The Procurement Systems & Architecture Category

4 Reasons Why Procurement Teams Are Choosing SaaS


Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Eric Christopher, CEO of Zylo.

The role of procurement has changed drastically in the last decade, mostly due to the introduction of SaaS and other cloud-based delivery models that have completely changed the way organizations select and deploy technology. In the past, procurement teams sent out lengthy RFPs and reviewed all of the responses, often requiring weeks or months of evaluation before they presented their findings and recommendations to the executive team or other internal stakeholders. As the SaaS delivery model for software was introduced almost two decades ago, the procurement team has shifted its focus and priorities. It’s had no choice but to adopt the SaaS way of doing things, which also means adopting a more expedient process for internal evaluation of new technologies.

Sponsored Article

Purchase-to-Pay System Implementation: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


Rising costs and lack of control over purchasing activities are just two of the key reasons that drive many businesses to implement professional procurement for the first time. Of course, a purchase-to-pay (P2P) solution has clear benefits to any organization — we’re talking about controlled spending, reduced maverick spend and improved, automated processes. So, why not? Yet we often only see the benefits and forget to evaluate the impact. So, before you start jumping right onto the P2P bandwagon, have a look at this quick guide, which takes you through the good, the bad and the ugly of implementing a P2P system so you can understand what steps you need to put in place before and during the project to ensure success.   

New Report Warns that More Affordable Artificial Intelligence May Be a Blow to Cybersecurity


Artificial intelligence is becoming more affordable and available to different companies and industries. However, this also means more risks in the realms of digital, physical and political security, warns a new report co-written by a team of 26 AI researchers from prominent American and British universities and think tanks. There are a number of reasons AI can bring about a new level of risk. Most AI researchers believe that AI will exceed human performance in a wide range of tasks within the next 50 years — and if an AI system can lead to better farming practices, it can certainly also conduct more devastating cyberattacks. AI can allow for a greater degree of anonymity and distance for the human actor. And AI systems tend to be efficient and scalable.

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

The burgeoning contract search, discovery and analytics sector is distinct from established source-to-pay and contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution areas. This separate sector, pioneered by incumbent Seal Software, among others, is becoming increasingly validated as a standalone market as alternative providers — including recently funded upstarts such as LawGeex, LegalSifter and others — enter the mix.

Within this list of new entrants, we can also include upstart Counselytics. Like its peers, Counselytics applies semantic-based artificial intelligence (AI) approaches to contract data after ingesting third-party (or internal) contract paper to help organizations understand previously unknown contract exposure and ensure that contract clause requirements are in line with internal requirements. In addition, these providers offer varying degrees of contract search, discovery, analytics, and associated managed services capabilities and partnerships to create additional business value from the core extraction, structuring and reporting capabilities they provide.

This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides an introduction to Counselytics, a specialized provider in this market, offering facts and expert analysis to help procurement and legal organizations make informed decisions about whether they should explore either (or both) Counselytics and semantic AI technology further. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Counselytics as a complement to other contract lifecycle management (CLM) investments. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Who’s Adopting T&E Management Software, and Who Isn’t? Breaking It Down by Industry and Revenue

Oversight Systems

If expensing that hotel stay or work lunch requires you to keep paper receipts, you are in good company. According to a report from PayStream Advisors, more than a third of employees file expenses either by mailing paper receipts to their AP department or through a combination of scanned receipts and spreadsheets. Nearly two-thirds, however, report that their organizations use a dedicated expense software tool. And as companies move along in their digital transformations, the trend in travel and expense (T&E) management is certainly away from manual systems.

The Consequences of Eliminating Purchase Orders (POs) [Plus+]


Should procurement eliminate purchase orders (POs) entirely? This is a daring concept in theory, provided an organization has the right processes and systems to control internal purchasing and buying activities and to protect against mistakes suppliers might create, accidentally or otherwise, for unsuspecting purchasing and accounts payable organizations to correct. These errors could include duplicate invoices, use of substitute products or materials, wrong line-level pricing, invoices based on the wrong quantities and invoices impacted by escalation/de-escalation clauses that are tracked incorrectly.

But procurement has been trained (mostly by control-crazy finance) to require the PO. In fact, think about CPOs touting 100% “no PO, no pay” policies.  Yes, it’s highly controlled, but does it make sense? Are the purported controls worth the cost and risk (in the form of time not monitoring other more important risks)? Procurement and AP organizations considering a “no PO” policy not only need to find ways to protect against these types of errors and mistakes, as well as outright fraud, either supplier-driven or internal. They also need to consider other side issues where key workarounds are necessary

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 2 — Functional Building Blocks) [PRO]

Program management is an integral component of source-to-pay (S2P) activities that is no longer optional for high-performing procurement organizations. In short, program management is a set of processes that manage specific projects and broader project portfolios that focus on higher-level processes and composite processes that cross the traditional linear flow of sourcing, contracting, purchasing and payments. These programs can be ancillary to core processes (e.g., M&A-related activities or globalization efforts) or transformational in nature to implement enterprise-level programs (e.g., working capital programs, risk programs, sustainability programs, digital programs, ERP upgrade programs, Lean/Six Sigma programs).

