Ivalua: The Broadest Spend Management Suite Vendor You've Never Heard Of (Part 1)

Over the past few months, I've had numerous correspondences with Ivalua's North American team as it's started to pick up steam Stateside. Ivalua, despite its lack of brand recognition outside of the European market -- and French market, where it originated -- offers one of the sectors's broadest Spend Management suites (more on this in a minute). While still relatively small (<100 employees), Ivalua is profitable and growing, maintaining a high double-digit CAGR. Moreover, two-thirds of Ivalua's users are outside of France, and over 50% of its users are outside of Europe. It counts among its larger customers ArcelorMittal (Luxembourg) and OMV (Austria) among others, in addition to more than 30 of France's top 100 companies. But what makes Ivalua stand out is not just its traction to date in its headquarter country, but also the wide footprint that makes up its solution (which also has significant and unique depth in certain areas).

I'm quite late in my write-up of Ivalua, having first demoed its applications last autumn, but I suspect this is a more appropriate time to share what it's up to given Ivalua's more aggressive focus on ramping up in the North American market in 2010. In this and a series of additional posts on Ivalua, I look forward to sharing more information about this rather unique player in the market that combines significant value in its solutions -- its per-seat pricing is among some of the more aggressive I've seen –- with solid functional capabilities and a range of flexible deployment options including multi-tenant SaaS, single-tenant SaaS, and on-premise SaaS. Moreover, Ivalua supports its software with a range of enabling services and partnerships with top SIs and consultancies in the global market, including CGI, among others.

In this first piece on Ivalua, I'll start by providing some background on its specific capabilities and approach. In subsequent posts, I'll describe some of the comparative strengths and weaknesses I saw when going through a demo of the solution. I'll also look at what customers are saying about Ivalua after I've had the chance to do further diligence in this area.

To begin, Ivalua separates its solutions into two different categories: procurement/purchasing and corporate reporting. While corporate reporting -- in both Spend Management and a range of other areas -- is a rapidly growing area for Ivalua, its largest book of business remains in the core procurement area (including spend analysis, e-sourcing, supplier management, and P2P).

Ivalua, unlike the vast majority of vendors offering broad-suite capabilities in the Spend Management market, opted to build its technology stack on Microsoft's .Net architecture (a point that is less important than it was five years ago, but nevertheless represented a somewhat informed bet at the time). Form the perspective of integration with Microsoft Office, leveraging the .Net architecture has a number of advantages, although SAP, Emptoris, Ariba, Upside, and many and other competitors have invested significant sums to provide tight integration with Word and other MS applications (even Outlook, in the case of SAP).

Ivalua's procurement solution, which goes by the product name "Buyer," provides a range of capabilities that start with what Ivalua calls "Purchasing Intelligence." This part of its suite includes Spend Analysis, Action Plan and Savings Tracking, and an overall Purchasing Dashboard. I had the chance to see some of Ivalua's Purchasing Intelligence capabilities in action, and I'll describe what amounts to a pretty solid solution in this area -- even when compared to the biggest names in the space -- in a subsequent post. Moving on from Purchasing Intelligence, Ivalua offers e-sourcing capability, which, while not overly remarkable, checks the box on the basics, and offers decent flexibility and workflow.

From my perspective, the centerpiece of Ivalua's capabilities lies in the P2P area. It offers rather broad stand-alone capabilities that start with budgeting and general administration/management, and ends with basic invoice and expense management (including PO and content management). Finally, Ivalua -- unlike its German neighbor -- also offers an appropriately labeled SRM solution area that includes supplier portal, performance/quality management (and corrective-action request/management capabilities), risk-management, and lifecycle-management support. Interestingly, I know of at least one customer that used Ivalua to consolidate a range of spend analysis, sourcing, and related supplier management capabilities, and left core transactional purchasing to SAP (clearly succeeding in containing SAP's capabilities to a single area).

Stay tuned for further analysis of Ivalua later this week, including both its go-to-market model and the nuances of its solution. Even if you're not a Europe-based organization, it's worth familiarizing yourself with what Ivalua offers, particularly if you're looking for a lower-cost alternative to other suite capabilities in the market.

Jason Busch

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