The Contract Management Category

eBid Systems: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview [PRO]

Oracle

There is no shortage of strategic sourcing technology vendors in the market today. Customers have choices ranging from per-event pricing with smaller providers to integrated solutions that combine rich supplier management, contract management and transactional procurement capability — not to mention specialty solutions that bring generalized technology differentiation, category-specific or other unique capabilities.

Within this smorgasbord of choice — and yes, there are even vendors that started in the Scandinavian market to chose from globally now — one provider from the Pacific Northwest, eBid Systems, has carved out a distinct customer niche in state/local publication sector and higher education sourcing. Nearly 20 years since its founding, it counts 200 public sector customers and 100 private sector organizations using its technology.

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

ERP or Best-of-Breed? (Part 6): Making the Decision in Contract Lifecycle Management

There’s no perfectly prescriptive guidance we can offer, but, generally, if you want more flexibility to chart your own destiny in managing more complex supply chains and services networks, you want to focus heavily on your own native supply analytics (which can use third-party analytics solution providers, of course).

This way, you’ll be able to switch out the workflow execution apps as needed where you use BoB suites (e.g., source-to-pay suites) or “mini suites” (e.g., CLM) to manage the hard stuff — and also use ERP to manage the easier stuff until that day when ERP may eventually catch up.

The “hard stuff” isn’t just advanced industry-specific processes, but also just the richer data models that are required to support the advanced analytics that are part-and-parcel of areas like artificial intelligence.

CLM is actually a great example for us to highlight in closing out this series.

Agiloft: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Commentary and Summary Analysis [PRO]

The contract lifecycle management (CLM) technology market is highly fragmented today, with customers having significant choice between broad-based suite and independent vendors. Within this mix of full lifecycle solutions — from analytics to authoring to compliance — there are also specialized providers that stand out for unique capabilities, specialization or unique technology approaches to CLM. One CLM provider that is differentiated from other options — owing both to its business rules and business process management (BPM) foundation and to its adjacent capability in asset management and related areas — is Agiloft.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Agiloft provides an objective SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as substitute providers to Agiloft and provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies that can best take advantage of Agiloft’s capabilities. Part 1 of this series provided an in-depth look at Agiloft as a company and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses and a review of the user experience.

3 Critical Choices for Making a Best-of-Breed Decision with CLM Solutions

Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) may seem like an application area that should be hardwired to an ERP system. Contracts are the ultimate commercial system of record, so they should be housed in an enterprise-wide software suite, available to everyone, right?

Not necessarily. Far from the elegant, centralized solution advertised, ERP suites have often fallen short. Their generic capabilities are often housed in functionally stovepiped modules that fail to meet the unique needs of various stakeholders. They can describe contract documents and have contract attachments, but they don’t understand the data and meaning of the contract clauses and language itself. This shortfall can lead to workarounds, customizations and frustration all around.

Agiloft: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

Most procurement organizations have only started to explore the full set of capabilities that integrated contract lifecycle management (CLM) capabilities can bring. Yet in most cases today – outside of procurement organizations deploying integrated suite-based contract management technologies, many of which offer limited capabilities relative to independent CLM vendors – CLM remains loosely coupled from overall procurement processes, including sourcing, supplier management, transactional buying, contract compliance and risk management. Agiloft, one of dozens of independent CLM providers out there, offers a means of creating a synthetic process- and data-driven “hub” beyond providing core contract management capabilities alone.

Agiloft’s history, which we trace in this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series, includes over a decade spent developing and refining its core business rules and business process management (BPM) engine. While these two capabilities now come standard with other procurement and CLM technologies, to say they are all created equal would be as incorrect as labeling all source-to-pay platforms equal. While sounding technical on the surface, these two areas are the defining elements that help differentiate the vendor today in terms of what they can enable procurement to achieve (beyond the expected CLM basics). In addition, they enable Agiloft to serve as a new type of project and process orchestration platform to unite other technologies and data sets.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Agiloft’s product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should shortlist the vendor. It also offers a critique (pros/cons) of the user interface. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Agiloft in the CLM area. Next up, this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Artificial Intelligence in Contract Management (Part 4: Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning)

NLP

In this final installment of our series on artificial intelligence in contract management, we turn our attention to natural language processing (NLP). In earlier posts in this series, I mentioned chatbots and the Turing test, both of which require NLP. I also mentioned machine learning and the process of classifying text to the domain-specific ontologies that model commercial knowledge. At this point, you may have wondered, “Yeah, but how the heck do I actually model and extract all of this knowledge out of our existing contract documents in the first place?”

