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Technology that will take procurement transparency to the next level

by Jeremy Coward

Across a wide variety of sectors, buyers of outsourcing are starting to expect more transparency from their service providers.

This is partially due to the rise of online price comparison sites such as Priceline, Confused.com and CompareTheMarket.com. These websites are now frequently put to use by consumers making online purchases. Buyers in charge of outsourcing also use these sites, and they’re beginning to wonder why there’s no equivalent for real time pricing, ranking and reviews in their B2B procurement processes.

Another issue is the seemingly arbitrary way in which suppliers bundle services in their contracts together. Comparing these services on a “like-for-like” basis is often a struggle, and gives buyers cause to believe that they’re paying more than they should be (regardless of whether this is actually the case.)

Now, many service providers would happily be entirely transparent in their procurement dealings - in theory. However, providing transparency to this extent becomes extremely time-consuming, and is often so prone to human error that the ultimate lack of accuracy can defeat the point of the project in the first place.

As with many procedures in the BPO space, technology is on the verge of changing things for the better. It is now possible for systems to automatically collect this information on the supplier’s behalf; with enough service providers using a uniform system, buyers could be armed with the most up-to-date supplier information concerning quality and pricing every time they procure services.

Such technology is already being put to use. Opportune, a cloud-based benchmarking and savings engine recently launched by the leading SaaS developer Mtivity, is the perfect example, and an unparalleled first in the procurement space. The tool can be used by buyers to extensively compare and contrast potential service providers in real time, drawing on large amounts of data from a huge number of sources.

The scope of the engine is impressive. It allows buyers to interrogate historical data, client specific benchmarks, procurement rate cards, previously run jobs and much more. New data is analysed from the moment it is added, making insights more and more comprehensive as the input increases. Essentially the more buyers use the tool, the smarter it gets!

The benefits of such an application are obvious. Buyers can ensure they achieve significant cost-savings and efficiency gains by choosing the most suitable provider for every job, while the suppliers that genuinely deliver great value can actively demonstrate this and be recognised for doing so.

According to Mtivity, Opportune has already been soft launched among a number of existing clients, with over one million transactions processed through the engine to date. Using Opportune has resulted in an average of 148 per cent in efficiency gains and double digit profit margin increases for those clients.

Now that Mtivity has made Opportune available to the wider market, others involved in the procurement process can benefit in the same way, particularly in marketing and BPO fields where Mtivity specialise.

The future use of such engines has the potential to revolutionise procurement from a transparency perspective.

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