Author Archives: Xavier Olivera



Catalog Management: Technical and Functional Component Requirements (Part 5) — Catalog Contracts and Marketplace/Internet Search

Today we conclude our multi-part research brief exploring catalog management functional and technical requirements with an emphasis on the last two requirements we consider in our SolutionMap functional requirements for e-procurement.

The first requirement that we analyze is what we term “catalog contracts,” capability which focuses on pre-negotiated pricing through group purchasing organization (GPO) arrangements, leveraged buying or otherwise third-party negotiated typically contracts outside of what a procurement organization would negotiate itself. The second area, marketplace / internet search and catalog visibility, extends the scope of catalog management capability to integration with online marketplaces (e.g., Amazon Business) and electronic commerce storefronts on the Internet, a requirement which is increasingly becoming more important in the evaluation of e-procurement solutions overall.

If you’re new to the series, check out Part 1 (overall definition/background and supplier network intersections), Part 2 (catalog creation, supplier onboarding and data quality control) and Part 3 (maintenance, workflow and analytics) and Part 4 (catalog objects/methods and catalog mobility capabilities, expectations and requirements).

Whether you’re a procurement organization, supplier, software provider or consultancy, our goal with this series is to provide the bill of materials to allow the assembly of the best possible catalog management solution, either on a unified basis with the same e-procurement platform or integrated with a broader solution.

Catalog Management: Technical and Functional Component Requirements (Part 4) — Catalog Objects and Mobility

on-demand workforce

It’s possible to build or use a “good” e-procurement solution that has rudimentary catalog management. But it’s impossible to deliver or leverage a great one, unless its catalog management capabilities are best in class compared with the rest of the e-procurement and procure-to-pay (P2P) pack.

Based on our SolutionMap functional requirements for e-procurement, this multipart Spend Matters PRO research brief defines all of the elements of catalog management. It also provides a feature checklist of the elements that comprise each component, defining what constitutes best in class performance in each case. Today, in Part 4, we flesh out catalog objects and mobility capabilities, expectations and requirements.

Those new to this series can catch up with Part 1 (background and supplier network intersections), Part 2 (catalog creation, supplier onboarding and data quality control) and Part 3 (maintenance, workflow and analytics). Whether you’re a procurement organization, supplier, software provider or consultancy, this series provides the bill of materials to inform the assembly of the best possible catalog management solution, either on a unified basis with the same e-procurement platform or integrated with a broader solution.

Coupa’s Customer Conference and Earnings Continue to ‘Inspire’ — But a New Competitive Battle is Looming

A few weeks back we attended Coupa Inspire 2018. The event left us with a perspective that Coupa is not only doing some things extremely well but also that it would do well not to make the same mistakes of those that came before it with a similar rise to fame (i.e., a healthier dose of competitive paranoia is always more effective than getting punch-drunk on the fame of continued growth and capital market success).

In this Spend Matters PRO research brief, we provide a summary of a number of key announcements made during Coupa Inspire 2018 and over the past 18 months at Coupa. In addition, we’ll trace the history of Coupa’s product launches and introductions to provide context on how new offerings may evolve.

We’ll also offer perspective and opinions on the trajectory Coupa has been on — including whether it is sustainable — and conclude with comments on what has become arguably the most important procure-to-pay (P2P) battleground on which Coupa is positioning itself against competitors: how to enable as close to 100% of spend under management as possible with a P2P solution at the core. Incidentally, this is a topic that Oracle and SAP (inclusive of SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass and Concur) also have been doing quite a bit of thinking on of late — not to mention Coupa’s partner, customer and frenemy Amazon Business.

As a follow-on to this research brief, we will later share our thoughts on Coupa’s Q1 2019 earnings report from earlier in June, including how traction (and competition) in the market is translating both to wins and losses depending on customer requirements, channel/partner influence and competitive price pressure in select circumstances. Yet it would not be the Spend Matters way unless we wrapped this commentary around five reasons to bet for or against Coupa to maintain a “top three” position in the market.

For those wanting a primer on Coupa, we encourage you to check out our Vendor Snapshot on the provider (see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3) as well Coupa’s latest Q1 2018 SolutionMap performance in the e-procurement, invoice-to-pay, procure-to-pay and sourcing areas.

