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Procurement Technology

So You Want to Build a B2B Marketplace: 8 Business Scenarios & Case Examples (Part 2) [PRO]

Just what is a B2B marketplace and, most important, why would you, as a procurement organization or distribution/business intermediary, want to build one? This Spend Matters PRO series provides insight into these and other questions. Part 1 and today’s installment begin by segmenting the market into (and defining) eight business scenarios they can enable that go beyond standard procure-to-pay or storefront/e-commerce enablement, which include “private” and “public” marketplace models.

Thus far, we have explored four models: Digital Trading Company (“buy/sell” models), Extended Bill of Material Orchestration, Group Purchasing Organization (GPO) and Distributor “Value Add.” Today, we turn our attention to four additional B2B marketplace concepts: Procure-to-Pay (P2P) Innovator, New Business Intermediary, Industry Captain and Supply Chain Steward.

For each of the eight areas we provide a summary description of the marketplace concept, technologies (off-the-shelf) that can enable it, selected vendor shortlists, best-fit industries that it can support and best-fit spend categories (if applicable). Later installments in the series will provider deeper insight into the following: what you’ll need to build one, technology vendors to consider capable of providing marketplace technology/infrastructure (based on SolutionMap benchmark data), and whether a marketplace, for procurement organizations, is a substitute (or not) for traditional cloud-based source-to-pay applications.

Spend Matters is involved in technology strategy and RFI projects for organizations building — or evaluating building — marketplaces using “off-the-shelf” technologies. Contact us to learn more.

AI in Procurement Today (Part 2): 6 Applications in P2P [PRO]

As we discussed in Part 1 of this series, AI is the reigning buzzword of the day in procurement software. Just about every enterprise vendor out there claims to have AI, even if all they have is RPA. To help procurement organizations get up to speed, we reviewed the definition of each of the technologies in the “cognitive” stack — RPA, ML, AR, AI and cognitive — and discussed how some (but definitely not all) platforms are making use of these emerging technologies to make procurement faster, better and more productive than ever before.

Specifically, in Part 1 we discussed how the right application of these assistive technologies today can give you a platform that provides true automation, smart auto-reorder of MRO/retail stock and enhanced mobile support. We also noted that there were just a few of the applications that were available. Today, we review three more capabilities that a best-of-breed procurement platform should provide to take your (tactical) procurement to the next level.

AI In Procurement Today (Part 1): Definitions and 6 Applications in P2P [PRO]

AI is the buzzword — or, more precisely, the buzz acronym — du jour in procurement software. Just about every vendor claims its applications have artificial intelligence, even though many have only basic forms of robotic process automation (RPA) or, at best, automated reasoning systems enhanced by machine learning.

But whether or not a vendor has capabilities that constitute true AI is not the ultimate question procurement needs to answer. Rather, procurement must ask what currently available systems can do today, how those systems can be used to automate and improve standard processes, and how today’s technology can prepare organizations to adopt true “cognitive” systems when they become available. Because real AI is coming. And if procurement fails to adopt the precursor technologies available today, laggard organizations risk being left in the dust by those that do.

This Spend Matters PRO series explores use cases for artificial intelligence in procurement, today and in the near future. It begins by defining, in plain terms, what AI is, which technologies fall under its umbrella and how they relate to procurement. We then identify six of the best mainstream applications of AI in procurement and explain how each can be applied to the procure-to-pay cycle. Future installments will examine applications of AI beyond P2P, including sourcing, spend analytics and supplier management.

Direct Material Sourcing and Supplier Management Platforms (Part 2) [Plus +]

In the first installment of this series, I introduced six distinct platform areas that manufacturers are making investments in as part of core efforts to drive more successful savings, efficiency, compliance, collaboration and supplier engagement programs. The first, design/engineering and sourcing enablement solutions, represents a new class of direct materials e-sourcing toolsets that attempt to accomplish numerous objectives. Why are all of these areas so essential, especially in concert together? This Spend Matters Plus analysis examines why.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 10: E-Procurement Components, Continued) [PRO]

In this series, we have been discussing the glue that binds together different areas of procurement workflow: the overall program management of both individual tasks and collective activities across the source-to-pay continuum, along with the technology components that support this end-to-end perspective. As a whole, this Spend Matters PRO series provides deep insight into what effective program management technology capabilities encapsulate from a design, platform and functional perspective.

We started this series by exploring design principles on which effective program management technology is based across the source-to-pay continuum. We then provided insights into the building blocks of effective program management technology components including best-of-breed project management, performance management, program compliance, program collaboration and other areas. We then highlighted specific examples of category management requirements and supplier management requirements before our series wrap-up with e-procurement and broader P2P.

In our last article (Part 9 — E-Procurement Components), we defined the P2P program counterparts to the sourcing-centric programs and began a deep dive into the platform components required to support the programs covered in our last entry. In this final installment on P2P, we conclude the platform components required to support modern procurement programs.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 9: E-Procurement Components) [PRO]

BuyerQuest

In these articles on program management, we have been discussing the glue that binds together different areas of procurement workflow: the overall program management of both individual tasks and collective activities across the source-to-pay (S2P) continuum. This Spend Matters PRO series, as a whole, provides deep insight into what effective program management technology capabilities encapsulate from a design, platform and functional perspective.

