Supplier Management Content

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).

5 Tips for Government Agencies, Suppliers to Communicate Better

In public procurement, government agencies tend to be tight-lipped when dealing with potential suppliers who are bidding on their contracts. That stems from being risk-averse, says Public Spend Forum, a sister site of ours that offers five tips for improving the communication between government agencies and suppliers. But what’s behind this friction between these groups that needs to be eased?

Sustainability, Environmental Stewardship and CSR: The CPO’s Outside-In Agenda (Part 2B) [PRO]

sustainable supply chain

In our last article in this Spend Matters PRO series, we focused on several pressing issues that are shaping procurement from the outside in, yet chief procurement officers are primarily still concerned with issues set by an inside-out agenda — that is, cost-cutting and supply assurance targets mandated by upper management. However, our PESTLE analysis of factors shaping the modern CPO agenda identified broad outside-in trends that an organization needs to consider if it wants to truly tap and manage the opportunities (and risks) offered by external supply markets. (Read the CPO’s Conundrum: Parts 1A and 1B.)

Nowhere is this more readily apparent than with the topic of sustainability and environmental stewardship, the focus of today’s brief. The environment is an inseparable component of any business. It forms the platform layer off which all goods and services are produced, and cannot be ignored. And the difference between effective and sustainable management and ineffective and unsustainable management, as pointed out in yesterday’s article, is shocking. Not only would investments in environmental sustainability focussed companies over the past two decades doubled an average rate of return, but millennials will pay a (small) premium for sustainably (and ethically) sourced products and you are ensuring that you will have raw material supply for years (and decades to come).

Q1 2019 SolutionMap Source-to-Pay Release Notes

Q1 2019 Spend Matters SolutionMap procurement software company rankings

This Spend Matters SolutionMap Insider release note provides insight into the Q1 2019 SolutionMap release for Source-to-Pay, reviewing the process that we followed for this quarter’s release.

The providers in the Q1 2019 Source-to-Pay SolutionMap include Coupa, Determine, GEP, Ivalua, SAP Ariba, SynerTrade and Zycus. All of these providers were required to participate in SolutionMap for each underlying module, as well. These individual areas include Sourcing, Spend and Procurement Analytics, Supplier Relationship Management & Risk, Contract Lifecycle Management, E-Procurement and Invoice-to-Pay. All of these providers are also included in the individual Strategic Procurement Technologies (SPT) and Procure-to-Pay (P2P) suite views.

This SolutionMap Insider research note provides insight into these and additional considerations in the Q1 2019 SolutionMap release. The Source-to-Pay customer data set is composed of a subset of the 600+ individual organization references included in the overall SolutionMap scoring as of Q1 2019*.

*Customers using more than one module that a vendor provides can opt to fill out a single survey within each individual suite area (e.g., a customer using two modules for P2P and four modules for SPT would need to fill out only two surveys).

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.

Sponsored Article

L’Oreal Finds the Beauty of Bonfire’s Solution: Stakeholder Buy-in and Better Supplier Relations

Every growing company reaches a point when transaction volumes overwhelm misapplied IT systems and manual business processes. When that happens and the risks rise, businesses have to begin the necessary task of identifying a better way forward. For many organizations, that means automating and optimizing the sourcing process with dedicated e-sourcing software — ideally a setup that’s easy to use and gives your company a competitive edge.

As a division of the beauty products maker L’Oreal found out, the strategic sourcing platform from Bonfire could resolve many of these issues.

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

It is impossible today to discuss procurement and finance software solutions without mentioning Coupa. Since its founding in 2006, Coupa has grown into one of the best-known providers of technology for corporate purchasing as well as invoicing and payments, sourcing, and spend analysis. And its philosophy of business spend management (BSM) resurrected — and improved upon — the original premise that gave rise to Spend Matters back in 2004 (spend does matter).

The awareness of Coupa in the market is due in no small part to its 2016 IPO, which brought the provider into the wider public eye while also providing it with the balance sheet to support an aggressive M&A program. The result is that Coupa can now claim some of the most advanced procurement-specific capabilities in multiple technology areas, as it has acquired several market-leading vendors and integrated their functionality into its own platform.

But where does Coupa excel the most, and where do its comparatively few weaknesses lie, measured against both best-of-breed vendors for standalone technology areas (e.g., contract lifecycle management) and competing suite providers (e.g., procure-to-pay, source-to-pay)?

 This Spend Matters SolutionMap analysis examines Coupa’s 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 Coupa 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 Coupa’s broader peer group, including Jaggaer, SAP Ariba, Ivalua, Oracle, SynerTrade and Zycus.

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 SynerTrade, Zycus 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 and Ivalua.

What the Heck are Companies Buying When They Purchase Accounts Payable Technology?

Spend Matters recently ran two surveys (one to procurement/finance practitioners and one to technology providers) in preparation for the launch of the Spend Matters Accounts Payable Automation SolutionMap later in 2019. Many of our questions focused on how users and providers define the bounds of AP automation solutions since there is often a disconnect even within the vendor community — let alone the user community. Accounts payable technology covers many business areas, so the market for the solutions is confusing. It's hard to compare them apples to apples.

Q4 2018 SolutionMap Sourcing, Spend and Procurement Analytics, Supplier Relationship Management & Risk, Contract Lifecycle Management and Strategic Procurement Technology Suite Release Notes

This Spend Matters SolutionMap Insider release note provides insight into the Q4 2018 SolutionMap release for Sourcing, Spend and Procurement Analytics, Supplier Relationship Management & Risk, Contract Lifecycle Management, and Strategic Procurement Technologies Suite SolutionMaps, reviewing the process we follow and highlighting what has changed since the last release.

Within the individual areas covered in this brief, the following providers have been added to the Q4 2018 release:

  • Coupa is now participating in Supplier Relationship Management & Risk and Contract Lifecycle Management
  • SourceMap is participating in Supplier Relationship Management & Risk
  • Wax Digital is participating in Sourcing


Additionally, providers such as AnyData, Determine, Exari, Ivalua, Jaggaer Advantage and Jaggaer Indirect, Keelvar, Scanmarket, Scout RFP and Sievo have received updated scoring following the submission and demonstration of new capabilities based on production releases of individual modules. (Non-GA capabilities are not considered in SolutionMap scoring.) Perhaps most important, over 67 new or refreshed customer references (and over 100+ modular references) were added in the Strategic Procurement Technology areas for Q4.

Focus on Supply Risk Management Can Aid Supplier Relationships, State of Flux Reports

supplier management

Positioning supplier relationship management (SRM) programs as a way to ensure broader supply risk management is an untapped opportunity for businesses looking to address sustainability challenges, according to a recent State of Flux report.

As we’ve reported on the “Sustainable SRM: Nurturing Growth in a New Climate” report from State of Flux, sustainability is becoming a greater consideration when it comes to supplier relationships, due to increasing demand from consumers for ethical products and pressure from governments and investors to consider environmental factors in production. The report highlights a number of challenges facing organizations as they integrate sustainability into their procurement goals, including buy-in up and down the organization, proper segmentation of suppliers and others.

While setting up a proper governance structure, getting buy-in throughout the entire organization and deepening relationships with suppliers takes time, companies can also assess their level of SRM, determine how they manage risk, evaluate their staff’s skills and resources, and ensure their technology is working for them.