Author Archives: Eric Hiller



LevaData: Vendor Analysis, 2020 update (Part 2) — Detailed Module Overview, SWOT, LevaData Competitors, Summary

LevaData

In Part 1 we re-introduced you to LevaData, a unique provider in the direct sourcing and procurement space that brings a distinctive mashup of analytics, should-cost modeling, constraint-based optimization, and risk insight to direct (bill-of-material based) sourcing —  particularly in the electronics supply chain.

It was, and still is, one of a small set of vendors pushing "cognitive" procurement technology, and while there is a lot of significantly advanced technology under the hood of LevaData’s solution, no vendor truly is there yet. However, the goal of technology is to augment our intelligence, not replace it, so there is no need for technology to actually be cognitive if it gets close enough and solves the problems the user needs it to solve.

Founded by veterans of the Cisco procurement and supply chain organization to close a number of gaps they saw in analytics, sourcing and supply management platforms around supply availability, accurate cost information and potential risk, they've made great strides since that day seven years ago, building a solution that solves the majority of the critical problems in the electronics supply chain, especially in the high-tech sector.

As indicated in our last part, not only does LevaData’s solution now revolve around three distinct offerings — Cost Optimizer, New Product Accelerator and Risk Navigator — but the distinct strengths it brings to the table has no peer across all its offerings and only a few in each. And those offerings that it does have each come with unique strengths that can be quite valuable.

In Part 2 of this Spend Matters PRO, we’ll examine the solution modules in detail, offer a SWOT analysis, check out LevaData’s competitors (like SAP Ariba or Ivalua in procurement technology, Sievo in the analytics market, and vendors in other market sectors) and close with a summary analysis.

LevaData: Vendor Analysis, 2020 update (Part 1) — Direct Materials Solution Overview, Strengths/Weaknesses, Tech Selection Tips

direct materials LevaData

When Spend Matters covered LevaData three years ago, we noted that outside of core ERP and supply chain planning systems, the technology market for direct materials procurement and sourcing was almost too nascent to even be considered fragmented. And, we're sorry to say that not much has changed. The existing players are more mature, but start-ups are few and far between, and pretty much any player of note in 2020 existed in 2017.

Direct solutions tend to fall into the following categories:

  • Suites that have acquired direct sourcing and/or procurement capabilities (like Ivalua, that acquired DirectWorks, and Jaggaer, that acquired Pool4Tool)
  • Specialized niche players like Allocation (that have been doing custom sourcing and SIM for 20 years) and Procurence (that have extremely specialized supplier management capabilities)
  • New players like Xeeva and LevaData that are trying to bring "cognitive" capabilities to direct procurement, making use of big data to provide deeper insights than their peers

When we first covered LevaData in 2017, we noted it was an emerging technology provider that had capability spanning direct material procurement and cost analytics, bill of materials level spend visibility, market/commodity intelligence, and sourcing. We also noted it was one of the first entrants into the "cognitive" sourcing space that offered a platform that leveraged artificial intelligence (AI) capability to make both part- and component-level sourcing recommendations, especially in the electronics industry where LevaData has the majority of its customers (and products in its database).

Since then, it has become more established and added deeper capability in sourcing, analytics, and prescriptive cost management and reduction. LevaData also has significantly increased the (community) intelligence it offers in the electronics supply chain, and it refactored its solution into three primary offerings: Cost Optimizer, New Product Accelerator and Supply Risk Navigator.

In this new two-part series, we will cover each of these modules as well as provide an overview of the common core capabilities these modules are based on.

But first, let's give a brief introduction to LevaData for new readers.

EasyKost: Product cost management tool spotlight

Hello there spend analytics / Product Cost Management crowd. In December, we started this series with a two-part overview of the history and landscape of the PCM world here and here. Since then, we have been doing deep dive reviews on vendors. We’ve been starting with a vendor in each of the major categories of product / service cost management.

I recently spoke with Pierre Rougier, the CEO of EasyKost (EK), who was kind enough to explain EK’s solution in-depth, provide a demo and discuss the methodology that their solution uses to deliver impact to customers.

Product cost management tool overview: Galorath’s SEER suite of costing solutions (Part 2) — Use cases, implementation, ROI and summary analysis

Hello there, spend analytics / Product Cost Management crowd. Welcome to Part 2 of this Spend Matters PRO series on Galorath’s SEER suite of software tools for product cost modeling.

In Part 1, we told you about our summary of the product suite from an executive point of view, and we looked at the SEER solution capabilities in detail, which are extensive. But that’s no surprise since Galorath has been focused on knowledge-based project and product cost estimation for over 40 years.

In this installment, we’ll explore the use cases (manufacturing, software and even space), discuss implementation/ROI, detail its data capabilities and offer a summary analysis of Galorath’s SEER.

