PRO Content

Defining AP Automation Functional Requirements (Part 1): Core Invoicing (Set-Up, Creation, Submission and Receiving) [PRO]

AP Automation is getting a lot of attention recently from multiple angles. This includes both finance/procurement organizations considering these solutions independently or as a component of broader invoice-to-pay or procure-to-pay investments. And it also counts the investment community, which continues to throw support behind a broad range of providers (just recently MineralTree raising $50 million).

As we’ve noted before, from a breadth perspective, AP automation technology can encompass the following functional areas on the highest level, which include electronic invoice capture, paper/PDF invoice capture (scan/capture), core invoice processing, invoice validations/matching (e.g., match to a PO or goods receipt), invoice approvals, supplier portal, supplier enablement services, systems integration, pre-onboarded suppliers payment integration and payment.

As part of our continuing coverage of AP automation, this Spend Matters PRO series will explore the functional requirements that finance and procurement organizations should look for in a solution with “foundational” and “advanced” capabilities.

Part 1 takes our first look at the core invoicing requirements for AP automation and some of the criteria that Global 2000 and middle market organizations should consider when selecting solutions (i.e., invoicing set-up, paper scan/capture support and e-invoicing). Subsequent briefs in this series will analyze other AP automation requirements that customers should look for in a solution.

Q&A on Digital Procurement’s Role in Sustainability, Ethics and Compliance [PRO]

As supply chains get increasingly externalized and globalized, the broad scope of operations is subject to equally broad regulatory oversight and supply risk. Meanwhile, as consumers increasingly demand transparency and ethical behavior by value chain brand owners, supply chain organizations at those brands (and also at their suppliers), are having to increasingly respond to these demands. Procurement organizations, for their part, are trying their best to support this externalization on all fronts, but they are so busy with strategic sourcing and P2P execution that even the “basics” of supplier qualification, certification and on-boarding are suffering — never mind having time for more strategic activities in supplier innovation, advanced risk management, digital transformation and other areas.

So, what’s the solution? Well, procurement must first practice what it preaches by tapping supply market innovation for itself, and this innovation is taking many forms. In an everything-as-a-service (XaaS) world, procurement must not only take a leadership role in robustly contracting for these diverse cloud services, but also:

— identifying how various providers beyond cloud applications can help procurement execute much more efficiently — at the cadence of the business.
— embedding the best digital supply market innovations into its own service delivery in order to expand its own influence and brand within the enterprise.
— enabling and empowering functional partners in GRC, IT, Finance, Legal, HR, Risk/Audit, etc. to enable their own service value (increasingly in a cross-functional GBS environment) and integrate the disparate services together much more coherently.

For example, consider the question: Who is responsible for establishing the single face to the supplier when we digitally on-board and manage them to not only transact with them in a compliant manner, but also ensure that they’re operating securely, ethically and transparently more broadly? It’s not just procurement, but rather a combination of procurement, IT, GRC and various centers-of-excellence that should be working tightly together. Unfortunately, misalignment is the norm, but not because of outright conflict or malfeasance, but because functional folks are too busy just trying to execute within their own silos. And they’ll never extricate themselves from that situation unless they have drastically new capabilities to deploy.

This is where procurement organizations need to make smart choices on how they apply digital strategies and tools/services to this area of sustainability, ethics and compliance.

I was recently catching up with an industry colleague of mine named Tomas Wiemer on the topic (he’s a former procurement transformation leader from Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent). He is very deep into this area and typical of leaders at European firms who are definitely in the vanguard here. Tomas is considering some career changes right now, primarily with some emerging tech players who can have a dramatic impact in the industry. Tomas reminds me a bit of a European version of Roy Anderson, who just joined Tradeshift (here’s part 3 of an interview that I did with him), and I think that Tomas will do similarly well when he lands somewhere. He’s doing some interim work for a client, and I agreed to let him interview me for my inputs, but given my role, I asked him for the questions in writing so that I could fully respond in kind and publish it to our subscribers. The questions are below:

How do you view topics as compliance and sustainability in the procurement digitalization landscape?
Do you foresee a convergence/harmonization of sustainability/compliance requirements toward suppliers thanks to the rise of S2P platforms/marketplaces?
What do you believe is the greatest added value of procurement digitalization / AI for compliance and sustainability?
What do you think are the key conditions/requirements to enable the emergence of sustainability/compliance topics in digital procurement?

