ironman Triathlete – Harry Wiltshire.

Anya took up Olympic Weightlifting around a year ago and fell in love almost instantly. Being naturally strong and with a gymnastics background as a child, the move to weightlifting was pretty natural. Fortunate enough to visit the Europa Centre, home of the British gymnastics and weightlifting teams, she had the privilege of learning from the best in the sport in the UK.

The determination and drive to succeed in sport follows through to our passion for procurement and success in business with the same principles being applied in both areas. We believe having a positive attitude and determination to succeed is the ultimate key.

The picture below shows how and where attitudes can change and we relate these to specific examples we have come across in sport and industry:

1. I can learn anything I want to.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day  Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime But teach a man to learn and he can do anything!
-Jeffrey

The brain is like a muscle, the more you work it the stronger it will become, this is an interesting analogy given our respective sporting pursuits. For Anya lifting heavy weights is not just about pure strength as technique plays a key role. For Ed, swimming was not his discipline – in fact he cannot float – this initially stopped him thinking (!) about triathlon racing – because he did not believe he could master swimming. This was not a physical limitation, instead a mental / mindset issue on his part. It was overcome by using his brain, deciding that he could learn to swim well, and persevering with the help of others at a local swim club and ultimately with Harry Wiltshire.

Similarly in the work environment, and whilst at Xchanging Ed took on responsibility for the EMEA business, which had a large French operation. In spite of failing French at school, and a self perception that foreign language learning was not his forte, he ignored his thinking and decided to learn French in an effort to create a stronger bond with the French team. ‘Je décidai que je pouvais apprendre le français.’

2. When I’m frustrated, I persevere.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”
-Calvin Coolidge

Procurement involvement and interference with the decisions of stakeholders is not always welcomed, to say the least. Often misunderstood, and sometimes seen as a function which slows down action, many stakeholders are not greatly supportive of the procurement team getting involved in their spend. This has a range of reasons, which we won’t go into here. Across the last 30 years in procurement Ed has seen the good and bad of procurement’s relationship with stakeholders inside and outside the organisation. The common change management thread to securing involvement in stakeholder programmes is ‘not giving up’, simply to keep knocking at the door, and showing the stakeholder that you are persistent And at the same time looking for different angles to showing that procurement value can be brought to bear – perseverance will bring results.
To quote Albert Einstein “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

3. I like to challenge myself.

Target setting in procurement – if you really have to get the money…what would you do….

There are two ways to operate in procurement, sport and life in general. You can either coast along, doing things the way you’ve always done them, avoiding change and new ideas, or you can embrace innovation and search for those challenges.
Sales is notorious for being very target-driven, and procurement professionals are often given savings targets to meet. However, aside from these challenges set by management, we have to be able to set our own personal goals.
At Market Dojo, we talk about the ‘eSourcing Hero’. This refers to someone within a procurement function with that extra drive and motivation to work harder. So that they can say to themselves, their friends and family (really!), on their CV or LinkedIn, ‘I identified and then delivered savings of £4m in 6 months’. #betheeSourcinghero

4. When I fail, I learn.
James Dyson interestingly has taken learning from failure to create a World beating multi-billion pound business. Interestingly Dyson excelled at long distance running:
“I was quite good at it, not because I was physically good, but because I had more determination. I learnt determination from it.”

It seems this determination coupled with the openness to learn from failure – drove Dyson to work for 5 years building 5127 prototypes of what became the World’s leading (cyclonic) Vacuum cleaner. He is now estimated to be worth £3bn personally.
“Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee says brother Jonathan threw away the world triathlon title by being a “complete tactical numpty” during his battle with Spain’s Javier Gomez at the Grand Final in London.
Alistair says the younger Brownlee got his tactics wrong by trying to outsprint the Spaniard from 200m out instead of sitting on his shoulder.

Gomez won his third ITU World Triathlon title as he beat Johnny in a dramatic sprint finish in Hyde Park.” – BBC Sport [Read Article]
BBC iPlayer – The Brownlees – An Olympic Story [Watch Now]
Both Brownlee’s have been World Champions at Triathlon, and have both been selected for the Rio Olympics.

Check out this TED talk for more info on learning from failure.
5. I like being told that I try hard.

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”
– Stephen King

Success can be achieved through a combination of effort and intelligence. And whilst many may think that being intelligent is the highest priority here, studies have shown that being called intelligent can act as a de-motivator, rather than something to encourage people to try harder.
“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”
– Thomas A. Edison

When you think about this, it makes sense. If one is deemed as ‘intelligent’, it suggests that they already have the full capability to get to where they need to be without having to exert effort. However, being told that you try hard suggests that there is more you need to do to succeed. Positively reinforcing someone’s efforts motivated them to try even harder. Studies on children have even been used to prove this theory. [Read more here]

6. If my classmates succeed, I’m inspired.


The very best example of this is the recent injury that Jack Oliver faced at the European Championships. This could be applied to so many of these points such as ‘when I fail, I learn’, and ‘my effort and attitude determine everything’, but the most predominant is definitely Jack’s attitude to watching his team go on to represent his country where he should have joined them. Read the quote from Jack’s instagram below:
“This was the moment my Road to Rio became a road to recovery. … It couldn’t have been any more disappointing for me, as the lift where I injured myself would have qualified me for the Olympics and set 2 British records at the same time but that’s sport and we have to move on. I’m massively proud of the guys for qualifying a spot for Rio and as much as I wanted it to be me going, I’ll still be cheering whichever guy does go. The men in the UK aren’t funded. We get no money, no medical treatment. Nothing. So for us to even qualify a spot at the Olympics is a big deal.”

7. My effort and attitude determine everything.

I (Anya) hadn’t trained consistently for 6 months. Work was heavy, my 2 year old decided sleep was really uncool (which, as a full-time working, single mother isn’t the easiest!), and unfortunately, the gym had taken a lower priority. Training one day a week, on my only child free evening, after a long day in the office, energy levels were low.
On this particular occasion, I’d had a really productive day at work and was generally feeling very positive. I walked into the gym, as I normally do, took out my training log and thought ‘I’m going to make today count’. I’d written quite an in-depth workout involving ‘cleans’, ‘front squats’ and ‘jerks’. For those of you unfamiliar with these, check out this video.
After warming up, I loaded the bar with a 5kg weight on either side to do my initial drills moving from 30kg – 55kg. I tripled 55kg and stood there for a minute to recover and thought about this article and how I could stop at 55kg, my comfort zone, or I could embrace the positive mindset I was in and aim for more. So I did. I loaded 60kg on to the bar and cleaned it with ease. Why stop there? I loaded a further 5 kg and cleaned 65kg for the first time in a LONG time. And it felt great. I wasn’t back to my peak, but I lifted a lot more than I had in a long time. And why? Because my effort and attitude determine everything.

The Growth Mindset verses Fixed Mindset was introduced to Ed by Harry, after Ed had a wobble following a late season Ironman race in Turkey. In short his run did not go as well as he hoped (10 minutes slower than expected), and Ed questioned his own capability to improve his race performance. Sage words from Harry and this graphic put Ed back in the right place.
Harry kindly provided us with some thoughts in relation to attitude in sport and business:

“Ed, like a number of high achievers I have worked with was fixated with measuring his improvement as an athlete. After the race in Turkey he asked me if he was capable of being faster; he said he did not want to do something if he wasn’t going to be good at it. I have found people who are successful in their field are often scared of exposing themselves to new situations where they risk being less successful.
Common comments when working with professionals trying their hand at sport are

“I don’t want to do it unless I am going to be good at it” or “I’m wasting my time, this isn’t working.”

Whilst there is of-course a genetic ceiling on athletic ability, these people have got nowhere near that ceiling. I find it useful to ask them to think about the process rather than the outcome. If you follow the best process that you are able to, you will achieve the best outcome that you are capable of. Invariably those who enjoy the process and show long term consistency and dedication to it far surpass what they thought they could achieve. Ed has been a fantastic example of this, he is still desperately competitive, but has made huge improvements by accepting that it is a long term journey to find out how good he can be at something he enjoys rather than an activity he will only do if he can achieve immediate success.

These themes come up time and time again with athletes who are successful in the long term. It is the difference between young athletes who show huge promise then disappear and those who go onto have successful careers. It is the difference between the athletes in my training group who will be competing for their second Olympic medals this summer and those with comparable natural talent who left the sport 10 years ago. It is the grit, which I know makes the difference between success and learned helplessness in sport and I would be prepared to bet that it is the same in business.”

Do you have GRIT or Learned Helplessness?


Ed is co-founder of Odesma, a new breed of business advisory firm, one that is uniquely on demand providing virtual procurement through the Procurement PeopleCloudTM. He is a results orientated executive level business leader with 25 years global professional services, consulting and functional experience in procurement, supply chain and change management. Previously with Xchanging plc, Ed had Executive leadership responsibility for running the global procurement and HR outsourcing businesses. He has also held senior level consulting and functional roles with QPGroup, ShareMax Inc. and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Ed can be contacted at edward.cross@odesma.co.uk or at:
Odesma Limited, Woodrow, Off Snape Hall Road, Whitmore
Staffordshire ST5 5HS
Tel: +44 (0)161 433 7833
www.odesma.co.uk
Having joined the team in early 2015, Anya manages marketing and market analysis at Market Dojo. Market Dojo is the only e-Sourcing software provider to offer an easy to use, professional solution with completely transparent pricing. From creating content and managing social platforms, to attending networking events and building client relationships, Anya is the first point of call for any questions you may have about Market Dojo.

If you’re interested in hearing more, get in touch:
Anya McKenna
anya.mckenna@marketdojo.com
+44(0)117 318 2537 | +44(0)792 337 6307
Instagram: anyamckenna
www.marketdojo.com

[Case Study] Specsavers: ‘Should’ve gone to Market Dojo!’

Jasper Raby is an interim procurement pro, currently based at Specsavers. With his wealth of experience in Procurement and sourcing, Jasper was brought in to Specsavers at the point when they were looking to move away from email and spreadsheets to a more centralised solution. Through Jasper’s expertise, and sharing the Market Dojo philosophy of ‘making eSourcing simple’ to drive adoption, he was able to strategically implement new technologies at Specsavers, identifying hidden savings.


How did you hear about Market Dojo?

I met Market Dojo at eWorld in 2013 and first spoke to one of the co-founders, Nick Drewe. I had just left Kingfisher and was looking for another role. Nick and myself chatted for a while at the conference and it went from there.

What do you like about Market Dojo?

The company and people are intuitive, young and of an enthusiastic nature.

What made Specsavers choose Market Dojo over other providers?

Market Dojo is very easy to use, a true SaaS application meaning it can be accessed anywhere as data is stored in the cloud. But more importantly, makes it a very cost-friendly solution.

How do you use Market Dojo?

We started off by running a few low risk, low value auctions. The first auction was for the provision of cleaning services. We chose to start with this as it was relatively low risk, we already had quotes from suppliers, and simply conducted the negotiation phase via eAuction. The requirements were different to the previous contract so unfortunately we were not able to claim savings, although we definitely drove some of the costs down. Thus proving to both the Specsavers team and our suppliers that reverse auctions are feasible.

We then moved on to a slightly more complex category – security guarding for offices. We weren’t 100% satisfied with our incumbent, so needed to negotiate. We ran an end to end process involving: RFI > RFP > RFQ > Auction. The process worked well, initially selecting known companies, plus sourcing new ones online.

The tender itself involved sourcing security personnel for two locations: Hampshire & Nottinghamshire. The auction was made up of two lots reflecting these locations. We saw a saving of 10% which was a good success due to the contract being labour-based and the fact we had not seen any price movement for a few years.

The biggest barrier we faced from suppliers was that they weren’t comfortable on a price-only negotiation. We stated that business would not be awarded to the lowest bidder, and that price, quality and service were all factors.

What is your most notable success using Market Dojo?

Specsavers ran an auction in November 2015 for the supply of components for glasses with a multi-million pound value. The auction duration was set to 30 minutes with a five-minute dynamic close. A total of five suppliers participated in the auction, with a couple being rejected prior to the auction as their qualification bids were not sharp enough. The auction ran for 35 mins in total with 19 bids received. On a direct category, this saving of 16% was brilliant, amounting to nearly one million dollars!!!

How will Specsavers continue to use Market Dojo?

Specsavers is running a full value of tenders online varying from services through to products. Where appropriate, these will be run through to eAuction. Specsavers will be looking to use Market Dojo as a ‘business as usual’ tool and regard it as an integral part of their negotiation toolkit.

Lastly, what is your favourite thing about Market Dojo?

The name!

“Market Dojo helps bring simplicity to a complex procurement environment”
– Jasper Raby

We’ll just finish with this advert…


Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

How we do Customer Support…

We love our customers. We want to make sure they are happy with the service we provide to them. This means customer support is VERY important to us. So, how do we do it?
Track everything
To make sure everyone knows what is going on (customers and ourselves alike), we use a support portal to record all the information about support tickets and solutions. The portal integrates with the Market Dojo application, our Customer Relationship Management system (CRM), Live Chat and Bug Tracking systems. This means it’s easier for us to tell who needs help, and track the progress of a ticket. All our customers also have access to the portal which they can use to find solutions to common problems, review their tickets and log new ones.
Make it easy to report a problem
Our customers can use a range of ways to contact us these include email, telephone, Skype and web chat. About 50% of our support cases come via web chat; email and phone each account for 20% with the remainder split across other channels. Our goal is to provide the same high standard of support, regardless of the channel.
Everyone on support
At Market Dojo, support is shared amongst the team. This approach has become really popular among Software as a Service companies over the last few years. Although doing support can be hard to juggle with other tasks, it means that we remain connected to what our customers want, and put this at the centre of everything else we do.
Classifying the problem
We see several types of support issue, and we always try to carefully categorise it. This allows us to set priorities and also create useful reports.
We categorise problems according to who can help – Market Dojo Support, Operations or Development teams, or is it a question for the person hosting the event? We also identify which area of the system the problem affects. Currently about 61% of our support tickets can be solved by the front line support team.

Finding a solution
Once we fully understand the problem, we may be able to resolve it straight away. For example, by giving advice on how to reset a password or a suggestion on where to find the correct information. For problems which need help from the development team, we will log the issue in our Bug Tracker.
Bugs are prioritised according to their urgency and importance. This means that we would work on a problem which is preventing customers from running events, before we looked at a suggestion to move a button.
Customer notification
After a bug has been fixed, we will notify the affected Customer and close the case.
Improve
We are always looking for ways to improve our support…
If we answer a support query which is likely to be asked again in the future, we create a solution. This solution is then shown on the Support Portal so all our customers and the support team can see it. This concept is called Knowledge Centred Support and helps to keep our solutions up to date.
Once a month we review the new cases and look for trends and ways to improve. We recently found that many Live Chat requests were questions for the event Host and not for Market Dojo. As a result we are experimenting with changes to our Live Chat buttons to make it clearer whom to contact.
We love our customers. We want to make sure they are happy with the service we provide to them. We use systems and processes to ensure we do the best we can to support them.
I hope this insight into how we support our customers is interesting. I would love to hear any questions or ideas about how we could do better. If you are a customer, please do try the support portal next time you need help.
Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

[NEW RELEASE] Buenos dias from Market Dojo!

Mid-week saw us release a couple more enhancements to the software, as well as many more general improvements to meet our growing customer demand. However two main highlights stood out that we would like to share with you in this blog…

Spanish language

We’ve seen increasing demand from Latin America and other Spanish-speaking regions across the globe and so we’re really excited to add Spanish to complement our numerous other language options.

As one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, it really does increase our potential user base and across several continents to boot. Give it a try today and let us know what you think!

PS: a huge thank you to our wonderful partner in Latin America, Bruno Alvarez, for all the time spent on helping us perfect this release.

Questionnaire templates
Another exciting release driven by a customer request is the ability to save existing questionnaires as a template to re-use in future.

A superhost can keep tabs on which templates are created to ensure the library remains organised. There’s also the scope in the future for the Market Dojo team to pre-load our customers’ libraries with some useful templates to help them get started. This particularly applies to the SIM Dojo tool where we can provide some best-practice on-boarding questionnaires.

We hope you enjoy these new features, brought to you free of charge and immediately available to all. Keep the ideas coming as we really do listen!

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Prepare to Pitch for New Business

We have been fortunate enough to be involved with a webinar produced by the Star Commercial Academy. As we have been in procurement, sales, and selling procurement solutions, we were able to offer our opinions on the topic at hand. The discussion was focused on sales presentations and what to look out for to enable success.

You can listen to the discussion here.

As part of the discussion, Market Dojo added their experience to 4 main questions.

Q: As recipients of countless pitches, what are the key things you go into a meeting wanting to be presented with?

Market Dojo:
Research, research, research
Time management and structure [courteous]
Understanding the company and problem
Asking relevant questions with feedback loop
Keep it simple (clean pres)
Flexible if things come up [projector fail…]
Engaging, Enthusiasm, Honesty, Empathy
…….However it will vary on the personality so you need to adapt.

Q: And if you had to rank the 3 things you wished everyone would include in a pitch, what would they be?
Market Dojo:
Strong company pedigree
Relevant personalised examples
No assumptions or premature elaboration

Q: Could you tell us about any distinctively brilliant pitches that stick in your mind?…..what was it that makes it so memorable?
Market Dojo: (Recent pitch by RC)
Arranged meeting promptly and flexible
Prepared [presentation, flyers]
Professional
Didn’t interrupt
Personal, focused on our needs

Q: Not every sales pitch is a winner. Thinking about pitches that have turned you ‘cold’ could you outline the types of things to avoid?
Market Dojo: (Recent pitch by an internet company)
Too many assumptions [We CAN help you rather than MIGHT help you]
Used amateur sales tactics [if you buy now…]
Deliberately obtuse, lied [World leading, turnover, Market Makers, renewal rates…]
Also they didn’t do what they promised they would do!

We had some great interaction with Ena Ryan from Progorex among others. Many thanks to the hosts and everyone else who presented.

STAR Commercial Academy is led by four directors who between them have both significant and relevant experience in customer management and commercial disciplines.

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

6 Important Life Lessons You Need to Learn

Alun, one of the founders of Market Dojo’s intuitive eSourcing platform, shares his experience of his recent stint as a mentor and some of the knowledge and lessons he has learnt throughout his career. Alun’s wealth of experience has played a massive part in getting Market Dojo to where it is today, so read on and benefit from his wonderful expertise…

My father once said the best time you will have in life is at university. Another friend also said you won’t be around so many similar people of the same age unless you end up in prison!
Recently, an opportunity arose to mentor a student from Bristol university. Given my previous memories I thought it was a great chance to give something back. My career progression was always built on my previous choices to end up starting my own business.

I was set on that path however from my original summer placement at Rolls Royce. An obvious option for a Bristol Aeronautical Engineer. Followed by a graduate job at the same site, then falling into procurement as many do. After a short stint in consultancy, software sales, and finally a boutique procurement consultancy, I felt I had gained the skills and confidence to create our own business. Along with a couple Bristol Graduates, Market Dojo was born.

However, if someone had been there to mentor me when leaving university, would I have taken the easiest option? Would I recognise my negotiating position and look at other companies? Would I understand where I really wanted to go? (Not that I would change anything mind you).

One of the benefits of mentoring is that unlike managing, there is no impact on yourself or your workload (except for a small amount of your time). It is completely up to the mentee as to whether they act on your advice or take advantage of your time. However the challenge is that you also feel the need to motivate and inspire. So in some ways more difficult than managing and in others more rewarding.

My previous mentoring experience was assisting a fellow engineer to become chartered with the IMechE. I can gladly say that he became a fantastic engineer (congrats Simon!) although that was a structured methodology, unlike mentoring a Bristol undergraduate which has a less defined remit.

As I first met my Bristol mentee, I realised how underprepared I was and I thought to capture a few points you might ponder if you end up in that position.

1. Have a think about what form the mentoring will take. Having some structure about next steps will at least make the mentee think about the value of your time and what the expectations are.

2. What questions can someone think about at an early age which will allow them to question their career path. Do they want their own business? What do they love doing and can they do that for work?

3. What life lessons have you learnt that you can pass on? Such as the importance of networking, your own power in negotiations, how such small things can drastically effect your career path…

All in all it is about inspiring the mentee to reflect on choices they have made and will make and their implications. Maybe that won’t change their decisions but as long as they question them, it is the best you can hope for.

Here are some life lessons I have learnt over the years:

Prioritise first what your boss asks of you.
In my first role at Rolls Royce, my manager told me this. Although sometimes hard to prioritise everything, it certainly helps with a more hassle free life

Don’t stress, life’s too short.
When working in Brussels, there was a German gentleman who was about to give a very important presentation. The only issue was the printer didn’t work and he couldn’t print off the slides. If I was in his position, I would be simply panicking off the scale. He calmly replied when asked that it simply doesn’t achieve anything. He will either have the slides in the end or not. Easier said than done although you can see the sentiment.

Pay attention.
Interestingly I thought more about this watching a remake of the ‘Day of the Jackal’ as, if I remember correctly, he (the Jackal) was being taught a lesson on observation. And if you really pay attention, there are many clues out there that can be missed. For example when you go to a negotiation, looking at the type and quality of the decor, what was written on the whiteboard through to what questions aren’t being asked can give you a simple advantage

Want to do the job.
Or at least pretend you do. Enthusiasm comes across and it is true when people say it is contagious. You create a much better first impression if you can show passion.
You’re in charge of your own destiny.

Without trying to sound too melodramatic, or like a script from Star Wars, you meet people in life who can be quite negative and always say the cards are stacked against them. In fact, generally speaking, no one is working against you, and no one for you, you are in control of what you can and can’t do and where you ultimately end up..

Make eye contact.
It shows respect and if you ever going drinking with a French person and say ‘Cheers’ (or in French – ‘A ton sante’) then they will remind you that you should look into their eyes to show sincerity.

Do you have any life lessons to share?

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

A Portal to Increase Your Supplier Base

Market Dojo is very excited to release the latest update to its new supplier on-boarding tool – SIM Dojo. This feature means that it’s now possible to open up your portal to a wider market. Any supplier will be able to submit their interest to become your supplier.

Our careful design enables you to minimise the workload from the internal assessors and the supplier themselves. After making it past the initial check, you can then decide which of the other areas you would like to assess them for.

SIM Dojo is an effective supplier management tool which allows information to be collected, and maintained in a centralised portal. This in turn makes it easier to control ongoing supplier governance and compliance, through data which can be easily located and managed.

Our flexible and easy to use software minimises work flow and the categorised supplier lists integrate seamlessly into our eSourcing tool.

Admin makes on-boarding publicly visible.

[Since it is designed to be a self service tool, you can create as many questionnaires as you would like, decide who needs to score them and also which suppliers need to answer them. For this new feature, there is now an extra option to decide which questionnaire is available to suppliers that submit their interest through the portal]

2. Participants follow url to sign up.

3. Participant fills out the questionnaire

As well as the release of this entire feature, we also released some minor fixes and enhancements to improve our general user experience.

If you like what you see, you can always get in touch for a demo.

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

[Radio Interview] Jon Hansen and Market Dojo on the future of eSourcing technology

We recently had the great pleasure of taking part in a radio interview with Jon Hansen of Procurement Insights in one of a series of interviews as a follow up to Market Dojo being identified as one of the ‘New Wave Companies’ to watch in 2013.

Jon was interested in hearing our thoughts on 3 main topics:

We had the opportunity to talk to Jon about how the original philosophy of making eSourcing simple remains the same today. How we’ve experienced great growth and moved into overseas markets. How the buying behaviour of clients, and procurement professionals has evolved to allow for the integration of SaaS tools such as Market Dojo into their eSourcing processes.

You can listen to the interview in full here:

Procurement Unplugged: A New Wave Era Company Talks About The Future
Lewis Barnard
Business Development Manager
t: +44 (0) 117 318 1514
e: lewis.barnard@marketdojo.com

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Market Dojo predict tighter supply chain constraints for the Procurious Big Ideas Summit 2016.

For the second year in a row Market Dojo has entered Procurious’ Big Idea Summit. This year, our big idea is that companies are going to pay more attention to compliance within their supply chain.

With new regulations and policies such as the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (Read more from CIPS here) and the Living Wage Policy 2016, companies have been forced to have a greater understanding of how their suppliers operate.

Market Dojo predicts that the larger companies will carve the way in obtaining and maintaining this information. The smaller companies will hopefully follow suit. So what does the procurement team need to do to stay on top? How will companies be adapting?

We found that to enable increased supplier compliance, supplier onboarding tools need to become more adoptable and easier to use.

We can already see companies starting to implement this:

Apple released their 2016 supplier responsibility progress report. Most interestingly, they stated that nearly 140 of the audits last year were for the first-time, showing their transition to becoming a more responsible company in relation to their supply chain.

But where does this end? Where does it stop when it comes to compliance with these new regulations?

What measures are your company taking with the impending regulations coming into place. We would love to hear your opinions, please comment below or contact us directly.

Peter Glass
Business Development Manager
t: +44 (0) 117 230 9047
e: peter.glass@marketdojo.com

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

[NEW RELEASE] Improved document uploads

Last weekend we released the latest batch of improvements to Market Dojo. The most notable of these is improved support for document uploads.

We made this change in response to requests from our customers. They want to receive more than one document as the answer to a document question. Previously customers had zipped the documents into one file, or asked several questions. This wasn’t always convenient. Now, you can simple drag and drop the documents into your answer, and you have control of how many documents you include.

Here is what it looks like for someone answering a questionnaire.

A participant adds two documents to their answers.

As part of this design improvement, our development team also suggested we enhance the User Interface, to make adding documents even easier. This means you can add several documents in one go, and even drag and drop them from your file explorer. This is available when answering questionnaire or creating events.

Our testing suggests this will make using documents in Market Dojo even quicker and easier.
We hope you like this new feature, and would love to hear your feedback.

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

[NEW RELEASE] Introducing the New Analytics Dashboard for Market Dojo

Users of Market Dojo may have noticed an extra tab located on their dashboard named ‘analytics’. This section is one of the latest features to be added to Market Dojo and gives a graphical representation of your history using the tool. Created by Vibhuti Laroiya as part of her Masters at UWE, who has kindly written this wonderful guest article detailing the features and benefits. Thank you Vibhuti!

Let, Market Dojo Do the Hard Work for You!!

Year 2016, kicked off with the technological and functional advancement of Market Dojo and an objective to make eSourcing more informative yet simple. Our mantra was “Business Intelligence (BI)”.

In agreement with the late Peter Drucker, a management guru, I too believe in “What gets measured, gets managed!” And, with a vision to improvise the management aspects of e-sourcing we kick started the Project called “Intelligent Market Dojo” in April, 2015. It all started with YOU as the centre:

“How can we help you to manage your events more efficiently?”

“How can we empower your decision making process to host an event in a most simplistic way?”

And, my experience and research led to the conclusion that BI / Analytics is the answer to the above questions.

Now, you must be wondering, how will you benefit from BI / Analytics?

Here are some of the benefits of Market Dojo’s Analytics:

Specially customised for you.
This dashboard will give you an insight to your events; moreover, the events you have been given access to, by other users. This feature, intelligently picks up the events “just for you” to generate summaries of your events, your suppliers and your average savings.

Simplified view of complex data.
The background data which might take you hours to calculate the desired summaries, is now converted into a millisecond affair.

More control of your data
You can easily and thus, remove the challenges to finding answers to complex queries like “How many suppliers have responded to my invitations, so far?” or “who to invite for my next event, based on the responses from your past suppliers.” This feature, will empower you to decide the reliable suppliers for your events which in-turn is expected to get you a quote from a highly competitive event / auction.

Another added benefit is a better understanding of Market Dojo’s capabilities. Once you have run an event with Market Dojo, you will be able to access the analytics tab. Your events are then summarised by ‘Event Type’, giving an overview of not only your activities run, but all your available options, and ‘Auction Type’, letting you see what Market Dojo offers here.

After a yearlong collaborative effort with a vision to enhance your experience of event hosting, we take pride to announce that this feature has been released for you to explore. So, let’s make the best use of Market Dojo and let Market Dojo do it all for you!!!

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Are Procurement Professionals Stuck in the Stone Age? – Part II

Market Dojo and Odesma partner to combine their intuitive eSourcing softwareand expertise in offering business advisory services to offer clients a winning procurement solution. Read Part I, where Ed (one of Odesma’s co-founders) and Market Dojo initially ponder the neanderthalic ways of B2B software…

Slowly and surely, not only do we see B2B companies adopting these B2C ideologies, but some B2C companies are jumping in and filling the gap left by B2B providers. Granted, the complexity of B2B companies isn’t completely covered by the consumer oriented companies, and so they are aiming more at the smaller companies, but all the same it still highlights a shift in the market.

By taking a couple of examples, we can see where these changes are happening and examples of B2C solutions doing it right:

The transportation networking company Uber originally focussed on the B2C space by bringing together people looking to travel in the same direction, aggregating the demand and sharing out the cost of the journey to charge a lower price. Targeting those traveling for personal reasons and commuters, they are paying special attention to the business sector with their latest development of business profiles.

More recently, focus has shifted to the freight industry where they hope to achieve similar by introducing mobile-based freight brokering technology. Not only will there be a reduction in number of ‘empty miles’ travelled, mobile-based freight brokering technology can help lower operating costs, improve fuel efficiency, boost asset utilization and enhance resource productivity.

Benefits which Uber have been reaping since they formed in 2009.

Amazon touched briefly on the B2B side with Amazon Business. With benefits like integration with Purchasing systems and order approval workflows, they have adapted Amazon to create Amazon for business.

This could have extreme effects on the current technology providers should Amazon develop an eSourcing/eAuction aspect and it would not be that difficult for them to make the shift.
Another area in which Amazon has moved to a B2B focus is with their hosting options. This isn’t an adaptation of their B2C offering, but an entirely new market for them. (more info)

Airbnb, for example, provide a marketplace that allows one to search for and/or offer accommodation. Their sleek design, mobile-optimisation, carefully thought-out filters and simple sign-in methods are something to be rivalled. Having relied heavily on investment, they have been able to afford the development costs and created a really neat SaaS product.

Procurify is another such example of improved, B2C-esque usability. They aim to provide P2P technology without the presumed “boring” grey-scale color scheme and clunky design that we have seen (and expected?) for so long. They have responsive design and mobile applications available. With their bright colours and simplistic design, they are very appealing.

But will this new technology, mainly adopted by new companies, only appeal to the millennials of today? Will previous generations appreciate this or seek their old faithful, familiar, providers.
Jive is also an interesting example. Marketed as THE NEXT LEAP FOR SOCIAL INTRANET SOFTWARE, their user interface is very similar to that of Facebook… Facebook 3 years ago.

The concept is brilliant – provide companies with an internal social platform to share company news and collaborate. However the user interface still leaves something to be desired. Granted it’s one of the best on the market, and I am in no way criticising them specifically, but overall, there is still a lack of ease-of-use in B2B social platforms in comparison with B2C. Is this because we expect it, because more complexity is required, or because the design needs to remain colourless and simple.

LinkedIn have recently redesigned their ‘groups’ making them more user-friendly and appealing, so increased usability is something which they pay attention to. But the creativity of design is definitely lacking in the B2B world. Why does business have to be so boring!?

The procurement community is lucky to benefit from the industry specific social platform Procurious which, with its bright colours and easy interface has a very B2C feel – which differs greatly from LinkedIn. In the picture on the left, you can see crowded text and pictures with no clear direction of what to look at next with a few small tabs at the top to interact with.
On the right the information on the profile page is broken down into tabs and the contact information on the left-hand side makes it easy to see details of an individual.

It seems that Procurious, being a more recent development, has taken learnings from other solutions (in its space) to create a more user friendly social media platform. Whilst LinkedIn (above left) is busy and cluttered, Procurious provides a more simplistic, clearer view. If you haven’t done so already, definitely recommend getting involved there and signing up to the tool.

Alibaba provides an online platform for global wholesale trade. They launched in 1999 and attempt to make sourcing of goods and suppliers more simple for businesses, working with millions of suppliers across the globe.

Within the tool, they have a categorised search option for buyers with the ability to ‘get quotations’ from the approved supplier list within Alibaba (AliSource Suppliers).

As B2B technology companies are beginning to realise the benefits of being easy to use etc., what changes do we think will happen? How do we envisage the B2B tech space evolving within the next 5-10 years?

Market Dojo put an article together examining what we will look like in 10 years time and how we will have to adapt and change to remain ahead of the game. With a focus on us as an eSourcing company, we came up with a few conclusions, most of which can be applied not only to eSourcing, but to B2B technology companies as a whole.

The table below looks at different functions of technology and predictions on how they might change within the B2B landscape.

