Author Archives: Michael Lamoureux



2020 Predicaments and Predictions in Procurement Analytics: What’s Likely, What’s Revolutionary

It shouldn’t be a big shock to learn that procurement analytics is a big deal right now. After procurement organizations have built some basic spend cubes (or “spent cubes”) and dashboards, they’re looking for deeper predictive insights into spend, contracts, suppliers, costs, process improvements, supply risk and other areas. In fact, analytics was by far the most cited technology area expected to have a business impact within the next two years by CPOs surveyed in the recent 2019 Deloitte Global CPO Survey.

The biggest area of interest within analytics have been:

* Self-service analytics/visualization for business stakeholders and procurement staff
* Predictive analytics for power users (e.g., for price/cost/volume forecasting)
* Performance analytics and dashboards (e.g., supplier scorecarding, category dashboards, etc.)
* Support for digital initiatives such as AI/machine learning (which is usually about focused predictive analytics problems), RPA (that either requires some analysis within a process or conversely is about helping to automate the analytic workflows), or big data analytics (e.g., using IoT sensor data from the supply chain)

The Predicaments
However, while analytics are hot, the implementation barriers can be stone cold killers:

* Poor data quality. 40% of CPOs cited the inability to generate insights and analytics because an even greater number (60%) cited poor master data quality, standardization, and governance.
* The master data quality problem is very familiar to practitioners who run any type of analytics that have to do with suppliers, items and contracts — i.e., most of them!
* Some ERP suites and procurement suites have fragmented master data within their product lines, and nearly all these solutions don’t have master data that can be used as part of an MDM-type solution (e.g., having a supplier master that can serve a true SIM solution from an MDM standpoint rather than just creating another vendor master file to add to the heap).
* Generating forward-looking insights based on external data and intelligence rather than just simple spend forensics — especially category-specific insights that are typically built from scratch.
* The struggle to create analytics that go beyond off-the-shelf operational reports from the various modules/tools in the market.
* Dashboards that are attractive, but can be visually overwhelming and not help you prioritize where the key opportunities are.
* IT organizations that may be pushing legacy data warehouses and BI tools that don’t allow more democratized analytics to be developed with an increasingly digitally savvy generation of business users and tools (that might also need to get adopted by an older generation of procurement practitioners). Data visualization and predictive analytics were the top two digital skills prioritized for procurement technology training over the next year.

In the rest of this Spend Matters PRO brief, we’ll dive into the current and future state of the procurement analytics area, and make some predictions about what we expect to see in 2020 from a market standpoint, but also a more detailed technical standpoint.

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. 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.

At Coupa Inspire in London, 2 game-changing innovations barely got a mention 

Last week, Spend Matters Europe did a great job of summarizing the Coupa Inspire event in London, including a look at the biggest items that Coupa was pushing on its product agenda.

This was great, but the best product-related announcements weren't in the keynotes, and they barely even got more than a mention in the breakout sessions.

So today, we're going to focus on two developments — connectivity and analytics encapsulation — because these innovations can totally change the game in business spend management and should not be overlooked!

Orpheus: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — SWOT, Competitive Analysis and Summary

Spend Analysis. Every company needs it, but not every company knows what they need or how to use it. As per our first post, it could be defined as:

* An extensive set of canned reports across a defined data set
* User Defined Reports and Views on a static ROLAP Cube
* Dynamic Cube Construction and View Creation on a predefined data set
* Dynamic Cube Construction and Federation on an extensible, user-defined data set

Depending on the provider, it may or may not include:

* Data Consolidation and Cleansing
* Data Enrichment
* Data Classification and Categorization
* Data Synchronization with Source Systems

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg on what one has to consider before even inviting a pool of candidates to an RFI, yet alone whittling down to three that all have the core capabilities the organization needs and that can all, more-or-less, be compared apples-to-apples when the RFIs come in.

That’s why in the first part of this three-part series we took our time to define Orpheus and its solutions, including components and capabilities not offered by every spend analysis vendor on the market. Then, in Part 2, we dove deep into the solution, highlighting particular strengths and bringing to light some of the weaknesses compared to peers (which may or may not matter depending on what your organization is looking for). Now, in our third and final part, we will provide a SWOT analysis, a competitive market analysis and a summary with commentary.

