Author Archives: Michael Lamoureux



Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 6) — Commentary & SWOT

As we noted in Part 1 of this seven-part Spend Matters PRO series, Ivalua is no longer the Rodney Dangerfield of procurement suites, and we no longer need to apologize to the late comic. Since we last assessed Ivalua in-depth in 2016, the provider has achieved a lot of respect from the analyst community, the investment community (with a “unicorn” valuation exceeding $1 billion in their last funding last round), and most importantly, the customer community as evidenced by Ivalua’s 98% customer retention rate — even though Ivalua’s customer satisfaction scores have slipped slightly in its last SolutionMap rankings.

However, the firm’s larger peers still often seem quick to dismiss this “newcomer” to the S2P arena, even though Ivalua was founded in 2000! As a perceived newcomer in the North American marketplace, with a smaller customer count, less revenue and less perceived history, it still is often not even known, or well known, to some practitioners that we’ve run across who’ve not research the market deeply. This is despite the fact they Ivalua has:
* almost as large of a global presence (with offices across the Americas, EMEA and APAC)
* a track record of supporting a global customer base
* a valuation that smaller S2P players might sell their workforce into indentured servitude for
* a platform that is simultaneously so broad and so deep that it's becoming difficult for many of their peers to compete on out-of-the-box functionality, especially in the direct materials/sourcing space, in larger clients with extensive requirement lists.

As we noted in late 2016, “if we add up the differentiated combination of its architecture/platform, industry enablement, functional/modular capability (across the source-to-pay continuum), analytics and ‘overlay’ process support capabilities, the sum of the Ivalua package stands out from all others in a true ‘deadpan’ way — albeit with no laughing involved.”

When you augment this with leading direct sourcing support (with the re-platforming of its DirectWorks acquisition), improved workflow management, UI improvements, one-search, improved (direct) catalog management and bot-assisted guided buying, you get a platform that's a force to be reckoned with.

In short, Ivalua deserves much more regard from its peers than it has received to date, as it's well positioned to make a big dent in the global marketplace that will be hard not to take notice of. That said, some parts of the application suite can be improved (as we discussed in Part 5), there is a lot of unexpected capability under the hood around bill of material management (in a centralized module that allows for deep what-if scenario analysis), asset and tooling management, program and project management, third-party data integration and scorecard creation, accruals, and global tax compliance management. Plus, the cost breakdown analytics, NPI (new product introduction), corrective action capability, extended supplier profile management, and the ability to pull data into and push data out of the environment on a daily (or even hourly) basis is deeper than one might expect, especially with the large number of pre-configured interfaces out-of-the-box and the ability to acquire more through the add-on store.

And while Ivalua is still not perfect (but to be honest, no provider is), as it's still missing a few capabilities that we feel are becoming core with S2P (and even its updated UI is not industry-leading), we still believe that anyone who invests the time to get to know the solution on a product level will come away very impressed if they have the same technology-and-capability-centric proclivities as the Spend Matters team (even if it's not the right "fit" for the organization at the end of the day).

So, without further adieu, in this penultimate installment of our updated Spend Matters snapshot on Ivalua, we provide you with an objective SWOT analysis of the company, and a selection shortlist to help companies decide whether Ivalua should be in their crosshairs, whether they have their sights set on a platform, suite or modular capability.

Tomorrow, in Part 7 we’ll finish up with a competitive market segmentation, a comparative analysis and some final thoughts. We also include recommended short-list candidates as alternative vendors and offer some provider selection guidance.

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 5) — Product Weaknesses

global trade

If you've already read Part 1 of our updated vendor snapshot on Ivalua (which includes a detailed company and solution overview), then you know that you're either going to be attracted to the depth, breadth and configurability of the solution — or perhaps overwhelmed by it if you're new to the advanced sourcing and procurement game. But, even with its prowess in deep configurability, Ivalua's solution is not without its weaknesses. In this Part 5 of our seven-part vendor snapshot, we are going to dive deep into Ivalua's product weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help a procurement organization decide whether they should shortlist the vendor. And an organization that is putting Ivalua head-to-head with a provider like Coupa should compare and contrast what we say here versus what we say in Part 2 of our Coupa vendor snapshot because near-equal scores in Spend Matters Solution Map does not imply near equal capability in all areas, and definitely not in the areas that might matter to your organization the most. Ivalua's weaknesses are similar to our last review a couple of years ago, but a few weaknesses have been addressed since last time (and while not as deep, but still exist against either suite-peers or best-of-breed), and the re-platforming of DirectWorks in particular has gone a long way to address specialized support around direct sourcing.