Function Change
Mobile Technology Whilst consumers are ever increasing their use of mobile tech, are businesses going to become more reliant on this in the workplace? The simple answer is yes. B2B companies need to be aware of becoming even more responsive, searchable and usable across the mobile technology of the future?
Google (power of the web/search) Will this develop enough and become intelligent enough to make other applications obsolete? Such as developing  more intelligent supplier search function and becoming the de-facto supplier database though their categorisation.
APIs The ability to integrate between solutions is already possible, but in the future it is set to become even more simple. We expect it becoming ever easier to integrate with any (software) component through standard connectors, so that best of breed becomes as attractive or even better than ERP solutions.
Amazon/Google/Apple B2B platform Established companies moving into other areas (E.g. developing eMarketplaces) and threatening the smaller providers with their ability to quickly develop technology. This is already happening.
Procserve, for example, have built links with Amazon for B2B purchasing. (See full article here.)
Eradicating the user interface Moving from slick user interface to ‘no user interface’, as per this Coupa article.  A rather controversial idea, but we can see some logic that instead of having to log into a tool every day, instead it fits around your life so you can interact with it outside the tool via Voice Activation such as Google Voice, Siri, Cortana, etc.
True commoditization The final stage of the technology lifecycle is commoditization. (See Market Dojo’s video on the four stages of technological growth taken from a TED lecture.)
Integrated market information How global news stories affect various aspects of your business and what technology can do to make companies more aware and faster.
Also how tech can keep companies updated with what’s being said about their brand. (Ref. Owler.)
More focus on AI & Automation/robotics The software could take actions when it ‘thinks’ it is needed. e.g. within eSourcing – delay an auction due to lack of liquidity, or suggest a better lot structure based on the bids received.
Public Sector Procurement A big shake-up in the public sector software market to disrupt the legacy tools with their complex workflows and procedures to be a slick tool that people enjoy using. E.g. Matrix SCM
IT involvement & Security barriers IT’s function is changing from an in-house design/build/implement function to a strategic business partner who guide business stakeholders in the selection of appropriate SaaS systems.
Marketing How will people find us in the future, compared to how they find us now?
How will the power of search change in the future?
At the minute, the focus is on Content Marketing, but what next?
More personalised, more interactive marketing?

As you can see, we expect the Market Dojo platform to become more intuitive and user-friendly over the next few years. Is this true of all business softwares? Will we (realistically) be able to prioritise usability and design over functionality and features?

The authors have pondered long and hard the question of when the B2C approach will catch on in the B2B World. We think it is progressively changing, but will for the reasons listed earlier take some time to change. New suppliers with easy to use solutions are coming to the fore, Coupa and Egencia come to mind. But we postulate that it will be a slow change process, with perhaps another 5 years before the whole B2B solution market feels like today’s B2C environment – at which point the B2C landscape will possibly be different again! To stay at the forefront of technology, can B2B companies look to B2C arena as a gauge of what’s to come?

What are your thoughts?

THE AUTHORS
Ed is co-founder of Odesma, a new breed of business advisory firm, one that is uniquely on demand providing virtual procurement through the Procurement PeopleCloudTM. He is a results orientated executive level business leader with 25 years global professional services, consulting and functional experience in procurement, supply chain and change management. Previously with Xchanging plc, Ed had Executive leadership responsibility for running the global procurement and HR outsourcing businesses. He has also held senior level consulting and functional roles with QPGroup, ShareMax Inc. and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Ed can be contacted at edward.cross@odesma.co.uk or at:
Odesma Limited, Woodrow, Off Snape Hall Road, Whitmore
Staffordshire ST5 5HS
Tel: +44 (0)161 433 7833
www.odesma.co.uk

Market Dojo is the only e-Sourcing software provider to offer an easy to use, professional solution with completely transparent pricing.

If you’re interested in hearing more, get in touch:

info@marketdojo.com
+44 (0) 117 230 9200
www.marketdojo.com

Reproduction of this publication in any form without prior written permission is forbidden.

Go global with our multi-currency update

The technical team have been extremely busy of late, upgrading and maintaining our 4 distinct products covering category planninginnovationeSourcing and supplier information management.
This week was the turn of our flagship eSourcing tool, Market Dojo, to receive a new feature: multi-currency.
By this, we don’t mean simply the ability for clients to run their sourcing events in a currency of their choice – we’ve had that since the beginning. This actually refers to enabling participants to select their own preferred currency from a pre-defined list. Hosts can pick which are available to participants and what the corresponding exchange rate is to convert back to the Host’s own currency for bid comparison purposes.

The exchange rates are established per sourcing event, so you don’t need to fear an accidental change in the future that would distort your past results. You can even change the exchange rates during your sourcing event, up until participants submit their bids.
The multi-currency feature is only available as part of our Advanced Lots setup, given the few extra steps that are required. However this also means that you can combine Lots, or even Line Items, of different currencies, which is very neat.
For example your Lot may consist of a UK tariff, an EU tariff and a US tariff. You can stipulate that each element has it’s own currency that you want to see the bid in. No problem!

Should you then have an event total that needs to sum up the various elements, all in their own respective currencies, again no problem. You can even decide what currency you wish the total to appear in.
The same applies to the participants as well, even during the course of a live eAuction where all this maths is running behind the scenes to present everyone with the latest converted results.

So the next time you run a sourcing event using spreadsheets to convert bids into a single currency, know now that there’s a better way to do it by using Market Dojo.
Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Market Dojo’s Thoughts From eWorld

With the first eWorld of 2016 having been and gone, it’s time to reflect on the day and think about what we took away.

A huge thank you to the team for organising the eWorld event. As usual, the delegates seemed to enjoy the day as much as the sponsors- a hard balance!
Our competition winner for this year was Gareth Cale of United Biscuits. We look forward to catching up with Gareth to find out how he wants to implement his month’s licence of Market Dojo software.

The day was, as ever, a success! With our new stand position (next to the lunch buffet!), we had a wonderful number of visitors throughout the course of the day.
Unfortunately, that did mean we were so busy we didn’t get to attend any talks!
So we’re asking YOU. What are some of your key takeaways from eWorld this time? What was missing that you’d like to see next time and what could we, as a sponsor, do to help ensure you leave feeling enlightened and innovated to try new technologies and improve your current ways of working?
Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Are Procurement Professionals Stuck in the Stone Age? – Part I

Market Dojo and Odesma partner to combine their intuitive eSourcing software and expertise in offering business advisory services to offer clients a winning procurement solution. Together, Ed (one of Odesma’s co-founders) and Market Dojo ponder the neanderthalic ways of B2B software…

The peculiar thing about business technology is that generally it is not very easy to use. I might exclude here email, but the rest of it seems to need a training course and some sort of super user or a training provider or even worse a consulting firm to come and show you how or work it for you. Whereas the most used technology that we interact with outside of work generally does not require any support. The irony here is that business technology came first, and the use of technology first appeared in the office, long before we all had tech at home or on our person. Yet, it remains unintuitive, expensive, and as a result does not get utilised fully or at all by a lot of people at work.

Compare this to B2C technology, how hard is it to work ? Ebay for instance or Facebook or Candy Crush. The simple answer is they are intuitive, straightforward and certainly do not need any training or consulting support to get the benefit of them. In fact even Generation X (us older types) can work them on any number of portable or fixed lumps of technology. And a lot of them are free to the user.

So what’s gone wrong? For this let me replay an anecdote (Ed speaking here) from 1999, when I worked for PwC I presented to a local CIPS event in Staffordshire on e-commerce, this topic was perceived as very much the new kid on the block and a whole host of new tech start ups were receiving incredible valuations. At this session I laid out the view of the future described by the firm, ignorant to the nay sayers. In fact there were quite a few in the audience, most notably those with a few more years under their belts than me. One or two challenged my hypothesis on the topic. I later left PwC to set up a Private Equity backed branch of a US e-Sourcing firm Sharemax. A year or two later the dot.com bubble had burst and I was back in Consultancy, and the nay sayers were proven right.

So, what was or still is the problem. From an historic perspective the leading market insight companies and so forth focused heavily on functionality, as did many buyers of solutions. And ignored the user experience, the maturity or demographic of the population expected to use the technology. Many people in senior or middle management positions did not grow up with computing technology and when making selection decisions focused on elements outside of ease of use, and considered technology against an historic understanding; one where tech is always hard to use. They therefore condoned supplier behavior where training and consulting support were deemed acceptable costs of enablement. And this thinking has not much changed given the demographics of leadership.

Of course, the existing providers have not been driven to step up because the customer has not demanded it of them. Whilst in the B2C arena the demographic, is younger, the expectation is of instant gratification, solutions have to be compelling, easy to use and free or very low cost. Though with Generation Y coming through in business I expect this is about to change.

The question is why big B2B software solution providers have not changed and emulated B2C? I would postulate the following reasons:

Expanding these points out:

1. Customer demand or acceptance
Interestingly there does not appear to be a huge clamour amongst B2B customers to secure simpler easier systems. Take SAP or Oracle for example, they continue to dominate their sector, SAP acquired Ariba for $4.3bn and continue to thrive making little effort to simplify and re-invent with ease of use at the heart of their solutions. Whereas in the B2C arena customers there is no choice for the providers, millions of users voices are being heard and all leading solutions from Amazon to AirBnB are simple and easy to use. Perhaps the imperative to change amongst B2B players is just not being voiced by action.

2. Drive for consulting revenues by providers
The prevailing model for providers is to maximise (after all they answer to shareholders) revenue and they have predominantly built models that support this goal. They do this by securing licence annuity and augment this with implementation, training, consultancy and delivery services. Take a leading and long established eSourcing provider, for example, they provide a complicated and unintuitive but effective solution for e-Sourcing which they support with a very large consultancy practise (600 professional staff delivering revenues of greater than €70m) Though figures are not available we might hypothesise that at least 50% of the revenues are consulting and support related. Clearly it is not in any legacy B2B providers interests to simplify the user interface due to the resulting loss of support revenues.

3. Decision makers equate complicated to valuable
Is it human nature in business to expect business solutions to be inherently complicated? Look at Jive, a sort of Facebook for business, whereas FB is really easy to navigate and personally manage intuitively, Jive is not. Given FB came first, and Jive built a similar tool albeit for a closed company environment, is that those that select it measured its value in terms of its complexity?

4. Industry Research organisations are in the pocket of those who pay and report as such.
A rather contentious point perhaps, but when looking at Gartner’s report on the e-Sourcing market a few years ago they had only just added a 7th criteria to their analysis; Ease of Use. They had historically focused on functional components i.e. spend analysis, contract management etc. (4 of 7 criteria) alongside technology platform and business services. Additionally the analysis of providers only lent itself to generally the bigger or more established players. The 2013 report included less than 30 suppliers, with the leaders in their opinion being the likes of IBM, Bravo, Ariba, GEP, SAP. Very few emerging and new players are included, this may be due to time constraints, but clearly is at the detriment of newer and easier to utilise solutions.

5. Existing suppliers balance sheets stifle innovation or change due to the impact on profit of asset write downs
It is a fact of business that the balance sheet plays a large part in driving companies behaviour, especially if they have many millions of $/£ intangible asset value. SAP had Intangible Assets of €25.6bn on revenues of €17.6bn in 2014. A write down in an asset results in an equal write down in profits. Institutional shareholders typically take fright (and flight) at write-downs. Therefore re-inventing the hegemony of existing solutions requires a potentially significant investment and potentially a write down in previous investments – this is not something the neither executive nor board will countenance. Is it therefore a surprise that existing solutions lack innovation in the user interface which may well require re-programming in a newer language?

6. Big business inherently do not trust small innovative start ups / CIOs don’t get fired for selecting the old guard
When was the last time the CIO of a large corporate suggested taking a risk? Corporate behaviour is typically risk adverse, it is much safer to select a proven provider such as IBM or SAP, than take an opportunity to shake the tree? This therefore precludes newer start up technologies that will be deliver often much more cost effective, easier to use solutions. Coupa are making real inroads here, but few others are.

7. B2C companies are not interested in selling to the B2B customer base.
The question is will this change, we postulate it is slowly shifting, with B2C principles slowly coming into the B2B World. In our follow up we will discuss this shift in some detail.
The question is why don’t Amazon or Tesco for that matter move into the B2B space, they provide a huge range of products that businesses use. Yet they generally haven’t, other than grudgingly – it is not part of their strategy.Though we understand this is changing at Amazon! They believe their market is the consumer not business, possibly because they are much simpler to deal with, pay immediately and do not add massive administrative, process and management burdens i.e. contracts, risk questionnaires etc., which corporates do add as a matter of process.

But will this change? We postulate it is slowly shifting, with B2C principles slowly coming into the B2B World. In our follow up we will discuss this shift in some detail.

THE AUTHOR
Ed is co-founder of Odesma, a new breed of business advisory firm, one that is uniquely on demand providing virtual procurement through the Procurement PeopleCloudTM. He is a results orientated executive level business leader with 25 years global professional services, consulting and functional experience in procurement, supply chain and change management. Previously with Xchanging plc, Ed had Executive leadership responsibility for running the global procurement and HR outsourcing businesses. He has also held senior level consulting and functional roles with QPGroup, ShareMax Inc. and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Ed can be contacted at edward.cross@odesma.co.uk or at:

Odesma Limited, Woodrow, Off Snape Hall Road, Whitmore
Staffordshire ST5 5HS
Tel: +44 (0)161 433 7833
www.odesma.co.uk 

Market Dojo is the only e-Sourcing software provider to offer an easy to use, professional solution with completely transparent pricing.  If you’re interested in hearing more, get in touch:
 +44 (0) 117 230 9200
info@marketdojo.com
www.marketdojo.com

5 Reasons Why You’d be a Fool to Miss eWorld!

The eWorld Procurement and Supply summit is one of our personal favourites in the events calendar.
At Market Dojo, we’ve been showcasing our on-demand eSourcing tools there for the last 5 years now and we think you’d be crazy not to go. Here are our top 5 reasons why procurement professionals should join us there…

1. Informative sessions
The day begins with a bacon roll, breaks for a tasty lunch and ends with a drinks reception (sold already, right?)

Sandwiched between all the delicious cuisine are informative seminars and workshops hosted by guest speakers and sponsors. The organisers go to every effort to ensure that delegates aren’t hit with sales pitches and the majority of seminars provide great detail on specific topics. Speakers of note include Tania Seary from Procurious (such an influential lady in the procurement space!) and the opening keynote from Martine Wright, 7/7 Survivor and Paralympian (another inspiring female!).

2. Ideal Location
The Westminster area of London is the heart of The City. Surrounded by iconic features such as Big Ben and the London Eye, what better place to host the leading eProcurement technology event?
And, as Market Dojo is headquartered in the idyllic Gloucestershire countryside, the novelty of taking the tube is always enjoyed!

3. FREE! So, why not!
You work in Procurement, spending your days collaborating with suppliers, trying to get the very best product/service for the lowest price. Trained in effective, efficient negotiation, you’ll be delighted to hear that eWorld is in fact FREE for delegates to attend. No haggling on this one, just signup and show up. Of course it does cost you your time, but the ROI is definitely there. You’ll leave feeling inspired with a whole range of extra tools in your procurement toolkit!

4. Atmosphere
From a sponsor’s point of view, there’s a real camaraderie between the neighbouring stands. We normally get the joys of chatting with the lovely team at State of Flux and the guys at Spend 360.

It’s also great to catch up with all the familiar delegate faces that return each year to stay up to date with eProcurement technology.

5. …Market Dojo will be there!
We definitely won’t be missing eWorld this year and we’d love to see you all there. Showcasing our tools focussing on eSourcing, category planning, innovation and, our latest development, our supplier onBoarding tool. Read more about that here.

We’ll be offering live demos on the day to anyone who would like to bring eSourcing in-house and find out how our easy to use, on-demand solution could help them.

For more information on this event, feel free to get in touch with one of us at Market Dojo, or simply register for eWorld on the 2nd March 2016 at the QEII Building, London.
Look forward to seeing you there. Make sure you pop by and say hello!

Anya McKenna
anya.mckenna@marketdojo.com
+44(0)117 318 2537
+44(0)792 337 6307
www.marketdojo.com

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Onboard with SIM Dojo – Part I

“Following a comprehensive review of the systems available, we decided to move forward with Market Dojo based on their philosophy and development approach surrounding their existing product base. Market Dojo are very innovative and flexible and have provided us with an excellent level of support; We are excited to be working with Market Dojo on this new on-boarding product”

– Tony Ritchings, Procurement Director, PHS

Market Dojo already helps businesses centralise their supplier sourcing activities and negotiate efficiently via e-Auctions with their flagship eSourcing product.
Last year, we embarked on a project to develop a Supplier Information Management (SIM) tool starting with supplier onboarding. This is the backbone of effective supplier management. Companies are often unable to take advantage of critical supplier actions, such as expired insurance policies, because the information is not readily available. By using a SIM tool, companies can avoid challenges that happen as a result of poor supplier governance by storing relevant supplier information in one place and creating approved supplier lists.
The SIM application was developed in partnership with our customer PHS. After conducting a thorough market analysis they were unable to find an affordable, flexible and easy to use tool. After seeing our existing product range and understanding our philosophy, they decided to partner with Market Dojo to develop an onboarding tool which would integrate with our existing product set to create a seamless flow of supplier information.

The implementation is made as simple as possible. The main time constraints being process rather than system related. If you already have onboarding questionnaires and you know which stakeholders are involved in supplier assessment then the system can be set up in under a day for immediate go live.
You can then batch invite suppliers whilst defining which questionnaires they will answer and who is responsible internally. The progress of the team and suppliers can be easily tracked and finally the suppliers can be approved or rejected into groups. The approved suppliers can be managed whilst automatically tracking expiry dates of documents and questionnaires.
The real beauty of the system is the flexibility and self service model. You ultimately reduce the internal workload and this in turn makes adoption easier for the suppliers. Questionnaires can be broken down into manageable elements so the suppliers who maintain your coffee machines for example don’t need to answer the questionnaire for working at heights. Also it means that time is not wasted internally by the departments scoring questionnaires for suppliers for which they have no bearing.

Pricing:
We have set an introductory pricing for the first year which we will promise to hold for any clients who joins us in these exciting times.
An annual licence costs £5,000 for unlimited users and the first 500 suppliers. It includes all training and support and we promise to get you started promptly. Thereafter it is £1,000 for 500 suppliers. There are no hidden costs and all features such as white-labelling, multi-scoring and versioning are included.

Why choose us:

Our system has been designed with the end users in mind while maintaining a professional and efficient process. We focus on user adoption. We have seen many organisations invest in complex and cumbersome solutions that have a huge wealth of functionality (at a cost), but without enough consideration for the end user experience. In turn this has can lead to users resisting the uptake of the tool and subsequently sub-optimal performance.

More importantly, such software requires uptake by the supply chain, without which on-boarding has little benefit. If organisations are not able to convince suppliers that the tool will make their lives easier, this will ultimately lead to less competition and significant time and energy (and ultimately money) diverted to motivate users to adopt the tool.

Hence as a company, we have been approached by many organizations who use such complex tools and are looking for something quicker and easier, yet that can still cater for 95% of the functionality, that will be adopted by all users without complications. We provide all this at an affordable price with excellent support.

Read Part II of the blog to see some of SIM Dojo in action and check out the key benefits.

If you’d prefer to see a live web demo, please get in touch:
+(44)0117 318 2537.

Market Dojo helps procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

Why You Shouldn’t Use Reverse Auctions

Reverse auctions are a bit like Marmite, some people love them, boasting the success they’ve seen to friends and colleagues, utilising them when and where they can. Some people however, such as Phil Ideson, are more sceptical. For Phil, this was due to personal bad experiences with the process. For others, it may be similar or it could be as little as a lack of understanding giving this means of negotiation such a bad reputation.

We wanted to set Phil straight and demystify the reverse auction for him, leaving a more positive image of how you can really use reverse auctions as a buying tool to leverage great savings and success in your procurement negotiations.

Did we manage to turn Phil around? Find out in the podcast in the link 

Market Dojo help procurement professionals negotiate better with our on-demand eSourcing tools. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch or register for free and play around with our software for yourself!

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

The Trials and Tribulations of a Software-as-a-Service Company

Market Dojo provides an eSourcing solution based entirely in the cloud. And whilst we boast all the benefits of being a Saas company, such as pay per use pricing and delivery, instant access, and the ability to try the software before committing to a purchase, it would be beneficial to explain what exactly SaaS really means.

To do this, we involved the help of our knowledgeable partner Kelly Barner at Buyers Meeting Point. Myself (Anya) and Nick had a chat with  Kelly to discuss what makes SaaS different to cloud computing, how we benefit from working with our SaaS suppliers and how users can benefit from working with us.

Check out the Blog Talk Radio above and get in touch if you have any questions. How do you best utilise SaaS providers? Or maybe you’re part of a SaaS company, what pros and cons have you discovered?

Don’t forget you can always sign up (free) and check out the benefits of a SaaS eSourcing tool. Feel free to get in touch for more info:

Anya McKenna
Marketing Manager
Market Dojo
anya.mckenna@marketdojo.com
+44(0)117 318 2537
+44(0)792 337 6307

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com in Share

The eSourcing eVolution Part II – The Present

This is part two (read part one here) of a three piece blog providing an in-depth analysis of the evolution of eSourcing around the question:

“What would Market Dojo be like today if it had started 10 years earlier?”

Following on from the previous post 10 Years Older, “The Past”, we examine what we would look like in this day and age as a bold 15 year old, as opposed to the playful 5 year old that Market Dojo is today.

Market Dojo today provides a cloud-based eSourcing solution. Having been created by procurement professionals with a wealth of experience in consultancy, the tool really addresses the issues of usability that were seen with competitors. The Market Dojo co-founders were able to draw upon their experience of running managed auctions to create an application that was really easy to use not only for the hosts of the online negotiation events, but for the suppliers participating too.

But what if Market Dojo was not the Market Dojo we know and love today? What if Market Dojo had started 10 years earlier? How would having this extra 10 years of market experience define it today?

In the previous article we established that the eSourcing market in 2000 in comparison with that of 2010 (when MD formed) was a completely different kettle of fish! i.e. eSourcing in the year 2000 was in its infancy. Complex SaaS applications did not really appear until 2005 and therefore, Market Dojo as it stands would most likely not exist in the Millennium. If it had formed, we would have started with web-based single-installed version of Market Dojo, but the delivery model of it would have been very primitive in comparison to today’s. We would have had to use a multitude of different means of communication and our growth over the 15 years until today would have shaped us into something else entirely.

The table below shows a comparison of what we would look like today being 5 years old and today being 15 years old. As you can see the differences are quite substantial.

Market Dojo today as a…
5 year old 15 year old
Business
Saas SaaS but sold as if it is on-premise, i.e. multi-instance with support fees, implementation fees, long-term contracts, contingent fees etc.
Best of breed/niche provider Swallowed up by a bigger company
Focus on self-service Huge consultancy arm within Market Dojo
Working with a number of partners, resellers and consultants Conflict of working with partners/consultants since that competes with our own staff.
Virtual offices to support clients & our employees across the globe. Local offices required to sell and support the product.
Licencing
On-demand Long term contracts to claw back high cost of sales & support
Single fee called ‘licence cost’ Licence cost, support cost, implementation cost, training cost, managed services cost, hosting cost
Keep the philosophy and focus on customer self-service, as this is the future. Protect interests of keeping it complex to ensure survival of the business model, or totally revamp/sabotage the business model to move with the times.
Development
Instant upgrades and maintenance Periodic client roll-out and separate fees
Version control = Market Dojo, that’s it. 100% same from one client to the next. Market Dojo v10.1 then v10.2 then v10.3 then v11.001 then…..
Agile development team in 2 week sprints Complex waterfall development routine with releases every 6-12 months
Very low overheads and high degree of R&D Low R&D and high overheads.
Keep enhancing the software and develop new tools to make them even easier to adopt and use. Keep enhancing the service provision to protect the staff or let staff go to focus on the software.
Usability
Colourful, playful, attractive software that’s enjoyable to use Grey, grey, grey with lots of tick-boxes and drop-downs.
Compatible with many browsers plus tablets and smartphones You must use Internet Explorer 6, 7 or 8 please.
Benefits for the end user and enhanced dashboards for management Thrust of application about managerial reports with little thought for end user usability.

Today we offer a cloud-based solution with a focus on adoption and self-service. As a niche provider, we are able to focus on providing a best-of-breed solution, allowing us to form links with a number of partners, resellers and consultants. Customers are able to use us ‘on demand’ and we have a pay-as-you-host’ option. Our monthly/ annual fee is all inclusive, covering all our services from the software licence itself to implementation and support costs.

With our overheads being low, we are able to invest more in Research and Development so we can keep enhancing the software in line with our current philosophy and focus on customer self-service and ease of adoption. This is where the future lies and with our current framework we are in the perfect position to move with the times and stay ahead.

Market Dojo as a fifteen year old would be a completely different creature.

We would either operate as an on-premise model or with a very simplistic SaaS structure that still encompassed elements of on-premise such as support and implementation fees, long-term contracts etc. We would most likely have been swallowed up by a large provider and have a huge consultancy arm with a myriad of offices across the globe to support local implementation..

There would be a need to protect the complexity of the model. Failing that, we would have to invest heavily in completely reshaping the structure of the product to be more ‘online’ and similar to what we have today. These could easily create large divisions within the company as you see with some companies today in splitting development resource between On Premise and SaaS teams.

The Market Dojo of today would be what a 15 year old Market Dojo would ultimately inspire to be: a new and improved version of itself. The initial concerns when developing Market Dojo in 2000 would have caused many complications for us today, and we would be unrecognisable in comparison with today’s model.

The potential ten years of market experience may have been detrimental to us today with regards to the opportunities that we were presented with when starting out in 2010. (Thank goodness for good timing! (?))

However, there are obvious disadvantages in starting when we did, namely that we need to enter a market where there are already some big players with an established customer base of large multi-nationals. Although as we focus on adoption with a different price point, there is a whole new layer of medium-sized companies open to us. This is a very similar strategy to how Google entered the application space by focusing on business applications for the small and medium sized companies where Microsoft failed to capitalise. And, as mentioned already, the larger companies are also able to look at Best of Breed. With the separate artistic nature of eSourcing, this sometimes can work very well alongside the larger ERP applications.

The next part of this series will investigate what the future of Market Dojo will hold. How can we use the benefit of looking back at the drivers of the technological movements of the past and apply these to potential future changes.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

Teaching the new breed of eSourcing heroes!

Over the last week we fulfilled our invitations to host lectures for several business schools, specifically those of Bristol and Greenwich.

We’ve always enjoyed presenting our talk on ‘Reverse auctions in industry’ and it’s something we’ve repeated every year since the foundation of Market Dojo in 2010.

Bristol Business School even use Market Dojo as a case study for their Virtual Business module, which in turn contributes to the overall degree. It gives us some useful insight from fresh sets of eyes who may highlight that we’ve missed a trick along the way!

We’re always on the look out for bright, enthusiastic graduates to join our rapidly expanding team in the areas of sales, marketing, design and development, so it’s a good opportunity to build some bridges with potential recruits as well.

Nevertheless, the real highlight for everyone is our renowned eAuction game.

What began as a fun way to showcase professional reverse auctions to university students, it has since been used successfully in CIPS-accredited training courses for procurement professionals!
The game is very simple in design yet completely equitable and unpredictable in who will eventually win, thanks to a few simple rules; rule #1 being “don’t go bust” (yet there’s always one….)!

With the students split into 5 or more teams, we ask them to bid for the 4 office supplies Lots. It is up to the students to plan their bid strategy and that’s usually where the teams are divided.

Unsurprisingly for newcomers to the reverse auction process, we saw a couple of rookie mistakes, particularly the team in yellow above who their dropped their margins to the full extent in just one bid! Clearly this wiped out any opportunity they had to react to the market information granted to them by the auction. It was also interesting to note the speed off the starting block – obviously some eager participants – which we don’t usually see in the real life auctions.

You may be able to guess by the bid history above that our eventual winner was the team ‘SeaHawk’. How could you tell? They applied a clever bid strategy of using small bid decrements and reserved enough margin for the end of the auction to decisively place their final bids.
On this occasion, we had time at the end to re-run the game with the same set of students, which is something we’ve never done before.

Their willingness to learn had certainly paid off. There was a slow start to the auction, much like we notice from seasoned bidders, and most teams adopted the gradual, iterative bid strategy used effectively by winners of the first game.

As it happened, despite adopting an even more progressive strategy with nearly twice as many bids as any other team, SeaHawk were not able to reproduce their previous success. Our glorious winners this second time round were ‘Tiffany’, using the tiebreaker rules to their advantage.
It really is a great way to educate future eSourcing Heroes on how to conduct professional eAuctions, so please do reach out to us if you’d like to try it yourself.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

Procurement Summit 2015 – a gold medal conference

Having made the three hour trip to (not so sunny) Manchester the night before, we awoke from our hotel and made our way to the Procurement Summit conference which was held at the Midland Hotel. The hotel at which we stayed paled in comparison to the grandeur of The Midland Hotel, which was probably the most exquisite hotel I have personally ever had the pleasure of visiting.

We arrived to set up our stand at 8am and were fortunate enough to be situated next to the entrance (and en route to the bacon rolls!), giving us the perfect opportunity to meet and greet all who attended.

The delegates were scheduled to arrive at 9am, however many arrived early, keen to get a good spot for the opening keynote speech by the Olympian Mark Foster, who bore a striking resemblance to our incredibly handsome eSourcing hero!

There were many interesting seminars throughout the day including the one from our very own Co-Founders Nicholas Martin and Nick Drewe on how to maximise the results of an eAuction. The talk went down very well with many people visiting the stand afterwards to ask further questions. One delegate kindly said it was the best seminar they had attended all day! The talk was based around our whitepaper which you can download for free here by registering on the platform.

At the end of the day we ran our prize draw for a month’s free licence of our eSourcing software. The lucky winner was Simon Perkins from the Birmingham NHS trust who will hopefully be able to use our tool to generate some fantastic savings.

Thank you to the team for putting a wonderful event together and to everyone that visited the stand. It was great to see some familiar faces and to also show our easy to use, on demand solution to lots of new ones.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend the conference feel free to visit our website and sign up for free to learn more about what we do and find out how we could help you.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

How to Create a Sourcing Event Using Market Dojo

If you’re new to eSourcing and unsure of where to start with creating an event, this article from Tony Verheggen should help clear things up. As the Sourcing Process Owner at Air Products for 10+ years, Tony is a true expert in his field having run many auctions. He kindly went through the process of creating an event on our eSourcing platform and knocked up this article to give you an understanding of how simple eSourcing can be.

Step 1 – Creating the Questionnaire
To create a questionnaire you will need to check the following checkbox:

Questionnaires can be used to to gather information throughout the Supplier Engagement Process. Surveys, RFI’s, Assessments are all types of questionnaires. In the early stages Questionnaires can be used to assess one or more suppliers capabilities, be that manufacturing or services. They can be used to understand the offerings in the marketplace, by providing a mechanism for suppliers to present the full breadth of what they do, because they can upload brochures as attachments in answering questions. They can be used to narrow in on the right specification that fits your specific need. Technical details and ideas can be exchanged through questionnaires. Terms and conditions can be finalized and agreed to before an auction actually takes place, so the only thing left to settle is pricing, and this is preferred. Even after contracts have been signed and the supplier begins performing under the contract, questionnaires can be used to monitor performance periodically.

Questionnaires constructed properly can save you time and money by getting the answers you need. Here are a few examples of why one may use a questionnaire for a particular type of tender, with some example case studies of where these have been used within Market Dojo.

Tender Type Reason for Questionnaire Case Study
Pharmaceutical To ask your supplier about which regulatory good manufacturing practices they are following, so you understand their compliance to those regulations. Regina Maria
Metal Parts You might need to ask about compliance to US conflict minerals regulations, where you would survey your entire manufacturing base about the origin of their materials. Jenatec
Software You might ask questions about the capabilities of the software to see if it does exactly what you expect. n/a
Construction Use a survey to verify how tight the labor market is at the moment. ABM

Doing the questionnaire before the RFQ or Auction is preferred because getting the answers later after the pricing is settled can lead to re-opening pricing discussions. This destabilizes pricing, because now potentially you are asking the supplier for something different or additional, changing the scope or specification. Change may be unavoidable, but much of it is preventable. Settle all questions first before pricing.

A questionnaire can limit which suppliers participate in further events. There is a checkbox that allows you to change the questionnaire into a pre qualification survey. A pre qualification survey is one that acts as a gateway to all suppliers responding to the questionnaire, before it allows them into the full questionnaire. They must give the correct response or they are denied access. An example might be; suppose you wanted to make sure you kept the information in the questionnaire confidential, you could ask them if they intended to maintain its confidentiality, (yes/no). A no answer would deny them access to the rest of the information and questions.

Additionally, there is a checkbox each for scoring and weights.

