Author Archives: Xavier Olivera



Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 4) — Product Strengths

Global Risk Management Solutions

Anything Ivalua still lacks in global brand and market awareness along with sales/marketing infrastructure and prowess, it makes up for by delivering a source-to-pay platform designed to emphasize functional depth, suite-based capabilities and industry-specific enablement scenarios in the private and public sector. Ivalua delivers a no-compromise set of capabilities and an underlying platform that is most likely to appeal to procurement and IT organizations that want greater flexibility in executing a procurement technology architecture and strategy than what is offered by the majority of suite-based solutions on the market today. Ivalua is generally at the front of the pack in Spend Matters’ “configurator” persona of just about every SolutionMap we look at for our 2019 Q2 results — and the lead dog if the pack includes only the suite vendors.

If you've already read Part 1 of our updated, seven-part vendor snapshot on Ivalua (which includes a detailed company and solution overview), then you know that you're either going to be attracted to the depth, breadth and configurability of the solution — or perhaps overwhelmed by it if you're new to the advanced sourcing and procurement game. With the massive flexibility that comes with massive configurability, there is also a non-trivial degree of configuration settings to pay attention to. (See Part 2 for an upstream solution overview and Part 3 for details on the downstream capabilities.)

In this Part 4 edition of the vendor snapshot, we are going to dive deep into Ivalua's product strengths, providing facts and expert analysis to help a procurement organization decide whether they should shortlist the vendor. Of course, it’s best to read the SolutionMap analysis for all the providers in question. For example, an organization that is putting Ivalua head-to-head with Coupa should compare and contrast what we say here versus what we say in Part 2 of our Coupa vendor snapshot because near-equal scores in SolutionMap do not imply near equal capability in all areas, and definitely not in the areas that might matter to your organization the most.

Supply Risk Management in Mexico: Tips and Analysis For Multinational Procurement Organizations

Editor's note: This is a refresh of our 2015 briefing on supply risk management, which originally ran on Spend Matters PRO.

Supply risk management continues to be an important topic of not just debate but practice, too, within global procurement organizations. And on a more frequent basis, supply risk management efforts are extending “south of the border” for North American companies, as manufacturers continue to emphasize a more prominent role for Mexico and Mexican suppliers in their global supply chains. In this Spend Matters Plus analysis, we explore how Mexican companies are managing supply chain risk. We also share survey results from a study in the region and provide tips and lessons learned for multinational procurement organizations that are increasingly sourcing and manufacturing in the region as well as general supply chain risk management best practices.

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

Unlike Salesforce, Tradeshift embarked on building both an applications and platform technology business at the same time, commingling the value proposition of each to create something that it hoped would prove larger than either could be individually. Flash forward less than a decade since the provider launched, and Tradeshift has remained true to this vision. But how does the provider stack up to others in the market given it can be difficult to compare it with traditional cloud applications providers without the platform element? And how should prospective customers know when to consider Tradeshift vs. others?

Part 3 of this Vendor Snapshot series explores these questions and others. This Spend Matters PRO report provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Tradeshift’s solutions and products. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Tradeshift in the procurement, supply chain and finance technology areas. Part 2 covered product strengths and weaknesses, and this final installment offers a competitor and SWOT analysis, along with 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.

12 Ways E-Catalogs Can Enhance Your E-Procurement Mojo

E-catalogs (catalog management) are a key part of any e-procurement solution. For e-procurement, catalogs provide more than just a list of items. They enable the loading of prices, and they enable features of products and services to be approved and integrated into an e-marketplace in order to purchase against.

Catalogs are a living, often-changing and integrated source of information (within a single database) that enable all purchasing scenarios. Combined with the support of a robust e-marketplace — advanced search engine; advanced purchasing mechanisms such as e-forms, lists, kits, etc.; a powerful workflow engine and flexible system integration capability — they provide key support for buying requirements.

As I’ve been known to say, I consider e-catalogs the “fifth element” of procurement. “The fifth element” comes from the eponymous 1997 fiction action film starring Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich. In the movie, earth is considered "north," fire is "south," air is "east," water is "west" and the fifth element is the "spirit" or "soul” — the "spiritual force" that earth, air, fire and water descend from.

Although they may not be truly spiritual in nature, I think that e-catalogs are a sort of hidden force that breathes new power into broader e-procurement. In this Spend Matters Plus brief, we give procurement practitioners 12 ways e-catalogs can do just that.

Need an e-procurement and invoice-to-pay primer before reading or subscribing to Plus for the first time? Download this free report.

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

Despite the 100+ different vendors that can check the box on having various procure-to-pay (P2P) solution components, there is a surprisingly small number of “pure-play” e-procurement providers that remain today, especially those with a primary focus on serving the North American market.

