Once upon a time, a Frenchman went to Bristol

The 9th of July, on a wet summer’s day, I set my foot on British soil for the first time of my life. Obviously I would have preferred to spend my holidays in my native country, the beautiful and sunny France. But a special mission was waiting for me, here in Bristol, and more precisely two businessmen: Nick & Alun (or Alun & Nick, no jealousy there).

Indeed, as part of my studies, I had to complete a 6 week long internship abroad over the summer. “Why Market Dojo?” You might ask? In fact I had heard about Market Dojo by chance. Fond of the web and new technology I was looking for a trend company as a start-up which related to my business studies. It was only after a few researches that I found Market Dojo. When I applied for my internship, I didn’t imagine how much I was lucky to work for this company.

Today I’m working for Market Dojo as intern and thus for 6 weeks. Because my work is very boring and uninteresting (humour), I have time enough to talk to you about the fantastic professional and life experience I’m currently living in Bristol.

Monday the 9th of July 2012 at 09:00, I knocked at the door and two young (it’s all relative) smiling guys opened the door. I quickly understood they were very cool and relaxed, but also very professional so we didn’t lose time before we set to work, just the time to take a cup of tea (the first of many). But Market Dojo is a kind of modern company, most of the work is home-working and the atmosphere is relaxed, which makes my working conditions very comfortable.

Now let me talk to you about the advantages of working in a little company. Having the opportunity to work for Market Dojo allowed me to see this. Indeed, I wish to every student to work for a little company to live both a professional and a life experience. In little companies the border between working life and private life is very thin; which makes work less boring and gives me ample time to learn about the British culture.

Concerning the work, I quickly realized my responsibilities would outnumber what I was expecting. In my case, my main goal is to make Market Dojo’s website and software accessible for any French native who wants to use Market Dojo’s service; which means translating approximately 15,000 words (so easy!!). But I also have to think about Marketing for French market, software testing, assist a conference, and make cups of tea (wringing the tea bag is much more technical than it seems). Being an intern at Market Dojo also involves eating bacon sandwiches, playing tennis, going to the cinema, watching the London Olympic games, looking at videos on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCiY1y3uJ3o), so many things that make you forget you are here for work!!

So many thanks to Alun, Nic and Nick for these 6 weeks!

Hadrien receiving his internship certificate


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


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

The new breed of software providers – Bringing benefits to the end user

Expediting probably took up half of my time whilst acting as a buyer at a large tier one aerospace provider. Three bids and a buy took up the rest. Was I concerned? Unfortunately not.  New to the job and having fallen into procurement, I had no better understanding of what I should or could do.

However, in the mid 90’s, strategic sourcing was coming to the forefront.  Spend more time upstream thus less time downstream.  Seemed like a great idea.  The AT Kearney initiative with the seven steps was brought in with vigour:  massive process re-design, a plethora of initiatives, and, of course, an ERP implementation from one of the large software vendors.  A wonderfully massive and complex system.  The managers liked the reporting, the auditability and the control.

But for the purchasing professionals, did it make our lives easier?

Well, we certainly had a process to follow, albeit different from before.  We certainly had a system to use where you could put all the information, such as a million different delivery codes to every cost centre under the sun.    We certainly had all the information at our finger tips…almost.

The issue was that even though this was this fantastic system to use, it was unwieldy. Yes, you could do anything, but to allow for this functionality and capability there was always a multitude of screens to go through.  I was still doing three bids and a buy for the local tooling but my life had become more of an administrator.  The time saved from less expediting was taken up with inputting information into more screens.  Sure, the managers enjoyed the ability to interrogate the system to any level and run reports, but from the buyers’ side it did not make our lives easier and was certainly not more enjoyable.

Does this matter?

Of course it does.  At Market Dojo, we take a view with our software to make it functional and easy to use.  A lot of new software today requires no implementation and very little training.  It is off the shelf, yet sufficiently customisable (without a raft of consultants) so you can adapt it to your processes, and not vice-versa.  Most importantly, it actually makes the buyers’ lives easier whilst still providing the control and reporting to the management.

Why is this so important?

Myself and my colleagues are great believers that however good or bad the plan is, it will fail if the team is not behind it.  Asking the organisation what their goal is and having many different replies is a sure sign there is no focus.  All software implementations ultimately depend on uptake by the end user.

Systems should not be designed by ‘techies’ with a process to map, but designed in conjunction with the end users.  Almost akin to applying Taylorism (theory of management that analyzed and synthesized workflows) to a system combined with improved ergonomics.

This should ultimately be at the forefront of any new system design; to bring the benefits to the end user and not just to management. The system will then sell itself, bringing a more rapid return on investment and creating a happier and more productive organisation.

The new breed of vendors are learning from the world around us and building applications which do just this.  This makes the software accessible with fast uptake, just look at Facebook or LinkedIn.  Would it not be great to have other users in your organisation say “Can I have that?”, rather than, “I hope they don’t roll that out here!”.

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

Market Dojo looking for Global Resellers

Market Dojo needs you!

We have created accessible e-sourcing software, attracted customers both large and small, proved its value and now we want to share our success.

“Market Dojo is looking for resellers”

SaaS solutions are being adopted by many companies in the market and offer advantages over the traditional software applications. We have taken this and applied it very successfully to the e-Procurement space as a best of breed e-Sourcing solution. Our solutions currently extend to electronic quotations and auctions, however, we have many more developments coming soon.

We have demonstrated that our software is as competent as many solutions out on the market, yet is available for a fraction of the cost:

  • Generating a large ROI for both large and small tenders from SMEs to large corporates
  • Many events have proved that the platform is intuitive to hosts and participants
  • Our customers have praised its innovation and accessibility

To help bring our solution quickly to the global market, we are looking for resellers. We are happy to work with consultancies and also pure software resellers where our solution will be a great addition to your offerings.

