Author Archives: Xavier Olivera



What is Your Procure-to-Pay Persona? Understand Your Requirements and Mass Customize Your Vendor Shortlist

No two procurement or finance organizations are alike. Each has its own persona that reflects not only its own value proposition and engagement approach but also the stakeholders it serves — and its supply base. The same principle holds true of procure-to-pay (P2P) application providers. Each has a persona (or more than persona) that reflects its value proposition, solution strategy and targeted customer segments. Therefore, companies should seek providers whose personas best align to theirs. In other words, there is no “magic” solution provider, and finding the right fit is critical, because a P2P application represents the main interface for most of procurement’s internal customers — and a common face to suppliers, as well.

To that end, we are excited to break down our approach to Spend Matters SolutionMapTM, a comparative analytical framework for practitioners to evaluate relevant solutions to meet their procurement needs. Our SolutionMap initiative depicts vendor rankings based on specific buyer personas to reflect the unique value proposition, solution strategy and customer segments served by a vendor. Participating vendors are scored both on their solution as well as on customer value, based on in-depth tech reviews (including live demos) by the Spend Matters analyst team and aggregated direct customer input from surveys. Each SolutionMap is updated quarterly rather than in 12-month (or longer) cycles, to accurately reflect the pace of market developments.

As part of our Spend Matters SolutionMap vendor comparison ranking, for procure-to-pay solutions (publishing in the coming days, with subsequent quarterly updates), the Spend Matters analyst team has dedicated considerable time to developing the unique organizational “personas” that we’ve most often seen in our decades of experience working with procurement organizations. We have used these personas to weight the requirements that we used in solution scoring, which includes customer satisfaction scoring by solution customers.

What is Your Invoice-to-Pay Persona? Understand Your Requirements and Mass Customize Your Vendor Shortlist

e-invoicing

No two accounts payable, finance or shared services organizations are alike (or procurement departments, for that matter). Each has its own persona that reflects not only its own value proposition and engagement approach but also the stakeholders it serves — and its supply base. The same principle holds true of procure-to-pay (P2P) application providers. Each has a persona that reflects its value proposition, solution strategy and targeted customer segments. Therefore, finance and procurement organizations should seek providers whose personas best align to theirs. In other words, there is no “magic” solution provider, and finding the right fit is critical, because a P2P application represents the main interface for most of procurement’s internal customers.

To that end, we are excited to preview our approach to Spend Matters SolutionMapTM, a comparative analytical framework for practitioners to evaluate relevant solutions to meet their accounts payable, working capital and procurement needs. Our SolutionMap initiative depicts vendor rankings based on specific buyer personas to reflect the unique value proposition, solution strategy and customer segments served by a vendor. Participating vendors are scored both on their solution as well as on customer value, based on in-depth tech reviews (including live demos) by the Spend Matters analyst team and aggregated direct customer input from surveys. Each SolutionMap is updated quarterly rather than in 12-month (or longer) cycles, to accurately reflect the pace of market developments.

As part of our Spend Matters SolutionMap vendor comparison ranking for invoice-to-pay and procure-to-pay solutions (publishing next week, with subsequent quarterly updates), the Spend Matters analyst team has dedicated considerable time to developing the unique organizational “personas” that we’ve most often seen in our decades of experience working with procurement organizations. We have used these personas to weight the requirements that we used in solution scoring, which includes customer satisfaction scoring by solution customers. Having collected feedback from hundreds of invoice-to-pay users, vendors and consultants in recent months as part of our SolutionMap research, we see these personas as useful starting points for procurement organizations to classify themselves before looking at solution rankings of providers in the market.

This Spend Matters PRO analysis shares six of the most common customer personas in invoice-to-pay buying needs. Aimed at practitioners as well as vendors and the consultants advising them, this research brief will be helpful to drive the type of “mass customization” of procure-to-pay solutions needed to meet specific organizational needs.

Below, we present our six personas for invoice-to-pay. For each, we include: full definitions, typical organizational priorities (based on each persona), functional/solution and customer value emphasis and recommended selection processes. Comparative vendor rankings will be published for each persona next week on Spend Matters (and updated quarterly).

