Author Archives: Magnus Bergfors



About Magnus Bergfors

Magnus has been a procurement professional throughout his career with deep expertise in strategic sourcing and SRM. Before joining Spend Matters, he worked at Gartner as lead analyst and agenda manager on procurement and strategic sourcing applications. He started out in the early 2000s as direct materials procurement at AstraZeneca and worked in various procurement and strategic sourcing roles at Scandinavian Airlines, IBX, Atlas Copco Tools, Effective Sourcing AB and SAAB. He brings a Europe-centric eye to procurement technology analysis and the challenges affecting the CPO community.


Xeeva: Vendor Analysis (Part 1) — Company Background, Solution Strengths/Weaknesses

SpendLead

The source-to-pay space is starting to get crowded. While it was only a dream a scant decade ago, with a couple of providers offering minimal S2C or P2P suites, in the last five years we've gone from just a few players to more than 10 that now compete with more or less complete S2P suites. One of these vendors is Xeeva.

Xeeva, although founded in 2014, is just now hitting the procurement scene because it launched with a very ambitious plan — AI-powered procurement that can, in certain categories, identify the best procurement opportunities and automatically execute on them. Basically, like LevaData, Xeeva wants to be one of the first players in the “cognitive procurement” domain and help you do your job, by doing more of the practical procurement process for you. But it takes time and patience to master your game if you are a sly wolf.

However, the areas in which the solution can do your work for you is limited to a select set of indirect categories where they have enough data to recommend a good decision. To determine if a buy is good, you need to know what the organization has been spending, what the current market — and negotiated — prices are now, what the organizational demand is projected to be, and if current prices coincide with what is expected based upon community intelligence.

To support this vision, Xeeva has built a nearly full S2P suite with sourcing, supplier information management (SIM), procurement, and, of course, deep AI-powered analytics technology.

In this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis, we will debut a new order of information for the entire three-part series to better help readers who are doing tech selection. The strengths and weaknesses will now be in Part 1 instead of Part 2. The second installment will provide a company SWOT and a market analysis of competitors, which was typically in the last part. Now, Part 3 will be the detailed solution overview, giving readers interested in the vendor very specific details and capabilities.

Today’s focus on Xeeva will still provide company details and a brief solution overview — but it will mainly examine strengths and weaknesses. In Part 2, we will provide a SWOT assessment and an overview of the competitive landscape in which Xeeva plays. In our third and final installment, we will provide a more in-depth overview of Xeeva’s platform capabilities.

EcoVadis: Vendor Analysis, 2020 Update (Part 3) — SWOT, Competitors and Tech Selection Insights

CSR, sustainability

In this update of Spend Matters’ Vendor Analysis series, we have been analyzing EcoVadis, a provider of a cloud-based sustainability rating and monitoring “Solution” (with a capital “S” to denote a solution that transcends software) for your critical supply chain suppliers.

The supplier-friendly and buyer-friendly platform offers three modules: IQ for broad-scale risk assessments and visibility, Ratings for in-depth supplier sustainability ratings, and Spotlight for audit management. Ratings is the core of the solution and allows suppliers to self-register, complete a profile customized to them based on their UN ISIC industry code (and country and size), upload all relevant documentation and get assessed/rated for a 12-month period. As we wrote in Part 2 of this series:

The EcoVadis sustainability rating is not a formal certification from a regulatory agency, but the criteria is interestingly built up as a "best of breed" superset of requirements from existing CSR standards such as Global Reporting Initiative, the United Nations Global Compact and the ISO 26000. This relevance helps improve attractiveness and adoption by organizations that don't want to reinvent the wheel and can use a single rating to also help comply with the other certifications that are in force within their supply chain.

This final installment of our update of this PRO Vendor Analysis series covering EcoVadis offers a SWOT assessment, a look at competitors and a comparison with other similar and “crossover” providers in the supplier management market that also address ratings, CSR, risk and related initiatives. It also includes a user selection guide and summary evaluation and more tech selection considerations. Part 1 has a company and solution overview, as well as a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider EcoVadis. Part 2 offers a deep look at the product strengths and weaknesses.

EcoVadis: Vendor Analysis, 2020 Update (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses

CSR, sustainability

The market demand for supplier intelligence and data within procurement continues to increase. Whether it’s supply chain and supplier risk data provided by originators and aggregators or category and supply market-based general intelligence offered by analyst-driven models, an increasing number of firms are looking to third parties to augment their internal data-gathering and analysis efforts.