Orpheus: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

In Part 1 of Spend Matters’ three-part PRO Vendor Snapshot on Orpheus, we started out by explaining how the definition of spend analysis differs from client to client and how it is a buyer-beware market — as not all vendors have the same technological capabilities, and you can’t compare their quotes as apples-to-apples. That’s why it’s important to understand what a vendor can do, and what it can’t, before whittling down to the final three and definitely before making a selection — because not all vendors will have what Oprheus has to offer.

While many vendors can slice and dice, cube and derive, and find opportunities on the fly — not all have initiative tracking, not all have AI, and not all have the experience of classifying over half a billion transactions across 4 million suppliers for 15 years of operation. This is pretty distinctive, and we’ve only completed the introduction so far.

In today’s post, we will dive into the strengths and weaknesses, giving you deep insight into the platform.

In Part 3, we will provide a SWOT analysis of Orpheus and discuss the competitive market that surrounds it. We will conclude with some commentary and hopefully will leave you with deep insights into who Orpheus is and what it can do.

A Due Diligence Survival Guide: What to Expect (Part 1: Passing Architecture & Structural Product Scrutiny)

public procurement

This Spend Matters Nexus series on due diligence kicks off Nexus as its own subscription stream apart from PRO content.

The series is a survival guide on the due diligence process for sellers, especially all the areas outside of finance and accounting (though we’ll eventually get to this part of the process). And we hope that acquirers and investors — even seasoned corporate development, PE and venture types — will find it useful as well. We unfortunately know some buyers who could have spared themselves some headaches had they been as anal as we are in many of these areas.

Perhaps the biggest challenge that executives going through a fund-raising or transaction process face is that they are not adequately prepared for all the curveballs — many of the Astros batters facing the Nationals Stephen Strasburg’s recent loopers come to mind — that might get tossed their way in the due diligence process.

There are so many areas that investors and acquirers might decide to take an extra look at that even world-class “hitters” might not see them coming. And even those who think they are prepared for all the pitches might not fully anticipate the twists and turns the ball might take just before it hits the strike zone (we’ll stop with the baseball analogies, but with one of us coming from the North Side of Chicago, we’re empathetically giddy about our friends in Washington being able to claim victory in the World Series for the first time, turning around what initially looked to be a modest season).

The 2019 baseball Fall Classic aside, fully preparing for diligence is about practice (a topic we’ll explore later in this Nexus series), and it’s one that we ideally recommend companies rehearse — even though few will be prepared from “regular season” play alone at the level that ideally they should be at. Regardless, even those that do not practice sufficiently will stand to benefit from a comprehensive checklist about what to expect.



In Part 1 of our series, we’ll start first with an overall list of areas to consider from a diligence checklist perspective. Then we’ll immediately dive into what to expect around architecture and structural product diligence. (Warning: This is deep!) In the weeks to come, we’ll crawl out of the technology weeds as our exploration continues.

And of course throughout this Nexus series, we’ll aim to put a unique spin on the topic for procurement, finance and supply chain software companies, as these are the software segments we’re most experienced in scrutinizing — and occasionally preparing or dressing up for a process.

Let’s begin.

Jason Busch serves as Managing Director of Spend Matters Nexus, a membership, research and advisory organization serving technology acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and CEOs in the procurement and finance solutions marketplace (including contract management, B2B marketplaces/connectivity, indirect procurement, services procurement, direct procurement, commodity management, payment, trade financing, GRC/third-party management and related adjacent sectors).

Orpheus: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview

procurement

“Spend analysis” is one of the most misused terms in the solution space, especially since the exact scope of what a vendor offers with respect to spend analysis varies by vendor and the scope of what a buyer expects when they buy a spend-analysis solution varies by the buyer. You see, what a vendor offers depends upon their philosophy to analysis and where they are on the development curve with respect to that. What a buyer expects depends upon their level of procurement maturity, what they are aware of as being possible with a modern spend analysis tool, and their level of master data maturity.

