Author Archives: Xavier Olivera



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.

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

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 PRO analysis, we explore how Mexican companies are managing supply chain risk. We also share survey results from a recent 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.

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.

Coupa Looks Ahead in 2015 – History and Context

In recent years, Spend Matters research suggests that Coupa has led the market for new e-procurement sales in North America. It also built material traction in parts of Europe – something that many US providers struggle to do. The European traction is all the more remarkable because Coupa brings a very US-centric view to P2P – empowering the end-user rather than creating a command/control catalog-driven structure. In this PRO analysis, the Spend Matters research team explores a number of scenarios and considerations for Coupa in 2015 and 2016 (including a potential IPO), and what it means for customers, potential customers and partners of the high-growth vendor. The team begins today by providing historical context for Coupa and outlining engagement tactics for maximizing value when working with the fast growing vendor.

Invoiceware Solves E-Invoicing Specific Country-by-Country Challenges

Latin American e-invoicing requirements vary significantly on a country-by-country basis. Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay, Peru and Colombia all have – or will soon have – unique requirements. Traditional P2P and e-invoicing systems from SAP, Ariba, Oracle, Coupa, Ivalua and others come up short for meeting these localized requirements. In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, Xavier Oliver, Spend Matters P2P lead analyst and director for Mexico and Latin America, explores the challenges of localization in Latin America and how Invoiceware International has focused on solving specific country-by-country challenges.

Invoiceware Targets E-Invoicing Localization for Latin America and Hits a Bulls Eye

Having and maintaining IT systems (ERP) processes and functionalities that meet government requirements of more than one country has always been a challenge for companies and providers of technology and services. Invoiceware International is the one cloud and network provider that stands out in leading the charge to untangle this compliance mess for companies operating in a single state or multiple Latin America countries. In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, Xavier Oliver, Spend Matters P2P lead analyst and director for Mexico and Latin America, explores localization challenges in the region and provides an analysis of Invoiceware International. We invite Spend Matters PRO Advisory members to talk to Xavier about localized requirements in Latin America.