Author Archives: Michael Lamoureux



Procurence Vendor Introduction (Part 2: Strengths/Weaknesses, SWOT, Selection Checklist and Market Overview)

In Part 1 of this two-part Spend Matters PRO series, we introduced you to Procurence — a relatively new entrant to the global direct material supplier management space, based out of Warsaw, Poland. It’s a recent entrant to our SolutionMap ranking of vendors, where its scores make it a customer leader in the SRM category. While still a small player, its solution already has a lot of the breadth of more established players like Jaggaer Direct (Pool4Tool), Ivalua (Directworks) and Allocation Network. Procurence’s utilization has been growing tenfold year-over-year by its buy-side user base of over 10,000 users and supply-side user base of over 30,000 users. Whether it has everything your organization needs, however, will come down to your mix of direct vs indirect, and how similar your needs are to its existing client base, which it has been developing its Meercat solution with for the past seven years.

While Part 1 of this brief provided some background on Procurence and a high-level overview of its offering, Part 2 will provide a breakdown of what is good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis and a short selection requirements checklist that outlines the typical company for which Procurence might be a good fit.

Procurence Vendor Introduction (Part 1: Background and SRM Solution Overview)

direct materials sourcing

Supplier management is one of the most misunderstood terms in the procurement solution space, especially since the exact scope of processes supported by such systems varies by analyst, vendor and customer interpretation. In order to clarify, or at least differentiate, many vendors have begun slicing and dicing the SXM solution space to offer the likes of:

* Supplier Discovery Management: that help an organization identify potential new suppliers that can help it meet its products, services, diversity and/or sustainability requirements
* Supplier Information Management: that can help a supplier track all of the information it collects on a supplier, including locations, employees, products, services, certifications and certificates
* Supplier Performance Management: that can track not only supplier information but also relevant performance data on quality, reliability, delivery, invoice accuracy and sustainability
* Supplier Relationship Management: that includes not only performance data but also functionalities to manage the relationship, such as capabilities for supplier development, collaboration and innovation management
* Supplier Network Management: that can support supplier discovery but are primarily designed to support transactions (through e-document and e-payment exchange) with suppliers on the network
* Supplier Quality Management: that includes specialized capabilities to support direct materials procurement, including the management of non-conformance cost of poor supplier quality, and general quality management
* Supplier Risk Management: that includes the capability to gather multiple sources of risk data (financial, environmental, regulatory, geographic, etc.) and provide an overall risk profile

Very few vendors do more than half of this, at best, so when evaluating a supplier management software vendor, it's important to understand what fraction of this they do and whether that fraction is relevant to your business.

We'll take, for example, supplier quality management — this goes well beyond supplier performance management because it's not just tracking defect rates, uptime / reliability statistics, etc. but managing the quality process from the beginning of production to delivery of the product to the consumer. Ensuring the materials that are being sourced are of the appropriate standards and tested on receipt, that the appropriate production process is followed, that the machines are regularly tested, that the outputs are spot tested, securely packaged, and delivered to spec. Such a system should support ISO (International Standard Organization), ASQ (American Society for Quality) processes, Six Sigma, 8D Reports (based on Eight Disciplines methodology), and/or QDX (Quality Data eXchange). Very few solutions come close to this, even if they are designed for supporting direct procurement.

And while Procurence may not do all of this, it is one of the few supplier management solutions on the market that tackles quality management in addition to information, performance and risk, as well as aspects of relationship management.

Procurence was founded in 2009 in Warsaw, Poland, to provide tools to help buyers achieve transparency in their supply base, decrease supply risk, and streamline internal supplier management and communication processes.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Procurence and its supplier management capabilities. (Non-supplier management specific capabilities are excluded.) Part 1 includes a short company overview and a detailed look at Procurence’s offering. Part 2 will provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis, a short selection requirements checklist that outlines the typical company for which Procurence might be a good fit, and some market implications and takeaways.

