The E-Sourcing Category

The Road to Cognitive Procurement: LevaData Models a New Standard for Sourcing Maturity

Most procurement groups are coming around to the idea that they need digital transformation. Yet even with a convincing case for taking an AI-based “cognitive” procurement approach to processes like sourcing, excuses about bad data and poor backing from management inevitably stop organizations from taking the first step. LevaData, like other solution providers, is increasingly trying to help procurement not just take on technology but create the roadmap for organizational maturity that leads to better business outcomes.

Creative Supplier Governance: Key Points From a Sourcing Leaders’ Lunch & Learn

SciQuest

At a recent Chicago Sourcing Leaders Lunch & Learn, one theme was clear: The sourcing department includes the “cool kids” of the enterprise. Hosted by solutions provider Scout RFP and Zebra Technologies, pioneers of barcode scanning technology, the Lunch & Learn featured a sampling of the Zebra product line and a practical presentation from Dawn Tiura, president and CEO of the Sourcing Industry Group, or SIG. She described the qualities of the “cool kids” and shared her insight on the importance of having a formal supplier governance program.

Direct Material Sourcing and Supplier Management Platforms (Part 1) [Plus+]

In enabling basic strategic sourcing capability for indirect, services and basic direct materials spend, there are now a lot — and we mean it — of solid choices in the market. And it’s a space that’s getting more crowded everyday. Yet in comparison to the broader sourcing marketplace, the direct materials market is, unfortunately, given short shrift. There are potentially many reasons for this. First, it’s complex — there is not one category of solution. Second, the user for these tools is not always the same as one who might use a more generic sourcing toolset (at least not alone). And third, the processes that direct materials sourcing toolsets support are complicated because they are used not only across numerous internal functions (materials management, plant management, operations, supply chain, design/engineering, procurement, sales and operations planning, etc.), but span multiple tiers of suppliers.

In a three-part Spend Matters Plus series that will deliver a cursory attempt to segment this market, we’ll attempt to overcome the current lack of research in this area by providing a concrete segmentation of different technology categories and the capabilities within each. Today we’ll consider additional context and provide a high-level segmentation and explanation of tools (which we’ll flesh out and provide vendor short-lists for later in the analysis).

Scanmarket: What Makes It Great (Sourcing SolutionMap Analysis)

Editor’s note: This “What Makes It Great” column is normally reserved for SolutionMap Insider Subscribersbut Scanmarket has generously agreed to support access for readers who are not yet members.

The e-sourcing software market refuses to succumb to consolidation, providing significant choice to procurement organizations of all stripes, sizes, industries and operating geographies. Among these vendors, one of the most experienced in building technology to support both basic and complex RFX, negotiation and auctioning processes is Scanmarket. The closely held company today counts more than 300 global customers and delivers a broad set of capabilities, including integrated spend analytics, supplier management and contract management.

For customers, Scanmarket is a reasonably priced, best kept procurement secret that does not compromise on the e-sourcing fundamentals. But how does the provider stack up in this highly competitive technology market? On the surface, Scanmarket is one of the top performers in the Q3 2018 Sourcing SolutionMap for the Nimble buying persona, as well as a recommended fit across all five Sourcing SolutionMap buying personas. To understand where Scanmarket stands out — and why this matters for sourcing and category teams — let’s dive into the more than 100 fields that comprise the Sourcing benchmark and explore what makes Scanmarket great.

“What Makes It Great” is a recurring column that shares insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider subscribers. Based on both our rigorous evaluation process and customer reference reviews, each brief offers quick facts on the provider, describes where it excels, provides hard data on where it beats the SolutionMap benchmark and concludes with a checklist for ideal customer scenarios in which procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should consider it.

Coupa Sourcing: What Makes It Great (Sourcing SolutionMap Analysis)

As of Q3 2018, Spend Matters SolutionMap contains functional and customer satisfaction benchmarks on more than 50 different procurement software providers, 17 of which offer e-sourcing software. In the latest Q3 SolutionMap benchmark dataset, Coupa takes first place in Analyst scoring, aided not only by best-in-class sourcing optimization capabilities from its acquisition of Trade Extensions but also by other enhancements it has made throughout the sourcing lifecycle.

