Scaling Procurement SaaS: 25 Years In The Making – Have We Arrived?

Blogs, Best Practice Article, Learning materials, Best Practice

By Alun Rafique, CEO, Market Dojo

One of the many advantages of being in the procurement industry as a practitioner, consultant, and ultimately a SaaS provider is the benefit of having a “big picture” view of history. 

Not long after I entered the industry with Rolls Royce as a Graduate Trainee, eventually rising to Senior Purchasing Officer, I read an interesting white paper. The paper’s title was “Strategic Backgrounder: Software as a Service” by the Software & Information Industry Association’s (SIIA) eBusiness Division.

In its opening paragraph, the authors outline the evolution from traditional licensing models predicting that: “packaged desktop and enterprise applications will soon be swept away by the tide of Web-based, outsourced products and services.” 

At the time, it was a thought-provoking, even controversial introduction to the SaaS or on-demand model concept. The suggestion was that the new model would “remove the responsibility for installation, maintenance and upgrades (and the associated heavy costs) from over-burdened MIS staff.”  The paper even went so far as to suggest – and this is the controversial part, that “packaged software, as a separate entity will cease to exist.”

Strong words given that the paper acknowledged that “due to technical and business issues, such drastic predictions” was not a reality at the time. While valid, it clearly indicated that a significant change was most assuredly on the horizon.  

Jumping Ahead

Have you ever jumped ahead to the last few pages of a whodunit book to find out – well, whodunit? For those into binge-watching a Netflix show, you almost certainly have done a Google search on a character to see what happens to them before it happens.

Well, here is the spoiler alert for this article: as a SaaS provider, Market Dojo’s implementation is quick and free for off-the-shelf licenses, with high end-user adoption rates. For example, the Imperial Brands implementation took only six weeks from contract signing to going live. You can click on the following link to access the Imperial Brands video on how they did it. 

Now that you know that the long-ago predictions of the SIIA paper have come to fruition, the real question besides “the how,” e.g., see the Imperial story, is one of scalability. In other words, is some companies’ success easily duplicated and scaled for all companies?

Building SaaS to Scale

Before we scale it, let’s discuss what a SaaS platform is and is not.

A true SaaS platform, like Invoice Cloud, is a single instance, multi-tenant platform. A multi-tenant platform means that all clients are on the same base software code and platform (single instance) and are simultaneously using the same code (multi-tenancy), including having access to a shared database. 

Okay, so what does the above mean?

While procurement software can be in the cloud, that is not necessarily a “true” SaaS platform.  

One of the best analogies I have used to describe the single instance, multi-tenancy model is people living in many apartments in a single apartment building. In this instance, they all have easy and convenient access to the buildings’ centralised services.

Conversely, a multi-instance cloud platform is like a single tenant living in a single apartment building. As a result, they are isolated from neighbouring buildings and the previously mentioned shared conveniences.

There are instances in which a multi-instance platform can make sense – something I will expand on in a future post. However, when it comes to convenience of access, user adoption, and ultimately SaaS scalability for procurement, the single instance, multi-tenancy model is the way to go.

In the next article, I will delve deeper into how a true SaaS model will transform and scale your procurement practice.

September 14, 2022

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