4 key takeaways from SynerTrade’s Paris customer panel

In Spend Matters’ last article on SynerTrade’s recent conference in Paris, we talked about how SynerTrade has heard the call of the digital procurement revolution and is readying itself for the revolution by turning its source-to-pay solution into a platform that, through an enhanced API, can easily integrate best-of-breed partner products to provide customers with the tools and intelligence that SynerTrade doesn’t have (as no single vendor can do everything, and the best know enough to not even try).

In this article, we are going to discuss the four key takeaways that the customer panel left us with:
* Measure and Track Quarterly — and React
* Don't Go Too Fast with Tech
* Start with Something Simple That Works and Delivers Value
* Progress Takes Patience

SynerTrade Paris: The Digital Procurement Revolution is Calling!

Last week, at the same time the new Digital Procurement Workshop was happening in Amsterdam, SynerTrade was holding its annual Digital Procurement Summit in Paris (at the Pavillion Royal, with the pre-conference tour and dinner at the Centre Pompidou — obviously to make the point that, while there is an Art to Procurement*, in today's digital world, you need to take a more modern approach to achieve success). And while the event might have flown under the radar with all the other events going on this month, it certainly over-delivered.

GEP: Vendor Snapshot (Part 7) — Competitive Landscape

This final installment of our seven-part Spend Matters PRO series on GEP will look at how it compares to its competitors, like SAP Ariba, Coupa, Ivalua, Jaggaer, Corcentric’s Determine, SynerTrade, Wax Digital and Zycus.

Previous installments provided an in-depth look at GEP as a company (Part 1), its specific solutions (Part 2 and Part 3), and a detailed analysis of solution strengths (Part 4) and weaknesses (Part 5). A SWOT analysis and commentary followed in Part 6.

GEP competes in several market segments and brings varying degrees of capability, differentiation and strength in many areas. In certain segments of the market, it is more successful in positioning an overall suite value proposition rather than individual modules (individually or together) for several reasons. Clearly, GEP “keeps coming back to suite” as its technology mantra for good reason.

For example, Spend Matters’ analysis suggests GEP is stronger within the strategic sourcing services and solution areas than in the P2P components of its suite from an “absolute” functional capability perspective. Yet the provider is effective at selling both areas together when they are equally valued. GEP has indeed won some large-scale P2P customers, replacing other solutions, based on the integrated suite value proposition.

Or consider how GEP’s e-invoicing and e-payment capabilities are part of its integrated source-to-pay (S2P) suite solution but are not yet on par with specialist solutions. As another example, GEP has a strong analytics offering but typically positions it within the context of its suite, so while it could compete against specialists in this area, given its classification capabilities, it typically does not.

In this PRO analysis, we’ll set up our coverage primarily relative to technology application segments such as:
* Fully Integrated (and some “loosely coupled”) Source-to-Pay Suites
* Full P2P Suites
* End-to-End and best-of-breed strategic procurement technology (SPT) offerings
* e-invoicing and e-payment specialists
* Supplier and master data management (MDM) providers

But, we’ll also touch on major consultancies, BPO players and niche MSPs.

GEP: Vendor Snapshot (Part 6) — SWOT and Commentary

Global Risk Management Solutions (GRMS)

For those procurement organizations that have not looked at GEP’s technology suite in recent years, they will likely be surprised when exploring its breadth of functionality, as well as the nuances associated with capabilities that differentiate it from other suites. These areas include clever takes on category management, integrated suite analytics, mobile support, and a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and cloud-native solution built and hosted on the Microsoft Azure platform.

This sixth installment of the seven-part Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering GEP provides an objective SWOT analysis of the company and offers our commentary on its platform. In our next installment, we will close out with a competitive market analysis, with recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to GEP, and some recommendations and provider selection guidance for companies that may consider GEP’s suite or even individual modules and capabilities. Previous installments provided an in-depth look at GEP as a company (Part 1), its specific solutions (Part 2 and Part 3), and a detailed analysis of solution strengths (Part 4) and weaknesses (Part 5).

