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.


What’s going on at SAP Ariba (sorry, I mean SAP Intelligent Spend Group)?

SAP Ariba (and before that Ariba on its own) has been the dominant vendor in the source-to-pay market for almost two decades. And it was arguably the first S2P vendor, after its acquisition of Freemarkets in 2004 (depending a bit on how you define S2P!)

Since then, other vendors have constantly compared themselves to Ariba and SAP — and bragged about “wins against” them and replacement deals. And on the end-user side, the stalwart has pretty much been a consistent presence on any procurement technology evaluation longlist and most shortlists as well. But over the last couple of years something has changed, and SAP Ariba is facing some serious challenges in keeping (or perhaps even regaining?) its dominant position in the market.

But to understand the present and gaze into the future, we must first fully appreciate the past.

In 2011 SAP started (or should we say launched?) its journey toward the cloud with the acquisition of SuccessFactors. This was the first in a series of acquisitions of cloud-based, domain-specific solutions.

This includes Ariba (2012), Fieldglass (2014) and Concur (also in 2014). Well actually, to get ahead of all the reply guys, SAP had acquired Frictionless Commerce in 2006 (Frictionless was the first vendor with an integrated upstream suite back in 2003), which at that point was sort of a cloud solution. However, it was never sold as such by SAP and was basically treated as a stopgap e-sourcing and CLM product until the Ariba acquisition. Then just last year, this combined trio of assets for SAP, became the new SAP Intelligent Spend Group.

For the first couple of years after being acquired, Ariba acted very independently of SAP, even if they brought in Walldorf wunderkind Alex Atzberger from SAP to lead Ariba. But since Alex left Ariba to take over SAP CX (which he also has left to become the CEO of Episerver) and the departure of Barry Padgett, the replacement SAP Ariba president who briefly last year became president of SAP Intelligent Spend Group before becoming the CRO of Stripe, it feels like Ariba is being pulled in more to the SAP mothership, at least organizationally.

But when it comes to the product lines and products, it’s a more complex question. This leads us to a couple of areas that we view as introducing controversy and uncertainty to customers, prospective customers and partners at the moment. Which is our focus for today*. This PRO analysis explores the following topics:

* Aging technology
* Integration and product rationalization
* Leadership turnover and reorganizations
* The rise of S/4HANA (i.e., Will the ERP offering from SAP ultimately replace the different solution sets within the Intelligent Spend Group?)

* Our analysis has been informed by dozens of discussions with SAP Ariba clients and partners. While this research brief introduces these topics on a high level, there are a lot more technical details behind the scenes, and the analysis simplifies some of the technology complexity that exists underneath and within the product stack. For example, in sorting through SAP Ariba and SAP today, there are also some key application/platform/integration strategies (e.g., master data management) that procurement and IT groups will still need to formulate in the absence of a clear stated strategy from SAP. For practitioner organizations who are wrestling with these and other decisions, please don't hesitate to contact us here.

2020 Predicaments in Supplier Management: Top 3 Problems in SXM

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(Editor’s note: Spend Matters’ analysts are taking on the new year by looking at their areas of procurement technology to see what’s broken and what can and should be fixed this year. Here, analyst Magnus Bergfors lays out the predicaments faced in supplier management (SXM). And for our PRO subscribers, his other post today offers his predictions for 2020.)

Just before the holidays we published a PRO brief (The 5 Building Blocks of Supplier Management Capabilities) on the complexity of the SXM market and created a framework for how to define this space. That article highlights one of the lingering issues with supplier management: There is no one-size-fits-all solution here. That is, however, a very broad predicament, and in this article we want to break this down into a few more specific predicaments.

2020 Predictions in Supplier Management: 5 Areas for Improvement in SXM

In our other post today on SXM predicaments in 2020, we discussed some of the current predicaments around supplier management centered on supplier data, supplier segmentation and category management.

To address these issues, buying organizations need to get serious about supplier data management as well as overall supplier management strategies. Unfortunately supplier management is often a secondary responsibility for procurement organizations where the focus tends to be on sourcing and delivering savings. The exception is in some cases in the IT space where some organizations have established vendor management offices (VMOs) to manage the more strategic and critical supplier relationships.

