Author Archives: Pierre Mitchell



About Pierre Mitchell

Pierre leads Spend Matters procurement research activities and has broader solution development responsibilities for intellectual property creation and firm strategy as Managing Director of Azul Partners. This includes spearheading efforts to build new types of interactive and social communities of interest within the procurement profession including overseeing the evolution of spendmattersnet.com, Spend Matters PRO, MetalMiner, and other digital assets within Azul Partner’s umbrella. Pierre has 25 years of procurement and supply chain industry and consulting experience, and is a recognized procurement expert specializing in supply processes, practices, metrics, and enabling tools and services. He is a regular contributor to business publications, a frequent presenter at industry events around the world, and counts himself fortunate to have served and interacted with so many CPOs and future CPOs. Prior to his positions in research and advisory, he led numerous operations and systems transformations at Fortune 500 organizations. Industry positions include manufacturing project manager at The Timberland Company, materials manager at Krupp Companies and engineer at EG&G Torque Systems. He holds an engineering degree from Southern Methodist University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. In the early 2000's, Pierre was the first supply chain practitioner to become a procurement "industry analyst" as the VP of supply management research at AMR Research (now part of the Gartner Group) where he provided trusted counsel to procurement executives, business leadership, IT, and the solution providers who serve them. Most recently, he was the head of procurement research and adjunct business advisor at The Hackett Group, where he helped expand Hackett's procurement benchmarks and research studies while growing the Procurement Executive Advisory Program into a gold standard membership-based procurement advisory service in the market today.


ISM 2019 Houston Conference: Highlights and Musings (Part 2)

After a Spend Matters' team went to the ISM 2019 conference last week in Houston, I recapped the event in an earlier post, but today I want to focus on two more sessions, one titled "Procurement Hacks" and the other about sustainability, given by HP Enterprise. And I have a special shoutout for Katie Smith, who discussed a procurement digital transformation case study for HERE Technologies.

SourceDay: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT

The broader procurement technology market has always had a tenuous relationship with the direct procurement technology solutions. Old timers may remember SupplyWorks from the early 2000s, but it folded — and the SupplyWorks brand name now belongs to a janitorial/sanitation service provider (we won’t go down the easy joke paths on this one). More recently, DirectWorks, a perfectly decent solution for direct materials sourcing, also struggled until getting picked up by Ivalua.

Part of the challenge is that direct procurement is not only a subset of spend but also a superset of processes, because it’s essentially infused into the broader supply chain. This makes it addressable from multiple solution sectors like SCM apps, supply chain networks, integration players and industry players.

Source-to-pay application suites, for their part, are picking off some low-hanging fruit functionality here, but the broader requirements are spelled out well in our coverage of a distinct segment that may be forming for direct materials procurement solutions.

Manufacturers today are slowly seeing an expanding set of purchasing tools beyond ERP and MRP alone, and choice is generally a good thing if you have your overall solution strategy/approach nailed down before you go tool shopping. Many will be more than happy to explore this new market.

One of these newer choices is SourceDay, an Austin, Texas-based vendor that directly integrates with ERP and MRP systems to automate the management of purchase orders and supplier performance. By providing a more usable and procurement-centric layer over the data housed by a legacy ERP or supply chain application, SourceDay takes on many of the problems that procurement organizations find in managing direct materials spend.

The result is that procurement can save time, reduce errors and systematically manage supplier performance from a common cloud or mobile interface while still claiming the benefits that an ERP system can offer. There are obviously caveats to this statement — namely around integration — but we’ll touch on this later.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on SourceDay and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of SourceDay’s offering, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

Coupa to Acquire Exari: What Type of CLM Solution Is Coupa Getting? (Part 1)

Coupa just announced that it intends to acquire Exari, a leading provider of contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions. Terms of the deal were not provided, but with Exari having almost 150 employees, it’s not unreasonable that the private firm would have over $30 million in revenues and a deal size valued at just over nine figures. Contract management is a red-hot space right now, and Coupa has a very strategic need for this product. Spend Matters believes that this acquisition is a very smart hand-in-glove acquisition even though it’ll require some alterations to truly fit properly.