What’s interesting is that this topic is very hot right now. My business partner Jason Busch just attended the recent EcoVadis conference in Paris, and the buzz (beyond the buzz from the sustainably grown coffee that was undoubtedly served there) was palpable. Part of the reason is that the topic is giving many procurement organizations new ways to engage the business and the suppliers alike in a way that drives much more meaningful value across the value chain beyond just price-centric cost savings. And it also engages a new generation of procurement professionals who want to have a meaningful impact on value chains rather than just being deal-makers and “firefighters.”

Anyway, the questions above are big ones, and require very thorough answers, so without further ado, let’s get to answering them ...

AI in Supplier Management: Today (Part 1) [PRO]

suppliers

With this brief we begin the next installment of our series on the application of artificial intelligence (AI) to various source-to-pay technologies. Previous entries focused on AI in procurement (Today, Part 1 and Part 2; Tomorrow, Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3; and The Day After Tomorrow), AI in sourcing (Today; Tomorrow, Part 1 and Part 2; and The Day After Tomorrow), AI in sourcing optimization (Today; Tomorrow; and The Day After Tomorrow, Part 1 and Part 2) and AI in supplier discovery (Today, Tomorrow and The Day After Tomorrow).

Following the path from supplier discovery and selection is the topic of our current series, supplier management. As with each preceding entry, the aim is to define what is available with AI(-like) technology and what will be possible tomorrow. And just as the best platforms for supplier discovery are starting to use machine learning and RPA, so too are the best supplier management platforms — but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Sourceit: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT [PRO]

Marketing procurement can be a touchy subject for businesses. This critical category can make or break a company’s ability to attract new customers, yet it is rarely managed in an efficient, effective manner — at least as a procurement professional would define it.

Within most businesses, marketing procurement is plagued by poor corporate governance, uncompetitive sourcing practices and unfocused project management, frequently leading to cost overruns and delivery delays. This in turn leads to a strained relationship between marketing departments and their peers in procurement, who find it difficult to overcome their seemingly incompatible goals. The problem is so bad and so distinct to this particular category that it practically begs for a niche technology solution to address it.

This is precisely the inspiration behind Sourceit, a four-year-old provider of sourcing and e-procurement tools for marketing services. Born out of a homegrown print sourcing solution at Finsbury Green, an Australian printer and managed services provider, Sourceit market and catalog offers a targeted set of capabilities that illustrate a deep understanding of the common hurdles of marketing procurement as it applies to print technology. The technology was spun out of Finsbury Green in 2015 as a standalone SaaS platform, then over the past four years has expanded from Australia into the UK, Canada, Brazil and, as of 2017, the U.S., under a reseller model in each market.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Sourceit's capabilities. The brief includes an overview of “sourceit market” and “sourceit catalog” applications, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

Simplify Workforce: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT [PRO]

Because of recent M&A consolidation and multiple external drivers, the market for vendor management system (VMS) solutions has become fairly complex. Competing vendors have been absorbed or combined, draining the field of vendor choices that can be applied in a wide number of scenarios. Concurrently, businesses have shifted away from their focus on temporary staffing labor to a rising emphasis on statement of work (SOW) spend, while also exploring new talent engagement models that increase program complexity, to include the exploratory enterprise adoption of the “gig economy” in the form of independent contractors. Add in the typical challenges of effectively operating a temporary staffing program — from cost control issues to quality maintenance and the management of intermediaries like MSPs — and it’s easy to see why procurement organizations are finding the old paradigm for VMS solutions is no longer holding up.

Going against the grain of complexity is a newer VMS provider that incorporates simplicity (i.e., ease of use) into its name — and its solution. Founded in 2016, Simplify Workforce provides an end-to-end SaaS solution for managing the extended workforce.

The Jersey City, New Jersey-based provider enables this through separate modules for contingent workforce (or in our SolutionMap classification, Temp Staffing) and statement of work (Contracted Services/SOW), with an emphasis on configurability, adaptability and ease of use that has typically eluded past VMS solutions. In doing so, Simplify Workforce aims to address the long-underserved middle market — specifically, businesses with annual contingent workforce spend of $1 million to $100 million — with the ability to scale up or down on spend easily, with a VMS and SOW solution that can solve the majority of daily contingent workforce challenges without overwhelming users, implementation teams and budgets with unnecessary complexity.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Simplify Workforce and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of Simplify Workforce’s offering, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

SourceDay: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT [PRO]

The broader procurement technology market has always had a tenuous relationship with the direct procurement technology solutions. Old timers may remember SupplyWorks from the early 2000s, but it folded — and the SupplyWorks brand name now belongs to a janitorial/sanitation service provider (we won’t go down the easy joke paths on this one). More recently, DirectWorks, a perfectly decent solution for direct materials sourcing, also struggled until getting picked up by Ivalua.

Part of the challenge is that direct procurement is not only a subset of spend but also a superset of processes, because it’s essentially infused into the broader supply chain. This makes it addressable from multiple solution sectors like SCM apps, supply chain networks, integration players and industry players.

Source-to-pay application suites, for their part, are picking off some low-hanging fruit functionality here, but the broader requirements are spelled out well in our coverage of a distinct segment that may be forming for direct materials procurement solutions.

Manufacturers today are slowly seeing an expanding set of purchasing tools beyond ERP and MRP alone, and choice is generally a good thing if you have your overall solution strategy/approach nailed down before you go tool shopping. Many will be more than happy to explore this new market.

One of these newer choices is SourceDay, an Austin, Texas-based vendor that directly integrates with ERP and MRP systems to automate the management of purchase orders and supplier performance. By providing a more usable and procurement-centric layer over the data housed by a legacy ERP or supply chain application, SourceDay takes on many of the problems that procurement organizations find in managing direct materials spend.

The result is that procurement can save time, reduce errors and systematically manage supplier performance from a common cloud or mobile interface while still claiming the benefits that an ERP system can offer. There are obviously caveats to this statement — namely around integration — but we’ll touch on this later.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on SourceDay and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of SourceDay’s offering, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

Coupa to Acquire Exari: What Type of CLM Solution Is Coupa Getting? (Part 1) [PRO]

Coupa just announced that it intends to acquire Exari, a leading provider of contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions. Terms of the deal were not provided, but with Exari having almost 150 employees, it’s not unreasonable that the private firm would have over $30 million in revenues and a deal size valued at just over nine figures. Contract management is a red-hot space right now, and Coupa has a very strategic need for this product. Spend Matters believes that this acquisition is a very smart hand-in-glove acquisition even though it’ll require some alterations to truly fit properly.

Coupa currently has a basic contracting module as part of its “Business Spend Management” application suite within the source-to-pay market, but it was missing two critical aspects of modern CLM that are major strengths for Exari. On a product functionality basis, Exari is one of the very top performers in Spend Matters’ CLM rankings on SolutionMap, and it “ticks all the right boxes” for a best-of-breed CLM performer. It’s also unique in its knowledge-based approach to deep contract modeling rather than just straight AI and machine learning based on contract text analytics.

CLM is also not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and the market landscape depends heavily on many factors. Some providers are much more oriented toward the sell-side — e.g., CPQ-oriented providers such as Apttus or SpringCLM (recently acquired by DocuSign). Some are focused on the mass market with usability being a key focus (e.g., Concord, Outlaw, PandaDoc, etc.). And even within large enterprises looking at firms like Exari, Icertis, Agiloft, SirionLabs, and others, they differ in their requirements as to whether they want “deep” functionality, maximum configurability, ease-of-integration, attractiveness to many functions (e.g., the legal department), and/or being part of a larger application suite.

So, what is Coupa getting with Exari? What types of organizations are the best fit for this solution and the combined solution of Coupa and Exari? Is Exari a solution optimized for legal, procurement or both? And what will Coupa need to do to integrate Exari since this acquisition is not some simple bolt-on, but rather, a core platform component? Finally, what is the impact of this acquisition on the S2P and CLM markets?

This Spend Matters PRO quick take analysis provides insight for Coupa customers and the broader market on specifically what the provider is acquiring. Unlike past acquisitions, we believe Exari represents the greatest stretch away from its core economic buyer (at least historically). Find out why.

For an introduction to Exari, we encourage you to read our Spend Matters PRO review: Introduction & Solution Overview, Strengths/Weakness and Market/Competitive Analysis.

SAP Ariba Sourcing: How It Compares Today and What’s Coming Tomorrow (Part 1: Benchmark Performance, Product Roadmap) [PRO]

future

The strategic sourcing or e-sourcing technology market — we simply call it “Sourcing” in SolutionMap — has undergone significant transformation and bifurcation in recent years. On the one hand, disruption has come from simplicity and ease of use (e.g., Bonfire, Keelvar, Market Dojo, Scout RFP, etc.). And on the other hand, it has come from significant advances in functional capabilities in various areas (e.g., Coupa, GEP, Ivalua, Jaggaer, SynerTrade and Wax Digital, among others).

