Procurement News from the US – Weekly Round-Up

First off: thank you to everyone for showing us such a wonderful time in the UK last week. It was fantastic to put names to faces and I’m really looking forward to continuing to foster relationships heading into 2012 and beyond. I also came back with some deeply insightful material for both my mind and body:

That being said, Monday morning began with me waking up at 4:30 am Chicago time thanks to jetlag; thus Jason and I hit the ground running this week!

Technology News: Coupa and SciQuest

A P2P Vendor Crosses the Analytics Line: Coupa Ventures Into Spend Analysis (Part 1) -- Earlier this week, Coupa announced it was entering the spend analytics market with its Spend Optimizer product. Coupa is positioning the solution as delivering "intelligence for everyone" from procurement to finance to line of business managers. At this stage, we can't yet recommend the product as a replacement for companies that value the ability of the most sophisticated spend analysis tools. Yet the Coupa approach appears purpose-built for the spend analytics masses rather than power users. Its interface is certainly among the best we've seen in the market for basic spend reporting (see screen grabs below). Coupa is aware of this and told Spend Matters that it is not their intent to "compete against heavy-duty spend intelligence tools." Still, Coupa's approach might be more successful, gaining traction faster than other toolsets, which deliver more capability but with far greater complexity and less pizzazz. (Part 2 here).

SciQuest Leaves the Diversity Enrichment Business: Who Now Has the Best Supplier Diversity Data? -- My earlier post on SciQuest -- after the NMSDC conference -- led to a follow-up discussion with SciQuest around their product strategy and activities in the supplier diversity field. The acquisition of AECsoft USA at the beginning of this year gave SciQuest a new range of products (in the fields of supplier management, including supplier diversity, as well as e-sourcing and contract management) and a slate of new Fortune 500 clients outside SciQuest's traditional hunting grounds in higher education.

Floods, earthquakes, snowstorms: Oh my!

Getting to the Bottom of Supply Chain Disruptions: Causes, Industries, Impacts (Part 1) -- The Business Continuity Institute (BCI) recently published its third annual report examining a range of causes, industries and impacts of supply chain disruptions across the globe. Their report, which can be downloaded for free by clicking this link and registering, is a great piece of primary research for anyone interested in building a business case to invest in the area of supply chain risk management in their own organization. Even though it was published just a week ago, much has already been written in the popular press about some of the higher-level findings in the report's press release -- 85% of respondents recorded at least one supply chain disruption in 2011 (so far), 40% of disruptions occurred on the multi-tier level, 51% of respondents cited adverse weather as the main cause of disruption, cyber attack is not a top three source of disruption in certain sectors, etc. But the real value of the report comes from what didn't make the headlines. Sometimes you just need to read these things for yourself! (Part 2 here).

Long-awaited first post from a new regular guest contributor, Alavarez & Marsal

Shippers Face Sticker Shock as Trucking Industry Increases Prices -- For the first time in several years, shippers in the U.S. are about to face significant truckload price increases, as the trucking industry succumbs to the effects of unavoidable cost pressures. When it comes to managing finances, the industry is entering a "perfect storm" and many truckers are fighting for their very existence. Now, with new evidence of major pricing increases from truckers, it's time to take a closer look at the issues. What is causing this trend and how shippers manage through this reality is critical for companies of all sizes as many transportation budgets may not be prepared.

And finally: the US Government attempts to get Grinchy about Christmas trees, luckily rescinds

Got Your Christmas Tree Permit Yet? -- Right now, sitting on the Federal Register -- to be managed by the Department of Agriculture -- is a proposed set of rules addressing a new Christmas Tree Promotion, Research, and Information Order. Note that this is not April 1st! At Spend Matters we like risk management and compliance when needed as much as anyone. But do the proposed rules, covering "new Christmas tree information collection requirements" really make sense to anyone outside our government? As background, the monetary value of this industry is relatively small, below $500 million per year. Roughly 19 million fresh cut trees are sold in the US each year, with nearly 2 million being imported -- with Canada unsurprisingly making up 99.72 percent of imports. Keeping the small size of the industry in mind, if this small sector can swing federal involvement, imagine what industries with bigger lobbyist budgets can do?

- Sheena Moore

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