Artificial Intelligence in Contract Management (Part 3: Knowledge Reasoning)

In the last two installments of this AI in CLM — Artificial Intelligence in Contract Lifecycle Management — series of considerations for procurement practitioners, I introduced the topic and then dove into the concept of knowledge representation which discussed the importance of building a contract domain knowledge model in the form of a rich repository of contract clauses and related data (e.g., risks) and metadata – not just contract document artifacts. In fact, more broadly, you can think of concepts such as contracts, clauses, obligations, risks, remedies, milestones, suppliers, etc. as classes of “objects” that represent the knowledge of those physical/logical entities. These objects are increasingly richly classified, attributed, and interconnected (beyond traditional relational database models used in ERP-type systems), but making sense of them is where reasoning comes in.

Agiloft: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview [PRO]

contract

The contract lifecycle management (CLM) technology market includes dozens of different technology providers, many of which provide additional buy-side (e.g., strategic sourcing, transactional procurement, etc.) or sell-side (quote-to-cash) capabilities. Some of these vendors are well known in the market, having invested heavily in sales and marketing for many years. Others are not. One provider in the latter camp that recently caught our attention after a round of briefings and demonstrations is Agiloft. Today, Agiloft covers all the standard contract lifecycle management components (which we’ll explore in this series in detail). These enabling capabilities include core contract authoring, repository and lifecycle management capabilities. But how Agiloft stands out within the highly crowded CLM market actually owes more to its core technology underpinnings and adjacent capabilities than the CLM features alone that sit on top of its architectural stack. This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations, suppliers and partners make informed decisions about Agiloft’s contract lifecycle management (CLM) and related 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 Agiloft in the CLM area. The rest of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Artificial Intelligence in Contract Management (Part 2: Knowledge Representation)

In the first part of this series, I introduced the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) in contract management. Today, I’ll touch on AI itself and the first of its areas that will be highlighted in this series: knowledge representation. AI systems are computer systems that emulate (and even surpass) human intelligence needed to perform valued tasks. The Turing test for an AI expert system is whether it is indistinguishable from a human expert that is communicating via, say, a “chatbot” interface. An AI-based CLM system would therefore be able to embody the collective intelligence of contracting professionals (internal and/or outsourced) into computer systems used during ongoing contracting strategy, negotiations and monitoring.

BravoSolution: Solution Review & Analysis [Plus+]

The procurement technology and solutions market, inclusive of source-to-contract (S2C) and procure-to-pay (P2P) technology segments, is one with a wide degree of choice for customers. Procurement organizations that want to prioritize absolute capability in specific functional areas (modules) or technology innovation (e.g., platform as a service) can have their pick of providers. Organizations that want integrated suite capabilities also have an array of choices, and those that want to prioritize usability and adoption in targeted or broader areas can also select from an increasingly healthy list of options.

But if you want a broader combination of these capabilities in a single provider, the choices narrow significantly, especially at the suite level. At the intersection of these requirements is where BravoSolution comes in. This source-to-contract provider that historically has partnered for procure-to-pay capabilities — and will soon have its own P2P solution based on initially integrating and enhancing and ultimately re-platforming Puridiom, a recently acquired asset — excels compared with its peers at meeting the intersection of these requirements. This Spend Matters Plus analysis provides an introduction to BravoSolution for procurement organizations looking to understand whether they should consider adding the provider to their shortlists for consideration and competitive alternatives.

Seal Software: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Commentary and Summary Analysis [PRO]

Spend Matters research suggests 2017 is likely to be the year that advanced procurement organizations generally start to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capability into targeted business processes. There are a number of reasons for this, primarily involving the maturity of different sets of technology and the increasing embedded nature of these underlying tools in broader solutions, ranging from real-time translation and chat to spend classification to guided buying to contract search, discovery and analytics.

Systems that learn and constantly get smarter are here to stay in procurement – and they can make us smarter as well. Such is the case of Seal Software when it comes to its ability to create a virtuous cycle in identifying, analyzing and ultimately influencing contract obligations and performance based on an underlying discovery and analytics foundation that complements contract lifecycle management (CLM) and other procurement technology investments.

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

Artificial Intelligence in Contract Management: Considerations for Practitioners (Part 1)

In case you haven't noticed, artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a very big deal in business. And there is perhaps no area where the impact of AI systems (i.e., systems that exhibit intelligent behavior) will be felt more than in legal departments and, more broadly, in the area of managing contracts. Consider the enormity of collective knowledge that makes up commercial law and amount of money spent translating the semi-structured “legalese” that enshrouds what should be logical business constructs that sit at the core.