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Release note, SolutionMap Spring 2022: Vendor Management Systems (VMS with SOW persona)

06/02/2022 By

This Spend Matters SolutionMap Insider release note provides insight into the SolutionMap Spring 2022 release for the category of Vendor Management Systems (VMS), which has an SOW filter, or persona, to highlight solutions that focus on statements of work. This note reviews the process that we follow and highlights what has changed since the last SolutionMap release.

Last Fall Spend Matters unveiled its new “market personas” methodology, which replaced “buying personas” to better improve the accessibility and clarity of the maps. For more on the philosophy behind switching to market personas, read our full announcement here. Each persona includes default requirement-level weightings set by Spend Matters analysts, who assess the relevance of all 500+ functionality requirements to the given persona and module. In each market persona, additional weighting adjustments are applied to the overall module and to customer reference responses to further emphasize points of relevance for each market segment. Details of how the market personas differ from a weighting standpoint to represent unique buying scenarios are given here: SME, Mid, Large and Special (SOW, Direct, Risk and Optimization) personas.

What’s new in the Spring 2022 VMS (SOW) SolutionMap?

VNDLY is now VNDLY, a Workday Company and represented as VNDLY/Workday on SolutionMap.

The VMS (SOW) category has 58 active customer survey references. Customer references from Q1 and Q2 2019 expired after 2½ years of use.

To improve the data-gathering process, Spend Matters has developed a secure, user-friendly portal to facilitate the vendor functionality scoring process. It will ease the burden of the thorough RFI process for both vendors and the SolutionMap team and automatically write scores to the master database. Thoroughly tested by a subset of vendors and the analyst team this cycle, the new portal will be rolled out to all participating SolutionMap vendors for the Fall 2022 cycle.

Get a first look at the Spring 2022 SolutionMap comparative quadrant graphics here.

SolutionMap Insider members: Access the latest Provider Scoring Summary reports right here.

Only recommended vendors in each persona are shown

To encourage participation among the widest range of vendors — especially those specializing in a certain market niche — and to simplify how procurement practitioners interact with and use each persona-based quadrant graphic, the SolutionMap release features only the recommended vendors for each persona.

The center of the maps represents the average score for customer feedback and analyst scoring of the solution. The center is not (0-0). Vendors can be recommended by achieving scoring that is above the average based on the weighted criteria for specific quadrants, which are as follows:

  • Solution Leaders are recommended providers with above-average analyst scores for the function and capability of the solution (upper left quadrant).
  • Customer Leaders are recommended providers with above-average customer scores given in reference surveys by the users themselves (lower right quadrant).
  • Value Leaders are providers with both above-average analyst and customer scores (upper right quadrant).

Our standard graphical displays show the geometric averages of the providers, but we may occasionally expand the view when the map has certain providers that skew the results of the overall population being displayed.

Additional customer references

When using the Spring 2022 release compared with the Fall 2021 release, it is important to consider how additional customer references also affected the scoring. The SolutionMap customer survey reference database contains a total of 872 “current,” active responses from different customers. Because some references for suite customers apply to multiple products, the actual number of references accumulated as of Spring 2022 is even greater.

In Q2 2018, Spend Matters began directly soliciting references from the procurement practitioner community by inviting actual users to complete the public version of the provider reference survey, in addition to the traditional provider-solicited-reference method. Entries are manually reviewed and validated by the Spend Matters team by checking the identity of the submitter and ensuring the responses do not seem suspicious (i.e., extreme scoring throughout the survey that’s out of line with the average for that provider). Spend Matters does not influence which providers that the submitter chooses to review in any way.

The inclusion of additional customer feedback can positively or negatively affect each provider’s Customer Value score regardless of whether a vendor submitted updated references, as each individual survey affects the benchmark. This effect can also be magnified when references beyond the 2½-year lifespan drop out of the database. However, providers have the opportunity to have their references “refresh” their surveys to reflect the latest customer satisfaction status.

