Author Archives: Michael Lamoureux



Coupa: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview (2018 Update)

There are many perspectives on Coupa. Some believe that the vendor has single-handedly transformed the world of spend management by building a truly unified suite that is 100% cloud-native, atoning for the over-customization, product and user interface sins of those that came before. Others think that Coupa has expanded too quickly and is doomed to repeat mistakes others have made in the past. But this Vendor Snapshot on Coupa is not about perspectives. It instead aims to review Coupa’s procurement software in depth, examining the vendor’s modules in the context of what they actually do today and how they are differentiated — or not — from others.

As we noted in our first end-to-end review of the Coupa platform, the majority of technology analysts no longer prioritize reviewing procurement software (e.g., product demonstrations, production sites) due to methodology or time constraints in evaluating vendors. This is where Spend Matters is the exception. Between attendances at Coupa Inspire, demos required for SolutionMap participation and customer interviews, the Spend Matters research team has collectively spent over a thousand hours analyzing Coupa’s products and talking to customers and prospective customers since we last did a Vendor Snapshot on Coupa. Since this time, we have also comparatively analyzed Coupa and its competitors for a range of constituents, including procurement and finance organizations, for suppliers participating in supplier network ecosystems, and for consultants and systems integrators. In short: we're confident that we've gone further and deeper than any other analyst firm in delving into Coupa's demonstrated product capabilities. Period.

This Q3 2018 Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot Update provides facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations, suppliers and partners make informed decisions on Coupa’s procure-to-pay (P2P) and broader source-to-contract capabilities, inclusive of inventory and travel and expense (T&E) management, offering an overview of the entire source-to-pay (S2P) process in one in-depth series. 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 Coupa for source-to-pay software. The rest of this multi-part research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 7 — SRM Technology Components)

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This series has explored the various aspects of a modern strategic procurement system that enables both enterprise-level programs and procurement-led programs and processes. We’ve explored in gory detail the elements for strong analytics, user experiences and agile architectures. The series began with strategic sourcing to illustrate that properly supported category management can be a pretty tall order. Within category management, we went from basic program management requirements that were quite demanding to in-depth program management requirements that, on the surface, might seem impossible to the average procurement software company, as well as analytics requirements that, at the present time, excludes most of the current vendors from the market. 

These requirements from a business standpoint are not unreasonable, but although the ability for most providers to meet them is certainly a work-in-progress, the value in doing so is compelling. Strategic personnel can truly do strategic functions, not spend their days filling out virtual paper and transcribing data. The biggest cost in procurement is the opportunity cost of wasting a professional’s time on firefighting, pushing paper, wrangling bad spend data amd “googling” for new suppliers, rather than creating the 5X–10X ROI that goes along with strategic procurement. 

But turning the tables is not easy. Take the last example from the list above regarding supplier discovery. Today's supplier networks are generally “walled gardens” built to support suppliers within the network, not to help buyers find suppliers beyond the network. This would require new approaches to supplier networks — and new technology building blocks. That’s why, in this post, we are addressing what those critical building blocks are.

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

FM Global Resilience Index

North America is a curious market for direct materials-centric procurement software. While many manufacturers currently use indirect materials- and services-centric applications (e.g., procure-to-pay, vendor management systems), few manufacturers have specialized direct materials-centric procurement tools as a part of their solution belt. And to note the elephant in the room, many manufacturing procurement organizations are still not even aware of what these solutions can do.

The exception to this is in Europe (especially Germany and Austria) where direct materials procurement software is generally well adopted, even among middle-market companies. Within this market segment, Allocation is one of a handful of leaders, with tailored capabilities for sourcing and supplier management — and it is expanding globally.

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

Allocation: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview

When you start a vacuum cleaner, a number of things happen. First, the air pump creates a partial vacuum in the appliance. This results in air rapidly rushing in from the outside, through the attached hose or nozzle, pulling in dust, dirt and small debris with it. But the effects don't end there. The rapid movement of air from immediately outside the vacuum creates another partial vacuum that needs to be filled by the surrounding air, and this causes nearby particulates to also move and change position. And, thanks to the butterfly effect, this can have larger repercussions than one expects, creating unintended consequences. If pollen, mold or certain other once stationary particulates get into the air, people can sneeze, suffer allergic reactions or even get deathly ill.

What does this have to do with sourcing? When big firms buy smaller e-sourcing tools, vacuuming up the major standalone software companies in given niche, this creates a void — and kicks up a dust cloud, of sorts. From a manufacturing-centric sourcing perspective, this last year or so saw the acquisitions of Directworks (by Ivalua) and Pool4Tool (by Jaggaer). These acquisitions — not to mention Jaggaer’s prior acquisition of BravoSolution — took two specialist players in direct materials procurement and supplier management out of the best-of-breed market in North America, creating a new void. The result? The door was opened for new best-of-breed players from Europe to enter, and one of these players is Allocation.

But will Allocation benefit from the vacuum effect? It certainly has the pedigree. Founded in 1998, Allocation has been building its platform for two decades. Today it has one of the broadest and deepest platforms for direct supplier management and direct material sourcing on the market today. With a strong customer base in discrete manufacturing, Allocation can walk into just about any automotive, aerospace, CPG or other manufacturing-based procurement organization and talk the talk, backing up its knowledge with a set of specialized capabilities.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Allocation’s e-sourcing and supplier management solutions. Part 1 of our analysis offers a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Allocation. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

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

data analytics

APEX Analytix is far more than just a recovery audit and spend analysis software provider. It’s also a specialist in supplier management. This third and final installment of our Vendor Snapshot covering APEX Analytix’s supplier management solution provides a SWOT analysis of the company along with a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also offers recommended shortlist candidates that can serve as alternative vendors to APEX, complete with solution selection guidance. Finally, this research brief provides summary analysis and recommendations for organizations considering APEX for supplier management. 

