Author Archives: Michael Lamoureux



Scanmarket: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Commentary and Summary Analysis

Today’s landscape for e-sourcing (RFX, auction, category management, sourcing optimization, etc.) is highly fragmented. There is not a single market-share leader or “dual” leadership in this sector (as is the case with Coupa and Ariba for procure-to-pay). However, there has been one trend when it comes to consolidation, and that is providers focused on the “upstream” areas inclusive not only of sourcing, but also supplier management, contract management and analytics, either building or buying their way into the procure-to-pay sector — or merging their capabilities with other solution providers in this market.

Yet one nearly full “upstream” provider focused on this market remains independent: Scanmarket. (We say “nearly full” because it remains dependent on a partner for spend classification, and it has some functional gaps in the supplier management and contract management areas.) Of course Scanmarket faces competition from different segments of providers with either more targeted or overlapping functional footprints. But its commitment and focus on strategic sourcing technology and adjacent capabilities at a global scale remains singular today, at least as independent vendors go.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Scanmarket provides an objective SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to Scanmarket and offers provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies considering the vendor. Part 1 provided an in-depth look at Scanmarket as a firm and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses and a review of the product’s user experience.

Scanmarket: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

Scanmarket is one of the last remaining independent “upstream” procurement technology suite providers. While it brings particular capability and expertise in running both simple and complex RFX and auction processes (and formats), it also offers a range of adjacent capabilities in project management, supplier management and contract management. On many levels, Scanmarket is one of the heirs apparent to the specialized e-sourcing capability pioneered by firms like FreeMarkets and Procuri — and it also represents a targeted and cost-effective alternative to full-suite providers (as well as deeper sourcing capability than procure-to-pay specialists in the market today).

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Scanmarket’s product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should shortlist the vendor. It also offers a critique (pros/cons) of the user interface. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Scanmarket in the procurement technology area. The final installment in this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Scanmarket: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview

The sourcing and supplier management suite market (inclusive of spend analytics, e-sourcing, supplier management and contract management) was a crowded sector for many years. But as more providers with capabilities focused on this area have expanded their product offering to transactional procurement and as vendors in the procure-to-pay (P2P) sector expanded through acquisition into sourcing and supplier management, the number of targeted suite providers focused solely on what we describe as the “source-to-contract” market has declined. Yet Scanmarket is one of those that remain (and it is the vendor with the most traction and the largest customer base). And it is a solution provider that is more than standing its ground in a market where consolidation and the march to both strategic and transactional suites is becoming the norm.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations, suppliers and partners make informed decisions on Scanmarket’s source-to-contract capabilities. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Scanmarket in the procurement technology area. The rest of this multi-part research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Agiloft: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Commentary and Summary Analysis

The contract lifecycle management (CLM) technology market is highly fragmented today, with customers having significant choice between broad-based suite and independent vendors. Within this mix of full lifecycle solutions — from analytics to authoring to compliance — there are also specialized providers that stand out for unique capabilities, specialization or unique technology approaches to CLM. One CLM provider that is differentiated from other options — owing both to its business rules and business process management (BPM) foundation and to its adjacent capability in asset management and related areas — is Agiloft.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Agiloft provides an objective SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as substitute providers to Agiloft and provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies that can best take advantage of Agiloft’s capabilities. Part 1 of this series provided an in-depth look at Agiloft as a company and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses and a review of the user experience.

Agiloft: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

Most procurement organizations have only started to explore the full set of capabilities that integrated contract lifecycle management (CLM) capabilities can bring. Yet in most cases today – outside of procurement organizations deploying integrated suite-based contract management technologies, many of which offer limited capabilities relative to independent CLM vendors – CLM remains loosely coupled from overall procurement processes, including sourcing, supplier management, transactional buying, contract compliance and risk management. Agiloft, one of dozens of independent CLM providers out there, offers a means of creating a synthetic process- and data-driven “hub” beyond providing core contract management capabilities alone.

Agiloft’s history, which we trace in this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series, includes over a decade spent developing and refining its core business rules and business process management (BPM) engine. While these two capabilities now come standard with other procurement and CLM technologies, to say they are all created equal would be as incorrect as labeling all source-to-pay platforms equal. While sounding technical on the surface, these two areas are the defining elements that help differentiate the vendor today in terms of what they can enable procurement to achieve (beyond the expected CLM basics). In addition, they enable Agiloft to serve as a new type of project and process orchestration platform to unite other technologies and data sets.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Agiloft’s product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should shortlist the vendor. It also offers a critique (pros/cons) of the user interface. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Agiloft in the CLM area. Next up, this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Coupa and Spend360: Spend Analysis Background and Product Analysis

Tradeshift Baiwang

Coupa’s acquisition of Spend360 brings an immediate set of capabilities to Coupa customers — and the basis of a broader, disruptive and embedded offering integrally linked to Coupa’s cloud solution. But what is spend analytics (and spend classification, specifically) and why should customers care? What types of reports should you be able to run? And more narrowly, what specific capabilities does Spend360 bring and how are these different than alternative approaches (e.g., AI/machine learning vs. rules-based classification).

There’s also the question of what Spend360 will ultimately enable Coupa to achieve by applying an AI-driven approach to the firm’s broader source-to-pay platform, including guiding users to better decisions based on insights their own data can provide, a broader topic Coupa’s CEO, Rob Bernshteyn, hinted at during a talk earlier this year. But we’ll leave this specific topic to a longer exploration after we’ve had the chance to delve into the “so what” for customers from the acquisition.

This Spend Matters PRO research brief provides a product-centric analysis that will help Coupa customers and prospects get beyond the headlines of the announcement and understand, on a comparative basis, what spend analytics really is, how spend classification works and how Spend360 stacks up to others.