You see, "spend analysis" has been, is and will be defined in various ways by various vendors. Depending on the vendor, it could be defined as:

* An extensive set of canned reports across a defined data set
* User Defined Reports and Views on a static ROLAP Cube
* Dynamic Cube Construction and View Creation on a pre-defined data set
* Dynamic Cube Construction and Federation on an extensible, user defined data set

Depending on the provider, it may or may not include:

* Data Consolidation and Cleansing
* Data Enrichment
* Data Classification and Categorization
* Data Synchronization with Source Systems

And depending on the provider philosophy, the classification may be:

* Rules-based
* Automated using statistical / clustering / neural networks
* Machine learning that adjusts the rules to improve the classification over time
* Hybrid approach that does auto-classification and allows for pre-classification using fixed rules and post-classification for mapping corrections
* Machine learning that identifies fixed, deterministic classification rules that are applied with user defined rules for all classification

And the data may or may not be limited to:

* Integrated data sources in the platform that the analysis tool is integrated into
* Integrated data sources, pre-integrated ERP and select API feeds
* A data lake maintained by the provider
* Any data you can push into the data lake it is configured to work on

And so on. In other words, what a vendor offers when they offer spend analysis varies by the vendor, and what a buyer might get can vary widely.

So in this three-part Spend Matters Pro Vendor Snapshot on Orpheus, we will try to leave you with a clear understanding of exactly what Orpheus offers with respect to spend analysis and whether they might be the right provider for you.

In Part 1, we will provide a brief company overview and a look at Oprheus' main offerings.

For Part 2, we will provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and maybe not so good) about the solution.

In Part 3, we’ll offer a high-level SWOT analysis, some market implications and a summary.

So You Want to Build a P2P Marketplace? An Introduction to Unique B2B Technology, Platform and Application Requirements

Procure-to-pay (P2P) solutions do not just have to take the form of “vanilla” cloud/SaaS applications. Increasingly, organizations are becoming aware of the power of B2B marketplace models and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) models, which can enable greater flexibility to configure P2P capabilities for a combination of internal and third-party users — and in certain cases, to leverage the buying, distribution, payment / financing (in the case of banks), and supply chain assets of the marketplace sponsor to create entirely new business models through the use of technology.

In many ways, this is the realization of the vision of the original B2B marketplaces from two decades ago (e.g., Commerce One MarketSite, i2 TradeMatrix, Ariba/Tradex, Atlas Commerce, etc.), but with technology that can support the complex requirements involved in many-to-many and multi-tier collaboration models, as well as integration approaches that go beyond standard API calls.

This is B2B nirvana for procurement and supply chain geeks like us who have lived through multiple cycles of marketplace enthusiasm (madness?). The fact that a number of vendors exist today that can service these models effectively is testament to just how far technology has come in recent years. This includes not only the usual P2P best-of-breed subjects supporting these models (e.g., Basware, Coupa, Ivalua, SAP, Tradeshift, etc.) but also names you might not be familiar with as well.

This Spend Matters PRO brief provides an introduction to the types of platform and functional capabilities necessary for organizations considering building a marketplace model or leveraging an existing PaaS application ecosystem to go outside the box of standard P2P process models and operating models for internal use only.

Leveraging Spend Matters’ experience in managing the technology selection processes for marketplace initiatives and our SolutionMap vendor RFI requirements, our analysis introduces a range of platform and application requirements that companies should consider when evaluating solutions that can power the requirements of marketplace models for B2B relationships beyond the standard requirements expected of P2P solutions.

These include core platform components, data schema, data management, workflow, personalization, supplier portal, supplier information management, analytics, globalization and related requirements.

Procurence Vendor Introduction (Part 2: Strengths/Weaknesses, SWOT, Selection Checklist and Market Overview)

In Part 1 of this two-part Spend Matters PRO series, we introduced you to Procurence — a relatively new entrant to the global direct material supplier management space, based out of Warsaw, Poland. It’s a recent entrant to our SolutionMap ranking of vendors, where its scores make it a customer leader in the SRM category. While still a small player, its solution already has a lot of the breadth of more established players like Jaggaer Direct (Pool4Tool), Ivalua (Directworks) and Allocation Network. Procurence’s utilization has been growing tenfold year-over-year by its buy-side user base of over 10,000 users and supply-side user base of over 30,000 users. Whether it has everything your organization needs, however, will come down to your mix of direct vs indirect, and how similar your needs are to its existing client base, which it has been developing its Meercat solution with for the past seven years.

