Author Archives: Michael Lamoureux



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

supplier network

As a standalone component of procurement, supplier management is not new. Nor is the technology to enable it. But most procurement organizations still only have sourcing or e-procurement technology (at best) with capabilities that offer targeted supplier support for larger vendors. From a supplier management standpoint, the majority of firms still pay little attention to the long tail of hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of suppliers that they do business with. One of the key promises of supplier management solutions is to tier engagement levels and manage these suppliers across the entire lifecycle of engagement.

Within this market, AdaptOne offers targeted capabilities that focus on supplier information management (SIM) and supplier diversity, which represent two sub-disciplines within supplier lifecycle management. Having started out as an enterprise business process management (BPM) and workflow management provider that customized solutions to client processes, AdaptOne evolved into a SIM provider that offers turn-key solutions inclusive of customized configuration.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores AdaptOne’s product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist the vendor. It also offers a critique of the user interface. Part 1 of our analysis offered a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider AdaptOne’s supplier management software. The final installment of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

The supplier lifecycle management software market — which can be segregated at least half a dozen different ways — includes dozens upon dozens of different providers specializing in one or more enterprise technology areas. These include supplier information management (SIM), supplier performance management (SPM), supplier relationship management (SRM), supplier quality management (SQM), supplier discovery management (SDM), supplier diversity, supplier risk management, and governance, risk and compliance (GRC). 

Some of these areas are data-centric, others are process-centric and others still are relationship-centric. Following this pattern, from a tech vendor “supply market” perspective, some of the providers that compete in this sector are well known to procurement organizations, having invested heavily in marketing and sales for many years. But the majority tend to slip under the radar, either due to lack of marketing investment, lack of focus or simply poor communication (e.g., getting caught up in broader offerings/suite capabilities). And some are not even on the radar of most organizations.

One of the providers in these latter camps that recently caught our attention is AdaptOne. And not necessarily because it has a unique supplier management solution, as the truth is there is a lot of similarity between it and a few other SIM solutions. Rather, AdaptOne piqued our interest because it comes from a unique background and sells the solution from a new perspective. Leveraging a business process management (BPM) development and deployment orientation, AdaptOne’s solution is more configurable and, well, adaptable (sorry, we could not resist) than most of its peers.

But how does AdaptOne stack up functionally, and what does its solution offer? This Spend Matters Pro Vendor Snapshot provides an overview of the AdaptOne solution, along with facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations, suppliers and their partners make informed decisions about AdaptOne's SIM-centric solution. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations might want to consider AdaptOne. The rest of this multipart research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitors and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 10: E-Procurement Components, Continued)

In this series, we have been discussing the glue that binds together different areas of procurement workflow: the overall program management of both individual tasks and collective activities across the source-to-pay continuum, along with the technology components that support this end-to-end perspective. As a whole, this Spend Matters PRO series provides deep insight into what effective program management technology capabilities encapsulate from a design, platform and functional perspective.

We started this series by exploring design principles on which effective program management technology is based across the source-to-pay continuum. We then provided insights into the building blocks of effective program management technology components including best-of-breed project management, performance management, program compliance, program collaboration and other areas. We then highlighted specific examples of category management requirements and supplier management requirements before our series wrap-up with e-procurement and broader P2P.

In our last article (Part 9 — E-Procurement Components), we defined the P2P program counterparts to the sourcing-centric programs and began a deep dive into the platform components required to support the programs covered in our last entry. In this final installment on P2P, we conclude the platform components required to support modern procurement programs.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 9: E-Procurement Components)

BuyerQuest

In these articles on program management, we have been discussing the glue that binds together different areas of procurement workflow: the overall program management of both individual tasks and collective activities across the source-to-pay (S2P) continuum. This Spend Matters PRO series, as a whole, provides deep insight into what effective program management technology capabilities encapsulate from a design, platform and functional perspective.

