Author Archives: Michael Lamoureux



Dear Procurement (Part 2): More work-from-home tips in the coronavirus era — like how to tackle asset management

Today we're going to review a few more activities that still have a large face-to-face component but that can be done as required while working from home — if you're willing to seize the day again.

We’ll focus on virtual ways to tackle contract negotiations, end-user product qualification, inventory & asset management, and project post mortems.

All of these were done mostly in person but can be done online — thanks to audio and video conferencing tools, mobile collaboration tools, and modern procurement and analytics platforms.

Rosslyn Data Technologies: Vendor Analysis (Part 1) — Background, Solution Overview, Selection Checklist

In this three-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot, you'll see that Rosslyn Data Technologies is a granddaddy in the best-of-breed spend analytics space. With all of the acquisitions, re-brandings, mergers, re-platformings and a recent name change from Rosslyn Analytics, there are few standalone best-of-breed providers left in the space that have been around for over a decade.

Founded back in 2005 in London, (by Charlie Clark, who has moved on, and Hugh Cox), to bring visibility and insight into organizational spend to national and global enterprises, Rosslyn Analytics is one of those technologies. While not well known on this side of the pond, it was one of the first companies to bring QlikView into the cloud in 2012, one of the first to work with big consultancies (PwC in 2015) to offer cloud-based big-data analytics services, and one of the first companies to go public in 2014 on AIM, a sub-market of the LSE). They've won numerous awards since 2009, been recognized by Gartner and Forrester, and been a small but powerful company in the analytics space in the UK.

And while it's hard to say what the future could hold, it's not hard to say what the platform (which appears in Spend Matters’ SolutionMap for the first time in Spring/Q1 2020) can do and allow you to be the judge of whether it's right for your shortlist.

Billing itself as “The Technology Company that Speaks Business" (that can help your organization reduce the cost of attrition, increase customer satisfaction and improve profits), Rosslyn is all about data centralization, classification, analysis and interpretation. Building on the RAPid platform, Rosslyn not only offers a solution that can be used to automatically extract, cleanse, integrate and classify your organizational data for self-serve report and what-if analysis, but that can also be used to manage contracts, onboard and manage supplier (information), and track supplier performance. However, the core of the application is analytics, and that is what we will primarily focus on in this three-part Vendor Snapshot series.

Unlike many of the newer entrants that are throwing all their faith, and resources, into modern AI with multi-level neural networks, deep learning and other deep, computationally expensive, approaches, Rosslyn is cemented in tried-and-true, rule-based classification technology, classical statistics-based clustering and mining approaches, and ordered application of auto and manual classification that has been proven to be highly accurate and successful over a decade. It has also built large, known, supplier and entity data sets as part of a huge knowledge model it can use for correct classification the first time. It can integrate with IBM Watson and other leading technologies if the client organization desires, but outside of semantic data processing and content analysis, it's generally not necessary.

Having been around the block more than a few times, it knows that no suite of canned reports is ever good enough to bring true value to end clients (which include the likes of Coca-Cola Enterprises and Xerox Business Services), it goes beyond just providing a suite of editable reports and a classic do-it-yourself report generator and also provides interactive reporting dashboards that allow for what-if reporting based upon variable projections to changes in costs, market data, performance, etc. It turns information into actionable insight that can be used to make decisions in procurement, finance, contract negotiations and supplier performance management.

But is that enough to corner the analytics market? Probably not, but it should definitely get some attention, especially if Rosslyn backs up its product with the right marketing efforts in the U.S., where it has been operating since 2012. (Its current U.S. head office is in Chicago.) What else is attention worthy? That's what the remainder of this series will answer.

Dear Procurement: In coronavirus era, carpe diem with tech from your sofa!

Spend Matters analyst Michael Lamoureux tells how procurement pros can do their high-level work from home with the latest technology. Cloud-based solutions — and I’m not just talking about Zoom — can help turn your sofa or kitchen table into a mobile procurement command center to handle category planning, vendor site audits, user groups & workshops, and internal category, supplier and market intelligence.

