The Procurement Systems & Architecture Category

Contract Management is Finally Taking Center Stage

Many procurement executives have told me their tales of change management and innovation to elevate the procurement function, from adopting spend analytics and category management to tackling indirect, services and long tail spend — all innovations enabled by technology previously not available to procurement professionals. That got me thinking, "What’s next?" To me, the most glaring oversight in a procurement organization has been the lack of strategic contract management.

Sustaining Value From Oracle Procurement: After the First Wave

In an earlier installment in this series on getting value from Oracle procurement applications, we explored where to focus on if you want to move fast with Oracle technology. Contrary to what many might believe, it is now possible to get Oracle technology to move at whatever speed you need it to — at least in select areas. But once you get past the “first wave” of savings and value generation from Oracle procurement technology, where should you turn next? That’s the topic we’ll explore in this article in more detail, as well the implementation and deployment nuances that Oracle — by nature of being Oracle — creates relative to its peers.

Everything Procurement Should Know About Payments (Part 3): Challenges and Opportunities for Payment Operations [PRO]

e-invoicing

As anyone tasked with extending and integrating a procure-to-pay (P2P) system to fully support the second “P” has no doubt learned, corporate payment processes and systems are highly complex — perhaps even more so than transactional purchasing activities. This Spend Matters PRO series provides a procurement-centric introduction to the topic of payments, offering a look into the payments lifecycle and how it integrates with core P2P processes and workflows.

Earlier installments (see Part 1 and Part 2) explored the invoice-to-reconciliation process, internal and external parties involved in core payments workflow and P2P technology best practices. In Part 3, we turn our attention to the nitty-gritty of managing core payment operations, examining a full list of the challenges companies face in confronting payments today, as well as the financial and operational costs of managing payments sub-optimally. We also provide an overview of shared services environments for payment operations while also exploring the many challenges companies face in attempting to drive payment process and system centralization generally.

Coupa’s Open Buy Solution with Amazon Business is a Game-Changer for Unified Catalog Management and Real Guided Buying [PRO]

Electronic catalogs are a pain in the ass. Twenty years ago, early e-procurement implementations were always dragged down by the work required to build electronic catalogs. And things haven't changed that much. The problem is that you force suppliers to publish (i.e., replicate) catalog content to their buyers’ various system or to electronic marketplaces — unless you use supplier-hosted catalogs that you “punch out” to. This is nearly always implemented as a Level 1 punch out, where the poor buying employee has to click on various supplier icons to get to the right websites where their buying experiences are controlled by the seller (i.e., “guided selling”) rather than the chief procurement officer (CPO) preferred metaphor of guided buying.

The next level of sophistication is a Level 2 punch out, where supplier catalog content sits next to internally curated corporate catalog items before a punch out occurs when the right item is found. The problem, however, is that a supplier still has to syndicate (replicate) all of the content that a CPO wants to expose to corporate employees. And it’s even worse because the type of catalog items in question are broad assortments of infrequently ordered items that make up tail spend. Are you really going to get someone like Amazon Business to syndicate content from hundreds of millions of items to your buy-side catalog? No. Also, the number of suppliers that support Level 2 punch out is extremely low (perhaps fewer than 100 suppliers globally), which is not surprising given that they have to syndicate massive catalogs to multiple channels. Syndication/replication is not a great long-term answer for anyone when an API can be built to serve up the content on demand.

Speaking of Amazon, Coupa has worked with Amazon Business to develop a Coupa solution called Open Buy. The offering changes the paradigm to allow “guided buying” through a more unified experience that actually implements Level 2 punch outs properly in a way that’s palatable to the CPO, employees and the supplier (i.e., Amazon Business doesn’t currently support the existing Level 2 punch out scheme — and we don’t blame them). In this Spend Matters PRO brief, we’ll examine how Coupa Open Buy works, how it’s different and some strategic implications for the market.

Everything Procurement Should Know About Payments: Procurement’s Role and P2P Case Examples (Part 1) [PRO]

E-procurement is essentially what is sounds like. The same goes for e-invoicing, too. But when you add payments to the equation, things get messy.

Whether procurement and finance organizations are looking for an integrated procure-to-pay (P2P) solution or standalone invoice-to-pay (I2P) technology, the notion of either solution incorporating end-to-end payment and reconciliation capability is misleading at best. Granted, some providers, such as SAP Ariba and Coupa, have taken steps toward enabling the payment lifecycle through partnerships. But their payment solutions focus on the outcome rather than providing a broader toolbox around payment process management and reconciliation for buyers and suppliers alike.

How can these vendors, which deal predominantly in indirect goods, influence the total payment picture?

This Spend Matters PRO research series unearths the often misunderstood components of the “second P” in P2P. We start with a high-level overview of what procurement systems do (and do not) do today to enable payment processes, as well as what procurement’s responsibilities for payments are (and are not). We also profile what SAP Ariba and Coupa are enabling on the payments front, as well as the general approaches of other vendors.

Subsequent briefs in the series will provide a detailed summary of best-in-class e-procurement and e-invoicing native payment capability and integrations to enable payments, a detailed overview of the invoice to reconciliation process, an exploration of P2P and payments best practices, and guides for how to set up suppliers for payment in a system, the integration of cash management and payments, how to think about trade financing and payments, and the role of shared services in payments.

