eProcurement / Procurement Content

7 Simple Ways to Control, Automate Your Accounts Payable

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Finly, a provider of business spend solutions.

Accounts payable involves a lot of challenges, like providing payment approvals on time, budgetary restrictions, ensuring policy compliance and keeping the accounting systems up to date. Organizations reach a saturation level where manually processing all these becomes increasingly tedious and difficult to maintain.

An automated accounts payable system is a great way to overcome these issues and increase effective communication as well as employee productivity. To control your accounts payable, let’s understand the bottlenecks involved in the manual process of accounts payable.

When is the right time for mid-market digital transformation?

Procurement software providers that target large enterprises get a lot of attention, but the increased use of artificial intelligence and machine learning is raising the profile of vendors who serve a vast group of businesses that also are doing some heavy lifting — the mid-market companies seeking to digitally transform.

One of those providers is Paramount WorkPlace, which focuses on the procure-to-pay areas of e-procurement and e-invoicing for the middle market practitioner. And it also has a sliver of the enterprise market. We talked to Paramount for a Q&A to gauge how it’s helping to deploy technology and aid digital transformation across a range of businesses.

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

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.

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

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) [PRO]

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.

SAP Intelligent Spend Group analysis: 10 observations of the new Ariba-Fieldglass-Concur business unit [PRO]

Last week, SAP released its financial results for the second quarter 2019. In the announcement, presentation and earnings call, SAP broke out revenue for its new Intelligent Spend Group (in previous quarters, it broke out revenue for the similar “Business Network” segment). This business unit consists of SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass and SAP Concur. According to SAP, quarterly performance for the group represented approximately $880 million (USD) in revenue based on actual reporting in euros of €786 million. At constant currency levels, revenue was up 17% year-over-year, or 22% factoring in currency changes.

This Spend Matters PRO brief begins by highlighting some of the additional detail provided on the earnings call and then provides 10 observations on the current state of the business unit based on customer, channel and other checks conducted by the Spend Matters analyst team. Spend Matters PRO subscribers also have access to previous coverage of SAP Intelligent Spend Group. Recent briefs include:

* SAP Intelligent Spend Group is future for Ariba, Fieldglass, Concur (Part 1): Customer Analysis, Solution Integration, Roadmap [PRO]
* SAP Intelligent Spend Group is future for Ariba, Fieldglass, Concur (Part 2): Hard Questions on Integration [PRO]
* SAP Intelligent Spend Group is future for Ariba, Fieldglass, Concur (Part 3): How can the SAP spend platform ‘Run Simple’? [PRO]
* With Barry Padgett leaving SAP, what’s next for new Intelligent Spend Group? [PRO]

GoProcure: Vendor Introduction (Part 2 — Product Strengths and Weaknesses, SWOT and Selection Checklist) [PRO]

In our last Spend Matters PRO brief, we introduced you to GoProcure, a four-year-old provider based out of Duluth, Georgia, that is deploying a B2B marketplace and platform for tail-spend management. Bringing together basic RFQ and requisitioning tools, a marketplace for procuring goods and services, and complementary services like a buying desk, GoProcure is positioning itself as capable of covering the full range of tail spend in a market where most vendors address some but not all of the tail. And while its coverage is not necessarily exhaustive, GoProcure’s current iteration does encompass a lot of capabilities — albeit in a bit of a fragmented manner. Whether it’s a fit for a procurement organization’s unique challenges and needs, however, will come down to how exactly one conceives and chooses to tackle the tail.

Part 1 of this brief provided some background on GoProcure and an overview of its offering. In Part 2, we provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis and a short selection requirements checklist that outlines the typical company for which GoProcure might be a good fit. We also give some final conclusions and takeaways.

GoProcure: Vendor Introduction (Part 1 — Background and Solution Overview) [PRO]

The question of how procurement organizations can best address the long tail of spend is still an open one, with multiple vendors offering their own flavor of the optimal tail-spend “solution.” For some, tackling the 80% of spend that is opaque and unmanaged is a matter of applying RFQ tools and automation to quickly bring dark purchasing into the light. (Recently profiled Fairmarkit is one example of this.) For others, a patchwork approach is the right fit, extending currently used P2P suites into the long-tail territory via punchout and integration methods. (Coupa’s combination strategy of using Aquiire’s web agent technology to crawl the internet as if it were a virtual catalog while also offering direct integration of Amazon Business content into e-procurement search results is one prominent example.)