Catalog Management: Technical and Functional Component Requirements (Part 3) — Maintenance, Workflow and Analytics

If there were ever an esoteric yet critical insider series on technology aimed at procure-to-pay process owners, this is it. In the past year, the Spend Matters analyst team has spent hundreds of hours tearing into the catalog management capabilities of all the leading e-procurement vendors as part of our SolutionMap analysis, as well as in the course of vendor selection work for clients. Our main finding: No catalog management solution we’ve seen is interchangeable with another — and most leave a lot to be desired.

As our catalog management series continues, we turn our attention to the technical and functional components of the maintenance, approval/workflow and analytics components of catalog management, whether used on a standalone basis with ERP procurement or when integrated as a component of e-procurement. So far in this series (see Part 1 and Part 2), we’ve defined the specific components of catalog management and explored supplier network intersections and tie-ins based on the Spend Matters SolutionMap RFI requirements. We’ve also gone into the weeds, delving into the functional definitions and technical components of catalog creation, supplier onboarding and data quality control components.

Catalog Management: Technical and Functional Component Requirements (Part 2)

As our Spend Matters PRO series on catalog management continues, we turn our attention to the business, technical and functional requirements that comprise this component of procure-to-pay solutions, specifically what procurement organizations should look for as they evaluate technology vendors as part of an e-procurement selection process. The capabilities we describe in this research brief are based on the Spend Matters SolutionMap RFI requirements for catalog management as a component of procure-to-pay.

Today, we turn our attention to two components of catalog management: catalog creation (inclusive of supplier onboarding) and data quality control, outlining the functional requirements we look for when evaluating catalog management as part of SolutionMap scoring and when defining requirements with procurement organizations in e-procurement and procure-to-pay selection processes.

We welcome discussion with organizations interested in exploring catalog management further. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Catalog Management: What It Is and Why It Matters (Part 1)

One can almost hear Rodney Dangerfield strutting on stage, blurting out, “Catalog management.It don’t get no respect.” At least if you’re as into old 1980s stand-up comedy reruns and e-procurement technology as us.

But seriously, we miss that guy. And with a statement like that, the late Dangerfield would have been spot on about catalog management, an area that is not as well understood or respected as a centerpiece of e-procurement as it should be. This Spend Matters PRO series provides an introduction to catalog management for both business and technical users. Our goal is nothing short of getting it the respect it deserves.

Today, we begin our series with a look at what catalog management is and the different capabilities of which it consists, as well as its intersections with supplier network enablement and connectivity. Those interested in how different providers compare to each other in the catalog management arena as part of broader e-procurement and procure-to-pay capabilities should also check out our latest SolutionMap Insider reports.

We welcome discussion with organizations interested in exploring catalog management further. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Basware Connect 2018 Dispatch: By the Numbers and New Developments

Global Procurement Tech Summit

Spend Matters is on the ground in Austin, Texas, to cover the Basware Connect 2018 customer conference. The event kicked off Wednesday with an analyst-focused discussion on where the procure-to-pay (P2P) provider grew in 2017 and where it is adding to its value proposition in the coming year.

Vroozi: Vendor Snapshot Update (Part 2) — Strengths, Weaknesses, Customer Perspective, Competition and Summary

Vroozi typifies the speed of innovation happening within the broader source-to-pay market in recent quarters. While much of our original Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot from early 2017 on Vroozi remains descriptive of the provider (see Part 1Part 2 and Part 3), Vroozi has picked up its pace of innovation.

This two-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot Update provides a refresh of our previous analysis of Vroozi. Part 2 provides updated strengths and weaknesses, customer reference insight, competitive landscape observations and summary recommendations on when to prioritize Vroozi as a shortlist candidate. The first installment of our 2018 update provides key facts on Vroozi, a solution overview, a recap of its overall footprint, and an update on new features and capabilities.

Vroozi: Vendor Snapshot Update (Part 1) — Updated Facts, Footprint and Enhancements

The e-procurement and invoice-to-pay technology markets, which we collectively describe as procure-to-pay (P2P), provide incredible choice to software customers today. Not only are these sectors not yet consolidated, there also are a range of smaller technology providers that are seldom invited to the shortlist and selection dance as often as they should be. Within e-procurement especially, Vroozi is one provider that fits this description perfectly.

Spend Matters originally published a Vendor Snapshot on Vroozi in early 2017 (see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). A little over a year since then, Vroozi has made a considerable effort to update its solution, making improvements across its suite, including significant enhancements to its invoice-to-pay capabilities and additional investments in its core e-procurement offering. Most recently, in Q1 2018, Vroozi was among the top performers in the Nimble persona for the Spend Matters E-Procurement and Procure-to-Pay SolutionMaps — highlighting the comparative progress the provider has made in this period.