While Part 1 of this brief provided some background on Procurence and a high-level overview of its offering, Part 2 will provide a breakdown of what is good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis and a short selection requirements checklist that outlines the typical company for which Procurence might be a good fit.

Procurence Vendor Introduction (Part 1: Background and SRM Solution Overview)

direct materials sourcing

Supplier management is one of the most misunderstood terms in the procurement solution space, especially since the exact scope of processes supported by such systems varies by analyst, vendor and customer interpretation. In order to clarify, or at least differentiate, many vendors have begun slicing and dicing the SXM solution space to offer the likes of:

* Supplier Discovery Management: that help an organization identify potential new suppliers that can help it meet its products, services, diversity and/or sustainability requirements
* Supplier Information Management: that can help a supplier track all of the information it collects on a supplier, including locations, employees, products, services, certifications and certificates
* Supplier Performance Management: that can track not only supplier information but also relevant performance data on quality, reliability, delivery, invoice accuracy and sustainability
* Supplier Relationship Management: that includes not only performance data but also functionalities to manage the relationship, such as capabilities for supplier development, collaboration and innovation management
* Supplier Network Management: that can support supplier discovery but are primarily designed to support transactions (through e-document and e-payment exchange) with suppliers on the network
* Supplier Quality Management: that includes specialized capabilities to support direct materials procurement, including the management of non-conformance cost of poor supplier quality, and general quality management
* Supplier Risk Management: that includes the capability to gather multiple sources of risk data (financial, environmental, regulatory, geographic, etc.) and provide an overall risk profile

Very few vendors do more than half of this, at best, so when evaluating a supplier management software vendor, it's important to understand what fraction of this they do and whether that fraction is relevant to your business.

We'll take, for example, supplier quality management — this goes well beyond supplier performance management because it's not just tracking defect rates, uptime / reliability statistics, etc. but managing the quality process from the beginning of production to delivery of the product to the consumer. Ensuring the materials that are being sourced are of the appropriate standards and tested on receipt, that the appropriate production process is followed, that the machines are regularly tested, that the outputs are spot tested, securely packaged, and delivered to spec. Such a system should support ISO (International Standard Organization), ASQ (American Society for Quality) processes, Six Sigma, 8D Reports (based on Eight Disciplines methodology), and/or QDX (Quality Data eXchange). Very few solutions come close to this, even if they are designed for supporting direct procurement.

And while Procurence may not do all of this, it is one of the few supplier management solutions on the market that tackles quality management in addition to information, performance and risk, as well as aspects of relationship management.

Procurence was founded in 2009 in Warsaw, Poland, to provide tools to help buyers achieve transparency in their supply base, decrease supply risk, and streamline internal supplier management and communication processes.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Procurence and its supplier management capabilities. (Non-supplier management specific capabilities are excluded.) Part 1 includes a short company overview and a detailed look at Procurence’s offering. Part 2 will provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis, a short selection requirements checklist that outlines the typical company for which Procurence might be a good fit, and some market implications and takeaways.

4 key takeaways from SynerTrade’s Paris customer panel

In Spend Matters’ last article on SynerTrade’s recent conference in Paris, we talked about how SynerTrade has heard the call of the digital procurement revolution and is readying itself for the revolution by turning its source-to-pay solution into a platform that, through an enhanced API, can easily integrate best-of-breed partner products to provide customers with the tools and intelligence that SynerTrade doesn’t have (as no single vendor can do everything, and the best know enough to not even try).

In this article, we are going to discuss the four key takeaways that the customer panel left us with:
* Measure and Track Quarterly — and React
* Don't Go Too Fast with Tech
* Start with Something Simple That Works and Delivers Value
* Progress Takes Patience