To see some of the benefits and more detail, please go to our Webpage or send an email to reseller@marketdojo.com

What is a Japanese Auction?

Japanese Auction LogoWe have just implemented Japanese Auction capability in our software at the recent request of a customer of ours. Despite our procurement consultancy past, this is an auction format of which we have very little prior experience. In fact, how much knowledge and experience is there in the general purchasing community of this approach to negotiation?

For those who are not familiar, here is an excerpt from our website of the Japanese Auction process:

“The Host states an opening price and participants have to accept that price level or withdraw from the auction. Acceptance indicates that the participant is prepared to supply at the stated price. When all participants reply to a certain price, the software lowers the price level by a pre-determined amount and again asks participants to accept or decline at the new price level.”

The process continues in this manner until all participants have ‘opted out’ of the auction.

As you can see, the approach can be very effective at establishing the final price for each participant in turn, regardless of the market competition. Consequently the approach can be adopted in situations where market liquidity is very low or markets which are dominated by a handful of major players, such as dairy or utilities. The Japanese Auction can even be used for a single-source negotiation, which was the major reason our customer favoured the Japanese Auction, ever since they used it to negotiate a significant cost reduction with just a few keen participants involved.

Other situations where the Japanese Auction can be used effectively are when there are large cost differences between bidders, despite both quoting for the same specifications. With your typical Ranked Auction, the participant in first place will unlikely be challenged, even though they may have built in some margin to play with. However, utilise the Japanese Auction and even that participant will be asked to improve their offer.

So far we have outlined a reverse Japanese Auction, i.e. where the bidding comes down in value upon each round. However, we have encountered situations where a Japanese Auction can be used in an upward price direction, such as the negotiation of rebates amongst your supply base. Since it is fairly meaningless to give suppliers market feedback on their rebates, as each supplier could be contracted for different goods and services and different spend levels, the Japanese Auction presents itself as a superb way to negotiate with each supplier individually, yet concurrently in a single auction. For example, in Round 1 the suppliers are asked whether they agree to a rebate of 0.5% of full year spend, with an answer of “Yes / No”. For those who reply favourably, they are then asked in Round 2 whether they agree to a rebate of 1.0% and so on. There is a huge efficiency saving compared to the traditional way rebates are negotiated, as well as the potential for far greater results.

There are of course challenges to Japanese Auctions. Firstly, they are not widely known about, which means that participants will require a greater degree of hand-holding and reassurance. Secondly, they offer little to the participants in the way of market feedback. Nevertheless, post-auction you can certainly provide feedback at your own discretion and to whatever extent you wish. Thirdly they operate in a rigid manner, with participants only able to accept or decline each price level rather than to come in at their own price level. It may mean that some participants have to wait a little longer to submit their final offer but the goal of establishing the market price is still achieved.

If anyone would like to know more, please feel free to contact us and we would be happy to take you through a web demo to show you how it works.

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

Some key tips for participating in a Reverse Auction

A short while ago we assisted a large company with their invitation to bid in an e-auction, as they were looking for some advice on how to maximise their chances of success.  We provided a list of key tips to look out for and has crossed our minds that you might also like to see our suggestions.

The key tips listed below for taking part in an auction are more applicable to private sector e-auctions, perhaps less so for public sector ones, however it could make a difference for you:

1) Involve your supply chain in the process (even during the auction itself), not just the internal team but external suppliers too.  They can help you identify areas to reduce costs so that your overall bid is more competitive, as afterall it is in the suppliers interest for you to win more business as it means more business for them.  It also gives you an opportunity to discover which of your suppliers have aligned themselves with your best interests at heart and which have little motivation to see you succeed.

2) Counter bid shadowing (where other bidders are hot on your tail) by making large decrements.  This damages morale of other competitors in the auction as they chip away at their bid and see no change in their position.  This can encourage them to prematurely drop out of the bidding.

3) Do not put your best foot forward right from the word go.  Firstly it is useful to understand how many other bidders are involved, so by hanging back (but not so much that you don’t qualify) you can obtain such an assessment.  If there are multiple Lots, you can hold back in some Lots to similarly gain this knowledge.  Secondly, buyers love to see movement during their auction and they will think more favourably of those bidders that are active (you are making them look like they’ve done a great job).

4) Very important to do all the groundwork up front and to be very aware what you best offer is.  Make sure what you are bidding on is de-risked, i.e. how long is the contract and are you allowed to adjust pricing during it to account for volatile commodity movements?

5) Build a strong relationship with the buying team.  This gives a great impression of your company and can influence award decisions ahead of straightforward price analysis (more applicable to private sector though and not public sector MEAT tenders).  Regular phone calls, asking sensible questions, politely suggesting where provided information can be improved and so on are good ways to do this.  If you can help the buyer do a great job, they will hopefully reciprocate.

6) Get an understanding of the bigger picture.  The auction is the way to get the foot in the door.  There may be larger opportunities once you have done this, such as rolling contract potential, increase in contract value during the contract, new products/services that are bolted on during the contract duration and so on.  Asking the buying company whether they envisage more business in this area or enquiring about the past growth of their business needs is a good way to find out more. Simiarly, by demonstrating an active role in such an auction, you will very likely be invited to take part in others.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible e-sourcing 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:

Spend Matters welcomes a guest point from Nick Drewe, Co-Founder of Market Dojo, a Bristol-based e-Sourcing solution start-up.

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.

Nick Drewe, Co-Founder, Market Dojo

About: Market Dojo provides accessible e-sourcing software. Find out more at www.marketdojo.com