Procurement Strategy & Planning Content

An Interview with SAP Intelligent Spend Group’s Marcell Vollmer: From CPO to CDO

SAP recently has consolidated its separate business units SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass and SAP Concur under its new SAP Intelligent Spend Group division. So it seemed like a good time for me to catch up with an industry insider to shed light on the issues.

Dr. Marcell Vollmer is now the chief digital officer of the Intelligent Spend Group, after filling the CDO role for SAP Ariba since 2017, when I talked to him in a series of Spend Matters interviews about digital transformations and about his stint as the chief procurement officer for SAP.

Recently, he said one area of opportunity that he sees is in procurement, where CDOs should spend more time.

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‘What Were They Thinking?’ E-Procurement Solutions Reveal Critical Insights into B2B Buying Behaviors

At EqualLevel, we believe that procurement leaders need more than visibility and flexibility, they need intelligence. Leveraging the power of advanced data analytics and emerging artificial intelligence technologies, the EqualLevel Savings Advisor (ELSA) doesn’t just document what was purchased, when, by whom and for how much, but, most critically, it will capture the user justification for any choice that diverges from established corporate procurement parameters in a structured report that can be analyzed by management. We call this “the power to know.”

CRO-to-CRO Video Series: Episode 5 Helps Procurement Organizations Drive Business Value

Over the course of the first four episodes in the video discussion series titled “Chief Research Officer to Chief Research Officer,” Michel Janssen and Pierre Mitchell have run the gamut of where digital procurement transformation stands today.

“In our previous installments of the series, we were talking a lot about the complexity of the digital and services ecosystems,” says Mitchell, chief research officer of Spend Matters. “There are thousands of providers and lots of sourcing models.”

So in the final episode, Mitchell and Janssen, chief research guru of Everest Group, a research and management consulting firm based in Dallas, Texas, get into more detail around how to get some deeper intelligence around the providers, how to leverage that, and then how to tap that innovative ecosystem that they’ve been exploring with viewers to drive business value.

Afternoon Coffee: KPMG, Spend Matters on Self-Service in Procurement; U.S.-China Trade; Walmart Has 1st Sustainability Report

China has requested the United States to meet it halfway to salvage a deal that could end their trade war. Walmart released its first ever Environmental, Social & Governance Report. And experts from KPMG and Spend Matters team up to host a webcast warning us all that "Extreme self-service in procurement is coming!" Afternoon Coffee: warning you that you'd better catch up on the latest procurement and supply chain news right here.

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Better Business in a Digital World: The Need for Corporate Digital Transformation

The planning and vision for digital transformation starts at the top, but the change itself is driven from the bottom where it can be built piece by piece, ensuring the strongest foundation possible.

Important decisions must be made if a company wants to continue growing. Nowadays, decisions shouldn’t be made off instinct alone. Gut feelings aren’t enough. People will always have the final say, but their decision should be based on strong insights from trend analyses using big data to reveal patterns to better future-proof their businesses.

What should you expect from a corporate digital transformation strategy? Read on.

CRO-to-CRO Video Series: Episode 3 Peels Back the Digital Procurement Platform Onion

So you’ve decided your procurement function needs to “go digital” with its software solution needs.

But where to begin? How do you buy this stuff?

“You start with having your business challenges in mind,” says Michel Janssen, one half of the "CRO-to-CRO" discussion pairing we've been spotlighting with a series of videos over the last couple of weeks.

Recently, Janssen — chief research guru of Everest Group, a research and management consulting firm based in Dallas, Texas — had a chance to sit down with his  former colleague Pierre Mitchell, chief research officer of Spend Matters.

In Episode 3 of this video series, the two CROs share a comprehensive framework they call a digital capability platform, which paints a holistic picture for prospective buyers. Ultimately, through this framework, Janssen and Mitchell uncover what is available to buy (point solution or suite?), how a buyer can bundle solutions and/or capabilities, and who owns — or should own — the responsibility for digital decision making.

Defining AP Automation Functional Requirements (Part 1): Core Invoicing (Set-Up, Creation, Submission and Receiving) [PRO]

AP Automation is getting a lot of attention recently from multiple angles. This includes both finance/procurement organizations considering these solutions independently or as a component of broader invoice-to-pay or procure-to-pay investments. And it also counts the investment community, which continues to throw support behind a broad range of providers (just recently MineralTree raising $50 million).

As we’ve noted before, from a breadth perspective, AP automation technology can encompass the following functional areas on the highest level, which include electronic invoice capture, paper/PDF invoice capture (scan/capture), core invoice processing, invoice validations/matching (e.g., match to a PO or goods receipt), invoice approvals, supplier portal, supplier enablement services, systems integration, pre-onboarded suppliers payment integration and payment.

As part of our continuing coverage of AP automation, this Spend Matters PRO series will explore the functional requirements that finance and procurement organizations should look for in a solution with “foundational” and “advanced” capabilities.

Part 1 takes our first look at the core invoicing requirements for AP automation and some of the criteria that Global 2000 and middle market organizations should consider when selecting solutions (i.e., invoicing set-up, paper scan/capture support and e-invoicing). Subsequent briefs in this series will analyze other AP automation requirements that customers should look for in a solution.

Procurement’s Digital Transformation Goals Not in Sync with Development Priorities, Hackett Study Finds

Digital transformation is making it easier for procurement organizations to “do more with less,” according to newly released research from The Hackett Group consulting firm. However, as bluntly stated in its 2019 CPO Agenda: Building Next Generation Capabilities report, “Procurement’s transformation agenda is poorly aligned with its most critical development priorities.”

