Author Archives: Michael Lamoureux



Sourcing Head-to-Head Technology Evaluation and Comparison: Coupa and Jaggaer (BravoSolution)

When it comes to functional capability, BravoSolution (now Jaggaer) and Coupa are the two providers to beat.

Jaggaer’s sourcing strengths should come as no surprise to those familiar with its history. Coupa’s rapid e-sourcing ascent, however, will surprise many. It went from laggard to leader in the sourcing technology sector when the ink dried on its agreement to acquire Trade Extensions. Regardless, both providers excel on a functional basis and lead in many of the buying personas for our Q4 2017 SolutionMap.

But are they the right fit for your organization?

Join us as we put on the gloves and pit Coupa and Jaggaer “head-to-head” in the Spend Matters evaluation ring. We’ll start by providing a technology summary comparative rating of each provider and then explore business requirements and scenarios, calling out the winner in each match up. If you’re considering either vendor or other sourcing competitors, look no further for an evaluation and comparison you can’t get anywhere else. This is the first in a series of “head-to-head” evaluations based on our SolutionMap data, and more matchups will follow as additional providers step into the ring and seats to these SolutionMap subscriber-specific events become available (in addition to our usual vendor deep dives on Spend Matters PRO, of course). Stay tuned!

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 2 — Functional Building Blocks)

Program management is an integral component of source-to-pay (S2P) activities that is no longer optional for high-performing procurement organizations. In short, program management is a set of processes that manage specific projects and broader project portfolios that focus on higher-level processes and composite processes that cross the traditional linear flow of sourcing, contracting, purchasing and payments. These programs can be ancillary to core processes (e.g., M&A-related activities or globalization efforts) or transformational in nature to implement enterprise-level programs (e.g., working capital programs, risk programs, sustainability programs, digital programs, ERP upgrade programs, Lean/Six Sigma programs).

The problem is that, generally, program management is poorly automated and stovepiped within functions or subfunctions. Within procurement, there may be savings tracking for strategic sourcing processes displayed in a "CPO dashboard” but not much visibility and collaboration beyond that. This is a problem because as procurement is collaborating with stakeholders on ever broader processes and reaching deeper into stakeholder processes, supplier processes and external customer processes, there needs to be a cross-functional management capability. The emergence of collaboration tools like Slack and others have shown the enterprise desire to manage fast-paced mobile communication on the ground that is tied back to strategic objectives.

This Spend Matters PRO series defines what effective program management capabilities are from a design, platform and functional perspective that puts the user first. We explore both what represents best-in-class program management components today, what users should expect tomorrow and what we hope technology providers have on their roadmaps to build. We also explore some solution building blocks for effective program management, including best-of-breed project management, goal management, program auditing/audit trails and prepackaged initiative enablement. (Don’t forget to read Part 1 of this series to first understand the design principles on which effective program management technology is based.)

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 1 — Design Building Blocks)

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This Spend Matters PRO series provides insight into what constitutes effective program management capabilities from design, platform and functional perspectives. We explore both what represents best-in-class program management components today and what users should expect tomorrow, including what we hope technology providers have on their roadmaps to build.

Part 1 of this series provides insight into the platform-level building blocks of effective program management capability, exploring user design as a central consideration of an effective system. User experience is critical to the acceptance and adoption of any source-to-pay (S2P) module and suite. Why? Without adoption and acceptance, there are no benefits, and the promised ROI will never materialize if the solution is not adopted by those that need to use it for the platform to work.

But maximizing user adoption is easier said than done. Users want a good experience when interacting with procurement technology. They expect not only the intuitiveness and ease of use of modern web-based platforms that they use to research products and buy in their everyday lives but also an ease of use that actually makes their job easier and more efficient. This is not what one typically achieved from an S2P platform designed in the ERP era, where green-screen workflows were often adapted as is to the GUI interface that came native with the advent of the world wide web.

This is one reason effective program management was rarely adopted, even when featured, in earlier-generation procurement technology solutions. And it’s why we’re going to tackle this subject first as our series begins.