In early questionnaires you create, it is best to leave these unchecked, until you are thoroughly familiar with how they work, and have practiced in the sandpit. This is a more advanced functionality, that helps resolve subjective differences in questions as well as internal team imbalances and avoid disagreements. For example, a technical team member may weight the technical questions more than the commercial questions while a commercial team member might do the reverse. As the Purchasing Leader, your role is to make sure the team works together and achieves an objective result they can live with. Scores and weights help do this. But in most cases where these are not concerns, it is best to begin creating questionnaires without scores and weights to simply gain maximum information from your suppliers. Use scores and weights to settle disagreements objectively.

Once you have received answers back from the Questionnaire to help you thoroughly define the specification or scope of work, now you are ready for the next stage.

Step 2 – Request for Quotation (RFQ)
The RFQ is used to define pricing in various stages of the process. You can do an RFQ to define budgetary estimates so you can plan ahead. Also, you can obtain early estimates of pricing to establish where the market price is. Or you can use the RFQ to obtain confirmation of the final pricing, in which case if no auction is done, it would be the final stage. It depends on what your strategy is and often what kind of time pressure you are under. The RFQ can also be used to define where the auction prices will start from. Usually you want to know the range of prices among suppliers before you go to auction, Then the auction will use this information to set the initial pricing. This information is essential in choosing the right kind of auction.

Typically an RFQ also includes questions that were not on the questionnaire. These might ask suppliers for clarification of answers provided in the questionnaire, or obtain agreement to final terms with their final bid. If you are in a hurry, or what you are buying is well defined, sometimes a quick RFQ can include simply an attachment with the specifications, and a terms sheet and a single item requesting pricing. Turnaround times for these kinds of RFQs can be very rapid.
Qualification bids

If you progress from a RFQ, straight to an Open or Ranked Auction, then their bids will not be pulled through. This is because during an eRFQ process, if there is no mention of an eAuction it would be unfair to assume those bids will be become the suppliers starting bids.

However, if you have an eAuction without an eRFQ process, then you will have a qualification bid process. This is exactly the same as a RFQ process but the bids will be pulled through as the initial bids in a open or ranked eAuction. The benefit of these initial bids is that it lets you understand if the suppliers can log on, bid in the system, find mistakes in the specification, understand initial savings and let you know if your strategy is correct.

Step 3 – Auction

The final stage is an auction. There are several types of auctions available through Market Dojo which you may select from. We’ll cover each type of auction separately. They are: Ranked, Open and Japanese auctions. Let’s cover them one at a time and take care to examine the differences so you know which to use and when to use it.

Direction of price in a reverse auction driven by competition.

Ranked Auctions
These type of auctions receive multiple bids from suppliers and then as the bids come in, suppliers are ranked from lowest bid to highest bid. The only information revealed to all suppliers is his/her rank in the bidding. The key then for the supplier is to bid lower and lower to improve his rank until he is in first place. If the supplier remains in 1st place at the end of the auction, then he is considered the winner of the auction.

The advantage of this kind of auction is that revealing rank creates a very dynamic and highly competitive atmosphere where suppliers must bid aggressively to discover and win the lead. If many suppliers are bidding, it can lead to true market price discovery. The other advantage is that it communicates to suppliers that there are many qualified suppliers who want this business. Sometimes this message is critical to convincing suppliers, particularly the incumbent supplier that this material or service is a commodity, not a specialty and hence deserves commodity pricing not premium pricing. Often times the incumbent will be in denial about the possibility that he will lose the business to others, even if the buyer tells him this is so. But seeing is believing, and when the incumbent sees he is in 9th place, it goes a long way toward changing denial into a willingness to negotiate and reduce his price. Sometimes it even takes more than one auction loss or loss of the business before the incumbent changes his view of pricing.
One of the disadvantages of this type of auction is that you need to have 3 or more suppliers. If you have fewer, it leads to less vigorous bidding action. Since the price is hidden, another disadvantage is that it takes somewhat longer for the bidders to find and reach the lead. They may be cautious and try and creep up on the lead with many small bids, rather than jumping to the lead with one large bid, because they don’t want to overshoot the lead by a large margin. They may also decide that second place is good enough, hoping that the lead bidder is later disqualified in some way, leaving them to pick up the business.

Open Auctions
In these types of auctions the suppliers see the lowest bid alongside their own bid. This allows them to see and take the lead by bidding lower immediately. They know exactly what they need to do to take the lead. This speeds up the pace of the auction as long as the suppliers feel they can meet or beat this price. However as suppliers drop out, the competition may slow.
One of the advantages this auction type offers is that suppliers don’t know if they are bidding against one supplier or many other suppliers. You can run this style of auction with only 2 suppliers. If your incumbent supplier already has a very low price and the other suppliers have much higher pricing, this auction style gives no incentive to the incumbent to move even lower. He can take first place, and may remain there for the entire auction. So it is important to have some idea how far apart the incumbent is from the other suppliers. Also, by running this type of auction, you may reveal to the incumbent, not only is he the lowest price, but he may learn that he is significantly lower if none of the competitors can beat his bid. This may be information you do not want him to discover.

Japanese Auctions
In this type of auction, the price ratchets down by a fixed increment every few minutes and the suppliers are presented with the offer price and an accept/decline button to push. As the auction proceeds and the price drops they are asked to accept or decline each incremental price shown. Continually accepting the prices shown means that the auction for that supplier will continue. If the price drops below a price the supplier can accept, he must push the decline button. If the supplier declines, fails to accept, or time runs out, the auction ends for that supplier. It does not however end for other suppliers. They may continue to accept the pricing as it lowers until they too drop out of the auction. The auction ends when all suppliers have dropped out, or time runs out.

This type of auction reveals nothing to other suppliers, which is important when you do not want suppliers to discover market information or their position relative to the competition. It provides an incentive to all suppliers to accept bids until they no longer can. This overcomes one of the disadvantages mentioned in Open bid auctions. It can also be run when there only a few suppliers available. It does not however necessarily convince suppliers, especially the incumbent that they have significant competition in the marketplace. They may even suspect they are bidding against themselves. One of the other advantages over a ranked event is that a Japanese eAuction will help prevent bid shadowing. This is where an incumbent will follow first place to be close but not to win the event knowing that a switching cost might negate some benefits of a small price saving. A Japanese auction gives no indication to the incumbent how the others are doing.

Summary
It is important to decide in advance what information you want to reveal in auctions before you select the auction type. Also, what kind of market and competition do you want to stimulate during the auction process. Once you have decided these factors, you can select an appropriate auction strategy.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

How Top eSourcing Professionals Develop Lots

To help you get the most savings from your eAuctions, one of our partners, Dave Henshall, has written an article providing all the information you need to create an effective lotting strategy.

Lotting is the activity of grouping items efficiently and effectively to maximise participation in reverse auctions. How you structure your lots can have a huge effect on the overall savings achieved due to how easy/hard it is to bid in an event.

The article provides a wide breadth of information covering:
1. An Introduction to lots and lotting
2. Why Lotting is Important
3. How to Develop Your Lotting Strategy
4. Lotting strategy Summary

You can find this article in full on Purchasing Practice here.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

The eSourcing eVolution Part III – The Future

This is the final part (read part 2 here) of a three piece blog providing an in-depth analysis of the evolution of eSourcing around the question:

“What would Market Dojo be like today if it had started 10 years earlier?”

In this section, we’re going to use what we’ve learned about the past to think about the vision of the future. Through analysing what we’ve learnt so far, a touch of market knowledge from the directors at Market Dojo, and a dash of foresight as to what we think the future holds for eSourcing, we should be able to adapt to any changes in the market/technology.

So how do we prepare ourselves? How do we mitigate the risk of becoming “just another” large provider? There are many interesting aspects we need to look at in regards to this and a number of potential concerns we need to be aware of.

Alun Rafique and Nick Drewe, co-founders of Market Dojo shared some thoughts on areas to watch out for in the future:

Mobile Technology

There have been recent changes in how Google perceives websites for ease of use with mobile devices. With respect to this and the future of design, we need to make sure we are responsive, searchable and usable across the mobile technology of the future.

Google (power of the web/search)
This is the biggest unknown and potentially the biggest competitor (at the moment, our biggest competitor is still email). Will this develop enough and become intelligent enough to make eSourcing applications obsolete?

To mitigate this risk, we must do as any other successful modern SaaS provider and focus on the last ‘S’, not to mention being dynamic in our R+D.

We must ensure that our support is second to none on areas where strategy is crucially important. We predict that long gone will be the days of short-sighted support functions. Instead the main differentiator in industry will be support personnel who focus on resolution of queries instead of simply noting them. Training/help desk/light consultancy is where the battle may be fought. Although this does not mean there is a need for consultancy alongside our offering.

APIs
The ability to integrate between solutions is already possible, but in the future it is set to become even more simple. We must look at ways to make it even easier to integrate with any product through standard connectors so that best of breed becomes as attractive as an ERP solution.

Silicon Valley investments

There seems to be a current trend at the moment within procurement software for Venture Capitalists to throw money into investing in particular areas such as P2P and eInvoicing.
To help us stay ahead of this, we must keep focussing on our USPs by continuing to provide an easy to adopt, completely transparent pay-as-you-host pricing model. That is how we will aim to combat this type of competition along with our friendly one-to-one service.

Amazon/Google/Apple B2B platform
eSourcing and P2P are fundamentally different. One is strategic. One is operational. It is unlikely that these eMarketplaces are going to be in direct competition with our focus on eSourcing.

However, diversification is very important. And we have our own eMarketplace concepts (focussing on sourcing rather than fulfilment) which should help protect us in the future. Watch this space…

Eradicating the user interface
Moving from slick user interface to ‘no user interface’, as per this Coupa article. A rather controversial idea, but we can see some logic that instead of having to log into a tool every day, instead it fits around your life so you can interact with it outside the tool, e.g. suppliers responding to events via email with auto-doc upload/download, auto-messaging, auto-comparison of bids, etc.

True commoditization
As technology develops and the knowledge of eSourcing expands, the number of people using eSourcing will increase. We will hopefully begin to see true commoditization of the process and tools, so it really does just come down to price in the lower end of the spectrum. Eventually, it won’t just be large and medium sized enterprises utilising eSourcing, the smaller SMEs will be aware of and embracing it too.

Centralised eSourcing teams move in conjunction with local self-serve teams who even use the tools to get quotes on low value tenders of a few hundred pounds.

(See our video on the four stages of technological growth taken from a TED lecture.)

Not game changers, but here are some other areas to be aware of:

Voice Activation Keeping up to date with developments eg. Google voice, Siri, etc. and how this may possibly impact us.
Geo-locational sourcing So you can find better suppliers locally and search locally.
Integrated market information Such as global new stories and how they affect your sourcing events.
More focus on AI The software could take actions when it ‘thinks’ it is needed. e.g. delay an auction due to lack of liquidity, or suggest a better lot structure based on the bids received.
More automation So the software will actually create and publish events without you needing to do anything.
Newer, more flexible technologies As technology continues to grow and develop, we need to ensure we keep up to date with the latest news and trends  and ensure that our product move in line with this.
Commoditized combinatorial, expressive and transformational eAuctions Making this usable to the majority.
Interactive content In relation to how we market ourselves, we must ensure our content stays in line with technological changes and becomes more interactive.
Developing Countries Competition from these countries is vastly improving and we must not overlook them. We can counteract this by keeping our development dynamic and increasing our brand marketing strategies. We must also market to these countries and think about ways to collaborate with as well as repel competition.
Public Sector Procurement A big shake-up in the public sector software market to disrupt the legacy tools with their complex workflows and procedures to be a slick tool that people enjoy using.
IT will no longer play a part in the selection of SaaS tools No more 100-page RFIs asking what software stack SaaS software is using and what the data hierarchy looks like.
Security barriers Utilising new technology to address these and make eSourcing even more accessible.
Marketing How will people find us in the future, compared to how they find us now?
How will the power of search change in the future?
At the minute, the focus is on Content Marketing, but what next?

Exciting times lie ahead of us at Market Dojo.

In hindsight, with what we have learnt from looking at the past and analysing the potential future of an older Market Dojo, we must continue to pro-actively develop, adapt to and overcome any fluctuations in the ever-evolving technological environment, whilst remaining true to our brand values.

The latter is very important. By embracing new technologies to enable more seamless integration with other providers, we should be able to remain true to our original ideologies of putting the customer at the forefront of everything we do, whilst making our product as easy to adopt as possible and bringing eSourcing to the forefront of every business.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

Odesma and Market Dojo Win New Global Client

At the beginning of the year, we announced our partnership with Odesma. Odesma is a new breed of advisory business who help drive business performance through a combination of experience and application of the best talent and technology in the market.

Market Dojo and Odesma have been working together to bring onboard a new global company*. Odesma will work with the new FTSE 250 client using the Market Dojo platform.

A highly experienced UK based company, Provalido, who we regularly work with, have been chosen as the preferred savings tracking tool.

Nick Drewe, co-founder at Market Dojo stated:
“We were really pleased to announce the initial partnership with Odesma and this new client is evidence of what a hard-working, innovative company they are. We look forward to securing many more deals alongside them.”

Competition was tough, but the Odesma team with their wealth of knowledge and expertise managed to secure the deal.

Related image

Ed Cross, cofounder at Odesma stated:
“This is the first of many deals to come. Market Dojo will play a key role for us in working with this exciting new global client.”

*This global client can now be named, as Aggreko.

If you‘re interested in hearing more about Odesma, please contact:

Ed Cross, Co-Founder.
Steve Trainor, Co-Founder
Odesma Ltd
Tel: 0161 433 7833
www.odesma.co.uk

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

Market Dojo: The Past, The Present and The Future.

“What would Market Dojo be like today if it had started 10 years earlier?”

That was the question posed by Jon Hansen of Procurement Insights one fine day in April.

Having only been part of the Market Dojo team (and the world of eProcurement!) for around 10 weeks at that point, analysing the history of an industry I barely knew existed at a time when I was just 10 years old seemed a daunting task. However, as I’ve been researching and writing, my knowledge and understanding of procurement has developed and I have learnt a lot from the process.

Originally this was going to be one article, but three defined sections have shaped up nicely into a series of posts.

The three sections of the article will look at 3 different periods of time:

2000 – “The Past”
2015 – “The Present”
2025 – “The Future”.

The first part revolves around what life was like ten years prior to Market Dojo, bringing us to the year 2000. After gaining an understanding of technology, especially eSourcing, (See Nick’s blog highlighting important technology of this era) we thought about what would have happened if we had formed then: how would our ideologies and objectives have differed from those of today?

Next we asked ourselves, ‘what about now?’, how would we look today as a bold, brash 15 year old? How would we have grown? In what way would having an extra 10 years of experience shape who we are today?

The last and most important aspect of this series is ‘The Future’. What does the future look like for Market Dojo? Looking at what’s ahead and using the value of hindsight in assessing how we would have succeeded or failed 10 years ago, can we carve a path for us for the next 10 years?

Next week, we shall be releasing the three parts of the blog, so keep your eyes peeled…

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

All for one, innovation for none

Another public procurement price analysis article has made national headlines this week, found here on BBC News.

The Home Office conducted a study into police procurement trends across 20 common items including batons, uniforms and helmets.

I haven’t read the Home Office study in detail, but these kind of reports can err on the side of rudimentary:

Humberside bought police helmets for more than £43 each while most other forces acquired them for under £30.

This can indicate a savings potential and is undoubtedly a good place to start your evaluation for cost reduction opportunities.

However when you simply compare two purchase prices, rarely, if ever, does the analysis also delve into key contractual differences such as payment terms, rebates, catalogue pricing discounts, minimum order quantities, annual purchase volumes, inclusion of delivery costs, what delivery service levels, product warranties etc.

Then you have the question on whether the specifications are the same.  Perhaps Humberside has identified a more costly product that leads to a 20% better safety record from head injuries.  Might that not justify the additional cost?

There is a long perceived view that rationalisation and aggregation leads to cost reduction.  For example, in the same article Policing minister Mike Penning was quoted:

“For too long the police have approached the market in a fragmented way, buying equipment in small amounts and to varying specifications.

“It makes no sense for forces to buy separately when money can be saved if they act together.”

Bigger procurement is not always better procurement
Interestingly Spend Matters UK recently re-circulated an older post of theirs outling how bigger procurement is not always better procurement.  Please do have a read as it provides excellent insight that we won’t duplicate here.

What we’ve seen is that many of our clients run reverse auctions on aggregated volumes, rather than spot-purchases.  They are very successful in doing so.  That said, even very low value auctions of a few thousand pounds have lead to 30%+ savings, so bigger isn’t always better in our view too.

Large spend values attract large suppliers with the notion being procurement teams can exercise their leverage and use economies of scale to secure better pricing.

Lower spend values attract smaller suppliers and generally there are a lot more of them in the marketplace, which can equate to increased competition and better savings.

Perhaps the price differences seen with the police, assuming they are not associated with contractual or specification issues, are less to do with failure to aggregate demand and more to do with ineffective negotiations for their own requirements?

One step forward, two steps back
One adverse side-effect to bundling up contracts into an aggregated demand is that it diminishes competition.

Taking say £200m of spend that is today fragmented across many hundreds of suppliers and bundling it into a single contract prohibits SMEs from retaining business.  As a result some may perish whilst others downsize.  The large company that wins the contract swells significantly to cope with the demand whilst other large businesses (if there are any) stay as they are or also downsize from losing their portion of the fragmented spend.

Fast forward a year and the market only has one real candidate who can cater for the demand – the incumbent.  This becomes a very poor market to negotiate in.

And so the cycle continues whereby it is decided to fragment the contract into smaller packages to increase competition, except this time there isn’t as much liquidity.  So we’re back where we started except with worse market conditions.

Innovation triumphs over imitation 
As we’ve just noted, consolidated contracts diminish competition.  With less competition, there is less imperative to differentiate.  There will be fewer SMEs in the market and they are typically regarded as the key source of innovation with their agility and drive to increase market share.  Local police authorities will have their hands tied and won’t be able to engage with the SMEs and so those remaining will have little incentive to innovate.

Furthermore, the other suggested strategy in the BBC article was to standardise the products. This again reduces innovation, as the product spec. would be based on what already exists, not would could be.  Once that spec. is agreed, the market is closed out to new ideas.  This contradicts with the relatively recentreforms to the EU Procurement Directives.

So what should we do?  
We should be focusing on driving the market forward and negotiating effectively within that market.  A fragmented market can be your best friend, not your enemy.  Procure on best value, not just best price.  Don’t focus on Purchase Price Variance but on lifetime costs.  Improve through innovation.

We could go on but there’s a risk we’re sounding like a Baz Luhrmann song!
Hopefully we make ourselves clear but more importantly, what do you think about this suggested police procurement strategy?

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

Yeah but, no but, yeah…introducing dynamic questions!

Our development team have been at it again with the release of another new feature asked for by our loyal clients.

Dynamic questions
When asking people to complete paper-based forms, you typically see the instruction, “If you answered No to this question, please proceed to Section 4” or something like that.
Well, now in our eSourcing tool, you can set up some intelligence in your surveys/RFIs/RFPs etc. to automatically present the participants with the questions that are still relevant to them.

It works with any question that has a prescribed set of answers, such as Yes/No, Pick from a list or multiple choice.  You define what further questions appear based on the answers chosen by the participant.

From the participant view, the new questions appear dynamically to ensure they don’t miss a step.  You can set whether the dynamic question is mandatory, so when you ask the participant to complete the metaphorical Section 4, they really have to do this to be able to submit their response.

It also works with scored questionnaires, despite giving us some mathematical challenges!
Give us a call if you want to know more, otherwise we’ll leave you with Vicky Pollard and her unerring ability to make every question look dynamic!

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more on +44 (0) 117 230 9200 or www.marketdojo.com

Does Cost Plus Encourage Lazy Procurement?

Cost plus:
(definition, adjective)
“relating to or denoting a method of pricing a service or product in which a fixed profit factor is added to the costs.”

You could argue that every item or service sold is cost plus. In other words you need to make a profit to stay in business so that everything purchased has to have a margin added to the final sale value, which will be more than the sum of their parts.

The area of cost plus that I would address is where the client has agreed to buy products or services from a supplier and the final price for those products bought is not known. This unknown value will be created from a cost plus relationship to ensure a profit is maintained.

However, if the client continues to pay, where is the incentive for the seller to ensure they are procuring the goods or services at the market price? Surely the client should be ‘on the ball’ and focus on year on year cost reductions although many times complex and varied builds on a contract prevent this. ‘Should cost’ exercises would be a useful tool in a perfect world if we all had the time but isn’t that why you are together with a trusted supplier? Surely the supplier would focus on procurement costs so their sales exercises would be more competitive? You would think so, but what if the market is not so competitive.

In fact, does the cost plus model mainly arise in non-competitive markets dominated by larger players? If this is the case you could draw the conclusion that procurement is not being driven in the right direction due to a number of unbalanced forces (cost plus, lack of competition, lack of customer focus). This bad practice could easily spiral downwards. However will increased globalism be enough to shake up these suppliers or will the customers drive better value? Either way it often seems that procurement in these type of industries can be an after thought that is of little importance. Viva la procurement revolution.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

Dear UK, Please leave. From France

This article was a challenge to write and should be viewed with good humour and in an amicable fashion. As a good French and European citizen, I am obliged to defend our interests and evaluate yours. For all our sakes you must stay in the European Union.

The UK Government is planning a referendum to decide whether the UK should remain a member of the EU. French media rarely broadcast information about this referendum at the moment, which is maybe the reason why French people don’t seem really concerned. I asked my friends and family in France if they thought Britain should remain in the EU. Many responded with disinterest, stating they did not care either way.

While doing research on the web in a BVA survey (French society of opinion polls) I discovered that 52% of French people are in favour of the the UK leaving the E.U with 73% falling in the 18 to 24 years old category, however I think that it would be a huge mistake for the UK and France.

Mainland Europe is still the UK’s main partner with more than 50% of your international trade. This includes Germany with their reliable cars and us (France) with our excellent wines. Although both may be exorbitantly priced, can you imagine living without them? In France, we use an expression that would perfectly describe this situation “se tirer une balle dans le pied”, which can be translated as “shooting oneself in the foot” {I believe you have the same expression }

Let’s be more serious. According to a research project carried out by the London School of Economics, if the UK were to exit from the EU, your GDP could decrease from anywhere between 1.1% to 3.1% (which equates to roughly £50 billion). The idea of leaving the EU immediately appears more far-fetched…

And if prices do not increase, perhaps its because you copy this powerful nation once known as the “Kingdom of Norway” by spending billions to buy your participation ticket to the free exchange within the European Union. Of course, this position would allow you to remain in contact with E.U members, who are by far your biggest clients and suppliers. However, you will be subject to E.U rules and no one will take your opinion into account. Was it not one of the reasons which push you to leave?

E.U isn’t a “jail”, it’s your ally. Getting together and applying common rules makes the EU the leading world power allowing us to negotiate widely favourable agreements.

A prime example being The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a potential new agreement allowing free exchange between the EU and US. Should the UK disassociate itself from the EU, where does that then leave it? Would they still get to reap the benefits of this unique partnership opportunity between the United States and the European Union?

Hopefully we won’t see another situation arise similar to the ‘Banana Wars’ of 1997.

If unfortunately I am wrong and leaving the EU is beneficial, who will help Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel to pay for all those countries whose economies are in worse shape than ours?We would have to find more than £6 billion to offset your departure. Then, what would we do if all immigrants stayed blocked on our coasts? In reality, we need you in the EU, our unemployment rate is already nearly 5 points higher than yours (…although apparently this makes our productivity higher due to the higher wages and the need to be competitive on a global basis.)

I, therefore appeal to the sharing and mutual aid between United Kingdom and the E.U.

Nick Drewe, co-founder of Market Dojo, comments that this break-up will have little impact on Market Dojo’s software as it is designed to not depend on particular legislation, which is a considerable advantage. Indeed, some competitors would need to change some parts of their applications in order for them to adapt to the new UK market and so could actually help us. However, the impact on sales is unknown.

This situation may even have some advantages for Market Dojo. Indeed you British buyers could be subjected to particularly difficult negotiations due to an increase of Incoterms. Looking for solutions to reduce these additional costs would be a priority and I know where you can find some great software to help you negotiate…

However more serious constraints also appear with regards to French internships. As Alun Rafique, co-founder of Market Dojo mentions, French interns may encounter more difficulties to work on British soil. In addition to all the good work the interns produce, we would be left without anyone to make such excellent tea, and who would ensure the office was maintained to such a high standard?

Nick and Alun recently visited France with great ease, but in the future, should Britain depart from the EU, booking flights may not be as simple as it once was and lengthy Visa applications could unfold. This would make the current ease and simplicity of popping to France a thing of the past. Lets hope not!

By Alex Mahe.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

Market Dojo listed as a Supply Chain Brain

As the most comprehensive supply chain management resource, we feel incredibly privileged to have made the cut for Supply Chain Brain’s honourable list.

Supply Chain Brain seeks out emerging trends, technologies and best practices, forward-thinking ideas and cutting-edge solutions. The go-to place for senior-level supply chain executives, they collate this knowledge across a range of platforms to provide an informative resource for true professionals.

With last year’s vendors being selected for excelling in Reliability, Expertise and Global Reach, it is exciting to be chosen as a provider that addresses these issues accordingly.

Image result for supply chain brain

Brad Berger, Supply Chain Brain’s publisher, stated:

“Each year, our list of 100 Great Supply Chain Partners features a select group of companies whose customers are recognizing them for providing outstanding solutions and services.
This year we received nominations for literally hundreds of solutions providers in every aspect of supply chain management, as a result of our six-month on-line poll: in which supply chain professionals were asked to nominate vendors and service providers whose solutions have made a significant impact on their company’s efficiency, customer service and overall supply chain performance.

Market Dojo Ltd. will appear in the 2015 July/August issue of SupplyChainBrain magazine as a celebrated member of this year’s 100 Great.”

A huge thanks to Supply Chain Brain and to all who voted for Market Dojo.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

Release of Multi-Evaluator scoring

We are delighted to announce another new feature to our tool for multi-evaluator scoring of proposals, available today.

The development was another successful collaboration with a client of ours who generously contributed to one-third of development costs to help us allocate a development team without delay, in return for extended licencing terms.

The enhancement allows you to invite multiple stakeholders, or even groups of stakeholders, to score participant responses.  You can invite the stakeholders to score specific sections or the entire questionnaire.  The tool will automatically send the scorers their invitation to the event as well as notifications when new responses are available for them to score.

The owner of the event can clearly see which scorers have not fulfilled their duty so they can chase up the task.

Should more than one stakeholder score a particular section or questionnaire, the tool will automatically average the scores to carry forward into your weighted tender or overall evaluation.

Stakeholders will only be able to view the questionnaire or section that they have been invited to score, thereby keeping their process very simple.  Of course if you’d like them to view more of the tender, you can do so using our User Hierarchy.

Lastly we have a neat ‘Comments’ button so scorers can share their feedback on any particular question for the event owner to take into account.

There is a slight surcharge of 10% on top of your existing licence fees to enable this feature but in return you can have unlimited scorers assisting you with your evaluations, all supported to the highest level by the Market Dojo team.

We hope you enjoy!

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

Some more generous client feedback

In case you missed it, we recently enhanced our Case Study page.

This included a neat filter option to help our visitors zone into the segment of interest, be it Private or Public sector, Charities or Consultancies.  Give it a try here.

We’ve also added a number of new case studies for you to read.  Some highlights include:

Our partner eQuiddity / BakerWanless talk about how we’ve forged a close partnership over the last few years helping both our companies grow stronger.

Milla Harloff-Bernyk from Creative Education shares her insight into the challenges faced by procurement teams within an SME and how user-friendliness drove the adoption within the company.

And lastly ABM Global Solutions‘ advisory team discuss how important support and frequent developments are to the on-going success of the eSourcing approach.

We hope you find them useful and of course should you have any specific questions about our clients or the eSourcing process in general, we’d love to hear from you.
About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

Our thoughts from the CIPS Middle East conference 2015

Last week we were generously invited by our partners, ArcBlue, to join their exhibition stand and sponsored dinner at the CIPS Middle East Conference 2015 in Abu Dhabi.

ArcBlue is the sole provider of training services for CIPS in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region and have been using our tools as a training aid for their workshops.

It was a fantastic opportunity to explore a new market that we knew little about whilst furthering our partnership.

The trip was immensely aided by two friends and local Emiratis whom I knew from Bristol University.  Quite frankly I was spoiled rotten!

Ali and I posing in front of Marina Beach, Dubai

To begin with my economy flight with Etihad Airways on their brand new Airbus A380 was wonderful, comparable to a business-class flight with Delta Airlines a few years ago.

Upon arrival, despite my friends having a nightmare day where they broke down in their boat, leading to their rescue by the coastguard, and lost their house-keys and a mobile phone (a long story…), they still managed to greet me at the airport.  They had a taxi driver waiting outside, who had unofficially become their chauffeur for the day since their car-keys were also attached to the lost key-chain and it was their driver’s day off!  However, 3 hours of taxi service only set you back about £30, so it was an affordable consolation.

We headed back to their beautiful house equipped with pool, cook and maid – it’s a life one could get very used to!

The evening passed with a lovely dinner in a new venue (an occurance that seems likely to occur on a daily basis given the rate of growth in the city) then onto the bars on Yas Island, home of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, before heading home for a sobering dip in the pool before bed.

One thing that did strike me was how quiet the city was considering this was the equivalent of a Saturday night out.  There was never a queue in sight, even in the most popular of venues.  This really hit home when the following morning we visited Masdar City, a purpose-built city to showcase renewable energy and a hub for cleantec companies.   Designed as a home for up to 50,000 people, it currently hopes to reach 10,000 inhabitants in the next 3 to 5 years.  As a result, it felt like the luxury set of an apocalypse movie!

On to the CIPS event.  The venue was the impressive Intercontinental Hotel, in which I had the pleasure the previous day of enjoying a business lunch and an afternoon on its private beach.  The event was smaller than those we’ve attended in London but well represented by many senior procurement folk, as expected by an event hosted by the professional body.

As it happens, I didn’t attend any of the talks, preferring instead to man the stand just in case (which paid dividends late on for one of the most interesting contacts I met all day), so I can’t comment on them.  However David Noble, Duncan Brock and the CIPS President Babs Omotowa were all up on stage along with some very interesting local speakers.

What is great about the CIPS events is that the speakers actively network before and after their talks, so I did at least get to speak to the majority of them at various times of the day.
One general theme was that the majority of public sector organisations were embedded with Oracle.  It appeared the government has encouraged, even perhaps mandated, their various organisations to use it.  An interesting approach, though not one I could see earning any friends if it were to happen here in the UK.

I frequently brought the topic of conversation onto eAuctions and as ever the appetite was divided.  However some  significant public sector entities admitted they plan to run some in the coming months, especially those with individuals in the team who had prior experience.  Reluctance typically came from those who were not familiar with the process, which is just what we see in Europe too.  We could call it the fear of the unknown.  Hopefully some easy, intuitive and on-demand eAuction tools could help ease that fear with little risk 🙂

This year we were also invited to the dinner event, the first we’ve attended.  The CIPS MENA awards were handed out following a groundhog day shortlist process involving Jumeira Group and Etihad Airways.  Amazingly, these two organisations, combined, were shortlisted 12 times out of 9 team awards!  Etihad ended up as the overall winner.  As clients of ArcBlue, it was quite a good evening for them by affiliation too.

Anyhow, it was a very worthwhile trip with lots of interesting new contacts to keep in touch with, not least our pleasure in meeting more of the ArcBlue team.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

UWE and Market Dojo collaborate

By working closely with the Bristol Business School of the University of the West of England (UWE), Market Dojo, a young business in the South West, is able to form a very real synergistic relationship.

As a local company, founded in Bristol, partnerships are seen as a very important strategy with respect to accelerating growth. And there are rarely better opportunities than partnering with academic institutions. Apart from forging stronger relationships with the local community there are powerful bilateral benefits for this type of bond.

Two of the co-founders of Market Dojo, Alun Rafique and Nick Drewe presented at a local CIPS (Chartered Institute of procurement and Supply) event in the Street Cafe and were looking to work more closely with UWE. This opportunity was afforded to Market Dojo though Dr Amit Mitra from the Dept of Strategy & Operations Management.  This was an opportunity to present a guest lecture at one of his courses and also to write a real life case study based on Market Dojo that the students are able to pick from a variety of other cases.

Now in the fourth year, Market Dojo has a very popular lecture slot in the module for virtual business and the now compulsory case study is worth 50% of the marks and involves a video submission.

One of the focal points of the course, and probably the most memorable parts for all concerned, is the game that Market Dojo have devised and run during the second half of their lecture.  The lecture is based around a specific part of their solution – eAuctions – and how they help industry negotiate quickly and efficiently for goods and services.  The game is focused on using the platform to bid for a variety of Lots and by using some very simple conditions, and a sliver of game theory, the winner is decided by the team that wins the most Lots.

