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.


Are Catalogs Fleecing Procurement of the Best Deal? 5 Arguments in Favor and Against the P2P Catalog

olly/AdobeStock

This is the second installment of a series in which we are rhetorically going to war against catalogs (kind of like a certain presidential candidate bulldozing over everything and everyone in his path – for the better or the worse, we might add, depending on your perspective!). When we first gave the topic of killing the catalog some thought, we came up with a post in which we ending up sharing the pros and cons of catalog-based procurement today — and some of the options we would wager are coming down the pike. But let us take aim at catalogs in a different way today by positing arguably the most important procurement assumption of all: namely that catalogs are fleecing procurement of the best possible pricing in numerous ways...

Top 50 Supplier Innovation Case Studies: Nos. 11-19, Electrolux to Honda

finger sliding innovation ticker

This is the second installment of our supplier innovation case study series where we help answer the question, “What are other procurement organizations doing in supplier innovation”? We’ve curated a “Top 50” list of some of the best case studies highlighting supplier innovation from a select group of major firms. We looked at the innovations in question, the results, the related suppliers (if disclosed), and some key takeaway lessons. In Part One, we highlighted how Apple and TSMC teamed up to provide more cutting-edge technology in the iPhone; how Campbell Soup Company lightened their shipment load; and how Dell leverages an all-important C-word, communication, to learn directly from their customers how to best work with suppliers. In this installment, we’ll look at Electrolux, Eli Lilly, Ford, General Mills, Honda and more.

Top 50 Supplier Innovation Case Studies: Nos. 1-10, Apple Inc. to Diageo

Business team standing against window with leader in front

Here at Spend Matters, we try to provide procurement practitioners with not only some of the latest insights, analysis, and opinions on everything ‘buy-side’, but also with some time-saving strategies, techniques, and tools they can use to increase efficiency and add more value. One of the questions we often get from more advanced procurement organizations is “what are other procurement organizations doing in [more strategic areas such as] supplier innovation”? For those of you who have the same question (and related sub-questions), but don’t have the money to pay for a high-end peer networking group, we’ve decided to do some legwork for you and curate a “Top 50” list of some of the best case studies highlighting supplier innovation from a select group of major firms (and not just P&G!). We broke down each case study by firm, the supplier(s) at play, the innovation in question, the summarized results of the study, and key takeaway lessons. Each Plus installment in the series spotlights case studies on 10 firms, and in our kickoff we look at Apple, Boeing, Campbell Soup, Dell and more. Let’s begin...

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

data analytics

It’s possible to look at what Tamr is trying to do for procurement through multiple lenses. From one angle, Tamr is bringing a revamped approach to data management and data classification for basic procurement analytics. But from other angles, Tamr is pursuing a different end game entirely: attempting to expand procurement’s data-driven horizons from traditional spend analysis to broader supply analytics (which includes spend data). Supply analytics is about much more than looking at “how much we spent.” It’s about bringing in new datasets to procurement analytics and expanding the value procurement can deliver through: exploring drivers of activity, linking specific category-based datasets to measurement and strategy development, influencing future buying behavior, quantifying the strategic value of spend and supplier relationships and much more.

This is a significant shift. We like to joke around the Spend Matters office that traditional spend analysis approaches should really be called forensic “spent analysis.” This statement can be, of course, read in two ways. Literally, spent analysis is rear-facing — and of diminishing value over time. But one can also read the phrase as an indictment of the actual benefit of most spend analysis today, especially when compared to its true potential. After all, if our analytics approaches are “spent,” then maybe procurement’s value-add is similarly at risk.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering Tamr offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other spend analytics providers, as well as enterprise business intelligence vendors that are actually a better basis of comparison (if we want to move beyond “spent” analysis). It also includes a user selection guide, user interface and user experience (UI/UX) analysis and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep dive solution overview, a SWOT analysis, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider Tamr.

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

Rawpixel.com/Adobe Stock

It’s an unfortunate fact that the procurement industry rarely gets to take advantage of leading edge technologies before other functions. Sales, marketing, IT, HR and supply chain/operations are often the first within companies to play in the technology innovation sandbox. Consider customer data integration (CDI) technology, other big data applications (e.g., complex entity management/collaboration, optimization/solvers and workforce planning and measurement as just a start. Yet Tamr is helping to buck this trend, bringing one of the most powerful machine learning-based analytics platforms for managing structured and unstructured content to procurement (and other value chain areas) to show the power of the technology applied to spend, suppliers, categories and any other datasets where data complexity can drag down any procurement analytics efforts. Providing a technology vote of confidence, Google, Thomson Reuters and HP are all investors in Tamr.

This Spend Matters PRO vendor snapshot explores Tamr’s strengths and weaknesses in the spend analysis and supply analytics areas, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist Tamr as a potential provider. Part 1 of our analysis comprised a company and detailed solution overview and a SWOT analysis, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for what types of organizations should consider Tamr. The remaining parts of this multipart series will offer a user selection guide, user interface (UI/UX) analysis, competitive alternatives and evaluation and selection considerations.