Product cost management tool overview: Galorath’s SEER suite of costing solutions (Part 1) — Solution overview

Hello there, spend analytics / Product Cost Management crowd. In March, we started our series on deep dives into product cost management tools, looking at WTP, What's the Price. Recently, we continued the PCM product round-up with a two-part review of aPriori here and here.

Over the last few weeks, I have spoken with some of the senior executive team at Galorath Inc., a firm that has been on the forefront of knowledge-based project and product cost estimation for over 40 years. Galorath makes the SEER suite of software tools. I caught up with their VP of Product Development, Karen McRitchie, and VP of Strategic Sales, Brian Glauser, to view in-depth demos and explanations of some of their products (you too can view some of these demo’s on Galorath’s YouTube channel).

This two-part Spend Matters PRO series will include a company background, a solution overview and a detailed look at its capabilities. Part 2 will explore the use cases (manufacturing, software and even space), discuss implementation/ROI, detail its data capabilities and offer a summary analysis.

So, let’s continue on our walk through the enchanted forest of spend analytics / costing software solutions with a look at Galorath’s SEER.

aPriori: Product Cost Management tool spotlight (Part 2) — Use Cases, Depth of Solution, ROI, Summary Analysis

Design

Part 2 of this Spend Matters PRO series will look at an array of use cases for aPriori’s capabilities in product cost management. It also will include profiles of who should use the solution, the depth and breadth of the solution, how quickly aPriori can return value, and a summary analysis.

For full disclosure, I wanted to share my history with aPriori. I started the research that yielded aPriori’s technology in 1996, was the founding CEO of aPriori in 2002 and was the chief product officer and VP of cost modeling through 2009. So I know its past, and in my role now with the PCM consulting firm Hiller Associates, I just learned more about its present status.

I spoke recently with product management, sales and services at aPriori to get some in-depth demos of current product functionality and the services that the company provides to its customers.

Part 1 of the series gives a detailed solution overview, but let’s dive in to the use cases for aPriori’s offering.

aPriori: Product Cost Management tool spotlight (Part 1) — Solution Overview

Hello there spend analytics/product cost management crowd. A few months ago, we started our Spend Matters PRO series on deep dives into product cost management tools, looking at WTP, What's the Price.

It feels like a long time since then in so many ways because of the coronavirus pandemic, but we are moving forward with our series. What's the Price was on one end of the spectrum as a top-down, index-based costing tool focused on the “everyman” buyer’s needs.

Today we're going to explore another corner of the multi-dimensional PCM space by looking at aPriori.

For full disclosure, I wanted to share my history with aPriori. I started the research that yielded aPriori’s technology in 1996, was the founding CEO of aPriori in 2002, and was the chief product officer and VP of cost modeling through 2009. So I know its past, and in my role now with the PCM consulting firm Hiller Associates, I just learned more about its present status.

I spoke recently with product management, sales and services at aPriori to get some in-depth demos of current product functionality and the services that the company provides to its customers.

Part 1 of this aPriori analysis looks at its history, its current capabilities and how it works. Part 2 will look at an array of use cases for aPriori’s solution. It also will include user profiles and a summary analysis.

What’s the Price: Expert product cost management vendor review — a PRO Collab brief

procurement

Editor’s note: This vendor review of What's the Price is the first in our "PRO Collab" series. Spend Matters will be inviting our expert friends in the industry to collaborate with us and complement our PRO coverage of the procurement, finance and supply chain solution landscape. Eric Hiller, the most knowledgeable person we’ve ever met in the product cost management sector, will kick off our Pro Collab initiative with his perspective on how the vendor What’s the Price fits into the cost modeling landscape.

Hello there, spend analytics crowd, product cost management fans and anyone else interested in improving the bottom line!

Back in December, Spend Matters was kind enough to invite me to do a two-part series on the most popular tools for product cost management on the market today (see Part 1 and Part 2). These tools spanned a wide range of use cases, including should-costing, target costing, design for manufacturing and assembly, parametric costing, spend analytics, etc.

Those articles were written from a historical perspective, and they classified solutions into sub-groupings by how they work. We received quite a lot of positive feedback on these articles, but many readers also asked us if we could go deeper into some of these applications and what their proper uses are in driving impact to the bottom line. We want to make sure that we help everyone as much as possible, so this is the first in hopefully a larger series of these spotlights on product cost management software tools.

We're starting today with one of the youngest tools on the market, What’s the Price, or WTP.

What's the Price entered the market about 2012 as the brainchild of three founders: CFO Jan-Paul Plieger, a former CEO and supply chain economist; CEO Robert Driessen, a seasoned supply chain procurement executive; and CTO Nico Bontenbal, a software entrepreneur.

User profile image

In January, Jan-Paul and Robert welcomed me to their offices in Rossum, Netherlands, where they gave me a personal demo of the software and an in-depth explanation of how they have been able to help customers. They even were kind enough to give me a demo license to tool around in the application and put the horse through its paces.

Here’s my detailed take on the solution from a product cost management perspective.