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What is Your Spend Analytics Persona? Understand Your Requirements to Find the Best Technology Provider [PRO]

Analytics

No two procurement, finance, supply chain or IT organizations are alike. Each has its own persona that reflects not only its own unique requirements but also the stakeholders it serves when providing timely and accurate spend, procurement, supply and broader analytics.

The same principle holds true when analyzing spend analytics solutions. Each provider has a persona — or set of personas — that reflects its value proposition, solution strategy and targeted customer segments. Therefore, procurement organizations should seek providers whose personas best align to theirs. In other words, there is no “magic” solution provider, and finding the right fit is essential, because spend analytics applications are critical for not only identifying savings opportunities but also the effective management of the procurement function.

SolutionMap depicts vendor rankings based on specific buyer personas to reflect the unique value proposition, solution strategy and customer segments served by a vendor. Participating vendors are scored both on their Solution capability as well as on Customer Value, based on in-depth tech reviews (including live demos) by the Spend Matters analyst team and aggregated direct customer input from surveys. Each SolutionMap is updated quarterly rather than in 12-month (or longer) cycles, to accurately reflect the pace of market developments.

As part of our Spend Matters SolutionMap vendor comparison ranking for spend analytics and other strategic procurement technologies, the Spend Matters analyst team has dedicated considerable time to developing the unique organizational personas that we’ve most often seen in our decades of experience working with procurement organizations.

We have used these personas to weight the requirements used in solution scoring, which includes customer satisfaction scoring by solution customers. Having collected feedback from hundreds of procurement organizations in recent months as part of our SolutionMap research, we see these personas as useful starting points for procurement organizations to classify themselves before looking at solution rankings of providers in the market.

This Spend Matters PRO analysis shares five of the most common customer personas for spend analytics buying requirements. Aimed at practitioners as well as vendors and the consultants advising them, this research brief will be helpful to drive the type of mass customization of strategic procurement technology solutions needed to meet specific organizational needs.

Below, we present our five personas for spend analytics. For each, we include full definitions, typical organizational priorities (based on each persona), functional/solution and customer value emphasis, and recommended selection processes.

The First Row Seat: Interpreting Q4 2017 SolutionMap Results With Jason Busch — SAP Ariba, Basware and Coupa [PRO]

The Q4 2017 SolutionMap was a major product release for Spend Matters. It included six individual functional product types, two suite areas and spanned 32 vendors. Despite our marketing claims of having invested “hundreds of hours” of analyst time in the process, the actual number felt like more in the thousands, by my own accounting. I told one of my colleagues I felt like I was “in the Matrix” at one would point when looking at technology provider demonstrations. This Spend Matters PRO Research Note does not necessarily represent the views of Spend Matters or my colleagues. But as the founder of this thing, please grant me the license to share some personal opinions on what the results may tell us, including insights into some of the providers that are on the rise (and others potentially on the fall).

Today I’ll share insights into three providers: SAP Ariba, Basware and Coupa. For each, I’ll provide SolutionMap interpretation, opinion, analysis and some succinct recommendations to customers, prospects and partners. SolutionMap is in many ways the new Spend Matters, and while it is designed to be data driven and equal parts expert and customer led, I built a large chunk of the original site on opinion. (And, I admit, sometimes gossip, though most of it proved true!) After all, Spend Matters was a blog for so long. So let me opine and share what I really think.

What is Your Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) Persona? Understand Your Requirements to Find the Best Technology Provider [PRO]

No two contracts are alike, nor are organizations’ requirements for managing those contracts. It stands to reason then that there’s no single contract management application that will magically meet all procurement organizations better than another. This philosophy underpins our approach to the Spend Matters SolutionMap, a comparative analytical framework for practitioners to evaluate relevant solutions to meet their needs.

Our SolutionMap approach depicts vendor rankings based on specific buyer personas to reflect the unique value proposition, solution strategy and customer segments served by that provider. Participating vendors are scored both on their Solution Value, which is technology based in this case, as well as on Customer Value, based on in-depth tech reviews (including deep dive demonstrations) by the Spend Matters analyst team and aggregated from direct customer feedback. Each SolutionMap is updated quarterly rather than in 12-month (or longer) cycles, to accurately reflect the pace of market developments.

