The Sourcing Category

Sourcing Provider Head-to-Head Comparison: Scout RFP vs. EC Sourcing [PRO]

The boom of the “Nimble” buying persona first started in e-procurement and coincided with the momentum that gave rise to Coupa’s leadership position as a “must shortlist” candidate for procure-to-pay (P2P). Spend Matters describes the Nimble buying persona as typifying companies with often early formalization of process, limited technology investment to date and potentially decentralized operations. Middle-market companies are also quite often Nimble buyers. But regardless of size, procurement organizations that fit the Nimble persona look to cloud-based technologies that can deliver on speed, efficiency, low price and quick value.

Anecdotally, Nimble is the most common buying persona Spend Matters sees today.(We will have data to corroborate this in later in 2018.) Even highly complex procurement organizations are often willing to trade off unique requirements to conform to the Nimble norm. And Nimble is not just a top buying persona for e-procurement. Nimble-minded procurement organizations are increasingly looking at solutions that meet similar criteria in other technology domains, including sourcing solutions. Based on Spend Matters Q4 2017 SolutionMap for North America customers, two of the top performing sourcing technology providers for the Nimble persona are Scout RFP and EC Sourcing.

But these providers could not be more different when it comes to outlook, motivations, management style and, most important, technology and solution strengths and weaknesses. Join us as we take off the gloves and based on Q4 2017 SolutionMap data, put Scout and EC Sourcing “head to head” into the Spend Matters evaluation ring. We’ll start by providing a technology summary comparative rating of each provider and then explore business requirements and scenarios, calling out the winner in each circumstance. PRO customers with advisory can reach out for us to comment on non-functional/technical considerations.

Granted, there’s not a bad choice among the two for the Nimble buyer. But let’s put them to the Spend Matters test and see which is the best fit for different requirements. If you’re considering either vendor or sourcing competitors, including other ranked SolutionMap providers Coupa, Determine, GEP, Ivalua, Jaggaer, Jaggaer Direct, Keelvar, Market Dojo, SAP Ariba, Scanmarket or Zycus, look no further for a head-to-head evaluation and comparison that you can’t get anywhere else.

Beyond Logistics: 6 Non-Traditional Categories Where Companies Should Apply Sourcing Optimization

What exactly is sourcing optimization, and where can it be applied, besides the obvious areas? Earlier this month, Spend Matters analysts Michael Lamoureux and Tom Finn teamed up with Garry Mansell, sourcing optimization general manager at Coupa, on a webinar on this very topic, “Sourcing Optimization in New Categories: A ‘How-To’ Guide.” As the webinar title suggests, this isn’t about logistics or MRO, but rather some more non-traditional categories — six to be exact — where sourcing optimization can bring significant savings.

Zycus: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis [PRO]

Oracle

For many years, Zycus’ self-proclaimed corporate objective was to become a “top three” procurement technology solutions provider. The irony of this goal was that it would ultimately — at least until Q2 2018 — prove elusive, not because of a failure to execute on objectives but rather how the market (e.g., Jaggaer’s strategy of combining multiple larger vendors and niche specialists under a single roof) moved against Zycus through unexpected actions. But more important than this is what Zycus’ initiatives actually mean for customers, based on the underlying current capabilities of the provider’s modules, suite and ecosystem today — and its planned enhancements for tomorrow. In these areas, fortunately, Zycus’ approach to meeting its business goals proved more important than the initial objective itself.

The third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot series covering Zycus offers a SWOT analysis of the provider and a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to Zycus and offers provider selection guidance. Previous installments provided an in-depth look at Zycus as a firm and its specific solutions (Part 1) and a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses, as well as a review of the product’s user experience (Part 2).

Coupa R20: Incremental Disruption in Action [PRO]

The Spend Matters analyst team recently spent some time going through a deep dive demo on Coupa R20 and found it to be a solid incremental product release. But in this brief, we wanted to discuss the “revolution through evolution” we saw in addition to the new product details that we cover. Coupa’s product releases are now running about three times per year, and it’s refreshing to see more than 500 clients quickly moving through these releases. Such is the promise of SaaS, right?

R20’s main improvements are focused on services procurement and community-based intelligence, which allows users to extract insights from the B2B data generated within the Coupa buyer and supplier base. The disruptive aspect of R20 is twofold: its attempt to tackle the big nut of services procurement with Services Maestro and its efforts to derive intelligence from its installed base through what it calls "community intelligence."

This last trend is really the most disruptive aspect of what’s happening in digital value chains. It changes the provider value proposition from serving up “empty apps” that process the data of a single customer enterprise to one that provides a collective intelligence derived and captured from mass adoption of cloud-based tools that generate the data used to drive key insights.

There are some potential risks that companies face, however, when platform providers attempt to monetize (directly or indirectly) proprietary commercial information between buyers and sellers. Just as Facebook is not really free to the users who themselves are the “product” sold to advertisers, there’s a similar effect happening with suppliers who can use business networks for free but whose data is aggregated and repackaged in ways they aren’t necessarily aware of.

In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, we explore these topics and more, as well as share our initial thoughts on some of the more interesting features in R20.