Coupa currently has a basic contracting module as part of its “Business Spend Management” application suite within the source-to-pay market, but it was missing two critical aspects of modern CLM that are major strengths for Exari. On a product functionality basis, Exari is one of the very top performers in Spend Matters’ CLM rankings on SolutionMap, and it “ticks all the right boxes” for a best-of-breed CLM performer. It’s also unique in its knowledge-based approach to deep contract modeling rather than just straight AI and machine learning based on contract text analytics.

CLM is also not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and the market landscape depends heavily on many factors. Some providers are much more oriented toward the sell-side — e.g., CPQ-oriented providers such as Apttus or SpringCLM (recently acquired by DocuSign). Some are focused on the mass market with usability being a key focus (e.g., Concord, Outlaw, PandaDoc, etc.). And even within large enterprises looking at firms like Exari, Icertis, Agiloft, SirionLabs, and others, they differ in their requirements as to whether they want “deep” functionality, maximum configurability, ease-of-integration, attractiveness to many functions (e.g., the legal department), and/or being part of a larger application suite.

So, what is Coupa getting with Exari? What types of organizations are the best fit for this solution and the combined solution of Coupa and Exari? Is Exari a solution optimized for legal, procurement or both? And what will Coupa need to do to integrate Exari since this acquisition is not some simple bolt-on, but rather, a core platform component? Finally, what is the impact of this acquisition on the S2P and CLM markets?

This Spend Matters PRO quick take analysis provides insight for Coupa customers and the broader market on specifically what the provider is acquiring. Unlike past acquisitions, we believe Exari represents the greatest stretch away from its core economic buyer (at least historically). Find out why.

For an introduction to Exari, we encourage you to read our Spend Matters PRO review: Introduction & Solution Overview, Strengths/Weakness and Market/Competitive Analysis.

SAP Ariba Live (Part 1): SAP Fieldglass Integration, the Ariba Network and Other Topics & Analysis

Accenture

For the industry analysts in attendance, SAP Ariba Live 2019 kicked off Monday in Austin, Texas, with a candid Q&A session with Barry Padgett, president of SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass; Darren Koch, chief product officer of SAP Ariba; and Vish Baliga, chief technology officer of SAP Fieldglass. During the session, Padgett, Koch and Baliga shared the latest from SAP in terms of numbers growth and SAP Fieldglass’ integration into a common business unit with SAP Ariba, among other topics.

Many of these themes were echoed throughout the 100-plus breakout (and mainstage) sessions that took place Tuesday and Wednesday, including multiple sessions on the SAP Fieldglass integration as well as the Ariba network, among other topics.

This Spend Matters PRO live report provides insight into these updates from the public sessions and what’s driving them. It also includes an analysis and key takeaways from our first 24 hours at SAP Ariba Live. In subsequent briefs, we will explore these and other topics in more detail.

Is Telecom and Freight ‘Commodity’ Spend? Look How Uber/Lyft and Amazon Manage Them!

I’m sitting in on a webinar tomorrow with some amazingly deep transportation experts over at Spend Management Experts. These guys live and breathe small parcel, and if you want to learn about what’s really going on in this category and what you can do to bring more than a knife to a bazooka fight, you should check it out. For a preview, read how telecom for Uber equates to logistics for Amazon.

Services Procurement is Broken: Finding Fixes Beyond Contingent Workforce Management, E-procurement

If you google the term “services procurement,” you’ll see an article from my colleague Andrew Karpie touching on the topic front and center. He talks about the need to transcend the traditional contingent labor-centric view of what is in fact a much larger scope dealing with the procurement of all services. Aggregate annual spend on complex services by U.S. organizations is on the order of $9 trillion to $10 trillion, while spend on temporary staffing is only on the order of $0.02 trillion. When looked at with a wider-angle lense, the scope of services spend is huge. But ...

This is where I’m going to carry the discussion forward. The problem that I’ll address is, to put it bluntly, the management of services spend is shockingly poor.

There are many reasons for this. The first is organizational.