Updated! CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: Advanced Procurement Analytics — find the risks hiding in your data, prioritize and take action

Updated: Three sections of information were added on analytics solutions that provide help with indirect procurement analysis — as well as information on the challenges that the vendors can address. Read the italicized passages and the new sections to learn more about Rosslyn Analytics, SpendHQ and Simfoni.

In our response to the coronavirus outbreak, this Spend Matters PRO “Coronavirus Response” series is continuing its mission 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 solutions for advanced procurement analytics — the third category shown below in 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. (See this category’s recommended solutions for direct sourcing here.)
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.
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.

In our first installment, we began our coverage of advanced procurement analytics and three solutions from LevaData, Sievo and Suplari with particular strengths in direct material and commodity analysis — because shortages of direct materials and components will have the most immediate effect on your supply chain.

Now we continue our coverage of advanced procurement analytic providers with three more solutions — from Rosslyn Analytics, SpendHQ and Simfoni, who not only have particular strengths in general-purpose spend analytics, but deep capabilities in getting organizational data into the platform for analysis, defining appropriate categorizations for analysis, opportunity analysis, and spend analytics service support for your organization. This is especially key for an average organization without a strong analytics or data science team. SpendHQ, backed up by ISG, and Simfoni are very service-oriented in their approach, and Rosslyn has the size and the experience in supporting global organizations with dozens of ERPs and source systems that need to centralize and classify the data for proper analysis.

While it is the case that all of the vendors covered in Part 1 are also great choices for indirect spend as well, we should point out that LevaData and Suplari have limited services teams,  whereas Rosslyn and SpendHQ in particular have large services / support organizations to back you up, and Simfoni has a GPO model where they can take certain categories off your hands (and a scale up model to support growth in this GPO).

We still believe that long-term unavailability of certain direct materials and components will in turn produce unavailability in indirect products down the line, but stage one of any crisis response must be to keep critical production lines running and focus on direct. Similarly, if an unavailability of supply looks to be permanent, you will need to do some supply chain redesign, and we’ll cover that use case in an upcoming sourcing and commodity management piece in this series.

We will likely still cover other analytics categories at a later time with respect to financial planning & budgeting, insourcing/outsourcing decision support, and so on — but our focus now is on keeping your direct, and then indirect, supply chains running in our cross-platform Coronavirus Response series coverage.

The initial three vendors we profiled are all unique in the spend analytics space in that they have deep capabilities in the analysis of direct material and commodity spend. The three vendors we chose to profile in indirect are all unique in that they have very strong, and proven, services offerings / support compared t0 many of the newer entrants. Rosslyn and SpendHQ serve a large number of Fortune 500/Global 3000 organizations, and Simfoni is proving to be a mid-market leader with its services offering.

If any other practitioners, providers or consultants would like to contribute to this coverage, please let us know about solutions that are helpful related to advanced procurement analytics and the coronavirus crisis.If your organization doesn't have an advanced sourcing and procurement analytics platform, one of these three platforms could be the most fit-for-purpose, off-the-shelf platforms to help your direct material/commodity-heavy organization analyze its way through the COVID-19 crisis.

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

* 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.
* Solution Rationale and Value. We’ll outline how various solutions can help solve the problems and the specific questions that they’ll help answer.
* Example Providers. We’ll highlight the solution providers that can support the problems and deliver some value.

Some providers are offering COVID-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.


OK, let's dive into advanced procurement analytics.

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

CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: Sievo — find the risks hiding in your data, prioritize and take action

procurement

In our response to the coronavirus outbreak, this Spend Matters PRO series is continuing its mission to examine selected technology providers that professionals in procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should consider to reduce, and even mitigate, coronavirus supply risk — and then recover as fast as possible when sanity returns to the world.

