Author Archives: Michael Lamoureux



Sievo: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Competitive and Summary Analysis

spend analytics

Not only is the market for spend analysis solutions highly fragmented from a vendor “choice” perspective today, it is also characterized by solutions that are difficult to compare on an apples-to-apples basis between providers. Sievo is one such provider that makes cross-comparisons of vendors challenging because of some of the unique approaches it takes both to spend classification and, more important, to savings reporting and tracking. In fact, this latter element makes it one of the few spend analytics solutions that is as relevant for finance (and CFOs) as it is for procurement organizations.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering Sievo offers a SWOT analysis, competitive assessment and comparison with other providers in the spend analytics market. It also includes a user selection guide and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep dive solution overview, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider Sievo.

Sievo: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses

data analytics

To get the full benefits of Sievo, a novel analytics and savings management/tracking provider that delivers value to both procurement and finance organizations, customers need to get their hands dirty in their data — which can be a good thing. In engaging Sievo, it is the involved customer that becomes intimate at a deeper level with their data to drive true spending intelligence, in contrast to working with many other spend analytics providers that take ownership, on an outsourced basis, of data stewardship to drive cleansing, enrichment and classification perspectives.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Sievo’s strengths and weaknesses as a managed services provider, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the firm to support the procurement of contingent workforce spend and broader services procurement categories. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Sievo. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

EcoVadis: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses

sustainability

The market demand for supplier intelligence and data within procurement continues to increase. Whether it’s supply chain and supplier risk data provided by originators and aggregators or category and supply market based general intelligence offered by analyst-driven models, an increasing number of firms are looking to third parties to augment their internal data gathering and analysis efforts. EcoVadis fits within this supplier intelligence/data (and software) landscape as a cloud-based corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability rating/monitoring solution for global suppliers. To date, it has faced no direct competition for its unique bundling of cloud based software, content and services.

The buyer friendly (and supplier friendly) platform allows suppliers to self-register, complete a profile customized to them based on their UN ISIC code and categories of products or services offered, upload all relevant documentation and get certified for a 12-month period with a CSR certification. EcoVadis builds certifications as a smart superset of CSR mega standards (e.g., Global Reporting Initiative, the United Nations Global Compact, and the ISO 26000), which enables it to be more readily accepted across a buying organization’s customer base.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores EcoVadis’ product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider this provider of supplier intelligence solutions. It also offers a critique (pros/cons) of the user interface. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering EcoVadis. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Getting the Most from Sourcing Optimization (Part 1): Lessons From Leaders

Global Risk Management Solutions (GRMS)

The combination of Trade Extensions and Coupa may seem a curious one for those unfamiliar with either organization, and may even raise questions for those who know both. As Trade Extensions’ recent customer event showed (see our live coverage here, here and here), the sourcing optimization specialist and its customers continue to push the limits of what is possible with e-sourcing. In contrast, procurement organizations that gravitate to Coupa — even highly sophisticated ones — tend to do so because they want to avoid complexity for their users and make the transactional buying process as simple as possible, all the while guiding users to make the best decisions for the business.

This two-part PRO research note provides additional perspective from Trade Extensions’ customer event on how this spectrum of complexity and simplicity may not be incongruous in the future; rather, sourcing optimization could serve as a better mousetrap to identify complexity, deconstruct it and ultimately redefine procurement’s role in the business by changing how the function is conceived. But before that can happen, there’s a more important topic address: the fact that most firms using Trade Extensions (and other sourcing optimization technologies) have only begun to scratch the surface of embracing complexity — let alone containing, controlling, distilling and simplifying it.

Part 1 of this series explores how an organization can get the most from sourcing optimization once it has signed up for it, which is easier said than done. We explore three areas: selecting the right users and training them effectively to use optimization, leveraging a center of excellence (CoE) to scale efforts and thinking big (i.e., beyond category-driven events alone). Spend Matters would like to thank all of the conference attendees and Trade Extensions for sharing these ideas.

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

For many industries and regions, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability are de rigueur. In several cases, there is also legislation to back them up, and there are no signs the resulting regulations are going away anytime soon.