A spend category like direct materials is fairly straightforward in terms of organizational reporting ultimately into the supply chain organization (and/or business unit). The same can be said for lab supplies managed alongside R&D or data center equipment managed alongside IT. But services are trickier, not only in their inherent complexity and variability, but also because of their organizational governance. For example, if I’m looking to bring in some DevOps contractors to supplant my IT outsourcing provider’s capabilities, do I use an IT category team, a contingent labor Center of Excellence or perhaps an IT Vendor Management Office to have the ITO vendor provision the resources?

Beyond the organizational governance issue, the bigger problem is the fragmented nature of managing (not just procuring) services and the underlying systems to manage them — even just in source-to-pay. Case in point: There is not a single source-to-pay solutions provider in the market that offers deep support for all enterprise spend on a platform with a single code base and a unified data model.

And this is 20 years after e-procurement systems started being developed. Let that sink in.

But before a few of the S2P suite vendors get their knickers in a twist over this statement, keep in mind that what I’m including with the term “deep support” is being able to track services work to the contingent worker level that temporary labor solutions (aka “VMS” solutions) and those solutions supporting independent contractors. These contingent labor procurement platforms for their part are only touching a portion of the spend, and the expansion of many of them into SOW-based spend isn’t necessarily something that firms want to use for all their contract-based spend given that modern S2P suites can do a reasonably good job of setting up SOWs against MSAs, modeling basic rate-based service catalogs, and then matching them to the downstream invoice-to-pay processes. The trick, however, is how to go beyond the basics and handle the real life requirements of complex services categories.

This transformation will require a new way to understand/frame services and a new class of architecture and platforms to meet these needs — while also making some practical moves with existing tools (e.g., using modern CLM platforms as a critical core to modeling the commercial details/attributes of these services). It will also require procurement to align more tightly with IT and to leverage an emerging ecosystem of platform providers and approaches that can help rise above the functional silos that manage services spend in disjointed ways.

Extracting maximum commercial value from services can only be done at an end-to-end process level, and procurement has an opportunity to help optimize the sourcing, consumption, settlement and ongoing management of these increasingly digital and externalized services (and their providers). By more easily extending the capabilities of digitally savvy suppliers into internal value chains with internal stakeholders, but also ultimately out to external customers, procurement can proactively be part of broader enterprise digital transformation activities.

In this SpendMatters PRO analysis, we’ll dive into the challenges of segmenting external business services (e.g., understanding the interplay between digital-dominant and labor-dominant services) and how to look beyond the traditional contingent labor approaches (hint: Segmenting the market based on the presence of a statement-of-work is clearly not sufficient).

Later in this series, we’ll dive deeper into a new commercial framework for services and then map the resulting business requirements to technology requirements and associated vendor/solution types that transcend the source-to-pay market (e.g., enterprise CLM, ITSM, low-code platforms, etc.).

Outlaw: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT

When people think contracts, they think lawyers. And when people think lawyers, they think semantics, tedium, inefficiency. It’s no surprise, then, that the contract management process at many businesses is perceived as lawyer-like: slow, plagued by error-prone review processes and more inclined to risk-aversion rather than to embracing the new or innovative. But these flaws are also the result of ill-suited tools to manage contracts.

The dominant preference among business users for applications like Microsoft Word and email for the facilitation of contract authoring, review and negotiation is in no small way a reason why contract management processes can feel so archaic.

These applications are general-purpose tools that fail to address the complexity and the importance of contracts to a business. Yet contract management processes have largely been designed to fit to these tools, rather than the other way around.

Reimagining what the contract management process should be is the approach that Outlaw, a nearly two-year-old vendor based in Brooklyn, New York, has taken to designing its software-as-a-service solution.

The founders, both former consultants, were all too familiar with the headaches of contract drafting and approval, which inspired them to design a new contract solution around how they would want to create, negotiate and sign agreements. In doing so, they hope to bring an outsider’s perspective to contract management, rebuilding the process from the ground up so that it can be easier, faster and more enjoyable.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Outlaw and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of Outlaw’s offering, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

Coupa CLM: Vendor Snapshot Update

Coupa is a full suite provider of source-to-pay (S2P) applications (which Coupa calls Business Spend Management), but we’ve not yet included a formal analysis of its contract lifecycle management (CLM) application other than our ongoing coverage within the SolutionMap framework.