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

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There is more than meets the product and functional eye when it comes to evaluating independent contract lifecycle management (CLM) providers. Spend Matters research, including our recently published Q4 2017 CLM SolutionMap, suggests this is a technology market where it is easier to define what makes individual vendors different than what makes them similar. This is even the case where just about every best-of-breed (i.e., non-suite) vendor ticks the baseline contract management checklist boxes across all key areas including core modeling, extended contract modeling/analytics, expiration/renewal, creation/authoring, collaboration, and implementation, compliance, obligation and performance management.

Exari is one such provider in this specialized and diverse segment of the procurement technology market that stands out based on its current intellectual property and software development focus. Consider, for example, Exari’s data architecture, built on what the provider describes as a universal contract model (UCM) that can encapsulate all of the elements, relationships and actions in a contract. Exari can use this abstracted contract data structure to guide a user through contract creation, identify potential issues and raise alerts based upon data elements or events or (unexpected) actions. It can even analyze third-party documents and convert external contracts into a document within Exari or into its UCM-based canonical contract data model through other artificial intelligence (AI) and semantic parsing capabilities in its broader solution portfolio.

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

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

Even among specialist contract lifecycle management (CLM) providers, those that go below the surface in evaluating functional capabilities will discover that there is significant differentiation of both absolute functional capability and focus among vendors. The former point may be obvious, but the latter point is especially nuanced within the best-of-breed CLM market.

Exari is a perfect example. Comparing Exari even with its specialist contract management peers is like comparing apples to oranges. It stands apart from others that appear to tick similar functional boxes for many reasons and is likely a better fit for certain legal and procurement organizations over others, based on both their specific goals in deploying a CLM solution and their overall approach to enterprise contract management.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Exari’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement 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 Exari. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

A few years ago we could have divided the contract lifecycle management (CLM) technology provider market into two segments: providers that delivered CLM as part of integrated source-to-pay suites and standalone CLM providers, including those owned by suite vendors but that were not fully integrated as part of a source-to-pay platform, which offered significantly greater capability. But in our recent Q4 CLM SolutionMap, we learned this segmentation is no longer accurate. Select standalone CLM providers have begun to distanced themselves considerably, on a function scoring (Solution) basis, from the previous generation of best-of-breed providers that were part of suite vendor offerings (e.g., Selectica/Determine, Upside/Jaggaer).

One of these independent providers that is pulling away from the suite crowd is Exari. Like other CLM specialists, Exari not only focuses on procurement contracts but also enterprise contracts, including sales contracts, leases, partnership agreements, employment agreements and other contracts that fall outside the realm of the procurement.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement and legal organizations make informed decisions about whether Exari, as a standalone CLM solution, is a better fit than using a suite-based contract management provider. 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 Exari. The remainder of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

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

For most procurement organizations, artificial intelligence (AI) technology in 2017 is similar to what online marketplaces and B2B exchanges were to purchasing teams in 2000. In other words, more of a curiosity — and a place to potentially make investments — than a proven thing. But the similarity ends there.

AI is very much real — and early adopters in procurement, finance and supply chain are already taking advantage of its benefits. And perhaps most important for skeptical procurement functions more interested in containing technology risk than fully embracing digital capabilities, there is no chance that the AI movement will implode, like the majority of B2B exchanges from the turn of the last millennium — it’s too far along for that already and the benefits are all too real.

If you’re not yet convinced, use cases from providers like Dhatim will help you make you a believer. While not a traditional source-to-pay modular or suite provider, Dhatim brings adjacent AI-led spend, invoice, broader P2P and payment classification, analytics and proactive opportunity identification capabilities that are complementary to existing systems and the data they produce.

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

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

“Cognitive” procurement has a ring to it. Enough so that any CPO who works for an organization with a broader digital transformation mandate just might pick up the old handset when a new technology provider that uses artificial intelligence (AI) in new ways decides to call. And Dhatim’s Conciliator, one of the first entrants into the cognitive sourcing market that uses AI and customized learning models to identify and predict savings opportunities, classification errors, and even individual (and theoretically supplier/vendor) performance/quality, may very well be the one on the other end of the line.

