Author Archives: Michael Lamoureux



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

Analytics

A great “mash-up” is happening within the procurement solution provider market. SaaS companies are increasingly delivering content such as benchmarks, KPIs, templates and more within their applications. Consulting firms are developing their own technologies and pre-configured instances of third-party solutions, such as vertically configured systems, in addition to deploying and implementing standard products and tools. And managed services providers and business process outsourcing (BPO) firms are increasingly blurring the line with their own proprietary solutions that extend beyond just the billable hour and “outcomes as a service.”

Simfoni, an upstart global solutions provider with both technology and services offerings primarily targeting the analytics and tail spend areas today, fits perfectly into this converging world. This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering Simfoni offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other vendors in the spend analytics and tail spend market that companies may wish to shortlist. 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, a SWOT analysis, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider Simfoni.

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

spend analytics

Simfoni represents a new type of solution provider in the procurement technology and services market. While it brings significant out-of-the-box capability in analytics and tail spend management, it is also a solutions integrator, of sorts. In deploying solutions to customers, Simfoni leverages both its own organically developed capabilities and third-party technology to deliver customized solutions to each customer.

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

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

If experienced procurement consultants and product developers had a third chance to create a firm, what would they decide to emphasize, especially when taking a global perspective to creating solutions that are appropriate for customers at different levels of maturity in both established and developing markets? The answer to this question is enlightening, because Simfoni, a London-based provider of procurement solutions, represents a unique melding of experienced perspectives based on needs that, in many cases, are not being directly met today in the area of procurement, sourcing strategy and tail spend management.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Simfoni and whether its capabilities are a fit for their needs. 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 Simfoni 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.

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

consultant

The market for strategic sourcing technology is highly competitive. Procurement organizations have many choices within a fragmented landscape. As Spend Matters observes in our 2017 report, Landscape Definition and Overview: Sourcing, Contracting and Supplier Management, procurement organizations can chose from four different classes of solution: procurement technology suites, which offer either source-to-contract enablement or broader source-to-pay capability; standalone sourcing solutions; direct materials-centric solutions; and sourcing optimization providers.

Within our market segmentation, Spend Matters classifies Serex, which offers a reverse auction solution, as offering technology that falls within a sub-segment of the standalone sourcing solution area.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Serex 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 Serex 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 Serex as a firm and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses, as well as a review of the product’s user interface and user experience.

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

RFP

Procurement groups often emphasize different strategic sourcing technology requirements based on the needs of the organization. For some, capturing and automating a basic RFX process through the most easy-to-use technology is a top priority. For others, advanced bidding/auction format and highly detailed cost breakdown capabilities take center stage. Still for others, the most highly sought after capabilities are those that allow them to reimagine the strategic sourcing process entirely by fully considering both external (i.e., supplier, supply market and supply chain) and internal constraints. Yet other companies just want a reverse auction solution that maximizes the efficiency and speed of their teams for simple (“three bids in a box”) and complex (thousands of line items) bids alike. It is this latter procurement organizational profile that is likely to most appreciate the e-sourcing capability that Serex, a recent entrant into the procurement technology market, provides.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Serex’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider using as a core strategic sourcing technology. The first installment of our analysis provided a company and solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Serex. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

trade

Serex is a relatively new (and still nascent) entrant in the strategic sourcing technology market. Serex is one of over more than 30 vendors that Spend Matters tracks that offer capability in this area. However, it is not a new firm. Serex was founded in 1993 and began to focus on supporting CRM and marketing automation for customers as its core business. In fact, it developed strategic sourcing technology at the request of one of its sales/marketing automation clients, an organization that had tried more than a dozen different e-sourcing solutions and could not find one that met its needs. Serex took up the challenge to architect a new sourcing approach and its current solution, which addresses only part of the requirements of end-to-end of strategic sourcing technology today, offers a different take on enabling reverse auctions in a highly efficient manner for buyers and suppliers alike.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Sexex as a potential provider of sourcing technology 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 Serex in the procurement technology area. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

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

Visually

In the world of marketing “spend,” there is a decisive irony. On one level, agencies (and marketing organizations) tend to leverage extremely detailed analytical data (campaign performance analysis, competitive reporting, etc.) to manage and improve digital marketing efforts. Yet marketing and procurement organizations still tend to apply a less quantitative and rigorous approach to managing agencies of record themselves, including selecting them for specific projects and campaigns in a truly analytical manner.

In short, applying a category lifecycle management approach to strategic marketing services providers remains more art than science. And today, only a minority of procurement organizations typically having the upper hand — or an equivalent — as an agency when it comes to the age old question: “Who is managing whom? Granted, while digital campaigns may be managed and administered in a rigorous analytical manner, agency relationships and project/program selection are not.

Many procurement organizations work — or have worked — with consultants at one point in time to develop strategies and implement programs to shift this equation. Yet far fewer have invested in technology to address the same challenge. Decideware is the only technology vendor we have encountered that specializes in addressing this challenge, albeit the level of maturity in customer deployments and usage varies dramatically (based on the organization).