Vendor Summary Report: E-Procurement SolutionMap℠ Q2 2017

This SolutionMap analyzes a select group of e-procurement solution providers. It is part of our Q2 2017 SolutionMap report series, also featuring Invoice-to-Pay solution providers and Procure-to-Pay suites. Spend Matters tracks over 50 procure-to-pay solution providers. This analysis features many of the largest e-procurement providers, including BuyerQuest, Claritum, Coupa, Determine, GEP, IBX, Ivalua, Nimbi, Pool4Tool, SAP Ariba, Vroozi and Zycus. It also features industry specialists BirchStreet (hospitality) and Prodigo (healthcare), which were analyzed with respect to their vertical sector focus. SolutionMap ratings provide comparative rankings and insight into how each provider scored from a solution and customer value perspective. It provides a breakdown of solution scoring for each vendor on the category level (e.g. catalog management, shopping/requisitioning, ordering/order management, receiving, supplier network, configurability, technology/architecture and services). It also provides insight into how customers scored each e-procurement vendor (e.g. likelihood of recommending the provider, level of value perceived, business value, ability to meet expectations, deployment speed, ROI, TCO and innovation). Solution scoring is based on analysis of individual vendor capability, including in-depth tech reviews, a highly detailed Spend Matters RFI and live demonstrations and Q&A by the Spend Matters team. The Customer Value score stems from aggregated direct customer input (survey-based). While Spend Matters does not recommend that existing and potential customers of providers use technology and customer scoring alone to shortlist and/or evaluate technology providers, the insight, along with SolutionMap persona-based ratings, provides a point-in-time perspective which may be useful as either a starting point in an evaluation or a contributing factor to a formal software selection process. In this Spend Matters PRO research report, we provide an analysis of how all 14 participants in our Q2 2017 e-procurement SolutionMap scored on a comparative basis against solution/technology and customer value criteria.

What is Your E-Procurement Persona? Understand Your Requirements and Mass Customize Your Vendor Shortlist

No two procurement organizations are alike. Each has its own persona that reflects not only its own value proposition and engagement approach but also the stakeholders it serves.

The same principle holds true of procure-to-pay (P2P) application providers. Each has a persona (or more than one persona) that reflects its value proposition, solution strategy and targeted customer segments. Therefore, procurement organizations should seek providers whose personas best align to theirs. In other words, there is no generic “magic” solution provider, and finding the right fit is critical, because a P2P application represents the main interface for most of procurement’s internal customers.

A modern procurement organization with a streamlined and tailored approach to influencing stakeholders is poorly served by buying a complex, one-size-fits-all application that puts off those stakeholders. Not enough procurement organizations look at an e-procurement application as their main business-facing interface — but it is.

The face a procurement organization presents to the business through an e-procurement application may vary. For the frontline business user, some e-procurement systems are extremely easy to use and may even suggest a lack of policy by procurement based on how they’re configured and put into the field. Others are more directive and prescriptive. Many e-procurement solutions serve as a portal to more than just transactional buying — for example, serving as a hub for all employee engagement related to supplier spending.

To that end, this multipart Spend Matters PRO analysis shares six of the most common customer personas in e-procurement and invoice-to-pay (the two segments that comprise the P2P market), starting first with a look at e-procurement. For each, we include: full definitions, typical organizational priorities (based on each persona), functional/solution and customer value emphasis and recommended selection processes.

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

purchasing

There are those who believe the market for targeted (i.e., “point”) solutions in the broader source-to-pay area is becoming less important than an integrated suite approach. This observation is becoming even more important in typical customer buying decisions in cases of strategic procurement technology, such as analytics, supplier management and strategic sourcing, where more and more customers at least want the “option” to purchase an integrated suite. Yet for transactional procurement (e-procurement and invoice-to-pay) solutions today, the notion of selecting a vendor with a broader suite may or may not matter depending on what a procurement organization values most.

BuyerQuest is an upstart procurement software and solutions provider without a broader suite offering (outside of an expanding invoice-to-pay capability), albeit one that is building worldwide adoption and reach in the core areas on which it focuses. Its entire focus is on developing specialized technology that it believes delivers a best-in-class procure-to-pay (P2P) experience for users and procurement organizations, based on a unique underlying architecture built entirely with supporting a B2C user experience in mind.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about BuyerQuest and whether its capabilities are a fit for their needs. 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 BuyerQuest in the procurement technology and solutions area. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Coupa’s Release 17: Features and Approach

Coupa’s first update of the year, Release 17, offers a new application called “Perfect Fit Insights” for cross-customer B2B insights and more than 50 features across the platform including new collaboration mechanisms to work with suppliers and additional e-invoicing compliance templates.

We published an in-depth analysis of Release 17 on Spend Matters PRO, but here is a quick recap on what you can expect from the solution update.