The introduction to this series grouped the technology providers that we will (initially) cover into five specialty areas, with an example vendor for each.

1. Supply risk management (e.g., riskmethods.)
2. Sourcing and commodity management, including advanced sourcing, direct sourcing and commodity management to help dynamically plan and source (e.g., Jaggaer)
3. Advanced procurement analytics to enable direct procurement and/or to perform “spend planning” when demand drops out or spikes (e.g., Sievo)
4. P2P that emphasizes working capital, dynamic discounting, payment control and related finance priorities (e.g., Basware)
5. Fraud, P2P and Vendor Management Safeguards (e.g., APEX Analytix)

Owing to the magnitude of the crisis, we recently made the series introduction available for free, to all readers, to serve as a jumping off point. PRO subscribers can see our initial vendor profile of riskmethods and other profiles in this series. (All readers can get a lot of free information on each PRO brief before the analysis begins behind the paywall.)

Today we continue the series by a deep dive on Sievo, one of the analytics providers we mentioned in our introduction and a unique provider in the spend analytics space. In fact, it was the only provider called out by name by Spend Matters Founder Jason Busch on his recent Nexus piece on the McKinsey's acquisition of Orpheus because of the unique offering and value it brings to the space as one of the last turn-key, pure-play solutions and, now, the only such offering with a mature solution for community-based commodity/direct material insights and deep market intelligence.

If your organization doesn't have an advanced sourcing and procurement analytics platform, it's one of the most fit-for-purpose, off-the-shelf platforms to help your organization analyze its way through the COVID-19 crisis.

How? That's what this article will attempt to answer, double-clicking on one of the best-fit vendors for the job.

Let's dive into our look at Sievo and its ability to help during the coronavirus crisis.

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

Suplari: Vendor Analysis (Part 3) — SWOT, Competitors, Selection Guide, Analysis

Suplari faces significant competition from multiple market segments: S2P/P2P/S2C suites, best-of-breed spend analysis vendors, and generic best-in-class analytic and business intelligence (BI) solutions that are adding in a few spend/supplier-centric reports and touting themselves as solutions for back-office sourcing/procurement professionals. It's a very noisy, messy space, and it can be very confusing for an analytic novice to figure out which solutions are real and which are just the result of marketing mis-information.

And the trend is likely to continue. Competition will continue to increase as everyone jumps on the analytics bandwagon and peddles a platform that just might be free of any modern analytics capability whatsoever. And the relative lack of knowledge about Suplari, even compared to larger best-of-breed peers that have been around longer, as well as it's current lack of globalization puts it at a disadvantage, despite its focus on building a platform backed by machine learning and more advanced analytics than many second generation platforms out there.

In this final installment of our three-part Spend Matters Pro Vendor Snapshot on Suplari, we offer a competitive analysis and comparison with other providers of spend analytic solutions, like AnyData, Coupa, GEP, Jaggaer, Orpheus, Sievo, Simfoni and Xeeva. Part 3 also provides a SWOT analysis, selection considerations and final commentary. For an overview of the Suplari solution, see Part 1. For a deep dive into the platform's strengths and weaknesses, see Part 2.

Suplari: Vendor Analysis (Part 2) — Strengths and Weaknesses

As indicated in Part 1, Suplari was formed to get the relevant purchasing data out of siloed enterprise systems and into the hands of procurement professionals who needed it to make decisions. Billing itself as “AI-Driven Analytics for Modern Procurement Teams,” Suplari was formed with the goal to use all of the available, disparate enterprise data, machine learning and a modern user experience to put the enterprise — and the employee — back in charge when dealing with their suppliers in negotiations.

