Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot: BravoSolution (Part 1)
To keep our readers (and ourselves) up to speed on technology developments, we field numerous briefings and product demonstrations at Spend Matters. This new Vendor Snapshot format provides a succinct look at the technology reviewed — with a side order of quick, honest analysis. This lighter format aims to complement our regular, deeper analysis based on both in-depth solution testing and actual customer interviews.
BravoSolution has grown to a substantial global presence since its founding in 2000. The company now has over 500 employees working across business units in the US, Germany, Holland, China, France, England, Mexico, Spain, and Italy — where its $7 billion parent company, Italcementi, is headquartered. Along the way, Bravo has acquired firms like Mobile Workers (spend analysis), and VerticalNet (supply management company with many US accounts).
Per their Q3 2011 reports, the BravoSolution unit generated around 52 million Euros in consolidated YOY revenue with EBITDA of close to 6 million Euros for the same period. Competitors include Ariba, CombineNet, Emptoris, Iasta, SAP and recent US market entrants like b-pack and Ivalua as well as TradeExtensions in categories such as transportation.
For this Vendor Snapshot, Spend Matters will consider three of Bravo’s solution areas:
- Spend analysis
- BCS — high-end solution focused on complex sourcing events and advanced optimization
- XE — their mainstream sourcing solution
To some degree we have also seen how Bravo’s other solutions are tied in — for example, their contract management, performance management and other areas. In short, the scope of their solution suite is broad and deep, so we will address these areas in more detail later.
- BravoSolution offers a powerful blend of professional services content and technical solution capabilities. This is rare when so many companies prefer to partner with consulting firms or otherwise push ongoing professional services outside their revenue stream.
- BravoSolution truly offers end-to-end sourcing capabilities. It starts with an internal spend analysis engine — a foundation for all internal data related to sourcing. Spend analysis is closely tied to sourcing, which in turn is tied to contract management and so on. Capabilities in these areas are powerful. BravoSolution has no weak spots within its core. Whether in spend analytics, sourcing, category management, or bid analysis including optimization, the Bravo solution holds its own.
Analysis and Observations
- Spend analysis: At the end of the procurement day, hard savings steal the show. But spend analysis is the leading lady that you can’t succeed on stage without. At BravoSolution, this module has a fresh interface and showcases the beauty of having spend (captured down to PO line item level), contract, performance, and risk data in the same tool. This enables users to drill up, down, and sideways across suppliers, spend categories, spend fragmentation (e.g., how many suppliers), sub-commodity (e.g. fasteners, nuts, screws, washers within hardware), contracts, time periods, risk levels, locations, business units, SKUs, payment terms and more. Third-party content like D&B data can be woven into the model to build a more complete picture. The report options are prolific, to say the least, with “spend status against budget” being one such option and a differentiator compared with some.
Within spend analysis, BravoSolution’s interface makes extensive use of red/yellow/green to help identify deviating areas. Triggers for coloring are independently configured per area. This is useful functionality, for example, since targeted facilities management vendor count is likely a lot lower than lab equipment suppliers as an example (and a deviation should result in different color tag, if applicable, than in other categories based on a reduced count). The end result is a tool that makes it fun to go hunting for savings opportunities — far more fun, useful and quick than using Excel, in any case!
- Join the UNSPSC club: Bravo has found this to be the most workable classification schema, and nearly 100% of their clients use a Bravo-modified version of UNSPSC to classify their spend data.
- Demand forecasts: an integral part of spend analysis is to capture organizational and financial structures to see what went where and against whose budget. BravoSolution has cleverly leveraged their RFI/survey tool to build a picture of forecasted budget needs, so all P&L owners can enter their expectations and the solution in turn aggregates and organizes the data alongside actual spend data (refreshed on a monthly basis). This results in a picture where spend results against budgets becomes clear. It should be an invaluable tool not only for analysis, but also to shorten budget cycles and, perhaps most interesting of all, can turn a procurement and supply chain tool into a valuable resource for both business units and the corporate financial department. Bringing these areas closer and rallying around a common set of data can only be good for companies.
Stay tuned as our analysis of BravoSolution continues.
From selling, supporting and participating in the development of some of the best business-to-business solutions as well as briefly being involved with outright vaporware in the dot.com days, Thomas has developed a fairly keen sense of smell; helping him tell actual features and PR-speak apart.