Sourcing Content

Where’s the Beef? A Lesson for Sourcing, Procurement

This post asking “Where’s the Beef?” isn’t about the beef supply chain, or the purity of the beef that you source, but yet another post about the pitch. We’re latching onto Wendy’s classic catchphrase because its message is easy to remember and one that you should never, ever forget! Especially when you are being sold something that sounds better than it is, or what you are being sold is better than what you expect from the organization providing it.

Why must we talk about this again and again? Because it’s too easy to get suckered into a deal that is too good to be true or without substance.

2019 M&A and Investment Dynamics For Procurement Technology and Solutions: Segmenting the Market (Part 1) [PRO]

Private equity — and other — buyout and M&A interest in the procurement solutions market is at an all-time high. We define procurement solutions as technologies and services that target a range of areas that include:

— Core procurement (i.e., source-to-pay, procure-to-pay, etc.)
— Direct procurement
— Services procurement
— Contract management (that goes beyond supplier contracts)
— Accounts payable
— Trade financing (B2B Fintech)
— B2B (transactional connectivity, marketplaces, aggregation and GPO models)
— Third-party (supplier) management from a GRC standpoint as much as from a procurement standpoint

This multi-part Spend Matters PRO research brief explores the “who” (i.e., what types of companies are attracting the most interest and the profile of different buyers), the “why” (i.e, typical investment theses) and the “how” (i.e., the mechanics of deal processes and what is unique to the solution area, including where buyers that are new to the sector often have a higher learning curve than expected). It also explores some important dynamics in the market that have changed in recent months as buyer interest from both the strategic and financial sides increases.

Today we begin by exploring the “who” by segmenting the types of targets that are garnering the most attention into 10 areas and exploring the first five in detail (procurement technology suites, transaction-focused solutions, payment/financing providers, nimble solutions and leveraged buying / GPO models), including sharing illustrative providers in each segment and why buyers are attracted to each group.

* Our parent company, Azul Partners, has directly advised on more than half a dozen transactions in recent quarters, primarily working in a due diligence and strategy capacity for both strategic and financial buyers, leveraging our proprietary SolutionMap benchmark database, customer satisfaction/peer review benchmarks, PRO research, SolutionMap Insider research, and deep domain knowledge. Azul Partners works with investors in two ways. First, we partner with clients as exclusively retained subject matter experts in these markets. Second, we serve as an “arms dealers,” providing subscription research to hundreds of clients.

Oracle’s customer reviews are in the new SolutionMap Customer Insights report

This week’s vendor spotlight in the SolutionMap Customer Insights report focuses on customer reviews of the suite provider Oracle, which we rank in the areas of e-procurement, invoice-to-pay and procure-to-pay.

SolutionMap Insider members can click here to read about Oracle in our latest report.

In each Customer Insights report, we provide a one-page summary of insights from the SolutionMap peer review process. The Customer Insights summary includes ratings on how well the vendor meets user expectations, three key differentiators for the vendor and a list of quotes about the vendor’s greatest strengths.

Bid Ops: Vendor Introduction, Solution Overview, Selection Checklist (Part 1) [PRO]

When it comes to bringing artificial intelligence into procurement software, there’s been a lot of hype and very few real advances. This is especially true of sourcing tools, which despite their potential for integrating AI and machine learning, have rarely moved beyond simple use cases like auto-fill of an RFX or automatic identification of the default award winner. And even when they have added early AI-based features into their platforms, sourcing solutions mostly focus on the application of AI to the benefit of the buyer. The suppliers on the other side of the solution — not an insignificant number of users — often have been left out of the AI conversation.

This is not the case with Bid Ops, a two-year-old vendor out of San Francisco that positions its cloud-based e-sourcing tool as the first AI solution for automating procurement negotiations using adaptive target pricing. Rather than focus solely on serving the buyer, Bid Ops’ founders actually built the vendor side of their platform first, shaping the whole user experience around making negotiation faster, simpler and more pleasant for vendors. While it’s still early days, and more RPA (robotic process automation) than AI (which is early stage assisted intelligence at best) the vendor has already notched some notable wins with big customers, claiming double-digit savings rates with the likes of Berkshire Hathaway and a Fortune 100 chemical producer.

This two-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Bid Ops and its capabilities. In this first part, we provide an overview of Bid Ops’ offering and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider. In the next part, we will provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution and a SWOT analysis.

Commodities Roundup: Steel Prices, Sustainable Mining and U.S.-China Tariffs

For the buyers and category managers out there, especially those of you deep in the weeds of buying and managing commodities, here’s a quick rundown of news and thoughts from particular commodity markets. We scour the landscape for what matters — from price movements to policy decisions. This week: Domestic steel price weakness, sustainable mining, and U.S-China trade tariffs and talks fallout.

Shifting to Digitization from Manual Sourcing Processes Isn’t Easy — Unless You Use Bonfire

For procurement project managers looking to overcome manual processes and engage stakeholders, digitizing your sourcing workflows can be a mammoth task.

It’s more than just using digital files like PDFs, Excel spreadsheets and email. Although they are a step in the right direction, those tools are not true digitization. Digitization is really about making a workflow that’s easier for people to use while saving time and money. It involves putting all the documents in a central, accessible source and making the whole process more collaborative with people across your company and with vendors.

