The Strategic Sourcing Category

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Enabling Supply Chain Mobility: The myConnXion Revolution

Having officially launched myConnXion yesterday, our team is thrilled to invite buyers and suppliers to connect. A key factor behind our innovative technology lies in the ability to integrate the process into your current sourcing strategy. We mobilize supply chains to compete faster and better in today’s global economy. Many procurement teams are deeply entrenched in legacy enterprise software and business processes, which are often not enough to manage today’s data type and quality, supplier relationships and business risks. Having a supply chain capable of movement and adaptability has become vital to the success of an organization’s business operation. Adding velocity to your supply chain starts with sustainable sourcing.

Ivalua vs. SAP Ariba: A Supplier Management ‘Battle of the Best’ for Q3 2018 SolutionMap

Our ongoing Head-to-Head comparison series has been immensely popular with members of our new SolutionMap Insider subscription service. But for Q3 2018 SolutionMap results, which have not yet published, we thought it would be fun to shake things up a bit. With functional scoring for supplier management solutions now finalized for the quarter (and due out in September), the Spend Matters analyst team thought we’d tweak the Head-to-Head format to create a “Battle of the Best,” pitting the two highest-ranked vendors in a given procurement software category against each other.

This week, using the latest SolutionMap data, we pit the two top-ranked supplier management solutions for Q3 2018 against each other: Ivalua and SAP Ariba. That’s right — two suite vendors are now officially eating the feature/function lunch of best-of-breed solutions for supplier management, at least on an aggregate scoring basis. (Aggregate is the operative term here. In specific functional areas, best-of-breed providers may still be stronger and, for specific buying personas, may be a better fit.)

To be sure, several best-of-breed solutions still come out on top for groupings of scored fields when it comes to targeted ratings in support of such areas as third-party management, supplier diversity and master data management. But even the third-ranked provider for Q3 supplier management functional scoring, Jaggaer Advantage, which is just a hair under Ivalua and SAP Ariba in terms of overall scoring, is also a suite provider.

When it comes to the Supplier Management SolutionMap overall — which includes both aggregate and atomic scoring for supplier enablement, performance management, risk management, collaboration, innovation, diversity, technology, configurability and services, among other areas — the suites are convincingly winning the Spend Matters analyst ratings battle for broad-based supplier management enablement.

Still, SolutionMap data suggest that the right solution will vary based on different initiative and organizational requirements — and how much “heavy lifting” a procurement, supply chain or finance organization wants to take on to enable different supplier management scenarios compared with choosing a partner that is expert in a single or handful of areas. But there’s no debate that supplier management processes will reward procurement organizations that tailor provider selection to their specific needs, even specific supplier management initiative requirements in cases where supplier management will not be at the core of a suite-based selection.

Not yet an Insider member? Contact Spend Matters to gain access to SolutionMap reports, ratings and associated content. Organizations in the midst of software selection that can’t wait for broader Q3 2018 data to be published can access the full Q2 2018 Supplier Management SolutionMap on demand or contact Spend Matters to access the Q3 2018 data in advance of release.  

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Back to the myConnXion Future: Connecting Buyers and Suppliers

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As disruptors in the supplier management space, our team set out with a simple task: understand the challenges suppliers face, so we can help them better collaborate with buyers in global supply chains. We started hearing from many small and diverse businesses that it was difficult to engage with large corporate buyers. As a small, minority-owned business, we’ve faced some challenges ourselves, but wanted to confirm our thoughts with general findings from other organizations. To gather these insights, our product innovation team conducted a focus group with buyers and suppliers and received some interesting feedback.

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Procurement Begins with Sourcing: The myConnXion Story

To understand procurement and sourcing as a buyer, we must start with the supplier. Small and diverse businesses are often cited as being more nimble, innovative and cost effective, but are often most strained in resources. Suppliers have to register their profiles with many different buyers (sometimes paying to do so, for buyers who adopt the pay-to-play model) and may not even get a contract as a result of their efforts. On the other side, many buyers end up with outdated supplier information and expired diversity certifications, contaminating their supplier database with inaccurate data. Sourcing with unreliable information hampers the abilities of procurement professionals and negatively impacts bottom line.

