The Technology Category

Veraction Merges With Trax Technologies: A Q&A with CEO Chris Connell (Part 1)

Earlier this summer, Veraction, a provider of transportation spend management and freight audit software, announced it would merge with Trax technologies, a provider of global freight audit and payments solutions. The combined company, which is retaining the Trax name, manages more than $10 billion in logistics spending across all transportation modes for more than 300 enterprise customers, according to a press release. To learn more about the transaction, as well as what companies like Trax can offer to procurement and supply chain organizations, we sat down with Chris Connell, former CEO of Veraction and now CEO of the combined Trax Group.

Coupa: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses (2018 Update) [PRO]

Coupa has become the provider “to beat” for procurement software suite customers who want a streamlined deployment effort, a simplified user experience and the ability to capture, manage and influence spend and services. Compared with peers, Coupa excels as a buying front-end for companies, intercepting users when they need to purchase something and processing spend of all types, including highly strategic spend that needs to be optimized. This is different from offering just an e-procurement application — a key point we explore in this Vendor Snapshot.

The procure-to-pay (P2P) process is still very much a part of the Coupa experience, if not the core (even though the vendor does offer standalone sourcing and spend analytics technology that handily beat the SolutionMap benchmark). When it comes to corporate purchasing, Coupa focuses on delivering an “Amazon-plus” experience for users. (Spend Matters stands by its earlier analysis in which we suggested that Coupa delivers a better corporate buying experience than Amazon as a buying front-end, at least compared with Amazon Business.) But as with other e-procurement software companies, Coupa brings a hidden back office component that provides procurement and finance organizations with significant compliance controls, oversight and related capabilities to manage and even guide buyers down specific paths (e.g., procuring a given item from a preferred supplier within budget), integrated community intelligence and even real-time risk analysis while making the overall buying experience almost as painless as shopping on a consumer site — even if the buying experience demands a multi-round negotiation with optimization-backed analysis.

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

Using Information Advantages to Finance B2B Transactions

We've all heard the stories around how supply chains are digitizing. A real transformation is underway, no doubt. But transformations don’t happen overnight. Likewise, traditional forms of financing supply chains still dominate. Many new models of lending have emerged over the last few years that rely on the approved invoices and third-party money, and while some models have generated volume, these pale in comparison with total B2B transactions. This is not to say there are not failures. In fact, the innovations that have been tried and failed lead to further innovation, piggybacking off of lessons learned. 

IT Sourcing in 2018: Best Practices That Companies Need to Know

VMS

Organizations will spend $3.7 trillion on IT in 2018, marking a 6.2% increase over last year’s spend. Moreover, IT buyers spend more than they need to on purchases and renewals in more than 75% of the time. Kim Addington, chief operating officer at NPI, provided these statistics as context during a webinar she co-hosted last Thursday with Pierre Mitchell, chief research officer at Spend Matters. The webinar provided a look at today’s IT sourcing landscape, key challenges and how cutting-edge IT sourcing organizations are handling these challenges.

Coupa: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview (2018 Update) [PRO]

There are many perspectives on Coupa. Some believe that the vendor has single-handedly transformed the world of spend management by building a truly unified suite that is 100% cloud-native, atoning for the over-customization, product and user interface sins of those that came before. Others think that Coupa has expanded too quickly and is doomed to repeat mistakes others have made in the past. But this Vendor Snapshot on Coupa is not about perspectives. It instead aims to review Coupa’s procurement software in depth, examining the vendor’s modules in the context of what they actually do today and how they are differentiated — or not — from others.

As we noted in our first end-to-end review of the Coupa platform, the majority of technology analysts no longer prioritize reviewing procurement software (e.g., product demonstrations, production sites) due to methodology or time constraints in evaluating vendors. This is where Spend Matters is the exception. Between attendances at Coupa Inspire, demos required for SolutionMap participation and customer interviews, the Spend Matters research team has collectively spent over a thousand hours analyzing Coupa’s products and talking to customers and prospective customers since we last did a Vendor Snapshot on Coupa. Since this time, we have also comparatively analyzed Coupa and its competitors for a range of constituents, including procurement and finance organizations, for suppliers participating in supplier network ecosystems, and for consultants and systems integrators. In short: we're confident that we've gone further and deeper than any other analyst firm in delving into Coupa's demonstrated product capabilities. Period.

This Q3 2018 Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot Update provides facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations, suppliers and partners make informed decisions on Coupa’s procure-to-pay (P2P) and broader source-to-contract capabilities, inclusive of inventory and travel and expense (T&E) management, offering an overview of the entire source-to-pay (S2P) process in one in-depth series. 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 Coupa for source-to-pay software. The rest of this multi-part research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Beeline and New Mountain Capital: A Conversation With Doug Leeby (Part 2)

digital business transformation

Beeline’s recent acquisition by private equity firm New Mountain Capital has certainly been the biggest event in the contingent workforce and services sector this summer. To learn more about what the acquisition means for Beeline and the workforce management software market in general, we caught up with Doug Leeby, CEO at Beeline, to get both his insider scoop and expert perspective.

In Part 1 of this Q&A, we discussed New Mountain’s approach to managing its portfolio companies and how that could affect Beeline’s growth in the near term. Today, in the conclusion of this exclusive conversation, we examine the competitive dynamics between Beeline and its largest rival, SAP Fieldglass, and explore the three most important industry trends Leeby is focused on.