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Decideware provides a SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis. It also provides a summary analysis and recommendations for companies considering Decideware and some of the general challenges organizations encounter in attempting to strategically manage the lifecycle of agency engagement from a procurement perspective. Part 1 provided an in-depth look at Decideware as a firm and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses, as well as a review of the product’s user experience.

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

marketing

In the marketing spend category, sourcing an agency is not necessarily a fair description of the process of selecting an agency of record. Unlike suppliers in the majority of categories, when it comes to strategic marketing spend, the source-to-pay process does not focus significant effort on the collection of catalog data, certificates, insurance and other documentary elements relating to real world products — or, for that matter, rate card, job classification or other contingent labor specifications. Rather, the process emphasizes the collection of information on key resources, representational projects and campaigns and production fees, and often includes the equivalent of a paid pilot or test run as part of the competitive process.

Sound unique? It is. Even agency self-identification and validation is different. For example, each agency can say it’s a "digital" expert and may even offer software to help track digital results and performance. We call this “fox watching the hen house” syndrome when an agency offers technology to monitor itself. But if more than half of a firm’s revenue comes from media management (planning, buying, reselling), digital may in fact be a secondary core competence for them.

Decideware offers a specialized suite of capabilities that address the nuances of managing agency spend and supplier engagement. This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Decideware’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider it as an underlying technology solution to manage their marketing and agency spend. The first installment of our analysis provided a company and solution overview, as well as a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Decideware. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

Torchlite

Trying to apply a generic source-to-pay technology solution to marketing spend at the agency level would be the same as using a mountain bike to compete in the Alp stages of the Tour de France. Both less favored approaches could certainly work, but the pack would leave you far behind on the first hill. Moreover, the strategic sourcing processes for marketing spend can look materially different than for other categories.

Granted, when it comes to procuring and managing agencies, sourcing best practices apply at a meta-level, but their implementation is drastically different from the identification of vendors through the award of a contract. For example, in agency sourcing, the goal, of course, is to enable optimal resourcing, project outcomes and key deliverables based on specialized knowledge and skills brought together to arrive at a targeted objective. It is also important to ensure these elements come together and do not deviate from the methodology and underlying creative components that drove the selection of a particular agency in the first place, although the ultimate campaign may in fact change from an original pitch as an agency learns more about the project, client and situation later in the process.

It is within this unique category, with truly unique requirements, that Decideware, a global provider of an agency lifecycle management solutions, presents a compelling case for a category-specific strategic procurement solution that is fundamentally different than standard procurement suites. This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Decideware’s specialized procurement technology capabilities — and showcases one approach to agency sourcing and management based on Decideware’s methodology.

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 Decideware in the procurement technology area. It also explores the strategic sourcing process for the procurement of agency services. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

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

contract

Spend Matters has often noted that the market for strategic sourcing solutions is highly fragmented, with no clear leader or collection of leaders. This stands in contrast to the e-procurement and invoice-to-pay markets, where best-of-breed vendors are still thriving but consolidation among larger providers is influencing industry dynamics and many selection processes. Yet within the strategic sourcing market, it is difficult to point to any single vendor or set of vendors, look at any metric and say anything but vendor fragmentation is the rule.

This is both a positive and negative for providers like eBid Systems, given the challenge of competing against so many providers rather than aiming at a single target. Within this competitive environment, this final installment of our Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering eBid Systems offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other strategic sourcing providers for shortlist consideration. It also includes a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provided a company and deep dive solution overview, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider eBid Systems.

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

RFP

eBid Systems is one of more than 30 technology providers that Spend Matters tracks that provide strategic sourcing solutions to private firms and public sector organizations around the globe. eBid Systems recently re-platformed its solution, an effort which included enhancing a range of modular and functional areas — as well as the user interface — making it more competitive with other solutions in the global market. Over 50% of eBid System’s 300-plus customers are public sector organizations, almost entirely at the smaller state and municipal level, but private sector companies may also value the combination of low-cost licensing, core e-sourcing, full audit trails, rules-driven compliance, vendor management and associated capabilities provider offers.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores eBid System’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider it for their needs. The first installment of our analysis provided a company and solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering eBid Systems. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

Oracle

There is no shortage of strategic sourcing technology vendors in the market today. Customers have choices ranging from per-event pricing with smaller providers to integrated solutions that combine rich supplier management, contract management and transactional procurement capability — not to mention specialty solutions that bring generalized technology differentiation, category-specific or other unique capabilities.

Within this smorgasbord of choice — and yes, there are even vendors that started in the Scandinavian market to chose from globally now — one provider from the Pacific Northwest, eBid Systems, has carved out a distinct customer niche in state/local publication sector and higher education sourcing. Nearly 20 years since its founding, it counts 200 public sector customers and 100 private sector organizations using its technology.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about eBid Systems strategic sourcing technology 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 eBid Systems in the procurement technology area. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.