Spend Matters: Surround Strategies to Enhance SAP, Oracle and Ariba (Part 3)

Please click here for Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

Earlier in April, Spend Matters published a new research brief on the P2P market: Surround Strategies to Get More From Existing ERP, eProcurement and P2P Investments. While the paper itself represents what we hope readers will think is a not-so-dense 14 pages (brevity is something we're working on), there are five different "surround" strategies we recommend for organizations hoping to get more from existing SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle, Ariba, Basware and related P2P systems. These different strategies are:

  1. Invest in a new user experience layer that creates a usability buffer and potentially adds new capability
  2. Augment existing eProcurement or P2P investments with third-party tools or solutions in targeted areas that improve the basic capability of the system itself
  3. Invest in complementary technology that goes beyond original capabilities
  4. Work with a third-party solutions provider that will provide technology and more services-driven capabilities
  5. Purchase new solutions that gradually consume their hosts

In this post, we'll explore the third option on the list: investing in complementary technology that goes beyond original capabilities that an eProcurement or P2P solution was designed to deliver. Some of these "add-ons" can rely on loosely coupled integration or act as direct extensions of the application itself. Depending on specific requirements and use cases, these options can include stand-alone vendor management system (VMS) and broader SOW and services procurement platforms, pricing analytics, and benchmarking and advanced compliance enablement.

As with other solution areas, ERP and larger providers may even offer their own capabilities that go beyond the P2P core (e.g., Ariba has long dabbled in services procurement and T&E). But these products extensions are typically a waste of time for companies (even when vendors give them away) based on the higher returns that they could be getting from using best-of-breed capabilities in the related areas. If anything, Ariba's VMS and T&E experiments over the years serve as a great case to work with vendors based on what they're good at, not what they selectively decide to focus on as an afterthought.

For T&E, there are fewer and fewer vendors with much scale for consideration (and dozens if not hundreds of smaller providers). Concur remains the largest provider in the sector, but a number of innovative providers offer compelling solutions that may be appropriate based on company size and related requirements (some of which we explore in the paper). In the area of services procurement, the largest providers approaching the market for historic vendor management systems (VMS) -- but are now quickly expanding into services procurement and statement of work (SOW) capabilities -- are Fieldglass and IQNavigator. Beeline, Volt/Consol, PeopleFluent and Provade also compete in this market segment, as do a number of smaller vendors. All should be considered depending on functional requirements and back-end system environments.

If you're looking to "surround" a current eProcurement, invoice automation or related implementation, we encourage you to download: Surround Strategies to Get More From Existing ERP, eProcurement and P2P Investments. Readers should take note that Spend Matters research will only be available to qualified practitioners (free of charge) in the coming months.

- Jason Busch

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