Despite this, may companies pay CSR little more than lip service. There are numerous reasons for this. For one, CSR often has a hard time competing for budget and investments relative to other “hot” projects focused on short-term cost savings. This is a shame, because when CSR is extended to the supply base, it can actually be used to demonstrate not just regulatory/customer compliance but also to tap supplier innovation, lower costs, reduce supply risk and increase brand leverage.

The bigger tactical issue, however, is that extending CSR out to suppliers is simply hard to do cost effectively — especially if you want to do it properly. Getting hundreds (or thousands) of suppliers to adhere to basic contract terms and a vague supplier code of conduct document is one thing, but getting them to comply with more impactful and enforceable clauses for CSR/sustainability is even more challenging. If you’re a buying organization that’s truly concerned with de-risking your supply chain and looking beyond “check the box” compliance, you need to have a way to engage your suppliers in a more compelling way. Suppliers have many demands on their time and investments, too, so offering them something more than an edict is necessary.

But perhaps the most vexing question begins with measuring success. When you get down to it, how do you even define sustainability and responsibility? How do you measure it? And how do you know whether your performance against those measurements is good or bad for your industry or overall, especially when core requirements for CSR and sustainability differ across dozens of industries and hundreds of categories?

It takes expertise, and not just software. EcoVadis knows this, and that's why it has more than 150 CSR experts on staff to evaluate supplier profiles, documents and third-party audits to objectively gauge the corporate social responsibility of a company against a benchmarked numeric scale. It integrates this expertise into a unique combination of automated supplier surveys, certifications (gathering, analysis, validation, and publishing), benchmarking and training across 21 major CSR factors (with potentially hundreds of atomic level questions) derived from a combination of major global CSR standards — and augmented by best practice. It’s pretty cool when you see it in action.

In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, we’ll dive into EcoVadis’ company background, its solution offering and some recommendations on how the firm is best used to maximize value. Part 2 of this analysis will focus on strengths, weaknesses and production selection guidance. Part 3 will then wrap up with SWOT Analysis, competitive analysis, shortlist guidance and final commentary and recommendations.

AnyData Solutions: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary & Competitive Analysis

spend analytics

AnyData Solutions competes in a fragmented market for spend analytics. Yet unlike many of its peers, it is not a common procurement vendor name. But with better awareness, it could be a strong analytics competitor globally, especially considering how the solution packs a powerful one-two functional and pricing punch.

From a functional standpoint, AnyData’s rapid visual development framework can enable customers to go beyond spend analysis use cases to create custom, domain-specific analytics solutions (e.g., analytics centric contract lifecycle management and supplier performance management reporting and capability). Combined with AnyData’s low-cost pricing models (a fraction of the cost of other solutions under most scenarios), it should make the solution a shortlist candidate for just about any size organization needing a spend analytics platform that wants the option to move beyond the basics.

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

AnyData Solutions: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses

Analytics

AnyData Solutions is not just a standalone spend analytics toolset that includes “the basics.” Rather, it is a standalone platform for capturing, managing, sharing and collaborating on structured datasets of any type.

As an end-to-end analytics platform, AnyData is quite different from other approaches to spend analytics on the market today. On many levels, AnyData is closer to the data-centric heritage of BIQ, as it is fundamentally a self-service analytics solution, compared with the vast majority of spend analytics providers, which prefer to handle cleansing and classification activities “as a service,” even if they offer to sell the classification engine separately (which rarely happens).

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores AnyData’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations and other customers decide whether AnyData is the right fit for their need. The first installment provided a company and solution overview and a recommended fit list of criteria for firms considering AnyData. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

There must be something in the procurement climate in the United Kingdom that encourages procurement technology entrepreneurs to start spend analytics businesses. Coming on the heels of Spikes Cavell (acquired by Xchanging), Spend360 (acquired by Coupa), Simfoni and Rosslyn Analytics is the newest upstart, AnyData Solutions, which was founded in May of 2013. AnyData is yet another spend analytics vendor with strong capabilities, even some unique ones. But like many of its peers, it has been undercapitalized from the start and as a result has not invested in the type of sales and marketing efforts necessary to make it a household name. It has also lacked the channel and business development prowess of Spikes and Spend360, which helped drive significant, yet behind the scenes, growth.