GEP: Vendor Snapshot (Part 5) — Solution Weaknesses

In Spend Matters’ previous installment of our seven-part GEP review, we called out some of the real strengths of the SMART by GEP platform, including some that are rare in the market today. In this Part 5, we are going to balance our analysis by also pointing out some of the "weaknesses" of the platform, at least against peers. (A weakness isn't a weakness unless you are looking for, or need, a certain capability, which, of course, you may already have in-house in another platform.)

While we may have hinted at these by way of omission of coverage in our solution overview in Part 3 and Part 4, we are going to get more specific so you understand precisely what isn't there (and can make a judgment call as to whether you even need the capability). We’ll look at deep optimization (especially logistics), asset management for direct, VMS, trade financing, T&E and more.

GEP: Vendor Snapshot (Part 4) — Solution Strengths

procurement software

In Part 2 and Part 3 of Spend Matters’ seven-part review of GEP, we provided a relatively complete overview of GEP's SMART S2P solution that it takes to market and uses to power the S2P efforts of some of the largest companies in the world. And while we may have hinted at some of the stronger parts of the offering, in today's installment we are going to call out the real strengths of the platform, some of which are (relatively) unique in the market. Those strengths include analytics/master data management, strategic sourcing with expert insight, mobility, network intelligence, opportunity management and more. Let’s take a look at each.

GEP: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Solution Overview (Midstream and Downstream)

interest rates

As we highlighted in Part 1 of this seven-part Spend Matters PRO series, GEP is a diverse company that is a provider of source-to-pay solutions, BPO services and consulting. In Part 2, we discussed how SMART by GEP is a unified S2P solution platform built from the ground up as a cloud-based solution, with full integration capabilities into back-end systems, built and hosted on the Microsoft Azure infrastructure. From both platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and hosting perspectives, this brings the same advantages of Amazon Web Services virtualization (e.g., ability to rapidly “scale up” and “scale down” at any layer in the architecture). But further, the entire GEP platform is Microsoft native, which theoretically means tighter integration into the Microsoft ecosystem of products (e.g., SharePoint, Office, etc.) than competing products. The Azure platform and hosting model provides another layer of scalability insurance for GEP customers.

In Part 3, we’ll look at the midstream and downstream functional S2P capabilities — contract management, supplier management, procure to pay (P2P) — that GEP offers within SMART by GEP. We also take a critical look at GEP’s emphasis on user experience.

GEP: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Solution Overview (Upstream)

SciQuest

SMART by GEP is a unified source-to-pay solution platform and, as GEP is quick to point out, it doesn’t sell “single modules as widgets” on a price list. SMART by GEP can, of course, provide its customers with modular functionality. (See Part 1 of this seven-part Spend Matters PRO series for a company overview of the S2P provider, which also has BPO services and consulting.) However, GEP claims that the majority of its new platform customers will continue to embrace full suite adoption from the get-go, versus a minority that will desire a point-based solution at the start.

SMART by GEP is a cloud-based solution, with full integration capabilities into back-end systems, built and hosted on the Microsoft Azure infrastructure. From both platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and hosting perspectives, this brings the same advantages of Amazon Web Services virtualization (e.g., ability to rapidly “scale up” and “scale down” at any layer in the architecture).

But further, the entire GEP platform is Microsoft native, which theoretically means tighter integration into the Microsoft ecosystem of products (e.g., SharePoint, Office, etc.) than competing products. The Azure platform and hosting model provides another layer of scalability insurance for GEP customers.

In Part 2 of this series, we will cover key upstream functional S2P capabilities — spend analysis, category management, sourcing — that GEP offers within the unified SMART by GEP platform:

GEP: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Company Background

GEP, formerly Global eProcure, is an integrated source-to-pay (S2P) solution and services firm that offers managed services including full BPO capabilities, transformation services (i.e., consulting) and its own internally developed S2P technology suite. The combination of these individual capabilities from a single provider, especially as they become increasingly synergistic, makes GEP truly a standalone in the industry.

