Technology Content

Services Procurement is Broken: Finding Fixes Beyond Contingent Workforce Management, E-procurement [PRO]

If you google the term “services procurement,” you’ll see an article from my colleague Andrew Karpie touching on the topic front and center. He talks about the need to transcend the traditional contingent labor-centric view of what is in fact a much larger scope dealing with the procurement of all services. Aggregate annual spend on complex services by U.S. organizations is on the order of $9 trillion to $10 trillion, while spend on temporary staffing is only on the order of $0.02 trillion. When looked at with a wider-angle lense, the scope of services spend is huge. But ...

This is where I’m going to carry the discussion forward. The problem that I’ll address is, to put it bluntly, the management of services spend is shockingly poor.

There are many reasons for this. The first is organizational.

A spend category like direct materials is fairly straightforward in terms of organizational reporting ultimately into the supply chain organization (and/or business unit). The same can be said for lab supplies managed alongside R&D or data center equipment managed alongside IT. But services are trickier, not only in their inherent complexity and variability, but also because of their organizational governance. For example, if I’m looking to bring in some DevOps contractors to supplant my IT outsourcing provider’s capabilities, do I use an IT category team, a contingent labor Center of Excellence or perhaps an IT Vendor Management Office to have the ITO vendor provision the resources?

Beyond the organizational governance issue, the bigger problem is the fragmented nature of managing (not just procuring) services and the underlying systems to manage them — even just in source-to-pay. Case in point: There is not a single source-to-pay solutions provider in the market that offers deep support for all enterprise spend on a platform with a single code base and a unified data model.

And this is 20 years after e-procurement systems started being developed. Let that sink in.

But before a few of the S2P suite vendors get their knickers in a twist over this statement, keep in mind that what I’m including with the term “deep support” is being able to track services work to the contingent worker level that temporary labor solutions (aka “VMS” solutions) and those solutions supporting independent contractors. These contingent labor procurement platforms for their part are only touching a portion of the spend, and the expansion of many of them into SOW-based spend isn’t necessarily something that firms want to use for all their contract-based spend given that modern S2P suites can do a reasonably good job of setting up SOWs against MSAs, modeling basic rate-based service catalogs, and then matching them to the downstream invoice-to-pay processes. The trick, however, is how to go beyond the basics and handle the real life requirements of complex services categories.

This transformation will require a new way to understand/frame services and a new class of architecture and platforms to meet these needs — while also making some practical moves with existing tools (e.g., using modern CLM platforms as a critical core to modeling the commercial details/attributes of these services). It will also require procurement to align more tightly with IT and to leverage an emerging ecosystem of platform providers and approaches that can help rise above the functional silos that manage services spend in disjointed ways.

Extracting maximum commercial value from services can only be done at an end-to-end process level, and procurement has an opportunity to help optimize the sourcing, consumption, settlement and ongoing management of these increasingly digital and externalized services (and their providers). By more easily extending the capabilities of digitally savvy suppliers into internal value chains with internal stakeholders, but also ultimately out to external customers, procurement can proactively be part of broader enterprise digital transformation activities.

In this SpendMatters PRO analysis, we’ll dive into the challenges of segmenting external business services (e.g., understanding the interplay between digital-dominant and labor-dominant services) and how to look beyond the traditional contingent labor approaches (hint: Segmenting the market based on the presence of a statement-of-work is clearly not sufficient).

Later in this series, we’ll dive deeper into a new commercial framework for services and then map the resulting business requirements to technology requirements and associated vendor/solution types that transcend the source-to-pay market (e.g., enterprise CLM, ITSM, low-code platforms, etc.).

Sustainability and Supplier Data: EcoVadis, Healthcare Firms Share Information for ‘Responsible Health Initiative’

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The issue of sustainability has increasingly become a topic that has the power to unite industries in which peers might otherwise find themselves in fierce competition. According to EcoVadis, industry concerns about sustainability have made supplier data, which was once considered proprietary, become a shared resource for creating impact and cross-company value. EcoVadis and three health and pharmaceutical companies — GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Teva, Takeda — this year announced the launch of the Responsible Health Initiative (RHI).

Comparing S2P Procurement Technology Suites on a Functional Basis: Coupa, Ivalua, Jaggaer and SAP Ariba

Now more than ever, better choices exist at the top end of the market for source-to-pay technology suites. When it comes to overall suite functional performance in the Q4 2018 SolutionMap, a handful of suite vendors tend to stand out from the overall pack, often for very different reasons. Four of the top performing S2P suite vendors in the Q4 SolutionMap functional benchmark are Coupa, Ivalua, Jaggaer and SAP Ariba. But how do they compare to the overall SolutionMap source-to-pay benchmark dataset? You can find out here in our coverage, which will include Determine, SynerTrade and Zycus.

Commodities Roundup: February Price Surges, USTR Releases 2019 Trade Policy Agenda, Steel Capacity Hits 81.1%

For the buyers and category managers out there, especially those of you deep in the weeds of buying and managing commodities, here’s a quick rundown of news and thoughts from particular commodity markets. This week: Metal prices rise, steel utilization is up; Brexit fallout still looming.

E-Catalogs: The ‘Fifth Element’ of Procurement [Plus+]

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E-catalogs are still a key part of any e-procurement solution and e-marketplace. However, they are no longer simply a tool to load the prices and features of products and services for approval and then integrate into an e-marketplace to purchase against it. Today, e-catalogs are becoming an intelligent and integrated source of information that enable nearly all purchasing scenarios, with the support of a robust e-marketplace where requesters can search between e-catalogs (including punchouts or any other e-commerce site) — all while in compliance with the organization's business rules and standards.