Yet alongside these technology-first models another option is emerging. Some vendors are combining the possibilities of RFQ and catalog management tools with a BPO-lite, providing a combination of technology and services somewhat analogous to a managed services provider (MSP) for tail spend. (Chicago and Dubai-based Simfoni, which we cover in our SolutionMap for Spend and Procurement Analytics, is a notable example with a range of tail spend-specific tools.) The intended result is to capture the full range of tail purchases by creating routes for everyday users to easily request or source needed lower-value goods and services from suppliers that are not strategically managed while capturing the exceptions through the optional service layer. For more insights on how these tail-spend management approaches are all competing (and converging), see our tail spend management research study report here.

This multi-pronged approach is the strategy behind GoProcure, a four-year-old vendor out of Duluth, Georgia. GoProcure bills itself as a B2B e-commerce platform for all-in-one tail-spend management. Combining basic RFQ and requisitioning tools with a marketplace for procuring both goods and services, along with complementary services like a buying desk, GoProcure is positioning itself as capable of covering the full range of tail spend in a market where most vendors address some but not all of the tail, allowing it to claim procurement organizations at Global 2000, mid-market and private equity portfolio companies as clients.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on GoProcure and its capabilities. The two-part series includes an overview of GoProcure’s offering, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

What to Expect from a P2P Implementation — Benefits and Costs [Plus+]

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?

Prodigo Solutions Vendor Introduction: Analysis, SWOT, Checklist (Part 2 — Product Strengths and Weaknesses) [PRO]

locum tenens

In our last Spend Matters PRO brief, we introduced you to Prodigo, an 11-year-old provider based near Pittsburgh that is deploying a platform that’s specific to healthcare procurement and contract management. With 20% of the U.S.’s largest integrated delivery networks (IDNs) and more than 30% of Gartner’s top hospital supply chain departments as customers, Prodigo has numerous use cases and a large pile of healthcare-related data on which it has built a strong core product. And although it is not always best-in-class when compared against leading P2P providers that lack a vertical focus, Prodigo’s willingness to target the needs of a specific market have led to some commendable product strengths as well.

Part 1 of this brief provided background on the company and an overview of Prodigo’s offering. In Part 2, we provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis, a short selection requirements checklist that outlines the typical company for which Prodigo might be a good fit, and some final conclusions and takeaways.

Q2 2019 SolutionMap: Contingent Workforce & Services Technology, SPT and S2P suite software providers’ scoring summary reports now available

As part of the Q2 2019 SolutionMap release, the Strategic Procurement Technologies (SPT), Source-to-Pay (S2P) suites, and Contingent Workforce & Services (CW/S) Technology Provider Scoring Summary reports are available today on SolutionMap Insider.

Prodigo Solutions: Vendor Introduction (Part 1 — Background and Solution Overview) [PRO]

healthcare

Rogue spend is a common problem for procurement in all industries, but in healthcare the issue is on a whole other level. Whereas the typical organization can see about 30% of indirect spend that falls into the off-contract category, that number can climb to as much as 60%.

There are multiple factors that drive these rogue purchases. Notably, in healthcare the distinction between direct and indirect spend is less of an issue than the difference between clinical spend (that is directly related to patient care) and non-clinical spend. These categories are managed a little differently from how procurement organizations typically approach direct and indirect purchases. Internal demand for clinical items can vary significantly, and since not having an item in inventory could be a matter of life and death, the need to spot buy specific medical devices or materials isn’t analogous to an ad hoc spot buy that you might find for many indirect spend categories.

Healthcare spend is also nuanced because the requestors — the medical personnel — often have a stronger say in what is purchased and to what degree cost is a factor than procurement gets compared with other verticals. This includes “physician preference items” where a physician MUST have a certain medical device/instrument that is different than the hospital system standard (and hopefully not because the MD is getting wined and dined by the manufacturer or distributor!).

This industry dynamic applies to the healthcare supply markets, as well, where unique features and quirks, including a much higher use of group purchasing organizations (GPOs) and strong influences by medical device manufacturers over how their products are priced and used within hospitals, only further complicate procurement efforts to bring spending under control. Over 90% of GPO revenue is from supplier-funded “administrative fees” (i.e., rebates that are exempted from federal government kickback regulations), and until this commercial model goes away, hospitals still need to automate them (including percentages of those fees shared back with the hospital) and other supply chain requirements such as distributor owned/managed inventory within the system.

These healthcare-specific challenges are well-known to Prodigo Solutions, a purchasing technology solutions company based in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Originally grown out of the UPMC’s needs for better managing its own internal purchases, Prodigo today operates as a standalone software provider, offering tools that support e-procurement with healthcare-specific controls and post-signature contract management and compliance. Its customers include both integrated delivery networks (IDNs) and small community hospitals alike, and its healthcare marketplace currently facilitates transaction volumes in excess of $15 billion.

This two-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction series offers a candid take on Prodigo and its capabilities. It will include an overview of Prodigo’s offering, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis, and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.