PRO Content

ConnXus: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses [PRO]

From a technology and content perspective, the market for supplier diversity-specific supplier management solutions has remained somewhat of a cottage industry for over a decade. Larger vendors, including both software and risk-centric providers, have not been able to take advantage of scale or reach. Further, over the years, even those organizations which have acquired diversity-centric vendors (e.g., Kroll, Jaggaer) have not been able to consolidate the market.

This has opened the door for more recent entrants, such as ConnXus, to not only develop technology, solutions and content for supplier diversity professionals but also to integrate these capabilities with broader offerings across the supplier management spectrum, as well as set a new standard for what should be included in a supplier diversity solution in the first place.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores ConnXus’ strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. The first installment our analysis provided a company and solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering the provider. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

suppliers

The supplier management technology market is a microcosm of the procurement technology market generally, as it has many subsegments and is fragmented from a provider perspective. Procurement organizations need to do their full homework when evaluating potential suppliers, including newer technology vendors and a host of incumbents that have been competing for a decade (and sometimes more) in this market segment. Consider that two components within the supplier management, supplier information management (SIM) and supplier discovery management (SDM), have been around since the early 2000s, when Aravo pioneered capabilities in this area and signed progressive companies like Google.

But when it comes to supplier management, SIM and SDM are not the whole story. Within this segment, specialized supplier performance management (SPM), supplier relationship management (SRM), supply/supplier risk management, supplier network management (SNM), and other takes on supplier management that haven't even hit mainstream yet are helping drive specific buying decisions for technology. That probably accounts for the recent explosion in supplier management technology providers over the past few years, with a new one either hitting the market or becoming mainstream seemingly every quarter.

One of the companies that is now becoming mainstream in this broader sector is ConnXus. Founded in 2010 out of the founders’ frustration in their inability to quickly and easily identify, and qualify, new diverse suppliers as a result of incomplete databases, fragmented resources and expensive software, ConnXus is on some levels a next-generation version of previous diversity specialists including CVM Solutions and AECSoft. The founders also observed that small business owners and diverse suppliers found it difficult to share diversity qualifications or develop relationships with procurement executives directly.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about ConnXus’ solution offering in the supplier management and supplier diversity markets. 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 ConnXus in the procurement technology area. The rest of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, and evaluation and selection considerations.

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

SciQuest

LevaData is a provider that challenges the traditional notion of “modules” in the procurement technology sector. In combining supply chain visibility, market data and benchmarks, community analytics, optimization, forecasting, AI techniques and strategic sourcing capability, LevaData is positioning itself as the first “cognitive sourcing” provider. While focused primarily today on select industries and categories, its goal is to become both a single source of truth and core enablement technology for broader direct materials sourcing. Today, LevaData’s solution blends integrated market intelligence, analytics and sourcing components in a single platform, primarily serving customers in the electronics/high tech manufacturing sector. While more mature in certain areas and less in others, the combined product set is not like anything else we have seen or analyzed in the market.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering LevaData offers a SWOT analysis, competitive assessment and comparison with other related vendors targeting direct materials procurement. It also includes a user selection guide and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep-dive solution overview, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider LevaData.

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

Quick, what would a mashup of an analytics, market intelligence and an optimization-backed advanced sourcing platform look like for direct materials procurement? It would need to feature at least the basics of line-level spend analytics and reporting, and, for manufacturers, ideally offer deeper bill of materials insight into sub-tier materials, parts and component data. It would have to provide market-based insights into relative total cost, as well as integrated access to external market data feeds to enable benchmarking. And it would need to feature sourcing capability that factors into account both internal and supply chain costs, constraints and business requirements in recommendations and decision-making.

In other words, it would look something like LevaData, a manufacturing-centric procurement technology vendor that offers an integrated set of capabilities that is different from anything else we have reviewed in the market. This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores LevaData’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. The first installment of our analysis provided a company and solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering the provider. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

Outside of core ERP and supply chain planning systems, the technology market for direct materials procurement and sourcing is almost too nascent to even be considered fragmented. While many software firms claim they power direct materials procurement solutions needs, the reality is that most end up “kludging” off-the-shelf solutions based on existing, distinct modules for manufacturing. Yet new direct materials solutions are emerging that blur the line of modules, product classification and underlying technology in a not so dissimilar way that the adoption of their solutions also blurs the line from a user perspective between design engineering, procurement, quality and operations and supply chain.  

LevaData is one such emerging technology provider that has capability spanning direct materials procurement and cost analytics, bill of materials-level spend visibility, market/commodity intelligence and sourcing (optimization). It is one of the first entrants into the “cognitive sourcing” space, offering a platform that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) capability to make both part- and component-level sourcing recommendations, especially in the electronics industry, where LevaData has a statistically relevant number of customers and products in its database. Having recently raised $5 million in Series A funding in August 2017, LevaData appears ready to move beyond its initial 20 customers.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about LevaData’s solution offering. 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 LevaData in the procurement technology area. The rest of this research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and evaluation and selection considerations.

Everything Procurement Should Know About Payments (Part 6): Payment Best Practices and Recommendations [PRO]

early pay

Our goal in this research series on payments has been to provide procurement with a single point of reference to understand all of the intricacies and challenges associated with standard payment processes today, as well as the limitations of existing procure-to-pay (P2P) solutions when it comes to addressing payments in full. Spend Matters PRO subscribers can access the individual parts below:

The final installment in this series summarizes payment best practices today and provides recommendations to procurement organizations looking to take a leadership role in driving integrated processes that bridge supplier management, transactional buying, accounts payable, payment and working capital management processes.

