Category Management Content

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Finding the Right Fit and Function for Your Procurement Vision

Most procurement departments would agree that introducing a category management structure is a good way to secure the best-in-class status they crave. On the tactical-to-strategic spectrum, it’s still a notch below “trusted adviser” status, but it’s several more notches removed from reactive purchasing and the three-bid-and-buy mentality. While they’ve largely got a consistent end goal, procurement departments vary wildly when it comes to progress.

Many are still hard at work introducing even a foundational level of strategy. Others are mired in damage control after trying and failing to build a more strategic procurement function. Even those exemplary departments that can call category management a next step have a lot of work ahead. Like their less advanced peers, they’ve got to change their organization’s mindset if they want to truly transform procurement. To transform the function, they’ve got to first change the way other business units perceive and engage it.

Sourcing Optimization Should Be Accessible, Flexible: The Case for Rethinking a Misapplied Technology

Sourcing optimization can and should be applied more broadly to a variety of sourcing scenarios, bringing a simpler approach and guided exploration — designed with the everyday sourcing user in mind. With the value it can bring to categories and customers alike, why should sourcing optimization remain out of reach beyond the most complex logistics bids?

To understand how this situation arose, it helps to consider the rationale behind how first-generation sourcing optimization solutions were designed.

WPS Management (Wescale): Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis  [PRO]

Procurement organizations today don’t have to do a lot of legwork to build an initial shortlist for choosing an e-procurement or procure-to-pay solution. A Google search will return dozens of companies vying for your business, and the Spend Matters SolutionMaps for E-Procurement and Procure-to-Pay Suites make the process even simpler, rating top providers of these solutions against specific organizational requirements based on buyer demographics and psychographics.

Figuring out the differences between all of these choices, however, is easier said than done.

One of the key ways procurement organizations can do this is by understanding what type of market a vendor seeks to address. Although in concept the potential market a vendor is targeting could appear similar to how others position their solutions, the reality is that each provider is unique in terms of their best-fit customers, their capabilities and the technological foundations of their platform.

This is especially true of Wescale, which provides P2P functionality fit for a variety of businesses through an open business integration platform approach (PaaS, or platform as a service) not commonly seen from e-procurement or P2P providers in the North American market. For that matter, Berlin-based Wescale is not commonly seen outside of Europe — but to the detriment of potential U.S. and global customers that might overlook it due to its primary geographic focus.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Wescale, the branded name for WPS Management, includes an objective SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also has a recommended shortlist of candidates as substitute providers to Wescale as well as provider-selection guidance. Finally, it offers a summary analysis and recommendations for companies that can best take advantage of Wescale’s capabilities.

Part 1 of this series provided an in-depth look at Wescale as a company and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of its solution strengths and weaknesses as well as a review of the user experience.

Zycus: A Comparative Analysis of the S2P Suite (Source-to-Pay SolutionMap Analysis)

Zycus is part of an exclusive club.

It is one of the few source-to-pay suite vendors on the market that can offer at least adequate functional support across all six modular areas that Spend Matters tracks for S2P using only its internally developed capabilities. This stands in contrast to several of its biggest competitors, which have to varying degrees of success acquired and integrated best-in-class vendors or other suites to bolster their own capabilities.

And while Zycus cannot today claim its technology runs its suite of applications on a single data model, more than 95% of the solution is unified, and when compared against the market, it generally presents broad-based and out-of-the-box capability. Its solutions not only provide strong baseline (sometimes above-the-benchmark) functionality but they come from a single provider that is responsible for making it all work together.

This Spend Matters SolutionMap analysis examines Zycus’ solutions by modular and suite view to help interested parties understand the best components that make up the vendor’s end-to-end offering. It provides insight into which areas Zycus is strong in (and where it lags), how competitive individual modules are compared with best-in-class alternatives, and how combinations in the form of procure-to-pay (P2P), strategic procurement technology (SPT) and source-to-pay (S2P) suites stack up in comparison to Zycus’ broader peer group, including Coupa, Jaggaer, SAP Ariba, Ivalua and SynerTrade.

For this analysis, our report uses the aggregate results of nine SolutionMaps from Q4 2018 (the most recent in our quarterly update cycle), comparing a total of 58 solution providers across more than 600 granular functional benchmarks, which are aggregated into more manageable, tiered buckets for the purpose of this analysis. (Those procurement organizations leveraging SolutionMap for a software selection process gain insight into comparative performance at a significantly more granular level of detail that maps business requirements to functional performance.) The SolutionMap analyst ratings, also called the Solution scoring, used in this analysis are based on more than 3,000 hours of live product demonstrations and validated vendor RFI responses.

In subsequent briefs exploring SynerTrade and others, we will take a similar approach to analyzing source-to-pay providers, breaking down where end-to-end platforms excel (or fall below the functional benchmark) on module and suite bases. Previously, we covered the suite performances of Jaggaer, SAP Ariba, Ivalua and Coupa.

Comparing S2P Procurement Technology Suites on a Functional Basis: Coupa, Ivalua, Jaggaer and SAP Ariba

Now more than ever, better choices exist at the top end of the market for source-to-pay technology suites. When it comes to overall suite functional performance in the Q4 2018 SolutionMap, a handful of suite vendors tend to stand out from the overall pack, often for very different reasons. Four of the top performing S2P suite vendors in the Q4 SolutionMap functional benchmark are Coupa, Ivalua, Jaggaer and SAP Ariba. But how do they compare to the overall SolutionMap source-to-pay benchmark dataset? You can find out here in our coverage, which will include Determine, SynerTrade and Zycus.