We started this broad series by exploring design principles on which effective program management technology is based within source-to-pay. We then provided insights into the building blocks of effective program management technology components today, including best-of-breed project management, performance management, program compliance and program collaboration. We also dove into category management requirements and supplier management requirements before beginning to wrap up the series with e-procurement (and broader P2P).

In our last article, an introduction to e-procurement programs, we defined the P2P program counterparts to the sourcing programs. In this, the first of our final two entries in the series, we begin a deep dive into the platform components required to support these procurement programs covered in our last entry.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 6 — An Introduction to SRM Programs) [PRO]

Global Risk Management Solutions

In our last set of posts, we addressed the basic requirements for any organization that wants to stand up a modern application to support sourcing programs that not only have a great user experience but are also backed by deep analytics. We went from basic program management requirements all the way to those that might seem near impossible to the average provider. We assure you they are not, although the chances of many providers meeting them are improbable, as we are requiring big leaps in typical back-office platform functionality.

But this is absolutely necessary. When people say that the creative process is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, the corollary is that for the average procurement professional, business processes are 10% strategic and 90% tactical. Not a good use of a highly educated individual's time. The tables have to be flipped so that strategic personnel can truly do strategic functions, not spend their days wrangling spend data, searching for new suppliers, assembling supplier qualification documents or doing manual contract review.

Changing this is not easy, especially because of the wide variety of programs that an SRM manager needs to implement. To crystalize the need for such extensive capabilities, we discuss some typical projects and how the technology-enabled experience needs to change for each SRM program.

LexisNexis Entity Insight: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

LexisNexis Entity Insight (LNEI) is a modern, “self-service” supplier management solution that the global data/market intelligence giant built to satisfy increasingly surging market demand for all things supplier risk management. Designed as a cost-effective, off-the-shelf solution, LNEI helps procurement, finance and supply chain organizations manage risk across their own supply networks, regardless of how nested or complex.

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

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 5d — Analytics Components) [PRO]

data analytics

Analytics is an essential component of effective program management. All processes within procurement depend on analytics, and the more individual tasks become integral threads in a tapestry of activity, the greater the value that the analysis of data brings to an organization.

But obtaining such value requires a software platform that supports the program, which in turn requires certain functional components to be successful. In this installment of our ongoing series on program management, we define the analytics solution components needed to facilitate both initiative identification and initiative support.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 5c — Analytics Examples) [PRO]

Analytics

Perhaps more so than any other category of procurement software, spend analysis tools, used either as a standalone product or as part of a broader procurement suite, succeed the most when they bring together visibility and insights in ways that helps users take action. That’s why we’re focusing on analytics as we continue our series on how procurement can support broader enterprise program management. In our last installment of this series, we dove into various spend and supply analytics that support key enterprise programs. Today’s installment explores six of those analytics areas and provides examples worthy of consideration.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 5b — Example Analytics within Enterprise Programs) [PRO]

analytics

In the most recent installment of this series, we explored how program management is a foundational capability that supports business transformation through a closed loop performance management process. If you’re a procurement organization that is trying to drive change in increasingly diverse, complex and collaborative areas, you’ll need to:

  1. Coordinate that enterprise-driven change vis a vis program management
  2. Align with your stakeholders on where you’ll add value
  3. Plan for the change and what it mean to you, stakeholders, and suppliers
  4. Bring forth your digital enabled supply management capabilities
  5. Execute (and keep coordinating)
  6. Measure your progress and adjust
  7. Rinse and Repeat
And as you do all this, you’re going to need analytics to find opportunities, prioritize projects, launch projects/workflows, manage KPIs and set up processes that have embedded analytics that allow them to adjust to changing conditions and spot risks that threaten them. In this installment of our series on program management, we’ll:
  1. Detail the analytic categories and specific analytics based on the program management life cycle
  2. Map enterprise programs to supporting analytics
  3. Dive into some selected analytics use cases and required technology components
And of course this will all be with a supply-side focus.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 5 — Analytics Strategy) [PRO]

Procurement doesn’t just drive value through “steady state” sourcing activities that pop up in the enterprise. It helps lead the transformation of the extended value chain and also supports and improves enterprise-level transformation activities. In both cases, such transformational activities will require strong supply analytics that procurement organizations are increasingly supporting through procurement centers of excellence where analytics and market intelligence (especially for sourcing processes) occupy the top functions within a procurement CoE (see more on the topic of procurement CoEs).

Any experienced procurement professional knows that business alignment is critical. This alignment process inevitably leads to a set of enterprise-led (or procurement-led) programs that in turn require a set of analytics capabilities to support. In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, we’ll share:

  • A DuPont-style enterprise value decomposition to nearly two dozen enterprise programs and support supply analytics areas
  • How to frame supply analytics within an overall close-loop performance improvement cycle — and examples within each step of the life cycle
  • A drill down into some of the top enterprise programs into the specific analytics required
  • A further drill down and set of examples in some of the most used analytics