Bonfire, a cloud-based provider of strategic sourcing and contract and performance management, knows your pain because it has already solved those problems.

Sponsored Article

Busting B2B E-Commerce Myths for Suppliers

If your B2B e-commerce system is not yet capable of digitally integrating with your customers' procurement systems, you are leaving a lot of business on the proverbial table. And we mean a lot of business. So let's dispel four common myths about the benefits and challenges of developing and maintaining a punchout-enabled e-commerce storefront. If not done well, it can derail the supplier journey before it even gets started.

Why Well-Run Hospitals Need Tailored Technology to Care for Patients, Business

healthcare

As one of the nation’s largest nonprofit health systems, BJC HealthCare needs to provide consistent, high-quality patient care across all of its hospitals while maintaining operational efficiency. When the St. Louis, Missouri-based healthcare provider began its search to upgrade how it supplies its facilities, it found the healthcare marketplace provider Prodigo Solutions, which knows what hospitals of all sizes need because it provides online shopping and other services to more than half of the top 15 hospitals in the U.S.

Today, BJC uses ProdigoMarketplace to requisition a range of medical items that have been negotiated for price and vetted for compliance. To understand how the Marketplace helps, the staff at BJC answered some questions about working with Prodigo.

Easier-to-Use Sourcing Optimization Can Put the Power in the Hands of Everyone, Scout RFP Says

Sourcing optimization holds much promise for crunching the vast amount of data that procurement organizations increasingly face — as well as cutting costs, saving time and guiding buyers and suppliers to better decisions. But to date, the tools used for optimization have been too complex for most professionals to easily examine and understand the wide range of sourcing events presented.

That’s starting to change as procurement technology modernizes and customer-experience expectations rise.

To understand how the barriers to using sourcing optimization are dropping and to see the wider adoption of dynamic negotiation and sourcing optimization tools, we asked Scout RFP Co-Founder and President Stan Garber to shed some light on the latest developments.

“Today, we can optimize the entire sourcing process with a click of a button. We’re going from the days of manual Excel modeling and email juggling to a collaborative application that is as simple to use as an iPhone,” Garber said for this Q&A about the future of the procurement and sourcing technology.

Simplify Workforce: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT [PRO]

Because of recent M&A consolidation and multiple external drivers, the market for vendor management system (VMS) solutions has become fairly complex. Competing vendors have been absorbed or combined, draining the field of vendor choices that can be applied in a wide number of scenarios. Concurrently, businesses have shifted away from their focus on temporary staffing labor to a rising emphasis on statement of work (SOW) spend, while also exploring new talent engagement models that increase program complexity, to include the exploratory enterprise adoption of the “gig economy” in the form of independent contractors. Add in the typical challenges of effectively operating a temporary staffing program — from cost control issues to quality maintenance and the management of intermediaries like MSPs — and it’s easy to see why procurement organizations are finding the old paradigm for VMS solutions is no longer holding up.

Going against the grain of complexity is a newer VMS provider that incorporates simplicity (i.e., ease of use) into its name — and its solution. Founded in 2016, Simplify Workforce provides an end-to-end SaaS solution for managing the extended workforce.

The Jersey City, New Jersey-based provider enables this through separate modules for contingent workforce (or in our SolutionMap classification, Temp Staffing) and statement of work (Contracted Services/SOW), with an emphasis on configurability, adaptability and ease of use that has typically eluded past VMS solutions. In doing so, Simplify Workforce aims to address the long-underserved middle market — specifically, businesses with annual contingent workforce spend of $1 million to $100 million — with the ability to scale up or down on spend easily, with a VMS and SOW solution that can solve the majority of daily contingent workforce challenges without overwhelming users, implementation teams and budgets with unnecessary complexity.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Simplify Workforce and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of Simplify Workforce’s offering, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

SAP Ariba Sourcing: How It Compares Today and What’s Coming Tomorrow (Part 1: Benchmark Performance, Product Roadmap) [PRO]

future

The strategic sourcing or e-sourcing technology market — we simply call it “Sourcing” in SolutionMap — has undergone significant transformation and bifurcation in recent years. On the one hand, disruption has come from simplicity and ease of use (e.g., Bonfire, Keelvar, Market Dojo, Scout RFP, etc.). And on the other hand, it has come from significant advances in functional capabilities in various areas (e.g., Coupa, GEP, Ivalua, Jaggaer, SynerTrade and Wax Digital, among others).

SAP Ariba, one of the stalwarts of the Sourcing world for over two decades (if you count the acquisition of FreeMarkets), remains a frequent competitor on a global basis today. But how does SAP Ariba compare to others in the market on a functional basis based on its current offering? And what is coming for SAP Ariba Sourcing tomorrow?

Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO analysis provides insight into SAP’s relative strengths and weaknesses today (based on our Q1 2019 SolutionMap release) and shares what we learned from the SAP Ariba Live event this month on an overall roadmap basis. Part 2 will provide additional insight into the new SAP Ariba Sourcing user experience as well as analysis, commentary and customer recommendations based on SAP Ariba’s Sourcing roadmap overall.

Ivalua NOW Paris event: A Dispatch on the Art and Science of Procurement

Spend Matters analyst Michael Lamoureux attended Ivalua’s customer event, Ivalua NOW Paris: The Art of Procurement, last week and found several advancements in the provider’s offerings, saw some improvements to its capabilities and learned about plans to upgrade its solution.