As part of the first release of the contract lifecycle management (CLM) SolutionMap, the Spend Matters analyst team has developed unique organizational personas that we’ve most often seen in our decades of experience working with procurement organizations. We have used these personas to customize the weightings of the requirements that we used in the weighting of solution scoring (which is graphically depicted as the y-axis SolutionMap) and also of customer satisfaction scoring (the x-axis) by end user organizations.

Having collected feedback from hundreds of CLM users, vendors and consultants in recent months as part of our SolutionMap research, we developed these personas to serve as useful starting points for procurement organizations to classify themselves and help them gain more insightful solution rankings of providers in the market. As in some other areas, baseline functionality is fairly undifferentiated. All the providers will have decent support for contract clauses, templates, amendments, version/change control, access control, audit trails, file attachments, flexible workflow engines, role-based dashboards, modern IaaS infrastructure and partnerships with popular digital signature vendors.

As such, this Spend Matters PRO analysis describes the CLM-focused requirements from these personas that differentiate the relevant solutions in the market. For each persona, we include full definitions, typical organizational priorities (based on each persona), functional/solution, and customer value emphasis and recommended selection processes. Comparative vendor rankings will be published for each persona next week on Spend Matters and updated quarterly.

Vendor Summary Report: Spend Analytics SolutionMap℠ Q4 2017 [PRO]

This SolutionMapSM analyzes a select group of spend analytics providers. It includes coverage of spend analytics capabilities that encourages subscribers to “peel the onion” beyond cleansing, classification, enrichment and reporting capabilities alone. It is part of our Q4 2017 SolutionMap report series, also featuring sourcing, supplier management contract management, e-procurement and invoice-to-pay providers. Our Q4 2017 release also features SolutionMaps for procure-to-pay and strategic procurement technology suites.

Spend Matters tracks more than 50 analytics providers with offerings targeting the procurement market today. This analysis features many of the largest spend analytics providers including AnyData Solutions, BravoSolution, Determine, GEP, Ivalua, Jaggaer, SAP Ariba, Sievo, Spendency, SpendHQ and Zycus. Among these providers it features select category, functional and industry capability of providers, although it does not highlight them in a specific persona.

SolutionMap ratings provide comparative rankings and insight into how each provider scored from a Solution perspective and Customer Value perspective.

Dive deeper with our full analysis.

Q4 2017 SolutionMap E-Procurement, Invoice-to-Pay and Procure-to-Pay Release Notes [PRO]

The Q4 2017 SolutionMap release for E-Procurement, Invoice-to-Pay (I2P) and Procure-to-Pay (P2P) saw a number of changes from the Q2 2017 release. This includes the addition of new providers and updated buying personas.

In addition, as new providers joined the process, solution innovation increased among existing participants and the number of customer references grew — approximately 150 customers in total for E-Procurement, I2P and P2P are now included in the SolutionMap benchmark — the overall SolutionMaps and scores changed considerably.

This Spend Matters PRO Release Note provides insight into the Q4 2017 SolutionMap release for E-Procurement, I2P and P2P, focusing on what changed from the previous release, including detailed analyst insights, updated persona definitions and vendor scoring criteria.

What is Your Procure-to-Pay Persona? Understand Your Requirements and Mass Customize Your Vendor Shortlist (Q4 2017 Update) [PRO]

No two procurement or finance organizations are alike. Each has its own persona that reflects not only its own value proposition and engagement approach but also the stakeholders it serves — and its supply base. The same principle holds true of procure-to-pay (P2P) application providers. Each has a persona (or more than one persona) that reflects its value proposition, solution strategy and targeted customer segments. Therefore, companies should seek providers whose personas best align to theirs. In other words, there is no “magic” solution provider, and finding the right fit is critical, because a P2P application represents the main interface for most of procurement’s internal customers — and a common face to suppliers, as well.

To that end, we are excited to break down our approach to Spend Matters SolutionMap, a comparative analytical framework for practitioners to evaluate relevant solutions to meet their procurement needs. Our SolutionMap initiative depicts vendor rankings based on specific buyer personas to reflect the unique value proposition, solution strategy and customer segments served by a vendor. Participating vendors are scored both on their Solution as well as on Customer Value, based on in-depth tech reviews (including live demos) by the Spend Matters analyst team and aggregated direct customer input from surveys. Each SolutionMap is updated quarterly rather than in 12-month (or longer) cycles, to accurately reflect the pace of market developments.

