Iasta: A New Analytical Orientation (Part 1)

Earlier this fall, Spend Matters sat down with the Iasta team for a demonstration of their new visualization and analytical capabilities. To call this new focus "spend analysis" or "spend visibility" is not exactly accurate. The broader "procurement analytics" doesn't necessarily capture the breadth of the type of diverse inputs that Iasta is now helping capture for procurement organizations with its "Executive Analytics Suite" either.

In a multi-part series exploring this enhanced capability – really, a solution set that is likely to gain greater and greater favor with procurement organizations wanting to move beyond just sourcing-focused activities – we'll look at the types of data sources Iasta is combining in more detail, plus some of the visualization approaches to show this data in context. We'll conclude with a series of recommendations to our subscribers on Spend Matters PRO.

It's important to emphasize that Iasta is not abandoning its core: e-sourcing. While Iasta's current GA code base in the sourcing area is one of the oldest in the market, it's also one of the most proven. Moreover, customers, really at all stages of maturity, like it – we have confirmed this in dozens of reference discussions. Iasta has also expanded its sourcing capability into related areas, including supplier management and supplier performance management. But we'll save our review of this area for another analysis. Needless to say, we pretty much always list Iasta on a sourcing-related shortlist when asked.

Iasta heavily configure its analytics solution for each customer – no single deployment is alike. The fields, presentation layer and ultimate drillable dashboard view are different. Users may opt, for example, to prioritize different dashboards based on initiative and/or reporting. This might include a main dashboard that provides a classic spend analysis view such as spend by category, supplier group, classification code, business unit, country (with a map view), and the like. This view might also include links to specific initiatives as well as initiative count (total), project leadership, and total supplier count. Of course this up-front configuration is flexible.

Depending on how one configures the solution, additional information might be a single click away (based on drilling into a portal on the dashboard or expanding/collapsing a folder – again, each instance is configurable). Such additional high-level insight might include views into balance of trading, savings by commodity team, program or resource. Users could opt, as well, to track identified vs. implemented savings in such a view as well, based on procurement-identified metrics compared to agreed-upon finance savings bookings.

If one wants to navigate from Executive Analytics to other dashboards, a standard tab approach can enable this. Checking on a sourcing pipeline (i.e., upcoming categories and events) could require a click on a tab to be taken into another drillable dashboard view, although data decisions link, like an Excel sheet, from tab to tab to enable cross-tabular supplier, spend, inventory and financial analysis. Other tabs that users might configure include category analysis, perhaps leveraging additional non-procurement data with inventory information, demand history, market price benchmarks, third-party data enrichment such as environmental, health and safety data, etc. within its view.

In addition, configurable dashboards extend to trending data (perhaps within procurement but not limited to it) and geospatial analysis. More advanced users may opt to use dashboard views for forecasting and scenario analysis based on commodities, currencies, capacity, and demand, bridging the gap between traditional silo-based systems such as spend analysis, S&OP and commodity management.

Stay tuned as our analysis continues.

- Jason Busch

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