Author Archives: Xavier Olivera



Defining AP Automation Functional Requirements (Part 2): AP Process, Workflow, Collaboration and Systems (Validations, Approval Processes, Integrations)

AP automation capabilities vary dramatically between different software providers, and the capabilities that a finance or procurement organization will require to support the automation of AP processes also vary materially, based not only on company size but a broad range of other factors. These include organizational complexity, invoice capturing requirements (e.g., paper, PDF, electronic, etc.), systems complexity, systems integration, industry, EDI integration/support, payment/financing capabilities, treasury integration/working capital management, geography and compliance requirements — to just name a few.

To understand how different providers stack up against these (and other) categories of requirements, the quarterly Invoice-to-Pay SolutionMap Insider report can provide significant insight. And to create a one-to-one map between business requirements for AP automation and vendor functionality capability, SolutionMap Accelerator can dramatically speed up the vendor shortlisting and selection process, even allowing companies to “skip the RFI” entirely.

This Spend Matters PRO series defines AP automation requirements from a functional perspective to put AP, finance and purchasing professionals in the driver’s seat when they evaluate the market for AP automation to fit their needs — either on a stand-alone basis or as a specific component of broader invoice-to-pay, procure-to-pay or source-to-pay solutions. (Check the links to our SolutionMap ranking of providers in each category.)

Part 1 of this series investigated core invoicing requirements for AP automation and some of the criteria that Global 2000 and middle market organizations should consider when selecting solutions (i.e., invoicing set-up, paper scan/capture support and e-invoicing). Today we turn our attention to an additional set of AP automation functional requirements, including AP process, invoicing validations, workflow, collaboration and integration requirements.

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 5) — Product Weaknesses

global trade

If you've already read Part 1 of our updated 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. But, even with its prowess in deep configurability, Ivalua's solution is not without its weaknesses. In this Part 5 of our seven-part vendor snapshot, we are going to dive deep into Ivalua's product weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help a procurement organization decide whether they should shortlist the vendor. And an organization that is putting Ivalua head-to-head with a provider like 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 Spend Matters Solution Map does not imply near equal capability in all areas, and definitely not in the areas that might matter to your organization the most. Ivalua's weaknesses are similar to our last review a couple of years ago, but a few weaknesses have been addressed since last time (and while not as deep, but still exist against either suite-peers or best-of-breed), and the re-platforming of DirectWorks in particular has gone a long way to address specialized support around direct sourcing.

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Downstream Solution Overview

supplier network

Ivalua has been growing steadily since Spend Matters’ comprehensive update in 2016, with the suite provider adding clients, offices, employees and capability around the globe. After we provided an updated background in Part 1, we delved into Ivalua’s primary upstream solution components around spend analysis, strategic sourcing, direct sourcing and contract management in Part 2.

Today, this seven-part Spend Matters PRO series will continue our solution overview with a look at the downstream components — namely catalog management, e-procurement and order management, e-invoicing, expense management, payment management and IVA for guided buying. After we review these downstream components, we’ll finish up our solution review with a couple of the cross-platform capabilities around risk and performance management, supplier information management and master data management (MDM). After we finish with our solution overview, in Parts 4 and 5, we will dive into Ivalua's particular strengths and weaknesses from a solution perspective.

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Upstream Solution Overview

gig economy

In Part 1 of Spend Matters' seven-part PRO series, we provided an updated background on Ivalua, which has been growing steadily since our last Vendor Snapshot in 2016, adding clients, offices, employees, customers and capability around the globe. No longer the Rodney Dangerfield of procurement, Ivalua is finally getting some real respect, having just reached unicorn valuation status in its last funding round.

There are a number of reasons for this, some of which revolve around services and global support capability, and others that revolve around its extensive solution platform. The latter is the subject of our articles today and tomorrow, where we will overview all of the major components, starting with the upstream ones today. Then, after we review the downstream components in Part 3, we will dive into Ivalua's particular strengths and weaknesses from a solution perspective in Parts 4 and 5.

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background

FM Global Resilience Index

A lot has changed since Spend Matters’ last full snapshot on Ivalua in December 2016, when we said (with apologies to the late comic) that Ivalua was the Rodney Dangerfield of procurement suites in terms of not getting any respect. At the time, we clearly noted that “if we add up the differentiated combination of its architecture/platform, industry enablement, functional/modular capability (across the source-to-pay continuum), analytics and ‘overlay’ process support capabilities, the sum of the Ivalua package stands out from all others in a true ‘deadpan’ way — albeit with no laughing involved. In short: Ivalua deserves much more respect than it gets from a market that is typically less familiar with it compared to larger peers.”