3 Areas Where CSR Risks Hide in Your Indirect Spend (Part 2)

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Because procurement is so often measured on cost savings as its primary KPI, another essential factor can be left by the wayside: risk. Especially when it comes to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability, risk remains hidden within indirect spend. To see how these dangers go unaddressed, here are three areas with examples of where organizations miss — but, with proper tools, can address — CSR and sustainability risks for indirect procurement.

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Achieving a Personalized Buying Experience for Businesses

Today’s technology enables fine-grained customization and personalization. When applied correctly, personalization can lead to a better customer experience and higher sales or engagement. If applied poorly, it can detract from the user experience, causing frustration and possibly missed sales. In this article, we’ll walk through some of the personalization that can be enabled when using Amazon Business, helping to make it easier to find the right products and better control rogue spending.

If you’re not familiar with it, Amazon Business makes it easy for business customers to find and buy from hundreds of thousands of sellers and helps sellers reach millions of registered business customers around the world. Similar to Amazon.com, buyers search for products from millions of available items. For businesses, personalization helps make the buying experience fast and efficient. From relevant search results to customized messaging, buyers can find the items they need, and know upfront if they are approved for company purchase.

Commodities Roundup: Palladium’s Hot Streak, a Down December and Great Wall’s Affordable EV Play

For the buyers and category managers out there, especially those of you deep in the weeds of buying and managing commodities, here’s a quick rundown of news and thoughts from particular commodity markets. This week: palladium up, copper down and electric vehicle from China may crush prices.

Beyond Supplier Risk Management: How Procurement Can Take a Leadership Role in Enterprise Risk Management (Part 2) — Aligning Enterprise Risk to Supply Risk [PRO]

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In Part 1 of this series, we described the process that most progressive procurement organizations use to relate enterprise risk to supply risk. Throughout such transformations, a single theme pervades: alignment. The premise here is that while value chains are, in fact, a chain of value that flows across multiple stakeholders, the “signal” often gets lost as the components of that value go across organizational and functional boundaries. We’ve written before about this concept of “supply performance management” (i.e., where the definition of supply and the supply scorecard gets translated from the customer-facing value chain all the way down to a supplier/contract level) in terms of measuring and managing supply value, but this same concept also inherently applies to risk management.

Risk management is about protecting those value streams, and therefore the commensurate investment in risk mitigation should align with the value streams themselves. Unfortunately, they often don’t, because stakeholders are not typically measured on risk management explicitly (although they can be measured on it implicitly).

Procurement itself faces this problem. Based on our research, only 8% of procurement organizations are formally measured on supply risk reduction. Instead, they’re measured on overt reward (vis a vis savings) but not on protecting those improved supply outcomes. So, if procurement wants to protect supply outcomes, it will need help and resources from the natural risk owners (i.e., those who are measured on the business outcomes affected by those risks) — and that help will not come unless there is visibility, commitment and action. As such, in this installment of this series, we’ll discuss two critical frameworks that organizations can use to gain alignment.

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List: January 2019 (Special Focus Edition on Services) [Plus+]

Welcome to the January 2019 edition of Spend Matters’ monthly feature “The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List,” available to PLUS and PRO subscribers. For those new to the Hot List, each edition covers the prior month’s important or interesting technology and innovation developments within the CW/S space, where change may be accelerating or at least becoming more pervasive.

This edition also marks the first 12 months of Hot List coverage, launched in the February 2018 inaugural edition (and covering January 2018). Our goal was to show that under the surface of the obtuse, clinical label of “contingent workforce and services” (CW/S) was a hotbed of technologically driven innovation. We sought to set the record straight, perhaps turn a few heads (maybe even provoke a double-take) and possibly prevent some unwary practitioners from getting burned. Hopefully we have fulfilled our promise.

To mark the first anniversary of the Hot List series, this month we will leave the usual format behind and seek a glimpse of the CW/S elephant in the room: complex services spend.

The real features of this spend category have (strangely enough) been obscured in the shadow cast by contingent workforce. And while there has been lots of talk about SOW spend in the CW/S world, in reality, that’s been a little bit like lighting a match in the dark to survey the full enormity of the elephant (possibly only seeing a foot or a tusk).

With that, we will now begin our safari, turn our searchlight toward the relatively unexplored territory of services spend and wrestle with questions like: What is it? How is it being addressed in different sectors? Is there a pattern emerging that may mean more and more effective ways for businesses to source and manage complex services?

Addressing CSR and Sustainability Goals Through Improved Indirect Spend Management (Part 1): Background and Challenges

The list of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability risks in the physical supply chain is long. When securing direct materials, procurement organizations must assess factors from restricted or hazardous substances to the kind of labor that went into raw material extraction and even political restrictions like sanctions on whether companies from certain countries are even allowed to do business with you. Because of these and numerous other potential issues, many companies have begun to focus on identifying and eliminating such risks from their supply chains with the help of third-party CSR data sources and risk-monitoring platforms. But while the value of assessing CSR risks for direct materials spend has gained prominence in recent years, the other side of the procurement coin, indirect spend, has not received nearly as much interest. That’s a shame — and a risk in itself.

Category management survey offers benchmarking in exchange for your time, insight

The category management experts at Future Purchasing have a request and an offer as they prepare their global 2018 benchmarking survey. People in procurement can give feedback to help take the pulse of the industry, and they’ll get a copy of the survey and benchmarking feedback for their company. The survey drills deep into current category management usage and patterns, and it gives CPOs and category managers concrete evidence of what works — and what doesn’t. Now, there are just four weeks left before access to the survey closes, and 10 minutes of your time is needed to give your input.