Centralized, Decentralized or Hybrid Sourcing Structure: How Do We Decide?

Today’s Ask Spend Matters question came from Piyush Shah, a PhD student of supply chain management at Arizona State University: “Centralized, decentralized or hybrid sourcing structure? How do we decide?” This is a classic question and one that has sparked decades of passionate debate. Proponents of centralization point to the potential for higher savings. Defenders of decentralization argue that regional procurement teams can bring about better supplier relationships.

The easy answer is “It depends” or “A hybrid of the two.” But what does a hybrid structure look like? And how do factors like purchasing category, industry and stakeholders play into the assessment?

Sponsored Article

New Ways to Achieve Unprecedented Savings on Indirect Spend

In Deloitte’s 2016 Global CPO Survey 2016 report, 74% of respondents stated cost reduction as their top priority in 2017. Also, 70% of the surveyed procurement executives cited indirect spend as a top focus for controlling and reducing costs. Recent studies have found that indirect spend can account for up to 50% of a company’s purchases, and manufacturers specifically can spend 20% or more of their total revenue on indirect expenditures. It is clear the next profound impact area for procurement professionals is in accessing hidden and unexploited areas of indirect spend.

E-Procurement, The Chicago Way

Chicago

Depending on whom you ask, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his administration may not have the best track record for providing transparency to the public, even though his official communications channels — and even the Mayor himself — like talking it up. The latest stop on the Transparency Train, as it happens, is right up Spend Matters’ alley: an announcement that the City of Chicago’s Department of Procurement Services (DPS) will adopt a new e-procurement approach to do better business with its myriad vendors and suppliers.

Extending Procurement Information Architecture to Provider Ecosystems (Part 3) [Plus+]

Infrastructure and related platforms delivered as a service (i.e., IaaS and PaaS) are becoming the new battlegrounds for the mega vendors who want to own the platform ecosystems that create the cloud applications and the business networks that connect the applications. SAP has clearly tossed more than just its hat into the ring wanting to capture as much territory as possible in the competitive land grab that is just beginning in this area. Over time, the emergence of integrated capabilities and interoperability will be good news for technology buyers, because they will help standardize and better manage the flexible procurement information architectures that we are advocating. Yet in the short term, this bottoms-up infrastructure overhaul isn’t of much use. So, many vendors are taking a leadership position in certain aspects of such infrastructure or focusing on the top-most business process aspects of such platforms.

Procurement Agility is a Pipe Dream Without Intelligent Transformation and Procurement as a Service (PRaaS)

In a previous post, I discussed the three critical focus areas that are foundational to procurement excellence: customer/stakeholder focus, performance and transformation. They seem straightforward, and indeed they are. Unfortunately, it's hard to get them all at the same time, and get them aligned.

It’s like the old adage about buying a bike where you want it strong, light and cheap — but you can only pick two. Here’s an example to make this clearer, using tail spend management.

Take the 80% of purchases that represent 20% of your spend and you will likely find that the requestors want their stuff (or services) delivered quickly and easily. You as a category manager want that too, and don’t want maverick spending, but you’re also focused on big sourcing deals and can’t get bogged down here, nor have the time to transform your thorny tail spend problem. So, you sacrifice transformation and simply work harder within your current processes, systems and metrics.

But if you’re a more advanced firm and have sourced all of your major spend areas a few times, you may have to lower your procurement involvement spend thresholds, wean yourself off of p-cards and figure out a way to improve your stakeholder satisfaction scores when they find you and your complicated systems and policies a barrier to engaging with you more meaningfully.

So, you need to transform your processes, policies and systems to re-engineer this deceptively toxic and disparate amalgam of spending that is in the tail. More problematic, you need to revisit your procurement KPIs and SLAs (if you have them) to reflect this — especially since you also want to free yourself up to do more strategic innovation and SRM/SCM work.

Extending Procurement Information Architecture to Provider Ecosystems (Part 2) [Plus+]

Let’s recap where we ended up with conclusion of the first installment in this series. A range of application vendors are trying to build out native platforms or sit on top of others flexibly. For example, Coupa hedges its bets by building on top of AWS, but also partnering with IBM (on SmartCloud) and showing up on SuiteApp.com. Providers are also trying to develop healthy B2B ecosystems that are creating B2B activity and, as a result, “liquidity.” There’s no way to better monetize that liquidity than from B2B e-commerce networks for source-to-pay (S2P) on the buy side and both attract-to-order and order-to-cash on the sell side. All this talk of liquidity reminds us of a different time and place in the procurement and supply chain world: the “marketplace era” from the late 1990s and early 2000s. This time, however, there are many technology differences that will make the vision of liquidity a reality faster than many will imagine. But not without a key application rub that should be top of mind for all procurement and IT organizations.

Making Sense of Dirty Data and Spend Classification Components: With Oracle and Others

Next week, I'm participating in a webinar, Oracle and Procurement Analytics: A Deep Dive Into Oracle’s Spend Analysis and Data-Driven Procurement Solutions, with the Data Intensity team. For those that do not know Data Intensity, the firm acquired Enrich in 2016. In various discussions with the Data Intensity team in preparation for the webinar I realized that Oracle has largely flown under the radar in spend analytics compared with many other procurement technology providers, especially independent specialist vendors. Still, Oracle has quietly built a solid set of capabilities in the spend classification area (and, more broadly, spend analytics).