Conciliator is not the first “next generation” integrated AI-based solution that we have seen with true cognitive procurement (or sourcing) capabilities. LevaData (see our Vendor Snapshot series here, here and here) takes that prize. But Conciliator is one of the first true cognitive platforms on the market with an ability to do deep predictive analytics on certain categories in certain verticals in ways that go beyond basic AI applications to spend classification, fraud detection, predictive risk scoring and other established use cases alone.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Conciliator’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement 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 Conciliator. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

You might not know it, but France has a great history of building outstanding, engineering-led procurement technology firms. Ivalua and b-pack (now Determine) stand out for different reasons, but both have achieved varying degrees of success globally. Dhatim, founded in 2007, stands to follow in their footsteps — and potentially create an even larger imprint. While not a new technology provider in the procurement space, Dhatim, and its solution named Conciliator, is relatively new outside of its home country. Like others that have expanded outside the French market before it, Dhatim is looking to build a global presence, first in Europe and the UK, and then beyond.

Dhatim’s Conciliator is not a procurement suite. In fact, it would misleading to view the provider as a module-centric vendor only. Rather, it has developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-centered suite of applications that leverage the underlying learning and analytics capability to solve specific procurement, finance and even HR business challenges as well as shared services end-to-end processes operational challenges, primarily centered on automated compliance. Many of Conciliator’s large customers are keen to take advantage of digital initiatives that center on “cognitive procurement” and related areas. Conciliator not only checks the box but also delivers against use cases in which other, non-AI based solutions would have a much more difficult time — if they could do it at all.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement and finance organizations make informed decisions about whether they need a solution like Conciliator alongside or as an adjunct to other analytics and data classification technologies. 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 Conciliator. The remainder of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

The Procure-to-Pay User Experience (Part 4)

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In Part 1 of this series, we addressed why the user experience (UX) is important in a procure-to-pay (P2P) solution, and why we have` dedicated so much time to the topic. The reality is that if users do not use the solution to do their job, the solution does not generate value. And the ultimate key to adoption is the user experience. That’s why many IT companies are beginning to invest significantly in providing a user interface that provides the optimal user experience to do their job.

That’s also why we are providing you with this information to help you identify who those companies are. This started in Part 2, where we noted that there is not just one optimal user interface for an optimal user experience. There are multiple user interfaces, one per role. We then described the key aspects of these for the more casual roles — the casual buyer, the admin or IT supporter and the supplier. In Part 3, we began to address the professional procurement buyer role, starting with the core functionality required across the P2P platform. Now we need to address the core functionality required by the professional buyer in each phase of the P2P cycle.

The Procure-to-Pay User Experience (Part 3)

In Part 1 of this series, we addressed why the user experience (UX) of a procure-to-pay (P2P) solution is important, and why we have dedicated so much time to the topic. The reality is that if a user does not use a solution to do their job, the solution does not generate value. And the ultimate key to adoption is the user experience. That’s why many IT companies are beginning to invest significantly in providing a user interface that provides users the optimal experience to do their job.

That’s also why we are providing you with the information to help you identify who those companies are. This started in Part 2, where we noted that there is not just one optimal user interface for an optimal user experience. There are multiple user interfaces, one per role. In our last article, we described the key aspects of these for the more casual roles — the casual buyer, the admin or IT supporter, and the supplier. Today, we tackle the requirements for the professional, full-time procurement buyer, which are predictably much more extensive.

The Procure-to-Pay User Experience (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series, we addressed why the user experience (UX) is important, and why we have dedicated so much time to this topic. The reality is that if users do not use a solution to do their job, the solution does not generate value. And the ultimate key to adoption is often the user experience. That's why many IT companies are beginning to invest in providing a user interface that provides the user with an optimal experience, and why we are providing the information organizations will need to identify which companies those are.