For background on APEX, we encourage you to review Part 1 of the series, which provided an in-depth look at APEX and its supplier management solution, and Part 2, which gave a detailed analysis of product strengths and weaknesses, as well as a review of the its user experience.

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

spend analytics

Better known for its broader portfolio of recovery audit, overpayment and self-audit software, APEX Analytix also offers a specialized supplier management solution. APEX provides unique, out-of-the-box capabilities that support core supplier information management (SIM), validation and financial controls, as well as working capital optimization solutions. In addition, its supplier management solution delivers the broader configurability, workflow, rules, analytics, supplier portal and associated capabilities one would expect from supplier management software.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores APEX Analytix’s strengths and weaknesses in the supplier management area specifically, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement and finance organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering APEX Analytix. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

APEX Analytix: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview

If you were to pick a single procurement software category that is remaking itself from the inside out thanks to technology, the recovery audit market would be it. And one provider at the vanguard of this transformation is APEX Analytix. APEX Analytix, a Spend Matters Provider to Watch since 2015, is perhaps best known for its core accounts payables (AP) recovery audit business. But it is a broad-based procurement technology provider in its own right, offering a range of overpayment prevention and self-audit software, supplier information management and supplier portal solutions.

In this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series, we will focus our analysis of APEX Analytix on its supplier management solution, which will be featured for the first time in the Q3 2018 Supplier Management SolutionMap. APEX Analytix’s solution, which is best-in-class when it comes to certain areas of financial information management and validations, deserves to be considered on a standalone basis.

This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides an overview of APEX Analytix, focusing on its supplier management solution capabilities. It provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement and finance organizations make informed decisions about whether they should explore APEX Analytix on a stand-alone basis in this area. 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 APEX Analytix. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 6 — An Introduction to SRM Programs)

Global Risk Management Solutions

In our last set of posts, we addressed the basic requirements for any organization that wants to stand up a modern application to support sourcing programs that not only have a great user experience but are also backed by deep analytics. We went from basic program management requirements all the way to those that might seem near impossible to the average provider. We assure you they are not, although the chances of many providers meeting them are improbable, as we are requiring big leaps in typical back-office platform functionality.

But this is absolutely necessary. When people say that the creative process is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, the corollary is that for the average procurement professional, business processes are 10% strategic and 90% tactical. Not a good use of a highly educated individual's time. The tables have to be flipped so that strategic personnel can truly do strategic functions, not spend their days wrangling spend data, searching for new suppliers, assembling supplier qualification documents or doing manual contract review.

Changing this is not easy, especially because of the wide variety of programs that an SRM manager needs to implement. To crystalize the need for such extensive capabilities, we discuss some typical projects and how the technology-enabled experience needs to change for each SRM program.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 5d — Analytics Components)

data analytics

Analytics is an essential component of effective program management. All processes within procurement depend on analytics, and the more individual tasks become integral threads in a tapestry of activity, the greater the value that the analysis of data brings to an organization.

But obtaining such value requires a software platform that supports the program, which in turn requires certain functional components to be successful. In this installment of our ongoing series on program management, we define the analytics solution components needed to facilitate both initiative identification and initiative support.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 5c — Analytics Examples)

Analytics

Perhaps more so than any other category of procurement software, spend analysis tools, used either as a standalone product or as part of a broader procurement suite, succeed the most when they bring together visibility and insights in ways that helps users take action. That’s why we’re focusing on analytics as we continue our series on how procurement can support broader enterprise program management. In our last installment of this series, we dove into various spend and supply analytics that support key enterprise programs. Today’s installment explores six of those analytics areas and provides examples worthy of consideration.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 5b — Example Analytics within Enterprise Programs)

analytics

In the most recent installment of this series, we explored how program management is a foundational capability that supports business transformation through a closed loop performance management process. If you’re a procurement organization that is trying to drive change in increasingly diverse, complex and collaborative areas, you’ll need to:

  1. Coordinate that enterprise-driven change vis a vis program management
  2. Align with your stakeholders on where you’ll add value
  3. Plan for the change and what it mean to you, stakeholders, and suppliers
  4. Bring forth your digital enabled supply management capabilities
  5. Execute (and keep coordinating)
  6. Measure your progress and adjust
  7. Rinse and Repeat
And as you do all this, you’re going to need analytics to find opportunities, prioritize projects, launch projects/workflows, manage KPIs and set up processes that have embedded analytics that allow them to adjust to changing conditions and spot risks that threaten them. In this installment of our series on program management, we’ll:
  1. Detail the analytic categories and specific analytics based on the program management life cycle
  2. Map enterprise programs to supporting analytics
  3. Dive into some selected analytics use cases and required technology components
And of course this will all be with a supply-side focus.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 5 — Analytics Strategy)

Procurement doesn’t just drive value through “steady state” sourcing activities that pop up in the enterprise. It helps lead the transformation of the extended value chain and also supports and improves enterprise-level transformation activities. In both cases, such transformational activities will require strong supply analytics that procurement organizations are increasingly supporting through procurement centers of excellence where analytics and market intelligence (especially for sourcing processes) occupy the top functions within a procurement CoE (see more on the topic of procurement CoEs).

Any experienced procurement professional knows that business alignment is critical. This alignment process inevitably leads to a set of enterprise-led (or procurement-led) programs that in turn require a set of analytics capabilities to support. In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, we’ll share:

  • A DuPont-style enterprise value decomposition to nearly two dozen enterprise programs and support supply analytics areas
  • How to frame supply analytics within an overall close-loop performance improvement cycle — and examples within each step of the life cycle
  • A drill down into some of the top enterprise programs into the specific analytics required
  • A further drill down and set of examples in some of the most used analytics