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AI-Powered Tech Takes E-Procurement to the Next Level

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Imagine walking into a car dealership and the first question the salesperson asks you is, “How much do you want to overpay?” It’s a ridiculous question, right? No one wants to pay more for a product than they absolutely have to. Yet, this is exactly what too many corporate buyers unwittingly do, every day.

While most procurement managers would likely concede that there was “room for improvement” in their organizations’ MRO spending execution, few have the visibility and analytics capability necessary to accurately measure what their performance level truly is. If they did, my guess is they would be shocked at how often they overpaid for their indirect materials.

Find out what happened when EqualLevel deployed AI in part of its e-procurement solution to find the best prices.

Zycus: A Comparative Analysis of the S2P Suite (Source-to-Pay SolutionMap Analysis)

Zycus is part of an exclusive club.

It is one of the few source-to-pay suite vendors on the market that can offer at least adequate functional support across all six modular areas that Spend Matters tracks for S2P using only its internally developed capabilities. This stands in contrast to several of its biggest competitors, which have to varying degrees of success acquired and integrated best-in-class vendors or other suites to bolster their own capabilities.

And while Zycus cannot today claim its technology runs its suite of applications on a single data model, more than 95% of the solution is unified, and when compared against the market, it generally presents broad-based and out-of-the-box capability. Its solutions not only provide strong baseline (sometimes above-the-benchmark) functionality but they come from a single provider that is responsible for making it all work together.

This Spend Matters SolutionMap analysis examines Zycus’ solutions by modular and suite view to help interested parties understand the best components that make up the vendor’s end-to-end offering. It provides insight into which areas Zycus is strong in (and where it lags), how competitive individual modules are compared with best-in-class alternatives, and how combinations in the form of procure-to-pay (P2P), strategic procurement technology (SPT) and source-to-pay (S2P) suites stack up in comparison to Zycus’ broader peer group, including Coupa, Jaggaer, SAP Ariba, Ivalua and SynerTrade.

For this analysis, our report uses the aggregate results of nine SolutionMaps from Q4 2018 (the most recent in our quarterly update cycle), comparing a total of 58 solution providers across more than 600 granular functional benchmarks, which are aggregated into more manageable, tiered buckets for the purpose of this analysis. (Those procurement organizations leveraging SolutionMap for a software selection process gain insight into comparative performance at a significantly more granular level of detail that maps business requirements to functional performance.) The SolutionMap analyst ratings, also called the Solution scoring, used in this analysis are based on more than 3,000 hours of live product demonstrations and validated vendor RFI responses.

In subsequent briefs exploring SynerTrade and others, we will take a similar approach to analyzing source-to-pay providers, breaking down where end-to-end platforms excel (or fall below the functional benchmark) on module and suite bases. Previously, we covered the suite performances of Jaggaer, SAP Ariba, Ivalua and Coupa.

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Long-term ROI from Spend Analytics: 3 Places to Think Outside the Box

Spend analytics solutions often get passed over when it comes to claims of ROI. But spend analysis can provide just as much value as better-explored options like e-procurement or sourcing systems, sometimes providing ROI immediately after being turned on. Yet quick wins and short-term value are only the starting point.

To help procurement pull its head out of the past and begin to see (and plan for) the future, here are three outside-the-box areas where spend analysis can unlock new sources of long-term value.

Profiting from Digital Disruption: Certify’s T&E Report Shows 2018 Winners

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Digital disruption remained a force in 2018 with brands such as Uber, Amazon and Lyft jockeying for position in the top 10 most-expensed vendors, according to Certify’s 2018 SpendSmart Year in Review Report on travel and expense filings. Companies and business travelers are increasingly choosing digital brands over traditional providers for everything from meals to office supplies to transportation, according to the Portland, Maine-based provider of spend management solutions. In compiling the Year in Review, Certify drew from more than 50 million expenses and $3.3 billion in expense transactions across its North American customer base.

The SpendHQ Customer Experience: What Makes It Great (Spend and Procurement Analytics SolutionMap Analysis)

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Editor’s note: This “What Makes It Great” column is normally reserved for SolutionMap Insider Subscribersbut SpendHQ has generously agreed to support access for readers who are not yet members.

Spend and procurement analytics solutions are fundamentally  designed for business users rather than IT organizations — or should be. Why? Because procurement is their master.

But all too often, IT-led business intelligence initiatives — or spend analytics solutions built on the premise of BI-centric reports rather than a design-centric philosophy around procurement and category management needs — end up becoming the vehicle by which an organization looks at its spend and supplier data. The result? Some of the most salient potential insights go unfound.

SpendHQ, a solution built “by procurement and for procurement users,” takes a different approach entirely to the spend analytics process and the presentation of spend and category intelligence. This is reflected in what its customers have to say about its solution and how their experience compares to users of more traditional, BI-centric spend analytics.

As of December 2018, the Spend Matters SolutionMap contains functional and customer satisfaction benchmarks on more than 50 providers within the procurement technology landscape. But where does SpendHQ stand out most and help “set the bar” in spend analytics from a customer-ratings perspective, and why should this matter for procurement and finance organizations?