Nick Drewe explains “This game brings a high level of interaction to the lectures and drives home how Market Dojo uses innovative technology to help businesses reduce their costs. We would encourage this type of interaction between local business and universities as all parties benefit.  We gain fresh insight on how our tool is used by newcomers, whilst the students learn how professional organisations can negotiate via auctions“

Dr Amit Mitra says “This is the opportunity to give the students not only a real life and current case study, but by reinforcing with a guest lecture, it gives the students a very real backdrop for their submission.  The students also enjoy the ability to interact with a company going through rapid growth and gain an understanding of the practicalities in overcoming the challenges that are faced”.

Alun Rafique from Market Dojo highlights “We have the opportunity to share our experience with a group of young minds and we have the ability to understand many different views which quite often provide insightful feedback on potential solutions to our dilemmas.  On top of this the course has a pool of talented students that will go into business with the ability to spread the word, perhaps even as employees of ours!”

It has been a real success and this type of co-operation should be encouraged.  It results in many more benefits for all parties than simply giving students a stale or unrealistic case study.  And the students are the real winners with practical assignments and a greater understanding of becoming entrepreneurs themselves.

Market Dojo offers easy to use, professional e-sourcing software as a service.  Founded in 2010 and based in Bristol their aim is to provide accessible solutions to procurement professionals enabling them to save time and money on their purchasing activities.

UWE is one of Britain’s most popular universities, with more than 30,000 students and is the largest providers of higher education in the south west of England.  Bristol UWE is consistently one of Britain’s leading new universities for quality in teaching and has a strong research tradition.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

Greenwich University and Market Dojo collaborate

Market Dojo, a start up specialising in e- procurement Software – as – a – Service (SaaS), is constantly looking to expand its sphere of influence through short, medium and long term relationships.  A viable business needs to be based on all three to have a long term future. Working closely with academic institutions is an ideal vehicle for satisfying all three conditions.

Market Dojo, who work in the eProcurement space have forged a close relationship with the University of Greenwich in their International Procurement and Purchasing course led by Dr Li Zhou.  For four years, two of the co-founders of Market Dojo, Alun Rafique and Nick Drewe, have presented and currently help with a key lecture in the MA of Logistics and Supply Chain Management.

The lecture is based on Market Dojo’s initial proposition on which the company was founded four years ago.  This focuses on an innovative technology for negotiation called the reverse auction, which Market Dojo have made more accessible through an easy to use, on demand solution that lets procurement professionals more readily negotiate their goods and services.

Embedded in the lecture is a game that Market Dojo has developed which combines the elements of using Software-as-a-Service, negotiation and game theory.

Alun Rafique reveals “This game gives the students a background into a key element of an emerging technology which is at the heart of their course.  On top of this it shows how Market Dojo developed its original strategy and shows the benefits and challenges that companies face when adopting new technology.”

Dr. Li Zhou, who is a Reader in Operations Management at the department of Systems Management and Strategy, readily saw the advantages in working with a real life start-up based in the procurement space. She says “Market Dojo has given my students an insider view to how a start-up in this area can create value for businesses whilst also showing them how a small company can grow and challenge much larger competition through innovative on-demand technology”
Market Dojo often works with academics to help provide real life examples to students and there are many reciprocal benefits. The feedback from the students is very insightful and can help shape Market Dojo’s product and even provide answers to their own challenges.  Further to this it helps spread awareness and can help with recruitment.

Nick Drewe mentions “It is key for small businesses as well as large multinationals to work with academic institutions to give students a holistic view of all elements of the modern company.  We find that students are especially interested in our entrepreneurial view as many want to start a business themselves.”

Market Dojo hopes to expand their relationship with the University of Greenwich and is looking at other research opportunities there.  They are also working with more diverse training providers by offering their software to help with general training in the field of eSourcing.  It is by working with this area of education where there are obvious benefits for both parties that help Market Dojo forge strong relationships and a real long term strategy.

Market Dojo offers easy to use, professional e-sourcing software as a service.  Founded in 2010 and based in Bristol their aim is to provide accessible solutions to procurement professionals enabling them to save time and money on their purchasing activities.

The University of Greenwich is one of London’s largest universities and celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2014. The university has three iconic campuses in London and Kent, and a heritage of education, discovery and technological innovation. An ambitious institution, it takes an innovative and modern approach to teaching, research and enterprise, and is thoroughly committed to making sure that students achieve their potential.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

Top 3 Tips on Creating Compelling Case Studies

Writing a case study is easy.

Writing a case study that is engaging, compelling and entices the reader to do more is another matter altogether.

Companies structure their case studies in different way in terms of paragraphs, bullet points or a combination of both. Which one of these is correct is hard to say and maybe does not matter. However the actual content of the Case Study does.

I’ve put together some points to consider when you’re writing a case study:

1.      Follow a Formatting Framework
Reading big blocks of text can be boring. Make sure to break this up with compelling images and screenshots and informative bullet points. Make your case study easy to read and therefore easy for your reader to get involved in the story.

2.      Encourage Empathy

If someone has clicked on a particular case study, that must mean they have drawn some form of connection to it – a bond if you will. This may be because they share something similar, the reader feels they may be able to relate to the particular industry for example. To do this, it is important to retain the reader’s attention. Tell a story and make it personal. Highlight how the needs of the industry your share have been met by this particular product /service.

3.      Focus on Facts, Figures and Benefits
People like facts. Fact.

Including specific figures such as ‘achieved savings of 25%’ allows one to see real-life, specific examples of what they could expect to obtain. Giving your readers examples of quantifiable, tangible results alongside a story they can relate to makes for a very powerful case study.

I feel that these are a few of the important points to consider when tasked with creating an interesting case study. There are many more elements to think about, but this should provide a sturdy base to start you off.

What other elements should be taken into consideration?

Have you come across any other key factors that you would like to share which have made your case studies interesting for the reader?

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

CIPS up in a brewery

On Thursday 16 April Market Dojo attended CIPS Bristol event at Butcombe Brewery. I had not attended a CIPS Bristol event before, but was in the area and my colleague, Nick, had organised our attendance.

The journey from Market Dojo HQ to Butcombe Brewery took us along the M5, and then through some of the beautiful countryside around Bristol.

We arrived at 7pm for 30 minutes of networking before the tour. The room where we congregated had a long bar, and interesting information on the history of the brewery. Everyone in attendance was friendly and anticipating an interesting evening. After some procurement related chit chat the tour started!

The tour was lead by Martin Love and started with a 10 minute introduction in the bar. Martin was clearly  passionate about the brewery, and had a wealth knowledge about all aspects of the business. As a keen beer drinker, I found the talk fascinating. The talk covered history, business aspects and then moved on into the process of making beer. We then toured the brewery, following the steps in the process from the arrival of the hops, the importance of the water and how the barrels rotate through the supply chain.

Butcombe brewery do supply some beer to Tesco, and Martins explanation of the negotiation process and all the factors involved was particularly interesting to the procurement audience. Butcombe maintain a ratio so that they do not become too reliant on one customer and can retain a balance of power.

After the tour, we returned to the bar for an opportunity to sample the beer. As my colleagues were both driving, I did my best to maximise the amount of sampling that I did, encouraged by the team from the Brewery. This gave us another chance to chat to the other attendees and the team from the brewery.  I learnt some great facts about cider apples, and that Butcombe’s new Czech style Pilsner is preferred by the under 35’s, who have different taste buds to those of us who are not.

Far too soon, it was time for us to leave, and my chauffer for the evening to drive me home.
I would like to say a huge thanks to the team at the brewery for such a great tour, to Tom Casey and CIPS for organising it and to Nick and Alun for driving me to and from the brewery. I think that the idea of CIPS engaging with local business is a really great concept and would like to see it extended. I would also definitely recommend the brewery tour (and the beer)!

In the bar, tasting the Pilsner!

Sun, eSourcing and Strategic planning- UWE and Market Dojo.

Through fortunate timing yesterday (14th April), Market Dojo was able to escape the confines of the office and make the most of the glorious sunny weather in Bristol. The purpose of our visit to Bristol was to give an informative (and fun!) lecture to the MBA students at UWE Business School involved in ‘Systems, Structures and Operations’.

We arrived at UWE business school and met with Dr Amit Mitra from from the Dept of Strategy & Operations Management for a bite of lunch in the cafeteria (and very tasty it was too) before heading to the lecture room to meet the students.

A presentation giving an overview of Market Dojo, how the company was formed and plans for the future made up the first half of the lecture. A lot of the students had experience in areas which could be applied to Market Dojo, such as procurement, software development, business strategy. This made for some very interesting questions and great interaction throughout the afternoon.

The final hour of the session encompassed our game. In essence, the group of 26 students were split into teams of 6 and all invited to take part in a dummy reverse auction made up of 4 lots. Each student represented a supplier and their challenge was to bid on all four lots, winning the event for their company without falling below the minimum value threshold. The winning team won with two lots, still managed to make a bit of profit for the company and on top of that, received some chocolate as a prize.

Overall it was a great day for Market Dojo; we got to meet some of the next generation of potential business leaders, CEOs and entrepreneurs- maybe even some future Market Dojo employees, there were a lot of questions about our product and we struck up some good debate, we also learnt a bit about how eSourcing operates in different cultures.

The students gained some insight into the application of eAuctions and eSourcing and hopefully enjoyed learning about Market Dojo’s journey as much as we enjoyed hearing from them.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

Do’s and Don’ts of eTendering

We all owe it to the participants for an Online Negotiation Event to be run in a fair, open and expedient fashion.

To help you out, the Market Dojo team have created a guide which outlines the important factors you should have in mind whilst hosting your Event. The guide (which is free to download from the Market Dojo site) contains many more pointers, but here are our Top 3 Do’s and Don’ts to get you started.

Image result for dos and don'ts

Do…

1. Have honest intent.
As a Host moves forward with an Online Negotiation Event, there must not be an underlying motive to push one participant, but to be genuinely open for any participant to be successful. Participants will only be willing to commit themselves to an Event if they feel there is something to gain. Without your participants, you have no Event.

2. Include your internal stakeholders in the process.
This process is highly visible and auditable. Many people in the organization may be affected by the outcome and the last thing you need is difficulty in implementing the final decision. To avoid this, best practice dictates that you should involve your internal stakeholders early in the process, canvas their views and input to the process to gain their confidence and buy-in. Then any conclusion will be theirs as well and implementation of the final result will be easier. Compound this by inviting them to watch the online negotiation when it takes place.

3. Create a clear specification.
The creation of a clear specification will benefit all that take part in the Event. By clearly defining what is being negotiated via the Event will strengthen the Hosts position and help obtain the best possible result. All parties will be bidding on a like-for-like basis and since the risk is minimized, the Host can obtain the best solution.

Don’t…
1. Change major details just before an event.
We understand that anything can change as a Host moves through the process. Any major changes will be automatically communicated to the participants. However, in the interests of everyone, try to avoid changing major details in the closing stages before an Event. Not only will this de-motivate your participants, it might create an unfair playing field and affect your chances of obtaining the best result.

2. Change your process after the event.
Stay true to your process. For instance, if you have communicated that the lead bid wins, you must hold true to your word unless that participant has demonstrable flaws. If you are concerned about the final price, then set your qualification bid carefully or leave the choice of the final participant at your discretion, i.e. Host’s Choice.

3. Let participants bid after the event.
You have initiated a fair process which is clear and open to all. By letting participants bid after the event ruins your credibility, the professionalism, can affect your future events, and gives Online Negotiation Events a bad name.

If you follow this advice then your participants will appreciate the professionalism and courtesy with which you have conducted your Event and so will be more willing to extend the favour back to you. If, however, you don’t take heed of any of this advice, then be prepared for your participants to walk away.

For more Do’s, Don’ts and some fundamental Not Allowed, download the full guide from our resource page at marketdojo.com.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

5 years of eSourcing

Over the weekend, we surpassed our 5th year since our memorable incorporation on the 2nd August 2010.

There have been a number of fantastic achievements since our previous birthday that we’d like to share with you to mark this occasion:

Growth
Over the last 12 months our number of Host registrations has grown by 53% whilst our number of paying customers has seen an amazing increase of 104%!

As ever this is a healthy mix of public, private and third sector customers, both large and small.

Over the last 12 months we have brought some key skills in-house.  Predominantly our focus has been on Sales and Marketing, with Anya joining us in March, and a vacancy for our Account Executive role currently up for grabs.

With growth comes the need for new premises and that was another highlight for the year with our new home in Westend Offices in the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside.

Thankfully we don’t have to house everyone we work with.  Over the last year we’ve penned partnership agreements spanning the UK, Germany, France, Eastern Europe, Central America, US, Canada, Italy and the Middle East.  Our partners are doing a fantastic job of representing our brand, inviting us along to support their efforts including a memorable trip to the CIPS conference in Abu Dhabi.

Roadmap
Since our 4th birthday, we promised on our delivery of the Lot Matrix capability on the back of our LEP grant.   Many of our customers have given it whirl, eSourcing anything from office furniture, pipelines, wire harnessing, disposal units, mobile telecomms, print consumables, travel management etc.  Feedback so far has been fantastic, enabling our tool to really compete with the more sophisticated outfits, yet still for just £500 per month!

To keep up with our partners, we’ve released several new languages onto the site, including Slovenian and an improved German.  We’re also due to release Italian, Spanish, Croatian and Hungarian over the coming months.

The last 6 months have been hugely busy, pushing on with a brand new module – our fourth – courtesy of yet another client collaboration.  More to come on that later this summer in time for a September eWorld announcement, though one part of it was to include multi-evaluator scoring which we’re delighted to have released in July.

And finally…
Some other achievements include the selection of Market Dojo as a “2015 Great Supply Chain Partner” by the world’s most comprehensive supply chain management information resource, Supply Chain Brain.

Also a big congratulations to co-founder Nick Drewe for becoming a father after the birth of his daughter, Juniper.

So in summary it has been a fantastic year with a number of key milestones that have given us a stable platform to expand.  We are truly excited by what lies in store.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com.

The Making of our Viral Videos

Working with a local horror film producer we made a series of light-hearted videos to inject some humour into a procurement professionals day. The basic premise was based on various ways for a business to save money.

A Script and a Storyboard
As the raison d’etre was very simple, this was probably easier than most.  We would film a ‘before’ and ‘after’ sequence with different crazy ideas for savings money before realising that Market Dojo is the answer.

A Director and a Cameraman

Luckily we found someone who was all in one.

Lee is an Award Winning freelance Writer, Director, Camera Operator, Video Editor and Motion Graphics Designer. He has some great showreels that you can see here.

An Actor
We were very fortunate with Geoff Prewer stepping into the breach. A consummate actor with versatile skills. As you can see, not someone shy to put on some eyeliner.

A Crew
Made up of  Alun, Nick and Justyna from the Market Dojo team!

A Set 
It is amazing what you can do with a couple of plyboards, a lick of paint and photoshop.  By simply moving the boards we gave the impression that he is working in an office with no doors or windows for the ‘before’ shots.  if you look carefully you can see that the photo of Geoff’s family is made up entirely of Geoff!

The Production
We started off with a lot of ideas which were a lot of fun to come up with but in reality you just have to practice.In truth it is not our first effort to go viral.

Our first effort was the Ninja Lizard based on the Ninja Cat!

Maybe not subtle enough though.  Our second foray into the area was using the lovable ‘Cactus’ (a friendly Bearded Dragon) who comes up with some fancifulideas with an analogy to show Market Dojo is a new way of thinking.  Slightly more ‘off the wall’.

And this brings us on to the latest set of videos on saving money using our lovable but slightly deluded Andy Cipher (the name of our character).

Originally all our videos had a script although we found it far easier to keep it as simple as possible with no script.  Not quite the silent movies of Charlie Chaplin although they seem to work well.

We filmed them over two weekends.  The first weekend representing the ‘before’ shot with the hapless Andy Cipher thinking of some weird schemes to save the office money. The second weekend involved shooting the scenes where he has seen the light.

It is truly amazing to see what how much can be achieved with so little.  It really is contained within the eye of the beholder.

One of our favourite videos is using the force.  Why not have a look and tell us how we got the cup to move.  Was it magic?⇨

Another saw us manage to expertly place a pair of pants on poor Andys head. In 10 years time I am not sure what I will say about this episode in my life.

As Horror is Lee’s special forte, we couldn’t possibly leave out the obligatory zombie scene. You can see Nick makes a pretty mean undead… although which is which? ⇨

By far the most challenging was creating the scene where we created an office outdoors.  You might think that any field would do. However, driven by our more experienced director we were led to understand that for the right composition, the right lighting, the right background we had to carry all the equipment through the woods for the ultimate scene…

It didn’t help that we forgot the chair but pictured above above, the guys faithfully went to retrieve it. And as you can see from below, it did make a great final video.

The whole experience was incredibly rewarding and lots of hard work. Did we manage to create a viral sensation? Given our views it would seem not.  Have we brought a smile to the drudgery that is know as procurement, perhaps you can tell us?

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

eSourcing4U: how to set up an eSourcing centre of excellence

Before their unfortunate demise, Phones4U were a wonderful client of our eSourcing and opportunity assessment tools.  Their procurement team was lead by the experienced Sandip Modi who had implemented a multitude of eSourcing programmes in his previous roles.  We were privileged to have been chosen as the eSourcing provider at Phones4U due to our on-demand, affordable pricing, consumerised ease of use and hands-on support.

Sandip had a very clear vision of how the eSourcing programme could be rolled out across Phones4U.  The strategy was to create an eSourcing centre of excellence whereby the individual Category Managers would package up their procurement projects to feed into the eSourcing team to conduct the online negotiation.   Once the eSourcing event was complete, the results would be handed back to the Category Manager to implement.

This is a different strategy to how we’ve seen other organisations adopt eSourcing, where many look to give each Category Manager or procurement person the ability to run their own eSourcing events.

There are of course merits and drawbacks to each approach.

Typical approach
Typically we’ve seen that each member of the central procurement team would be given full remit to run their own eSourcing events.  The licence holders could be a mix of Category Managers, Procurement Managers, Supplier Relationship Managers, Buyers, Analysts, Marketing Managers, Legal, you name it.   As well as running the eSourcing events, they would be heavily involved in all their other procurement duties from category strategy, purchase-to-pay, supplier management, evaluation and implementation, contract management and so on.

The advantage of giving them direct access to the eSourcing tool is that it can empower the individual and raise their profile within the organisation; we’ve seen many a CEO of FTSE 500 organisations take an active interest in procurement’s eSourcing events.  The users gain additional expertise that can be called upon when needed, whether in their current role or the next.  Plus it’s a low cost way of training staff in best practice, especially if you ask your eSourcing provider to deliver this as part of their licence fee.  Lastly it means the individual has full remit across the entire procurement exercise and can use their in-depth knowledge to optimally conduct the eSourcing event without having to transfer their work to another person.

However the drawbacks do become obvious.  Since the eSourcing licence holders are so heavily involved in the myriad of other procurement duties, they quickly run out of time and capacity to administer the eSourcing events, even though the approach saves them time in the long run.  Fire-fighting becomes the order of play as opposed to strategic planning.  Fewer eSourcing opportunities arise, adoption reduces and before long the eSourcing tool is playing second-fiddle to the previous way of working.

Secondly since users dip into the tool on an ad hoc basis, they have little opportunity to become experts on the eSourcing process: be it the software, the guidance notes, the strategy or even support.  This can again inhibit the flow of the events and dry up the eSourcing pipeline, as it becomes a barrier instead of an enabler.

Recently we were talking with a FTSE 100 organisation that had purchased 40 user licences of an eSourcing tool (sadly not ours as yet!).  A year into that contract, only 1 of the 40 users regularly ran eSourcing events.  One!  I think that aptly sums up the downside of this approach.

Phones4U approach
By separating the roles of the eSourcing Managers from the rest of central procurement, it created a clear expectation that the procurement exercise would be conducted via an eSourcing event, unless there were valid exceptions.  The eSourcing Managers would proactively knock on the door of the Category Managers to ask for new projects, as this was their deliverable.  It greatly helped with adoption of the eSourcing process, and so it was no surprise that within months of our tool being taken up, all of the Category Managers were feeding their projects into it.

The Category Managers could continue to spend 100% of their time on the strategic aspects of the procurement, such as the opportunity assessment, spend analysis, stakeholder engagement, market information, creating robust tender documentation, supplier evaluation and so on.

The eSourcing Managers would spend 100% of their time on becoming experts with the tool, perfecting the eSourcing rules and guidelines, scoping the event strategy, managing the eSourcing events and conducting any reverse auctions.

The eSourcing team would be unencumbered by the internal politics and getting bogged down in the category strategy, project management, supplier award and implementation procedures that typically reduce the flow rate, i.e. adoption, of eSourcing.

By doing this, it was quite realistic that a single eSourcing Manager could handle over a dozen full-scale eSourcing events a month.  We’ve heard of several FTSE 100 companies that run fewer events than this across their entire team of 20+ eSourcing users!

Naturally there are some drawbacks.  The Category Managers are responsible for the procurement yet can feel peripheral to the more enjoyable aspects of using an eSourcing tool and running reverse auctions.   However that can be mitigated by adding the Category Managers as key viewers of the eSourcing events and holding the reverse auction days with everyone present.  This would also help promote the communication between the eSourcing team and the Category Managers on important tasks like supplier Q & A.

Furthermore, for an organisation to justify employing people who are solely dedicated to running eSourcing events, you must have confidence in both the eSourcing process and its suitability in the organisation.  This is where an experienced procurement professional like Sandip had seen time and again that eSourcing is a vital tool to help procurement deliver optimal results.  So instead of spending a fortune on say 40 eSourcing licences, you instead employ an eSourcing expert and a single licence to channel your events through the centre of excellence.

This may well mean we as Market Dojo only sell one or two licences to a FTSE organisation instead of 40, but ultimately we want you to succeed with your eSourcing initiative rather than profit from your struggles – and we promise you won’t find many providers that share that view!

That said, once the centre of excellence was underway at Phones4U, they had Category Managers knocking on their door asking to run the next project themselves, with the eSourcing team in support.  That’s the perfect next step for rolling out the process to the wider community.

Now we’ve shared our views, which approach would you take in your organisation and why?

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com.

CIPS Middle East welcomes Market Dojo

Some exciting news fresh off the press is that we shall be attending the CIPS Middle East conference on the 11th May 2015 in Abu Dhabi.

This is courtesy of a generous invitation from our regional partner, ArcBlue / PMMS Consulting, who are sponsoring the event.

Their Dubai-based team provides a range of support to clients including training, organisational assessment, process development, coaching and mentoring, capability assessment and general advisory.   PMMS are also the sole provider of training services for CIPS in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region and have been using our tools as a training aid for the workshops.

We feel that the Middle East is an exciting market for us, given the extreme ease of use of our tools to benefit those who are less familiar with eSourcing.   Coupled with our very low entry price of just £500, there is a real opportunity for companies to give it a try with negligible downside.

So, if you are also due to attend the event or shall be in either Dubai or Abu Dhabi over that period, please do let us know so we can arrange to meet.  We have a few days spare during our flying visit and would welcome the chance to speak with as many of you as possible to lure us away from the pristine beaches!

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

AND THE WINNER IS…

At eWorld on Tuesday 3rd March, visitors that came to our stand entered their businesses cards into our prize draw to be in with a chance of winning one Market Dojo Licence, encompassing an ENTIRE MONTH of full access to Market Dojo for one user with a value of £500!

At the end of the day, I pulled the lucky card from our jar (as you can see from the video featuring Alun and myself).

And so, our winner is…

…. Zael Prestel from Barclays bank! CONGRATULATIONS Zael! We hope you enjoy using our eSourcing software and can’t wait to see how your first eAuction goes!

If you entered our competition and unfortunately were not succesful, there will be another opportunity to win a license on 22nd September when we return to eWorld. So make sure you pop by the stand and say hello!

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

eWorld March 2015 – A Procurement Rookie’s Perspective

As of Monday 2nd March, I became Market Dojo’s first official employee and the very next day, my knowledge and skills were put to the test as I awoke to my alarm at 4am for my journey to eWorld!

Market Dojo has attended nine eWorlds to date, however this was my very first visit to the exhibition. Coming from a marketing background with little experience of the Procurement industry, I found the day incredibly insightful, extremely beneficial and as I wandered round the stands, chatting to various suppliers/competitors/partners, everyone was really friendly and keen to teach me about the ins and outs of the world of Procurement.

As we made our way from Westminster tube to the conference, I was introduced to Mr Peter Smith from Spend Matters, whom we later got a chance to show our new Lot Matrix to, and we carried on our merry way to the conference. Upon arrival, we were greeted with a free gammon roll (many thanks to the eWorldteam), a cup of coffee and began to load our stand up with our promotional material. We shared our stand with one of our partners, the consultancy firmBaker Wanless, and I met one of the consultants, the lovely Angela Olszewska.

A fantastic stream of people passed by the stand as we were situated next to the entrance.  As a result, we were never at a loss for people to speak to, demo to and just generally chat to about our love of e-sourcing and e-auctions!

I attended a talk by Tania Seary of Procurious about the benefits of Social Media to the Procurement world and watched her handle some pretty tough questioning from a few fellow  listeners which opened up an interesting debate.

As far as conferences and trade shows go, I have attended a few in my time in various sectors of business and this BY FAR has been one of the most dynamic, welcoming and (most importantly) successful that I have experienced.

We look forward to following up with all the people we met and bring on eWorld 2015!
About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

Two firsts for the second of March

Today is the second of March and spring is on its way. It’s also a landmark day for Market Dojo with two firsts to celebrate.

By Jongleur100 (Own work) , via Wikimedia Commons

As we have grown we have used offshore teams, agencies, consultants, contractors, interms and even MBA graduates as it has given us an ability to flex as we grow. However today we welcome our first permanent employee! We are very excited to bring Anya into the team. She will be helping us with our Sales & Marketing efforts.

Today is also the first day for our new office, in Stonehouse near Stroud. In the past we have successfully been using the Bristol Business Science park and also working remotely, using cloud technologies to collaborate. Now we felt the time had come where we need a more permanent location where we can drive the business forward. The location is perfect and you are always welcome to come visit us.

So, like the weather here in Stonehouse, we are feeling sunny and upbeat.

PS we are exhibiting at eWorld in London tomorrow.  Do please come and say hello if you are attending.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

Auctioning the elderly – what is the real story?

CC Image courtesy of Kevin Dooley

The Daily Mail recently published an article about how elderly people had been auctioned off to care homes on the internet.

Of course, the Daily Mail specialise in creating provocative content which people will want to read. This article received 740 comments, which is far better than my average blog post.
Market Dojo does not provide the IT system identified in the article. We did want to provide an alternative viewpoint on the story.

So, lets take the key points in turn…

At least a dozen local authorities are listing vulnerable people’s details
There doesn’t seem to be any suggestion that the local authorities are sharing details with anyone other than those approved to see them. Indeed, the registration process seems to be very thorough. In common with Market Dojo, only approved companies would get access to the details of the event. These details would be required in any kind of tender process to enable to vendors to bid accurately against the requirement.

Ages and care needs including medication sent to up to 100 care firms
Well, yes. It is wise to provide details if you want to find a provider who can care for the person based on their individual needs.  I am quite sure that an ethical firm would require this information before they would be able to provide an offer of care for someone. Without knowing their individual needs, how could they be expected to provide proper care for them? Using an electronic approach allows you to spread the net wider, which means finding a better match for the individual’s needs and the auction element of this is simply for the last stage to negotiate the price.

They pick which people to bid for – and cheapest offer nearly always wins
Yes, this isn’t suprising.  Generally this only happens after the following steps have taken place:

– The suppliers have been screened to ensure they can offer the level of care which is required.
– The screened suppliers have assessed the persons needs to ensure they can provide the appropriate level of  care.
– All suppliers have agreed to meet the required SLA’s (Service Level Agreements)

This makes it unlikely that the cheapest supplier is offering an inferior level of care. In fact, by comparing bids from several suppliers, it is easy to identify anyone who is cutting corners and offering a much lower price than everyone else.

‘eBay-style’ system ‘awful’ and ‘just uncivilised’
The comments seem to refer to the funding crisis for elderly care. This is a cause I completely support and commend Roz Altman for speaking out on this issue. For local authorities who have been tasked with using fewer resources more efficiently, a reverse auction makes a lot of sense. The process can be completed faster, leaving the clients and their families with a shorter period of uncertainty at a very difficult time. By putting strict quality criteria in place (a point mentioned but not emphasied in the article) the local authority get the best possible standard of care, whilst ensuring that private companies are not able to make excessive  profits at the taxpayers expense. Again it should be noted that this is no different from any tender process except by the use of an auction the negotiation is more efficient, and not to mention completely transparent.

Health group leader: ‘It’s an absolute disgrace – it’s like a cattle market’
It wasn’t clear to me why the system had been compared to a cattle market. I suspect that this was because an auction was used to match them with care firms. Whilst it’s true that cattle markets use an auction approach, I think that is really where the similarity ends. An auction is an efficient and fair method to identify the best match for a specific set of requirements. Whilst price is a factor, auctions can also consider quality factors as the councils quoted in the article clearly said.

The article did raise some serious issues where vulnerable people had been sent to homes which were zero rated on a councils own quality scale. I’m glad that these problems were highlighted. I would have liked to see more investigation into the reasons why. When used correctly, an auction can help prevent this type of issue. They provide a clear view of the different choices available. I think it’s quite wrong to relate these issues with the use of an auction system for the sake of a good headline.  In fact this is far more related to how the SLA was defined and how the contract was awarded and managed.

In summary
– Unlike eBay, the details shared on reverse auction systems are only available to companies who are approved to see them and who have agreed to the SLA’s
– Using an online tool simply increases efficiency. It saves time and money allowing those resources to be used in other areas.  In reality the process is no different from any paper based tender.
– Auctions are an efficient method to find the best offering for a particular set of needs. They do not need to focus only on price.
– Contract management needs to be carefully reviewed to ensure all SLA’s are adhered to following the tender. Any suppliers deviating from these would not be a result of the method for price submission but rather refers to their attention to detail and rigor during the tender process.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

A brand new application of the reverse auction

The concept of the reverse auction has been around for close to 20 years and is a well-known approach to negotiating effectively with multiple suppliers.

However, the Morning Star Scholarship Foundation utilised the reverse auction for an entirely new and creative concept that we have not encountered before – to negotiate scholarships towards tuition fees!  Read on to learn more about this innovative idea lead by Mike Sertic and his colleagues at the Morning Star Scholarship Foundation.

The Morning Star Company is the world’s leading tomato ingredient processor, supplying approximately 40% of the U.S. industrial tomato paste and diced tomato markets.

They operate the Morning Star Scholarship Foundation, a charitable organisation that provides tuition grants to Morning Star colleagues (parents) to help fund their child’s switch from public to private or home school education, a very noble cause.

The Foundation was looking for a way to increase the number of scholarships they could offer to parents within the $15,000 funding allowance that wasperiodically available.

They decided to contact Market Dojo, an e-Sourcing software provider focusing on user adoption, to try a closed-market auction as a solution to this, by letting parents compete in a reverse auction to determine their willingness to secure a grant.

The concept was that the auction would begin at a maximum grant of $3,000 per child, at which point the total available pot of $15,000 would provide 5 scholarships.   However, because there would be more parents bidding thanthere were available grants, parents could use the ranked auction as an opportunity to bid incrementally lower amounts to ensure themselves of a top 5 position and secure a grant. The difference between the $3,000 opening bid and the bid offered by the parent would be paid for by the parent themself.

For example, assuming the cost of the child’s tuition was $3,000, if a parent bid $2,700 to stay within the top 5 places, the parent would be committing to contribute $300 of their own money towards their child’s education, with $2,700 coming directly from the Morning Star Foundation.

The auction would continue until it hit a point where the average grant across the top 6 spots equalled $2,500.  For this amount, the $15,000 total fund would now be able to provide 6 scholarships in total, hence any parent ranked in the top 6 spots would be granted a scholarship for their child.  Should the auction reach an average of $2,142 across the top 7 spots, there would be 7 scholarships on offer, and so on.  Parents were to be notified of the news via the messaging facility in the application.

Since the parents who were bidding in the auction were essentially consumers and not e-Procurement professionals, it was essential that the software was extremely easy to use and consumer-friendly.  Mike Sertic, who managed the process for Morning Star in a highly adept manner, conducted a series of trials to ensure everyone was up to speed with the concept:

“Prior to the auction, we utilized the neat “Sandpit” feature within Market Dojo for colleagues to practice and also held an informational webcast about the Foundation and auction process.”

Absorbing all the feedback from the trials, two live auctions were conducted in late March over a 48 hour duration involving 16 competing parents in total.  Each auction represented a pot of $15,000, which when combined would be able to provide 10 scholarships.  Upon completion of the two auctions, which received over 270 bids, we were delighted to hear from Mike:

“This year we will be awarding $28,789 for a total of 14 scholarships. We hope that in the future, even more colleagues will make the switch to private or home school.  The Morning Star Foundation’s effort in implementing this program was made much easier by the folks at Market Dojo.”

