The Supplier Management Category

ClientLoyalty: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis [PRO]

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 1 and Part 2 of 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.

ClientLoyalty: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

ClientLoyalty, a specialized supplier management technology provider, would argue that true supplier relationship management is not just about gathering and managing supplier information, performance metrics and action plans. Rather, it is a class of solution that addresses the fundamental aspects of strategic relationships including tracking, measuring and managing feedback (from the organization and the supplier). But it must also serve to monitor the evolution of the relationship — not just performance — and allow for the collaborative creation of action plans to improve the relationship. In other words, from a procurement perspective, ClientLoyalty is closer to serving as a data-driven co-therapist chair for buyers and suppliers in strategic relationships than anything else.

But is this a niche market or something more? This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores ClientLoyalty’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider it for their needs. The first installment of our analysis provided a company and solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering ClientLoyalty. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

ClientLoyalty: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview [PRO]

Supplier performance management is quickly becoming a "hot topic" among procurement organizations that want to create step change improvement as part of their supply management journey. This technology segment is actually a sub-segment of the supplier management technology market, which is more broadly comprised of what we often describe as “strategic procurement technologies” (see Spend Matters’ Sourcing, Contracting and Supplier Management Landscape Definition and Overview report for more detail). But supplier performance management, while a hot topic among procurement people and among those marketing solutions on the vendor side, is unfortunately not a hot topic among developers, especially as it pertains to managing the relationship aspect of supplier collaboration. While many procurement suite technology providers offer supplier management solutions, the reality is that the majority of these emphasize collecting and managing supplier master data and limited supplier performance management requirements.

ClientLoyalty, a somewhat ironically-named technology provider based on its orientation to managing suppliers, is hoping to change this. ClientLoyalty was founded with the desire to bring strategic supplier relationship management to companies that realized the critical importance of relationship management in order to get the most value for their money from suppliers. This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about ClientLoyalty’s supplier management capabilities. 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 ClientLoyalty in the procurement technology area. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Deriving Competitive Advantage from a Sustainable Supply Chain

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Suhas Apte and Jagdish Sheth, authors of The Sustainability Edge: How To Drive Top-Line Growth With Triple-Bottom-Line Thinking.

The focus of supply chain management has historically been cost reduction and risk management. Therefore, much time tended to be spent on maintaining transactional supplier/buyer relationships that entail dictating supplier policies and mandating supplier compliance auditing. Doing so has only ensured that businesses become incrementally “less bad.”

Rapid Ratings: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

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.

What is Supplier Management? Here’s a Primer

suppliers

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.

Rapid Ratings: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview [PRO]

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.

Scanmarket: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Commentary and Summary Analysis [PRO]

Today’s landscape for e-sourcing (RFX, auction, category management, sourcing optimization, etc.) is highly fragmented. There is not a single market-share leader or “dual” leadership in this sector (as is the case with Coupa and Ariba for procure-to-pay). However, there has been one trend when it comes to consolidation, and that is providers focused on the “upstream” areas inclusive not only of sourcing, but also supplier management, contract management and analytics, either building or buying their way into the procure-to-pay sector — or merging their capabilities with other solution providers in this market.

Yet one nearly full “upstream” provider focused on this market remains independent: Scanmarket. (We say “nearly full” because it remains dependent on a partner for spend classification, and it has some functional gaps in the supplier management and contract management areas.) Of course Scanmarket faces competition from different segments of providers with either more targeted or overlapping functional footprints. But its commitment and focus on strategic sourcing technology and adjacent capabilities at a global scale remains singular today, at least as independent vendors go.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Scanmarket provides an objective SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to Scanmarket and offers provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies considering the vendor. Part 1 provided an in-depth look at Scanmarket as a firm and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses and a review of the product’s user experience.

Scanmarket: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

Scanmarket is one of the last remaining independent “upstream” procurement technology suite providers. While it brings particular capability and expertise in running both simple and complex RFX and auction processes (and formats), it also offers a range of adjacent capabilities in project management, supplier management and contract management. On many levels, Scanmarket is one of the heirs apparent to the specialized e-sourcing capability pioneered by firms like FreeMarkets and Procuri — and it also represents a targeted and cost-effective alternative to full-suite providers (as well as deeper sourcing capability than procure-to-pay specialists in the market today).

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Scanmarket’s product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should shortlist the vendor. It also offers a critique (pros/cons) of the user interface. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Scanmarket in the procurement technology area. The final installment in this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Supplier Networks and P2P: The Benefits of Direct Connectivity for Suppliers

In this last installment, I will focus on the risks of insufficient connectivity, the benefits of doing it properly and why it is worthwhile for suppliers to invest time and resources to stay connected in the most automated means possible.

For organizations that still use their ERP as their only (or primary) system to process all procurement, invoicing and payments activities, typical document exchange and communication methods are done either by paper, fax or email (some firms may also have EDI technologies or web services in place — to interact with select suppliers). Although these forms of communication have been used for years, they are insufficient today, as they introduce significant risks to the buyer/supplier connectivity process.

Scanmarket: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview [PRO]

The sourcing and supplier management suite market (inclusive of spend analytics, e-sourcing, supplier management and contract management) was a crowded sector for many years. But as more providers with capabilities focused on this area have expanded their product offering to transactional procurement and as vendors in the procure-to-pay (P2P) sector expanded through acquisition into sourcing and supplier management, the number of targeted suite providers focused solely on what we describe as the “source-to-contract” market has declined. Yet Scanmarket is one of those that remain (and it is the vendor with the most traction and the largest customer base). And it is a solution provider that is more than standing its ground in a market where consolidation and the march to both strategic and transactional suites is becoming the norm.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations, suppliers and partners make informed decisions on Scanmarket’s source-to-contract capabilities. 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 Scanmarket in the procurement technology area. The rest of this multi-part research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Platforms, Networks and Suppliers: Concepts and Benefits

What is a network? What is a platform? Technology providers often confuse customers with these terms. But it is important that procurement and AP organizations become comfortable with the terminology.

A network concept centers on supplier connectivity that joins buyers with suppliers. It can provide value in areas such as supplier management, catalog management, e-invoicing automation, payment automation, financing options and sourcing effectiveness while also offering value-add services for enhancing or simplifying these processes.