Let’s delve into the SolutionMap benchmark to find out where SpendHQ is great, sharing both customer anecdotes and ratings.

“What Makes It Great” is a recurring column that shares insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider subscribers. Based on both our rigorous evaluation process and customer reference reviews, each brief offers quick facts on the provider, describes where it excels, provides hard data on where it beats the SolutionMap benchmark and concludes with a checklist for ideal customer scenarios in which procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should consider it.

How Technology Aids Visibility into the Supply Chain

digital business transformation

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Graham Kelly, PrimeRevenue’s chief revenue officer.

Gone are the days when CFOs created value solely by spending time on traditional finance activities. Today’s finance executives are involved in a range of strategy-related activities that help set their companies apart in the digital economy.

According to a recent McKinsey Global Survey, this includes setting overall corporate strategy, devising pricing plans and collaborating on digitization, analytics and talent-management initiatives.

Winning in all these areas requires technology that delivers a massive amount of connected data. But, how do you compile and use data constructively to deliver transformative results?

ERP vs. Best-in-Class Spend Management Solutions: Making the Tough Choice

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from RiseNow Managing Partner Matt Stewart.

With an endless list of options in the procurement software space, how is it possible to choose between spend management solutions like Ariba, Basware, Coupa and Jaggaer? Should you even consider such options when your existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is capable of handling basic spend management needs?

If you’re reading this, you’ve likely considered or are considering whether best-in-class source-to-pay (S2P)/procure-to-pay (P2P) solutions are worth your time, money and effort. You’ve probably wondered how the benefits compare between the solutions, whether one far exceeds another in ROI, what is best for your end users and suppliers, and if the rate of adoption is greater with one solution over another.

This story offers a few good places to start when determining whether your ERP provider or a best-in-class spend management solution is best for your organization.

Maverick Spend Has a Perception Problem — on Its Causes and Its Solutions

Many of the most effective ways to curb maverick spend — like using e-procurement tools with approved supplier catalogs or better contract management tools integrated into the buying process — still have not been implemented by more than half of most organizations, a survey by The Hackett Group found. And it found that perceptions of the causes and solutions for maverick spend can vary depending on a worker’s role.

Procure-to-pay technology provider Basware used the research for its study, “Perception and Reality: A Report on Maverick Spend,” which examined the practice of making purchases outside the compliant procurement process. Maverick spending can take many forms, including purchases made outside a preferred channel or supplier, or those that do not follow contract terms and miss out on negotiated savings. Some of the rogue purchases happen because employees or their managers consider the transaction to be too small to matter.

Coupa Buying Hiperos — Adding Compliance and Risk Intelligence Prowess to Its Business Spend Management Insight

Business spend management vendor Coupa announced Monday morning that it has acquired Hiperos, a provider of third-party risk management. Coupa bought Hiperos from Opus. Alacra and all other Opus assets were not part of the transaction. The move lets Coupa, which is based in San Mateo, California, add more supplier compliance and risk intelligence insight into spend transactions and put a greater focus on reducing third-party risk. Spend Matters will have updates on the breaking news and an analysis later today.

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A Simplified Approach to Indirect Spend Management

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The consequences of poor indirect spend management can be costly — overspending, lack of visibility and control, and too many suppliers doing too little. Having poor visibility into your indirect categories means you have no real understanding of your actual spend, cash flow and working capital status. This can lead to an inability to apply cash to the business when needed. Additionally, CFOs often significantly underestimate indirect expenditures. The reality is the lack of visibility into what you are spending day-to-day can be up to 40% of your total spend. Here are four steps to get control of your indirect spend.

AI in Procurement Tomorrow (Part 3): Category Wizards Will Save Time, Add Strategic Muscle [PRO]

In this series, Spend Matters delves into the status of artificial intelligence, with a focus on how AI can improve the sourcing and procuring process. Today the technology is really “assisted intelligence,” which was detailed in our precursor series: AI in Procurement Today, Part 1 and Part 2). The technology of tomorrow promises the “augmented intelligence” that we are discussing in this series, as some vendors already have limited beta capabilities. In the first two articles, we discussed how tomorrow's systems are going to help considerably with overspend protection and how "ninjabots" can crunch data on buying and automatic opportunity identification. In this article, we'll consider “category wizards” and how they can put a halt to manual tasks — like defining/assessing categories and choosing the best procurement process — thereby adding strategic prowess for even the lowest of buyers.

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6 Ways to Leverage AI in Procurement Today

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most hyped-up topics in business right now. Gartner has included a number of AI applications in their 2018 Hype Cycle for most important emerging technologies. To take matters further, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai recently said he expects AI to become more important for humanity than even fire or electricity.

Almost every week we hear of new ways AI revolutionizing business practices, but where does this leave procurement? The good news is, if your procurement organization is ready for digital, it’s ready for AI. Here are six concrete ways you can get started.