SciQuest Product Planning: P2P and Invoicing Snapshots

I’ve spent the past few days at SciQuest’s Next Level event in San Antonio, Texas. It’s a bit of a metaphorical location for an event for procurement wonks. After all, procurement is a bit like the troops held up for a last stand in the Alamo, waiting for the great masses of soldiers from the lines of business (i.e., south of the border) to slaughter us with vendor preferences, maverick buying and even downright purchasing fraud (yes, it’s still more prevalent than you might think). But like the Texans who held out, we’ll get our day soon (even if it’s in our memory, if we must sacrifice ourselves for the greater buying good along the way).

Alas, I digress. I’ve learned an awful lot here, besides applying my cursory knowledge of Texas and Mexican history to the plight of procurement. For one, SciQuest is moving in a lot of directions at once. This includes a major forthcoming release (13.1) at the end of March that is going to include several major changes, including a complete UI overhaul in the P2P area. While we’ll cover this new design paradigm in more detail on Spend Matters PRO, it suffices to say that SciQuest took a road that is quite different than Coupa and others in designing a modern buying and procurement administration interface.

SciQuest’s new UI effort most closely resembles what Basware has done with Alusta, but that’s not even a fair comparison given the enterprise designed scale, workflow, rules and control of the SciQuest application (not to mention greater depth in eProcurement rather than a focus on invoicing, at least at this stage). The design is set up around a modern windows-centric type navigation with menus and slide out icons/bars coming from the left of the screen and a much simpler navigation and role-based menu bar and shopping at the top. The application also shows users, from front-line buyers to approvers to admins, exactly where they are within the UI framework with clickable navigation (e.g., Marketplace > site configuration > invoice workflow set-up).

We’ll offer significantly more detail on the new UI later, including how the SciQuest customer base will likely embrace its philosophy and how it compares to other approaches for general navigation and shopping/buying. Yet in the meantime, it’s important to note that SciQuest is not forcing a rapid migration to the new interface – rather, it will continue to support the old one through March 2014 (the planned 14.1 release). Customers can choose how they want to transition, although SciQuest recommends to not necessarily make a user/company wide switch at once, but to more conservatively roll it out. But more on this new UI later.

Other major release elements we’ll cover in more detail in our forthcoming analysis on Spend Matters PRO include an enhanced invoice automation/accounts payable offering that includes a BPO-like service for outsourced scan/capture and overall document and process administration (run by SciQuest, not a third-party). SciQuest calls this its Digital Mailroom solution, including outsourced service, which includes mailroom services (invoice receiving via fax, mail, email, etc.), invoice data capture and data integration. Digital Mailroom is not designed to replace an AP group (although it can certainly support a shared services effort), but instead to enable greater AP efficiency for existing teams.

There are several other enhancements to the forthcoming release, including significant new details around the e-invoicing software (SaaS) product and invoice automation that make the offering more competitive with AP specialists. But aside from this area, what jumped out at us most from a product standpoint is where SciQuest is taking its broader solution suite of acquired assets, including Contract Director (contract management – formerly Upside), sourcing and supplier management (formerly AECSoft) and spend analysis (still referred to internally at SciQuest as Spend Radar).

Check back soon as we provide a cursory update in some of these product areas.

First Voice

  1. Maverick:

    Questie strikes again!

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