Since then, Ivalua has raised two massive rounds of capital, the first in April 2017 when it raised $70 million from private equity firm KKR (to build a war chest to accelerate R&D, expand its global footprint, triple down on marketing and make strategic acquisitions), and the second funding round just a couple of months ago when it raised another $60 million and achieved “unicorn” status. Now it's the envy of its peers, and we know for a fact that the other big players — Coupa, Jaggaer, Oracle, GEP and SAP Ariba — have taken notice.

But before we put the cart before the horse (or, in this case, the analyst’s conclusions before the background and solution overview), we're going to back up and start at the beginning now that you have an idea of what's to come.

Ivalua is one of the few source-to-pay (S2P) providers that has built its end-to-end solution on a single technology stack from the ground up, and one of the fewer still that doesn't try to grow through an acquire-and-integrate approach (like SAP Ariba, Jaggaer and even Coupa), or replatforming (like Determine or Oracle), but rather, develops its own native stack (as has GEP, Zycus, and mostly Coupa). Furthermore, it's also one of the few that has enough depth and breadth across each core area to enable it to serve as a single technology S2P suite for the procurement organization. That should not be a surprise given that the firm has been building this platform in-house on a single stack for the past 19 years while working with a global customer base.

This is important because there comes a point when the overall procurement organization performance beyond sourcing-identified savings and P2P-catalog compliance relies on a single extensible platform approach that goes beyond just functional enablement within procurement. Plus, if you want real automation/RPA, guided procurement and real AI someday — you’ll really want a single-workflow-driven platform that works on a single data store, because no advanced technology works without a sufficient amount of good, clean, harmonized data.

This revised, seven-part Spend Matters PRO snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions based on Ivalua's source-to-pay capability, its suitability for specific industry segments, its global service and support footprint, and how each of these stacks up to its competition. (Hint: Ivalua is second in four out of five Source-to-Pay and Strategic Procurement Technology SolutionMap rankings, and second in two out of five P2P maps — namely the Nimble and Configurator personas — in terms of analyst score in the 2019 Q2 SolutionMap release.)

Part 1 of our updated vendor snapshot provides a company background and a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations might want to consider Ivalua in the procurement technology arena. Parts 2 and 3 provide a detailed solution overview. Part 4 will dive into the strengths, and Part 5 looks into the weaknesses across the product line. Part 6 will provide commentary and a SWOT analysis, and Part 7 will provide a comparative market overview and final summary analysis.

6 Factors that Impact the Cost, Hassle and Heartache of E-Procurement and P2P Deployments

p2p deployment

In this research brief, we explore the specific elements that impact the costs and hassles of P2P implementations and ways of controlling them — or at least managing expectations upfront. What’s perhaps most valuable in our findings is that these six elements don’t just show up during the course of a given implementation — they’re often visible upfront if you know where to look. And they can even prove to be leading indicators of trouble to come before you sign a contract with a vendor. In short, if you know what potential roadblocks to look for upfront, you can minimize or avoid unnecessary costs and hassle down the e-procurement road. Here’s how.

Guided Buying 4.0 — A Framework to Consider (Part 1: Guided Buying in E-Procurement)

Many people know the term “Industry 4.0,” which describes the latest industrial revolution that combines big data, cloud computing, the internet of things (IoT), hyper connectivity, human-machine interfaces, robotics and embedded analytics that feature artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning. It’s revolutionizing manufacturing and supply chains, but what about the most basic processes that deal with B2B buying?

That brings us to the concept of "guided buying." It’s not new, but in the last five years of my experience as an analyst of P2P solutions, I have realized that it is a term used without much precision. I can compare it to terms like “platform,” "best practices," “world class” and others that have been overused so widely that they’ve lost the force of their meaning. Terminology should be defined with a specific scope, intent and substance for it to really be useful. So, I’ve been recently collaborating with my colleagues to provide more specific insights on this concept, and we’ve decided to develop a maturity framework to help do this.

The act of guiding is a deliberate and proactive process that helps the person being guided achieve their objective and reach their destination. This is a concept that we have applied to the purchasing function for several years. In fact, almost 15 years ago, the first analyst who wrote about this concept of "guided buying" was my friend, mentor and Spend Matters colleague, Pierre Mitchell. Here is some of what he wrote back then.

“Think about an end user who, rather than going to a clumsy Intranet site to find a few local e-catalogs and supplier ‘punchout’ sites, gets instead a corporate Google-like interface and types in whatever they’re looking for. Then, the user gets automatically guided to preferred supply sources/channels (e.g., an e-procurement catalog, a supplier website, an internal inventory location or a requisition that’s electronically escalated to the proper commodity manager) based on commodity taxonomies, supply strategies/policies, preferred supplier listings, commodity manager skills, local inventories, specialized knowledge rules and supplier website content (or that of specialized content providers). In other words, users are guided to preferred supply sources before a maverick spend ever occurs.”

