The Ohio Effect: Why SciQuest’s condition may be terminal by Jon Hansen

Posted on August 7, 2015


Word on the street has it that after three years with little success and much frustration, Ohio is looking for an alternative to the SciQuest “sandwich model” they have been using.

At the heart of the problem is the fact that the SciQuest method for catalog creation and maintenance is both complicated and costly.

This means that the State has one of two choices; a) contract with SciQuest to create and maintain the catalogs or, b) set-up a team to create and maintain the catalogs in-house.

With the former, relying on SciQuest to deliver this service is prohibitively expensive, as the company charges the State as opposed to the supplier to create and maintain its catalogs.

It also doesn’t help that SciQuest has adopted what has been described to me as an “implement and walk” model. Especially given that their platform is based on what one source agreed is an outdated technology, that works best with a rationalized vendor base as opposed to one that is geared towards increasing engagement.

In terms of pursuing the latter “in-house” option, trying to maintain catalogs with an antiquated platform creates complications that will chew up far too many resources than can be justified.

All this of course goes a long way towards explaining why Colorado and Oregon may have abandoned their SciQuest implementations. It may also explain why former stalwart higher ed customers such as Dartmouth have also moved on.

“Problem is that they can’t seem to grow. I’m tired of their excuses about sales execution problems or acquired churn. It’s a poorly managed company with a toxic work environment.” – Investment Analyst

For me, the revelations out of Ohio are telling in that it is an indication that SciQuest’s latest struggles may be more than a temporary and correctable blip. In fact one might reasonably conclude that the only reason the company has been able to stay in the game to this point in time is that their familiarity as a known brand within the public sector, still carries some value. Although their financial performance of late would suggest that said familiarity is rapidly losing its currency in a market that expects more than what the company appears capable of delivering.

At the end of the day, what makes the above noteworthy is that it reflects the experience of the end-user. No matter what analysts or bloggers may claim i.e. SciQuest is a Top 50 company to watch, it is the words of the end users that ultimately carries the most weight.