Coupa is a bit of a conundrum because, relative to its competitors, it has some unique functionality that no other competitor possesses, but at the same time, the provider is also missing a core aspect of CLM functionality that its primary competitors already have.

As Spend Matters’ Q4 2018 Contract Lifecycle Management SolutionMap indicates, Coupa does well with customer scoring across its various CLM personas, but it lags in its solution score due to the aforementioned functionality gap that we’ll explore later in this piece. Coupa acquired a small Canadian CLM startup named Contractually in 2016 that had some nice collaborative redlining functionality (and written within Ruby on Rails framework like Coupa), and that form of “collaboration” (i.e., technical collaboration between buyers and suppliers on the Coupa user interface) is supported as well by basic MS-Word integration.

Coupa doesn’t really try to differentiate itself as a best-of-breed stand-alone CLM application provider though (and certainly not beyond the bounds of S2P to support enterprise CLM functionality across all contracts), and the contract is really treated as the core commercial system of record that is at the heart of an S2P suite. It focuses on integrating the contract into all of the other elements of this suite, especially with its focus on operationalizing contracts via transactional P2P execution, including enforcement of buying/paying against contracts, and tying the spend back to contracts and budgeting (aka spend planning and control).

This Spend Matter Vendor Snapshot Update reviews its solution, Coupa Contract Management, and highlights the good, the not-so-good and the potential of its current product.

An Introduction to Sourcing Business Intelligence (Part 3): Analytics and AI in a Sourcing Context

In the third installment of this Spend Matters PRO series, we turn our attention to how traditional human intelligence and artificial intelligence intersect with sourcing business intelligence (BI), leading to a new type of cognitive procurement built on larger and larger data foundations.

We trace the evolution of select artificial intelligence (AI) applications in procurement that are generally available today and provide examples of models that are just becoming mainstream in select markets.

But most important, we show how it is possible to let a combination of off-the-shelf capabilities and “as a service” providers do the heavy lifting in the journey toward sourcing (business) intelligence and more broadly toward supply (business) intelligence.

Transparency-One: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT

Procurement and supply chain organizations are facing pressure from consumers, governments and investors to clean up their supply chains. Whether it’s traceability of ingredients (including their source and their quality), assurance that labor and facility conditions are up to code, or proof that emerging compliance standards like modern slavery laws are being met, companies are increasingly being tasked with mapping their entire supply chain while ensuring that suppliers are meeting, and tracking, myriad metrics for safety, sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

This is the narrative that Transparency-One, a provider of supply chain visibility and compliance tracking solutions, is betting the farm on. (This is apt, because the provider actually models and monitors farms as part of the extended supply chains being tracked within its system.)

Founded in 2016, Transparency-One enables executives in charge of sustainability or responsible sourcing to report accurate supplier and compliance data to sales, marketing and regulatory compliance functions about what’s happening in their supply chains end to end, as well as to map product tracking and quality information down to the lot/batch level.

While many such efforts are already underway at major companies, compliance tracking is often fragmented, with initiatives like conflict minerals compliance managed separately (and in different tools) from the tracking of, say, facility safety certifications. Transparency-One is seeking to bring all of these efforts into a single platform, starting first with the food, retail (e.g., grocery, apparel) and industrial materials (e.g., rubber, chemicals) sectors.

Currently operating in 30 countries and in six languages, Transparency-One counts traceability projects with Intermarché, Carrefour and Mars among its pilot customers. It has offices in Boston and Paris.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Transparency-One and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of Transparency-One’s offering, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider. It also touches upon graph databases and their use in this supply chain management, supplier management and risk management mashup area.

Beyond Supplier Risk Management: How Procurement Can Take a Leadership Role in Enterprise Risk Management (Part 3) — Integrating Supply Risk Management into Day-to-Day Procurement

In our previous installments of this Spend Matters PRO supply risk series, we discussed an exhaustive list of strategies for using supply risk as a way to align procurement and the enterprise to safely extract more value from spend/supply. In this installment, we are going to dive more deeply into aligning supply risk within the source-to-pay (S2P) processes themselves.

Too often, supply risk management is weakly addressed within S2P, and by using some of the alignment techniques discussed in Part 2 of the series, procurement can align supply risk systematically into its own methodology and processes.