This two-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot Update provides a refresh to our previous analysis of Vroozi. Part 1 provides updated key facts on Vroozi and a solution overview, including both a recap of the previous coverage and an update on new capabilities. Part 2 provides updated strengths and weaknesses, customer reference insight, competitive landscape observations and summary recommendations on when to consider Vroozi as a shortlist candidate.

Tech Enabling Procurement Shared Services: SAP Ariba Begins the Journey

Procurement shared services organizations and centers of excellence (CoEs) are sometimes tasked with the operational management of source-to-pay technologies on behalf of the organizations they serve. But up until now, they have not utilized purpose-built solutions to improve their own operations. While many use core analytics, sourcing, contract management, supplier management, e-procurement and invoice-to-pay solutions in some capacity in the delivery of their services, the actual operational management of shared services organizations and CoEs themselves has been loosely integrated with underlying procurement technology at best.

In other words, there has not been an operational solutions layer specifically designed for procurement shared services and CoE groups that provides a single workbench to manage activities. This is true even though legacy SharePoint, business process management and workflow solutions often loosely hold some knitting together for these teams. SAP Ariba is hoping to change this with introduction of its Procurement Desk product, which Spend Matters PRO recently profiled, covering the solution’s current capabilities in its initial release and planned roadmap for the coming quarters.

This Spend Matters PRO brief explores how different procurement technologies enable the various roles that shared services organizations and CoEs assume — and the opportunity for an operational overlay on top of underlying procurement technology modules. As part of this analysis, we also consider how Procurement Desk may help meet the broader needs of shared services and CoEs, as well as opportunities for SAP Ariba and others to close the gaps that remain in developing purpose-built operational management solutions for these organizations.

SAP Ariba Procurement Desk: Shared Services and Center of Excellence (CoE) Enablement

category management

Procurement shared services groups can take different shapes and can add different sources of value. Shared services tend to focus on procure-to-pay (P2P) and accounts payable support, including supplier enablement, supplier master data maintenance, transactional purchasing, transaction processing, invoice automation and exception management. CoEs focus on both a classic shared services model (i.e., supporting processes on behalf of the business units) or a more transformational CoE model (i.e., giving business units tools, training and focused resources like third-party services). 

The former tends to focus on tactical buying like spot buying and tail spend management, and the latter tends to focus on strategic procurement areas such as analytics, sourcing, category and supply market intelligence, and contract management support. Increasingly, a number of CoEs are focused on both areas, whether run and administered internally or in an outsourced manner — sometimes only in part — by a business process outsourcing (BPO) partner such as Accenture or GEP.

Yet even with the help of these outsourced partners, procurement shared services teams and CoEs have not had up to this point a purpose-built technology solution to manage their own operations. SAP Ariba is hoping to change this with its new Procurement Desk product. Available in March to limited release customers and in the summer months to all SAP Ariba customers, Procurement Desk has big plans to improve the capability of shared services teams and CoEs to deliver value and drive continuous improvement.

Based on demonstration sessions, presentations and analyst discussions at SAP Ariba Live in March 2018, this Spend Matters PRO research brief introduces the initial release of Procurement Desk, explores some of SAP Ariba’s ambitions for future releases based on the product roadmap and offers our initial analysis of the new offering, along with recommendations for SAP Ariba customers. A subsequent PRO research brief will provide a generalized CoE operating framework spanning all areas that procurement shared services groups can address with SAP Ariba’s current and planned capabilities for targeting this market.

Oracle’s P2P Strengths and Weaknesses for Procurement Cloud

As we noted in an earlier research brief, Oracle has leapfrogged ahead of competitors in the cloud procurement area. Its latest offering took us by surprise and will no doubt surprise others, as well. But what are Oracle’s most apparent strengths and weaknesses within Procurement Cloud relative to Coupa, SAP Ariba and other top-performing providers?

This Spend Matters PRO analysis, based on our latest SolutionMap review of Oracle’s capability in Q1 2018 and the vendor's recent Modern Supply Chain Experience event, explores Oracle Procurement Cloud’s comparative strengths and weaknesses within the e-procurement and invoice-to-pay areas.

Spend Matters also recently published a Vendor Snapshot series on Oracle’s overall Procurement Cloud suite (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). The review provides an end-to-end perspective, including a listing of modules, competitive alternatives, suite strengths and weaknesses, best fit recommendations and a SWOT analysis.