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 4) — Product Strengths

Global Risk Management Solutions

Anything Ivalua still lacks in global brand and market awareness along with sales/marketing infrastructure and prowess, it makes up for by delivering a source-to-pay platform designed to emphasize functional depth, suite-based capabilities and industry-specific enablement scenarios in the private and public sector. Ivalua delivers a no-compromise set of capabilities and an underlying platform that is most likely to appeal to procurement and IT organizations that want greater flexibility in executing a procurement technology architecture and strategy than what is offered by the majority of suite-based solutions on the market today. Ivalua is generally at the front of the pack in Spend Matters’ “configurator” persona of just about every SolutionMap we look at for our 2019 Q2 results — and the lead dog if the pack includes only the suite vendors.

If you've already read Part 1 of our updated, seven-part vendor snapshot on Ivalua (which includes a detailed company and solution overview), then you know that you're either going to be attracted to the depth, breadth and configurability of the solution — or perhaps overwhelmed by it if you're new to the advanced sourcing and procurement game. With the massive flexibility that comes with massive configurability, there is also a non-trivial degree of configuration settings to pay attention to. (See Part 2 for an upstream solution overview and Part 3 for details on the downstream capabilities.)

In this Part 4 edition of the vendor snapshot, we are going to dive deep into Ivalua's product strengths, providing facts and expert analysis to help a procurement organization decide whether they should shortlist the vendor. Of course, it’s best to read the SolutionMap analysis for all the providers in question. For example, an organization that is putting Ivalua head-to-head with Coupa should compare and contrast what we say here versus what we say in Part 2 of our Coupa vendor snapshot because near-equal scores in SolutionMap do not imply near equal capability in all areas, and definitely not in the areas that might matter to your organization the most.

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Downstream Solution Overview

supplier network

Ivalua has been growing steadily since Spend Matters’ comprehensive update in 2016, with the suite provider adding clients, offices, employees and capability around the globe. After we provided an updated background in Part 1, we delved into Ivalua’s primary upstream solution components around spend analysis, strategic sourcing, direct sourcing and contract management in Part 2.

Today, this seven-part Spend Matters PRO series will continue our solution overview with a look at the downstream components — namely catalog management, e-procurement and order management, e-invoicing, expense management, payment management and IVA for guided buying. After we review these downstream components, we’ll finish up our solution review with a couple of the cross-platform capabilities around risk and performance management, supplier information management and master data management (MDM). After we finish with our solution overview, in Parts 4 and 5, we will dive into Ivalua's particular strengths and weaknesses from a solution perspective.

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

gig economy

In Part 1 of Spend Matters' seven-part PRO series, we provided an updated background on Ivalua, which has been growing steadily since our last Vendor Snapshot in 2016, adding clients, offices, employees, customers and capability around the globe. No longer the Rodney Dangerfield of procurement, Ivalua is finally getting some real respect, having just reached unicorn valuation status in its last funding round.

There are a number of reasons for this, some of which revolve around services and global support capability, and others that revolve around its extensive solution platform. The latter is the subject of our articles today and tomorrow, where we will overview all of the major components, starting with the upstream ones today. Then, after we review the downstream components in Part 3, we will dive into Ivalua's particular strengths and weaknesses from a solution perspective in Parts 4 and 5.

Digital Business Strategy: The CPO’s Outside-In Agenda (Part 3)

In the first two installments of this Spend Matters PRO series (see Part 1A, Part 1B), we noted that a number of pressing issues are shaping procurement from the outside in, yet chief procurement officers (CPOs) are still primarily concerned with issues set by an inside-out agenda — that is, cost-cutting and supply assurance targets mandated by upper management. Our PESTLE analysis of factors shaping the modern CPO agenda identified broad trends like economic instability, globalization, changing digital business strategies and the need to address corporate social responsibility (CSR) as areas that procurement organizations need to consider if they want to truly tap and manage the opportunities (and risks) offered by external supply markets, starting with sustainability and CSR in Part 2A and Part 2B.

Today we move on to the second item topping the CPO’s outside-in agenda: digital transformation.

Digital transformation is increasingly creeping into a CPO's crosshairs because digitization is becoming a daily part of our personal and professional lives. Not only is software becoming critical for everyone in the organization to do their jobs, but the internet is becoming critical to sales and marketing to advertise and sell the product as well as to R&D to do research and engineering to control just-in-time manufacturing. Meanwhile, from a corporate strategy perspective, companies are aggressively looking at their digital business strategies — and consulting firms like Accenture, Deloitte, McKinsey and others are busy capitalizing on this. Distribution companies do not want to get “Amazoned.” (For example, Accenture is looking to next generation digital technologies to achieve it’s ZBx nirvana — and achieve sustainable zero-based spend in a zero-based supply chain.) Logistics firms do not want to get “Ubered.” Contract manufacturers want to become innovation incubators. And pretty much every finished goods manufacturer wants to embed telemetry to collect data and use it to improve customer satisfaction, increase top-line growth and pass the data back to the supply chain to improve operational efficiency.

