Procurement Analytics - The Power of Good Design
Posted by Ludovic Veale, Analytical Services Director, Customer Operations in Data Visualization / Spend Analysis on October 13, 2020
Procurement is often a company’s biggest cost item so the difference between mediocre procurement analytics and outstanding will have a huge impact on your bottom line; it will largely come down to good design. The word design is often something that we associate with aesthetics, but it applies equally to all aspects of technology solutions.
Even though advanced procurement analytics have been around for a long-time, few companies are satisfied with the return on their investment. If you don’t believe the information that is put in front of you, it won’t be used to make decisions, and sooner or later you will stop engaging with it. Getting it right is key to early adoption and the growth of its use. Having advanced analytics that aren’t being used are frankly of no use to anyone. I don’t know how many times companies tell me about the hundreds of dashboards and reports they have at their disposal, only to find when I run an analysis of their usage, that only a handful are being used.
The Beauty is in the Details
From the front-end dashboard to the way the underlying algorithmic code is assembled, an appreciation of good design will switch the ordinary into the extraordinary. The late Steve Jobs was renowned for his insistence that everything be driven by good design – even with things that wouldn’t necessarily ever be seen.
Data visualization is the front window of advanced analytics and making that impactful is so important. Finding patterns is at the core of data visualization. At the same time, it’s so much more than the visualization piece, it’s all the data preparation in the first place, cleansing and enriching large amounts of data from disparate systems. The value comes from the ability to measure procurement’s contribution to the bottom line.
Content is King
Good design is secondly driven by content knowledge and that is where our analytics team at JAGGAER bring so much value. Having a sole focus on procurement allows one to really understand what can make a difference for decision makers.
Here are some tips for when it comes to good data visualization design to draw in your audience. There are many more, but I have focused on a few here:
1. Don’t make it difficult for me to login and find my data
The ability for a user to get to the information that they need quickly and easily sounds like it should be obvious, yet I still see users jumping through multiple hoops to get to the data that they need. Bar the finance team, if a user tells you that they need to export their procurement analytics into Excel you can guarantee that good design on accessibility hasn’t been considered.
2. Consider how data points interact to provide ‘insight’
Providing ‘insights’ is the golden word in advanced procurement analytics, but to get there it takes a lot more than providing the raw data. To have any insight it’s going to take at least two data points and in most cases many more. It’s how you pair those data sets that provides context and ultimately gives meaning and insight. The combination of these data points all comes down to good design.
3. Consider your zero-state view
There are many times where a dashboard has been designed based on test data only to find that when the live data comes through, it’s not as rich and populated as anticipated and the report looks a little flat. Thinking about how your calculations and KPI’s may be viewed with more sparse data is an important design consideration as your audience will quickly lose interest if it doesn’t grab their attention.
Procurement Analytics Need to Come Full Circle
The role of the procurement team is predicted to get more important so the emphasis on good strategic decision making will play a bigger and bigger role. The way that you collect and present your procurement data has a huge impact on how it is interpreted.
As we have been hearing for well over a decade the growth of the data available to your average procurement department is growing exponentially and is not slowing down so how you condense and process that information is ultimately the aim of good advanced analytics design.
Lastly, when we think of procurement analytics, we traditionally think of Spend Analytics and all the above does apply to that, but there is now so much more, such as analytics in category management, strategic sourcing, contract management and P2P to name a few. The ability to tie all these different areas together and provide a consistent view requires good design and is something that we always strive for at JAGGAER.
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