Assessing Supply Chain Software

Market analysts and consultants can be a useful aid in assessing the multitude of different supply chain software. However, too frequently, those ‘experts’ hide behind weak and irrational methodologies, instead of providing opinionated insights which would require a lot work from them. Far from being irrational, high-quality subjective judgements nearly always outperform cheap and naive methodologies.

Prospects, consultants and market analysts often ask enterprise software vendors to provide an RFP (request for proposal), or more often than not ask them to participate in an assessment. Most of the time, this assessment takes the default form of a very long questionnaire with hundreds of checkboxes.

For an area such as supply chain, which is filled with real world complexities, these exceedingly long questionnaires become more a source of confusion than anything else. The reason for this is that the vast majority of questions are very limiting and are presented in a closed “yes” or “no” form, which doesn’t allow for any nuances.

Another issue is that there is often no diversity in these questionnaires - a questionnaire for marketing software is identical to one for supply chain software, which are obviously going to be addressing highly different sets of business issues. A better way to probe the market would be to assess the fundamentals of both the problem you’re trying to solve and the product you’re investigating.

Correctly framing a problem is essential. For example, many companies believe they need a forecasting software. But when digging deeper, we see that forecasts are frequently just a means to an end, so instead of going into depth over this intermediate problem, it would be better to investigate the actual issue at hand, which is usually supply chain performance.

Furthermore, many products end up being nothing more than a huge pile of inconsistent features, which fill out the survey checkboxes very well, but don’t work so well in the real world. A good judge of a software might be if the software and its features can be coherently summed up in one page.

To conclude, we talk about the history of software reports and how they have started to evolve since the year 2000. We discuss about the ethics surrounding some of these reports, with marketing agencies inciting vendors to pay more to look better. In addition, we discuss what companies can do to get a fair appraisal of the solutions that are out there - mainly by cutting out the middle man and talking to the providers directly.

Timestamps

00:08 Introduction

00:23 How are software companies currently assessed?

02:39 Why is it that questionnaires sent by consultants don’t work so well?

04:45 Is there really a better way to do those questionnaires?

07:35 What sort of information should be listed to get an overview of what characterizes the software?

11:48 How did these surveys first come about? Why are they so popular?

17:21 The idea is that the more you pay, the better you look in these reports?

21:58 How do you think the future will evolve? Do you think these analyst companies are here to stay or do you think that the market will realize that the value they are adding is minimal?