Parents were equally supportive of the process, filling in the Market Dojo post-auction survey with very encouraging comments:

“Awesome way to be fair to all colleagues!”, “It is a very generous offer that others could benefit from” and “The process is very user-friendly”.

This was an excellent achievement and only made possible through the team’s vision in taking an existing process and modifying it for new solutions.  Mike and his colleagues have used this novel approach to enable an additional 4 children, bringing the total to 14 children, to benefit from the generosity of the Morning Star Scholarship Foundation this year.

As for the reverse auction, it’s great to see innovative ways for it to be used.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com.

The eSourcing eVolution: Part I – The Past

This is part one of a three piece blog providing an in-depth analysis of the evolution of eSourcing around the question:
“What would Market Dojo be like today if it had started 10 years earlier?”

The Year 2000. The Millennium.
Throughout the year and across the globe, monumental events were taking place such as George Bush becoming president of the US by a slim margin, the Olympic Games being hosted in Australia and in the UK, Big Brother graced our screens for the first time (Yay).

One event (of even greater relevance than Big Brother) which cannot be ignored was the collapse of the dotcom bubble.

Mesmerised by the sweet bliss of dotcom, eCommerce companies such as Boo.com, Pets.com and Toysmart.com were thriving from investment. Little did they know that their demise was swiftly encroaching and soon they would become mere ghosts of their former triumphs.

Amazon and Ebay were entering their 5th year with seemingly little hope for the future. On 22nd June, the Lehman Brothers Inc. debt analyst Ravi Suria released a scandalous report on Amazon’s predicted loss and the future of the eMarketplace, and the entirety of the World Wide Web at that point in time looked pretty bleak.

The price of technology was just too much to sustain at that point, the price of marketing was far too high and the volume of people using the web was simply not great enough. The business world had got carried away and over-invested in the dotcom concept at a time when demand was simply too low.

So what was happening in the procurement world? What was eSourcing like?
Until 2000, the emphasis had been on on-premise software solutions. These came with many benefits at the time such as the company having ultimate control over all their systems, potentially sensitive data being stored internally and having a dedicated team of IT staff available for support. However on-premise solutions did come with its own set of problems. One main concern was integrating the various software vendors. One solution to this was that companies merged together or were bought out to form a few major software suites who could provide an all-in-one solution that met every purchasing need a company could possibly desire. For example, Ariba acquiring Freemarkets (who pioneered managed eAuctions) for $493 million in 2004 (who later sold it to Accenture for $51M, showing how eAuctions became more commoditized).

With the formation of these large conglomerates, the intrinsic values (such as usability and maintenance) of the original software providers were somewhat lost, as the companies were stretched and their focus moved away from the customers’ needs to company growth and management. The phrase “one throat to choke” was coined as users gradually became more infuriated with the amalgamated giants and sought one person to blame for the myriad of problems that occurred. Fortunately, alongside this thunderstorm that was unfurling, the dawn of cloud computing was on the horizon and the sunshine of a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution was the prize at the end of the rainbow.

The Cloud
Cloud computing refers to the ability to host applications (software) online. Surprisingly, the Millennium did not provide the first emergence of cloud technology. As early as the 1950s, cloud computing was present in the form of large-scale mainframe computers, VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) encompassed cloud technology in the 90s, but the most recent is the Millennium version which we use today which has revolutionised technology as we previously knew it by driving on-premise platforms to a slow demise.

There are many benefits of implementing cloud tools such as reduced costs, reduced on-site support, and eradication of long-winded clunky updates with difficult roll-outs. The latter, being the most note-worthy in the B2B environment, has enabled companies to quickly and easily attain best of breed solutions from niche suppliers due to integration issues being drastically reduced. The majority of us use single sign-on as consumers with Gmail, Twitter and Facebook when signing in to third-party applications. Market Dojo itself uses this today to easily toggle between our different tools: Market Dojo, Category Dojo, Innovation Dojo and SIM Dojo.

As the cloud began to re-form, the procurement world started to analyse the ‘one stop shop’ solution and was able to look at the new areas and take advantage of integrating best of breed P2P, eSourcing and ERP solutions. So what would Market Dojo have done if it had started in the year 2000 instead of in 2010? Who better to ask than a Market Dojo co-founder…

I asked Alun Rafique, one of the co-founders alongside Nick Drewe and Nicholas Martin, a series of questions around eSourcing in the year 2000 and Market Dojo’s position had they formed the company then.

In summary Alun hypothesised:
Market Dojo as we know it today would not have been possible. Technology at this time was not advanced enough to allow the SaaS model that Market Dojo has adopted to be easily designed, built, hosted and used in a profitable way. Realistically, SaaS only became reliable for these types of application around 2005 and this would have prohibited the accessibility of the tool. Obviously you did have some players who started in SaaS such as Salesforce around the year 2000 but this type of application (CRM) avoided some of the challenges with eProcurement such complex events set up with interaction in real time between many parties and also the type of data that would be securely held would generally be less critical. Also eMail programs like Hotmail were around before this but again their reach into the B2B IT infrastructure was limited. Companies, with large IT departments and internal layers, were just not set up to take on the paradigm shift and use online eSourcing programs in lieu of on-premise, at least not in the volume that would be needed to make a SaaS company grow.

eSourcing at the time was only adopted by huge companies within the framework of large procurement software packages with EDI links to suppliers. As Market Dojo is very much a best of breed solution, this was not something that was desirable at the time as the technology to easily integrate these tools was simply not there.

In 2000, eSourcing, as done through these large providers, used a strange mix of electronic and paper-based solutions. While elements such as the tender itself were carried out electronically, the fulfilment to the supplier was carried out via paper. The full advantages of eTendering would therefore not have been fully utilised with this multi-channel approach.

If Market Dojo had started at this time, it would have most likely been an on-premise solution, there would have been a need to form EDIs with suppliers (specific electronic links) and as it moved forward, it would have had to use email as a means of communication. There would have been large implementation and training costs, limiting the software to large MNCs and creating barriers for smaller companies. Also large consultative part would have been necessary.

It would have been possible to perhaps form Market Dojo in 2005 with SaaS developing at this time and communication with suppliers would have improved in that 5 year period, however the SaaS-based model at this time was extremely expensive and less flexible than it was in 2010 when Market Dojo formed. Web development costs would have been exorbitant due to the complexity of what would be required compared to the skill base and programming options available at the time.

Nick Drewe, fellow co-founder of Market Dojo stated:
“We rely heavily on clever plug-ins and external tech (OAuth, Highcharts, etc.) that may not have been around then, so our product would not have been as slick.

In turn this means we wouldn’t have been able to address what we wanted to: adoption. Our offering would have been a consultancy service with some neat in-house kit as opposed to a self-service software solution. We would have been focusing on a different pain, be it lack of resources or experience to run strategic projects or failure to hit cost reduction targets. Our time would be largely spent on educating the market and getting to engage with pioneers in the space.

This means it isn’t really a software model but a consultancy one. Our entire philosophy would be different.

We would have to charge high fees to offer a bespoke service per client, and the software would play second fiddle, as we see with software packages today that were designed in the late nineties.”

It seems like the year 2010 provided pretty good entry to the SaaS eSourcing market for Market Dojo due to the paradigm shift in the market to bring these technologies in house, allowing an affordable model with a focus on ease of adoption and bringing the benefits to the end user.

Had the co-founders sat down in the year 2000 to create Market Dojo, there would have been various options in terms of releasing an on-premise version or a primitive SaaS solution. Although it can be agreed that neither outcome would come anywhere close to what we have in place today.

In the second part of this 3 piece feature, we shall examine the current eSourcing market and what Market Dojo would have been like today if born in 2000, and how different it would look in comparison with the Market Dojo that actually exists today.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

Odesma Ltd and Market Dojo Announce Alliance

Here is some exciting news of our new alliance with Odesma, as first published on their website here.  However you can read about it below.

By Ed Cross on Thursday, January 8th, 2015.

Odesma Ltd are pleased to announce their first partnership with leading e-Sourcing SaaS solution provider Market Dojo. The agreement will give Odesma, its customers and network the opportunity to utilise a best of breed, easy to use procurement sourcing solution to deliver value from third party spend fast and efficiently.

Nick Drewe; Co-Founder of Market Dojo said: “We are hugely excited to be partnering with Odesma to support them with this novel business model.  The team behind Odesma have such a fantastic track record and passion for procurement best practice that we are very proud to have been selected as their technology partner”.

Ed Cross; Managing Director, Odesma Ltd stated: “We view Market Dojo‘s solution as having all of the facets required in today’s market to deliver breakthrough value from third party spend. The solution is incredibly practical, founded on real World experience and very easy to use”.

Odesma is a new breed of advisory business whose goal is to help clients create immediate and sustainable improvements in the performance of their business. This is done through a combination of experience and application of the best talent and technology in the market. Business & procurement solutions are enabled through the unique Procurement PeopleCloud TM.

Market Dojo is a dynamic UK company that offers intelligent procurement applications, covering eSourcing, Opportunity Assessment and Innovation, that are affordable and on-demand.

For further information, please contact:
Odesma Ltd
Ed Cross, Co-Founder.  Steve Trainor, Co-Founder
Tel: 0161 433 7833 www.odesma.co.uk
MarketDojo
Nick Drewe, Co-Founder,
Tel: 0117 230 9200,
www.marketdojo.com

Technology in the year 2000!

We thought it would be interesting to look back at some of the leading tech at the turn of the millennium, things that we’ve all no doubt used in our past daily lives.

We’ve handpicked some categories, each with a perfect example to help jog our memories.  Find out at the end why this is relevant to us all in procurement!

Mobile phone

The Nokia 3310 sold over 126 million models, by far the best selling phone in 2000.   Featuring an 84 x 48 pixel monochrome screen and talk-time of up to 4.5 hours, it also had a range of novel features such as a calculator, stop watch and Snake II.

Laptop

One of the leading laptop brands as we entered the year 2000 (without much sign of that millennium bug, we should add) was the Sony VAIO.   Take this little beauty for example, the VAIO PCG-SRX99 (circa 2001).   It had an 850 MHz processor, a whopping 256 MB of RAM and a boggling 20GB of storage.   However the latest tech came with a hefty price tag of around $1,500.

Incidentally the iPhone 3GS, first introduced in 2009, pretty much matched this laptop’s spec, which just goes to show how technology leaps on.

Web browsers

Internet Explorer 5 was one of the main participants in the browser war that unfurled between Microsoft and Netscape.  This IE held over 50% market share by early 2000, increasing up to 80% by the time IE6 came out in 2001.  Over 1000 people worked on IE5 during its development, putting the finishing touches to features like a Search Explorer bar, autocomplete and offline favourites.

Microsoft Office

With the catchy name of Office 2000, Microsoft wanted to embrace the Web in their latest office product.  Looking back on it, their crystal ball was working well that day.  There was also an enhanced Open and Save dialog box, customisable menus and self-repairing capability in case it became corrupted – very smart indeed!

And of course we all remember this guy, who got a bit of a face-lift:

Microsoft Windows

In vogue at the turn of the millennium was Windows ME.  Supporting 16-bit colour icons, a brand new Windows Movie Maker and even an on-screen keyboard for tablets(!!), there was a real emphasis on usability in this product for both consumers and businesses alike.

So why mention all these? 
Now you’ve revisited all the above, we hope we’re correctly assuming that you’re not still using any of these products.  Technology has moved on to such an extent that these are nothing more than old relics to amuse ourselves by.

And yet how many of you are still using procurement software that dates from the same era?

Sure, there might have been various ‘new releases’ along the way, but typically these are nothing more than a few enhancements and bug fixes.  They are unlikely to be a complete refactoring, certainly not on the scale of the 1000 Microsoft staff who worked on IE5.   Try comparing Windows 8 to the Windows ME example above and you get a sense they practically come from different planets.

However, a lot of procurement software is fundamentally the same as it was back then, even if new terms like ‘cloud’, ‘SaaS’, ‘intuitive’ and ‘real-time’ have been inserted into their revamped website literature.

Therefore the next time you’re looking invest in procurement software, research into whether you’re about to buy the Nokia 3310 in the age of the smartphone.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

5 Security Questions to ask your SaaS provider

When evaluating Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions one of the most important things to consider is security.

Our customers usually ask about security as part of their evaluation process.  We thought it would be interesting to compile our list of the top 5 questions to ask. When using a SaaS solution your information will pass through several systems.  Your data will be passed from an application front end (often a web browser), across the Internet to a server in a data centre where it will be stored. Each step in the process has risks associated with it. Each risk has precautions that should be used to mitigate it.

Image result for security

1. What security features are built into the application?
The provider should be able to explain how the authentication (to identify who a user is) and authorization (to identify what a user is allowed to see) systems work within their application.
They should also be able to explain what audit systems are in place, so that there is a way to determine how changes to your data occurred.

They should also be able to give details of how they perform Quality Assurance (QA) to test the security of the application.

2. How is communication across the Internet secured?
Any sensitive data should be transferred using the https rather than http protocol.  This guarantees that your data cannot be intercepted and understood by a third party.  The https protocol requires use of an SSL certificate from a provider such as Thawte.  SSL Security costs are a small price to pay in order keep your data secure.

3. How secure is our data on your servers?
Using a SaaS provider usually means that your data will be held in a location that is not under your direct control. The provider should be able to give assurances about the standard of security they adhere to. This information should include:
• What system testing is performed to ensure the data is secure?
• How do you track who has access to our data?
• What policies and procedures are in place to ensure that data is disposed of securely?
• What physical controls are there to limit access to the datacentre where your data is held?
• Where is my data physically held?

You should be aware of what data privacy laws exist in the country where your data is held; and your company may have rules around what data can leave the country.

4. What accreditations do you have?
Accreditations show that the provider takes security seriously, and have been audited by a 3rd party.

There is a range of accreditations relating to the security standards in place. For example, ISO 27001 for Security Management and ISO 20000 for Service Management, BS25999 for Business Continuity and Data Recovery. You can also ask about what other customers they have which may require a high level of security, for example the UK Government give services a ranking according to how secure the data they are cleared to hold.

5. What is your Disaster Recovery Plan?
Although we hope a Disaster Recovery (DR) plan never has to be carried out, it is important that one is in place. Understanding the DR plan ensures you can assess the potential impact on your business.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

What’s great about our auction platform?

We are very proud of our eAuction platform.  It was our initial business proposition and still draws in the crowds.  We have users from companies ranging from one million in turnover to many billions, running tenders on all types of goods and services from values of thousands to hundreds of millions.

No other platform gives gives you the ability to call in in the morning and run an auction in the afternoon without the need to train the suppliers.  We recognise that preparing for an eAuction can be challenging, and the system should help with this challenge, not be an additional hurdle to overcome.

Our platform also has many capabilities from including a Pre Qualification Questionnaire to weighted auctions. See more of our functionality here.

However, in this blog we really wanted to show you the cool parts of our interface. (Click here for the video)

Overview:
This is an overview of the eAuction screen. Colourful, compact and nearly everything is ‘click-able’ for further information, which can be seen in the following images.

Settings
These can be changed live during an auction.  You can see the pause button and also the ability to change the heart of the eAuction settings such as the duration, the dynamic close, changing who it applies to and also altering the min and max bid decrements.

Live feed
We have a great live feed to keep you up to date with the goings on without the need to look at all the lots individually.  It is also there for the suppliers so they can see the latest and greatest.

Lot Matrix – ‘The summary’
See an overview of the event from a lot perspective with bespoke total calculations.
Notice the ‘stock market’ type updates highlighting where the bids have been placed.

Lot Matrix – ‘The lines’
See the event overview from a line item perspective with a click of a button.

Lot Matrix – ‘The suppliers’
See the line items by supplier.

Lot Matrix – ‘The detail’
Lastly, with another click, you can see the suppliers, by component, by line item in real time during the eAuction

Other features
See who is active, send messages, place proxy bids and you have the ability to delete bids all from within the auction interface

See the graphs
Check out your results graphically displayed in real time.  No need to wait for a periodic refresh as we use new technology to display bids as soon as they come in.

If you want to see this for yourself then you can simply sign up for free and try everything out in our sandpit.  Welcome to the Dojo!

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

Some of the things we’ve seen @ the Dojo!

As we now enter into our fifth year of business, we’d like to share with you some of the more unusual goods and services that we’ve seen tendered via our software!
For example, foodstuff seems to be a recurring category of choice.  We’ve witnessed eAuctions on anything from gourmet cheese, whipped deserts, biscuits, cooked chicken, banana purée and even pet food!

eSourcing prevents you making a dog’s dinner of your negotiation

It certainly makes the weekly shop more interesting, as we know the back-story of how that supplier’s products came to be on the shelves.

We’ve encountered eAuctions on goods that we will never fathom, such as ‘Gas Spuds’ or our personal favourite ‘Pig Launcher/Receiver’.

The infamous pig launcher

We truly hoped it might be something to do with Angry birds or perhaps even a fantastic device for aerially transporting swine from A to B in a highly efficient manner.  Sadly we have since been told it is something to do with cleaning industrial pipelines.

Speaking of industrial, we’ve witnessed a number of eAuctions for items that seem like your everyday, run-of-the-mill product but quite simply aren’t!   Dishwashers that can clean up to 3000 dishes per hour.  Ice machines that produce up to 24,500 ice cubes per day!  These are quite serious pieces of kit.

Then we move onto quite literally life-saving products that have been reverse auctioned.  Vaccines, medicines, drugs, medical sutures.  The old adage seems to apply: if you have a liquid supply market and you can define precisely what you need, you can auction it.

Sometimes reverse auctions can be a tough pill to swallow

Something we hear quite a bit on our travels is that only commodities or products can be eAuctioned.  Well, looking through some of our past successful events, it would appear that not everyone holds this view.  We’ve had auctions on pre-employment checks, canteen services, voice outsourcing services, print management and design agency services amongst many others. Our Lot Matrixcan give you the detail required for those complex tenders with many pricing aspects.

Training and consulting seem popular choices as well, from contract management training to general management consulting.  It goes to show that not everything needs a like-with-like spec as you can instead opt for a weighted auction to normalise the proposals.
Anyhow, back to bizarre stuff.  There have been quite a few auctions on dangerous chemicals including quite a worrying amount of Sodium Hydroxide.   Add to that the Aluminium Chlorohydrate and Potassium Permanganate and it sounds like we have something from Breaking Bad!

Hope you ran a reverse auction for that stuff

Before we go too off-piste, let’s end with a couple of interesting automotive items we’ve seen eAuctioned, such as machined parts for Maserati, BMW brake pedals, golf carts, fork-lift trucks and some shiny new transit vans.

Lastly, we’ve seen a fair few construction and extension tenders, including the house extension and loft conversion for Market Dojo’s very own Nick Drewe.

As for what is next going to be tendered via Market Dojo, I think you can see for yourselves that it is anyone’s guess!

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

A round-up of our conference season

The last 4 weeks have been exceptionally busy for us all at Market Dojo as we firmly enter into the conference season!

eWorld September 2014 

Firstly we exhibited at the eWorld event on the 24th September, where one of our clients, Milla from Creative Education (seen above), held a talk on how to encourage innovative solutions with suppliers using social media to create best value for both parties.  The talk was very well received, as echoed by Supply Management in their article here.

The rest of the event flew by in a blur as usual.  There were plenty of familiar faces plus a few new ones as well.  We heard mixed reviews on the quality of the talks, with the usual feedback that some sponsors just can’t help but use the center stage as a chance to sell their solutions instead of engaging their audience with novel ideas and approaches.

As always we ran the prize draw for our customary one month eSourcing licence, which was won by Mark Revell at East Thames Group:

CIPS Annual Conference
Just a week later we found ourselves once again manning the stand, this time in the recently opened 155 Bishopsgate venue on Liverpool St.

And what an excellent venue it was, spaciously spread out over one level with the conference rooms feeding directly off the main exhibition and catering space.  The food was tremendous, especially the ham and cheese toastie with a fried egg on top served in canapé proportions!

Both delegates and sponsors have to pay to attend this conference, and you could tell judging by the quality of the entire event, from the venue to the food to the speakers.  Many delegates had travelled far and wide, particularly from regions with a growing CIPS presence such as Africa and the Middle East.

There was even a ‘celebrity’ talk to round the event off, given by Jay Rayner, a regular judge on Masterchef.  His presentation focused on debunking the myths in food supply chain and was an excellent light-hearted way to end the day.

The winner of our free prize draw this time was none other than Kemi Ore from Trinity-Led Ventures.  Congrats Kemi!

Procurement Summit 2014
To round off our exhibiting this side of 2015, you’ll be able to find us in Manchester at the Procurement Summit event on the 11th November.  Please do visit our stand to learn what new features we’ve been working on and of course to drop your name in the hat for our unique prize draw worth £500!

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

See what the Doctor says…

We would like to thank Sourcing Innovation for two great blog posts on Market Dojo. The Sourcing Innovation blog was started in June of 2006, is authored and edited by Michael Lamoureux, aka the doctor, a Computer Science PhD who has been heavily involved in the Sourcing and Supply

A Dojo Where You Can Walk Your Own Way
marketdojo is a company that many of you haven’t heard of and a company that I’m sure many of you who have heard of them dismissed because of the Western notion of what a dojo is. In western thought, a dojo is believed to be a training school for Japanese martial arts where students to to learn from a sensei. So when you hear marketdojo, the first thing you probably think of is a training school for (e-)commerce best practices and a services company — not a do-it-your-self SaaS e-Sourcing platform.

But that is what marketdojo is — a state-of-the-art do-it-yourself e-Negotiation suite that supports complex RFX and e-Auction events as well as integration with their categorydojo product that helps a user determine appropriate sourcing strategies for each category and prioritize those categories based on the expected size of the opportunity.

Read more here

A Dojo Where You Can Plan your Own Path
In our last post, we introduced you to marketdojo, a state-of-the-art do-it-yourself e-Negotiation suite that supports complex RFX and e-Auction events as well as integration with their categorydojo product that helps a user determine appropriate sourcing strategies for each category and prioritize those categories based on the expected size of the opportunity.

In yesterday’s post, we described their basic marketdojo product which consists of an RFX and e-Auction offering (which supports multiple RFX types and Auctions). Today we are going to discuss their categorydojo product, which is one of the two real differentiators between them and the other players targeting the low-end of the e-Sourcing market (in an effort to bring smaller companies out of the Purchasing Dark Ages where some still remain).

Read more here.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

Complex eSourcing with our Lot Matrix, what do you think? (see our videos)

Two years of development has resulted in our most ambitious release yet. The Lot Matrix allows you to build very complex sourcing events, very easily. Here are some videos, please have a look and let us know what you think?

Introducing the Lot Matrix – General overview

Creating advanced lots – How to create a complex sourcing event

Managing an event with advanced lots – What does a live event look like

Bidding in an advanced lot – How does a participant bid

Lot Matrix Demo – See the whole process to music

Our Lot Matrix allows you to build complex lots with different line items, components and include totals with bespoke calculations. You essentially start with a cell and grow a full matrix around this to cope with almost any scenario. You can create different unit of measure sets, chose which cells are ranked and we will be releasing mutli currency very soon and transformation bidding close after. As always we make things simple from the participant bidding side with excel upload and the host has the ability to see all the detail in real time during an auction. You can read more here.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

Communication with suppliers key to driving innovation

(Editor’s note:  this article was first published by Supply Management and is a review of a seminar given at eWorld Purchasing & Supply by a client of ours, Milla Harloff-Bernyk from Creative Education.)

By understanding suppliers’ needs, teacher training provider Creative Education has been able to reduce procurement spend without compromising on quality.

When faced with squeezed budgets as a result of the economic crisis, the firm’s procurement manager Milla Harloff-Bernyk said she used innovation to make sure the company could still offer the same service.

She said she was determined not to drop quality – for example using budget hotels as venues instead of Marriot Hotels – because she knew how much the customers valued the experience.
Harloff-Bernyk told delegates at the eWorld Purchasing & Supply conference in London yesterday she made use of an e-sourcing platform from Market Dojo to free up her team’s time for “human interaction and communication”.

“I believe the data is good, software is brilliant but without adoption it’s not going to happen,” she said. “So that’s why we have used something that suppliers will find very user-friendly and easy to interact with.”

Please read the full article in Supply Management here.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

Mini-competitions to drive Savings within Frameworks

Many senior professionals in the public sector feel that mini-competitions in Frameworks are not used enough, resulting in “less than competitive” pricing compared to wider external markets.

Like many other providers, Market Dojo has tried to address this market gap with careful developments. To date we have had considerable success with Bedford Borough Council, Kent County Council and Shropshire Council.

There is an opportunity for the new breed of eSourcing providers to evolve their functionality in order to broaden their appeal beyond the Private Sector. Essentially to apply their methodology and provide low-cost, EU-compliant and fully auditable tools that can assist Public Sector organisations across all member states of the European Union. One particular problem area to address is where Frameworks have underperformed (amongst other things).

The majority of orders raised within the frameworks are from ‘call offs’ for which there is obviously scope for increasing their competitiveness by using mini-competitions. Mini-competitions, and hence weighted auctions, are currently not readily used due to the complexity of current systems, so this represents a massive opportunity.

Please read more here on procurement Insights

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

Market Dojo celebrate their 4th birthday!

Over the weekend we achieved our latest milestone of completing our 4th successful year of Market Dojo.

Starting from nothing 4 years ago and investing a lot of our time and energy, we are very proud to reflect upon what we’ve created.  When working at the coalface continuously, it is rare that we have the chance to look back at past achievements, yet it is important that we do so.
Sure, the original business plan went out the window pretty quickly, but we’ve adapted our model into new arenas and picked up recognition where we never expected, such as the 3 government-backed grants that we’ve been awarded for innovation.

Today as we look across our 50+ clients, many of which are high street names plus some who are no bigger than ourselves, we feel we are building a good sustainable brand in this industry.  Reputation is everything so we make sure we provide first class service and support for our clients as that will be the real differentiator in times to come.  Sometimes it doesn’t work out but we’re never ungrateful and will always strive for the next opportunity.

One of the things that has surprised us most over the years is just how far our product portfolio has come.  We initially started Market Dojo to be a straightforward tool for running professional eAuctions affordably.  For nostalgia’s sake, here are some screenshots of our first release.

We’re still true to this today but what we didn’t expect is to have the family of ‘Dojos’ around us such as:

Public Dojo – our 2012 enhancement to the tool to make it suitable for weighted tenders and eAuctions, such as sub-OJEU tenders and mini-competitions.  This was really Market Dojo version 2.0, which we called Samurai.

Innovation Dojo – in 2013 we released a new tool to help organisationscollaborate with their supply chain to solicit new ideas for mutual gain, as we wanted to prove we were not just about reducing margins.

Category Dojo – towards the end of 2013 we released another new tool, this time one to help organisations better understand the opportunities in their spend to formulate their category strategies. You can even find this on the iPad app store!

Lot Matrix – this is one of our biggest developments to date, which we kicked off in 2013 for a planned release in early autumn 2014.  There will be more fanfare on this over the next few months, but it is likely to be the biggest enhancement to our solution, judging by the feedback from those who have seen it in action already.

Our continuous investment of resources into our R&D has certainly helped our product evolve faster than most in this marketplace.  It does come at a cost and that would be at the expense of our time.  Being a self-funded company, there are only so many hours in the day and money that we can spend so perhaps that has held back our rate of growth, although not our potential.  Doubling our revenue year-on-year is still a fantastic achievement.

Furthermore, we’ve built ourselves a great foundation with renewal rates on annual licences over 95%.  A number of our clients have been with us since our first release, including our first ever client Hamworthy Combustion (now part of John Zinc), which is a pleasure to see.  They, along with many others, have contributed so significantly to our business that they shall always have our gratitude.

We look forward to a fantastic 5th year in the making and thank everyone that has helped us come this far.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com

Introducing the Lot Matrix: Simple Lots

At Market Dojo, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to make e-Sourcing simple for our customers.  We believe that software must be easy to use, and give access to the right information at the right time. So we made some changes which we think will help us do those two things even better.

Market Dojo is a Software As A Service product. This means that all our customers will see the benefit of these changes the next time they use the software.

Connecting suppliers and opportunities
Many of our customers have a large supplier base, and don’t always know every supplier who is right for a particular event. To find the widest range of suppliers, customers can make their events visible on their own Market Dojo Portal.

To make events visible, there is a new option on the Display Settings Administration area. First, ensure that you have created a custom portal URL, and then tick ‘Make events publicly visible’.

Now, when people visit https://myportal.marketdojo.com , they will see a list of events, underneath the login box.

Hosts – creating lots
One of the first things that Hosts have to do is create the Lots for their event.  We have made the initial view more welcoming, with easier access to the two main options.  We are soon adding a new option to create ‘Advanced Lots’.  We now show the new option here, but it disabled for the time being.

Before

After

The changes continue here, as you now don’t need to leave the main Lots screen to add or edit.  This makes it easier to refer to the Lots you have already added,  making the process quicker and easier.

Hosts can now also choose to add quantities which are not whole numbers.  In the examples below we have specified a quantity of 15.25 metres of table cloth.

Before

After

Hosts – running an event
When an event  is in progress, the host will want to track the bids as they get placed, and analyse what is happening. To make this easier, we now provide more information on the main screen. This includes details of each participants’ latest bid.  Having this information makes it easier to identify the differences and take appropriate action.  In other words you can now see the Lots by participant and the participants by Lots.

Before

After

After – with participants visible

Participants – placing bids during an auction
Participants now place their bids on the main screen, rather than in a popup. This makes placing bids simpler, especially when the event contains a large number of lots. If the Participant is permitted to see their rank, we have made that information more prominent.

Before

After

Conclusion
We have improved the user interface for both host and participant users. We ensure the right data is available when needed. These changes will make running or participating in an e-Sourcing activity even simpler.

These changes are the first results of our ‘Lot Matrix’ project.  The next stage will give users the ability to provide several data points for each Lot. This data will more accurately express the requirements and offers under negotiation.  We look forward to sharing more of these changes soon.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com
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Be the eSourcing hero

Targets. Based on savings, number of eSourcing events, other contract KPIs? What do you do? In procurement you quite literally have a myriad of different ways you can be assessed. This is an endless debate. Do you base on number of auctions? We have seen this carried out very well but we have also seen this abused where auctions are run with no thought. Sometimes you get what you measure. Target contract KPIs are a great way to move forward but add many layers of complexity to the process. There is no right or wrong way. However, this is not the reason for writing this article.

We have spoken to many organisations where they set targets for eSourcing. Mostly we find these are based on either savings, user adoption or number of eSourcing events. These targets are normally not stand alone and there are other areas where the professionals are measured. However what we have seen over and over is that these targets can be limiting. eSourcing is easy to use. Most people use Amazon and eBay so why not eSourcing. The point is that these targets should not be something to aim for but they should be something to smash. We have seen many organisations that strive for adoption and ask for quotes for many users when year after year they only increase by one or two. We believe with an accessible platform, you should look at everyone using it, 100’s of eSourcing activities instead of just a few on the big ticket items. Why do this? Well, quite simply to ‘Be the Hero!’.

Too cliche? Well think about it. If you smash those targets you may have a higher bonus but more importantly higher recognition. A better CV. Move up or even move on. To make this statement for a sales person would be more challenging given the competition and maturity in the market and the profession. However eSourcing is a perfect arena for this over-achievement. Saving several percent on purchasing spend puts many percent on profit, perhaps as much as a 1:10 ratio. It effectively makes you the salesperson and we know how much recognition they get. The time is right and you should be looking at exponential growth given the timing and the accessibility of the technology. So come on, what’s stopping you?

A gift from the Market Dojo Easter bunny!

In between the ritual consumption of chocolate eggs over the Easter weekend, we released a set of new enhancements to our software for all to enjoy.

Amongst the highlights include some great usability tweaks for Category Dojo based on some valuable client feedback:

Improved Summary page

You can now scroll through your multiple categories from the top of the page to easily compare and retrieve information.  Your answers to each question are neatly aligned and sectioned into the 4 key steps, with quick edit links within each step to help you quickly make amendments to the specific set of questions.

New category hierarchy creator
One of the more challenging developments given the shear variety of web browsers that people use, from Internet Explorer 8 to Safari to smartphones, was the re-jig the category hierarchy mechanism, which was a bit clunky.  We now have a dynamic, interactive hierarchy where you can select, create, edit and delete categories and subcategories all within the single user interface for to 5 levels:

It also lets you answer the questions for any previously created category or subcategories in the hierarchy, which greatly helps you to compare the category strategy at the top-level as well as for the subcategories beneath it.

