Exploring the value of great user experience in next-gen sourcing tools.
Technology has become an integral part of our day-to-day lives. This includes everything from the phones we use, the smart thermostats in our homes, to the technology in the cars we drive.
Knowingly or not, we have set high expectations for these technologies - specifically when it comes to how user-friendly they are.
We have come to expect a certain standard for the user experience of these tools. Does this technology make my life easier? Will it help me save time? Is it intuitive enough for me to know how to use it immediately?
When it comes to your work and sourcing technology, the user experience of your platform should be held to the same standard.
So, why aren’t most procurement technologies as easy and intuitive to use as a smartphone app?
User experience is a key feature
In the workplace, we’ve all experienced software platforms that have difficult user interfaces or a steep learning curve. Older bidding tools and many eProcurement suites were not designed with their user experience as a priority - and it can show.
A strong user experience isn’t just about “looking good”. It’s a core element of a software’s design that meets user needs, allows them to be more efficient, and empowers them to perform at a higher level.
The benefits of your sourcing platform having a strong user experience have a widespread effect throughout the sourcing process:
Simplifying complex information
Sourcing projects can be complex in nature and have a lot of moving parts: people involved, supplier information, submission data, important project milestones or dates, evaluation progress, audit trails, etc.
A key benefit of strong user experience design is the ability to simplify complex data in a highly visual, easy to understand way.
For your sourcing platform, this translates into the ability to aggregate, simplify, and visualize your complex project information in a way that your users can digest that information at a glance.
Here’s an example of how Bonfire simplifies and visualized complex data - this is the timeline for an example project, showing project stages, vendor submissions, and important project dates.
The best sourcing software is designed to automate the heavy lifting, and make it easier for you and your team to gain the insight you need to make smarter sourcing decisions.
Reduced errors and omissions
A well-designed user experience makes it easy and straightforward for users to understand how to interact with the interface, and what’s expected from them.
For example, a strong user experience makes your sourcing project clear for your suppliers. This includes what the project is, what products/services you are looking for, and what you need to receive from bidding suppliers.
When bidding suppliers easily understand how to interact with your sourcing platform, the risk of submission errors or omitted information is significantly reduced.
Easier submission processes can also allow your bidding suppliers to spend more time putting their submission together, rather than trying to navigate a challenging or time-consuming bid process.
An example of Bonfire’s supplier portal - our goal was to make the submission process as easy as sending an e-mail. The average submission is completed in eight minutes.
Improved user adoption
When you invest in a sourcing platform, you need stakeholders to use your technology to realize its full potential.
If your platform enables users to do their jobs, makes their lives easier, and genuinely empowers them to add more value, your users will want to use it.
A great user experience and interface is a key part of the user adoption of your software. Driving better user adoption of your platform will reduce maverick spend, improve your sourcing KPIs, and ultimately help improve your team’s performance.
You can read more about driving user adoption of your sourcing software in our ebook:
Achieving higher performance
Having a powerful sourcing platform is one thing - having one that’s easy for users to unlock that power is another.
You can pack a lot of ‘horsepower’ into a platform, but it might as well not exist from a performance perspective if your end-users can’t access it easily.
A strong focus on user experience design can allow your sourcing team and evaluators to perform their tasks more efficiently and effectively.
A great example of this is your scoring functionality: your evaluators should be able to immediately understand the information being presented to them, be able to compare supplier responses, and easily capture their scoring judgments and justifications intuitively.
Bonfire’s Auto Scoring feature is a great example of how strong user experience can help users be incredibly efficient and effective - in this image, we auto-scored over 300 questions in seconds.
More effective and efficient end users will supercharge your sourcing projects, slashing project times and potentially improving the quality of your sourcing decisions.
Stakeholder happiness - and yours
Not only will you be happier with the progress and improvements generated by your sourcing platform, so will your internal clients and stakeholders.
When your software is easy to use, your stakeholders (executives, managers, buyers, evaluators, and suppliers) will be happier and may actually like using your platform. In turn, a lot of the negativity that can come from outside the procurement function can be eliminated immediately.
Having a sourcing platform that participants like to use shouldn’t be considered unrealistic. Like the technology you live with in your personal life, your sourcing software can and should be as easy and enjoyable to use as an iPhone app.
If your platform isn't that easy and your user experience is a challenge, this should be a major red flag for your sourcing platform.
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