Technology Content

Why Well-Run Hospitals Need Tailored Technology to Care for Patients, Business

healthcare

As one of the nation’s largest nonprofit health systems, BJC HealthCare needs to provide consistent, high-quality patient care across all of its hospitals while maintaining operational efficiency. When the St. Louis, Missouri-based healthcare provider began its search to upgrade how it supplies its facilities, it found the healthcare marketplace provider Prodigo Solutions, which knows what hospitals of all sizes need because it provides online shopping and other services to more than half of the top 15 hospitals in the U.S.

Today, BJC uses ProdigoMarketplace to requisition a range of medical items that have been negotiated for price and vetted for compliance. To understand how the Marketplace helps, the staff at BJC answered some questions about working with Prodigo.

CRO-to-CRO Video Series: Episode 2 Explores the Evolving Role of Procurement

Procurement has come a long way from the 1980s, when it was simply a transactional function, up until today, when talk of artificial intelligence, blockchain, RPA, process mining and rapid self-service are all the rage.

Recently, Pierre Mitchell, chief research officer of Spend Matters, had a chance to sit down with his old friend and former colleague Michel Janssen, chief research guru of Everest Group, a research and management consulting firm based in Dallas, Texas.

In this second episode of their video series, watch as both CROs explore how the role of procurement has changed over the years, from buying at the lowest price, to total cost of ownership, to ever more complex layers of risk mitigation & value creation — and what it all has to do with "Minority Report."

AI in Supplier Management: Today (Part 1) [PRO]

suppliers

With this brief we begin the next installment of our series on the application of artificial intelligence (AI) to various source-to-pay technologies. Previous entries focused on AI in procurement (Today, Part 1 and Part 2; Tomorrow, Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3; and The Day After Tomorrow), AI in sourcing (Today; Tomorrow, Part 1 and Part 2; and The Day After Tomorrow), AI in sourcing optimization (Today; Tomorrow; and The Day After Tomorrow, Part 1 and Part 2) and AI in supplier discovery (Today, Tomorrow and The Day After Tomorrow).

Following the path from supplier discovery and selection is the topic of our current series, supplier management. As with each preceding entry, the aim is to define what is available with AI(-like) technology and what will be possible tomorrow. And just as the best platforms for supplier discovery are starting to use machine learning and RPA, so too are the best supplier management platforms — but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

After SIG’s Spring Executive Summit, I Think Procurement is Officially Cool Now

One day you wake up and realize that you’re nearly 10 years into a procurement career (which you never expected, considering your English literature degree) and you’ve never been to a SIG conference. That changed this week as I headed down to Amelia Island, Florida, for the Spring Executive Summit. And I learned a few things that Spend Matters readers should know.

From Watch to Know in 2019: State of Flux Focuses on User Experience in SRM

Each year, some companies on Spend Matters’ 50 Providers to Know list and the list of 50 to Watch honorees here in the Spend Matters Almanac 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 2019, like State of Flux.

To learn more about these providers, we reached out to a few such cases in our 2019 50/50 lists, asking how they’ve changed over the years and what differentiates them from the competition. Today’s Q&A features State of Flux Chairman Alan Day.

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.

Tradeshift Innovation Summit in London: A Few Takeaways

Brexit

Last week, I attended Tradeshift's new “Innovation Summit” series in London. It was a short event, lasting only an afternoon, and obviously one intended to test the waters to the receptiveness of both the format and the location, but an interesting one nonetheless.

From a vision perspective, Tradeshift is almost dead-on in terms of what the platform of the future has to look like, and from a marketing perspective, it makes perfect sense. But when there are still a large number of organizations using Excel and email, and a larger number still who remain on first-generation best-of-breed procurement applications, it's hard to sell a true “Procurement 3.0” solution approach when the majority of the world hasn't even caught on to “Procurement 2.0” solutions.

50/50 Webinar: Lessons Learned from the 2019 Providers to Watch and Know

Now that Spend Matters’ 50 Providers to Know and 50 Providers to Watch lists have been released, we are diving deeper into the sets of honorees and examining the market trends they demonstrate. From A.T. Kearney through Zylo, there are plenty of intriguing tidbits and conclusions to draw.

Earlier this week, Spend Matters Chief Research Officer Pierre Mitchell hosted our annual Vendor Intelligence webinar exploring the 50 to Watch and Know (you can view the webinar on-demand here). Topics included the industry pace-setters, disruptive newcomers and how all the honorees are taking procurement to the next level. In the sixth year of the lists, there is still plenty to be learned.