EcoVadis fits within this supplier intelligence/data and software landscape as a cloud-based sustainability rating/monitoring solution for global suppliers.

The buyer-friendly and supplier-friendly platform allows suppliers to self-register, complete a profile customized to them based on their UN ISIC code and categories of products or services offered, upload all relevant documentation, and get assessed and rated for a 12-month period. The EcoVadis sustainability rating is not a formal certification from a regulatory agency, but the criteria is interestingly built up as a "best of breed" superset of requirements from existing sustainability standards, such as Global Reporting Initiative, the United Nations Global Compact and the ISO 26000. This relevance helps improve attractiveness and adoption by organizations that don't want to reinvent the wheel and can use a single rating to also help comply with the other certifications that are in force within their supply chain.

Part 2 of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis Update explores EcoVadis’ product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider this provider of supplier intelligence solutions. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview and a recommended fit list of criteria for firms considering EcoVadis. The third part of this series will offer a company SWOT analysis, user selection guide, a look at EcoVadis’ competitors, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

EcoVadis: Vendor Analysis, 2020 Update (Part 1) — Company Background & Solution Overview

Sustainability. Go back 10 years and that was not a topic that got much more than lip service from most procurement organizations. But in recent years, as discussions around climate change have become louder, organizations started to address sustainability much more seriously.

Now, the coronavirus pandemic may prove to be the tipping point as most experts seem to agree that the origin of COVID-19 lies in the Wuhan wet markets. In these types of markets, live animals are kept under questionable conditions, something that is proving to be the definition of unsustainable. Time will tell if this was the starting point for truly including CSR and sustainability as a key part of strategic sourcing.

Since Spend Matters’ last Vendor Analysis of EcoVadis in 2017, the provider of business sustainability ratings for global supply chains has released two new offerings, IQ and Spotlight, to help organizations manage their entire supply base. IQ is an offering using country and industry data to allow organizations to track the long tail of its suppliers. Spotlight helps manage audits of the most strategic suppliers. In between these, EcoVadis’ core offering remains its Ratings module. It supports sustainability requirements by defining and benchmarking a corporate social responsibility index across 21 sustainability indicators (built up from lower-level questions) categorized in four major areas: environment, social, ethics and supply chain.

In this updated PRO Vendor Analysis, we’ll dive into EcoVadis’ company background, its solution offering and some recommendations on how the firm is best used to maximize value. Part 2 will focus on product strengths and weaknesses. Part 3 will then wrap up with a company SWOT analysis, a look at EcoVadis' competitors and the market, shortlist guidance, and final commentary and recommendations.

‘E-Sourcing Execution’ Competitors: Defining the Market Landscape (Part 3) — Specialist Vendors

It’s time to look at the “e-sourcing execution” vendors that compete with a smaller, specialized set of offerings.

In Part 2 of this Spend Matters PRO series, we focused on the suite providers in this market because, as you’ll recall, there are two distinct sets of vendors that offer e-sourcing execution functionality, the S2P providers that also offer P2P suites and the more specialized sourcing suite vendors that don’t.

The variety in the specialized group is bigger and varies from vendors that also sell contract management or supplier management on a standalone basis to vendors that only support e-sourcing execution.

Part 1 of this series explored how the problem now is that sourcing, and especially strategic sourcing, encompasses more than what the traditional e-sourcing solutions supported, which was to just negotiate online. We are therefore introducing the term “e-sourcing execution” solutions that in our opinion more accurately reflects what these solutions do: support the tactical execution of sourcing. E-sourcing as a broader term can then be divided into the previously mentioned e-sourcing execution solutions but also “e-sourcing strategy” solutions. In the e-sourcing strategy solutions category, we include offerings for market analysis, opportunity identification, strategy formulation and category management.

In this three-part series, we will present our view of the competitors in the e-sourcing execution solution market in 2020 and define expected functionality and key trends, as well as listing and providing short descriptions of the key competitors — suite vendors and specialty providers.

For Part 3, the specialty vendors discussed below are vendors in Spend Matters’ Sourcing SolutionMap. There are obviously additional vendors in this space, but because we haven’t (yet) analyzed those solutions with the same rigor as those in SolutionMap, we will list a sample of them by name below in the last section here.

