eProcurement / Procurement Content

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.

Oracle’s Modern Business Experience Event: What’s On Our Mind This Week

Spend Matters analyst Xavier Olivera and I are attending Oracle’s Modern Business Experience event this week in Las Vegas. Procurement is well represented as a component of supply chain, with over 30 breakout sessions and other activities catering to purchasing, supply management and spend management-related areas. In addition, there are numerous sessions on blockchain, the internet of things (IoT) and related subjects that overlap with procurement.

We’ll attempt to cover as much as we can from the event this week and next. But here are some questions that we have on our mind as the festivities kick into high gear:

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E-invoice Sending is Accelerating — Are You Ready?

Companies gain tremendous benefits from sending e-invoices to their customers — from streamlining processes to increasing efficiency, decreasing costs, speeding up payments, and gaining visibility and control. Plus, your customers can receive their invoices via their preferred channel and in any digital format. Wherever your organization is in its automation journey, read on to learn the benefits of going electronic and understand what the upcoming regulatory implementations mean for you.

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Learn the Best Practices for Integrating Your E-procurement System with Amazon Business

BuyerQuest

To automate your procure-to-pay processes, your business will need to integrate your e-procurement systems with the online catalogs of your contracted suppliers.

Amazon Business launched in 2015 with a vision to give businesses a simple, personalized and transparent online B2B experience. An extension of this vision was to simplify the integration for businesses connecting their e-procurement systems to Amazon Business, while giving them access to a broader selection of products and sellers.

This article will highlight the best practices for integrating your e-procurement system with Amazon Business.

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.

Latest Procurement Technology Not Adopted Very Fast, LevaData Finds

Procurement executives may understand how key technologies like data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can significantly improve their processes, but they don’t always turn that understanding into actionable adoption of those tools, according to a recent webinar on LevaData’s Cognitive Sourcing Study.

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.

WPS Management (Wescale): Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

FM Global Resilience Index

While not well known outside of the European market, Wescale delivers a unique set of procure-to-pay capabilities originally built from its e-procurement plumbing and catalog management roots as Wallmedien and WPS Management, now branded as Wescale.

For many years, we have watched with admiration as this R&D-centric provider has taken a road-less-traveled approach to enabling procurement users. But when it comes to procure-to-pay, where is it strong and where is it weak?

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

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L’Oreal Finds the Beauty of Bonfire’s Solution: Stakeholder Buy-in and Better Supplier Relations

Every growing company reaches a point when transaction volumes overwhelm misapplied IT systems and manual business processes. When that happens and the risks rise, businesses have to begin the necessary task of identifying a better way forward. For many organizations, that means automating and optimizing the sourcing process with dedicated e-sourcing software — ideally a setup that’s easy to use and gives your company a competitive edge.

As a division of the beauty products maker L’Oreal found out, the strategic sourcing platform from Bonfire could resolve many of these issues.

P2P Provider OpusCapita Being Sold to U.S. Equity Firm

OpusCapita Solutions, the Finnish procurement provider known for procure-to-pay solutions and catalog management, is being sold by its parent company, Posti Group Corp., to the U.S. asset management firm Providence Equity Partners, of Rhode Island, according to an announcement. Spend Matters' analysts weigh in on the deal, which possibly sets up OpusCapita for more P2P projects.

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Using Technology to Create a More User-Friendly Procurement Experience

Close-up Of Businessman Stopping The Effect Of Domino With Hand At Desk

Procurement departments often cite a lack of engagement from the wider business as a key reason for why they can’t add more value to their organizations. Stakeholders progress workstreams and discussions with suppliers without involving procurement, goes the argument. This is certainly true in many cases, but why do non-procurement colleagues choose to take this approach? Evidence from a recent study conducted by Efficio shows that procurement is not only contemplating this question but believes it has a role to play in addressing the problem.

Services Procurement is Broken: Finding Fixes Beyond Contingent Workforce Management, E-procurement [PRO]

If you google the term “services procurement,” you’ll see an article from my colleague Andrew Karpie touching on the topic front and center. He talks about the need to transcend the traditional contingent labor-centric view of what is in fact a much larger scope dealing with the procurement of all services. Aggregate annual spend on complex services by U.S. organizations is on the order of $9 trillion to $10 trillion, while spend on temporary staffing is only on the order of $0.02 trillion. When looked at with a wider-angle lense, the scope of services spend is huge. But ...

This is where I’m going to carry the discussion forward. The problem that I’ll address is, to put it bluntly, the management of services spend is shockingly poor.

There are many reasons for this. The first is organizational.

A spend category like direct materials is fairly straightforward in terms of organizational reporting ultimately into the supply chain organization (and/or business unit). The same can be said for lab supplies managed alongside R&D or data center equipment managed alongside IT. But services are trickier, not only in their inherent complexity and variability, but also because of their organizational governance. For example, if I’m looking to bring in some DevOps contractors to supplant my IT outsourcing provider’s capabilities, do I use an IT category team, a contingent labor Center of Excellence or perhaps an IT Vendor Management Office to have the ITO vendor provision the resources?

Beyond the organizational governance issue, the bigger problem is the fragmented nature of managing (not just procuring) services and the underlying systems to manage them — even just in source-to-pay. Case in point: There is not a single source-to-pay solutions provider in the market that offers deep support for all enterprise spend on a platform with a single code base and a unified data model.

And this is 20 years after e-procurement systems started being developed. Let that sink in.

But before a few of the S2P suite vendors get their knickers in a twist over this statement, keep in mind that what I’m including with the term “deep support” is being able to track services work to the contingent worker level that temporary labor solutions (aka “VMS” solutions) and those solutions supporting independent contractors. These contingent labor procurement platforms for their part are only touching a portion of the spend, and the expansion of many of them into SOW-based spend isn’t necessarily something that firms want to use for all their contract-based spend given that modern S2P suites can do a reasonably good job of setting up SOWs against MSAs, modeling basic rate-based service catalogs, and then matching them to the downstream invoice-to-pay processes. The trick, however, is how to go beyond the basics and handle the real life requirements of complex services categories.

This transformation will require a new way to understand/frame services and a new class of architecture and platforms to meet these needs — while also making some practical moves with existing tools (e.g., using modern CLM platforms as a critical core to modeling the commercial details/attributes of these services). It will also require procurement to align more tightly with IT and to leverage an emerging ecosystem of platform providers and approaches that can help rise above the functional silos that manage services spend in disjointed ways.

Extracting maximum commercial value from services can only be done at an end-to-end process level, and procurement has an opportunity to help optimize the sourcing, consumption, settlement and ongoing management of these increasingly digital and externalized services (and their providers). By more easily extending the capabilities of digitally savvy suppliers into internal value chains with internal stakeholders, but also ultimately out to external customers, procurement can proactively be part of broader enterprise digital transformation activities.

In this SpendMatters PRO analysis, we’ll dive into the challenges of segmenting external business services (e.g., understanding the interplay between digital-dominant and labor-dominant services) and how to look beyond the traditional contingent labor approaches (hint: Segmenting the market based on the presence of a statement-of-work is clearly not sufficient).

Later in this series, we’ll dive deeper into a new commercial framework for services and then map the resulting business requirements to technology requirements and associated vendor/solution types that transcend the source-to-pay market (e.g., enterprise CLM, ITSM, low-code platforms, etc.).