Are you using Excel files to accept supplier submissions? Do you collect your evaluator’s scoring activities in Excel? Or for aggregating and tabulating those scores?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you could be leaving a lot on the table.
Popular but limiting tool
You’re not alone — Excel is not an uncommon tool in the procurement professional’s arsenal. And it’s easy to see why: most individuals have a working knowledge of it, and almost all organizations already use it. Excel can also make it easy to collect large volumes of data in an organized and structured way.
While Excel has some obvious benefits, it also has significant drawbacks, especially when it comes to aggregating responses, completing scoring, and tabulating the results.
Excel — slow, risky evaluations
Using Excel for these tasks can consume enormous amounts of time, expose you to the risk of errors, and ultimately prevent you from making the best decision possible.
This means your team is spending more time trying to engineer the decision, rather than focusing on the decision itself. Despite this, some procurement teams continue to see Excel as a viable (and ‘free’) alternative to a purpose-made tool.
At a time when you’re under more pressure than ever to produce better outcomes, can you afford to allow your toolchain to hamper your team’s performance?
Benefits of purpose-made tools
Modern sourcing software has been designed to help streamline the process of receiving supplier information, the scoring and evaluation of that information, and the optimization and tabulation efforts to determine a winner.
While these tools may require an investment from the organization, the benefits of moving your scoring and evaluation away from Excel are immediate and significant:
1. Faster evaluations, with less risk.
Excel was not designed to easily allow you to capture and aggregate the responses from multiple suppliers. Nor was it designed to aggregate the scoring and comments from your evaluation team. Excel is great for capturing data in an organized way. But using it to aggregate supplier or evaluator data is slow and risky.
Frequently, the aggregation process for both ends up being a manual one - time spent copy and pasting multiple files into a single spreadsheet.
Not only is this process time-consuming, but it also exposes your data - and therefore your decision outcome - to the risk of errors. Data pasted into the wrong place, an incorrect formula, missing or incomplete information - all of these can lead you to make the wrong choice.
Modern sourcing platforms were designed to support these stages of your projects. The best of these platforms feature automation tools that control and streamline this formerly manual process.
In short, suppliers submit their responses and your sourcing software automatically aggregates their responses, sets up your evaluation for you based on your requirements, and aggregates the resulting scoring outcomes.
This means your team can spend less time doing manual, mechanical tasks and invest more time into adding value into the decision itself.
2. Better control and visibility
Using Excel to capture your scoring means distributing a scorecard spreadsheet to each member of your evaluation team. Once those scorecards are sent, you have no easy way of knowing how your project is unfolding.
Are your evaluators completing their scoring? Is one evaluator lagging behind the others? Are you on track to meet your deadline?
Short of chasing down, babysitting or booking tedious check-in meetings with your evaluation team, Excel gives you no visibility into the progress of your project. This can mean bottlenecks, delays or roadblocks may not be discovered until it’s too late.
Without the ability to proactively monitor and manage the process, your project timelines might already be at risk before the first sign of trouble.
The newest generation of sourcing software gives you complete insight and proactive visibility into how your projects are unfolding, allowing you to zero in on potential trouble-spots before they impact your timelines.
Your organization is relying on you and your team to deliver timely decisions, so keeping your projects on track needs to be a priority.
3. Better analysis and decisions
Excel can allow you to conduct powerful calculations and analysis using built-in functionality: formulas, macros and pivot tables to name a few. However, the process for setting up, customizing and validating these calculations can be a challenge for even the most veteran Excel user.
As discussed earlier, manually setting up these formulas can lead to data errors or miscalculations, but even a correct set-up in Excel can take many hours or days to create.
This does not include the time it takes to re-run your decision if your business requirements change, or you want to conduct a ‘what-if’ analysis.
The result is an enormously time-consuming and manual decision optimization process that risks mistakes, can take weeks to complete, and discourages deeper analysis or optimization
Modern sourcing software tools allow you conduct the same analysis, but without the same drain on your time and resources. The best of these tools allow you to conduct instantaneous what-if analyses, easily tweak your decision parameters and optimize the outcome to best suit your needs.
When your organization is counting on you to deliver quality decisions with exceptional value, your toolset needs to support the deeper evaluation of your suppliers.
Benefits of purpose-made tools
Excel certainly has a place within the procurement process. But when it comes to some of the most critical stages of your procurement, using Excel can be a significant hurdle that is holding your true sourcing performance back.
Replacing Excel with purpose-made sourcing software is about empowering your procurement team to focus on the decision at hand, rather than the manual or administrative tasks that don’t add value.