Ivalua NOW 2020 dispatch: The unicorn and its quest for the One Platform

FM Global Resilience Index Victoria/Adobe Stock

Live from the web, it's Ivalua NOW — the 2020 conference that’s being held online because of the coronavirus disruption. Ivalua, the suite provider with French roots and a base in California, had planned its spring conferences for Paris and Washington, but the pandemic forced the change to an online presentation. Still, a lot of speakers are scheduled for the two-day event.

CEO David Khuat-Duy kicked it off Tuesday, and Chief Product Officer Pascal Bensoussan outlined the Ivalua vision for 2020-21 that highlighted Ivalua’s plans for Procurement Domination ... err ... enhanced customer success over the next two years.

And let's start off by saying those plans are nothing if they aren't as grandiose as the architectural plans for the Louvre itself. Having spent a lot of time in Ivalua’s preferred Paris conference venue, Le Carrousel du Louvre, you can tell the effect it has had on their leadership. They have big dreams on a grand scale.

So just what is the French Unicorn chasing after? Nothing short of a platform that will be as comprehensive for direct spend as it is for indirect spend while providing full AI-based enterprise-wide CLM and enabling a quick-and-efficient buying experience backed up by seamless invoicing and integrated payments (no matter whether the buy is on or off contract, sourced or requisitioned from a catalog) while allowing all parties to intelligently collaborate at each step of the way. Basically, le nouveau coupé français, but for a more discerning European audience.

Each of those four main aspects of Ivalua’s procurement protection plan (PPP) has some very interesting components. While we don't have time to cover them all in depth (as we need to tune into the product sessions as well, as should you) we will pick out a few targets in each area to discuss, starting with comprehensive direct spend.

Direct spend is an area where most platforms don't do very well, and the few that do generally don't do indirect or services or CAPEX very well, as the processes tend to be over-engineered, or incorrectly engineered, for those areas. Jaggaer solves this problem by simply offering you multiple platforms for sourcing (but only one for SXM, which can be a bit problematic when one SXM was designed primarily for indirect and one primarily for direct, but that's another story for another day), and Synertrade by allowing you to import BoMs as needed, but other than that, there are no "integrated" solutions. Ivalua's goal is to fix that by using the power of its highly configurable platform to configure different flows relevant to the type of event, and the direct flow as deep as needed. We've discussed this in our writings before, so let's talk about what might be coming:

Cost driver & target cost management

In sourcing a BoM, you're never going to have time to focus on the dozens, or hundreds, of components that make up the BoM ... and what you need to do is focus on the handful that are the most variable and drive most of the cost. It would be extremely useful to build in capabilities to identify and track cost drivers, and do so against target costs based on detailed should-cost models.

Sourcing optimization

Ivalua should be beefing up sourcing optimization, an area of need we’ve mentioned before. Let's hope they introduce some real optimization into the platform because there is just no way to optimize the value of an award (that balances cost vs. risk vs. quality etc.) in any moderately complex project without it. No cherry picking of awards will ever come close.

The next area is AI-backed enterprise wide CLM.

Single Repository

Ivalua’s goal is to be the organizational CLM repository as the next stage of cost management is, of course, not only ensuring buy-side contracts are properly executed but that the supply-side contracts are tracked and properly executed as well. With full contract visibility, you can better estimate demands, timing and shipments — and better design the supply chain to minimize shortages, expedited logistics, unnecessary stock levels (and future fire-sale items), and other post-Procurement costs that can sometimes contribute unnecessary inventory and transportation related costs of 30% of more.

Obligation Reporting and Management

Just having the contracts is one thing — but indexing them across all obligations and milestones is the key to success.

Guided/Conversational Contracting

Legal doesn't have time to review every single contract, nor is legal’s value in having them review low-value contracts where the inclusion of the appropriate standard clauses from the clause library more than covers the organization's backside. With a system that guides the buyer, a good contract for low-dollar / non-strategic contracts can be created every time, and legal can focus on the real value and real risks to the organization.

After that, we have a quick(er) and (more) efficient buying experience. A key thing that Ivalua gets right is its belief that the perfect UX is a UX you never use. Buyers hate software processes, so the less they have to use it, the better it will be adopted. What are some planned endeavours that should improve this?

Better Shopping Lists / Auto Re-order Capability

When he gets back to the office, the office manager doesn't want to be ordering TP and coffee every week — based on historical demand patterns or stock levels, the system should be able to do that (especially if contracts are in place). Same goes for new hires — auto-order the standard kit if the organization is buying on demand, or re-order the standard kit for the stock room when it gets low.

Services Procurement Marketplace

For standard, short term, services like office equipment upgrade installs, extra weekend cleaning services, plumbing to fix the break room kitchen sink, etc., it should be as easy-peasy as reordering the copy paper. Even easier. Ivalua hopes to get there.

Seamless Invoices and Payments

What's the one thing missing in procure-to-pay and source-to-pay? Payments!

Real-time payments

Ivalua wants to offer the full range of real-time in-platform payments when and where it can do so. Of course it has to be the most non-committal here because of regulatory requirements across the board regardless of the route it decides to pursue (in-house, partner, acquisition, etc. — none of which it can talk about until it happens for other regulatory reasons), but this will be a great addition to the platform when it happens. Now, there were at least half a dozen or so other planned improvements to invoicing and payment, but let's be honest, this is all we all want to hear right now.

In all, they announced over 30 planned improvements to the platform that they would like to finish by the end of 2021, but if they just did the above, and did it really well, the accompanying features that would get fleshed out in the process would be pretty grand indeed. And we can tell that's what Ivalua is going for.

Vive La Approvisionnement Resistance!

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