The problem is that, generally, program management is poorly automated and stovepiped within functions or subfunctions. Within procurement, there may be savings tracking for strategic sourcing processes displayed in a "CPO dashboard” but not much visibility and collaboration beyond that. This is a problem because as procurement is collaborating with stakeholders on ever broader processes and reaching deeper into stakeholder processes, supplier processes and external customer processes, there needs to be a cross-functional management capability. The emergence of collaboration tools like Slack and others have shown the enterprise desire to manage fast-paced mobile communication on the ground that is tied back to strategic objectives.

This Spend Matters PRO series defines what effective program management capabilities are from a design, platform and functional perspective that puts the user first. We explore both what represents best-in-class program management components today, what users should expect tomorrow and what we hope technology providers have on their roadmaps to build. We also explore some solution building blocks for effective program management, including best-of-breed project management, goal management, program auditing/audit trails and prepackaged initiative enablement. (Don’t forget to read Part 1 of this series to first understand the design principles on which effective program management technology is based.)

Clarifying Robotic Process Automation: What It Is (and Isn’t) for Procurement

Robotic process automation has become a buzzword most procurement professionals can’t escape. But despite its seeming ubiquity, RPA still tends to produce just as much head scratching as efficiency gains. Taken out of context, RPA can seem like yet another disruptive technology to keep track of alongside machine learning, blockchain and the like. Really, RPA is a single element of an overall procurement digital transformation strategy, and one of the more readily accessible technologies, in fact.

GDPR: Basic Facts, Company Preparedness and Gaining a Competitive Advantage

May 25 will be one of the most significant dates this year for many companies, for that is when the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) kicks in. Any organization that holds or uses personal data on a EU citizen, regardless of where the organization itself is based, should have a plan of action. But a number of reports and surveys from the past few months have shown that few companies consider themselves ready for GDPR, and some do not think they will be ready by the May deadline.

51% of C-Suite Executives are Dissatisfied with Their Procurement Operating Model

There is a lot of hype in the procurement world around digital technology and talent, but a report from consultancy Ayming put the focus on something more elemental: the procurement operating model. Ayming’s survey of C-suite executives from across the globe revealed a mixed picture. More than half of respondents said that they do not consider their procurement operating model to be effective.

20 Questions to Ask Stakeholders Before Implementing Your New Procurement System [PRO]

Implementing new procurement technology is like implementing anything. There is a ton of change management involved, and if you don't get stakeholder input upfront, you are asking for trouble. This is especially true with modern procurement systems that can enable new practices on process redesigns that may be disruptive to the status quo. So, you need to get input from a myriad of stakeholders:

  • C-level versus lowest-level end users
  • Procurement users versus internal stakeholders and supplier stakeholders
  • Functional partners such as IT and finance who are “special” stakeholders because they are both spend owners and have a key role in the overall implementation
  • Visionary stakeholders looking to drive change versus stakeholders just wanting to keep their jobs and keeping efforts to a minimum
But what questions should you ask your stakeholders? Fear not. We have written a list of 20 key questions for you to consider.

You may be in procurement. Or you may be in IT. Or you can be a technology provider or consultant. Regardless, these 20 questions will help you tease out key requirements, intelligence and downstream barriers that you want to identify as early as possible. Just as spend influence is best done as early as possible, spend management transformation is also best informed as early as possible.

Unpacking the Digital Transformation Buzz in Procurement: A Framework to Consider [Plus+]

I had a large energy firm ask me about my thoughts recently on “digital transformation” and “digital business strategies,” given that senior management was looking to keep up with the Joneses and get a digital strategy in place. I jokingly mentioned that they probably had multiple management consulting firms trawling through their hallways looking to sell a digital strategy and transformation project. They laughed and said the consultants were indeed already clamoring to do this work.

Don’t get me wrong: having a c-level initiative du jour can be a powerful force to use for “organizational judo” within procurement. It’s the proverbial burning platform (or at least smoking platform) that can be used to light a fire and drive some change. The “digital” phenomenon is replete with buzzword phrases right now, and that’s a shame, because the impact of new digital technologies — and the new processes, strategies and operating models that they enable — can have a profound effect on procurement and the stakeholders it serves.

So before you go hiring that big consulting firm, you may want to read this “dummy’s guide” to procurement digital transformation. I’ll introduce a graphical framework and then unpack the drivers to explain how procurement can use these issues to make all of this digital stuff real. There are a few dozen specific trends and associated capabilities in play, and although not all of them will be in force for you, it’s worthwhile to work through and see which ones are most relevant and hold the most opportunity.