The procurement industry, according to the report, remains under pressure to act on its critical development priorities for 2019, including improving analytical capabilities, aligning skills and talent with business needs, leveraging supplier relationships, enhancing agility and achieving true customer-centricity.

Q&A on Digital Procurement’s Role in Sustainability, Ethics and Compliance [PRO]

As supply chains get increasingly externalized and globalized, the broad scope of operations is subject to equally broad regulatory oversight and supply risk. Meanwhile, as consumers increasingly demand transparency and ethical behavior by value chain brand owners, supply chain organizations at those brands (and also at their suppliers), are having to increasingly respond to these demands. Procurement organizations, for their part, are trying their best to support this externalization on all fronts, but they are so busy with strategic sourcing and P2P execution that even the “basics” of supplier qualification, certification and on-boarding are suffering — never mind having time for more strategic activities in supplier innovation, advanced risk management, digital transformation and other areas.

So, what’s the solution? Well, procurement must first practice what it preaches by tapping supply market innovation for itself, and this innovation is taking many forms. In an everything-as-a-service (XaaS) world, procurement must not only take a leadership role in robustly contracting for these diverse cloud services, but also:

— identifying how various providers beyond cloud applications can help procurement execute much more efficiently — at the cadence of the business.
— embedding the best digital supply market innovations into its own service delivery in order to expand its own influence and brand within the enterprise.
— enabling and empowering functional partners in GRC, IT, Finance, Legal, HR, Risk/Audit, etc. to enable their own service value (increasingly in a cross-functional GBS environment) and integrate the disparate services together much more coherently.

For example, consider the question: Who is responsible for establishing the single face to the supplier when we digitally on-board and manage them to not only transact with them in a compliant manner, but also ensure that they’re operating securely, ethically and transparently more broadly? It’s not just procurement, but rather a combination of procurement, IT, GRC and various centers-of-excellence that should be working tightly together. Unfortunately, misalignment is the norm, but not because of outright conflict or malfeasance, but because functional folks are too busy just trying to execute within their own silos. And they’ll never extricate themselves from that situation unless they have drastically new capabilities to deploy.

This is where procurement organizations need to make smart choices on how they apply digital strategies and tools/services to this area of sustainability, ethics and compliance.

I was recently catching up with an industry colleague of mine named Tomas Wiemer on the topic (he’s a former procurement transformation leader from Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent). He is very deep into this area and typical of leaders at European firms who are definitely in the vanguard here. Tomas is considering some career changes right now, primarily with some emerging tech players who can have a dramatic impact in the industry. Tomas reminds me a bit of a European version of Roy Anderson, who just joined Tradeshift (here’s part 3 of an interview that I did with him), and I think that Tomas will do similarly well when he lands somewhere. He’s doing some interim work for a client, and I agreed to let him interview me for my inputs, but given my role, I asked him for the questions in writing so that I could fully respond in kind and publish it to our subscribers. The questions are below:

How do you view topics as compliance and sustainability in the procurement digitalization landscape?
Do you foresee a convergence/harmonization of sustainability/compliance requirements toward suppliers thanks to the rise of S2P platforms/marketplaces?
What do you believe is the greatest added value of procurement digitalization / AI for compliance and sustainability?
What do you think are the key conditions/requirements to enable the emergence of sustainability/compliance topics in digital procurement?

What’s interesting is that this topic is very hot right now. My business partner Jason Busch just attended the recent EcoVadis conference in Paris, and the buzz (beyond the buzz from the sustainably grown coffee that was undoubtedly served there) was palpable. Part of the reason is that the topic is giving many procurement organizations new ways to engage the business and the suppliers alike in a way that drives much more meaningful value across the value chain beyond just price-centric cost savings. And it also engages a new generation of procurement professionals who want to have a meaningful impact on value chains rather than just being deal-makers and “firefighters.”

Anyway, the questions above are big ones, and require very thorough answers, so without further ado, let’s get to answering them ...

CRO-to-CRO Video Series: Episode 2 Explores the Evolving Role of Procurement

Procurement has come a long way from the 1980s, when it was simply a transactional function, up until today, when talk of artificial intelligence, blockchain, RPA, process mining and rapid self-service are all the rage.

Recently, Pierre Mitchell, chief research officer of Spend Matters, had a chance to sit down with his old friend and former colleague Michel Janssen, chief research guru of Everest Group, a research and management consulting firm based in Dallas, Texas.

In this second episode of their video series, watch as both CROs explore how the role of procurement has changed over the years, from buying at the lowest price, to total cost of ownership, to ever more complex layers of risk mitigation & value creation — and what it all has to do with "Minority Report."

ISM 2019 Houston Conference: Highlights and Musings (Part 1)

A small Spend Matters team descended on ISM 2019 conference this year in Houston (next year is in Boston, where I live!) and I wanted to share some thoughts on the event and a few of the great sessions there.

CRO-to-CRO Video Series: 2 Veteran Chief Research Officers Dig into Digital Procurement Transformation

What happens when two chief research officers of two esteemed research firms sit down together for a video series chat? The viewer is in for a treat — an insightful series of video discussions on digital procurement transformation and the state of procurement overall. Recently, our own Pierre Mitchell, chief research officer of Spend Matters, had a chance to sit down with his old friend and former colleague Michel Janssen, chief research guru of Everest Group, a research and management consulting firm based in Dallas, Texas.