The co-founders all had over two decades of experience in enterprise software, SaaS/Cloud, and data, so they realized this is no easy feat. Not only did they know that the data was usually dirty, and disparate, but that simply providing one view would result in a deluge that would be more than the average procurement professional could process, and that the professional would be no better off with too much data to try to make sense of in a limited time as they are when they have too little. To solve this problem, they decided they would apply machine learning and AI to identify patterns and simplify the processes of cleansing, classification and connection — the third being the more untapped need — and opportunity — in the procurement space today.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot will explore Suplari's strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help organizations decide if the vendor is the right one for their shortlist. For an overview of the provider and its platform, see Part 1. In Part 3, we will conclude with an analysis of Suplari’s competitors and offer a final summary.

Suplari: Vendor Analysis (Part 1) — Background, Solution Overview, Selection Checklist

This three-part Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot series will give an overview of the spend analytics vendor Suplari, examine its strengths and weakness, and provide a comparison with its competitors in the procurement technology market.

Billing itself as “AI-Driven Analytics for Modern Procurement Teams,” Suplari was formed to get the relevant purchasing data out of siloed enterprise systems and into the hands of procurement professionals who needed it to make decisions. However, realizing that the data is usually dirty, disparate and deluging for the average procurement professional, they also aimed to apply machine learning and AI to identify patterns and simplify the processing of cleansing, classification and connection.

In the early days of spend analysis, most of the best-of-breed vendors hitting the market focused on classification and categorization — because that was supposed to be the hard problem and everything else would be easy if you had clean, classified data. But that was just the first obstacle to good spend analysis. The next obstacle was connecting the dots to find the opportunities.

Early vendors purported to solve this problem with some canned top N reports — top N categories, top N suppliers, top N geographies, top N departments, top N off-contract categories, top N off-contract suppliers, etc. This worked well in the early days. A scrupulous sourcing professional would work their way through each and every report until they had evaluated the top 20 or so suppliers, geographies, departments and so on (or until they analyzed the top 80% of spend) and put contracts or procedures in place to capture the bulk of the savings. Six months later they'd run the reports again and then find ... nothing. They'd still be bleeding into the red, but wouldn't be able to do anything about it because most of the bleeding would not be with the top N suppliers, geographies, departments and so on.

Next-generation vendors reported to solve this problem with do-it-yourself reporting where buyers could run reports to target the suppliers, categories, geographies, departments, etc. where they believed problems lied. This was one step up, but the amount of time and effort it typically took to run a report, analyze it for a potential opportunity, determine the opportunity was not worth the effort it would take to capture it, and run another report made it too costly to find and capture all but a few opportunities. As a result, many second-generation solutions ended up being valueless and abandoned not long after their first-generation counterparts.

What was needed was a system that could iterate through all the categories, suppliers, geographies, etc. and find the largest opportunities in each, rank them in order of opportunity size, and present them for easy review by a procurement professional.

And what is really needed is a system that can look at the opportunity size, look at the contracts in place, look at the market pricing, look at historical and community results, and identify not only the opportunities that appear to have the largest size, but the largest opportunities that can be captured now. And while there isn't a system that's here yet, this is where a modern system should be going — and it's where Suplari wants to go.

Sievo: Vendor Analysis 2020 Update — Part 3 (Comparison to Competitors and Summary Analysis)

This final installment of our Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot 2020 Update series covering Sievo offers a provider SWOT analysis, competitive assessment and comparison with other providers in the spend analytics market, a shortlist of providers, a user requirements checklist and analysis.

Not only is the market for spend analysis solutions highly fragmented from a vendor “choice” perspective today, it is also characterized by solutions that are difficult to compare on an apples-to-apples basis between providers. Sievo, of Finland, is one such provider that makes cross-comparisons of vendors challenging because of some of the unique approaches it takes to spend classification and, more importantly, to savings reporting and tracking. In fact, this latter element makes it one of the few spend analytics solutions that is as relevant for finance (and CFOs) as it is for procurement organizations.

Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep dive solution overview, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider Sievo.

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

big data

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot 2020 Update refreshes our view of Sievo’s solution since our 2017 review. Improvements include the areas of do-it-yourself reporting and benchmarking.