As part of our second Spend Matters SolutionMap vendor comparison ranking, for procure-to-pay solutions, the Spend Matters analyst team has dedicated considerable time to developing the unique organizational “personas” that we’ve most often seen in our decades of experience working with procurement organizations. We have used these personas to weight the requirements that we used in solution scoring, which includes customer satisfaction scoring by solution customers.

Having collected feedback from hundreds of P2P users, vendors and consultants in recent months as part of our SolutionMap research, we see these personas as useful starting points for procurement organizations to classify themselves before looking at solution rankings of providers in the market. This Spend Matters PRO analysis shares five of the most common customer personas for procure-to-pay, spanning both e-procurement and invoice-to-pay solution areas. Aimed at practitioners as well as vendors and the consultants advising them, this research brief is the first step in the “mass customization” of procure-to-pay solutions to meet specific organizational needs.

Below, we present our five personas for procure-to-pay. For each, we include the following: full definitions, typical organizational priorities (based on each persona), functional / solution and customer value emphasis and recommended selection processes. Comparative vendor rankings are published for each persona separately on Spend Matters (and updated quarterly).

Coupa’s Open Buy Solution with Amazon Business is a Game-Changer for Unified Catalog Management and Real Guided Buying [PRO]

Electronic catalogs are a pain in the ass. Twenty years ago, early e-procurement implementations were always dragged down by the work required to build electronic catalogs. And things haven't changed that much. The problem is that you force suppliers to publish (i.e., replicate) catalog content to their buyers’ various system or to electronic marketplaces — unless you use supplier-hosted catalogs that you “punch out” to. This is nearly always implemented as a Level 1 punch out, where the poor buying employee has to click on various supplier icons to get to the right websites where their buying experiences are controlled by the seller (i.e., “guided selling”) rather than the chief procurement officer (CPO) preferred metaphor of guided buying.

The next level of sophistication is a Level 2 punch out, where supplier catalog content sits next to internally curated corporate catalog items before a punch out occurs when the right item is found. The problem, however, is that a supplier still has to syndicate (replicate) all of the content that a CPO wants to expose to corporate employees. And it’s even worse because the type of catalog items in question are broad assortments of infrequently ordered items that make up tail spend. Are you really going to get someone like Amazon Business to syndicate content from hundreds of millions of items to your buy-side catalog? No. Also, the number of suppliers that support Level 2 punch out is extremely low (perhaps fewer than 100 suppliers globally), which is not surprising given that they have to syndicate massive catalogs to multiple channels. Syndication/replication is not a great long-term answer for anyone when an API can be built to serve up the content on demand.

Speaking of Amazon, Coupa has worked with Amazon Business to develop a Coupa solution called Open Buy. The offering changes the paradigm to allow “guided buying” through a more unified experience that actually implements Level 2 punch outs properly in a way that’s palatable to the CPO, employees and the supplier (i.e., Amazon Business doesn’t currently support the existing Level 2 punch out scheme — and we don’t blame them). In this Spend Matters PRO brief, we’ll examine how Coupa Open Buy works, how it’s different and some strategic implications for the market.

What To Expect from Best-in-Class Spend Analysis Technology and User Design (Part 5): Looking Ahead [PRO]

As we conclude our series on spend analysis, we turn our attention to how best-in-class solutions can support three requirements that go beyond the basics of what most organizations have implemented today. These enabling capabilities are already (and will become even more) important for procurement to be effective at addressing, through analytics, business objectives as it strives to become more effective as both a value-generating and compliance-oriented function. The three components are: providing specialized tail spend analytics, permissive analytics and real-time maverick (or off-contract) spend identification. The remainder of the series (see: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4) explores what the fundamental building blocks of best-in-class analytics technology and user design look like today and will look like in the future.

Solution Provider Product and Technology Roadmaps: Are They Important? [PRO]

spend visiblity

The short answer to the question posed in the title is emphatically and definitively “yes” — now more than ever. When screening or evaluating technology solution providers for e-procurement, contract lifecycle management, vendor management systems (VMS) or any other solution, there is frequently an inherent present and backward-looking bias in evaluating and making decisions about these solutions. Considering only what solutions have done or are doing for their clients (and ex-clients) only tells so much about whether or not the solution is a good fit.