Digitization is the new buzzword and just about every publication out there is talking about it, running articles on how to do it, and publishing “deep” exposes on the benefits of digitization. Best practice guides, case studies, futurist projections, and other in-depth studies are a daily occurence. Not all are equal, not all are relevant to your organization, and not all are even accurate. But that’s beside the point. Digitization is here, and its influence is only going to grow. So rather than sit back like a luddite and bemoan the coming wave of pink slips due to automation, CPOs need to rally their organizations around digital to help them see the benefits new technologies can bring (as tactical process cost reductions can always be invested in strategic value generation efforts if they use these same technologies to make the case, a case that does not necessitate a reduction in workforce, just a shift from the tactical to the strategic).

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background

FM Global Resilience Index

A lot has changed since Spend Matters’ last full snapshot on Ivalua in December 2016, when we said (with apologies to the late comic) that Ivalua was the Rodney Dangerfield of procurement suites in terms of not getting any respect. At the time, we clearly noted that “if we add up the differentiated combination of its architecture/platform, industry enablement, functional/modular capability (across the source-to-pay continuum), analytics and ‘overlay’ process support capabilities, the sum of the Ivalua package stands out from all others in a true ‘deadpan’ way — albeit with no laughing involved. In short: Ivalua deserves much more respect than it gets from a market that is typically less familiar with it compared to larger peers.”

Since then, Ivalua has raised two massive rounds of capital, the first in April 2017 when it raised $70 million from private equity firm KKR (to build a war chest to accelerate R&D, expand its global footprint, triple down on marketing and make strategic acquisitions), and the second funding round just a couple of months ago when it raised another $60 million and achieved “unicorn” status. Now it's the envy of its peers, and we know for a fact that the other big players — Coupa, Jaggaer, Oracle, GEP and SAP Ariba — have taken notice.

But before we put the cart before the horse (or, in this case, the analyst’s conclusions before the background and solution overview), we're going to back up and start at the beginning now that you have an idea of what's to come.

Ivalua is one of the few source-to-pay (S2P) providers that has built its end-to-end solution on a single technology stack from the ground up, and one of the fewer still that doesn't try to grow through an acquire-and-integrate approach (like SAP Ariba, Jaggaer and even Coupa), or replatforming (like Determine or Oracle), but rather, develops its own native stack (as has GEP, Zycus, and mostly Coupa). Furthermore, it's also one of the few that has enough depth and breadth across each core area to enable it to serve as a single technology S2P suite for the procurement organization. That should not be a surprise given that the firm has been building this platform in-house on a single stack for the past 19 years while working with a global customer base.

This is important because there comes a point when the overall procurement organization performance beyond sourcing-identified savings and P2P-catalog compliance relies on a single extensible platform approach that goes beyond just functional enablement within procurement. Plus, if you want real automation/RPA, guided procurement and real AI someday — you’ll really want a single-workflow-driven platform that works on a single data store, because no advanced technology works without a sufficient amount of good, clean, harmonized data.

This revised, seven-part Spend Matters PRO snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions based on Ivalua's source-to-pay capability, its suitability for specific industry segments, its global service and support footprint, and how each of these stacks up to its competition. (Hint: Ivalua is second in four out of five Source-to-Pay and Strategic Procurement Technology SolutionMap rankings, and second in two out of five P2P maps — namely the Nimble and Configurator personas — in terms of analyst score in the 2019 Q2 SolutionMap release.)

Part 1 of our updated vendor snapshot provides a company background and a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations might want to consider Ivalua in the procurement technology arena. Parts 2 and 3 provide a detailed solution overview. Part 4 will dive into the strengths, and Part 5 looks into the weaknesses across the product line. Part 6 will provide commentary and a SWOT analysis, and Part 7 will provide a comparative market overview and final summary analysis.

Where’s the Beef? A Lesson for Sourcing, Procurement

This post asking “Where’s the Beef?” isn’t about the beef supply chain, or the purity of the beef that you source, but yet another post about the pitch. We’re latching onto Wendy’s classic catchphrase because its message is easy to remember and one that you should never, ever forget! Especially when you are being sold something that sounds better than it is, or what you are being sold is better than what you expect from the organization providing it.