To get the full benefit of Sievo, a novel analytics and savings management/tracking provider that delivers value to both procurement and finance organizations, customers need to get their hands dirty in their data — which can be a good thing. In engaging Sievo, it is the involved customer that becomes intimate at a deeper level with their data to drive true spending intelligence, in contrast to working with many other spend analytics providers that take ownership, on an outsourced basis, of data stewardship to drive cleansing, enrichment and classification perspectives.

This Part 2 of the series will explore those areas as well as Sievo’s other strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider its analytics capabilities. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview and a recommended fit list of criteria for firms considering Sievo. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, vendor comparisons, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Sievo: Vendor Analysis 2020 Update — Part 1 (Background & Solution Overview)

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot 2020 Update offers a refresh of our 2017 review of Sievo’s solution. The three-part series provides facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations make informed decisions about whether they need a solution like Sievo to drive spend analytics programs in place of or in addition to their current efforts.

The market for spend analytics still reminds us of the continuing evolution of the coffee market. It was not so long ago that we largely had a maximum of four choices: drip, percolator and then regular or decaf (this was when no one cared about the provenance of “the beans”). Today, this choice has exploded, and coffee is, well, not just coffee anymore, and not just available from the diner or donut shop.

Spend analytics has evolved in just as many directions as a barista can provide in terms of java choice at the local specialty coffee shop. But not all approaches are created equal. In fact everything from underlying data acquisition, classification, enrichment, prescription and analytics can vary dramatically from solution to solution.

Sievo is one of the longest-running, still independent spend analytics providers in the market today. Founded in 2003, Sievo long ago moved beyond basic spend analytics and centers much of its value proposition today on driving savings program measurement and management across the full spectrum of spend. How they do this is complex, requiring all of the basics of spend classification, analytics and more. In this research series, we get into the weeds on the “what” and the “how” and even some of the “why” of Sievo. We promise that Sievo still is unlike any other provider you have seen in terms of methodology and solution.

Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a few situations as to when organizations should consider Sievo. The rest of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

McKinsey buys Orpheus: Company and Solution Overview + Rapid Transaction Analysis

Earlier today, McKinsey announced it was acquiring Orpheus, a German-based spend analytics company. The move represents a potentially interesting flanking maneuver for McKinsey in the ever more competitive and converging world of procurement and operations consulting and managed services.

It is said that the Big 5 (e.g., Deloitte, which has its own analytics applications) has always had the ear of the CFO, owing to its accounting roots. And Accenture (which has various in-house technologies too) has always possessed a similar relationship with technology leadership (and often process leadership as well). But in contrast, McKinsey has been able to sometimes come out on top of both types of firms by selling to the board or C-level.

In reality, these are just stereotypes, as the level of relationship that a consultancy has in selling is always unique to the situation, the seniority of its partners and other circumstances. But no doubt the convergence of solutions — professional services, analytics, market intelligence, packaged SasS applications, etc. — is not only helping bifurcate the consultancy market in procurement and supply chain, but has led to new types of hybrid firms such as GEP and Insight Sourcing Group to dramatically break out from the mold too.

In a series of research briefs on Spend Matters Nexus covering the addition of Orpheus to McKinsey’s solution arsenal, we will explore these topics from multiple angles, including a competitive landscape analysis of “converged” solutions.

But let us start today with what Orpheus does (and does not) do along with some basic revenue/customer facts and figures, as well as some initial hypotheses on what Orpheus will bring to McKinsey beyond the obvious of core, in-house spend analytics capabilities (displacing Sievo, most likely, as one of the firms “go-to” partner solutions).

This first analysis will be a bit technical in nature, but we believe that in the analytics sector such analysis is important to put the acquisition in context from a broader strategy, corporate development and M&A landscape perspective. So stick with it if you can. We promise on the back end it will be worth it.

Spend Matters PRO and SolutionMap Insider subscribers (Analytics) can also learn more here: