The capability of most e-sourcing suites has evolved relatively slowly compared with other procurement technology areas in the past decade. Yet there is one exception to this rule: sourcing optimization or, as some label it, “advanced sourcing.” On the supplier side, these technologies encourage vendor creativity in bid responses and even allow alternative bids. For procurement, they enable the application of flexible constraints (not just weights) against supplier responses to create optimal bid award decisions that factor into account price and non-price factors.
While advanced sourcing technologies got their start supporting logistics procurement events across thousands of lanes, they have now evolved to support just about any strategic category of spend where a direct competition route that encourages apples-to-apples bids in a reverse auction manner will likely not yield the best result. Sourcing optimization solutions today have supported some of the largest and most complex sourcing events ever conducted — in some cases, single events spanning multiple tiers of the supply chain with more than $1 billion in expenditure being awarded. Yet overall, adoption has lagged the market for general-purpose e-sourcing tools and suites.
Keelvar, a four-year-old firm that started as a spinout from a research lab at a university, is hoping to change this. Incidentally, CombineNet (now SciQuest) and Trade Extensions, two additional providers in this sector, also share similar academic roots. Keelvar’s primary differentiation is that, unlike the majority of sourcing optimization software providers, it realized from day one that the solution wasn’t a better optimization module, it was a better sourcing platform where ease of use was the most important driver of adoption. This Spend Matters PRO vendor snapshot provides a history and overview of Keelvar’s sourcing technology. This multi-part research brief comprises a company and solution overview, company-level SWOT analysis, product strengths and weaknesses, competitive alternatives, a user selection guide and insider evaluation and selection considerations.