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

analytics

Tamr, founded in 2013, is an analytics platform and applications provider that, in its own words, “combines machine learning software with data science expertise so analysts can breakthrough the data quality and preparation bottlenecks that prevent fast, accurate analysis.” But since nearly all procurement organizations buy procurement applications, not true platforms, Tamr offers a suite of procurement analytics that is understandably anchored in spend analytics. Spend analysis is not just part of sourcing but also part of a broader supply analytics.

The founding team of Tamr leveraged their background (e.g., Dr. Michael Stonebreaker is actually a Turing Award winner) to create an artificial intelligence-based probabilistic machine learning engine that can match the cleansing and classification capabilities of the other best-of-breed spend analysis providers in the market. Yet, Tamr is really something more, at least as we see it. It is one of the first “supply management” analytics providers that bridges procurement and supply chain at the core (and of course finance and other functions) rather than the general-purpose mega analytics platforms out there (e.g., Tableau, Qlik, SAS, IBM, Informatica, etc.).

Tamr’s early stage traction working with a select group of Fortune 500 customers shows that its current functional capabilities within procurement are at least close enough to other established providers that have been delivering spend analysis solutions for over a decade. Yet these organizations are also looking for next level supply-centric opportunities beyond simple spend visibility alone. This Spend Matters PRO vendor snapshot provides a history and overview of the Tamr’s AI and spend analysis platform, including how it can support both core spend analysis requirements as well as advanced use cases beyond the realm of how typical procurement organizations are deploying analytics solutions today. This multi-part research brief comprises a company and solution overview, company-level SWOT analysis, product strengths and weaknesses, competitive alternatives, a user selection guide and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Be a Master of Assets if You Want to Succeed in an as-a-Service Economy

supplier network

The world is undergoing a fundamental transformation to a services economy, fueled primarily by the digital disruption happening within our personal lives and within industry. Within business, digital technology is allowing companies to unbundle and rebundle their value chains (i.e., physical goods, information, money and people) in innovative new ways that can make those value chains more valuable by not only making them smarter but also making them more flexible, personalized and on-demand for the customer who craves the ideal of “free, perfect, and now.” And the key concept in making this happen is the concept of the service.

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

Eved

The market for event management software is saturated — especially in the areas of planning and marketing. From targeting potential delegates to making attendee registration as simple as possible and coordinating disparate activities, traditional event management software can enable the basics operationally. And there is a broad range of providers to choose from. Yet the market for event management technology centered on procurement is nascent. Because of this, procurement has had only a limited ability to influence and manage spend effectively — and close the loop on supplier performance and payment — in targeting a spend category that only grows larger by the year (at least until the next global recession). Eved is hoping to change this, as well as drive seven- or even eight-figure annual savings for individual Global 2000 customers in the process.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering Eved offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other similar or related vendors that companies may wish to shortlist. It also includes a user selection guide, user interface and user experience (UI/UX) analysis and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep dive solution overview, a SWOT analysis, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider Eved.

A Tradeshift Outlook: Go Big or Go Home

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Three years ago, Jason Busch and I attended Tradeshift’s analyst day and we were intrigued by the potential of this platform-based e-invoicing application and network provider, which our colleague Peter Smith first analyzed back in early 2011 in his piece “Tradeshift — a Game-Changer in E-Invoicing (and Beyond) or a Danish Flash in the Pan?” To follow up on our intrigue and answer Peter’s initial question, my fearless colleague and P2P global analyst leader from Mexico City, Xavier Olivera, attended a session to assess how far the firm has come since then.

This Spend Matters PRO research note provides our perspective on where Tradeshift stands today from overall business, strategy, architecture and modular perspectives, including an analysis of its current functional capabilities, strengths and gaps. There’s an awful lot to be excited about — and, of course, some elements we are cautious on, as well.

A Compelling Confluence at Infosys and the Best Conference I’ve Ever Attended

Global Procurement Tech Summit

A few months ago, Infosys invited me to attend its Confluence conference in San Francisco, and I’ve been meaning to write it up, but have struggled. The reason why is that I took so much away from it and have been trying to figure out the best way to parse up some of the insights. I have to admit that this conference was perhaps the most thought provoking vendor event I’ve ever been to.

What Do Procurement People Do All Day? ISM Wants to Know

ISM

Many parents might be familiar with Richard Scarry’s book “What do People Do All Day.” It’s a wonderful illustrated children’s book dealing with all of the various roles that people play in a small town. If there were a corporate edition, there'd likely be a procurement person in it, and if you wanted to help those procurement folks, you'd want to know what they do all day so that you could best help them. This is what ISM is asking its membership and the profession at large.

Value as a Service: Buzzword or Game Changer?

service

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.