The sourcing and savings focus also results in a lack of interest in making sure that supplier data is managed correctly. Onboarding suppliers often falls to accounts payable organizations whose focus is on making sure that the vendor master data is accurate from a standpoint of getting invoices paid and preventing fraud.

More mature organizations have, however, realized that suppliers need to be managed (not only sourced) and that there is an enormous amount of value to be realized through better supplier management and collaboration — as well as, in some cases, co-innovation.

But we also need improvement in the applications and technology to support this. In this Spend Matters PRO article, we will explore five predictions in how we think applications and the SXM market will evolve to meet these challenges and help procurement organizations manage their  suppliers better.

2020 Predicaments in Strategic Sourcing: How to Make It More Strategic

(Editor’s note: Spend Matters’ analysts are taking on the new year by looking at their areas of procurement technology to see what’s broken and what can and should be fixed this year. Here, analyst Magnus Bergfors lays out the predicaments faced in strategic sourcing. And for our PRO subscribers, his other post today offers his predictions for 2020.)

Strategic sourcing as a concept was introduced in the 1980’s and heavily influenced by consulting firms such as McKinsey (which gave us the famous Kraljic matrix) and A.T. Kearney — and is a process that is designed to help procurement organizations successfully source or renegotiate products and services in a deliberate manner.

While this process can deliver billions in savings, there is a larger problem. This approach is binary — you either run a strategic sourcing project or you don’t — and it’s very episodic in that once you have implemented the strategy, you then move on to the next project. This is the proverbial “drive-by sourcing” and “three bids and a buy and a cloud of dust.” This means that the follow-up and management of the contract is ignored.

Then there's the concept called category management. It has its roots going back to the Kraljic matrix (which profiles various spend/supply categories and then tailors the resulting supplier sourcing/management strategies), but the term “category management” really originates in retail, where the idea is to treat your categories as individual business units. Applied to procurement, it becomes a process to continuously manage your category.

In 2020, how should these two concepts be addressed by procurement technology vendors?

2020 Predictions for Strategic Sourcing: Continuous Analysis Needed for Category Management

In today’s Spend Matters post about predicaments in strategic sourcing, we talked about the missing support of category management in existing e-sourcing solutions. The result of this is a lack of connection between the category management strategy and the tactical execution of sourcing events, which leads to a fragmented execution of the overall sourcing and procurement strategy.

To truly transform procurement you need to start from the top by defining your category management framework, then create the actual category strategies based in this framework and finally cascade this down into sourcing events as applicable. This is obviously doable without having a system to support it, but then, in my experience, you run a significant risk of creating category strategies once a year that you then put away and don’t look at until next year when it’s time for an update. By using a tool that has contract data, spend data and supplier management data (natively or through integration), you could create a dashboard that would support the continuous analysis of trends, risk, demands or supply changes. The defined strategy should also guide you to the right type of sourcing event with the right category-specific features and configuration.

Creating this type of solution is obviously not easy, especially the category strategy part, but we are seeing some interesting developments in the market and hearing some interesting things from vendors, and linking e-sourcing to category management is the next logical step in the evolution of sourcing technology.

In this Spend Matters PRO brief, we’ll look at a number of developments about how we believe this will play out.

Coupa buys Yapta: A look at the T&E deal and provider capabilities

This week, Coupa, a provider of business spend management solutions, announced its acquisition of Yapta, a solution provider that enables businesses to automatically monitor and re-book air and hotel reservations when prices drop. Yapta also provides category specific spend analytics and intelligence. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

While likely not a large market shakeup, the acquisition of Yapta still catapults Coupa from one of many brands competing against “the big T&E kahuna,” SAP Concur, in the enterprise and SMB space to one of the few specialized technology providers that can tell a broader story that includes truly non-invasive travel savings and category management.

Travel is a very significant category for most companies. According to the 2018 GBTA BTI Outlook — Annual Global Report & Forecast report, travel spending reached $1.33 trillion in 2017, up 5.8% over 2016 levels. The report also forecasted that business travel spend would expand to $1.7 trillion by 2022.