Today, what's interesting is that we already have the IT tools and solutions that we did not have 15 years ago. Today, companies can apply the concept of "guided" in all areas of the organization, including in contracting and sourcing. However, the focus for this part of this series is in the transactional purchasing area within procure-to-pay.

Let’s take a look at this problem, our framework, and some strategies and solutions.

Beyond ‘Not OK-2-Pay’: A Coupa Pay Update from Inspire 2019

procurement

Accounts payable is a function often viewed as laborious and time-consuming. Even when enabled by back-office technology systems like ERPs, the general perception of AP is that it consists primarily of transactional, overly complicated activities that generate little additional value for the business.

But this negative perception ignores much of AP’s full potential, which is why multiple solution providers of late have begun to pursue “business spend management” opportunities in the B2B payments space. These new offerings aim to improve the overall efficiency and value potential of AP, particularly by helping organizations move beyond the simple act of marking invoices as “OK-2-pay.” Because as many AP professionals will tell you, an OK-2-pay marker is only the beginning of a series of headaches to sort out — and where the benefits offered by B2B payment solutions begin to reveal themselves.

In this Spend Matters PRO brief, we discuss how some of the capabilities highlighted in the Coupa Pay offering at a recent Coupa Inspire 2019 conference seek to address the common issues of OK-2-pay — or, as they put it in a humorous video during the conference, “Not OK-2-pay” — as well as what Coupa’s recent partnership announcements mean for the product.

What to Expect from a P2P Implementation — Benefits and Costs

P2P implementation

While the benefits of adopting a purchase-to-pay (P2P) solution seem clear on paper, just about everyone who has been around the market on either the procurement, consultant or vendor side has heard horror stories of implementations gone wrong — or horribly wrong, in certain cases. Of course the culprit is usually staring the organization in the mirror. But more importantly, this line between success and failure, as measured by hard dollars, led us to ask a two-part question: What really is the price and when is it worth paying that price to implement a P2P solution?

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

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Many technology providers could argue they are part of the P2P space, but as we discussed in Part 2 of this series, the extent of a solution’s P2P capabilities can vary greatly from one provider to another. In the case of Procurify, we view the provider more as an e-procurement player than a full P2P suite, since it does not currently offer true invoice-to-pay support (e.g. features for invoice capture, validation and approval). To compare Procurify with its likely competitors, then, we must evaluate the solution against those that offer similar e-procurement capabilities, whether as part of suites that offer full P2P packages or from specialists. In this light, Procurify hits a sweet spot for small and mid-size businesses and, as defined by Spend Matters’ SolutionMap personas, has a Nimble approach that helps it differentiate its solution from competitors.

This final installment of our three-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering Procurify offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other e-procurement and P2P technology providers. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provided a company and deep dive solution overview, a UX/UI ranking, product strengths and weaknesses, and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider Procurify.

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

Procurify, a seven-year-old provider of spend management software, is filling a market need for Nimble e-procurement solutions, the category of Spend Matters’ SolutionMap where Procurify’s solution fits. With 400 customers and 25,000 active users, Procurify is offering real value to an underserved slice of the e-procurement market, small and mid-size businesses. And with $14 million in current funding, we'd wager additional investments on the product and business side are on the horizon that would only reinforce its SMB market presence and its broader P2P capabilities.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot, Part 2 of the series, explores Procurify’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the vendor. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview, as well as a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Procurify. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Procurify: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview

procurement

Procurify, a Canadian procure-to-pay (P2P) provider with a presence in 70 countries, is capturing a market not typically well-served by other vendors: small and medium-sized businesses that need e-procurement. While there are certainly many choices of e-procurement and P2P providers today, as Spend Matters’ E-Procurement and Procure-to-Pay SolutionMaps illustrate, there are few remaining choices that have not been acquired by a larger firm or that are tailored to the needs of SMBs. Such a solution would fall under the category of SolutionMap’s Nimble persona, and Procurify’s relative strengths in e-procurement, complemented by baseline AP automation functionality, such as invoice approval and traditional three-way matching, position it as perhaps an ideal match for this market need, as clients like Asana, Planet Fitness, Reliance Oilfield Services and Element Biosciences can attest.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot offers an introduction to Procurify, providing facts and expert analysis to help organizations make informed decisions about whether they should add this P2P provider to their shortlists. Part 1 of our analysis offers a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Procurify. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.