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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.

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.

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.

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.

APEX Analytix: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis [PRO]

data analytics

APEX Analytix is far more than just a recovery audit and spend analysis software provider. It’s also a specialist in supplier management. This third and final installment of our Vendor Snapshot covering APEX Analytix’s supplier management solution provides a SWOT analysis of the company along with a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also offers recommended shortlist candidates that can serve as alternative vendors to APEX, complete with solution selection guidance. Finally, this research brief provides summary analysis and recommendations for organizations considering APEX for supplier management. 

For background on APEX, we encourage you to review Part 1 of the series, which provided an in-depth look at APEX and its supplier management solution, and Part 2, which gave a detailed analysis of product strengths and weaknesses, as well as a review of the its user experience.

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

spend analytics

Better known for its broader portfolio of recovery audit, overpayment and self-audit software, APEX Analytix also offers a specialized supplier management solution. APEX provides unique, out-of-the-box capabilities that support core supplier information management (SIM), validation and financial controls, as well as working capital optimization solutions. In addition, its supplier management solution delivers the broader configurability, workflow, rules, analytics, supplier portal and associated capabilities one would expect from supplier management software.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores APEX Analytix’s strengths and weaknesses in the supplier management area specifically, 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 APEX Analytix. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

If you were to pick a single procurement software category that is remaking itself from the inside out thanks to technology, the recovery audit market would be it. And one provider at the vanguard of this transformation is APEX Analytix. APEX Analytix, a Spend Matters Provider to Watch since 2015, is perhaps best known for its core accounts payables (AP) recovery audit business. But it is a broad-based procurement technology provider in its own right, offering a range of overpayment prevention and self-audit software, supplier information management and supplier portal solutions.

In this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series, we will focus our analysis of APEX Analytix on its supplier management solution, which will be featured for the first time in the Q3 2018 Supplier Management SolutionMap. APEX Analytix’s solution, which is best-in-class when it comes to certain areas of financial information management and validations, deserves to be considered on a standalone basis.

This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides an overview of APEX Analytix, focusing on its supplier management solution capabilities. It provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement and finance organizations make informed decisions about whether they should explore APEX Analytix on a stand-alone basis in this area. 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 APEX Analytix. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Tradeshift By the Numbers (1H 2018) and a New Bank Offering (The “Early Payments Wallet”) [PRO]

In New York City yesterday, following the announcement of a $250 million funding round, Tradeshift provided an update to analysts, customers and partners. We covered a couple of the general updates already, including the announcement of a new receivables-centric application and supplier network offering (see: Tradeshift’s “Sellers Club” Targets Bottomline and Accounts Receivable Technology With a Many-to-Many Offering) and parallels Tradeshift is drawing from others in developing its own strategy (see: Tradeshift Analyst Day Dispatch: “Do You Want Amazon to Own Your Supplier Relationships?).

In today’s Spend Matters PRO coverage, we turn our attention to other announcements from the event, including a general corporate update (i.e., Tradeshift by the numbers) and other product announcements. The emphasis is on Tradeshift’s new bank-centric offerings that support early payment programs, including bank and multi-bank funding options, along with KYC (Know Your Customer) and the other alphabet soup requirements that banks require from a supplier/customer onboarding standpoint. We’ll also share our observations coming out of the event. Let’s begin.

5 Reasons to Bet For and Against Coupa (Part 2: The Blindsided Prince) [PRO]

Owing to its focus on “business” spend management and public company status, Coupa continues to serve as an ambassador and proxy for the procurement technology sector overall. As I noted in the first installment of this series — 5 Reasons to Bet For and Against Coupa (Part 1: The Virtuous ‘Cloud’ Prince) — it seems everyone has an opinion on Cramer’s new “Cloud Prince.” I shared five reasons I’d bet on Coupa from a procurement (not capital markets) perspective.

Today, to balance things out, I turn negative and introduce five reasons I’d bet against the firm, primarily revolving around how the sector and procurement, finance and supply chain may change around it. I’ll lump these reasons under the theme as “blindsided prince,” since I believe Coupa’s biggest risks come from outside, not within.

Q2 2018 SolutionMap E-Procurement, Invoice-to-Pay and Procure-to-Pay Release Notes

This Spend Matters SolutionMap Insider Release Note provides insight into the Q2 2018 SolutionMap release for E-Procurement, Invoice-to-Pay (I2P) and Procure-to-Pay (P2P), reviewing the process that we follow and highlighting what has changed since the last release.

The Q2 2018 SolutionMap release saw a number of changes from the Q1 2018 release. This includes the addition of the following new providers: SynerTrade and Jaggaer Indirect. Additionally, a number of providers have received updated scoring based on the submission and demonstration of new production technology release capabilities. In addition, the Procure-to-Pay customer reference set grew by over 50 individual customer references in Q2.

This SolutionMap Insider research note provides insight into these and additional changes in the Q2 2018 SolutionMap release.

Q2 2018 SolutionMap Release Notes: Source-to-Pay (S2P)

This Spend Matters SolutionMap Insider Release Note provides insight into the Q2 2018 SolutionMap release for Source-to-Pay, reviewing the process that we followed for this inaugural release.

The providers in the Q2 2018 Source-to-Pay SolutionMap include Determine, GEP, Ivalua, SAP Ariba, SynerTrade and Zycus. All of these providers were required to participate in SolutionMap for each underlying module, as well. These individual areas include Sourcing, Spend and Procurement Analytics, Supplier Relationship Management & Risk, Contract Lifecycle Management, E-Procurement and Invoice-to-Pay. All of these providers are also included in the individual Strategic Procurement Technologies (SPT) and Procure-to-Pay (P2P) suite views.

This SolutionMap Insider research note provides insight into these and additional considerations in the Q2 2018 SolutionMap release. The Source-to-Pay customer data set is composed of a subset of the 700+ individual organization references included in the overall SolutionMap scoring as of Q2 2018*.

*Customers using more than one module that a vendor provides can opt to fill out a single survey within each individual suite area (e.g., a customer using two modules for P2P and four modules for SPT would only need to fill out two surveys).

Q2 2018 SolutionMap Release Notes: Sourcing, Spend Analytics, SRM, CLM and Strategic Procurement Technology Suites

This Spend Matters SolutionMap Insider release note provides insight into the Q2 2018 SolutionMap release for Sourcing, Spend and Procurement Analytics, Supplier Relationship Management & Risk, Contract Lifecycle Management, and Strategic Procurement Technologies Suite SolutionMaps, reviewing the process we follow and highlighting what has changed since the last release.

Within the individual areas covered in this brief, the following provider has been added to the Q2 2018 release: Bonfire. Additionally, providers such as EC Sourcing, Ivalua, and SynerTrade have received updated scoring following the submission and demonstration of new capabilities based on production releases of individual modules. (Non-GA capabilities are not considered in SolutionMap scoring.) Perhaps most important, over 100 new customer references were added in the Strategic Procurement Technology areas for Q2.

This SolutionMap Insider release note explores these and additional changes in the Q2 2018 SolutionMap release.