‘E-Sourcing Execution’ Competitors: Defining the Market Landscape (Part 2) — Suite Vendors

There are two distinct sets of vendors that offer “e-sourcing execution” functionality, the S2P providers that also offer P2P suites and the more specialized sourcing suite vendors that don’t. The variety in the second group is bigger and varies from vendors that also sell contract management or supplier management on a standalone basis to vendors that only support sourcing execution.

Part 1 of this series explored how the problem now is that sourcing, and especially strategic sourcing, encompasses more than what the traditional e-sourcing solutions supported, which was to just negotiate online. We are therefore introducing the term “e-sourcing execution” solutions that in our opinion more accurately reflects what these solutions do: support the tactical execution of sourcing. E-sourcing as a broader term can then be divided into the previously mentioned e-sourcing execution solutions but also “e-sourcing strategy” solutions. In the e-sourcing strategy solutions category, we include offerings for market analysis, opportunity identification, strategy formulation and category management.

In this three-part Spend Matters PRO series, we will present our view of the competitors in the e-sourcing execution solution market in 2020 and define expected functionality and key trends, as well as listing and providing short descriptions of the key competitors — suite vendors and specialty providers.

For Part 2, the suite vendors featured below are vendors in Spend Matters’ Sourcing SolutionMap. There are obviously additional vendors in this space, but because we haven’t (yet) analyzed those solutions with the same rigor as those in SolutionMap, we will list a sample of them at the end of Part 3.

‘E-Sourcing Execution’ Competitors: Defining the Market Landscape (Part 1) — Introduction

“E-sourcing” emerged as a term in the 1990s as Freemarket and others developed solutions to enable organizations to negotiate online. The problem now is that sourcing, and especially strategic sourcing, encompasses more than what the traditional e-sourcing solutions supported. We are therefore introducing the term “e-sourcing execution” solutions that in our opinion more accurately reflects what these solutions do: support the tactical execution of sourcing. E-sourcing as a broader term can then be divided into the previously mentioned e-sourcing execution solutions but also “e-sourcing strategy” solutions. In the e-sourcing strategy solutions category, we include offerings for market analysis, opportunity identification, strategy formulation and category management.

The first sourcing and reverse auction solutions came to market all the way back in the 1990s. Since then many of the pioneers have disappeared, most through mergers and acquisitions, but some are still around, and a couple have even played the role of market consolidator. But more importantly there has been a flow of new vendors entering the market with slightly different approaches and views on how to improve adoption and performance over the years.

The scope of the solutions also has increased, and it's almost impossible to find a vendor that supports only eRFX’s and reverse auctions today. Nearly everyone has added some supplier management and/or contract management capabilities. In many cases, these adjacent capabilities are basic, but as clients mature, they start looking for more functionality and the vendors have to evolve to meet new requirements.

This has resulted in a complex but highly competitive market with a mix of suite vendors and more specialized vendors — as well as experienced vendors alongside newer entrants focused on higher levels of automation through the use of advanced analytics and AI/machine learning technologies.

In this three-part Spend Matters PRO series, we will present our view of the competitors in the e-sourcing execution solution market in 2020 and define expected functionality and key trends, as well as listing and providing short descriptions of the key competitors — suite vendors and specialty providers.

EC Sourcing: Vendor Analysis 2020 Update (Part 3) — SWOT, Competitors, Recommendations, Summary Analysis

There is a lot of competition in the e-sourcing and strategic sourcing suite marketplace today.

Granted, while new market entrants have largely if not entirely replaced some of the legacy providers from a decade or more ago, the amount of choice procurement organizations have in selecting a provider has never been greater.

EC Sourcing is one such provider that companies — especially those in the middle market — may wish to add to their shortlists, not just for core sourcing and negotiation but to enable basic category management support and upstream (non-transactional) suite capability.

This final installment of our updated three-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series provides a SWOT analysis, a look at EC Sourcing’s competitors and how EC Sourcing compares to vendors that customers may wish to shortlist. This post also includes a user selection guide and summary evaluation. Part 1 and Part 2 of this analysis provide a company and solution overview, product strengths and weaknesses, and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider EC Sourcing.