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.

Fairmarkit: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT (Part 2) — Summary and Competitive Analysis [PRO]

The question of how to manage tail spend is as much a philosophical question as a technical one. There are issues around the thresholds that define tail spend, challenges around rogue spend that creates the long tail and the ultimate decision about who should be responsible for taming the tail.

But for most procurement organizations, the tail spend discussion is left unexplored.

Instead, the status quo way of managing tail spend often reigns. It’s rarely effective, so you’re left with the problems: wasted time by procurement and non-procurement staff, long lists of unknown or untrusted vendors, no clean data or visibility into savings left on the table.

Challenging this status quo is what Fairmarkit, a provider of tail spend management software out of Boston, seeks to do with its RFQ and analytics solutions. But where does Fairmarkit fit compared with other sourcing and tail spend management providers in the procurement technology market, and what are its relative strengths and weaknesses compared with direct and indirect competitors?

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Fairmarkit and its capabilities. Part 1 of this brief provided an overview of Fairmarkit’s offering and a detailed solution tour. Part 2 includes a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a competitive breakdown of other providers that a procurement organization might consider while evaluating Fairmarkit.

10 Business Intelligence Trends: From Analytics Adoption to Explainable AI and Converging BI Platforms

“Business intelligence” has been a staple of an effective corporate entity long before computers appeared on the scene, but leaps in computing power, cloud storage and advances in data processing and visualization have allowed businesses to use their resources vastly more effectively. The advances in business intelligence (BI) also make it accessible to hundreds or thousands of workers throughout the business, instead of just a few dozen data scientists using specialized skills and software. Against that backdrop, Tableau outlines 10 BI developments to watch in its 2019 Business Intelligence Trends report.

Upwork’s Latest ‘Future Workforce’ Report Shows Differences in Freelance, Remote Hiring by Millennials/Gen Z and Baby Boomer Managers

contingent workforce

The freelancer website Upwork on Tuesday released its third annual “Future Workforce Report,” which examines hiring behaviors of more than 1,000 hiring managers based in the U.S. It looks “specifically into how younger generations’ (hiring managers) are shaping the future of work.” The study is far-ranging, but our coverage will focus on some areas relevant to our procurement audience: younger generations’ attitudes toward changing work models — namely, remote work and external workforce.

Where to Start When Identifying ERP Solutions

When you find yourself tasked with figuring out what ERP solution you are going to on-board for your organization, you do a quick search and find there are dozens of vendors offering a variety of ERP solutions. Where do you start in your process of determining which of these vendors and platforms would be best for you? You need to look at functionality, pricing and resourcing.

Coupa, Services and Coupa Contingent Workforce: A Progress Report (Part 2) [PRO]

In this two-part PRO series, Spend Matters provides a review and analysis of Coupa’s recent evolution in addressing the category of services spend, including Coupa Contingent Workforce. In Part 1, we provided an overview of where Coupa is at with the integration and leveraging of DCR Workforce.

First, we revisited the Coupa “services procurement” background/context leading up to the DCR acquisition last year. We also recounted our September 2018 briefing, in which Coupa discussed the acquisition and what to expect as far as integration (or “unification”) of the acquisition over the coming months. Additionally, we discussed what we learned from our most recent January 2019 briefing by Coupa on the current state of the integration.

Based on this analysis, we concluded that, six months in after the acquisition, Coupa’s integration at the organizational and product levels appeared to be on course. The priorities seemed reasonable even given the unique dynamics of the VMS market — and the plan, based on Coupa’s history of stamping out post-merger integrations, seemed on track.

But beyond this, what has happened to the DCR product under the Coupa umbrella? And how is it fitting into the changing world of services procurement — and potentially even help to shape it? In Part 2 of this research series, we will provide our own observations on where Coupa seems to be going, in terms of the contingent workforce technology solution segment and its increasing overlap with other procurement technology solutions.

BirchStreet: What Makes It Great (E-Procurement SolutionMap Analysis)

BlueCart

If you’re outside of the hospitality, restaurant, food service, casino and food manufacturing industries, you’ve probably never heard of BirchStreet. But if you’re involved in purchasing goods and services in any of these markets — from CAPEX spending to bananas to booze — then chances are you’ve encountered this top-performing Spend Matters SolutionMap provider — or you’re already using it on a daily basis. And based on SolutionMap customer reference reviews and data, you’re quite happy indeed.

But how does BirchStreet stack up to other e-procurement vendors, especially those less-specialized providers trying to break into these markets? Join us as we explore what makes BirchStreet great based on SolutionMap’s analyst and customer benchmark data.

As of December 2018, SolutionMap contains functional and customer satisfaction benchmarks on more than 50 providers within the procurement technology landscape. Within SolutionMap, where does BirchStreet stand out most and help “set the bar” in e-procurement, and why should this matter for procurement and finance organizations?

Let’s delve into the SolutionMap benchmark to find out where BirchStreet is great.

“What Makes It Great” is a recurring column that shares insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider subscribers. Based on our rigorous evaluation process and customer reference reviews, each brief offers quick facts on the provider, describes where it excels, provides hard data on where it beats the SolutionMap benchmark and concludes with a checklist for ideal customer scenarios in which procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should consider it.