In summary, Oracle Fusion Procurement attempts to differentiate itself in the source-to-pay market not by coming out on top in every checklist comparison with competitors, but by introducing a different design and communications philosophy focusing on how users – both within procurement and more broadly in the business – should interact with an application. From tying in communications like instant messaging and telephony for internal collaborators and suppliers to rebuilding a pretty decent version of Excel-like capability, Oracle Fusion Procurement aims to become more than just a buying tool. Rather, it really begs itself to be used as a true workspace for everything buying and supplier related.
Oracle Fusion Procurement still has some way to go to be competitive with the broader suite vendors on the absolute capability level. And it also has significant product holes, including a lack of services procurement/VMS capability and decision support/optimization for sourcing. But over time, as Oracle Fusion Procurement rolls out additional features and capabilities, we expect it will functionally hold its own across the broader source-to-pay market. In the meantime, Oracle’s Fusion Application’s co-existence strategy – essentially positioning and enabling Oracle Fusion Procurement to sit alongside Oracle E-Business Suite and Oracle PeopleSoft business applications and back-ends with the ability to selectively replace components and modules – feels like a smart marketing and go-to-market approach to increase the appeal of a set of integrated modules that do not yet have the similar depth in certain areas compared with other Oracle procurement products.
From an integration perspective, Oracle has seen and expects the gamut of a wide range of scenarios, from minimal back-end systems integration to significant. At one extreme, some customers are enabling active compliance by tying contract management terms and pricing across systems to prices presented in Oracle Fusion Procurement (and other Oracle procurement toolsets). Others are focused more on taking advantage of native capabilities within Oracle Fusion Procurement itself, including driving informed end-user self service across buying experience through embedded analytics in a manner that is not too dissimilar to what Coupa has attempted to make it easy from frontline users to make the right choices.
In conclusion, we believe those organizations most suited to Oracle Fusion Procurement at this stage of development are likely to:
- Focus on center-led control
- Prioritize usability and a single procurement workspace/workbench (both procurement users and frontline users) over absolute feature/function capability
- Put supplier management at the core of their activities
- Replace older components of Oracle (or third-party toolsets) rather than switch from best-of-breed providers offering additional features
- Be implementing certain technologies for the first time (e.g., supplier management) and seeking to build a centralized record, view and process around these areas
We encourage all Oracle customers to take a look at Fusion Procurement to understand if the current footprint and depth is sufficient. However, those looking at it should keep in mind that this is not a “re-make” of Oracle E-Business Suite or Oracle PeopleSoft. Oracle Fusion Procurement is something new entirely, looking at design philosophy, usability, workbench and data management. Oracle still has a long way to go in answering any questions – with its own tools – focused on the connectivity that exists between buyers and suppliers (e.g., network search, supplier enablement, etc.). But with Oracle Fusion Procurement, Oracle has clearly anchored itself with a pretty nifty foundation from which to build a new generation of procurement, and broader business, applications. The race will be to see how long it takes for modular depth to catch up with the broader vision.