Olive gives me a tool to consistently decrease my cost of goods bought.
Flynn Brings Consistency to the Software Purchasing Business
We spoke with Alan Zych, Vice President, Information Technology at Flynn Group of Companies and learned how Olive has increased collaboration and brought consistency to the process of purchasing software for various departments. Flynn Group of Companies is North America’s largest building envelopes subcontractor. Alan’s team is really responsible for all IT activities. Flynn also has an enterprise applications team and a custom applications team.
What was your software selection process before Olive?
When I talk about that kind of large RFP scenario, you’re going back and forth with vendors and Excel spreadsheets. One vendor sends an Excel spreadsheet filled out by them, another vendor sends it and you’re manually putting this stuff back together to have a unified picture of all of your RFP respondents. Then you look at that process. Before they even give you their response, Vendor A has a valid question. We should let vendor B or C know about that as well. This results in a web of back and forth correspondence, making sure that all vendors are adequately apprised of questions that may be relevant, and that they all get the responses to those questions. It’s a lot of manual effort that really is hard to make consistent. Our selection process before Olive was okay, but not great, and definitely not the consistency that we wanted.
How has your software evaluation process improved after implementing Olive?
Olive is really making the bar a lot higher, a lot easier. I think of it this way. Everybody who’s been in any type of sales role or has any exposure to sales, knows that there’s this idea of cost of goods sold. As a buyer, I think about what are my cost of goods bought. Olive gives me a tool to consistently decrease my cost of goods bought. I’m able to have a consistent process; this is how we define our requirements, this is how we get feedback on the defined requirements from stakeholders within the organization, this is how we go out to the vendors and get their response. So the thoughtful work still is happening. You’ve still got an expert in a particular domain, who is really thinking about what are the right requirements. You’ve got people reviewing that thought expert’s work. You’ve got a questionnaire getting sent out to vendors and their responses coming in. You then evaluate. All of the important work is still happening within the heads of people within Flynn. All of the work that doesn’t really add value is handled automatically by the software.
What features in Olive have simplified your process?
- A standard set of requirements for every new software project
- A way to send my requirements out and get feedback from my stakeholders
- A way to send requirements out to the vendors
- A way to answer vendor questions
All of the manual effort that you had before in major software procurement would have been cost prohibitive on a smaller project. We get consistency across all scales of software purchasing because Olive is able to do so much more for you. It’s really been a night and day difference. We’re able to say with a lot of assuredness that we’ve evaluated the right set of vendors, we have given everybody a fair shot to win our business, and we’ve picked the right vendor ultimately, because we’ve got a standardized approach. If anybody asks, Hey, how did you wind up with with Company X? We have the chain of events recorded in Olive.
What impact has Olive had on your team?
With Olive I can allow my teams to do their good work, knowing that they are working within a set of guardrails, that will allow them to give their good work consistently.
What advice would you give to an IT leader looking to make an impact at an organization?
With Olive, you’re making it easier to ask for money or resources later because you’re actually documenting everything. When other people see that you can procure things quicker and more cheaply with a better end result, the organization’s going to want to get involved. More and more business decisions are being driven around software.
There’s a really good opportunity for IT to get a broader, more visible seat at the table because so many changes in business operations are software driven space. IT is by its very nature going to buy lots of stuff. As an IT leader, as you need to ask for more money. You need to show the business that you’re spending it wisely. That you’re spending thoughtfully, that you’re not just thinking “yeah, my buddy happens to own a software company and it made sense for it so I pulled the trigger.”
How has Olive impacted the organization at large?
The impact to the organization at large is absolutely amazing. We’ve got this buy-in in the solution that we’re implementing because everybody feels like they were consulted. Everybody feels like their voice was heard. We started off with a piece of security software and were confident in the way it was going. On our next project, which was an applicant tracking system, we brought the recruiters and the HR team in to Olive to define their requirements. We quality controlled this with our business analysis team but they built out their requirements, we reviewed them. Then we sent out the feedback to every HR person who has a stake in recruiting for people who don’t necessarily buy software frequently so they have an opportunity to still play a key role in it, but again within some guardrails where they don’t have to worry about getting taken by a sales organization that has a really great demo. We’re very methodical and consistent. And we give them the safety to be the experts that they are in a purchasing process, that they’re not actively engaged in on a regular basis.
When is the best time to set up Olive?
I think that real easy answer is tomorrow! It doesn’t matter if it’s a small purchase or a big purchase. What matters most is starting to get familiar with the process and getting value out of software selection, whether it’s standardized requirements gathering, getting stakeholder feedback, or going out to vendors and getting the responses.
There’s so many different parts on the value chain of buying software that really doesn’t matter when you start, it’s most important that you do start. If you’ve already been doing a six month requirements gathering, you probably have it in Excel. Olive has an Excel import for your requirements. Start tomorrow!
If you’re about to go out to vendors, start tomorrow! Olive us got contacts with vendors that we didn’t even know existed. Olive can broaden out your potential vendor pool. We had one procurement that we ran through Olive, and had six vendors in mind. Olive had already done some work with other companies, and they brought our candidate pool up to 12 or 13. One of those that we weren’t aware of was actually the fourth highest scoring vendor. It really doesn’t matter where you are in your cycle. And let’s be honest, if you’re in IT, you’re going to be at a very low point in the cycle for a bunch of different projects at any given time most likely so jump on to Olive sooner than later and start to get the benefit.
What’s next for Flynn and Olive?
We’ve got a number of potentially transformative projects for the business. We started with IT. We’ve got HR, Payroll, and Health, and Safety and Finance are all getting involved with Olive. What’s next is keep raking in the wins of a standardized consistent process and less manual effort.
How would you feel if Olive disappeared tomorrow?
I think I’d feel devastated! Honestly, if Olive disappeared tomorrow, because we do have an internal software development team, I’d probably start building it myself for our own use. It wouldn’t be as cheap as what I’m paying Olive now. I can’t build what’s out there in the market cheaper than I can buy it. It’s doing a great job at what it’s doing. But it’s so important, that I would find the resources internally to build something similar for ourselves.