It is also important to note that Spend Matters has no control over this variable and that the only way for a solution provider to improve (or decline) in Customer Value scoring is to incorporate new customer references until previously submitted references “age out” (which again, can be mitigated if customers refresh their scoring and come back in).

SolutionMap scoring

Recommended vendor positions are determined by analyst scoring and evaluation of vendor capabilities as well as by client reference survey response scores. Both sets of scores are weighted by the analysts to reflect the more specific preferences/requirements of each selected market persona (thus vendor positions on the map can vary across different personas). Vendor positions are determined with respect to the average of the individual (persona-weighted) scores of all of the vendors participating in a particular SolutionMap.

New persona names and descriptions

Since the inception of SolutionMap, Spend Matters has applied a set of “buying personas” to create variable rankings. This is essentially a filter applied to the data to emphasize the unique needs of different buying organization archetypes (i.e., the Nimble persona typically represents a rapidly growing small to mid-size company seeking low-cost, intuitive, quick-to-implement solutions) to illustrate Spend Matters ability to make different data cuts to suit the needs of diverse end-user buying organizations.

Example of the original SolutionMap buying personas (click image to enlarge)

Building on (yet simplifying) this concept are the new “Market Personas” replacing the original buying personas:

You may detect a correlation between the old and new personas (i.e., Nimble loosely corresponds to the new SME Persona), but the new personas have been further refined. In addition to considering core functionality data, market personas have been enriched to consider geographic reach, client base, price, implementation duration and available (support) services.

Please note that the market rankings will assign vendors only to their best-fit personas. For example, if a suite vendor could hypothetically sell a single module (like sourcing) to an SME — but in reality requires a multi-module (suite) sale, they will not be shown in the SME ranking for the single module (sourcing, in this case), but may appear in the suite view for the Source-to-Contract category (S2C).

The following market personas are available for each SolutionMap technology category:

(click image to enlarge)

Scoring criteria: Solution/Technology inputs 

We’re not believers in “grade inflation” when it comes to scoring technology vendors based on features and requirements. In fact, the average analyst score for each individual field (e.g., supplier onboarding via a network) across all SolutionMaps for Spring 2022  hovers around 2 (on a 0-5 scale as defined below). For a particular field, the criteria we follow for scoring is that the scores 1 to 3 are entirely based on whether a vendor meets specific functional requirements, or equivalents thereof. Our scoring guide is as follows (detailed question-specific scoring criteria are also, of course, provided):

  • 0 = Not supported
  • 1 = Partial support for select requirements
  • 2 = Core support for standard requirements
  • 3 = Advanced support: moderate to high levels of supported complexity/value

Beyond a 3, a vendor needs to be able to point to the feature or capability as differentiating its solution, either on the requirement/feature level or overall:

  • To achieve a score of 4 for a given feature, a provider must demonstrate significantly differentiated capabilities compared with peers for a particular requirement or a functionality that is significantly beyond a 3 on our scoring scale. Our scoring scale is designed and adjusted as needed to ensure that not more than 10% of all scores will be a 4.
  • A score of 5 requires that a provider score at least a 4 in functionality and either offer functionality that is so distinct that it stands out, or a capability for which the provider ultimately wins business due to significant strategic differentiation. A score of 5 is at the discretion of the lead analyst for the SolutionMap area. Our scoring scale is designed with the intent that only 1% of scores should be a 5.

It is important to note that our scoring is based on the knowledge and visibility that Spend Matters has from having studied each technology segment since its inception, going back 20 years (or more) in certain cases. This is what enables our analysts to objectively label features and requirements that are partial, standard, advanced, significantly differentiated or truly extraordinary, and to define a scale that specifies concretely what we look for, by default, for a score in the 1-to-3 range.

Spend Matters requires that participating vendors in SolutionMap provide RFI updates and updated solution demonstrations once a year. Vendors may update every cycle to share product updates.