Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Andy Kohm, CEO and founder of VendOp.
When I think of supplier scorecards, I think of having to be prodded, reminded and occasionally begged to carve out a large chunk of my time to fill out question after question on suppliers I’ve used since who knows when. I cringe when I see the first email comes in knowing that more are to follow. In theory, scorecards are perfectly sound tools to measure the effectiveness of key business relationships. But in reality, they’re hideous instruments for the collection of insight into supplier relationships. Let’s examine why.
In recent years, prominent procure-to-pay (P2P) providers have increasingly offered opt-in peer benchmarking capabilities. This newly available data has changed the way consultants and advisors evaluate procurement performance. Benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPIs) once analyzed on a periodic basis, for instance, are now becoming embedded into procurement processes and continuously updated with new information as it becomes available.
Because of this, procurement organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits measuring performance based on a standard set of benchmarks and KPIs can bring to overall P2P performance. Yet the same cannot be said of supplier management activities, despite the significant cost and risk they pose to procurement. In fact, Spend Matters has found that most procurement organizations are not yet measuring a complete set of KPIs to manage the lifecycle of supplier activities and associated supplier information. Solution providers have not helped this situation, either, instead glossing over supplier management in favor of KPIs and peer benchmarking services in core transactional procurement areas.
It’s time to change this. To give procurement organizations operational metrics that mirror the KPIs available in P2P, this multipart Spend Matters PRO series provides an action guide for measuring and quantifying some of the benefits of "day in the life" operational supplier management activities. It also provides a roadmap and foundational input for building a business case to support these initiatives, including investments in dedicated technology solutions and tactical KPIs for managing them.
Part 1 of this series offers diagnostic KPIs for self-assessing supplier search and enablement performance. For each metric, we include commentary and insight on why it matters to procurement, guidance on enablement and measurement, suggestions for procurement technology systems that can be used for support and variable inputs for tracking.
We also encourage all Spend Matters readers, including non-Spend Matters PRO subscribers, to download our recent 2017 landscape definition and overview on supplier management and supply risk management, which provide details on the different technical components of these solution areas.
ClientLoyalty competes in what we could most accurately describe as a “sub-sub” segment of the supplier management market. Usually such niches relegate solution providers to a small corner of market obscurity, often to build profitable businesses that go unnoticed by most. But there is actually a real potential market in what ClientLoyalty is attempting to create alongside a select number of other technology providers also focused on the management of strategic supplier relationships: a market for a true supplier relationship management solution.
While there are many solutions today that address supplier information management (SIM) and also supplier performance management (SPM), only a handful actually focus on supplier relationship management — which we are hesitant to call SRM, because the term was usurped by ERP years ago and given an entirely different meaning. ClientLoyalty is one of the few, avenging the “SAP SRM” and “Peoplesoft SRM” product names that did such an original disservice to what SRM is really about. (Hint: It’s not e-procurement!)
This final installment of our Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering ClientLoyalty offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other supplier management providers for shortlist consideration. It also includes a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1and Part 2of this PRO research series provided a company and deep dive solution overview, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider ClientLoyalty.
In the beginning of this Rapid Ratings Vendor Snapshot, the initial framework we incorporated showed how a supplier’s financial health was the keystone of broader risks in the supply chain. In other words, assurance of a supplier’s ability to deliver with consistency and quality requires assurance of a healthy supplier. To ascertain the financial health of the supplier, you can monitor its public financial data from Bloomberg or other external sources. This can be valuable if you know how to operationalize the information and can do it in a scalable and replicable way for many suppliers, over time.
But this doesn’t account for financial data from privately held companies that, for most corporations, account for 70%–80% of their strategic/critical suppliers. Such data on this group of suppliers is generally sparse, sometimes difficult to interpret, often unreliable for prediction and challenging to benchmark against peer firms. This is why Rapid Ratings’ approach to assessing supplier financial health (especially for this group) is attractive and unique. RapidRating’s FHR® (Financial Health Rating) is a focused and cost-effective supply risk monitoring solution that creates a forward-looking assessment of financial viability for the dozens or hundreds of key suppliers an organization may have — privately held or otherwise.
This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Rapid Ratings’ strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. The first installment of our analysis provided a company and solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering it. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.
This may seem like a ridiculously simple question whose answer comes embedded in the term itself (“Managing suppliers!”), but it can be tricky. Supplier management is a broad term, and it has become ever broader in its evolution from a post-contract area to include also strategy and planning and other pre-contract activities. In other words, supplier management has become supplier lifecycle management. But to nail down a pithy definition for supplier management, it is “simply the management of supplier-facing business processes throughout the lifecycle of a supplier,” as Spend Matters analysts Michael Lamoureux and Pierre Mitchell put it in their Supplier Management 101 series.
Ask any procurement organization what area of risk is most pertinent to them and supplier financial risk will usually rise to the top. In particular, suppliers that are classified as strategic or critical based on business impact (not just annual spend) need to be monitored more closely and regularly to maintain operational resilience, ensure business continuity and minimize business risk — and this monitoring obviously must include evaluating financial viability. This is a core aspect of broader supply risk..
Predictive analytics are key to getting early insight (especially relative to your competitors) on suppliers whose financial health is starting to waver. Getting such intelligence via predictive analytics requires basically two things: strong analytic models and good data.
For publicly traded suppliers, you can get financial statements, but you still have to extrapolate from the historical financials to gain actionable insight or develop some sort of predictive statistic. Some companies have used the Altman Z empirical scoring model, but not only is Altman Z an outdated algorithm that has been shown to be inferior to more updated ones (to be discussed later), but you also have to spend the time compiling and interpreting the data, which tends to fall outside the usual purview of the procurement professional.