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

Aatish Dedhia, Zycus’s founder, has long preached the benefits of technology provider self-sufficiency, including management-driven investment, profitable growth and organic, suite-based product development. It is based on these principles that Zycus “grew up” from a razor-focused pioneer in the spend classification sector nearly 20 years ago into a strategic procurement technologies suite and, eventually, a full end-to-end source-to-pay (S2P) suite provider. While Zycus has strong comparative solutions depth and capability in certain areas, part of its broader market appeal has been often comparatively low pricing, which we view as a value-based feather in its cap.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement and finance organizations make informed decisions about whether a provider like Zycus, either on a modular or source-to-pay suite basis, is likely to be a strong shortlist candidate for their needs. 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 Zycus for their S2P needs. The remainder of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Word of Mouth May Dominate Legal Services Procurement, But Practitioners Want Better Options

When it comes to legal services procurement, a contradiction emerges in what businesses want and what they do. Although in-house lawyers at companies across the globe value sector breadth and expertise most in a search for law firms, the majority still make their choices based on personal connections rather than a neutral assessment of skill and fit, according to Global Trends in Hiring Outside Counsel: Exploring the Need for a Better Way to Identify and Appoint Law Firms, a new report commissioned by Globality.

Investigative Report Details Toxic Gas Poisoning and Other Serious Labor Violations at Key Apple Supplier

China Labor Watch released a lengthy report Tuesday detailing appalling work conditions at Catcher Technology, a supplier of computers, digital cameras and other products to Apple, Dell, HP, IBM and Sony. The factory under investigation, however, is primarily an Apple supplier, producing iPhone frames and MacBook components. Among many other labor violations, China Labor Watch found toxic gas poisoning, unsanitary food, inadequate protective gear and excessive pollution during its investigation of the Catcher factory in Suqian, China, conducted from October 2017 to January 2018.

A Revamped Operating Model is Key to Alleviating Retail’s Sourcing Woes, Report Suggests

As countries continuously replace one another on the list of new, promising apparel sourcing destinations, a report from Kurt Salmon, part of Accenture Strategy, suggests that this is but a short-term fix. The report, “From Cost-Cutting to True Value Creation — On the Road to Analytical Sourcing and Supply Chain,” proposes a smarter long-term strategy that would require retail to adapt its operating model.

Survey: Many Law Firms’ Procurement Organizations Still Crawling Toward Maturity, While Some Have Begun Walking

forced labor

HBR Consulting held its third-annual Law Procurement Roundtable last October, where law firm procurement leaders can break bread, talk strategy and do some peer benchmarking of their firms’ performance. The event also both drives and supplements the firm’s Law Firm Procurement Survey, the high-level results of which the firm released just before the new year. Spoiler alert: many of the same issues that we spoke about with HBR’s Managing Director Lee Garbowitz in the past have cropped up again.

Sourcing Head-to-Head Technology Evaluation and Comparison: Coupa and Jaggaer (BravoSolution) [PRO]

When it comes to functional capability, BravoSolution (now Jaggaer) and Coupa are the two providers to beat.

Jaggaer’s sourcing strengths should come as no surprise to those familiar with its history. Coupa’s rapid e-sourcing ascent, however, will surprise many. It went from laggard to leader in the sourcing technology sector when the ink dried on its agreement to acquire Trade Extensions. Regardless, both providers excel on a functional basis and lead in many of the buying personas for our Q4 2017 SolutionMap.

But are they the right fit for your organization?

Join us as we put on the gloves and pit Coupa and Jaggaer “head-to-head” in the Spend Matters evaluation ring. We’ll start by providing a technology summary comparative rating of each provider and then explore business requirements and scenarios, calling out the winner in each match up. If you’re considering either vendor or other sourcing competitors, look no further for an evaluation and comparison you can’t get anywhere else. This is the first in a series of “head-to-head” evaluations based on our SolutionMap data, and more matchups will follow as additional providers step into the ring and seats to these SolutionMap subscriber-specific events become available (in addition to our usual vendor deep dives on Spend Matters PRO, of course). Stay tuned!

As Sessions Tries to Kill the High, Cannabis Industry’s Domestic — and Global — Aspirations Continue Speeding Up

The new year began with a bang — especially for those in the U.S. Pacific Time Zone. That’s because the entire contiguous western seaboard has now officially legalized and instituted recreational marijuana sales and consumption, with California joining Oregon and Washington on Jan. 1 as the latest state to open dispensary doors for rec sales. Many in the pot press were quick to point out that with more than 50 million people, California represents the single-biggest individual market for recreational cannabis as the world’s sixth-largest economy. Various analysts estimate the state’s total value of the pot market will eclipse that of all other U.S. states with recreational markets combined in just a few years or less. But everything that goes up (in smoke), must come down (from its high).

It’s 2018: Do You Know Where Your Aluminum Products Are (Coming From)?

With the Section 232 investigation serving as a prompt, you definitely should know. If your organization sources aluminum or aluminum products: time to pay attention. Our sister site MetalMiner shines a light on the aluminum industry in the latest episode of their podcast series, "Manufacturing Trade Policy Confidential." Guest Heidi Brock, president and CEO of the Aluminum Association, gives listeners a sense of what matters to the aluminum industry — and what could be at stake for aluminum buyers in 2018.