While academic research and development for CombineNet dropped off dramatically after its acquisition, SciQuest has continued to make targeted investments in its sourcing optimization solution. These investments have produced continual improvements to capabilities around quick-start wizards, templates and event editing capability, extending the size of an event a procurement organization may opt to use optimization for.
As another example of investment, flexible item types let users define sub- and overlapping event structure through separate event models within the same event in cases of overlapping supply bases. On the vendor side, ASO has also added item consolidation capability to make it easier for suppliers to place similar bids across multiple line items.
Overall, recent enhancements include:
- Item creation — There is no longer a need to manually map items based on the uploading of data (procurement users select fields to consolidate and the solution handles the rest)
- Bid replication — When suppliers submit bids, they can be automatically copied to “underlying analytic items” — a big time saver (and a way to ensure data integrity)
- Real-time bid generation — The bid process now enables real-time visibility for procurement to see offers as they come in
- Reporting — Merged data query response time is now up to 70% faster
- Supplier bid sheet enhancement — Enables users to “include calculated bid prices within supplier bid sheets.” The new capabilities support immediate calculations based on bid sheets and the ability to automatically flag bid errors “prior to submission”
- Summary comparison report — Enables side-by-side comparisons of multiple award scenarios on a single screen
On the product roadmap for the 16.3 release (due out in November 2016), SciQuest is planning on adding new capabilities around restricted bid sheet fields, new item consolidation elements and enhanced reporting. The 2017 roadmap calls for broader ASO platform integration with SciQuest’s contract management, supplier management, portfolio savings management and analytics capability, as well as “phased external integration” plans, forward auction support and multi-stage optimization capability.
Competitive Sourcing Optimization Landscape
In recent years, Trade Extensions has pulled away from SciQuest when it comes to supporting complex event requirements (e.g., “supply chain meets sourcing”) and is also moving downmarket with recent enhancements. At the same time, BravoSolution has replatformed many of the elements of its collaborative sourcing product on the BravoAdvantage stack (a new platform) to enable self-service optimization. And Keelvar, while underfunded, is swashbuckling its way to winning customers in the public and private sector with sourcing optimization now wrapped within a set of broader of e-sourcing capabilities. (See our recent PRO analysis on Keelvar: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.)
If SciQuest wants to remain a leader in the sourcing optimization market, it can’t take its early lead for granted. While we commend the recent and planned enhancements to the toolset — and enthusiastic customers at Next Level — the potential ASO has to become a flagship product within SciQuest will only be realized if the provider doubles down on the product line. Short of this, ASO will remain a clever product, but one that will become less clever with each year as external innovation outpaces SciQuest’s own.