Founded in 1999, GEP has been known primarily for its deep knowledge in upstream strategic sourcing and its flexible approach to building and delivering capabilities to its paying clients. These capabilities grew organically, and perhaps somewhat opportunistically, into more repeatable technology-enabled solutions (e.g., spend analysis, e-sourcing, etc.). They also grew when they acquired (and subsequently replatformed) Enporion, a small supply chain management provider that had select upstream strategic sourcing and downstream e-procurement applications, primarily to energy, manufacturing and distribution clients. This acquisition provided GEP with an IP base to further its downstream development capability and better serve these industries.

In the early days, like many companies founded around its time, GEP was a traditional provider of hosted / ASP sourcing technology, but earlier this decade, GEP made the strategic decision to develop its own native source-to-pay cloud platform suite (“SMART by GEP,” first released in 2014), which replaced its older hosted or SaaS offerings. It was a strategic bet that procurement organizations of varying sizes want the agility and depth of a single provider that can flexibly assemble a solution of technology, managed services and transformation services to support their dynamic needs, and one that has continued to pay off. While GEP may not have as many customers as Coupa or SAP Ariba, GEP has more F500 / G2000 clients than any other provider in the S2P space, and, in fact, whereas many of its S2P competitors can count F500 customers as a minority of their customer base, for GEP it’s a majority.

The wager was prescient on many levels, and is starting to massively pay off in growth and business scale, which no one could have imagined at GEP five years ago when its SMART suite was released, and definitely not seven years ago when it would have first begun its new development effort (after the Enporion acquisition). This growth not only includes cloud-based standalone application growth outside of services, but also more transformational services around digitization and automation as well as category management and overall "procurement transformation" once new capabilities are installed. And this success is increasingly creating consternation with traditional software, solution and service providers alike, which is both a boon and a bust for GEP, as we will discuss later in this series.

This seven-part Spend Matters PRO vendor snapshot series provides facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations make informed decisions about GEP’s source-to-pay capability, as well as limited background on its associated services capability. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and overview to set the stage, as well as a few key differentiators to help in short-list decisions. Parts 2 and 3 will provide a detailed solution overview of each key area/module. Part 4 will dive deep into the GEP platform and solution strengths, while Part 5 will balance the analysis by diving into the GEP platform and solution weaknesses, at least with regard to other solutions on the market. (A weakness isn't a weakness if it's not a capability your organization needs, either due to its industry or the presence of that capability in another platform that is already being used.) Part 6 will provide a full SWOT analysis as well as commentary on the solution and recommended fit. Finally, Part 7 will finish up with an overview of the competitive landscape.

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 7) — Competitive and Summary Analysis

contingent workforce

So how does Ivalua — previously the Rodney Dangerfield of e-procurement for getting no respect, but now is no laughing matter to its competitors — stack up to the market? In this seven-part PRO overview, Spend Matters has covered Ivalua’s history, internal capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. But to see how it fits into the marketplace, first we have to understand who it is up against. Namely:

* Full Source-to-Pay Suites, including SAP Ariba, Coupa, GEP, Jaggaer, Zycus, Corcentric/Determine, Synertrade, and even Oracle and a few others (e.g,. Wax Digital)
* Full P2P Suites, including Basware, BuyerQuest, Oracle, Vroozi and others
* End-to-End and Best-of-Breed “upstream” Sourcing and Strategic Procurement Technology (SPT) Offerings, including Allocation Network, Bonfire, EC Sourcing, Keelvar, MarketDojo, Scanmarket, * ScoutRFP and more
* e-Invoicing and e-Payment Specialists, including Proactis, Taulia, Tipalti, Transcepta, Tradeshift, Tungsten and others
* Supplier and Master Data Management (MDM) Providers, including Apex Analytix, Aravo, ConnXus, HICX, Procurence, Tealbook and others that don’t slot neatly into the supply management area within SPT.

We'll start by providing a more detailed overview of Ivalua's biggest competitors, namely SAP Ariba, Coupa, GEP and Jaggaer, before covering the rest of the S2P providers that it may encounter in potential deals.