We started this broad series by exploring design principles on which effective program management technology is based within source-to-pay. We then provided insights into the building blocks of effective program management technology components today, including best-of-breed project management, performance management, program compliance and program collaboration. We also dove into category management requirements and supplier management requirements before beginning to wrap up the series with e-procurement (and broader P2P).

In our last article, an introduction to e-procurement programs, we defined the P2P program counterparts to the sourcing programs. In this, the first of our final two entries in the series, we begin a deep dive into the platform components required to support these procurement programs covered in our last entry.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology (Part 8: An Introduction to E-Procurement)

If there is a glue that binds together different areas of procurement, it is the act of transformation to make end-to-end processes more efficient and effective across the source-to-pay continuum.  This transformation isn’t about making minor enhancements here and there; rather, it is about broader programs that can take the form of digital transformation, process re-engineering, shared services, “one company” initiatives or or a technology-triggered program such as implementing a new cloud-based procurement software platform. This Spend Matters PRO series provides insight into what effective program management technology capabilities encapsulate from a design, platform and functional perspective. We’ll explore both what represents best-in-class program management components today and what users should expect tomorrow.

Part 1 of this series explored technology design principles on which effective program management technology is based, with a focus on strategic procurement processes such as sourcing and SRM. Part 2 provided insight into the functional (technology product) building blocks of effective program management technology components today including best-of-breed project management, goal management, program auditing/audit trails and prepackaged initiative enablement. Then in Part 3 we defined the standard category-management sourcing programs a buyer needed to execute and what they involved, as well as followed that with a deep dive into the supporting platform components required in Part 4.

But, as we all know, sourcing is only half the battle. P2P is the other half. The best sourcing plan, even backed up by a detailed contract, is worthless if the plan is not executed to spec.  This is where P2P comes in. Therefore, in the last parts of this extensive program management series, we’ll turn our attention to P2P.

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

The Germanic countries in Europe have always been the epicenter of specialized direct materials procurement software. Arguably, this legacy started with the operational procurement side of SAP as a component of ERP. Building on this foundation, Pool4Tool (now Jaggaer Direct) and SynerTrade were the first to export their capabilities across the Atlantic, targeting North American industrial firms. But now Allocation has joined these two vendors in targeting middle-market and Fortune 500 manufacturers in the U.S. and Canada.

This third and final installment of our Vendor Snapshot covering Allocation's sourcing and supplier management capabilities 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 Allocation, complete with solution selection guidance. Finally, this research brief provides summary analysis and recommendations for organizations considering Allocation for sourcing and supplier management.

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

Coupa: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses (2018 Update)

Coupa has become the provider “to beat” for procurement software suite customers who want a streamlined deployment effort, a simplified user experience and the ability to capture, manage and influence spend and services. Compared with peers, Coupa excels as a buying front-end for companies, intercepting users when they need to purchase something and processing spend of all types, including highly strategic spend that needs to be optimized. This is different from offering just an e-procurement application — a key point we explore in this Vendor Snapshot.

The procure-to-pay (P2P) process is still very much a part of the Coupa experience, if not the core (even though the vendor does offer standalone sourcing and spend analytics technology that handily beat the SolutionMap benchmark). When it comes to corporate purchasing, Coupa focuses on delivering an “Amazon-plus” experience for users. (Spend Matters stands by its earlier analysis in which we suggested that Coupa delivers a better corporate buying experience than Amazon as a buying front-end, at least compared with Amazon Business.) But as with other e-procurement software companies, Coupa brings a hidden back office component that provides procurement and finance organizations with significant compliance controls, oversight and related capabilities to manage and even guide buyers down specific paths (e.g., procuring a given item from a preferred supplier within budget), integrated community intelligence and even real-time risk analysis while making the overall buying experience almost as painless as shopping on a consumer site — even if the buying experience demands a multi-round negotiation with optimization-backed analysis.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Coupa’s product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist the vendor. It also offers a critique (pros/cons) of the user interface. Part 1 of our analysis offered a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Coupa’s procurement software. The final installment of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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)

LinkedIn ProFinder

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.