Using Gartner’s Magic Quadrant to Find Procurement Technology Vendors is a Great Way to Fail at It: Part 3

Using Gartner’s Magic Quadrant to Find Procurement Technology Vendors is a Great Way to Fail at It: Part 3

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This
four-part series focuses on why companies shouldn’t rely on a Gartner Magic
Quadrant (MQ) alone when looking to acquire procurement technology. In Part One
(How does Gartner pick their vendors for a Magic Quadrant?), we looked at why some vendors may not be on the MQ and
part two (Gartner doesn’t do pay-to-play – at least directly) discussed
how some vendors can better position themselves in the MQ if they are Gartner
clients. In part three, we’re looking at some of the top performers on the recent Strategic Sourcing MQ.

Part III: Top performing vendors on the quadrant are not necessarily the best

The MQ can show you companies that Gartner thinks do well overall, but if you do a
deeper dive, there can be some problematic qualities that lie below the surface.
SAP Ariba is one of
the largest names in Strategic Sourcing (as well as Procure-to-Pay) technology
and has been around for over 20 years. It scores very highly in the
Strategic Sourcing MQ, not just in the upper-right ‘Leader’ quadrant, but also
ranks the highest in ‘completeness of vision’. It sounds like a good product
looking at the chart, but for many companies it can be a nightmare based on
what we have often heard from their customers: It is unintuitive for end-users,
connecting to other SAP products is extremely difficult, and Ariba won’t adapt
to a company’s existing workflows; instead, the company has to change their
workflows to fit how Ariba wants them to work. To boot, there is at least one
provider out there who has a specific implementation program for Ariba conversions as many
customers are not happy with the product.
Of course, we don’t
want to accentuate a vocal minority, but it is hard to ignore the consensus of
actual end user reviews on Gartner’s own
‘Peer Insights’
page
, where they score SAP Ariba the lowest of the two dozen
Strategic Sourcing products on there (as of October 2018). Some highlights:

“The UI is very hard to navigate and the
terminology for different areas or concepts is not particularly intuitive… The integration
into SAP ECC is custom (as there is no out of the box option)”
 

“[I]t took three months before we were taken
seriously and engineering resources were allocated to help solve the
integration problems to SAP ERP…
After 27 years as a SAP consultant, this was the
worst experience of my SAP career”
 

“Very complex UI
and flows; difficult to train and upskill staff. Upgrades are very tedious.
Adding new vendors and catalogue updates are cumbersome.”

Mid-sized
businesses don’t have the time or resources to conduct the elevated amount of
training required for a successful SAP Ariba implementation, and many only find that
out after the fact. It’s hinted at in the MQ description of the product, but
it is nowhere near the major warning sign that customers should be receiving.
Other procurement solutions could have downsides that the MQ only hints at,
but could prove to be deal breakers for certain companies.
There are also Procurement
vendors out there who make great products but haven’t made a MQ because of the
revenue and geography qualifications discussed in Part One. Proof of that can
be seen in Gartner’s Peer Insights page, which as mentioned previously, provides
reviews of software by actual enterprise users: Of the 5 highest-rated
Strategic Sourcing suites, 3 are not on the Gartner Magic Quadrant.

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