For example, if we purchased IT Hardware on separate contracts for our London office to our Sheffield office, we might assess the two contracts independently via subcategories called ‘IT Hardware – London’ and ‘IT Hardware – Sheffield’.  Then we could populate a parent category called ‘IT Hardware’ and analyse the pros/cons of creating a single centrally-managed contract, along with the impact that would have on competition levels, expected savings, timescales and complexity.

General improvements
Along with the two above enhancements, we continued our bug fixing and general performance improvements to the software to ensure it fulfills our client expectations.

Happy Easter everyone!

Market Dojo & eBidding.cz partner to bring accessible eSourcing to Czech Republic & Slovakia

We are delighted to announce our most recent reseller partnership, penned with Ondrej Hajnik of eBidding.cz, to help promote our products throughout the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Ondrej is a genuine eSourcing expert, having worked as a category manager for Ariba for nearly 4 years, as well as having numerous managerial roles for industrial companies.   We have no doubt that there is a lot we can learn from one another.  It also enables us to offer Ondrej’s services to any client that might be looking to expand into Eastern Europe, be it for market research, strategic sourcing or project management.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia are very interesting markets to us, given that we were awarded our first Technology Strategy Board grant partly to make eSourcing more accessible to EU accession states, who may not have the budget or resources to invest in the more complex and user-intensive eTendering products that exist today.  This is all the more relevant given the 2016 deadline set by the European Commission to make eProcurement mandatory for all public sector buyers.

Furthermore, the private sector is very much in our sights as well.  The UK and Czech markets are comparable, whereby large companies tend to have legacy solutions in place, whilst medium-sized companies have dipped in and out of eSourcing over the years, and smaller companies are yet to experience the benefits.

Ondrej feels that there is huge potential here, given the extreme ease of use of our software combined with our affordable on-demand pricing model.  Many local competitors tend to have basic eAuction dashboards without the rich bid and vendor management procedures that exist in our software.  This will help eAuctions be run more professionally to further embed eSourcing as a daily consideration.

Ondrej is currently helping us to translate the software into Czech ready for the first client investment.

If you would like to know more, please get in touch with us or Ondrej via his website:  http://www.ebidding.cz/en/

Should suppliers still fear eAuctions?

Following a recent LinkedIn question (“Someone explain to me how a Reverse Auction is fair and equitable to the supplier …”) we had to pause for thought.  Admittedly in the past auctions had obtained a less then sparkling reputation.  This seems to be in a large part down to the pre-conception that it was a race to the bottom for price and quality.

When eAuctions initially came onto the market (~20 years ago) as a way to negotiate quickly and effectively, they were firmly in the hands of experienced consultants such as FreeMarkets (sold to Ariba 2004).  eAuctions were primarily viewed as a way to save money.  However it does hide the fact that the consultants would put in a great deal of work.  Even five years ago when we were working for a consultancy, auctions would take us between 200 and 300 man-hours.

The next stage in their progression was as a module of the larger ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)  applications and consultancy software offerings.  This seems to where the damage to their reputation was done. This was the initial transition of software to the hands of organisations themselves. The fact of the matter is that setting up an auction is more work up front than a traditional RFQ (Request For Quotation).  You need to have the Service Level Agreements and specifications tied down as well as have sufficient market liquidity.  By this we don’t just mean having suppliers who can bid, but suppliers who will bid and to whom you are willing to award the business. In this initial transition it seems that the benefits from negotiating the price down were understood but the level of work required for a truly successful auction was not.  And a truly successful auction needs to be judged on realised savings, quality and delivery, not just identified savings. This is where suppliers were put off by badly run eAuctions.

As the procurement professional has grown up in the last 10 years, becoming far more reputable, so has the eAuction process.  Companies understand that for success the eAuctions need to be run in a professional manner and should be viewed as any negotiation where you are looking for a win-win outcome.  For example you can weight non-price criteria or mention in the documentation that you will bring in the top three suppliers for discussions post-auction, or even include supplier presentations in the process.  The truth is that eAuctions are just another tool in the procurement tool-set for negotiation and they need to be used with care.

The new breed of eSourcing platforms on the market also help make the process easier.  For example we strive to embed professional processes in every stage with check points at appropriate milestones.  We make it easy for the suppliers, as well as the buyers, to adopt, and we have had many different kinds of suppliers bidding from taxi drivers to one man bands.  Here is our guide for helping to onboard suppliers.

Unfortunately that initial bad reputation is still around today.  However we less frequently see a powerful incumbent try to kibosh the process.   With the increasing professionalism and eConnectivity in supplier markets and the ability for buyers to more readily search globally for suppliers, this is becoming a risky approach for an incumbent.

Not only that but suppliers are actually finding that eAuctions are a good way to negotiate and they have been proven to strengthen relationships.  With increased thought up front on documentation, open communication and more transparency, eAuctions are fast becoming a very efficient and fair way to do business. Suppliers are also better prepared in understanding their margins before the event and having a sufficient BATNA (Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement) in place.  This is will help negate the view that suppliers can get caught up in the furore of bidding.  Also many consumer applications from eBay to moneysupermarket.com help make the process less daunting. We have many guides and videos to help suppliers through the auction processhere.

In conclusion we would say that suppliers don’t fear the eAuction itself anymore. With a greater understanding they see the advantages.  All they do fear is a badly run eAuction, so make sure your’s is not one of them!

Can E-Sourcing Break the Bonds of E-mail?

These are the introductory paragraphs of a guest post by Alun Rafique of Market Dojo.  The full article features ThomasNet News who is one of the leading supplier discovery and product sourcing platforms on the market today.

Self-service e-auctions are a great technological path for any company, as the advantages derived from more efficient negotiations are easy to relate. The real challenge is on the full e-sourcing software suite. Electronic Request for Quotations (eRFQs) are a great example. The benefits from eRFQs come from the centralization of data, auditability, and the ability to send out to more suppliers without a large increase in overhead.

It has been found that suppliers involved in eRFQs yield better savings. This is attributed to the process making the suppliers simply sharpen their pencils when they send out bids. In research by the University of the West of England, it has been found that e-sourcing strengthens buyer-supplier relationships.

So if the benefits from e-sourcing are there, why is there not more of an uptake in the process?
[Find out more by reading the full article here.]

Rightsourcing: how to benefit from offshoring IT

This is the opening gambit of a guest publication by Nick Drewe of Market Dojo on the highly respected Information Age magazine, whose objective is to help their readers become more confident and successful in their use of technology, in their choice of suppliers, and in their management of people and partners.  The article discusses why offshoring IT was the right choice for Market Dojo, but wasn’t without its challenges.

On 12 March 2014, the World Wide Web commemorated its 25th birthday. The internet has evolved to enable our corporate world to globally communicate in real-time via a diverse set of media.

We have never been better equipped to implement strategies that stretch across all continents of the planet. Even start-ups working from their local cafe can build businesses with global operations, something that was near impossible pre-internet.

The benefits to offshoring IT requirements are clear. The average cost for an equally skilled web developer in India is a third of that in the UK. Continue further east to Indonesia and it’s possible to halve the cost again. In some cases, even Indian companies offshore their IT services to Indonesia.

Offshore services can be purchased on a rolling monthly basis, and so, should a particular contractor not fulfill the obligations, another can be sourced. This is a much less risky and less costly process than trying to hire, house, equip and train your own employees. It gives a business real scalability, as it can flex its resources from one month to the next across a broad range of services – be it hosting, software testing, web development, project management, quality assurance or customer services.

However, there are recognised challenges….[read the full article here]

Why Buyers should embrace Japanese Auctions

We have the pleasure of a guest post from one of our clients, Terri Hudson, who represents Baker Wanless and eQuiddity.  She is has many years experience of running auctions and has shared her thoughts on the Japanese auction format.

Many people often question the use of Japanese Auctions with me.  Why use them?  What are the benefits?  How is this fair?  So I thought I would share my views on Japanese Auctions to illustrate the benefits of this auction type and when and why to use it.

So what is a Japanese auction?  A Japanese auction is where there is no free bidding by suppliers.  The software drops the price automatically (typically 1% every 5 minutes) and the supplier simply needs to ‘Accept’ or ‘Decline’ that price drop.  The Market Dojo platform makes it very easy for bidders to take part.  The screen is fresh and bright.  Accept is coloured black and Decline in red to avoid mistakes and the screen refresh is fast so bids are received in no time at all.  The platform also gives the buyer the ability to adjust the decrements and time gaps during the live auction so as suppliers get familiar with the process the buyer could look to reducing the time between drops from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.

Throughout 2013, Baker Wanless / e-Quiddity ran between 45 and 50 Auctions through the Market DoJo platform and 90% of those were deployed as a Japanese build and identified savings in the region of €20m for our clients.  Some would argue that you could achieve the same or similar results through more traditional auction builds, however this is debatable.

To begin with, Japanese auctions provide a level of commercial confidentiality on categories that sit under goods for resale.  For example, one bidder would not find it difficult to work out what another bidder’s margins are if they were given full visibility of the end result and positioning during the live event, because the retail selling price is in the public domain.  This is particularly sensitive with incumbent suppliers.  In many cases, the time between the live auction to award of business and the first delivery of the goods can often take around 3 to 4 months and it is important that the buyers maintain healthy relationships with their suppliers during a tender process.

The other benefits include the fact that when a supplier has reached their exit price, they are free to exit the auction and leave.  It does not stop the auction for others, only for them, and means there is no benefit to them watching the auction further.  Other methods may result in the supplier continuing to watch the auction whilst it continues with the other bidders in order to gain free market information.

As a buyer, you would notice that in more traditional eAuction methods, incumbents don’t tend to perform well.  They typically will tailgate the leading bidders and remain 2nd or 3rd ranked in an attempt to demonstrate a competitive yet non-leading bid.  This is because they feel they don’t need to be the best price. If the difference between them and another bidder is not significant the buyer is unlikely to change supplier.  The Japanese format removes visibility of the ranking meaning that they are unable to tailgate and must put their best foot forwards when bidding.

Why not give it a try?  We are experts at running them now and would be delighted to work with you and show you how it’s done, so get in touch.

Home advantage: our article posted on Supply Management

Supply Management recently posted an article by Nick Drewe of Market Dojo outlining some top 10 tips for running an eSourcing event, based on his experience of using an eSourcing tool to find a builder for his own home extension.  Here are the opening few paragraphs, and the rest can be found on Supply Management here.

At the end of 2013 Nick Drewe decided to use his professional expertise to electronically 
source a ground floor extension and loft conversion for his 
house. Here are 10 things 
the process taught him.
When none of the initial RFQs my wife and I received via a traditional email and face-to-face process for a ground-floor extension and loft conversion were within our budget, we decided to change 
our approach.

Instead of reducing the scope of works, we embarked upon a competitive bidding process, underpinned by e-sourcing software, involving 96 local building firms. The exercise resulted in a £35,000 (33 per cent) saving against the best of the three initial RFQs and, if anything, an increase in the scope of works due to some excellent market-informed suggestions.

Conducting a full-scale strategic sourcing project on something so close to home (sorry) can feel both risky and daunting. And so I’ve listed the top 10 tips from my professional experience that enabled us to achieve this result.

[The top 10 tips can be found on the Supply Management website here.]

eWorld March 2014 & our little talk!

We recently returned from another fantastic eWorld event in Westminster.  The most noticeable difference for us between this event and previous ones was the absence of Market Dojo co-founder, Alun Rafique.  Alun and his wife Justyna are expecting their first child imminently and so a trip into central London was strictly off the cards, as you can imagine!

Having to make do with two of us on the stand, quite simply we were overcome by the sheer quantity of great discussions with passing delegates.  For any of you who approached our stand and did not have the chance to talk to us, we apologise profusely!

If it is any consolation, we missed the 2pm cut-off for hot lunches and had to make do with a chicken wrap and fruit salad for nourishment shortly before 3pm!  We’ve learnt our lesson and will ensure we have more colleagues on hand next time.

This year was another first for us as we held our own Innovation Briefing seminar entitled, “From identifying opportunities to realised savings” in conjunction with our client and partner, eQuiddity.   The 30 minute talk covered two major areas of procurement that are poorly defined, specifically:

The seminar, which was held concurrently with other events, was very well attended with all 80 chairs taken and some attendees even standing at the back!  eWorld are excellent at providing detailed feedback from delegates so we look forward to learning from that in due course.

For those of you who couldn’t make it, or if you’d like to own a copy of our presentation, you can download a PDF copy here (please first sign in or sign up to Market Dojo for the link to work).

It’s also great to see that eWorld have taken on board their own feedback and have provided free tea and coffees, which was possibly the most popular event of the day!  The queue snaked past our stand, which provided us a captive audience to engage with.  I hope we made your waiting time fly by!

Thanks again to all of you who came by and we look forward to a repeat event in September.

Strategic procurement and departmental organisation

Thinking of becoming more strategic? How should you adapt your organisational structure? Some time ago one of our client’s was asking the same questions. We sat down and worked through our past experience. We have seen how a large number of companies including Rolls-Royce and PriceWaterhouseCoopers have approached this challenge. We have summed up a simple structure below and we hope you will find it useful.

The introduction of ERP programs, new sourcing methodologies, continuous supplier rationalisation and commodity management, can force companies to adapt the structure of their procurement organisation.

There is a normally an emphasis to reduce the Downstream activities such as:

And to increase the upstream activities such as:

A typical modern approach is to break the standard buying role into these four areas:

Once you have identified the roles and created a job specification, the next step is to produce a person specification. This is a crucial step, often missed, which ensures you know when you have found the right person for the job.

The roles and responsibilities could be broken down as follows:

Operational professionals
These procurement professionals would be focused on the daily buying, the functional role.
Within this area you have the two management layers, the commodity managers and the buyers. Depending on the size of the organisation, these could be the same role.

Or the day to day functional buyers could be here (who you rotate from time to time) and the Commodity Managers might be in the strategic group.

The buying in this area should be driven by pre-agreed contracts, frameworks and pricing.

Strategic professionals
These strategic professionals would be looking at the higher level arrangements, such as:

Essentially these professionals would be developing methodologies that other teams can follow. They could also provide advanced support on procurement exercises or even run complex tenders themselves. These would also form a principal part of your e-Cademy, if you decide have one.

Customer-facing professionals
Procurement professionals who focus on project work would be the best people moving forward to take this role.

The internal customer-facing role is about creating a good relationship between the buyers and the project teams.

This allows the buyers to work within commodity groups and the project teams can still get their due care and attention.

This kind of relationship would work well for concurrent engineering and liaising with sales teams around discounts. It would also help reduce renegade purchasing.

Supplier-facing professionals
The procurement professionals in this role would be primarily focused on the supplier side of the equation. They would need to liaise heavily with the commodity managers.
This would involve:

In Summary
This is really a flavour of where you can go. The great thing about this methodology is you can implement as much or as little as you like. The main objective is to find a strategy for your procurement team that fits your organisation.

Market Dojo: A Dragon’s Den View by Jon Hansen

Posted on February 4, 2014 by PI Blogger

Procurement Insights Blog

Editors note:  We had the great pleasure to be picked as a finalist for the ‘Year in the life series’ on the Procurement insights blog.  Unfortunately we did not win however, Jon Hansen gave us a great write up after our radio interview.

Editor’s Note: On December 19th, 2013 I had the opportunity to interview Year in the Life candidate Market Dojo, a New Wave company that that helps clients to “maximize” their purchasing power.  In the post-show commentary, our Dragon’s Den (or Shark Tank if you prefer) panel of experts provide their take on the interview and offer advice to the company.  In today’s review I will provide my take on Market Dojo;

While creating a more efficient supply chain may not be rocket science – although given the multitude of past challenges in successfully launching an initiative to automate the process may make one think it is – in talking with the founders of Market Dojo I was immediately reminded of a group of bespectacled, lab coat wearing scientists.  It was not so much the way they actually looked, but their manner in explaining the methodology they employed to create the “perfect” e-Sourcing solution.  Within this context, it would be easy to conclude that they would be equally at home in a NASA lab, as they are in a boardroom or testifying before a government committee.

In the many times that I had communicated with them leading up to the December 19th radio interview, I got the distinct impression that they are always figuring the angles and aligning the different variables in an effort to meet the at time complex needs of a rapidly changing market.  Or to put it another way, this is not a let’s win the business first and worry about making it work later group of people.

When you visit the Market Dojo site you will quickly discover that the only Madison Avenue element of the company is their somewhat whimsical name.  Outside of that you will be provided with a stark, highly functional very factual overview of what they do, why they do it and how you can benefit from their expertise.  In short they are a no sizzle all substance enterprise that employs the slide-rule more than the hard sell to win customers and deliver results.

All this being said, there is a downside for a company that uses hard logic as its main lever for winning business.

For many of their potential customers who have expended substantial sums of money and time in an effort to implement traditional procurement applications that have for the most part failed to deliver the expected results, choosing to go with a company that can provide an almost immediate return for a fraction of the cost is a difficult pill to swallow.

Let’s face it, how do you explain to your board that you have thrown good money after bad for so long while a better and more affordable solution was literally available right under your nose.  There is no logical argument that can help you to reconcile this discrepancy in judgment.  This is perhaps why so many of the old application vendors are trying to acquire the most promising up and coming cloud-based solution providers.  It gives the customers a chance to make a change within the framework of their existing relationships.

With Market Dojo, or for that matter any of the New Wave Companies that are coming to the forefront of market consciousness, being able to navigate these at times contradictory realities as opposed to providing the best solution will be the key to their ultimate success.  At this stage I am not certain that Market Dojo possesses the prerequisite marketing know how to gain the traction that their solution warrants.
For this reason I believe that 2014 will be the most critical year for the company, because after all there are only so many shopping days before Christmas meaning that there is a relatively short window of opportunity for them to make their mark.
On a closing note, the founders of Market Dojo might actually wear lab coats as Alun Rafique is an Aeronautical engineer, Nick Drewe has a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering, and Nicholas Martin a physicist.

The MarketDojo Team?

Be sure to check out our other Year in the Life Candidates as well as follow The Year in the Life 2014 Series on Twitter #YRiLife2014.

Working with Local Government Procurement – our guest post on Procurement Insights EU

The following article featured as a guest post on the excellent Procurement Insights EU blog.  It outlines some of the challenges we have faced whilst working with local government, for which we were invited into Parliament to discuss with MPs – more to come on that later!

Life remains tough for small, innovative companies trying to secure UK public sector business by Alun Rafique

“In order to give Customers using the Framework a balance between choice of suppliers and best value, following completion of the evaluation of tenders a maximum number of five suppliers will be awarded a position on the Framework. It is therefore vital that Tenderers can offer each of the five modules detailed on the following page.  As referenced previously in this ITT it is anticipated Customers will elect to procure one or more modules or may choose to purchase a complete solution incorporating all of the five modules.  It is therefore essential that Tenderers can offer all of the five modules to meet the requirements of those customers looking for a complete solution. Any Tenderer who cannot offer one or more of the elements listed above in 3.1 will be removed from this procurement process.”

The above is a quote from an invitation to tender by the UK public buying organisation (PBO), Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation.

The modules, which represent a complete e-procurement solution, are e-tendering, e-evaluation, e-auctions, e-contract management, and e-vendor management.  As stipulated, Tenderers have to offer all 5 modules or face being disqualified as a potential supplier. Unfortunately, it is this “all or nothing” approach that represents just one of the many obstacles that Small- Medium Enterprises or SMEs face in the pursuit of public sector business.

More to the point, the stipulation that Tenderers have to deliver all 5 modules, will eliminate or seriously impede the ability for the majority of SMEs to participate regardless of the superior capabilities of the modules they are able to provide.  While I believe that this is an unintended consequence of a short-sighted approach, it nonetheless amounts to what could only be viewed as a discriminatory practice that will limit the pool of potential suppliers to the detriment of all involved – including the government itself.

Despite the government’s attempt to introduce reforms that would address the above challenge, the task for SMEs remains a difficult one.

In this context, I would like to take a moment to share with you the experience of my company, Market Dojo.

Market Dojo successfully applied for a grant from the Technology Strategy Board to develop a product to assist public procurement professionals with e-Sourcing activities.

While this support was greatly appreciated, once fulfilled we were for all intents and purposes on our own from that point onward.  In essence and despite the government’s recognition that MarketDojo’s negotiating tool for running e-auctions and electronic request for quotations warranted financial support as it addressed “a particular problem area where frameworks have traditionally underperformed,” the method for actually utilizing our solution is hindered by the above mentioned all or nothing edict.

Simply put, and has demonstrated by the government grant, we believe that our product – and the complimentary products of other SMEs – can collectively save organisations a lot of money.

Even though we have made some progress in the public sector, having landed three government contracts, the private sector still represents the company’s best and most reliable opportunity for continued growth and long-term success. This leads one to wonder why SMEs are worthy of government funding but not considered to be worthy partners?

There are of course financial consequences associated with this disconnect.

For example, while both the transport team at Bedford Borough Council and Shropshire County Council have benefited greatly from their relationship with MarketDojo, Worcester County Council’s adoption of a more traditional contracting strategy meant that they ended up paying £2750 per e-auction, instead of the £500 for five that Market Dojo would have provided.  This difference amounts to Worcester paying 27 times the price that neighbouring Shropshire County Council is paying per e-auction.

A further complication in terms of government achieving a best value outcome is the tendency on the part of local councils to interpret European Union tendering regulations differently from one another.  Some interpretations as I have discovered, can lead to councils paying far too much for a less effective solution as a result of inflexible scoring mechanisms for evaluating tenders.  In one instance it was suggested that if we redesigned our system to better mirror the specifications of the tender, we would have a better opportunity of winning the contract.  Unfortunately, such an alteration would in reality eliminate the very functionality that led to the significant savings that were realized by both Bedford and Shropshire Councils.  This again makes one wonder what it is that the government is attempting to accomplish, as there seems to be a greater emphasis placed upon following arbitrary regulations as opposed to driving greater value from procurement.

Needless to say, the combined outcome of all that I have covered above has led to a common complaint that far too many public sector procurement people hide behind rigid processes and procedures.  This in my estimation, prevents public sector bodies from realizing maximum value for money in that they ultimately discriminate against SMEs and the innovative solutions they can provide.

A picture (or in this case UK Tender) is worth a thousand words!

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.

Pushing on with eAuction technology – our new release!

For those with eagle eyes, you may have noticed a new feature in our eAuctions over the weekend and this is one we are very excited about.

First a bit of background.  Almost all eAuction software today is driven by ‘pull’ technology, which basically means that all bid updates etc. are sent to the users when they ask for it, either by manually refreshing the screen or by the software causing an automatic check every 5 to 10 seconds (sometimes longer).  Initially this is what we did with our software, as the technology around us when we started in 2010 was still developing.  Put into context, the majority of our competitors are based on technology from the late 1990’s.

However, in 2011 standards were brought in for a technology called ‘websockets’.  Websockets ‘push’ updates to the users instantaneously.  One of the well regarded tools for doing this is Node.js, which is used by GroupOn, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Dow Jones and many others.  Well, now they can add Market Dojo to that list!

So, what does this mean to our users?

Truly real-time updates
Our journey with Node.js started a few months ago to make our graphs update live.  However, now you will notice that all our eAuction updates are instant, thereby creating more dynamism and encouraging even more active participation.  During our testing, we’ve even seen the case that you can send a message to someone during an auction and they receive it before you’ve even see a ‘message sent’ confirmation on your own screen.  Now that’s what we call real-time!

We recognise that there are users out there who are perhaps restricted to older browsers or hardware.  For this reason, we have built in a fail-over to our old update mechanism in the event that the real-time updates do not work for certain individuals.

Live Auction Feed
More importantly, it has enabled us to develop an even more innovative feature – the Live Auction Feed.  It could be compared to the text commentary you see flashing across the screen on CNN to let you catch up on all the headlines whilst witnessing the breaking news.

The Live Auction Feed is updated instantly with new bids, including who placed them, what value and what position the bidder is now in (or whether they are still bidding in the case of a Japanese Auction), as well as both sent and received messages and any changes to the Settings made during the eAuction.  You can scroll through this history at any time, which pauses the feed to give you time to read it.

In summary, never again will you be able to say ‘Oh, something’s changed, I missed that’, as you’ll have a permanent script of the complete auction.

We hope you enjoy these new features, which have been brought to you by a collaborative development with a client of ours.  Of course if you have your own requests, let us know and we will be delighted to work with you. And congratulations to Salve on being the first to try out the new feature for real!

PS: Here are a couple of videos of the new real-time update and Live Auction Feed features in action:

A Live Japanese Auction            A Live Ranked Auction

eWorld – September 2013

Last week saw our now regular outing to the eWorld Purchasing & Supply event in London.

The team in front of our booth

My day at eWorld began with a train journey to London Waterloo and a pleasant walk across Westminster Bridge, past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, to the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre. When I arrived, the venue was a hive of activity as exhibitors unpacked their equipment and prepared for the day ahead. I found my colleagues in our familiar location, at the foot of the stairs to the seminar room.  They had already done most of the setup of our stand and I was just able to help add a few final touches.  Very soon it was time to greet the first delegates of the day.

The day flew past as we spoke to delegates about Market Dojo, and also got some interesting new ideas based on  their priorities and suggestions.

For me, what was particularly striking about this eWorld was how many Market Dojo customers were present. A really nice reminder of how we are growing. It was a great chance to put a face to a few familiar names and also discuss how they were getting on.  It was also really exciting to see the positive reaction we got for the  new things which we have been working on.

Before I knew it, the highly efficient catering team were circulating with drinks indicating that the event was almost over.  Of course, we squeezed every last minute out of our day, even doing a demonstration as the event staff began dismantled the booths around us.

After a quick review, it was time to say goodbye to my colleagues, and head back to Waterloo.
Many thanks to Claire Boffey and her team at Revolution for organising a great event.  Thanks also to everyone who took the time to stop and talk to us at eWorld.

Sourcing my extension (part 2) – Go Live!

This is part 2 of Nick Drewe’s foray into a domestic eSourcing exercise for his house extension. Nick’s tender has now gone live!  You can catch up on part 1 here.

So last Friday evening I hit the button and made my event live.  Invitations were sent out to 83 builders in total, although since then I’ve added a further 9 based on recommendations and referrals.  I also forgot to include the builders who provided the original quotes, which wasn’t very fair of me, so I’ve rectified that and included them, should they wish to revise their offer.

 

I must admit, there were mixed feelings of excitement and apprehension about hitting that button. By the time the screen refreshed, 83 builders around Bristol received the invitation from me (we use an email alias on Market Dojo to make the emails come from the user and not from a generic no-reply@ address to ensure any replies make their way back to me).  They would also know where I live!  However, this is a genuine opportunity, and I am giving everyone an equal chance of winning the business, so I’ve no concerns.  I was more intrigued about what would happen next.

In my previous post I stated that I should start ringing round those who were invited in order to maximise participation.  Well, another confession here, we were exhibiting at eWorld on Tuesday and so this week I’ve been absolutely swamped and not made a single outbound phone call to them.  Thankfully the builders have been much more proactive than me, and even over the course of that very first evening on the Friday, I received 7 registrations, 2 of which proceeded to download the tender documents.  I even had my first site visit on the Sunday, all arranged through the Message facility in the software.

I was also informed that three of the participants I invited to the tender had invalid emails, which meant that the software picked up the delivery fail message and flagged it against the participant in question, be it for a full mailbox, unrecognised email address or some other reason.  It gave me the chance to find an alternative address for them or, consequently, discover they were no longer in business.

I made the most of my journey back to Bristol from eWorld by using the software on my smartphone, where I sent out some reminders to various categories of participants, i.e.:

So let me fast forward to where I am as of today, exactly a week after publishing the tender:

I have 92 builders on my list.  84 are still approved to take part, as 5 builders had no capacity until well into 2014, and 3 were no longer in business.  Of those 84, 20 are registered and 16 have accepted the invitation.  Interestingly 4 of them registered using the Invite Code, which is a unique key that lets people who were not on my original list apply to take part, be it by word of mouth or referral or whatever.  I approved their access to my tender having looked through their websites.

14 have downloaded the drawings and I have no fewer than 9 site visits planned over the next few days – there goes my chance of writing thank you letters for our recently received wedding gifts!

I’ve also made an edit to my questionnaire since go-live, as I omitted a rather crucial question of asking whether the builders are VAT-registered.  It would be rather hard for me to compare the quotes without this knowledge.

I’ve also had to think about my Lot structure, using market-informed sourcing if you will, in that some builders are experts in loft conversions but not extensions and vice-versa.  Therefore I might even be looking to award separately, although again there is feedback that awarding the total job to one outfit has cost advantages.  My Lot structure allows for this expression of capability, and so I shall await the market feedback before considering my award position.

Feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive.  This approach has helped the builders to have structure and a central place to refer to.  Given that IT is not integral to their day job and that in some cases they don’t even have their own computer, it was always going to be a hurdle, especially as I have no time to hand-hold people through the process and nor do they have time to sit at a computer for long periods.  But we did design the software on an entirely self-service model and so far, so good.

Stay tuned for part 3 when my hectic weekend of site visits will be concluded and we might even have some competitive quotes in.  Fingers crossed!

Sourcing my extension! (part 1)

This is a multi-part article from Market Dojo co-founder, Nick Drewe, who is currently planning a house extension and is embarking on the sourcing phase of the project.  We’ll let Nick introduce in more detail below…..

I recently got married and had a fantastic honeymoon in Turkey, co-incidentally the first time I’ve had more than a week off work in well over 3 years!  Now I’m back, our next task as a married couple is to build a major house extension.

Up until now we’ve had the plans drawn up by the architect, giving us an indicative budget of £70,000.  We’ve had all planning and building regulations approved and we’re in the midst of adhering to the Party Wall Act (not fun – but that’s for another time).  Our architect, Ben, is helping us manage the whole project, given his experience and the fact he lives 10 doors up the road from us!

Ben drew up a very comprehensive tender package, including all drawings, national standards, specifications, and a detailed list of the scope of works, and has approached four contractors that he has worked with in the past.  Two of those contractors haven’t even bothered quoting for the job.  The other two came in with quotes of £93,000 and £98,000, both excluding VAT.  The quotes have been paper-based and are barely comparable, with wildly different items included within their cost breakdown.  Therefore, not only are they greatly over budget, but I have no confidence that they even fulfill the requirement.

And so I’ve decided to take things into my own hands.  I shall distribute the tender package (all 20 megabytes of it) to the Bristol building trade as a whole to find out a) what the real market price is for my extension works and b) to make sure they quote and deliver exactly what we’ve asked for.

I’m in the privileged position of having unlimited access to the professional Market Dojo eSourcing tool, designed for exactly this purpose.  Over the years we’ve witnessed our clients, including housing associations who are tendering building services like this, save millions.  Some clients run tenders worth just a few hundred pounds.  In fact I recall Hamworthy Combustion, our first client, saving £5,000 on a £25,000 contract by using our application.  Why on Earth should I not use this approach?  Well, exactly.

So this is where I’ve got to so far.  I’ve created a test event on Market Dojo so I can interact with it as a test builder and I’ve invited my brother, who is a project manager in the building trade but is unfortunately based the other side of the country, to do likewise.  This will help us validate the structure and communication of the tender.  I’ve added my ‘Brief’, which gets included in the initial invitation email to the builders, so they will have a heads up on what I’m looking to do and how they can proceed.  I’ve added an online questionnaire for the builders to answer my specific questions such as providing references, adherence to standards, confirmation that their price is all-inclusive, etc.  I’ve decided to score the questionnaire so I can rank the builders based their answers.

I’ve created a robust Lot structure that pairs up with the breakdown of jobs in the Scope of Works, ensuring all quotes that come in are like-for-like and against our requirements.  I’ve uploaded the 20MB of tender documentation so I can track when they download it, but I’ve made sure that the Scope of Works is included with the invitation email to give reassurances to the builders that this is a genuine job.  I’ve also added my architect as a collaborator on my tender so he can dip in and out to check how things are going and can help me to answer the questions.  I’ve even added my wife as a viewer in case she has the inclination to have a look at what we’re up to!

My final task is to pull together the list of builders, i.e. the sourcing exercise.  All I need for Market Dojo is a list of email addresses.  Typically if the tender is being run manually and paper-based, I would be inclined to invite only 3 or 4 builders, since the efforts of burning CDs and posting them out, checking they’ve arrived, having dozens of phones calls to handle the questions which are repeated from one builder to the next, collecting all the paperwork and somehow collating it together despite the incomparable nature of the bids, is all very laborious.  However, since I’m running this online, there is very little extra effort whether I invite a few builders or a few hundred.  Therefore at this point I shall be casting my net far and wide and see how it funnels down.

My first point of call is Google.  Searching for ‘builders in bristol’ and other related terms like ‘house extension bristol’, I’m able to find lots of candidates.  I’ll be asking for references as part of the questionnaire, so at this stage all I need to know is if they look professional, if they mention jobs that look similar, if they are reasonably local, and if they have an email address.  I encountered websites like mybuilder.com a lot, so clearly I am not the first to think of running an online tender process for personal building works, although those sites don’t have the facility to properly manage your tender or to invite builders from outside their system, or even to run a reverse auction to settle the negotiaton if I so please.  Additionally builders have to pay fees, which is not a model I believe in as it reduces competition and the fees would end up being passed on to me anyhow.