But where does Coupa stand out the most and “set the bar” across the more than 100 functional benchmarks that comprise the Sourcing SolutionMap? And why should this matter for sourcing and category teams? Let’s dive into the Sourcing SolutionMap benchmark to find out.

“What Makes It Great” is a recurring column that shares insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider subscribers. Based on both our rigorous evaluation process and customer reference reviews, each brief offers quick facts on the provider, describes where it excels, provides hard data on where it beats the SolutionMap benchmark and concludes with a checklist for ideal customer scenarios in which procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should consider it.

Why Procurement Must Prepare Today to Use Cognitive Software in 2050: Insights from LevaData’s 2018 Cognitive Sourcing Summit

digital

Just as it’s unlikely that most people will be regularly using self-driving cars any time before 30 years from now, procurement is probably not going to be widely using AI-based “cognitive” software within the next five or even 10 years. But that doesn’t mean organizations should sit around waiting for the technology to come to them. The talent, technology and operational strategies procurement leaders choose today will determine whether or not they are capable of using artificial intelligence-based software in the future. In fact, failing to prepare for the use of cognitive technology today could mean procurement is unable to use those tools even when they have become widely adopted, putting the business far behind its digitally mature competitors.

Q3 2018 SolutionMap Release Notes: Sourcing, Spend Analytics, SRM, CLM and Strategic Procurement Technology Suites

This Spend Matters SolutionMap Insider release note provides insight into the Q3 2018 SolutionMap release for Sourcing, Spend and Procurement Analytics, Supplier Relationship Management & Risk, Contract Lifecycle Management, and Strategic Procurement Technologies Suite SolutionMaps, reviewing the process we follow and highlighting what has changed since the last release.

Within the individual areas covered in this brief, the following providers have been added to the Q3 2018 release: Allocation in Sourcing and Supplier Management, APEX Analytix in SXM (Supplier Management), Coupa is participating in Spend Analytics for the first time, and SirionLabs has been added to CLM (Contract Lifecycle Management).

Additionally, providers such as Jaggaer (including Jaggaer Advantage, Jaggaer Direct, and Jaggaer Indirect), SAP Ariba, Simfoni, and SpendHQ have received updated scoring following the submission and demonstration of new capabilities based on production releases of individual modules. (Non-GA capabilities are not considered in SolutionMap scoring.) Perhaps most important, over 76 new or refreshed customer references were added in the Strategic Procurement Technology areas for Q3.

This SolutionMap Insider release note explores these and additional changes in the Q3 2018 SolutionMap release.

Q3 2018 SolutionMap Release Notes: Source-to-Pay (S2P)

This Spend Matters SolutionMap Insider Release Note provides insight into the Q3 2018 SolutionMap release for Source-to-Pay, reviewing the process that we followed for this quarter’s release.

The providers in the Q3 2018 Source-to-Pay SolutionMap include Determine, GEP, Ivalua, SAP Ariba, SynerTrade and Zycus. All of these providers were required to participate in SolutionMap for each underlying module, as well. These individual areas include Sourcing, Spend and Procurement Analytics, Supplier Relationship Management & Risk, Contract Lifecycle Management, E-Procurement and Invoice-to-Pay. All of these providers are also included in the individual Strategic Procurement Technologies (SPT) and Procure-to-Pay (P2P) suite views.

This SolutionMap Insider research note provides insight into these and additional considerations in the Q3 2018 SolutionMap release. The Source-to-Pay customer data set is composed of a subset of the 500+ individual organization references included in the overall SolutionMap scoring as of Q3 2018*.

*Customers using more than one module that a vendor provides can opt to fill out a single survey within each individual suite area (e.g., a customer using two modules for P2P and four modules for SPT would only need to fill out two surveys).

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

FM Global Resilience Index

North America is a curious market for direct materials-centric procurement software. While many manufacturers currently use indirect materials- and services-centric applications (e.g., procure-to-pay, vendor management systems), few manufacturers have specialized direct materials-centric procurement tools as a part of their solution belt. And to note the elephant in the room, many manufacturing procurement organizations are still not even aware of what these solutions can do.