SAP Ariba Launches A New Sourcing Front — Decision Optimization (Part 1: Solution Components) [PRO]

SAP Ariba has opened a new front on the strategic sourcing optimization software battlefield. We recently received a detailed product demonstration of the next evolution of SAP Ariba’s decision optimization capability, as well as a glimpse of what’s on the roadmap. Our take is positive. SAP Ariba’s foundation and future plans represent a solid start in this area. And while other established providers of sourcing optimization tools have a decade-long head start, we expect SAP Ariba to progress faster in its optimization journey than many of its peers.

In this two-part Spend Matters PRO analysis, we begin with an introduction to the required solution components of sourcing decision optimization and an explanation of the benefits they can bring to procurement organizations. In Part 2, we offer an overview of SAP Ariba’s new decision optimization capability, exploring its strengths and weaknesses. 

So You Want to Buy Strategic Sourcing? Key Differentiators to Consider [PRO]

In our previous installments of this series, we focused on some of the key differentiating aspects of contract management and spend analytics solutions. As you may recall, rather than focusing on the features and functions that most providers deliver, this series is focused on highlighting areas that pop up as differentiators in the eyes of the more progressive practitioner organizations that we speak with. The idea is to help separate the wheat from the chaff even though we don’t know what exact flavor of bread that you’re baking.

Within the sourcing area, we will also take some additional liberties by highlighting some key functionality that might perhaps better fall into an “extended sourcing” category that transcends just traditional sourcing strategy and execution. For example, project portfolio management, savings management, performance management, stakeholder management, and other processes clearly transcend just sourcing, but from a pragmatic “on the ground” standpoint, these are often prioritized by sourcing and category management teams. They are trying to drive short-term value while trying to scale their efforts with a form of knowledge management that will support their longer-term transformation outside of episodic sourcing events and into a more end-to-end lifecycle view of progressive category management.

There are also some provider-level differentiators that transcend software feature-function nuances, and we’ll highlight these as well. OK, let’s dive in.

From Watch to Know in 2018: How Scout RFP Helps Procurement Put the ‘Strategic’ Back in Sourcing

Each year, some companies on the Spend Matters 50 Providers to Know and 50 Providers to Watch lists push themselves beyond simply a standout performance. They earn the recognition that they are not only bringing innovation into procurement organizations but also leading the charge to change the way we do business for the better. These are the providers who shifted from Watch to Know in 2018.

To learn more about these providers, we reached out to the four such cases in our 2018 50/50 lists, asking how they’ve changed over the years and what differentiates them from the competition. Today’s Q&A features Sean Michael, senior manager of content and communications at Scout RFP, a provider of sourcing solutions.

I’m Afraid I Can’t Source That, Dave: Artificial Intelligence in Strategic Sourcing

Last week marked the 50th anniversary of Stanley Kubrik’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” One of the great scenes in this landmark movie is when astronauts Dave Bowman and Frank Poole chat “in private” about shutting down HAL 9000, the omnipresent, artificial intelligence-based control system. Unfortunately, HAL’s vision system is able to read Dave’s lips through a small window and learns the crew’s intentions. To protect itself and thereby its mission directive, HAL sets out to kill the astronauts. Although the complex automated reasoning that HAL uses in its attempt to snuff out Bowman and Poole is a bit beyond current AI implementations, the procurement process-specific applications of machine learning are becoming quite real.

Applying Strategic Sourcing to Talent Management: What You Need to Know

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By 2020, more than half of the U.S. workforce will be involved in contingent work. Companies are rethinking their talent management strategies accordingly, and those that are familiar with strategic sourcing may already be a couple steps ahead. How strategic sourcing can be applied to talent management was the topic of a webinar that Spend Matters analysts Jason Busch and Andrew Karpie presented last month with NextSource’s chief executive, Catherine Candland, and senior program director, Jim Gallagher. NextSource has been in the contingent workforce business for the past two decades.

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.