Building The Bandwagon: How Bellwether Software’s 23 Year Journey May Very Well Change The Way Organizations Purchase (Bellwether Software Profile)

Posted on October 2, 2008


Bell-weth-er (noun): One that serves as a leader or as a leading indicator of future trends (American Heritage Dictionary)

Bellwether: A bellwether is any entity in a given arena that serves to create or influence trends or to pressure future happenings (Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia)

In a recent post on eWorld, I discussed the importance of providing a venue in which the landscape was not dominated by the larger vendors who invariably flex their marketing might (re deep pockets) to monopolize the spotlight.  (Note: check out the eWorld venue because as I had indicated, the conference “has become the conduit between substance starved professionals and the emerging companies (and technologies) that promise to reshape supply chain practice for the next ten years and beyond.”)

One such “emerging company” may very well be Dr. Sunny Dronawat’s Bellwether Software.  Although using the term “emerging” may be deceptive in that it can also imply “new” or “inexperienced,” (after 23 years of delivering proven results, Bellwether is certainly not new nor are they inexperienced).  However, the fact that Bellwether has not achieved mainstream awareness to the degree of an Oracle or SAP makes the “emerging” moniker quite appropriate.

And like attaching the term “rookie” to a veteran in any sports is rare, such as in the case of the PBA’s then 33 year-old Brad Angelo, there are numerous reasons for this delayed recognition, including the historic propensity of potential customers to view the procurement function as an adjunct to either a  finance or IT-centric initiative.  (Angelo, who is a professional bowler, explained that the reason for his delay in entering the professional ranks was tied to the fact that the big money events were only open to non-professionals.  For baseball fans, the 1999 story of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 35-year rookie pitcher Jim Morris and his amazing fastball inspires similar sentiments.)

Building The Bandwagon

An interesting element of my interview with Dr. Dronawat was the industry perception that the Software as a Service (SaaS) or On-demand model is somehow new.  And while the majority of vendors (both large and small) are all heralding their versions of this “new” pricing structure, Bellwether is not rushing to jump on the bandwagon.  The reason of course is quite simple, they built the bandwagon.  (Note: check out their white paper titled “Web-Based, SaaS Purchasing Model Lives Up To Its Promises via the Bellwether Software (SaaS Purchasing Model) link in the Sponsors Presentation Section of the Procurement Insights Blog.)

This perhaps provides one of the most compelling reasons to investigate the Bellwether offering more than the posted accolades from satisfied clients, or the well thought-out and detailed solution specifications provided in their decision-support material.  Specifically, and even more so than their enduring (albeit humble) market presence, is that they recognized a trend 23 years ago and acted upon it.

It was certainly this very creativity that initially caught my attention.  Especially given my exhaustive research into supply chain methodolgy and modeling over the past 16 years.  For first time readers, a great deal of my research efforts were centered on the utilization of an agent-based model to challenge the effectiveness of methodologies such as similarity heuristics in the development of viable supply chain solutions.

And like Jim Morris’ 98 mph fastball was an undiscovered treasure to the Devil Rays, so to is Bellwether’s Window’s and Web-based modular PMX offering for the loyal and longstanding clients that they have served over the years. 

Included amongst their extensive client list are fairly well-known organizations such as Tyco Plastics, Avon and General Motors Acceptance Corp.  In the hospitality sector familiar brands such as Days Inn and Econolodge provide ready testimony to the effectiveness of the Bellwether offering in a number of diverse sectors.  A flexibility that is further emphasized by public sector clients such as the City of Dallas and the Louisiana Department of Corrections.  (Note: you can use the following link to see a more comprehensive listing of Bellwether clients;   

Why Bellwether?

For those of you who are part of my regular readership, you already know that an important tenet of the Procurement Insights Sponsorship Program (which includes these profiles) is my total commitment to neutrality.  And as such I will continue to leave the assessment surrounding the viability of the Bellwether value proposition entirely in your hands, (as always, I will direct you to the Link To Our Sponsors section of the PI Blog to investigate the Bellwether offering in greater detail, and at your own convenience).

However, and given the extensive number of years I have spent in the high technology industry (does anyone remember the CPM-based Kaypro, or the early DOS-based systems such as Columbia?  How about VisiCalc?), the process of distinguishing one product or solution from the next has historically been reduced to a features, functions and benfits exercise.  Unfortunately, old habits are usually hard to break and so most “reviews” or “profiles” are heavily based upon a similar approach whereby one discusses the various functional elements of one program versus the next.  There are even the ongoing attempts to distinguish one vendor’s offering from another through “proprietary” claims of technological advantage such as in the case of Service Oriented Architectures (SOA).  SAP’s Safe Passage or Oracle’s Project Fusion come to mind.

Regardless of the methodology used to quantify the viability of a particular solution, intangibles are often the driving force behind the decision-making process.  And in many instances these intangibles have more to do with strategic placement than operational effectiveness.  Just ask the countless number of procurement professionals who, after not being consulted, have had anERP-centric supply chain application thrust upon them simply because it was an extension of an already existing Finance or IT standard solution.

The difference today is that with the growing acknowledgement that the procurement/supply chain practice of a company is no longer viewed as a necessary, yet unimportant adjunct of the finance department, senior executives are now looking beyond the extensional mindset that has governed past initiatives.  This means that for the first time, organizations are examining more closely the effectiveness of a proposed solution taking into account an increasingly broader range of criteria that encompasses more than the question of standardization.  Areas such as vendor expertise, track record and frontline adaptability and functionality are being included in the decision-making equation. 

With the introduction of these new selection standards, and their importance in the ultimate success of your company’s supply chain initiative, Bellwether’s seasoned “98 mph fastball” PMX offering is worthy of a “tryout.”

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