EC Sourcing: Vendor Analysis 2020 Update (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

complex sourcing

Many procurement organizations at larger firms will soon be on their second (or even third) set of e-sourcing technologies, with many using multiple solutions. The middle market is different, with scattered adoption and a much more recent track record of “sourcing” tools for the first time, if at all. Both trends favor lesser-known providers like EC Sourcing, a closely held technology and solutions firm that has compiled a commendable e-sourcing package and various components of a broader “upstream” suite — albeit with strengths and weaknesses in different areas.

EC Sourcing built out its suite from an e-negotiation core, and now it has a range of surprisingly deep capabilities that go beyond modular capability alone, including workflow management. On a functional basis, the provider offers e-sourcing, basic contract management, supplier management (including supplier corrective action reporting, or SCAR).

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores EC Sourcing’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations determine if they should shortlist the vendor as a potential provider. Since our last three-part Snapshot in 2016, EC Sourcing has addressed a number of the weaknesses we pointed out. It has built a reporting module and partnered with BidMode to add an optimization module to its offering. It also has updated its UI.

Part 1 of our 2020 Update provided a company and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for what types of organizations should consider EC Sourcing. Part 3 of this series will offer a SWOT analysis of the company, a discussion of competitors, selection recommendations and a summary analysis.

Let’s look at the strengths and weaknesses.

EC Sourcing: Vendor Analysis 2020 Update (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview

PaaS

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot 2020 Update offers a refresh of our 2016 review of EC Sourcing’s solution. EC Sourcing is one of a select group of procurement technology providers targeting the middle market with an e-sourcing platform. It happens to be one of the most mature in capability, with a set of clever features that only comes from the battle scars of years of managing sourcing events. Spend Matters' analysis of the EC Sourcing platform positions it as a solid contender to fill the sourcing needs of middle-market procurement organizations looking for technology to transform their sourcing efforts. That said, the solution could also be a fit for larger organizations looking for a more specialized sourcing solution.

Since our last three-part Snapshot, EC Sourcing has addressed a number of the weaknesses we pointed out. It has built a reporting module and partnered with BidMode to add an optimization module to its offering. It also has updated its UI. That means its solution now consists of modules for e-sourcing, process management, supplier management, contract management, spend analysis, optimization, and intelligence reporting.

This update will provide facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations determine if EC Sourcing solution is the right fit for their needs, and it will offer perspectives on alternative providers to consider in an evaluation alongside it. Part 1 will include a company and detailed solution overview. Part 2 will focus on product strengths and weaknesses. Part 3 will offer a  company-level SWOT analysis, a look at competitors, selection considerations and a summary analysis.

Updated! CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: Sourcing and Commodity Management — Help with direct materials sourcing and automated supplier discovery

Updated April 23: This post about the Sourcing and Commodity Management category has been updated with profiles of additional solutions for direct material sourcing — Ivalua, SAP Ariba, Synertrade — as well as solutions that help with automated supplier discovery — SAP Ariba and Tealbook. The updated passages are italicized, and the new profiles are toward the end.

In this installment of our “Coronavirus Response” series, Spend Matters will explore sourcing and commodity management, with a focus on direct materials. With the COVID-19 crisis impacting logistics and existing supply bases, in China (even though China seems to be recovering), the rest of Asia and Europe (thus far), there will be numerous emerging needs for companies across manufacturing. This PRO brief will focus on solution providers that we’ll profile in this category: Allocation Network, Coupa, Jaggaer, Ivalua, SAP and Synertrade — which help with direct sourcing. You can also use solutions for automated supplier discovery from SAP Ariba and Tealbook, although other COVID-19 related resource sites for supplier discovery have also popped up from scoutbee, Thomas, and various sector-specific resources (e.g., D&B, govshop, and others in the federal government).

The mission of this series is to examine categories of relevant solutions and example providers that professionals in procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should investigate to reduce, and even mitigate, coronavirus supply risk. And even if the solutions are only addressing a subset of the issues, the ability to respond intelligently in the short term can also help set organizations up for the future when sanity returns to the world.