Why must we talk about this again and again? Because it’s too easy to get suckered into a deal that is too good to be true or without substance.

The Best SolutionMap Persona: The Whole Nine Yards

Spend Matters’ analysts have been writing personal essays on their favorite SolutionMap personas: Nimble, Deep, Turn-Key, Configurator, CIO Friendly as well as Optimizer for sourcing providers and Global for CWS vendors. The personas help companies select which solution provider is right for them. This week’s essay is by Michael Lamoureux, our lead analyst for strategic procurement technologies and a futurist.

My favorite persona is the one we don't publish — the whole nine yards, which is basically the raw Solution Map with every single requirement evaluated and weighted full. It's a persona that almost no vendor would do well in, so why is it my favorite? Because it gets to the heart of what the vendor can't do and what its limits are.

Don’t Forget the Big 4 Questions to Ask During Any Mega-Acquisition

Four years ago, during the last big M&A frenzy, I published a post on my Sourcing Innovation blog on The First 4 Questions to Ask During Any Mega-Acquisition that is still just as relevant today as it was four years ago.

And while it was very direct and maybe even a bit confrontational, sometimes it’s a good idea to be direct because sometimes you need to let the new vendor know you’re not in the mood for any shenanigans. The reality is that while some mergers and acquisitions are with the intent of creating a better combined company that can better serve the respective customer bases, not all mergers and acquisitions are done for this reason. Some are done just to eliminate competition, and others are arranged by investors for the sole purpose of a short-term money grab (which will be accomplished by a short-term PE sale or initial public offering once the balance sheets are puffed up and the overhead reduced).

So, without further ado, let's get to the four questions you should ask to find out whether you and your new vendor are on the same page.

AI in Supplier Management: The Day After Tomorrow

digital business transformation

In Spend Matters’ last pair of articles for the PRO series AI in Supplier Management, we reviewed some of the exciting capabilities that you will be able to expect in tomorrow's supplier management platforms, where we define AI, for the purposes of this article, as “augmented intelligence” because, as we've stated in our AI series, there is no true AI in any enterprise technology today.

In our initial entries of the series, we discussed how the advancements in usability and computing power have made it possible for platforms to implement better and more powerful guided on-boarding mechanisms that can allow a supplier to on-board from existing profiles more quickly and efficiently than ever before. We also discussed how embedded community intelligence will help you make better supplier selections, better performance monitoring will help you keep on top of performance problems before they lead to disruptions, KPI monitoring will identify a range of issues, risk monitoring will identify risks as soon as they come to pass, and resource assignment will be automated for common project tasks.

In our follow-up entries, we indicated that each of these capabilities would be improved with automated reasoning and machine learning technologies. Profiles would be automatically maintained. Community supplier intelligence will be augmented with supplier intelligence. Relationship status will be monitored in real time across all purchases and projects. When issues arise, corrective action plans will be automatically created. When risks are identified, mitigation plans will be automatically created. When resources are needed for more critical projects, they will be re-assigned, and projects realigned, in real time.

But is this the best we can hope for?

When we extend our event horizon out further into the future, we can predict that, at some point, industry-leading supplier management platforms are going to support:

— Supplier future state predictions
— Category-based supplier rebalancing
— Supply chain rebalancing
— Real-time order rebalancing

AI in Supplier Management: Tomorrow (Part 2)

complex sourcing

In Part 1 of AI in Supplier Management: Tomorrow, we began our discussion of some of the AI-enabled capabilities that you can expect to find in tomorrow's supplier management platforms, where we define AI as assisted intelligence (because, as we have discussed, there is no true artificial intelligence in enterprise platforms today and there won't be tomorrow either). AI is a buzzword, not a reality. But we don't need true AI to achieve software that can radically increase our productivity. Reaching assisted intelligence will add multiples to our efficiency and effectiveness.

In our last article, we discussed how tomorrow's supplier management platforms will offer smart, automatic, supplier profile update (suggestions) — taking the headaches out of profile maintenance that results in most profiles being out of date in a supplier management system shortly after they are created; market-based supplier intelligence that is more in line and reflective with reality — and not just the experience of an anomalous customer subset; and real-time relationship monitoring that paints a relatively full picture of the relationship, not just a point-based performance picture.

So what else will tomorrow's platforms do to help you focus more on the strategic side of supplier management? Let’s look at the next three areas:

— Automated resolution plan creation, monitoring and adjustment
— Automated risk mitigation strategy identification
— Optimized real-time resource re-alignment