Perhaps most important, as chronicled by Spend Matters previously (see: Exploring the Customer Experience of a Spend Analytics Provider that Should be On Your Shortlist), AnyData’s broad claim around the delivery of broad, powerful analytics is not the typical smoke and mirrors marketing that many vendors put forth. Our analysis suggests it delivers a true end-to-end analytics platform (unlike just about every other spend analysis solution) that is extensible across functions, industries and different use cases both inside and outside of procurement.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about AnyData Solutions and whether its capabilities are a fit for their needs. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and a detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider AnyData in the procurement technology and solutions area. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Measuring the Procurement Technology User Experience: More Than Just a Pretty Screen (Part 1)

UXI

A good technology user experience is not like pornography: One can actually define it without seeing it, or at least attempt to do so.

As you may have noticed, the “Vendor Snapshot” deep dive reports that Spend Matters has been doing for the past year on technology providers have included a section on user experience (UI). In this section, we have rated UI on a number of factors. While it may seem that the first five ratings are subjective, they were all based on a comparison of the platform to other platforms, with a generalized baseline against a set of criteria for “good” user experience that the Spend Matters Analyst team has been developing for over a year.

But now that Spend Matters has released its first SolutionMap℠ — with many more to come — we decided it was time to put down a standard set of more specific definitions, across specific procurement technology modules, about what makes for a good user experience based on the criteria we ourselves use to evaluate UIs across the source-to-pay workflow.

Today, we’ll start our discussion by defining what general characteristics make for a good UI, and an effective user experience (UIX), primarily by sharing examples (without naming vendor names) and different use case scenarios that separate out a base-level UX from an advanced one.

PRGX: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary & Competitive Analysis

While not as well known in the spend analytics and supplier management markets as most of its peers, PRGX has built up a small arsenal of solutions through acquisition and organic development that are likely to surprise potential customers — including those that are PRGX audit recovery clients but that may not be aware of PRGX’s emerging technology and solutions outside its traditional services business. In particular, with its OPTIX and Lavante product lines, PRGX brings a particular competency in delivering a “data as a service” model and supplier information management (SIM) solution capability.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering PRGX offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other procurement technology providers in the spend analytics and supplier management areas. It also includes a user selection guide, user interface and user experience (UI/UX) analysis and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep-dive solution overview, a SWOT analysis, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider PRGX.

PRGX: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses

PRGX, a recovery audit specialist and a firm in the broader procurement services market, is the midst of transforming itself from a services orientation to a solution one, embedding both technology and expertise in productized capabilities. Although it has yet to invest in externalizing its core technology and data capabilities for recovery audit in retail and other industries, it continues to expand its data-centric capability in spend analytics and, more recently, supplier information management through its acquisition of Lavante.

Whether these or related technologies ultimately automate and digitize core aspects of recovery audit for PRGX in retail (the recovery audit sector where it has dominant market position) is a question for the future. Today, PRGX sells core technology and solutions — including “data as a service” to fuel the back-end of spend analytics — in addition to its auditing service. It is these technologies and related solutions that are the focus of this analysis.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores PRGX’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations and other customers decide whether PRGX is the right fit for their need. The first installment of our analysis provided a company and solution overview and a recommended fit list of criteria for firms considering PRGX. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

PRGX: Vendor Snapshot Part 1 — Background & Solution Overview

For those that do not know it, PRGX would appear to be one of a select number of dominant services provider in the niche market for recovery audit services — a market that unlike other procurement services faces tremendous price pressure for its core recovery, statement and related auditing and profit recovery services. But PRGX has started to remake itself quietly from within — out of necessity, given these broader market trends — building and acquiring technology capabilities in the spend analytics and supplier management areas, both to expand its relevance and to start driving automation and scale in its core business.

Its recent acquisition of Lavante, a supplier management provider with best-in-class supplier information management (SIM) and master data management (MDM) capabilities, showcases the direction PRGX is taking as it migrates from an audit-driven services firm to a new type of savings and recovery “as-a-service” solutions provider. It brings particular competence in extending core spend analytics to payment and product (SKU) analyses, the latter of which is particularly relevant to its core retail client base (from its recovery audit business).

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about PRGX and whether its technology and solution capabilities are a fit for their needs (it does not provide a review of PRGX’s core recovery audit services capability). 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 PRGX in the procurement technology and solutions area. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.