Business travel spend as a percent of total spend varies by industry and company. However, available market data suggests that aggregate global business travel spend is approximately 2-3X the aggregate global spend on temporary staffing services. In other words: Too significant for procurement to ignore.

Spend Matters spoke to Yapta CEO James Filsinger and Coupa’s Donna Wilczek, senior vice president of product strategy and innovation, about the acquisition. Coupa told Spend Matters the Yapta solution will augment and integrate (and ultimately be unified) with Coupa’s business spend management (BSM) platform with offerings in both its Travel & Expense and Spend Analysis segments. This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides an introduction to Yapta and offers an analysis of the combination.

Preparing for 2020: Digital Procurement Trends in Review (Part 2: Vendors and Capabilities)

Zycus Horizon

For our first Spend Matters PRO series in 2020, we’re preparing for the future by understanding recent trends. So we’ll look at last year through the lens of category management. Since Spend Matters’ analysts are essentially category managers for the mega supply market of over 1,000 providers that help buy-side practitioners manage their spend, supplies, services and suppliers, we’ll look back at 2019 trends through both the demand-side lens of practitioners/buyers and the supply-side lens of providers. In this analysis, we’ll use:

— Findings from our advisory work with procurement practitioners (and supported by primary research)
— Trend analysis of top provider performance taken from our SolutionMap database — from a solution scoring standpoint and also from a customer satisfaction lens
— Observations from our M&A due diligence advisory work from our Nexus service offering
— Solution development activities from the providers in the market
— Insights from service providers in the market who are increasingly themselves developing technology to create hybrid service offerings

Part 1 focused on the practitioner trends of 2019, and Part 2 will review vendor trends in innovation, supplier networks, contingent workforce/services, M&A and other areas where our analyst team has weighed in.

Preparing for 2020: Digital Procurement Trends in Review (Part 1)

For our first installment of Spend Matters PRO in 2020, it’s important to know the past as we prepare for a new year. So we’ll look at last year through the lens of category management.

Since Spend Matters’ analysts are essentially category managers for the mega supply market of over 1,000 providers that help buy-side practitioners manage their spend, supplies, services and suppliers, we’ll look back at 2019 trends through both the demand-side lens of practitioners/buyers and the supply-side lens of providers.

In this analysis, we’ll use:

— Findings from our advisory work with procurement practitioners (and supported by primary research)
— Trend analysis of top provider performance taken from our SolutionMap database — from a solution scoring standpoint and also from a customer satisfaction lens
— Observations from our M&A due diligence advisory work from our Nexus service offering
— Solution development activities from the providers in the market
— Insights from service providers in the market who are increasingly themselves developing technology to create hybrid service offerings

The two-part series will focus primarily on the overall market, and then dive into specific areas where our analyst team has weighed in. In Part 2, we’ll look at what the vendors have been up to. Finally, we’ll foreshadow some predictions that we’ll be making in the coming weeks regarding the biggest problems that still need to be solved in the market — issues that actually have a chance of being meaningfully addressed in 2020.

The 5 Building Blocks of Supplier Management Capabilities

supplier management

As an analyst you want to define things, classify them and put them in buckets to be able to analyze and compare them. Often that works fairly well, and we can rate vendors and solutions against each other to find the best fit in any given situation.

But in some areas this is more difficult, mainly because some areas of procurement are less defined from a process perspective. One such area is supplier management, where solutions go under many different names, among them different variations of supplier relationship management (which SAP laid claim to back in the day by naming its entire procurement suite “SRM” to create a nice analog to the “CRM” world), supplier lifecycle management, supply base management or just supplier management. The problem, however, is that both buying organizations and solution vendors often mean very different things by supplier management.  In our view of the market, we simply drop the “lifecycle” part (although we sometimes use “SXM” for shorthand to have the “X” represent everything supplier management related), and simply use the term “supplier management.”

So, in true analyst fashion for Spend Matters PRO, we have defined five supplier management capabilities, or building blocks, to get some structure:

* Supplier Information Management (SIM).
* Supplier Performance Management (SPM).
* Supplier Relationship Management (SRM).
* Supplier Risk Management.
* Supplier Quality Management (SQM).

So now we can classify supplier management solutions by these capabilities. Pretty straight forward, you would think, right? But not so fast.