Today’s brief focuses on the second of the seven solution categories that we’re covering:

1. Supply risk management solutions that include supply chain risk, CSR risk, supplier financial risk, etc. (Read this category’s PRO analysis and solution recommendations here.)
2. Sourcing and commodity management, including advanced sourcing, direct sourcing, automated supplier discovery, and commodity management to help dynamically plan and source.
3. Advanced procurement analytics to enable direct procurement and/or to perform “spend planning” when demand drops out or spikes. (Its profile for this series is here.)
4. Procure to Pay (P2P) that emphasizes working capital, dynamic discounting, payment control and related finance priorities to help inject cash into the P2P process — especially for many cash-starved suppliers. (This category is discussed in-depth here.)
5. Fraud, P2P and vendor management safeguards when new suppliers need to be set up quickly, and also when lowlife fraudsters try to use the pandemic as a way to steal money and IP. (Its profile for this series is here.)
6. Providers with deep contract analytics that can analyze a contract portfolio for affected contracts from suppliers (and customers) for not just force majeure clauses, but other related clauses that tie to the multiple risks popping up at once in the pandemic. (Read in-depth detail on this category here.)
7. Contingent Workforce and Services solutions that are able to, at a minimum, help rapidly ramp up on-demand workers to deal with massive resource shortfalls. We are looking at four categories of solutions: for sourcing remote/online work; solutions for sourcing and managing mobile-first contract workers anywhere you need them; solutions to “direct source” and manage contract workers; and solutions for data management and analytics.

Owing to the magnitude of the crisis, Spend Matters recently made the series introduction available for free to all readers. PRO subscribers can see our follow-up pieces that profile the other categories and their solutions in that market. We will include a lot of information on each category PRO brief that readers can see without hitting a paywall, but since we also draw heavily from our existing deep-dive analysis of the providers from our SolutionMap database, some information will be available only to our PRO subscribers.

For sourcing and commodity management, the emerging needs for companies across manufacturing will include rapidly identifying new sources of supply, conducting complex sourcing events for materials, parts and components (which may be tied to broader bills of material), qualifying suppliers based on targeted requirements (e.g., for a specific line), and managing and tracking suppliers based on custom scorecarding.

After the pause button is lifted on production — in cases where one is put into place — these needs will become especially acute during the recovery phase in specific regions (which may be different from the recovery phase in other geographies).

Each category-specific PRO piece in this series has three sections:

1. Problems and Use Cases. We’ll highlight the problems in force (which will vary through different phases of the crisis) and the various scenarios where solutions can provide deeper insights, intelligence and scalable workflows.
2. Solution Rationale and Value. We’ll outline how various solutions can help solve the problems and the specific questions that they’ll help answer.
3. Example Providers. We’ll highlight the solution providers that can support the problems and deliver value.

Some providers are offering coronavirus-specific programs and “freemium” commercial offers, and we’ll note those whenever we update this piece. We’ll also start the series with providers that we already have deep knowledge on, but we’ve been seeking information from other vendors too.

Let’s jump into how sourcing and commodity management can help.

Through April 2020, a special PRO Expert Survival Pack is available to procurement practitioners only* at up to 50% off — Learn more

Kodiak Rating: Vendor Analysis (Solution Overview, Strengths/Weaknesses, Company SWOT, Selection Checklist, Analysis)

As we’ve mentioned in previous research, the market for supplier management applications is fragmented with many types of solutions and approaches. At Spend Matters, we have defined five core supplier management capabilities:

* Supplier information management (SIM)
* Supplier performance management (SPM)
* Supplier relationship management (SRM)
* Supplier risk management (Supplier Risk)
* Supplier quality management (SQM)

Most supplier management applications today have their origin in the SIM or risk areas. There are very few, if any, vendors focused on SPM, and to get that functionality, buying organizations have usually been forced to invest in broader suites, either full S2P suites or extended SIM or Supplier Risk applications. As a result, many organizations, especially (but not limited to) mid-size organizations, have resorted to using Excel as the primary tool for supplier performance management.

But, that said, SPM needs information from other applications to measure performance and has overlaps with the other SXM areas. You typically need some basic information about your suppliers (SIM) and both risk and quality data (Supplier Risk and SQM) to rate your suppliers, and in order to act upon the ratings, some SRM capabilities are needed.

Kodiak Rating’s solution stands out in the market with its primary focus on SPM (and to a lesser degree SQM) supported by basic capabilities in the other SXM areas.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Kodiak Rating and its capabilities — features that support rating, monitoring and managing your suppliers. The brief includes an overview of Kodiak Rating and its solution offerings, a summary solution evaluation, solution strengths/weaknesses, a company SWOT analysis and a selection checklist for companies that might consider the provider.