The Category Intelligence (Direct) Category

POOL4TOOL: Solution Review & Analysis [Plus+]


The market for direct materials-centric procurement technology is just beginning to take off in North America (and other parts of the world, outside of Europe). Especially in the US, these solutions have often played "second fiddle" for procurement organizations, especially compared with investments in indirect procurement suites and services procurement capabilities. Yet POOL4TOOL is one of only a handful of technology vendors developing specialized procurement solutions to support manufacturing environments. The Vienna-based procurement solution provider has extensive experience working with industrial firms (e.g., automotive, A&D, diversified manufacturing) across the source-to-pay continuum, especially in support of direct materials procurement activities.This Spend Matters Plus analysis provides an introduction to the POOL4TOOL solution for procurement organizations looking to understand whether they should consider adding the provider to their shortlists for consideration and competitive alternatives.

Energy M&A Outlook: What the Halliburton-Baker Hughes Fail Tells Us About 2017


In Part 1 of our latest energy, mining and utilities outlook, we focused on the precipitous drop in this sector’s M&A activity, outlining exactly how many billions of dollars are at stake. Let's now take a look at 2016's biggest M&A deals — including the failed Halliburton-Baker Hughes marriage — as well as a look ahead to 2017 and the unknowns facing the EMU sector.

The Week in Direct Materials: Oil Prices, China, Steel, and NAFTA

oil oversupply OPEC

Energy and transportation prices bumped up, Chinese aluminum smelters are taking advantage of the subsidization game, and the U.S. steel industry is not all too happy about any of that – but one if its trade organizations still supports NAFTA. Find out why in this week's direct materials update from MetalMiner.

Energy, Mining, Utilities M&A Flat as Price Volatility, Uncertainty Loom

Merger and acquisition activity is down considerably in the energy, mining and utilities (EMU) sector this year, reflecting a rising level of uncertainty as crude oil prices remain volatile and a possible industry-changing U.S. presidential election looms. Total M&A activity in the EMU sector is at its lowest point since before the great recession hit in 2008, Mergermarket notes in its recent update.

Plastic Resin Price Outlook: What to Expect in 2017

e-procurement market outlook

Piggybacking off of our recent plastics outlook for Q4 2016, we had the chance to sit in on a presentation given by Paul Blanchard, director of engineering plastics for IHS Chemical, for The Right Place/Supply Chain Management Council's Commodity Trends 2017 Outlook. Whereas Spend Matters contributor John Hall focused more tightly on the drivers of feedstock costs and pricing — ethylene and propylene, for example — Blanchard dove into three distinct markets: ABS, polycarbonate and nylon 6 (and nylon 6,6). (Although, I'd be remiss not to mention that Blanchard fielded a polypropylene question right off the bat – and late last week we ran a propylene outlook on Spend Matters from our friends at contributing firm Mintec.) Here are some details and price outlooks behind the three resin markets, according to Blanchard and IHS Chemical.

The Week in Metals, Aerospace and Brexit

Here are the top stories from the world of metals, industrial and otherwise, in case you missed them. What's new in steel, gold, aerospace supply chain and Brexit kitties? Time for a direct materials-focused update from our network's sister site, MetalMeower — er, MetalMiner.

Accenture Spend Trends Category Insight

North America Truckload Market Update – Q3 2016 [Plus+]

This is the first monthly installment of Accenture's Spend Trends category insights that we're making available to our Spend Matters Plus readers. Although this category insight is more direct spend oriented, we chose this category update because of its relevance relative to the immediate opportunity in the truckload market. It provides an analysis of multiple data sources, including Accenture's own sourcing operations for its clients, and highlights recent changes in market capacity, utilization, pricing, and strategies. It's a good time for shippers to be bidding freight right now, but there are some important key caveats related to spot buying, market timing, and shifts in the market relative to large carriers versus smaller regional/specialty carriers. From a procurement process standpoint, the article emphasizes the importance of a deliberate and active management approach to such a dynamic category. From a procurement technology standpoint, the use of combinatorial optimization-based bidding tools for truckload bidding is absolutely key for such active management of large market baskets of truckload lanes. By doing so, shippers can tap the best capabilities of smaller carriers and larger core carriers in order to optimize costs and service levels for increasingly volatile demand profiles.

New Category Intelligence Coming to Spend Matters Plus


I’m excited to announce a new relationship with Accenture that I know our Spend Matters Plus+ readers will be excited about. Accenture currently publishes a broad set of category intelligence and analysis to its community of procurement clients. These Spend Trends insights offer some of the latest thinking, from strategies for third-party management to optimizing MRO spend and risk management approaches in critical categories like energy.

Plastics Markets Calm Despite Volatile Crude and Capacity Shifts


Prices for most plastics will continue rising during the fourth quarter, thanks to surging raw material costs, capacity issues and a rebound in crude oil. Observers are mixed on the current market state. In late August, Plastic News’ Bill Wood asserted domestic plastic production was actually down most of 2016 and will likely end the year flat.

Cement and Concrete: Stable Prices for the Rest of 2016

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Deni Koenhemsi, economist at pricing and purchasing, IHS Markit.

Cement and concrete prices are mostly flat in the fourth quarter. They are forecast to rise once again in the first few months of 2017. After two rounds of price increases in January and April, prices of cement are forecast to slow down in the third quarter and stay flat for the fourth quarter. Looking into 2017, price escalation is not expected to slow dramatically. We expect another round of price increases in January and April, but the growth level will be slower compared with 2015 and 2016.

MetalMiner Week in Review: Welcome Back to Earth, Metal Prices!


This week, most exchange-traded metals came down to Earth as the Federal Reserve hinted it may finally increase interest rates. The hardest hit was copper, which hit a two-month London Metal Exchange low. Weaker Chinese imports over the past few months and the bearish calls of some major banks have exacerbated copper’s recent price fall.

Directworks: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Competitive & Summary Analysis [PRO]


While the number of providers in the generic sourcing platform market is overwhelming, the universe of direct materials procurement technology vendors, especially in North America, is small. Directworks is one of a handful of firms specializing in supporting manufacturing procurement activities, from design and engineering collaboration with suppliers to bill of material-based strategic sourcing activities to joint cost take out initiatives in the supply chain.

This final installment of this multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering Directworks offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other direct materials procurement providers as well as alternative solutions (and vendors) that manufacturers may wish to consider. It also includes a user selection guide, user interface and user experience (UI/UX) analysis and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep dive solution overview, a SWOT analysis, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider Directworks.