I will also ask friends and family for referrals, and scour professional associations for any recommendations as well.  At this stage, the more the merrier.

So as of today, I have pretty much built my tender and found my list of prospective builders.  My action over the weekend is to hit the button and make it live.  At that point I really should start ringing round the builders to let them know I’ve been in contact and that I am a genuine prospect.   That way I’ll increase my chances of receiving the competitive offers and finding that proverbial ‘needle in a haystack’ builder that precisely meets my objectives.

Stay tuned for part 2 as I manage the tender and hopefully get some competitive offers!

Our Innovation Portal receives further innovation!

Only a month has passed since our initial release of the Innovation Portal, our unique tool our clients use to request, collect and compare innovative ideas from their supply chains, outside of any formal sourcing or tendering exercise.  Call it a ‘Request for Ideas’ if you will, helping to unite Research & Development and procurement.

We’ve heard frequent complaints over the years that rigid sourcing exercises penalise suppliers who offer novel ways of solving the problem.  Indeed we’ve been the victim of this on numerous occasions!  Well, this is where our Innovation Portal comes into its own.

As an example a client of ours, a housing association, is looking for new garden designs.  They don’t want to run this as a formal tendering exercise that would be to begin with a standard ‘request for information’, or even a ‘request for proposal’, since it is far more conceptual at this early stage.  However, the Innovation Portal is perfect, as it allows them to understand what the supply market can offer by way of previously unconsidered ideas.  This is helping them gauge their next steps, who to approach and how to approach them.  In other words it is an excellent way for them to build a strategy and create interesting opportunities for everyone involved.

It is a highly encouraging start and so we have rapidly followed up our initial product release with some fantastic enhancements.  In no particular order, here they are:

Improvements for suppliers raising their own topics
One of the key differentiators between the Innovation Portal and an online questionnaire is that suppliers can create their own ideas as and when they want to, and not just when the procurement team runs an exercise.  This gives companies their own portal into which their supply chain can openly collaborate with them.  We’ve made improvements to this process to add more robustness and security around it, as well as making the topic creation process for suppliers extremely simple and intuitive.

Quick and easy scoring of ideas
Once the suppliers have submitted their ideas, we have two types of scoring; a simple rating system or a more complex scorecard.  In both cases we’ve made the process of scoring the ideas actually quite enjoyable and very straightforward to do by adopting sliders.  They even work on mobile devices to ensure all our tools can be used on the go.

Better topic and process management
A clear advantage that the Innovation Portal offers over a simple email-based ‘ideas box’ is that Hosts can manage the whole activity from a central area, including what documents have been sent/received, which suppliers are involved and what they’ve done so far, what messages have been sent/received, what ideas have been generated and how they are ranked, and so on.  We’ve made some important improvements to this process, helping to point the Host in the right direction on what they should do next to reach their goals.

General user interface upgrades
The key to any useful software product is to make it easy to use.  We’ve made some excellent investments in this area to help our new users make the most of the tool.

Coming soon….Innovation Dojo!
Currently our Innovation Portal is fully integrated within the Market Dojo eSourcing tool.  However, as we branch our product range out into unheard of territory within eProcurement, we would like to develop the Innovation Portal further so send us your ideas. Hence keep a lookout for Innovation Dojo !

Another day, another release

Another day brings another release from the Market Dojo labs.  This time we have some great additions in a variety of areas.

Ever feel like you need more time?
In this development you now have the ability to extend an auction outside of the automatic triggers.

During a live auction, simply click on the ‘Settings’ and decide how  long you would like to extend the event to.  You can extend it by the same period as the dynamic close or extend by the original duration of the entire auction.

Is your invitation falling on deaf ears or did it just not get through?
With this feature you are simply able to tell if the email has bounced.  On the participant summary tab you can see in the status column the participants where the email has bounced.

Enhance your reports
Lastly we have increased the reports available when you download the results.  We still have the original report showing the entire bid history which is great if you want to draw a quick graph.  We have now included a summary and status of all the participants on a separate tab in the export. Finally we have also added a summary tab of lots vs participants so you can quickly ascertain the best bid from each participant in each lot.

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.

Camelia’s final post…for now

‘And here is the last post from our effervescent intern, Camelia…’

Wow. I can’t believe I have already reached the end of my internship. There’s only one week left and the time has passed so quickly. So much happened during my time here.

First, being the world’s biggest fan of the Skins TV show, and realizing that I was working with two of the characters was definitely impressive. (Ok maybe not the characters themselves but their big brothers at least – See picture)

From a more professional point of view, I was in charge of a lot of marketing during my internship. I got to design promotional items to promote the company and I can say that I really enjoyed doing that. I’ve always been quite good with using editing software but it was mostly to retouch Facebook photos – nothing really contributing to the society. So using graphics for an interesting and useful work such as creating promotional items or making a contribution to the website was more gratifying. Now and thanks to this internship, Market Dojo has a whole new 404 page (woop woop!)

The last weeks were also about a pitiless competition between Antoine (the other intern) and I. Alun and Nick encouraged it by using a point system every time we gave the right answer to a question, or beat the other one in any field, or did anything really good.

Thanks to that competition, our previous articles on this very blog have reached +400 views each [at the time of writing], which is quite huge considering that Market Dojo’s previous record was around 250, and this was only because we couldn’t resign ourselves to letting the other one win. No way.

The story does not say who had the most views at the end (me). However, I can tell you for sure that we both took the TOEFL test (Test Of English as a Foreign Language) in Cardiff a few weeks ago. And I won, obviously. Serves you right, Tonio! I knew from the beginning I was the best. You knew it. Nick and Alun knew it. That fly over there knew it. And nothing is going to keep me from enjoying my victory. Nothing.

In brief, if I had to describe the last weeks in a few words, I’d say: genuinely interesting, deeply enriching and full of surprises. I had the opportunity to learn so many things… But the two main ones are that any time is Beer O’clock – literally any time – and the only phrases you need to know here are “hey pal” and “cheers mate”. If you’re aware of this then you can survive in the amazing city that is Bristol.

The broom cupboard entrepreneurs

Here is a article from the Insider, on Entrepreneurship in the South West.

Across the South West, bright young things, and some not so young but still bright, are beavering away on the idea that could make them rich. So is the next James Dyson out there?

“British ingenuity is one of our most exportable assets and something investors, the government, banks and professional services providers should all be backing to get the economy growing,” says PeterWoodall, director in the entrepreneurial business team at Deloitte in Bristol. “With the likes of James Dyson on their doorstep, and most likely also in the broom cupboard, young entrepreneurs in the South West don’t have to look far for inspiration.” Dyson, famed inventor of the Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner, and now said to have a net worth of £1.45bn, may be one of the region’s most successful entrepreneurs to date, but there are many hot on his heels.

Maybe the UK has been playing catchup, but there has been a spate of innovation centres aligned to academic institutions springing up in the region in the past few years, in recognition of the wealth of academic talent and knowledge waiting to be tapped by the commercial sector.

In 2008 Exeter University opened its £10m Innovation Centre, providing start-ups with mentoring, training and access to university resources. Cornwall saw the opening of the first of three centres (managed by the University of Plymouth) at Pool in 2010, followed by one at Tremough Campus, part of University College Falmouth, this year.

2011 also saw the opening of the Bristol and Bath Science Park, described as a “powerhouse for research and development”, including an Innovation Centre designed to help early-stage businesses and encourage collaborations between industry and academia. The Universities of Bristol, Bath and Exeter have a partnership called SETsquared, which supports new business opportunities through spin-outs, licensing and incubation.

Nick Sturge, centre director of the Bristol part of the operation, confirms that SETsquared is as busy as ever, with a range of companies he predicts big things for. One of its success stories is video indexing company iVIDiQ, whose director Stephen Clee was among the award winners at Insider’s 42 under 42 dinner this year.

One benefactor of such collaboration is Chris Book, who grew up in Bath and has since returned to the city. His audiobook company, Bardowl, recently won the CEO Summit Award for Innovation at the global Meffys Awards for mobile content and commerce. After leaving mobile communications giant Orange in 2005, Book identified the University of Bath’s Innovation Centre as an ideal place to start his business, which gives consumers unlimited access to a range of audiobooks for a fixed monthly fee.

“The Innovation Centre has been instrumental in our success,” says Book. “Of the seven shareholders in Bardowl today, six came through introductions made at the Innovation Centre, including our angel investor. Having a place to work where other businesses are going through the same process is vital. Being in the Innovation Centre forces you to interact with other early stage businesses and it’s incredibly useful.”

Sean Nuzum, who grew up in Cornwall, has also returned to his home county to set up a business after graduating from Southampton University. He is based at the Tremough Innovation Centre from where he runs Velotec, a technology innovation business. One of the trading names owned by Velotec is AppFuture, a mobile app development company. It recently launched the Wreckfinder app, which uses GPS technology to help anglers locate shipwrecks – where fish are often found – along the British coastline.

“Tremough has been a superb base for an innovation company, especially with the networking opportunities with established and start-up companies based at the centre,” says Nuzum. Velotec largely works with a network of freelance consultants but is in the process of tapping into University College Falmouth’s resources to recruit graduates to help grow the business.
It also collaborates with the university in other ways: “We offer graduates the chance to bring their ideas to us and then jointly work on developing them into products,” says Nuzum.
Other innovators have tapped into the South West vibe on a more informal basis. Tom Wood is co-founder of Kudan, an agency which helps creative and marketing professionals to leverage business value from Augmented Reality (AR) technology. He describes Bristol as an “exciting creative hub”. A graduate of the University of Bristol, Wood worked for pharmaceutical companies before founding the company in 2010.

He says: “AR is the combination of advanced computer vision techniques, and a very high production standard of 3D and graphic assets. Bristol has a thriving set of skills in these areas – the Kudan team has come from marketing agency, app development and 3D vision companies based in the South West.” Their customer base is largely in London, North America and Japan, butWood believes it is important to work with local businesses too. “We recently completed projects for Dyson, Pieminster and the University of Bristol.”

Three other former University of Bristol graduates are also seeing success with their company, Market Dojo – a private online marketplace for businesses and suppliers to negotiate – which was launched in late 2010. Last year it registered a tenfold increase on the previous year’s turnover, allowing all three co-founders to be supported by the business – no mean feat in the early days of a start-up. The company has collaborated with academics in the region, and Alun Rafique, one of the founders, says if he and his colleagues were to start up again they would directly partner with academic institutions, with whom they now have “strong connections.”

One need only tune into the news, or check out the stream of initiatives from the Technology Strategy Board – the innovation arm of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – to see there is a clear appetite for innovation as the UK government looks to rebalance the economy and give a fighting chance to those who can design and build new products with a muchcherished Made in Britain badge.

The success of existing hubs, which unite innovators and encourage collaboration, is breeding further investment. The third Cornish Innovation Centre opens at Treliske Hospital in Truro, in 2013, sector, while in January a new business development centre called The Hive will open in Weston Park, North Somerset, aimed at helping more businesses to start up and grow by providing flexible office space as well as advice, training and networking.

The building will house around 40-60 different tenants on a short-term basis. Angela Hicks, chief executive of North Somerset Enterprise Agency, says there is clear demand for such a facility, which will also facilitate NSEA’s work. “Ambitious businesses are usually led by dynamic individuals who want to get on with growing their enterprises rather than having to spend lots of time working out how to do so. Our role is to share our expertise and help direct them through their growth challenges – which might include, for example, product development, funding, intellectual property rights or patents, leadership skills, import and export or any of a wealth of other subjects.”

One company that benefited early on from NSEA’s advice is Weston-super-Mare-based Thirst Solution, which produces mobile food and drink vending equipment such as drinks backpacks to dispense cans or bottles.

Founded by Joseph Burke in 2006, the company now has a turnover of £750,000 with customers including the 02 Arena and Wembley. It also supplied its products at the 2012 Olympics. Burke reckons he can leverage the feelgood factor surrounding the Games into something long-term.

“The kudos and credibility it brings will enable us to grow quicker,” says Burke. “We are working on several projects and sourcing for big blue-chip clients. We already have two exciting projects in the very early stages. This is the next chapter. I forecast our company to double in size in the next 24 months.”

Burke is not alone. Market Dojo will be pursuing its “robust” growth plan over the next two years. AppFuture is launching a US version ofWreckfinder in November 2012, followed by Wreckfinder Australia in February 2013, as well as working with third parties, such as the University of Exeter, to develop further apps. Audiobook entrepreneur Chris Book also has transatlantic plans, with the launch of Bardowl in North America next year.

Woodall says: “The South West is in a prime position to capitalise on the groundswell of support for entrepreneurs with bright ideas, ambition and growth potential.”

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

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:

Market Dojo enhances solutions through HP partner program

We are really pleased to announce that we have joined the HP Alliance ONE partner program…

Market Dojo joined HP Alliance ONE partner program and have realised significant benefits. The AllianceONE program provides software vendors the tools and resources they need to more effectively address client needs. Market Dojo work with HP to deliver major upgrades to their platform, to conduct load testing and for locating suitable hosting providers for their cloud solution.

Announcement Overview:

Description of AllianceONE:
HP AllianceONE partner program offers a solid framework for collaboration by integrating servers, storage, networking, security, power & cooling and services. As a member of the AllianceONE program, Market Dojo can significantly extend market reach and improve selling success. Market Dojo can leverage HP AllianceONE solutions, tools and resources to help clients speed time to application deployment, optimize infrastructure capacity, reduce power consumption and free resources to focus on innovation that drives business growth.

Quotes from Market Dojo:
“The Alliance One program has given Market Dojo access to significant support not normally available to a new UK SaaS business. It is fantastic that they have seen the potential of our innovative online solution to help with effective procurement in the private and public sector.” Alun Rafique, Co-Founder
“We are also very happy that the ISV Alliances team have helped us locate Liberata who can address our hosting needs thus helping our clients wanting to deal with cloud solutions, but who still have concerns over security and data.”Nicholas Martin, Co-Founder

“HP is unusual for a large multinational in that they proactively help SME’s and see the long term benefits. They have been invaluable in supporting our work, for example, by providing workshop rooms for our next innovative product partly funded by grant from the TSB (Technology Strategy Board).” Nick Drewe, Co-Founder
What solution does Market Dojo hope to enhance through AllianceONE:
Market Dojo decided to join the HP Alliance One program due to the unparalleled benefits offered to a new SaaS company seeking to grow in difficult economic conditions. It is also in these times that their innovative tool assisting procurement professionals to reduce their costs becomes of paramount importance and HPs assistance gives Market Dojo solid foundations from which to grow globally.

Team MD – The force behind the ‘samurai’ release

As Team GB were creating a success this summer smashing many records and providing one of the most impressive Olympic results in recent times for Great Britain, Team MD was also hard at it.

Now, we’re not saying we are as impressive as the Olympic team (not yet anyway!) but we do try to emulate the spirit.

We were awarded a grant from the Technology Strategy Board late last year to make e-Sourcing, amongst other things, more accessible to the Public Sector. As a small team, we soon realised that the way to make the most of it was through collaboration.

By working closely with many small partners, we achieved a certain synergy and created something worth far more than the sum of its parts. We want to share with you the team makeup and pay tribute to those who made our games a triumph, ultimately resulting in the release, nicknamed ‘Samurai’.

The ‘athletes’ –  working for victory:
‘Kolibria’ – Who says you can’t find designers and developers for a reasonable price in the UK? Not only did they do a great job, but as this boutique French consultancy operation could do the design and development, we had found a one stop shop (although not so sure if the Team GB’s thrashing of the French in the medal table made them any happier).

The ‘Coach’ – supporting the team:
The ‘Technology Strategy Board’ – otherwise known as the UK’s Innovation Agency, they were instrumental is listening to our ideas.  With matched funding, we had to work together.  The Technology Strategy Board steered us to completion through their organised management and assignment of a Monitoring Officer.

The ‘Olympic Torch’ – setting everything in motion:
Is it wrong to equate this to the Market Dojo team? We certainly started the process, created  and held the vision for the ‘games’, however I think only time will tell if we are a shining beacon to inspire a generation!

Whilst those above were the core components, there was a huge support crew help to make it happen.

The ‘volunteers’ – helping wherever needed:
We have often found many benefits from working with the academic community. Unfortunately, good students don’t just fall into your lap, you need to work at the relationships and you only get out what you put in.

‘The University of the West of England’ provided an MBA team to help define the market and profile the audience. We work closely with this local university and we also lecture there and even supply the occasional case study.
’Ecole Atlantic de Commerce’ sent us the very capable Hadrien Geffroy who assisted with the multi-cultural element, translated the website and through an affinity to the Rocky movies kept us motivated too. Now we have the software available in French as well as Greek, German and Russian.  We also look forward to several more students from this college joining us for a few months next Spring.
The Arts University College at Bournmouth’  provided the unique Sam Hallet whose interpretation helped us draw an innovative infographic of our product offering, incorporating our logo as an inspiration.

The ‘message’  – pointing us in the right direction:
‘Modern Media’, a skilled Bristol Marketing agency took the outputs from the UWE project and converted them to the right message for the audience to hopefully inspire a generation.  This is seen through the new website and targeted communication, why not have a look.

The ‘starters gun’ – an explosive beginning:
‘Hewlett Packard’ helped kick off the process by providing the premises for our customer and partner engagement workshops.  They are an exception in the market, showing that even a behemoth of a company can still support and help nurture SME‘s, focusing on the marathon rather than the sprint. Their benefits will come from the sale of hardware to their partners whose servers we reside. They also help us with load testing, ensuring our software can run at maximum efficiency.

The ‘track’ – underpinning the games:
‘Liberata’, an HP partner and another example of a firm who shares the vision in supporting up-and-coming technology companies.  They provide secure foundations and enhance our credibility.  Together with Liberata we not only have data assurance to IL3 but they also have their own innovative tools for the public sector such as Capacity Grid, which is a is a virtual shared service marketplace, through which local authorities can connect, collaborate and trade resources.

The ‘Sponsorship’  – gaining momentum:
‘I’m with them productions’, run by the impressive Lee Matthews, developed a marketing video series that grips a nation. See the first episode here on how companies can best save money (…or not!). Lee has had an illustrious career to date which also includes many horror films, such as the award winning Shrove Tuesday.

The ‘audience’ – supporting the games and judging success:
Where would any of us be without the public, quite literally in our case.  The public sector have been involved from the start as the inspiration, in providing the challenge, aiding us along the way and ultimately being the audience who will determine our success.  Why not visit us and let us know.  Our Sandpit allows you to try to all the e-Sourcing strategies you need, sign up for free and explore our solutions.

Market Dojo – the e-route to cost-cutting

Here is our latest press release, announcing our Samurai release and some of the work we have been doing with Shropshire Council…

Market Dojo helps organisations to save money when negotiating with suppliers. We do this by providing software that enables employees to conduct an online auction. Our service is simple and secure, it’s quick and cheap, and as an example, in a recent auction, one of our clients saved £140,000 on a £500 investment. Purchases have ranged from new vans to powdered milk and brake pedals.

Already proven in the private sector, now Market Dojo is available to the public sector.

We have recently received a grant of £25,000 from the Technology Strategy Board, the government body that aims to help the public sector to cut costs without losing quality of service. The grant was awarded to enable Market Dojo to develop software that would make it possible for organisations within the public sector to tender, legally and with full compliance, throughout the EU.

Shropshire Council’s Integrated Passenger Transport Services team has used Market Dojo’s software to put bus and taxi operators services out to tender through e-auctions. To date the Market Dojo software has saved the council 8% from last year’s prices.

“In our first e-procurement using Market Dojo software we saved over 8% on our contract prices,” says James Willocks, Principal Transport Officer, Shropshire Council. “This was a great success, especially considering the current pressure affecting the transport industry. Market Dojo’s 12 month licence costs no more than running a single event with an e-Auction facilitator. We look forward to future developments with the company.”

Market Dojo was founded in 2010 by two young entrepreneurs from Bristol, Alun Rafique and Nick Drewe, and now they plan to roll out their service to government bodies throughout the UK.

“The public sector is facing major budget cuts and job losses, and if every council can make a significant saving, the taxpayer will save a massive amount of money,” says Nick Drewe of Market Dojo. “Our software is easy to use, affordable and environmentally friendly, and the return on an investment in our e-auction package is very quick.”

The cost of using Market Dojo?
From £500. An annual licence costs £5,000 and can be used every day.
About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software.   Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

Bidding for produce

Little hard data exists over the method of retail procurement via eAuction, but the practice is known to go on. David Burrows asks how widespread it is and what impact it has on the supply base.

Online shopping may well have increased 14 per cent and passed the £50 billion mark last year, but buying groceries online remains a turn-off: nearly half of all adults have never bought food online, while over a quarter say they never would, according to a survey this year by YouGov and VoucherCodes.co.uk. But while supermarkets work to get more people shopping ‘.com’, their procurement teams are apparently embracing online buying in a bid to source cheaper products.

There is mounting concern that supermarkets are becoming more and more reliant on theuse of e-auctions to buy fresh produce. In its Catalyst for Change report, published last week, the NFU exposed several examples of “poor business practice”. The list, based on first-hand discussions with its member growers and intermediaries operating across all sectors of the horticulture industry, included reports of verbal margin agreements and late payments, as well as an increase in frequency, length and depth of promotions. Intriguingly, it also identified a rise in the number of online auctions as part of a culture ofshort-term trading that “still prevails because of the inherent level of competition that existsto supply products to retailers”. The increasing popularity of e-auctions, said the NFU, is “compromising the ability to establish meaningful business partnerships in the fresh produce sector”.

Indeed, an insider told FPJ recently that e-auctions are just one of the methods retailers adopt at certain times to get the lowest price. “They switch from one supplier to another and try to get them cutting each other’s throats, then they will maybe put an order for 5,000 trays up for e-auction and invite their regular suppliers each to bid for it in addition to their regular order and often add in a wildcard – a different supplier – just to test them out.”

But are e-auctions rising in popularity as the NFU suggests? Are they bad for business and bad for fresh produce? And do they damage supplier-buyer relationships?

Online auctions have been around for over a decade now and their functionality and complexity have similarities with eBay: they allow people to bid against competitors. But, unlike eBay, the longer the auction goes on, the lower the price falls. This is why the NFU has raised concerns.

Indeed, much of the supermarket PR spiel focuses on ‘strong relationships with growers and suppliers’ and a fair deal for farmers. The British Retail Consortium, for instance, says its members are committed to “working positively” with all parts of their supply chains, including farmers. “It makes sound business sense to have quality suppliers who are efficient and successful,” says a spokesman. “There’s a place for ‘spot’ markets in some products but what retailers and their customers rely on are long-term sustainable relationships that guarantee reliable supplies of high-quality, safe food. We don’t think our members are making much use of this sort of auction,” he adds.

Others disagree. “Auctions are rising in popularity in almost every sector,” contends Alun Rafique, co-founder of Market Dojo, an e-sourcing software provider. “A big retailer has been using our software to run auctions covering a wide variety of commodities. Retailers are already one of the most advanced and prolific users of auctions so there will be a limit to how many auctions they can run in conjunction with other negotiation methods.”

Others also say that retailers have long been frequent users of e-auctions, albeit for certain types of products. However, there is no data on the frequency of use, or who is using them.

Daniel Ball is business development director at e-procurement specialist Wax Digital. He doesn’t feel there has been an uprising in e-auctions but retailers have used the tool for many years now and “their activity is higher than other organisations of equivalent size in other sectors”.

But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, he adds. “There are a lot of accusations levied against these auctions – that they are just about price and are damaging to [supply chain] relationships – but that doesn’t stand up in our experience; it’s just one element of a much wider engagement.”

Supermarket buyers rely on key suppliers to help them in periods of short supply or high demand – and provide discounts when supply is high. As John Abkes, vice president ofiTradeNetwork explains, if a buyer gave business away a few weeks ago based on price, loyal suppliers may be less likely to go that extra mile in the future. “The buyer might save a few pence, but he might not be confident of the quality of the product or the service levels, which in the long run could cost more money.”

Running an e-auction badly can also be “disastrous”, according to Rafique. “If an auction has less well-defined specifications the suppliers will all be bidding to different criteria on an uneven playing field and the buyer might award the contract to a supplier who has not understood the desired service levels, resulting in suppliers possibly reneging on the contract. This ends up as bad press for the tool when the process is in fact to blame.”

There is no doubt e-auctions have got bad press. However, there is evidence that they can help matchmake suppliers and buyers. Pete James, from the University of the West of England, has been leading the i-ADAPT project – an Independent Assessment into the development of Auctions as a Purchasing Tool. This year, James published the results of a survey among buyers from a range of sectors, including retail and food manufacturing.

Some of the results were “astounding”, not only refuting the claim that buyers’ auctions are adversarial but that they actually show improvements in the buyer-supplier relationships. Nine out of 10 of the buyers quizzed said developing supplier relationships was a major objective of the auctions. Just 33 per cent said they chose price as a primary factor in supplier selection. Supplier performance was also enhanced following an auction, according to James.

“E-auctions are shifting the way you manage the negotiation process,” says Wax Digital’s Ball. “There is a lot of prep work required [for suppliers], which creates a level playing field for all of them to work to. They also ensure retailers [involve a handful] of suppliers they believe in. Pitching them against one another on price alone will just expose [retailers] to risk.”

And it’s not only supply risk that retailers could expose themselves to. “These are economically challenging times and the cost is a big factor for consumers, but they don’t want to compromise on availability or quality,” adds Ashley Clarkson, associate director and fresh produce specialist in Grant Thornton’s food and beverage team. “Retailers are looking for quality, sustainability of supply, NPD, service levels and price management from their suppliers.”

As a result, Clarkson believes e-auctions will remain on the fringes for buyers of fresh produce. The discounters may well use them as a price-led spot-buying procurement mechanism – and with more of them supplying food, 99p Stores, for example, this could see a few more auctions taking place.

However, the main grocery retailers don’t look like they will ramp up their activities any time soon. Morrisons and Tesco wouldn’t comment on their policies, but Marks & Spencer and Asda “do not use e-auctions”. Sainsbury’s says e-auctions are “an option open to our buyers when negotiating our supply terms but we tend to have long-term relationships with a lot of our growers and suppliers, meaning that they are rarely used in fresh produce”.

The British culture seen by a Frenchy

editors note:  this is the second blog entry from our excellent intern Hadrien Geffroy.  Sadly Hadrien’s internship has reaached it’s completion and we have to say au revoir, but Hadrien, you are welcome back  any time.

Advice: this article could contain French humour which some English people could possibly not understand. I apologise for it, and I ask you not to take it wrong or feel offense. Thanks you for your understanding.

I don’t know if it’s because we are neighbours or if it’s a direct consequence of globalization, but the British culture isn’t so different from the French culture. I mean we are both Occidentalized countries, lead by a democratic government and severely influenced by the American culture. But a few things caught my attention. The first things that shocked me when I arrived in Bristol were the streets and houses, all the British houses look the same and there are no garages to park your cars!  Where are your architects? Do you have architects? Do you know what an architect is? Do you want some of ours? Fortunately Banksy is here to beautify your walls!

The second example of great interest to me personally is FOOD. Being French, food is for me a big part of the culture and even if I come from France and the food I eat there is the best in the world, I have to admit there are a few good things in your kitchens. Obviously I’m not talking about this stupid chilli (I’ll get back on it later). By good things I mean crumpets, Shepherd’s Pie, crumbles, bacon…  And even if British food isn’t very sophisticated, the meals I ate all along my stay were quite good. Breakfast is on the top of the list of my favourite British food. I tried typical brekky twice and each time it was a really culinary orgasm. I was also fond of Fish & Chips until some made me ill. I love curry as long as there is not too much chilli. You may probably think I make a fixation on chilli but you have to know that for my first lunch with Nick & Alun they put so much chilli on my sandwich that I thought my tongue would fall off. I’d like to talk about beer but I don’t want to shower you with too many praises.

In the UK, and more especially in Bristol, the culture is more visible on the streets than on the plates. The street looks like a perpetual carnival, there are so many styles of people: hippies, Goths, hipsters, coloured haired girls… and what about girls… I don’t want to introduce an endless debate about which of British or French are the most attractive but I heard someone who said that French girls have pretty nice faces and bodies but they are too much introvert whereas British one’s looks sometime “not attractive” but they are sexier… I let you give your point on it on the comments 😉

There is another reason I will never forget this summer: Olympics. One of the questions people asked me the most while my stay in UK was “what do you think about the opening ceremony?” And here is another point in which I have to admit you are very good. I watched the Opening on the big screen in Bristol’s town centre and the atmosphere was awesome.

Being in the UK while the Olympics were on gave me the opportunity to spend a day in London, I couldn’t watch any event but I enjoyed the infatuation of the Olympics. Of course, as a Frenchman, it was very difficult to endure all these gold medals for Team GB or to see how many British people scorned handball. Everybody told me it was a sport for girls…Oh sorry, it’s true, you got the most athletic sports in the world: Darts, Snooker and Cricket…

If there is a point on which France should copy the UK, it’s on the place of sport in society. When you see the place of sport in the daily life you quickly understand how the British athletes managed to reach 26 gold medals at the Olympics. In France sport is most of the time just seen as a way to stay healthy but in the UK it’s much more than that; so one point for you.

Now you read my article, you’re obviously allowed to do the same for French culture!
About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software.   Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

Market Dojo celebrate their second birthday with a year of amazing growth

PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release
August 2012

Market Dojo celebrate their second birthday with a year of amazing growth

Last week marked Market Dojo’s second successful year in business, with a massive ten-fold increase in the previous year’s revenues.  Co-founder Nic Martin was delighted with this important milestone, “the last 12 months have been a fantastic period of growth for our young company and has really proven that our business has the key ingredients to succeed, from a great product, excellent customers and a brilliant team”.

The rapidly expanding software technology company, based in the South West, offers an online application that helps businesses negotiate more easily and efficiently with suppliers via the internet. Businesses can also run reverse auctions where suppliers compete to win contracts to supply goods and services.

Market Dojo now has in excess of 25 customers who use the application up to 5 times a day to receive quotes from suppliers for goods and services as varied as electrical cables, paper bags, van and car hire, brake pedals, machined parts and office furniture.

“What makes us unique is that we have taken a concept that was previously restricted to large businesses, due to the complexity and cost of existing software, and made it accessible even to small-to-medium sized businesses”, explains fellow co-founder Alun Rafique.

Their ambitions now lie in building the customer base, both home and abroad, as well as releasing a whole new product upgrade which is just around the corner.

Editors Notes:

Sprechen sie Deutsch?!

Today, we are really pleased to announce some great new features for Market Dojo.  We believe these reflect our four core beliefs: being collaborative, transparent, agile and to have fun doing it.

Here are the highlights…

Translated Market Dojo into German and Russian
We added these specific languages in direct response to customer needs.  We are well aware that our users are based all over the world, and for many of them, English is not their first language. This release also lays the groundwork for more languages in the future. We are already planning improvements to the public areas of the website in these first two languages with a new web design planned for July.

Bigger file uploads
Several customers told us they needed to include bigger files with their RFQ and Auctions Events.  We have increased the maximum file size to 10Mb, to allow even more detailed documentation to be included.

Improved Edit Mode
Changes happen.  When they do, it is important that they are correctly communicated to all affected parties.  We have learned that when you are dealing with dozens of people in several different timezones, more focus and detail in the information you provide up front will save time later.  Previously Market Dojo automatically notified everyone of changes to an Event, now this is done at the Hosts discretion, so only those who are affected will be informed.  Hosts are able to include a detailed message explaining exactly what has changed.

More upload/download formats
Previously, data imported and exported from Market Dojo was only  in CSV (comma separated values) text format.  Now, we also support Excel (XLSX) format files.  This format will address problems for users in countries where the comma is not used in CSV files and also give us more flexibility in the format of reporting we provide. Currently this is a ‘beta’ feature, and we are really keen to get any feedback on how this works in the field.

Improvements and bug fixes
We have made more than 20 improvements  and fixes to give our users a better a experience.  These range from changes to which information is shown first at various stages of an Event, to clearer messaging and integration to our customer database.
We have had a lot of fun putting this release together, but we are really looking forward to is hearing how it helps our customers.  Do let us know what you think!

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software.   Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

A UK Start-Up’s Viewpoint on the Paradigm Shift in e-Sourcing

We were recently asked to contribute our on-the-ground thoughts of the e-Sourcing market, as we witnessed it.  The original posting can be found here, although for ease we have included it below:

As a new entrant into the already crowded space of e-sourcing during a major economic downturn, it certainly makes for interesting times. After persevering though our first year, we can see many factors actually in our favour (and of course many against, but let’s focus on the positives).