Simplify Workforce: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT [PRO]

Because of recent M&A consolidation and multiple external drivers, the market for vendor management system (VMS) solutions has become fairly complex. Competing vendors have been absorbed or combined, draining the field of vendor choices that can be applied in a wide number of scenarios. Concurrently, businesses have shifted away from their focus on temporary staffing labor to a rising emphasis on statement of work (SOW) spend, while also exploring new talent engagement models that increase program complexity, to include the exploratory enterprise adoption of the “gig economy” in the form of independent contractors. Add in the typical challenges of effectively operating a temporary staffing program — from cost control issues to quality maintenance and the management of intermediaries like MSPs — and it’s easy to see why procurement organizations are finding the old paradigm for VMS solutions is no longer holding up.

Going against the grain of complexity is a newer VMS provider that incorporates simplicity (i.e., ease of use) into its name — and its solution. Founded in 2016, Simplify Workforce provides an end-to-end SaaS solution for managing the extended workforce.

The Jersey City, New Jersey-based provider enables this through separate modules for contingent workforce (or in our SolutionMap classification, Temp Staffing) and statement of work (Contracted Services/SOW), with an emphasis on configurability, adaptability and ease of use that has typically eluded past VMS solutions. In doing so, Simplify Workforce aims to address the long-underserved middle market — specifically, businesses with annual contingent workforce spend of $1 million to $100 million — with the ability to scale up or down on spend easily, with a VMS and SOW solution that can solve the majority of daily contingent workforce challenges without overwhelming users, implementation teams and budgets with unnecessary complexity.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Simplify Workforce and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of Simplify Workforce’s offering, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

What’s the Big Deal Behind Vodafone’s Supply Chain Finance Program?

David Gustin is the chief strategy officer for The Interface Financial Group responsible for digital supply chain finance and is a contributing author to Trade Financing Matters.

In a recent TXF article on Vodafone's supply chain finance program and its early pay program, Oliver Gordon, features editor, said: “Vodafone has been using complex financial engineering devised by GAM and Greensill to enable it to profit from and invest in its own SCF offerings and bolster its DPO (days payable outstanding).”

Personally, I have no problem with a company wanting to use its cash to self-fund an early payment program for their suppliers in exchange for discounts. Many large corporates implement some form of dynamic discounting that enables their long tail suppliers, and specific segments — diversity suppliers, choice suppliers, small businesses — access to early payment once an invoice has been approved. In fact, this practice has been going on for decades and now technology allows companies to systematize it and offer it to select suppliers, different supplier segments or all suppliers.

I also have no problem if a company wants to use this construct to invest in their own payables or some other company’s payables. But this does bring up three important questions.

ISM 2019 Houston Conference: Highlights and Musings (Part 2)

After a Spend Matters' team went to the ISM 2019 conference last week in Houston, I recapped the event in an earlier post, but today I want to focus on two more sessions, one titled "Procurement Hacks" and the other about sustainability, given by HP Enterprise. And I have a special shoutout for Katie Smith, who discussed a procurement digital transformation case study for HERE Technologies.

SourceDay: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT [PRO]

The broader procurement technology market has always had a tenuous relationship with the direct procurement technology solutions. Old timers may remember SupplyWorks from the early 2000s, but it folded — and the SupplyWorks brand name now belongs to a janitorial/sanitation service provider (we won’t go down the easy joke paths on this one). More recently, DirectWorks, a perfectly decent solution for direct materials sourcing, also struggled until getting picked up by Ivalua.

Part of the challenge is that direct procurement is not only a subset of spend but also a superset of processes, because it’s essentially infused into the broader supply chain. This makes it addressable from multiple solution sectors like SCM apps, supply chain networks, integration players and industry players.

Source-to-pay application suites, for their part, are picking off some low-hanging fruit functionality here, but the broader requirements are spelled out well in our coverage of a distinct segment that may be forming for direct materials procurement solutions.

Manufacturers today are slowly seeing an expanding set of purchasing tools beyond ERP and MRP alone, and choice is generally a good thing if you have your overall solution strategy/approach nailed down before you go tool shopping. Many will be more than happy to explore this new market.

One of these newer choices is SourceDay, an Austin, Texas-based vendor that directly integrates with ERP and MRP systems to automate the management of purchase orders and supplier performance. By providing a more usable and procurement-centric layer over the data housed by a legacy ERP or supply chain application, SourceDay takes on many of the problems that procurement organizations find in managing direct materials spend.

The result is that procurement can save time, reduce errors and systematically manage supplier performance from a common cloud or mobile interface while still claiming the benefits that an ERP system can offer. There are obviously caveats to this statement — namely around integration — but we’ll touch on this later.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on SourceDay and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of SourceDay’s offering, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.