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(3/10/2014) Who’s Got Your Back in a ‘Beware’ Business Environment?

Now that the cloud is an accepted delivery model for technology, we have grown accustomed to buying solutions ‘as-a-service’. We buy:

  • Software-as-a-service (SaaS),
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS),
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), and
  • Everythingelse-as-a-Servce (XaaS).

But what about service as a service?


The owners of small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) are accustomed to putting everything on the line on a daily basis to keep their doors open. They have to compete with much larger competitors by maintaining a unique offering and by providing a more personalized level of service to create and maintain customer loyalty. In reality, that means there is very little time left over for the back-office functions that their competitors outsource or handle through shared services using complex and expensive packaged software. SMB purchases are made and invoices go out, but managing either of them strategically is a challenge.

HP FB, co-founded by career purchasing and operations professionals Don Jean and Tom Middleton, exists precisely to fill this gap. In addition to the pressure on margins from competition, SMBs are faced with the need to safeguard their transactions against financial and reputational risk. If major corporations are not immune from hackers, what chance does an SMB have? Wise business owners will take notice and be wary of the risks they face on a daily basis. Both consumers and businesses have learned to operate in today’s ‘beware’ climate, taking any opportunity to protect their resources, operations, and investments.

“Tom and I realize that many small and medium sized businesses, non-profits, public entities, and social organizations do not have the financial or employee resources to be able to deploy sophisticated, professional business processes that can help them in the 'beware' world,” said Jean in a recent conversation with Buyers Meeting Point. “So they don't, and thus become vulnerable in every one of their commercial transactions.”

The solution integrates searching, buying, contracting, and paying into a single, secure technology-enabled process. In November 2013, they were awarded a full USA patent for their 'methodology and system to purchase a product or service using a communication network site.' The fact that they are willing to invest personally in their solution demonstrates the belief that organizations of all sizes benefit from an improved procure to pay process.

Now all they need to do is overcome the widespread belief that complex, expensive solutions offer greater value than the simpler, easier to implement alternatives on the market. As Jon Hansen, procurement blogger, speaker, and radio host said, "The biggest challenge disruptive innovators face is the persistent belief that the desired results can only be realized after a lengthy and costly implementation process.  In other words it cannot be this simple to realize savings." And yet, it is entirely possible, especially when organizations know how to capture and leverage one of the most valuable resources at their disposal – their own history.

Although we may be living in a ‘beware’ climate, it has always paid off to be-A-ware. Being aware of the knowledge that resides in staff or the reasons behind the selection of a certain specification, purchase decision, or supplier selection represents real, measurable cost and operational advantages. Unfortunately, all too often a company’s purchasing history is lost over time through natural attrition or because information is not permanently documented at a line item detail level. The latter is especially true for Opex (MRO), Services, and Capex expenditures. After a simple registration – companies and their centralized or decentralized buying resources can be live and professionally purchasing in an afternoon rather than in the months or more seen with more cumbersome solutions – history beginning at that moment builds in a centralized location where it transcends staffing changes and can easily be recalled by category, specific identifying information, and project.

“From my very first day as a young buyer at a Fortune 500 company, I recognized the tremendous cost/benefit value of history for purchased components or services as well as for suppliers contracted and their specific performance results,” said Jean. “We all know companies spend untold amounts of money to capture their history and then leverage it – after the fact. But specific history, continuous history, and historical patterns represent one of the most essential keys and gateways to a better procurement future. I’m not sure why most of us unjustly ignore our spend history and fail to embrace its benefits from day one. But Tom and I wanted to design and create cloud-based software that ends the mystery and solves the problem forever.”

SMBs need to ‘beware’ and to ‘be Aware’ while they simultaneously innovate and compete. With this combination of pressures and opportunities, the question must be asked: Who do you trust with such a critical internal process? Answer: Experienced colleagues who have seen it all and chosen to put just as much on the line as the average SMB in order to improve business processes for companies and organizations of all sizes. "We mutually agreed that we should not take our commerce experience and expertise to our graves without sharing it to positive effect within the 'beware' world we live in," Don said.

If you think you could benefit from improved purchasing or payment processes visit the website or reach out to Don Jean directly:

Don Jean
CEO and Co-Founder, FocusedBuyer LLC
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


About FocusedBuyer and PreciousPayment

Jean and Middleton together have decades of purchasing, materials, operational, systems and financial experience, creating binding contracts for billions of dollars of expenditures for Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies.   Previously, Jean led The BOC Group’s U.S. supply management team and served as global director of procurement for the Ingersoll-Rand Company. Middleton previously managed group acquisition functions for Ingersoll-Rand and was in strategic sourcing with Deloitte Consulting and procurement with Westinghouse Electric Corporation.