There are probably a number of reasons for this bias, including that it may have led to optimal decisions in the past because vendors often over-promised and only partially delivered. But in today’s world, this bias can handicap a procurement organization given the growing number of new solutions and rapid changes in technology. Whether intentional or not on the part of the solution provider, “adverse selection” may come into play here — to the detriment of all. By not knowing where a provider plans or intends to (or actually can) take its solution in the future, the buyer is missing crucial information that could result in a bad decision. Making sure that roadmaps are reviewed and analyzed is an important way to mitigate this risk.

In this Spend Matters PRO research brief, we explore this problem and make suggestions to support ways to move beyond it, including how to look at a provider’s product and technology maps from a 2017 cloud-era frame of reference. For those who are new to this topic, we start with the basics, providing an explanation of what vendor product and technology roadmaps are, what they should contain and what you should expect.

What To Expect from Best-in-Class Spend Analysis Technology and User Design (Part 3) [PRO]

data analytics

Evaluating the merits of spend analysis solutions (by user role) is inherently complex given that a spend data analyst, a data management QA individual, teams, category managers, other procurement users and business stakeholders will interact with the application in different ways. An ideal solution for one user “type” may be unacceptable for another. For example, some groups will care deeply about granular data import/export capability while others will judge an entire solution by its reporting. Still others will marvel over the ability to classify or reclassify data in certain ways on the fly. But one commonality regardless of user role or interest for spend analysis is that the intersection of best-in-class technology with best-in-class user design is becoming inseparable. Form and function are both leading (and following) each other.

This Spend Matters PRO series explores how these areas can come together across a spend analysis application to transform how users interact with data and what they can do with it as a result. In the Part 1 of this series, we explored what separates out spend analysis dashboard approaches that are a distraction (at best) from those that are an invaluable component of an overall solution. In Part 2, we analyzed all of the nuances of optimal filter definition and dynamic cube views (and creation), including exploring what a truly flexible and dynamic filter capability consists of, as well as explaining the essential elements of formulaic and ranged dimension capability and real-time/scalable spend cubes (and why they matter, even for a typical user).

In this installment, we turn our attention to the intersection of the best technology and user design combinations covering optimal approaches to data import/export in different formats, “idiot-proof” data categorization system design and reclassification of data.

What To Expect from Best-in-Class Spend Analysis Technology and User Design (Part 2) [PRO]

Analytics

Like many other procurement technology enthusiasts, the co-authors of this report tend to put quite a bit of emphasis on just the spend classification components when considering spend analysis technology. But just as important as accurate spend classification is what one does with the data once it is available in a usable format. In the first installment in this series, we provided an insider look on what differentiates spend analysis dashboards that are a distraction (at best) from those that are an invaluable component of an overall solution.

As this Spend Matters PRO series on what separates out best-in-class spend analysis technology and user interface capabilities from the vendor pack continues, we turn our attention to the nuances of optimal filter definition and dynamic cube views (and creation). This includes exploring what a truly flexible and dynamic filter capability consists of, as well as explaining the essential elements of formulaic and ranged dimension capability and real-time/scalable spend cubes (and why they matter, even for a typical user).

What To Expect from Best-in-Class Spend Analysis Technology and User Design (Part 1) [PRO]

There seems to be a near universal playbook for spend analysis solution providers when it comes to positioning the capability they deliver. You’re not alone if you think many vendors sound interchangeable (despite claims of “enrichment accuracy” or dashboard superiority). To be candid, based on our survey of many solutions in this market as part of PRO Vendor Snapshot reviews and, more recently, our SolutionMap comparative analyses, a good many are. But they’re fungible in a way that is not necessarily negative, especially those that tend to rely more on services and less on technology to drive data management efforts.

Still, best-in-class technology and usability matter. And while we do not disagree that spend analysis must center on — and span the gamut of — spend data acquisition from disparate sources, data cleansing, data classification, data enrichment and data analytics via a BI/data presentation layer, the devil is truly in the details when it comes to what to look for in a best-in-class solution both from technology and user interface capabilities. As with e-sourcing (Part 1, Part 2), reverse auction capability (Part 1, Part 2) and sourcing optimization (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4), the gap that separates out top performing solutions from everyone else is getting wider, not narrower.

This multipart Spend Matters PRO series examines the components of spend analysis solution capabilities in the technology and user experience areas that represent best-in-class today — and the intersection of how emerging features and capability are interacting (and driving) an optimal user experience. In this first installment, we consider the optimal interactive spend analysis dashboard.