SAP Ariba, one of the stalwarts of the Sourcing world for over two decades (if you count the acquisition of FreeMarkets), remains a frequent competitor on a global basis today. But how does SAP Ariba compare to others in the market on a functional basis based on its current offering? And what is coming for SAP Ariba Sourcing tomorrow?

Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO analysis provides insight into SAP’s relative strengths and weaknesses today (based on our Q1 2019 SolutionMap release) and shares what we learned from the SAP Ariba Live event this month on an overall roadmap basis. Part 2 will provide additional insight into the new SAP Ariba Sourcing user experience as well as analysis, commentary and customer recommendations based on SAP Ariba’s Sourcing roadmap overall.

SAP Fieldglass Takes Center Stage at SAP Ariba Live (Part 2) — Product Roadmap Insight + Procurement & HR Recommendations [PRO]

At SAP Ariba Live last week, SAP Fieldglass played a key role not only on the main stage, but in over a dozen breakout sessions. From our research at the event, it is clear that SAP intends to bring these two offerings much closer together in the quarters and years to come.

This Spend Matters PRO brief provides insight into what we learned around the combined product roadmap, including the persona-driven approaches SAP Fieldglass and SAP Ariba are taking to integration scenarios.

Finally, we provide concrete recommendations to two stakeholder groups (Procurement and Human Capital Management executives) in terms of how they should think about the combination of SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass and the role they should take in selecting the best fit solutions for their current and emerging needs. 

Artificial Intelligence Meets Payables and Dynamic Discounting: Oracle Cloud Vendor Snapshot Update (Part 3) [PRO]

In recent years, Oracle has transformed itself from the inside out, from a procurement solutions perspective, putting its full force behind building a suite of applications designed for the cloud — rather than behind the firewall.

It has reinforced this product development and go-to-market effort with strong incentives to existing customers to migrate from E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards to its Cloud solutions line. And it has successfully been targeting new procurement customers — some of which do not have an Oracle back-end.

This Spend Matters PRO research brief provides a recap and summary of Oracle’s Cloud procurement applications, shares insight into roadmap direction for the suite and explores recent investments in artificial intelligence and other enabling technologies. Organizations wanting a primer on Oracle Procurement Cloud can read our Vendor Snapshot series: Background/Solution Overview, Strengths/Weaknesses and Summary, and Competitive Overview/Recommendations.

Microsoft 365 Freelance Toolkit: Retooling How Enterprises Work (Part 3) [PRO]

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this four-part Spend Matters PRO series, we wrote about how the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit emerged and continues to evolve at Microsoft (based on our interviews with Microsoft managers who are central to the initiative). We now shift our perspective to the contingent workforce industry innovator Upwork Enterprise, Microsoft’s launch partner for the freelance toolkit.

In Part 3, based on discussions with Eric Gilpin, SVP of Upwork Enterprise, we look at the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit from Upwork’s perspective and examine Upwork’s role as a partner and key participant in the process as well as what the partnership means for Upwork itself. Part 4 will include an analyst perspective on the freelance toolkit, the Microsoft-Upwork partnership and what it may indicate for services procurement practitioners.

Artificial Intelligence Meets Payables and Dynamic Discounting: Oracle Cloud Vendor Snapshot Update (Part 2) [PRO]

digital business transformation

With its new Intelligent Payment Discounts solution, Oracle is bridging the worlds of procurement and finance together in a unique way that unifies procurement, accounts payable and core financials.

In Part 1 of this research brief, we offered a detailed overview of this new, AI-based solution, providing an introduction to its different components for organizations that might consider it.

In today’s installment, we will conclude our analysis, exploring Oracle Intelligent Payment Discounts’ strengths and weaknesses related to other early payment solutions, either as an extension of invoice-to-pay or on a standalone trade-financing basis — and provide a user requirements checklist to help companies prioritize if the solution is the right fit for them.

Our analysis includes a perspective on the advantage that Oracle has in selling this solution compared to other early payment and financing solutions (e.g., C2FO, Prime Revenue, Taulia, etc.) and procure-to-pay/invoice-to-pay (e.g., Basware, Coupa, Ivalua, SAP Ariba, etc.) outside of feature/function capability alone based on its unified architecture with Oracle Cloud Financials. That is, for companies migrating, upgrading or switching to Oracle Cloud — not those on legacy E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft or JD Edwards solutions.