Everything Procurement Should Know About Payments (Part 5): Dynamic Discounting and Supply Chain Finance Models [PRO]

The payment process is integral to not just transactional procurement, accounts payable and supplier management. It is also an essential component of receivables and payables trade financing models. This fifth installment in our Spend Matters PRO series exploring how procurement touches and is impacted by the payment process provides insight into the intersection of payments and trade financing, especially buyer-led (or influenced) models. See also:

In this brief, we explore the two most popular (non-factoring) trade financing models — supply chain finance (SCF) and dynamic discounting — as well as their payment intersections, especially from supplier on-boarding and enablement perspectives. We also provide an introduction to hybrid early payment and trade financing models.

Everything Procurement Should Know About Payments (Part 4): Setting Up Suppliers for Payment — The Intersection of P2P and Supplier Management (Part 4) [PRO]

Historically, most procure-to-pay solutions have put advanced supplier management capability on the back burner from a strategic development perspective. At best, they have paid lip service when attempting to tie a powerful supplier information management (SIM) capability into P2P and supplier network offerings (i.e., one-to-many or many-to-many connectivity approaches). While this is beginning to change, in general the worlds of collecting, validating, managing and keeping supplier record information up to date to enable timely payment and accounts payable vendor outreach are rarely bridged fully.

This Spend Matters PRO brief, the fourth in our series providing a comprehensive primer on everything “payments” from a procurement perspective, provides a background briefing on why collecting supplier information is critical to enable payments and a checklist for setting suppliers up for payment, starting with initial on-boarding steps. (See Part 1: Procurement’s Role and P2P Case Examples; Part 2: Best-in-Class P2P Technology Capabilities and the Reconciliation Process; and Part 3: Payment Operations — Challenges and Opportunities.) It also provides a vendor data collection template for basic and advanced fields that companies should compare against their own for an accounts payable-centric on-boarding process spanning company, ownership, insurance and remit/banking details. Finally, Part 4 concludes with examples of technology enablement capability that advanced supplier information systems can bring for supplier on-boarding and data maintenance.

When Advanced Contract Analytics and Spend Analytics Converge: Seal Software Vendor Snapshot Update [PRO]

Seal Software has historically focused on search, discovery and reporting on structured and unstructured contract data scattered throughout organizations (i.e., not just in a centralized repository). Recently, however, Seal expanded the scope of its capability with a bespoke “front-end” analytics offering, which on the surface more resembles spend analytics than contract management. But the new contract analytics solution is something fundamentally different, and its capabilities extend far beyond a standard spend analysis or contract reporting tool. This Spend Matter Vendor Snapshot Update provides an introduction to Seal Software’s new contract analytics capability and explains why it’s more than “another analytics dashboard” for procurement, finance, supply chain and legal stakeholders. It is an addendum to our previous review and analysis of Seal’s solution capability:

RapidRatings: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Competitive & Summary Analysis [PRO]

RapidRatings is a proven supplier risk management solution that specializes in financial risk management. Many large enterprises depend on it as a core component of their supplier risk management programs. It brings the ability — a critical one — to evaluate privately held suppliers, including a methodology to get even small and middle-market firms to submit financials with very high success levels.

Spend Matters analysis suggests that RapidRatings has a proven and comparatively superior methodology to alternative established models for developing accurate and predictive supplier financial risk ratings — especially for privately held companies — and gaining insight into overall supplier financial health. But it is important to note that the provider does not offer a comprehensive supplier or supply chain risk management solution and ideally should be considered as a component within a broader supply risk management capability.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering RapidRatings offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other procurement technology providers (suite and otherwise). It also includes a user selection guide, user interface and user experience (UI/UX) analysis and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep dive solution overview, a SWOT analysis, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider RapidRatings.

Everything Procurement Should Know About Payments (Part 3): Challenges and Opportunities for Payment Operations [PRO]

e-invoicing

As anyone tasked with extending and integrating a procure-to-pay (P2P) system to fully support the second “P” has no doubt learned, corporate payment processes and systems are highly complex — perhaps even more so than transactional purchasing activities. This Spend Matters PRO series provides a procurement-centric introduction to the topic of payments, offering a look into the payments lifecycle and how it integrates with core P2P processes and workflows.

Earlier installments (see Part 1 and Part 2) explored the invoice-to-reconciliation process, internal and external parties involved in core payments workflow and P2P technology best practices. In Part 3, we turn our attention to the nitty-gritty of managing core payment operations, examining a full list of the challenges companies face in confronting payments today, as well as the financial and operational costs of managing payments sub-optimally. We also provide an overview of shared services environments for payment operations while also exploring the many challenges companies face in attempting to drive payment process and system centralization generally.

Oracle Procurement Cloud: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Competitive Analysis & Recommendations [PRO]

tech

With planned release enhancements in the coming year, Oracle Procurement Cloud could become the 80% headache (today it is the 70%) for procurement suite providers and even more specialized competitors. Already, Oracle Procurement Cloud not only provides newcomers to spend management an opportunity to build a strong procurement foundation, but for companies that have swung and missed (for whatever reason) in their attempts to establish such a baseline, Oracle brings a lot to the table and will likely surprise those that had previously looked at earlier releases or other Oracle procurement applications.

This third and final installment of our Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot provides a SWOT analysis of Oracle Procurement Cloud, as well as a segmentation and comparison of competitors. It also includes a recommended shortlist of candidates that could serve as alternative vendors to Oracle for source-to-pay (S2P) suites, procure-to-pay (P2P) suites and e-sourcing. Finally, we conclude with a summary analysis and recommendations for organizations considering Oracle Procurement Cloud.