During the last few years, procurement technology provider Coupa has used the slogan “Savings as a Service,” a catchy phrase for a company serving procurement organizations. It has also been a smart slogan because it aligns to procurement’s primary mission — delivering savings. Delivering savings is also front-of-mind for mid-size companies as well as large ones. However, organizations that have identified procurement’s potential to adopt a more strategic role for the business beyond delivering savings are looking for a different type of conversation with their service providers (including SaaS providers like procurement technology providers), and how they can help support a broader missions of value beyond cost savings. So, Coupa has pivoted to the motto “Value as a Service.” But what does this mean and how can practitioners and providers learn from this? We previously wrote an article that touched upon Value as a Service, but this Spend Matters PRO brief explores how is Coupa is trying to deliver Value as a Service (including with its latest product release). And as (or more) important, we explore how others can learn from these efforts, including providers and practitioners alike.
In our last installment of this series on design-centered procurement, we discussed the importance of good design in products, the design of the supporting supply chain and the design of the supply management function. We used the example of a car design and contrasted the good design of a Tesla compared with the design of the ill-fated Pontiac Aztek. But consider replacing the word “car” with “procurement system.” Traditional software development for procurement applications (or any packaged applications software, for that matter) looks uncannily like that of the Pontiac Aztek. “Feature 500” lists are developed that not only address incremental customer functionality requirements but also throw in new “bells and whistles” designed to keep up with the competitors’ software features, and the preferences of IT industry analysts who put providers on simplistic 2x2 quadrants. Yet the software itself doesn't necessarily align to the procurement outcome of driving business value from better supply management (and demand management as part of this). Why? Here are the biggest issues that we see and how to address them.
10 Supply Chain Areas Needing Gene Therapy: Supply Network Information Models — The Missing DNA in the Digital Supply Chain (Part 4)
In the previous post in this series, I began outlining 10 supply chain provider areas that could benefit from the infusion of a robust supply network information model. In this final installment in the series, I highlight the remaining provider areas, the convergence in supply chain intelligence and analytics and look at x potential providers that span multiple adjacent services and solutions sectors in business process outsourcing (BPO), management consulting, supply market intelligence, business intelligence, content management and others.
In Part 1 of this series, we introduced the idea of design-centered procurement and how procurement needs to put is “users” (stakeholders) at the core of what it does. The heart of good design isn’t just about aesthetics, but about solving a problem — or lots of problems at once. Those problems are very situational, but there can be many common problems as well. The trick is to tease out the problems that are situational to the environment versus dispositional regarding the person experiencing the problem.
We recently had the chance to speak with Jason Ezratty, the president and co-founder of Brightfield Strategies. Brightfield, already known as one of the top analytics-based consulting and advisory firms in the contingent workforce management space, has created a unique data aggregation and analytics platform, the Talent Data Exchange (TDX). In this article, we peel the onion back a little on TDX and set the stage for our subsequent slice-and-dice drill-downs (for our PRO members) on what a data platform solution like TDX can mean for workforce and services procurement.
10 Supply Chain Areas Needing Gene Therapy: Supply Network Information Models — The Missing DNA in the Digital Supply Chain (Part 3)
In these final two installments of this series on supply network information models, I will outline the gaps in 10 different supply-side process areas and technology solution types that would greatly benefit from supporting the key attributes of these models. More importantly, by tying each of these areas to a common robust information model, they’ll be able to integrate with each other more easily and support the needed process integrations. I’ll also discuss the extent that supply chain information networks like E2open, GT Nexus (Infor), GHX, Elemica, Elementum and others can play a key role in building the digital DNA needed to support modern supply networks.
In the 1980s, GM learned a difficult lesson about technology when it copied Japanese auto manufacturers in their use of robotics — but didn’t copy anything else. GM figured that large capital investments in expensive technology were the key design element in the Japanese supply chain. Unfortunately, the technology itself was complicated and was not used within the context of a broader supply chain design that emphasized lean manufacturing principles.
Jason is off on a well-earned vacation, so I thought I’d chime in on Tradeshift’s latest funding round. It’s good to see healthy providers that are attracting investment to fund the innovation that the procurement, finance and supply chain space so desperately need. To me, the latest funding round demonstrates three things.
Extended Supply Network Information Models: The Missing DNA in the Digital Supply Chain (Part 2 — Why it Matters)
In part one of this series, I wrote that “a supply network data model must live at the heart of any supply chain” and how “the required data model implicit in running a true global supply network is as fundamental as the data model change required to move from an on-premise traditional enterprise class application to a true SaaS multi-tenant application”. In this follow-up analysis, I want to share my rationale for this argument and what it means to practitioners and providers — and the blurring of those two roles as their worlds converge. The premise is simple. If a manufacturer is going to operate a global, multitier supply network, and if that manufacturer wants to digitize that supply chain for improved efficiency and effectiveness, then it should possess an IT system that has an underlying data model that mirrors the physical network. More specifically, a supply network information model should have five distinct characteristics.
Extended Supply Network Information Models: The Missing DNA in the Digital Supply Chain (Part 1 — A Backstory)
A supply network data model must live at the heart of any supply chain, whether that model is used for projects in supply network design, bid optimization, supply risk management, supply market intelligence or other areas. The problem is that no single solution or even class of solution offers up this robust data model that can be used in so many areas.
Earlier Tuesday, private equity firm Thoma Bravo, which also owns healthcare procurement and supply chain technology provider GHX, announced it will be acquiring Elemica, a solution and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider that was one of the last “captive” investments left over from the initial B2B marketplace era. Elemica started as an industry consortium electronic marketplace (e.g., chemicals, plastics, rubber, energy) and largely existed to provide technology and solutions (e.g., sourcing services) as a shared service to its owners.
As we noted in our initial coverage of the announcement, private equity firms appear to be circling the procurement market. The deal is most similar to the Insight Venture Partners acquisition of E2open and also comes on the heels of the recent announcement that Accel-KKR will be acquiring SciQuest, which itself started as an electronic marketplace of life sciences supplies.
As they relate to complexity and risk in the supply chain, the terms agility, resilience, responsiveness and adaptiveness are all thrown around in the popular supply chain press these days. All of these terms do share similar associations but shouldn’t all just be lumped together in the same big semantic stew. In this analysis, we’ll offer up a framework that may be useful in thinking about these terms and applying them to your supply chain.