Agiloft: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview

contract

The contract lifecycle management (CLM) technology market includes dozens of different technology providers, many of which provide additional buy-side (e.g., strategic sourcing, transactional procurement, etc.) or sell-side (quote-to-cash) capabilities. Some of these vendors are well known in the market, having invested heavily in sales and marketing for many years. Others are not. One provider in the latter camp that recently caught our attention after a round of briefings and demonstrations is Agiloft. Today, Agiloft covers all the standard contract lifecycle management components (which we’ll explore in this series in detail). These enabling capabilities include core contract authoring, repository and lifecycle management capabilities. But how Agiloft stands out within the highly crowded CLM market actually owes more to its core technology underpinnings and adjacent capabilities than the CLM features alone that sit on top of its architectural stack. This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations, suppliers and partners make informed decisions about Agiloft’s contract lifecycle management (CLM) and related capabilities. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Agiloft in the CLM area. The rest of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Strategic Sourcing and E-Sourcing: Level 1

Strategic sourcing does not just involve a five- or seven-step flowchart. Nor is it just a “leave behind” by consultants once they’ve helped your organization to identify savings. Rather, strategic sourcing is a process that maximizes the value of each purchase made by a company — at least in theory! And it’s one that, in our opinion, requires the support of a solid technology solution that in turn must support each step of the process.

Strategic sourcing does not come in a one flavor. In fact, in the introduction to this series, we suggested there are six different approaches to strategic sourcing. Starting with the foundation (Level 1) today, this multi-part research brief will delve into the six approaches to strategic sourcing and the requirements, technologies and checklists required to pursue sourcing on the right foot.

Graphically, a Level 1 sourcing platform may look something like this: As one can see from the above diagram, there are four primary requirements for a solution to support e-negotiation. Such a product may contain more capabilities, but it will generally contain at least these four (although very basic platforms, especially those embedded in suite-driven platforms, may not support the full extent of reverse auction capability). In this article, we will discuss each of these four core requirements and some of the key features that define them.

Ready, set, source!

Strategic Sourcing and E-Sourcing Defined and Explained: A Preamble

What the heck is strategic sourcing? As with most things in life (and business), it depends on whom you ask.

One cynical definition might suggest it was an initial set of activities to make purchasing become more strategic without having to more broadly embed the function within the business — or at least sound more strategic. Another cynical lens might suggest that the terming of the phrase was a ruse by consultancies to prove they could identify savings (and of course leave behind a “process” to further justify their fees).

Yet we won’t just start the New Year with our cynical cap on. Strategic sourcing really does have multiple definitions.

Seal Software: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Commentary and Summary Analysis

Spend Matters research suggests 2017 is likely to be the year that advanced procurement organizations generally start to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capability into targeted business processes. There are a number of reasons for this, primarily involving the maturity of different sets of technology and the increasing embedded nature of these underlying tools in broader solutions, ranging from real-time translation and chat to spend classification to guided buying to contract search, discovery and analytics.

Systems that learn and constantly get smarter are here to stay in procurement – and they can make us smarter as well. Such is the case of Seal Software when it comes to its ability to create a virtuous cycle in identifying, analyzing and ultimately influencing contract obligations and performance based on an underlying discovery and analytics foundation that complements contract lifecycle management (CLM) and other procurement technology investments.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Seal Software provides an objective SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as substitute providers to Seal Software and provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies that can best take advantage of Seal’s capabilities.

Seal Software: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

What is a contract? Distilled to its essence, a contract is an agreement that defines one or multiple obligations between parties. A contract could be as simple as a standard mutual non-disclosure agreement or a relatively short agreement to purchase goods in exchange for a payment. In more complex cases, a contract could be a complex swap agreement in which cash (or credit) does not change hands but various good, obligations, raw materials, finished products, derivative products or other commitments do (trading companies are especially familiar with these types of scenarios).

All of these examples have one thing in common: they represent binding agreements between parties. Yet in most procurement organizations today, we are typically not aware of the majority of the contracts that we directly — or those in the business — have created.

Contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions can help bring certain contracts under management –– much as we bring “spend” under management from a purchasing perspective. Yet just as e-procurement solutions do not address the full continuum of spend, so too do CLM solutions fail to address all the procurement and third-party obligations that our companies have already created in the past, or may create in the future, outside a CLM tool. And this is why Seal Software, the pioneer of the contract discovery, search and analytics sector, presents a compelling case that all organizations, regardless of where they are in their digital procurement transformation journey, should invest separately in a contract intelligence strategy, alongside procurement technology suites and CLM.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Seal Software’s product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider this class of solution alongside other CLM, P2P and other procurement technology investments. It also offers a critique (pros/cons) of the user interface.

Seal Software: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) –– Background & Solution Overview

Spend analytics tools generally stand alone from other areas of procurement systems. And so do contract analytics solutions from both procurement and contract lifecycle management (CLM) technologies. Yet contract analytics, when looked at from search, discovery, reporting and guidance angles, is arguably a much more menacing beast to tackle compared with structured procurement transactional data coming from ERP/AP, e-procurement, invoicing and card sources. And there are far fewer providers specializing in the market for contract discovery and analytics compared to spend analytics, which is no surprise given the complexity in the challenge. Seal Software is one of them and offers capability that is a complement to standard contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions in the market today.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Seal Software’s contract discovery and analytic capability, its suitability for specific contract lifecycle management (CLM) requirements, and other offerings that an organization may want to consider as an alternative (or alongside). Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Seal in the procurement technology area. Part 2 and Part 3 of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.