Strategic Sourcing Content

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.

ISM 2019 Houston Conference: Highlights and Musings (Part 1)

A small Spend Matters team descended on ISM 2019 conference this year in Houston (next year is in Boston, where I live!) and I wanted to share some thoughts on the event and a few of the great sessions there.

AI in Supplier Discovery: The Day After Tomorrow [PRO]

In our initial entry of the series, AI in Supplier Discovery: Today, we discussed how the advancements in usability and computing power have made it possible for platforms to implement better and more powerful search algorithms that can actually make searches useful across wide supplier directories and networks. Then, in our last entry, AI in Supplier Discovery: Tomorrow, we discussed how the inclusion of advanced semantic processing, high dimensional (fingerprint) similarity clustering algorithms, range and "like" search algorithms, and machine learning that can improve the algorithms over time as humans identify "good" versus "bad" matches will allow even better, smarter, more useful searches to be performed in the days to come for the identification of the right suppliers for direct categories and services.

But is that the best we can hope for?

While that is all we can hope for tomorrow, we can hope for even more the day after that. More specifically, when we extend our event horizon out just a little bit further, we can predict that at some point in the future, supplier discovery systems are going to support innovative supplier discovery (based on performance, need and soft factors) and predictive smart search (based on upcoming projects, performance profiles and real-time community feedback).

3 More Ways Procurement Can Transform with CRM

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Sean Harley, co-founder and CEO of LUPR.

In his recent Spend Matters post, Stan Garber described how sales organizations have leveraged customer relationship management (CRM) platforms from providers like Salesforce to achieve higher levels of success. We would like to suggest three more features of CRM that are transformative for supply management.

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.

Comparing S2P Procurement Technology Suites on a Functional Basis: Coupa, Ivalua, Jaggaer and SAP Ariba

Now more than ever, better choices exist at the top end of the market for source-to-pay technology suites. When it comes to overall suite functional performance in the Q4 2018 SolutionMap, a handful of suite vendors tend to stand out from the overall pack, often for very different reasons. Four of the top performing S2P suite vendors in the Q4 SolutionMap functional benchmark are Coupa, Ivalua, Jaggaer and SAP Ariba. But how do they compare to the overall SolutionMap source-to-pay benchmark dataset? You can find out here in our coverage, which will include Determine, SynerTrade and Zycus.

Fairmarkit: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT (Part 2) — Summary and Competitive Analysis [PRO]

The question of how to manage tail spend is as much a philosophical question as a technical one. There are issues around the thresholds that define tail spend, challenges around rogue spend that creates the long tail and the ultimate decision about who should be responsible for taming the tail.

But for most procurement organizations, the tail spend discussion is left unexplored.

Instead, the status quo way of managing tail spend often reigns. It’s rarely effective, so you’re left with the problems: wasted time by procurement and non-procurement staff, long lists of unknown or untrusted vendors, no clean data or visibility into savings left on the table.

Challenging this status quo is what Fairmarkit, a provider of tail spend management software out of Boston, seeks to do with its RFQ and analytics solutions. But where does Fairmarkit fit compared with other sourcing and tail spend management providers in the procurement technology market, and what are its relative strengths and weaknesses compared with direct and indirect competitors?

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Fairmarkit and its capabilities. Part 1 of this brief provided an overview of Fairmarkit’s offering and a detailed solution tour. Part 2 includes a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a competitive breakdown of other providers that a procurement organization might consider while evaluating Fairmarkit.

Is Direct Materials Procurement a Separate Technology Market in North America? (Part 1: Introducing a Decision Framework)

Germany, Austria and some adjacent markets have something North America doesn’t — a distinct technology market for direct materials procurement. In Europe, Pool4Tool (now Jaggaer Direct), Allocation Network, SynerTrade, SupplyOn and a range of other solution providers succeeded in creating a distinctive European direct materials procurement solutions market that exists outside the generic source-to-pay realm.

But in North America, as these providers — also joined by Ivalua and SAP Ariba, and specialists like SourceDay and Supply Dynamics, as well as the offspring of the original MFG.com, LiveSource — attempt to reach customers, I question if all of these providers are selling to individual buyers rather than a clear market segment in which procurement organizations know they need a specialized solution set.

For the sake of argument, let’s define the “bounds” of direct materials procurement solutions as encompassing any or all of the following technology areas:

Public Spend: A Look at 4 Value Levers for Public Procurement

It’s time to check in with Public Spend Forum, a sister site, to see what’s happening in public procurement. This week, we’ll focus on an article that offers some in-depth tips on four value levers for public spend. PSF offers a simple list — and then a lot of detail about each item. Click above for the highlights.

Sponsored Article

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.

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

tech

When source-to-pay suite provider Jaggaer announced in early February the release of Jaggaer ONE, a platform that unifies the provider’s acquired solutions into a single offering, it took a big step forward in clarifying the firm’s strategy. Using a services-oriented architecture (SOA) that allows users to select discrete business processes (i.e., modules) from Jaggaer’s portfolio of technology solutions, Jaggaer ONE has articulated a vision for the company beyond bringing the code and customers from SciQuest, Pool4Tool and BravoSolution under one roof.

Jaggaer noted with the release of Jaggaer ONE that it is unifying three of its product lines — Jaggaer Indirect, Jaggaer Direct and Jaggaer Advantage — without moving them onto a single code base, allowing customers and prospects to select the best modules from each offering to fit an organization’s unique needs. It’s a cafeteria approach that allows clients to assemble a “synthetic” source-to-pay suite rather than wrestle with a patched-together “Frankensuite” (or “Frankensuite’s monster,” if you have to be that guy).

But with three distinct product choices that each cover some or all areas of the source-to-pay cycle, Jaggaer ONE presents opportunities for too much choice. How can current Jaggaer clients, prospective customers, systems integrators and consultancies determine which modules to select from the Jaggaer ONE portfolio, and how do the best-performing modules from Jaggaer ONE fare when compared against other market leaders for specific point or suite products?

This Spend Matters SolutionMap analysis examines Jaggaer’s solutions by modular and suite view to help interested parties understand the best components that make up Jaggaer ONE. It offers insight into which areas Jaggaer is strong in (and where it lags), and how competitive this SOA-unified suite is compared with other procure-to-pay (P2P), strategic procurement technologies (SPT) and source-to-pay (S2P) in comparison to its broader peer group including Coupa, Ivalua, Oracle, SAP Ariba, Synertrade and Zycus.

Overall, the results paint a comparatively promising picture for Jaggaer ONE on a functional basis, and our hats go off to the Jaggaer team for assembling such a robust set of suite building blocks — with additional enabling solutions for specific industries that extend beyond what SolutionMap even prioritizes as key ranking criteria.

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 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 Coupa, Ivalua, SAP Ariba 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.

Need to Gain a Competitive Edge? Find Procurement Software That’s Easy to Use

If stakeholders across the company don’t have procurement software that lets them complete sourcing activities quickly or whenever they want and with ease, then they can’t support the procurement workflows — and effectively, the business. It’s not only the procurement team that experiences friction and frustration, the entire business can feel the impact of not getting the best value or vendor. For this reason, stakeholders for procurement activities need a means of adopting, engaging and participating in workflow activities that is easy to learn, easy to use and is collaborative.