First, procurement continues to gain visibility within organisations, as we know that an efficient procurement strategy can mean the difference between profitability and receivership. Having been both an engineer and a buyer, it is pleasing to see these professions gaining more traction at a board room level, although still maybe not as much as we’d have liked.

Secondly, there is a strong focus on reducing costs. Perhaps that is stating the obvious; however with sales ever tougher under increasing global competition, procurement is the area where you can really recover that lost profit. To quote a figure commonly bandied about during my time at Rolls-Royce, “a one percent saving could increase profits by as much as ten percent.”

Lastly, we perceive a paradigm shift in the e-sourcing market, which is why we chose to develop a SaaS (Software as a Service) application. As an aside, in our opinion, SaaS is just a re-branding of the type of companies formed during dotcom boom, except this time the internet infrastructure can cope with the delivery of their benefits.

The last fifteen years have definitely seen procurement technology come on leaps and bounds. It has evolved from pipe dreams to disparate applications to fully integrated ERP systems. These have been traditionally maintained by the local IT team and supported by a host of consultants with each required change to the interface or operating system costing the better part of an arm and a leg.

The shift that we thought we were predicting was the shift of this technology to online hosting, coupled with the rapid application of these e-Sourcing solutions to the SME and mid-tier market. In many ways we believed we were looking at the commoditisation (or “consumerization” as we learned to call it in the US) of the technology, embedded with more intelligence yet easy to use, professional and openly priced. We had thought that the larger companies were sewn up with the ERP behemoths who, even as we speak, are slowly moving to online hosting by development and acquisition. Parallels could also be drawn to the dotcom boom here, where large multi-nationals swept up the few successful e-providers who survived the bust bubble to give them that dynamic edge.

However, we seem to have got it wrong. We were too early — although we have found that being ahead of the curve is not such a bad thing. What we have hit upon is a lot of interest from large tier one companies desiring a simple, online, and accessible solution which can be used in parallel with or sitting on top of their existing ERP solutions, even if those systems already contain e-Sourcing modules. This is most certainly due to the slower reaction speed and migration period to true SaaS solutions exhibited by the larger providers.

What is the reason for this? Our view would be the need for accessibility and easy adoption. Niche SaaS providers offer uncomplicated, pay-as-you-go products that are easily accessible and have been designed with the end user in mind to deliver very focused solutions. In our case, it is to provide in-house sourcing professional tools for e-RFQs and e-Auctions which can be switched on and off with no implementation costs and very little training. Obviously the large providers are adapting, trying to catch up with different pricing models to counter the competition from the smaller, more nimble SaaS providers. Ariba has demonstrated this most recently with their “free” license option. However, the change in the way software is being delivered, combined with the customers desire for an uncomplicated product, at least lets us put our foot firmly in the door and, in the end, we still have the small and medium tier to approach. All in all, interesting times.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible e-sourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com

Would we participate in a reverse auction?

Reverse auctions and even e-sourcing software has become a commodity product.  There are numerous players in this market offering broadly the same functionality.  Sure, some have a few more bells and whistles and others can integrate nicely with other e-procurement solutions, but on the whole there is little to distinguish between them aside from cost and aesthetics.

So, if I had responsibility as a buyer for a large company to implement an e-sourcing solution, why would I not consider conducting a reverse auction to settle the negotiation and how would I go about such a thing?

Well, if you look at the key ingredients for a successful e-auction, purely and simply it comes down to being able to accurately and robustly define what you need and to ensure you have enough capable and interested participants who can meet those needs.

In terms of e-sourcing software, I would draft up the core features and functionality that I would look for in any capable vendor.  Now, I could do this the complex way and draft up a weighted RFI followed by a weighted auction to allow bidders who have “special” features to score more highly, but then why make this difficult.  Simply knock up the list of “must-haves” and make each participant verify that they can satisfy the requirements.  I would request a 2 hour web-demo with each participant to help me decide whether or not to include them in the bidding process.  Since the whole process will be run on “Buyer’s Choice”, I will decide post-negotiation which participant to award the business to, taking into account the price of their solution as well as the other features and service levels that they can be distinguished by.

Having done this, I have my list of capable and interested participants. To complete my requirements, I would also compile my commercial and contractual terms, such as length of contract, number of users, approximate number of sourcing events, suggested payment terms, my training requirements and so on. This would allow my participants to submit accurate and sustainable quotations.

The next step is to conduct the negotiation and for this we could choose the reverse auction.  The interesting step here is to pick a platform on which to conduct the auction, as it would most likely be inappropriate to use the software of one of the competing vendors, even though I could probably source a free event from them!  Perhaps one of my earlier unsuccessful candidates would supply this, which would at least be something of a consolation for them.

With the auction and hence price negotiation complete I would be in the position to award the business, using my buyer’s choice to take into account all the other differentials.

So, would we as a company participate in such a process?  

The short answer is most certainly yes!  Whilst some organisations refuse to take part reverse auctions on the basis that they are too price-focused and that they drive you to prices that are unsustainable, we would actually be very keen to take part in any such opportunity as we know this is not true.

Firstly, the sales process is much shorter.  A buyer would be approaching us with a genuine interest to buy and has been given the green-light from above.  We would not have to spend much time at all writing proposals, reviewing proposals, re-writing proposals and so on!  Instead, the buyer has taken the time to lay all of this out for us in advance.  All we have to do is examine whether it is within our core capability and interest to supply it and at what price.  Since we know from experience that the entire reverse auction process and award decision takes approximately 8 weeks, this method is far quicker than the 6 months it can take in a traditional process.

Secondly we have huge belief in our business model and offering to the extent that we think we would perform very well under competitive pressures.  Should we not be successful, at least we have live and dynamic market feedback on how we compare to our genuine competitors.  If we continued to be unsuccessful against the competition then it would provoke us to carefully review our business, thereby mitigating the risk of longer term failure that would inevitably have occurred should we not have pitted ourselves against the competition.

As for the potential objections, sure the auction itself is focused on price however the award process is not.  During the process, as a participant I would be in regular dialogue with the buyer, building up the relationship, advising where the specifications are not quite right, being supportive, proactive and punctual.  Let’s not forget that the negotiation is still part of the sales process and so by demonstrating a high degree of professionalism and that you are a company that can be trusted, you are greatly influencing the buyer’s decision once the auction is over.   This can make the difference between success and failure, despite your ranking in the auction.

The only ground for objection here is that the auction is simply too effective as a negotiation tool.  With my buyer’s hat on, sometimes I do wish that suppliers I am negotiating with stopped offering me all these extra services and features that I don’t want and simply reduced their price for those that I am actually asking for! This is where the auction is so powerful.

As for auctions leading to unsustainable contract pricing, this is where you need to do your groundwork and stick to it during the auction itself.  Sure, it can be tempting during an auction to submit that “one last offer” only to later realise you cannot commit to it, but it is in no one’s interest for this to happen.  The buyer is looking for a capable partner at the most competitive price level and we as a participant are looking for a new customer at a price level that allows us to grow. There is certainly middle ground here where both parties can win.  Again, if you keep losing out whilst bidding on auctions, it is time to take a look at where you are leaking costs or to re-think which markets you should be competing in. Perhaps all those additional service levels and quality accreditations are simply not important to your customers, or on the other hand, perhaps your run-of-the-mill offering is not specialised or distinct enough to convince your customers to partner with you.  An auction plus award decision offers genuine market feedback combined with specific personal feedback.  You can really use this to your advantage to improve your sales performance in future activities.  In fact, should you be successful in an e-auction, why not shout it from the roof-tops.  You have just positioned your company as one of the best in the market.  What a fantastic statement to make when you are next in a sales dialogue.

One final note is that we as an e-sourcing and e-auction software vendor, who encourages organisations across the globe to tender their business via this approach, really should be able to put our money where our mouth is and wholly support any buyer who would like to auction us.

Well, it would be our pleasure!

About: Market Dojo provides business-to-business e-auction and e-sourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com 

Why we are so grateful for the ‘cloud’

Last month we surpassed the milestone of our first year in business.  Understandably we were delighted, as we read previously that up to four-fifths of start-ups fail in their first 12 months.  Yet we feel we are truly on our way to becoming an established player in this market, with a client list that is expanding rapidly.  However, when we look back at how we started Market Dojo, there is one aspect that stands out when assessing what helped us reach this goal, and that is the use of cloud technology.

For those who are not familiar with cloud technology, and to admit such a thing is akin to never having watched a Star Wars film or never to have heard a Beatles song, our take on it is the use of software or an application over the web on a ‘pay per use’ or monthly basis which you can use straight away with clear benefits.  Think Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or YouTube.  No installation, no set-up costs, and in many cases no fee.  If you like just think of it as the dotcom boom version 2.0, only this time it is here to stay!

When you consider any business, you will find it will most likely have office infrastructure to some extent.  Such infrastructure might include a phone system, an e-mail system, a fax system, an accountancy system, a CRM system, a calendar sharing system, a data storage system, a web-hosting system, or even a customer support system.  Clearly there can be a lot of systems and many of these are non-core to your business, meaning time and money spent in these areas would be detrimental to other areas of your business.

I can only imagine how much it might have cost us 15 years ago to cater for all these systems.  We would probably require a receptionist for the phones, a PA to manage the CRM, an on-site accountant, a very large printed calendar, an even larger filing cabinet and a staffed front-desk for our customer support.  We would then need a rather large room to host all this.

This takes me to why we are so grateful for the cloud.  At Market Dojo we have embraced the best of today’s technology to turn us into a professional company, as ultimately that is what we wish to extend to our clients.  
Our phone system is Skype, where you rent a phone number by the month and only pay for your usage, most of which is free.  This includes video conferencing, file sharing and instant messaging for everyone in our company and gives us a global presence by allowing us to rent or cease renting international phone numbers when we like.   Whilst Skype is not strictly cloud, as you do install software, you can log in across the world from any computer that has it or that you can download it to, so in many respects it is very similar.

Our CRM is Zoho.  We only pay per user per month.  It integrates with our other applications, including Skype, which means no repetition.  Within our own software development we have the approach of “Don’t Repeat Yourself” (DRY) which any business would be wise to apply to administrative tasks as well.  Zoho also caters for the customer support system on the same basis.

Data storage and sharing, calendar sharing and e-mail is all with Google Apps, which is completely free and is as robust as the google.com website, even though everything is still in beta!

Our accountancy software is Clearbooks.  Again, pay per month per user.  We can even add our accountant to it so that they never even need to set foot in the office, as we can upload all our receipts and invoices to Google Docs.
We don’t have any need for a fax system, but if we did there are plenty of cloud systems out there that charge per use.

And finally our web-hosting is all with an external hosting provider, secure and backed-up daily, paid monthly of course and with zero set-up costs.

The advantages that cloud technology has brought to us are simply enormous.  The most obvious one is cost.  If I were a sole trader, I would be able to set up and manage all of this for less than £600 a year.  I would need no training and no upfront capital expenditure.  To ‘house’ all of this technology, all I would require is a computer, in fact no, a smartphone.  It would take me all of about 3 hours to set up and I would be happily catered for until I was running a global empire, at which point some apps might start to creak at the edges.

The main risk that companies quote for not examining the cloud as a serious solution can be easily mitigated.  Data security is a major and very understandable concern.  However, with such a broad choice of hosting providers on the market, you can always source a provider that offers the necessary level of data protection, whether for personal use or for the Ministry of Defence.  You can also find cloud-based data back-up providers!

Another major objection is reliability.  Today though, the internet is probably less likely to fail than your internal LAN and with an increasing number of companies providing networks that are dual-hosted, these risks are diminishing.  In fact, you can actually end up with a more reliable solution than your own internal network.  For your servers, do you have back-up generators, CCTV, a fire suppression system, 24/7 security patrols, CESG accreditation, dual-hosting and multiple internet providers?  This is certainly what we look for in our hosting provider.

When you compare the old approach to starting a business and the new with all the technology that is now available to us, the two are worlds apart.   You don’t need capital expenditure for office infrastructure, nor the staff to manage it, nor the space to house it.  You don’t need a hardware refresh, nor have costly upgrades as you grow or as old technology becomes redundant.  There is a valid question over whether you need an office at all.  And best of all, you only pay for what you use.

Just like you do with us!

Our Press Release (A bit late!!)

Market Dojo celebrates their 1 year birthday!
Market Dojo, an innovative Bristol-based software company, recently celebrated their first year in business.  The company, incorporated on the 2nd August 2010, is looking to soon become global with potential clients in Greece, Peru, US and Germany.

Co-founder Alun Rafique reflected, “It has been a fantastic year in which we have learned a lot and come a long way.  We’ve been very surprised by the level of interest that we have seen, not just from the small-to-medium sized companies but also from the larger enterprises.”

Market Dojo offers easy to use, professional e-sourcing software to help businesses save time and money on their purchases. The key benefits of their software include increased efficiency, centralisation of information, repeatability, transparency and auditability of the sourcing process.

To date Market Dojo has helped their clients average savings of approximately 30% from e-auctions alone, as well as bringing major efficiency improvements for all involved.  The more standard Request for Quotation activities have seen similar results, which is all the more significant given each client averages 15 new sourcing activities a month.
Even more impressively, their clients have generated an average return on investment with Market Dojo of little over 2 weeks!

Alun Rafique looks forward to the next year with huge enthusiasm, “We have laid a great foundation for the future.  We have established the business and proven the benefits of our product, so it is now a case of expanding the sales and marketing activities to bring the benefits to many more companies.”

About Market Dojo:

We offer Business to Business e-Sourcing software [RFQ’s and Auctions] to help companies save time and money when negotiating for their goods and services.
Our guiding philosophy has been to develop cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) suited for the in-house professional.

It is designed around three core ideas:

Our software costs just £1,000 per sourcing event or £5,000 for a single-user annual licence to run as many sourcing events as you wish.

For more information please refer to www.marketdojo.com
Key contact: Co-founder Alun Rafique, 0117 230 9200, alun.rafique@marketdojo.com.

Why should you go for Best of Breed?

We were having a meeting the other day with a vastly experienced ex-CPO of many FTSE 250 organisations, whose counsel to us was that we should look at developing a fully integrated eProcurement toolset if we were to have a chance of working with FTSE companies. Given our current direction, it did get us thinking about the whole best of breed versus enterprise solution debate.

The main advantage of best of breed is that is allows customers to select the ‘best’ product for each requirement, rather than going for one tool that can satisfy every requirement in perhaps a sub-standard way. Time and again we have seen certain modules of these enterprise solutions gathering dust within an organisation simply because they are not a best fit yet organisations are paying the software companies for supporting these unused features. In worse cases, best of breed applications are still brought in to do the very same task, only better, leading to the company paying for the same requirement twice over.

It is frequently cited that enterprise solutions have less integration costs. However in many cases it can be far more costly to implement an ERP solution onto the current IT infrastructure and then to bespoke it to fit the specific requirements. Perhaps if there were any true SaaS ERP applications out there at the moment then maybe the implementation costs would be much less. However adopting a best of breed route opens up the choice in the market considerably, which in turn increases your negotiation potential, in the same way that a buyer might devise ‘Lots’ for a tender process. This becomes particularly prevalent when it may come to switching your provider, as the fully integrated solutions will be extremely challenging to dislodge, whereas you can phase out individual best of breed applications gradually.

Furthermore integration costs can be cut drastically, in terms of price, time and complexity, through the use of clever cloud-based integration tools that remotely link SaaS applications. Boomi, Pervasive and Cast Iron are some example solutions for this. Suddenly the potential to integrate best of breed solutions becomes even simpler, and all possible via the web, thereby greatly increasing the flexibility of this approach.

From our side, the first major hurdle we would have to overcome to become an enterprise solution is that we would need to develop the other modules, such as spend analytics, contract management, P2P, SRM, SIM, project management and so on. This would create huge development costs on our side, costs which would of course be transferred over to our clients. It would also mean our maintenance and upgrade schedules would be vastly more complex as our team has to keep an eye on tens of thousands more lines of software code, much of which cannot be refined in isolation but must be looked at as part of the bigger picture. Naturally, as soon as this happens, cracks appear in previously excellent products, functionality starts to suffer and the user experience is greatly diminished due to the increasing number of options that the user is presented with. It is no surprise that best of breed applications are more streamlined than the larger ERP solutions, as they only have to handle 99% of the capability. As soon as attempts are made to plug the final 1%, which can move them further into the ERP domain, the application becomes unwieldy.

Instead we could partner with best of breed vendors in each of the key areas, using cloud integration tools to integrate our respective solutions, and then our team can focus on our key strengths and plans, and our partners can focus on theirs. We could even have multiple partners within the same product type, for example contract management, so that we could present our clients with several possible solutions from the all-singing, all-dancing right down to the very basic.

The partnership between applications can create huge value. Just a casual glance through the Google Apps Marketplace and you can find thousands of best of breed applications, designed specifically for simple integration with Google Apps. Google could have kept all their software behind closed doors and prevented third parties from branching out. However Google recognises the innovation and perfection of solutions that is created by promoting such an open network of best of breed applications. We certainly use a number of these applications, such as Zoho and Oggchat, and thanks to the way that these applications can feed off the functionality of Google, the costs are extremely low and integration was a doddle.

So, the next time you are looking for a suite of solutions to cater for your procurement needs, please do bear in mind the best of breed approach and use it to create your own solution to perfectly fit your needs whilst keeping your options open for the future.

Market Dojo Interview with Buyers Meeting Point, November 2010

To get us started, give us a little background on Market Dojo and the team.

Two of the founding Directors, Alun Rafique and I, worked as cost reduction consultants for a nearly a decade combined. We helped companies like BP, Asda, Tarmac, Meggitt, Rolls-Royce and others to reduce cost and risk in their supply chains through strategic sourcing, tactical negotiations, supplier workshops and managed e-auctions.  During this time we noticed a gradual shift whereby companies wanted to carry out the activities in-house.  This gave us the seedling that became Market Dojo, the business-to-business e-auction software provider.

Our third Director, who used to work as an IT database specialist, but now currently designs complex data analysis software, has created solutions for companies like Tesco, Argos and Best Buy.  Therefore between us we feel we have all the necessary skills to create and manage an e-auction software company.  Our goal is to enable small and medium-sized businesses to run their own e-auctions successfully.

There are already so many players in the market – why enter the scene now?
We think that the timing is ideal.  We’ve noticed procurement organisations are facing new challenges as many of their clients who have enjoyed their services now wish to self-manage e-auctions to reduce costs.  Businesses have also learnt from the consultancies and there are an ever-increasing number of educational e-auction courses available.  Thus we have focused our company to supply the procurement professional with a commoditised solution.  We are not aware of any other e-auction providers that offer a product which is openly and reasonably priced (with no hidden prices or price escalations), yet easy to use and adopts professional processes to ensure success for third party use.  Furthermore the “cloud”, which is big news at the moment, allows us to provide the software-as-a-service solution to a very broad market with no set-up costs.

Our offering, which aims to provide businesses between $5m and $500m annual turnover with the tools required to run their own e-auctions, is very neatly spaced in its own market niche.  A number of our competitors would struggle to keep their skilled consultant workforce if they approached this market with our philosophy.  We believe this is exemplified by Ariba divesting their consultancy arm of the business to Accenture.  Both experienced professionals as well as complete novices are able to use our software.  We embed best practice into the software, which means our support costs will be greatly reduced.

One of the distinct things about Market Dojo is your credit based pricing system. Why did you choose to take this approach rather than just charging straight GBP for a license?
The credits model is to give us and our clients flexibility.  What we offer is a solution that caters for 90% of the e-auction market as standard, but with modular functionality to satisfy the remaining 10% of users, for example having bespoke categorised participant databases or using advanced reporting.  Our clients can expend credits to add such functionality to their account, if they so choose, and can make this choice once their experience and requirements develop, i.e. once they feel comfortable.

Credits also allow clients to consolidate their purchasing and invoicing transactions and allow them to continue to use their account uninterrupted. This works in the same way as something like ICIS LOR, the plastics and chemicals market price database.  Credits can be purchased in bulk by our clients to be used how they want, when they want.

For us the credit system is an advantage because the consolidated invoicing also aids our cash flow.  Furthermore the credits allow us to carry out some great marketing initiatives.  For example, exclusively for Buyers Meeting Point, sign up with Market Dojo before the end of 2010 and drop us a line quoting “Buyers Meeting Point” and we shall give you 25 free credits towards your first event, plus a further 25 credits in return for a case study.

One of the challenges of running a successful auction is being absolutely prepared. How you plan to be sure that users of the Market Dojo solution have positive results – not just because the software is useable but because they have the knowledge in house to follow a good process in advance?
We completely agree that the so called “plug and play” e-auctions can require just as much work as the consultancy-led managed auction process to be successful.  We have worked hard to inform our clients of the work and thorough process required, which is encapsulated in our free guides, yet by streamlining the process within the software we have managed to reduce the workload.

Whilst working as a consultant I recall assisting a client who wished to run their own e-auction.  After initially agreeing to proof-read their RFP, I ended up re-writing it for them, as well as adjusting the spend data and Lot structure.  However, despite our warnings, we just could not convince them to bolster the number of participants.  In the end they received a mere 3 qualification bids and during the e-auction itself just one further bid was placed.  It just demonstrated that the traditional “three bids and a buy” embedded itself in their process so firmly that even the e-auction became a part of it.  However, there is also an element that because the company sought to run an e-auction themselves via software from a consultancy, there was a blur in the roles and responsibilities, which ultimately caused it to fail.  At Market Dojo we counter this by clearly outlining the process in our guides and by taking on the clear role of a software provider.

Our past experience gave us a great learning platform to incorporate into Market Dojo. We have developed a number of features to make our clients, in their own capacity, run successful e-auctions. Firstly, we offer only self-managed e-auctions, therefore the clients know what to expect. To assist them we have created nearly 20 guides packed full of our consultancy knowledge and experience, which are free for all our users.  We have established our own community site, called Community Dojo, which encourages the free exchange of knowledge and learnings from running e-auctions and using Market Dojo. We have created professional, step-by-step software that has information help icons for every title, button and action that not just state information but provide advice and tips as well.  We also have professional support on stand-by in the form of e-mail, phone and Live Chat.

All of these features combined mean that we have used our past learnings to fuel the future success of our clients.  Nevertheless, although we do focus on the software, we are a new company and we would be happy to go the extra mile in return for a testimonial or referral to make sure that our clients exceed their targets.

What is ‘market price’ and how do I know I’ve found it?

I realised recently that this is a term we brandish about quite frequently at various meetings and conversations we have.   Occasionally we get nods of appreciation for the term, but more commonly we receive a look of faint recognition, as if it were a friend last seen in school days wearing braces and ill-fitting clothes.  So, perhaps it might be worth giving our take on the term, just to help freshen up the concept, plus a little advice on how you might seek it.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary provides the following:  “a price actually given in current market dealings”.

There are several key words in this definition.  Let’s take the word ‘actually’ for example, for the above sentence can make perfect sense without it, yet the insertion is deliberate.  It adds gravitas to the word ‘price’.  It is not a suggested price or an implied price or even a piece of estimation, but an actual price.

What we would interpret this to mean in the procurement world is that this price is genuinely valid and acceptable.  It has been submitted based on all the specified requirements of quality, technical, commercial, logistical, operational, administrative, health and safety and so forth.   In other words, it is real and it is based on a product or service that meets your needs.

Another key word is ‘current’.  A market price cannot be so if it is founded upon old or even future information.  It has to be based current facts and information.  If I purchased my property for £200,000 two years ago, I would be misinformed to say it is now worth the same.  And nor could I actually tell now you the market price for it in 6 months time.  If I want to know an accurate figure for my property today, I would consult the market today.  It’s the only way to be certain.

The same applies in procurement.  Where certain prices rely heavily on raw material costs, such as fuel or steel, don’t leave it to the supplier to hedge their bets on raw material price movements as part of their offer to you.  It won’t be a market price if this happens.  Instead, ask them to give you a price based on today’s raw material costs and to provide a raw material index mechanism for future price reviews.  This way no one needs to take a gamble and lose out.  Such a mechanism is fair, open and transparent.  Currency reviews should operate in the same way.

However, what this definition does leave open is that you could receive a number of so-called ‘market prices’.  Which one is the right one?

This is where we would go a step further.  We would classify a market price as, “the best actual price in current market dealings that is sustainable for the required term”.  It is in no one’s interest for the price to be so competitive that it causes a supplier to go out of business or conversely so uncompetitive that it causes the buying company to go bust.  So, put into plain English, we see the market price as being the best price for a product or service, based on current market conditions, that meets your needs and is sustainable for the duration you want.
So, if that is what the market price is, how do we go about finding it?

First you specify your requirements.   Second, you engage the market.  It’s as simple as that.  Think about something like Money Supermarket or Compare the Market.  By filling in your car insurance requirements, you are provided with up to 30 quotes.  The top two or three are usually around the market price level, i.e. the best price, based on current market conditions, that meets your needs and is sustainable for the period you require it.  Beware of spurious prices, the ones that look too good to be true, because usually they are! A bit of due diligence is required just to double-check that the quotes are based on what you require. You don’t want to later find out your excess, for example, is ten times more than the next best quote.

For procurement, it is a case of designing a robust RFQ or set of requirements, leaving as little scope for interpretation as possible.  Secondly, you distribute it to your own private market, whereby you should have a plentiful number of capable and interested suppliers. Finally, pick the top two or three bids and carry out that bit of due diligence to make sure everything has been understood and that the quotes are accurate.

The knack is in creating your market.  If you were to approach two suppliers down the road and get prices, would you say that you have approached the market?  No.  If however you approach 10,000 suppliers around the globe, would you say that you need a few more before you know the market?  Also no, you would say you have covered a sufficient number of bases.  Clearly something lies in between.

Thankfully this is where online sourcing technology can greatly help you by keeping everything together in an auditable and controlled manner, allowing you to involve huge numbers of suppliers.  My personal record was a sourcing exercise that involved 1,500 suppliers, of which 140 or so provided prices.  Having completed this, I was particularly confident I had found the market price.

However this is a one-off example.  The practical way to create and involve the market is to:
1) Outline your supplier criteria, such as geography, turnover, accreditations, capabilities etc.
2) Source suppliers using your contacts, your experience, trade shows, associations, sourcing agencies and databases such as Kompass, Hotfrog, Kellysearch, Applegate, Alibaba, TradeIndia and so on,
3) Qualify the suppliers against your criteria, using questionnaires and submitted responses if time permits.

Once done, send out the RFQ or grant the qualified suppliers access to it and simply manage any questions that come back.  Once all the prices are in, carry out the competitive negotiation, be it an e-auction or otherwise, and the market price will be revealed before your very eyes!

About:  Market Dojo provides business-to-business e-auction and e-sourcing software.  Find out more at www.marketdojo.com.

Gamification – An evolution in software design or just continuing the trend?

Recently there has been an article in Supply Management (issue 6th Jan 2011) and also on the UK Spend Matters blog by Peter Smith (3rd February 2011) touching on the subject of Gamification.

For those unfamiliar with the term, here is the Wikipedia definition:

“Gamification is the use of game play mechanics for non-game, particularly consumer-oriented web and mobile sites, in order to encourage people to adopt the applications. Read More 

The gaming industries revenue is measured in tens of billions and it is growing at an almost exponential rate. They are obviously doing something right. 

Should the business software world take note and learn from this industry? Is it just a fad? Or is ‘Gamification’ just renaming of existing practices that companies are already engaged with whilst ignoring other elements of the gaming industry such as story telling which are central to games but not so relevant for business applications? 

There is quite an academic debate around this issue. This article is not about resolving this but to give a pragmatic viewpoint.

What you can say is that irrespective of the naming convention, it is obvious that the business world has a great deal to learn from the gaming industry. Software in the business world is becoming more useable, functional and can be easily customised, but misses the point if it is trying to learn from the gaming industry. 

The primary strength of the gaming industry is around the user experience. There are many other words that could be included here but it is the user experience which seems core to the uptake of their technology. There are many facets which make up the user experience: ease of use, attractive GUI, inbuilt intelligent tutorials, dynamic interfaces, fun to use, reward mechanisms, online communities, challenges, stories, scoring and so on… The list is endless and different applications will focus on different points.

The key is that the user engages with a very complex system easily and effortlessly to become proficient and then is self motivated to continue and progress and share information. It is the user experience which drives this however it is made up. You can’t say this about many (any?) business applications. Although you can certainly see that many modern websites and applications are starting to take on a different look and feel which seems to draw on important aspects of the gaming industry. They have taken on a more fun approach and well as a clearer and easier to use interface. Some nice examples here are Survey Monkey and Value my Stuff whose websites and functionality are laid out in very clear and simple steps.

Obviously business applications are always striving to become more user friendly, and this has been an industry trend for many years. However it seems that they always put functionality first above the user experience. They can continually make the user interface easier but it is by examining other industries such as the gaming sector that will result in an application which people want to use. If more business application started design by looking at the user experience and ultimately engagement first then there would be less multi million pound software implementations where much of the workforce don’t use to their full capability. We have spoken to companies who have Oracle and SAP implementations where they need to bring external consultants in to show them how to use the systems and increase uptake. Forcing users to uptake new technologies by changing processes is one way but wouldn’t it be great if users really wanted to use a new technology? 

Gamification, for want of a better word, seems to embody an incremental step change in the way business software applications are designed through the priority given to user experience.
You could just say it is a next level of design, but the word itself embodies a very specific element in the way design strategy is changing and there are other benefits to just user uptake. Games tend to be fun. This is because they are easy to use and encourage engagement. They tend to avoid repetitive tasks and focus on getting back into the thick of it. Thus the advantages of enhancing the user experience through design from the gaming industry in business applications will not just be around the faster uptake of the technology but also other areas such as reduced administration and efficiency.

One just has to look at Apple. It is very impressive how they have put the user experience first and have thus created a loyalty in their user base which continually grows. The IPhone has many little nuances which impress and you can see how it also makes the experience easier and richer. It seems they looked at the market and put the user first before putting in the functionality. (OK, still a good question around flash!)

At Market Dojo we believe the skill is not just around a nice looking GUI, or inbuilt tutorials but much more fundamental. Our philosophy is built around making a software product which people want to use rather than one that they simply can use. It seems this is now the goal of many other upcoming SasS vendors who are new to the market and it is a very interesting time for business applications and their evolution in design.

About:  Market Dojo provides business-to-business e-auction and e-sourcing software.  Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com.  

10 (and a bit) things you didn’t know about Market Dojo

*This has since been beaten, and we have had a client register, purchase the software and run an auction within a 48 hour time period. Amazing! Some of our more experienced users are now so familiar with the process that they can turn set up an auction with questionnaires within 45 minutes.

About:  Market Dojo provides business-to-business e-auction and e-sourcing software.  Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com.

What are the top things to do when starting a new Pay-per-click campaign?

I recieved a question on LinkedIn recently.  Specifically it was: “What are the top things to do when starting a new PPC campaign or optimizing an existing one?”.

Not really being an expert in this area but having learnt a lot through trial-and-error recently from our Adwords campaigns, below is the response I gave.  It happened to receive the “Best Answer” accolade on LinkedIn so I thought I would share it here, in case it may be of use to our readers;

1) Typically I’d begin by thinking what I am looking to advertise, particularly if my website has a number of different products or services. I’d build that top level list of products or services that I wish to promote.

2) I’d think about the landing pages I would want for each ad and whether my current webpages match the ad objective, or whether I need create a completely new webpage that would convert the customers better.

3) I would then get stuck into clustering my ads into groups that share the same keyword types, e.g. an ad group that has ads focused on tracker mortgages, another ad group that has ads focused on fixed rate mortgages, and so on, all within the campaign, “Mortgages”.

4) Once the ad groups are created, I’d try and get into the head of my target customer and think, what do they want to see, what would make then click the link, what would make my ad stand-out vs the competitors. This would then influence what I would write for my ads, e.g. “Best Tracker Rates for the most affordable mortgages on the market, click here” or whatever! It’s important that the ad must contain words that are relevant a) to what the customer wants, and b) the keywords you are going to apply the ad to.

5) Which brings us on to the keywords for each ad. Use various Google suggestion tools and those from other sites to research a great list of keywords, their revelance, their search frequency and your gut-feel for suitability. Apply those keywords and define a sensible bid price that won’t ruin you on day 1. With high volume searches you will have a good load of feedback very early on to then make refinements, keeping a close eye on your Quality Score (mostly based on the keyword Click Through Rate), AdRank (based on cost per click and Quality Score) and overall daily / weekly / monthly cost vs return.

6) So, with the objectives defined, the campaigns set up, the ad groups organised, the keywords targeted, the ads appropriate and the landing page catered for, all that I would then do is go live! Then monitor very closely for performance and not be afraid to make tweaks along the way.

About:  Market Dojo provides business-to-business e-auction and e-sourcing software.  Find out more atwww.marketdojo.com.    

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