Within this context, Vroozi competes as one of the last remaining e-procurement “pure-play” technology providers, although it is building out adjacent invoice-to-pay capabilities (albeit these are not competitive with specialists in the invoice-to-pay or broader P2P areas).

This final installment of our Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering Vroozi offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other e-procurement and P2P technology providers. It also includes a user selection guide, user interface and user experience (UI/UX) analysis, summary evaluation, and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provided a company and deep dive solution overview, SWOT analysis, product strengths and weaknesses, and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider Vroozi.

Managed Services and Connectivity Vs. Software and Networks

Evaluating a comprehensive business solution can be tricky, especially when the organization is evaluating just software capabilities — which is to say “features and functionalities” — but the provider brings more than this alone. For example, it can be difficult to do apples-to-apples sourcing comparisons when considering the types of value-added services that a solution provider can offer (by itself or a third party) to complement or strengthen its own technological solution.

GEP: Solution Review & Analysis

GEP (formerly Global eProcure) is an integrated procurement solutions and services firm that offers managed services (including full BPO capabilities), transformation services (i.e., consulting) and its own internally developed source-to-pay (S2P) technology suite. The combination of these individual capabilities from a single provider, especially as they become increasingly synergistic, makes GEP truly standalone in the industry. Ultimately, the company made the strategic decision to develop its own native source-to-pay cloud platform suite (“SMART by GEP,” released in 2014). It’s a strategic bet that procurement organizations of varying sizes want the agility and depth of a single provider that can flexibly assemble a solution of technology, managed services and transformation services to support their dynamic needs. This Spend Matters Plus analysis provides an introduction to the GEP solution for procurement organizations looking to understand whether they should consider adding the provider to their shortlists for consideration and competitive alternatives.

ePS: Becoming a Player in the Education Industry (and Perhaps Beyond)

ePS, a Michigan-based technology company that established itself within the e-procurement supplier side of the automotive industry 10 years ago, has now begun emerging as a serious player of e-procurement buyer-side solutions to the education industry. Now that ePS is squarely in the game and going head-to-head with other higher education providers such as Sciquest, ESM and Unimarket, it has launched a unique go-to-market positioning approach to capture large schools (and it has its eyes set on other industries where repairs, maintenance and supplies procurement functions have been underserved). ePS is positioning its platform to be more of a complete procurement service offering for customers versus a software application. Branded as “e-procurement services providing complete, intuitive spend management solutions,” ePS is aiming to differentiate and deliver real value to educational institutions that have had a history of sinking money into procurement-related software systems, but have been less able to get measurable ROI though procurement results. ePS’ procurement services ecosystem approach allows institutions – in this generally financially-strapped sector – to start generating procurement improvement as soon as the ePS software is turned on. ePS innovations and success in the education market eventually also help allow it to expand its business into other verticals.

SciQuest: The New Suite Dimension That Puts the Supplier First

SciQuest has proven to be one of the source-to-pay (S2P) leaders in higher education and life sciences (as well as some public sector areas). The organic traction it has realized in these markets – albeit with increasing competition from ESM Solutions, Periscope Holdings (BuySpeed/BidSync) and Unimarket within higher education and state/local government – signifies that it has been successful even without a fully integrated suite (until now) in its core industries. Currently, with the new integrated suite value proposition and particular strength at the intersection of P2P and supplier management (and rising capability in sourcing), it is likely to be in an even better position to compete in these and new markets. If you’re considering other providers such as Ariba, Coupa, SAP, Oracle and Ivalua for integrated S2P, this analysis will provide context to understand if SciQuest should be added to your vendor shortlist.

SciQuest Becoming a “Sweet” Suite Team Player

Along with my colleague Jason Busch, I recently spent 3 days at the SciQuest customer conference in Washington, D.C., talking to dozens of customers and sitting through many product demonstrations and breakouts. SciQuest has invested significant money and effort to develop a new integrated source-to-pay (S2P) platform entirely, and the launch of its new version 15.1 signifies a material step forward in this area. This Spend Matters PRO analysis will provide an introduction to SciQuest’s new suite capabilities and roadmap. As I myself was an outsider to this firm before the event, it will be most useful starting from a low knowledge base on the provider as well as for those who may wish to consider adding SciQuest to their S2P vendor shortlist along within Ariba, SAP, Oracle, Coupa, Ivalua and others – and to understand where the provider comparatively fits today.

Coupa Sets Itself Apart in the S2P Sector

Coupa stands alone as the most aggressive vendor in the source-to-pay sector on virtually every level – starting with breakneck pace R&D development and continuing to assertive sales and partner tactics. In this PRO analysis, the Spend Matters research team provides an outlook for Coupa in 2015 and 2016 and offers their thoughts on what potential activities and actions mean for customers, possible customers and partners, including an examination of what the future for Coupa may bring. It is important to factor in both upside and downside potential based on multiple developments occurring in the sector, some of which are outside of the provider’s control.