The exception to this is in Europe (especially Germany and Austria) where direct materials procurement software is generally well adopted, even among middle-market companies. Within this market segment, Allocation is one of a handful of leaders, with tailored capabilities for sourcing and supplier management — and it is expanding globally.

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

Allocation: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview [PRO]

When you start a vacuum cleaner, a number of things happen. First, the air pump creates a partial vacuum in the appliance. This results in air rapidly rushing in from the outside, through the attached hose or nozzle, pulling in dust, dirt and small debris with it. But the effects don't end there. The rapid movement of air from immediately outside the vacuum creates another partial vacuum that needs to be filled by the surrounding air, and this causes nearby particulates to also move and change position. And, thanks to the butterfly effect, this can have larger repercussions than one expects, creating unintended consequences. If pollen, mold or certain other once stationary particulates get into the air, people can sneeze, suffer allergic reactions or even get deathly ill.

What does this have to do with sourcing? When big firms buy smaller e-sourcing tools, vacuuming up the major standalone software companies in given niche, this creates a void — and kicks up a dust cloud, of sorts. From a manufacturing-centric sourcing perspective, this last year or so saw the acquisitions of Directworks (by Ivalua) and Pool4Tool (by Jaggaer). These acquisitions — not to mention Jaggaer’s prior acquisition of BravoSolution — took two specialist players in direct materials procurement and supplier management out of the best-of-breed market in North America, creating a new void. The result? The door was opened for new best-of-breed players from Europe to enter, and one of these players is Allocation.

But will Allocation benefit from the vacuum effect? It certainly has the pedigree. Founded in 1998, Allocation has been building its platform for two decades. Today it has one of the broadest and deepest platforms for direct supplier management and direct material sourcing on the market today. With a strong customer base in discrete manufacturing, Allocation can walk into just about any automotive, aerospace, CPG or other manufacturing-based procurement organization and talk the talk, backing up its knowledge with a set of specialized capabilities.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Allocation’s e-sourcing and supplier management solutions. 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 Allocation. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Keelvar: What Makes It Great (Sourcing SolutionMap Analysis)

The e-sourcing software market is crowded and fragmented. In the Q2 2018 SolutionMap alone, Spend Matters featured 16 of the top strategic sourcing solutions. Yet within this supply base for e-sourcing tools, one of the areas few software providers have emphasized is sourcing optimization — a critical capability for unlocking new levels of value from procurement.

Businesses interested in engaging e-sourcing providers with optimization capability have historically faced steep pricing and a high usability bar as the cost of entry. But times are changing. New sourcing optimization solutions are coming into the market that balance capability, usability and price in a package that can augment or even replace other e-sourcing tools.

Keelvar, a relatively new entrant in the e-sourcing sector, is one such company. Within the Q2 2018 Sourcing SolutionMap, Keelvar stands out from the crowd on numerous fronts. It is both a high scorer across a range of technological capabilities and a customer favorite for multiple buying personas. Keelvar’s SolutionMap performance provides compelling evidence that the company is a must-shortlist candidate for every customer considering an e-sourcing solution — especially those considering sourcing optimization software.

“What Makes It Great” is a recurring column that shares insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider subscribers. Based on both our rigorous evaluation process and customer reference reviews, each brief offers quick facts on the provider, describes where it excels, provides hard data on where it beats the SolutionMap benchmark and concludes with a checklist for ideal customer scenarios in which procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should consider it.

Thomas CEO Tony Uphoff on Sourcing Alternatives to Plastic Drinking Straws, Regulations and Consumer Sentiment

The year 2018 seems to be the beginning of the end of the plastic straw, and sourcing data from Thomasnet.com indicate that procurement professionals are scrambling to identify alternatives. One of the top marine polluters, plastic straws have been banned in various countries, cities and royal estates around the world, including Scotland, Taiwan, Vancouver and Buckingham Palace. Data from supplier discovery platform Thomasnet.com shows that sourcing activity for drinking straws and paper bags has increased significantly compared with the historical average. Spend Matters recently spoke with Tony Uphoff, president and chief executive at Thomas, to learn more about the industries behind this spike, the roles played by regulations and consumer sentiment, and those iconic red-and-yellow straws.