Analytics Connects the Dots — and Data — to Improve Healthcare Supply Chain Performance

healthcare

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Brad Stillwell, senior director of product strategy at Birst, an Infor company

Data analytics is transforming healthcare, informing every decision from doctors’ diagnoses to long-term patient risk management. While the spotlight is, deservedly, on data-driven transformation within the four walls of healthcare facilities, analytics also has the power to improve the performance of supply chains and entire healthcare ecosystems to deliver a significant competitive advantage.

Using Contract Management to Drive Cross-Functional Digital Transformation

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Contract management is a critical enabler to digital transformation. By digitizing a business’ contracts, procurement organizations can unlock numerous benefits, from spurring enterprise agility to reducing compliance risks to improving working capital metrics. But achieving such improvements won’t happen alone. Procurement will need to enlist its cross-functional partners in sales, legal and finance to expand a digital contract transformation from a confined functional capability to an enterprise-wide program.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 7 — SRM Technology Components) [PRO]

LinkedIn ProFinder

This series has explored the various aspects of a modern strategic procurement system that enables both enterprise-level programs and procurement-led programs and processes. We’ve explored in gory detail the elements for strong analytics, user experiences and agile architectures. The series began with strategic sourcing to illustrate that properly supported category management can be a pretty tall order. Within category management, we went from basic program management requirements that were quite demanding to in-depth program management requirements that, on the surface, might seem impossible to the average procurement software company, as well as analytics requirements that, at the present time, excludes most of the current vendors from the market. 

These requirements from a business standpoint are not unreasonable, but although the ability for most providers to meet them is certainly a work-in-progress, the value in doing so is compelling. Strategic personnel can truly do strategic functions, not spend their days filling out virtual paper and transcribing data. The biggest cost in procurement is the opportunity cost of wasting a professional’s time on firefighting, pushing paper, wrangling bad spend data amd “googling” for new suppliers, rather than creating the 5X–10X ROI that goes along with strategic procurement. 

But turning the tables is not easy. Take the last example from the list above regarding supplier discovery. Today's supplier networks are generally “walled gardens” built to support suppliers within the network, not to help buyers find suppliers beyond the network. This would require new approaches to supplier networks — and new technology building blocks. That’s why, in this post, we are addressing what those critical building blocks are.

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

FM Global Resilience Index

North America is a curious market for direct materials-centric procurement software. While many manufacturers currently use indirect materials- and services-centric applications (e.g., procure-to-pay, vendor management systems), few manufacturers have specialized direct materials-centric procurement tools as a part of their solution belt. And to note the elephant in the room, many manufacturing procurement organizations are still not even aware of what these solutions can do.

The exception to this is in Europe (especially Germany and Austria) where direct materials procurement software is generally well adopted, even among middle-market companies. Within this market segment, Allocation is one of a handful of leaders, with tailored capabilities for sourcing and supplier management — and it is expanding globally.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Allocation’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement and finance organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Allocation. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

The Amazon Prime Effect: Rising Expectations for E-Commerce Delivery and Fulfillment

If the 100 million-plus shoppers who pay $119 a year for fast shipping via Amazon Prime are any indication, a smooth and expedient delivery and fulfillment process is crucial to e-commerce success. And expectations are rising. According to a recent survey of 3,000 online shoppers from Canada, the U.K. and the U.S., younger generations are particularly critical, with less than half of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 saying that they receive their orders on time and in perfect condition. These findings are published in a new report from Radial, “The Everyday Essentials of Successful E-Commerce Fulfillment.”

Allocation: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview [PRO]

When you start a vacuum cleaner, a number of things happen. First, the air pump creates a partial vacuum in the appliance. This results in air rapidly rushing in from the outside, through the attached hose or nozzle, pulling in dust, dirt and small debris with it. But the effects don't end there. The rapid movement of air from immediately outside the vacuum creates another partial vacuum that needs to be filled by the surrounding air, and this causes nearby particulates to also move and change position. And, thanks to the butterfly effect, this can have larger repercussions than one expects, creating unintended consequences. If pollen, mold or certain other once stationary particulates get into the air, people can sneeze, suffer allergic reactions or even get deathly ill.

What does this have to do with sourcing? When big firms buy smaller e-sourcing tools, vacuuming up the major standalone software companies in given niche, this creates a void — and kicks up a dust cloud, of sorts. From a manufacturing-centric sourcing perspective, this last year or so saw the acquisitions of Directworks (by Ivalua) and Pool4Tool (by Jaggaer). These acquisitions — not to mention Jaggaer’s prior acquisition of BravoSolution — took two specialist players in direct materials procurement and supplier management out of the best-of-breed market in North America, creating a new void. The result? The door was opened for new best-of-breed players from Europe to enter, and one of these players is Allocation.

But will Allocation benefit from the vacuum effect? It certainly has the pedigree. Founded in 1998, Allocation has been building its platform for two decades. Today it has one of the broadest and deepest platforms for direct supplier management and direct material sourcing on the market today. With a strong customer base in discrete manufacturing, Allocation can walk into just about any automotive, aerospace, CPG or other manufacturing-based procurement organization and talk the talk, backing up its knowledge with a set of specialized capabilities.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Allocation’s e-sourcing and supplier management solutions. Part 1 of our analysis offers a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Allocation. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.