The bigger problem, though, is the lack of financial data readily available for private firms — especially in the U.S. For most corporations, up to 80% of their strategic/critical suppliers are private and don’t typically share their financial statements with customers for various reasons. One of those reasons may be that they’re highly profitable and don’t want procurement to see this information, although this is certainly not always the case. In other circumstances, a supplier might feel that being private exempts them from disclosure. Or in the worst of cases (from a supply risk perspective), a vendor might not be doing well financially and is worried about losing additional business. Yet, a customer still wants to be sure that a supplier is not in financial distress — or moving in that direction. So, what the buyer would really like is a scalable managed service with a service provider that can help predict supplier financial health, including bankruptcies.
But this won’t happen unless such a provider can address the supplier concerns of protecting the confidentiality of their raw financials.
This is where Rapid Ratings comes in. Rapid Ratings is a provider of empirically driven financial health scoring of businesses — including private suppliers. The firm’s Financial Health System uses financial data as inputs and then utilizes them within 25 industry-specific, integrated analytic models that calculate a normalized financial rating (0-100 scale) designed to help predict future corporate defaults and identify companies’ inherent strengths. Think of it as a “FICO score for corporations.”
Rapid Ratings claims to have predicted 94% of bankruptcies at least six months in advance, and that the FHR provides predictive capabilities out to 12–18 months. The firm also specializes in working with private suppliers to obtain the necessary financial data to produce their FHR. In fact, nearly two-thirds of the more than 40,000 rating events performed by Rapid Ratings are of private companies. Most impressively, the firm claims a greater than 85% success in getting private suppliers to submit their data.
This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Rapid Ratings' solution offering. 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 Rapid Ratings in the procurement technology area. The rest of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.
This post is part of our 2016 Year-End Procurement Tech Review, in which we offer procurement practitioners a bird’s-eye view of some key vendors and their solutions in select categories. This week, we’re highlighting companies in the sourcing (including e-sourcing) and supplier management spaces.
HICX, a London-based firm founded in 2004, has served the North American market for the past decade. It may not yet be a household name in the procurement world, but this could change as the importance of master data management and supplier management increases, and smaller (but still large!) companies begin to make investments in the area.
Companies looking for supplier management solutions have a broad range of choices, ranging from independent solution providers to ERP modules of varying degrees of sophistication and depth. There are numerous challenges that come with identifying the right solutions in the market for an individual procurement organization. These include the fact that consultants and analysts generally have limited experience with the in-the-trenches capabilities of these solutions compared with sourcing and purchase-to-pay suites.
One provider that warrants consideration in the market is HICX, a London-based firm founded in 2004. It is essentially a supply chain master data management (MDM) solution with a configurable workflow that allows an organization to use it as the supplier (and associated product) MDM system. This Spend Matters Plus analysis provides an introduction to the HICX solution for procurement organizations looking to understand whether they should consider adding the provider to their shortlists for consideration and competitive alternatives.
You have a bit more time to register for Preparing Your Suppliers for the Digital Economy: You Should Have Acted Yesterday, which will now take place Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 10 a.m. CST. Get smart and hear the chatter on the future of supplier enablement, connectivity, supply chain visibility, sourcing and total cost optimization and more, as Jason Busch, founder and head of strategy at Spend Matters, and Marco H. de Vries, senior director of product marketing at OpenText Business Network, trade thoughts and ideas.
Even if you have to do it with them kicking and screaming, the time is now to bring your suppliers into the digital economy. The future is here as it pertains to supplier enablement, connectivity, supply chain visibility, sourcing and total cost optimization. Join Jason Busch, founder and head of strategy at Spend Matters, and Marco H. de Vries, senior director, product marketing at OpenText Business Network, tomorrow at 10 a.m. CST for Preparing Your Suppliers for the Digital Economy: You Should Have Acted Yesterday.
Sign up here!
In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, we explore the potential impact that PRGX’s acquisition of Lavante, a supplier information management (SIM) technology provider, may have on PRGX and its customers. The PRGX-specific analysis includes an analysis of valuation, upsell/cross-sell synergies, competitive implications with APEX Analytix and the longer-term potential impact of delivering services on top of a common platform also used by its customers in a self-service capacity. The customer and prospect specific analysis considers the role of technology in supplier information management, audit recovery and related areas.
Earlier this week, PRGX Global, the largest audit recovery services provider by billings, announced it has closed its acquisition of Lavante, a small technology company that competes in the supplier management sub-sector of the procurement technology market. Lavante also had developed audit recovery technology that provides a substitute approach to traditional audit recovery services providers. The transaction, which values Lavante at $4.25 million in cash as well as an earn-out consideration based on Lavante’s performance in selling its cloud-based supplier information management (SIM) and related applications until the end of 2018, provides PRGX with a valuable technology asset in a market segment that Spend Matters research suggests is growing at a healthy double-digit CAGR.
The first installment of this Spend Matters PRO analysis offers an overview of supplier lifecycle management (SLM) market, including supplier management and SIM technologies. It also provides analysis of Lavante’s offerings and how it stack up to competitors, including specialized supplier management providers such as Hiperos/Opus Global, HICX and riskmethods. It also offers a comparative analysis with procurement technology suite providers, including BravoSolution and SciQuest, two suite providers with competitive solutions in the supplier management area. Others suite vendors, including SAP Ariba and Coupa, offer only limited capabilities to support the range of specialized supplier lifecycle management requirements.
The second installment in this series, publishing next week, explores the potential impact of the transaction on PRGX and PRGX customers. It also provides perspective on the changing audit recovery provider landscape — including PRGX competitors such as APEX Analytix and Connolly — and the impact that offerings such as Lavante might have on this conservative market segment.