Coupa Release 17 Analysis — And a General “How To” Lesson for Upgrading Products

On Jan. 27, Spend Matters published a quick post on first update of the year, Release 17. It offers a new application called “Perfect Fit Insights” for cross-customer B2B insights and more than 50 features across the platform, including new collaboration mechanisms to work with suppliers (SMS messaging and extended sourcing communication windows), additional e-invoicing compliance templates, and additional system configurations options such as extended customer branding. Recently, Donna Wilczek (VP of Strategy and Product Marketing at Coupa) and Gabe Perez (General Manager of Power Applications at Coupa) gave us a demonstration of Release 17 and talked to us about their innovation process and other analyses they do to continually improve the user experience, usability and value of their platform.

Coupa has a long history of out-innovating the competition, and this is not an accident. The company uses a rigorous process to identify, prioritize and implement ideas — putting the customer front and center in helping drive innovations that have the highest probability of actually being adopted.

In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, we’ll share what we’ve learned about Release 17 including expanding more on its new features and our key takeaways from them. We’ll also discuss Coupa’s general release planning, development and roll-out methodology to capture ideas that drive practical (and usable!) innovation for customers.

These are critical lessons that should not be lost on organizations evaluating Coupa in comparison to other vendors (which generally innovate more slowly), let alone any other provider developing technology to bring to market.

Vroozi: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

Vroozi stands out in the crowded source-to-pay technology landscape by providing a specialized e-procurement capability that can leverage the underlying components of existing ERP, financial and purchasing systems. It also takes a mobile-first orientation to enabling both business and procurement users. Powering this approach is a robust catalog management engine that creates a single, searchable repository of internally hosted catalog, externally hosted catalog, punch-out and supplier web storefronts. This provides a user-friendly layer on top of the entire procurement experience for buyers, even if ERP and other purchasing components are used on the back-end.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Vroozi’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider Vroozi on a standalone e-procurement basis or as a component of a broader transactional procurement and buying environment. The first installment of our analysis provided a company and solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Vroozi. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

on-demand workforce

The source-to-pay market is one of the most diverse and fragmented of all enterprise technology areas. Only a select group of vendors have solutions that cover the broad set of functional areas than span procurement technology with any degree of depth in all key areas. These individual segments include spend/supply analytics, strategic sourcing, supplier management, contract management, e-procurement, invoice-to-pay, trade financing and supplier networks/connectivity. But in practice, most procurement and finance organizations end up initially selecting only a subset of these capabilities from a single provider even if they value the concept of an integrated suite when deciding on what vendor(s) to work with.

At its core, Vroozi, a specialized vendor in the procurement technology sector, supports what is arguably the most complex and challenging segment of this market: e-procurement. Its solution brings a range of capabilities to enable transactional purchasing and procurement spend controls, including catalog management, purchase requisitioning, purchase order processing, supplier portal, marketplace capability and procure-to-pay analytics. It can also augment and serve as a front-end to ERP and back-office purchasing system, creating a modern wrapper for both procurement and business users alike.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Vroozi’s P2P capabilities. 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 Vroozi in the procurement technology area. The remaining parts of this research brief cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

SciQuest: Solution Review & Analysis

SciQuest is arguably the most challenging procurement technology suite vendor to compare directly to the competition. This perhaps explains why it has tended to surface less in competitive procure-to-pay (P2P) or source-to-pay (S2P) suite opportunities outside of its traditional key vertical sectors for transactional procurement (e.g., higher education, laboratory/research, life sciences, public sector) in the past. While it is possible to label SciQuest as a procurement technology suite vendor (source-to-pay, source-to-contract and procure-to-pay), the reality is that to date, the provider has competed in multiple, infrequently overlapping segments of the procurement technology market.

Historically, SciQuest has generally had different sets of customers, prospects and competitors for its core P2P product and its sourcing optimization, spend/supply analytics and contract lifecycle management solutions. This stands in contrast to many of its peers, which have generally chosen to focus on fewer market segments (e.g, eProcurement, invoice-to-pay, etc.) rather than more as primary entry points to customers.

Yet after being acquired by Accel-KKR last year, SciQuest has started an accelerated strategic and marketing transformation process that is uniting its disparate suite elements. Today’s Spend Matters Plus analysis provides an introduction to SciQuest for procurement organizations looking to understand whether they should consider adding the provider to their shortlists for consideration, as well as competitive alternatives.

Supplier Networks and P2P: The Benefits of Direct Connectivity for Suppliers

In this last installment, I will focus on the risks of insufficient connectivity, the benefits of doing it properly and why it is worthwhile for suppliers to invest time and resources to stay connected in the most automated means possible.

For organizations that still use their ERP as their only (or primary) system to process all procurement, invoicing and payments activities, typical document exchange and communication methods are done either by paper, fax or email (some firms may also have EDI technologies or web services in place — to interact with select suppliers). Although these forms of communication have been used for years, they are insufficient today, as they introduce significant risks to the buyer/supplier connectivity process.