Author Archives: Michael Lamoureux



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:

SpendHQ Vendor Analysis 2020 Update: Part 3 (SWOT, Vendor Comparisons, Selection Tips, Analysis)

Part 3 of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot 2020 Update on SpendHQ will have a company-level SWOT analysis, vendor comparisons, a user selection guide, and insider evaluation and selection considerations. The update series builds on our 2016 review of the spend analytics firm started by Insight Sourcing Group (ISG).

Part 1 provided a history and overview of the SpendHQ spend analysis platform. Part 2 focused on the strengths and weaknesses of SpendHQ’s solution.

Now let’s look at more analysis and see how SpendHQ compares in the market to vendors and solutions like Coupa Spend360, Jaggaer, GEP, Synertrade, AnyData, Orpheus IT, Sievo, Simfoni and Suplari.

SpendHQ Vendor Analysis 2020 Update: Part 2 (Strengths & Weaknesses)

Part 2 of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot 2020 Update focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of SpendHQ’s solution and builds on our 2016 review of the spend analytics firm started by Insight Sourcing Group (ISG).

Spend Matters has described SpendHQ’s capabilities as quite unlike any other spend analysis solution in the market today. Since the launch of its initial spend visibility product, SpendHQ has added compliance management, supplier information management and visibility, do-it-yourself reporting and opportunity insights — the latter capabilities being quite unique and one of the few tools that can enable procurement organizations to avoid the need to invest in all but the most complex gain share recovery audits after the fact, a topic we will discuss in Part 2 in this series.

And, this year, SpendHQ released its second major revamp to the SpendHQ platform where it improved the core and completely redid the UX to provide buyers with the insights they need to make more meaningful decisions front-and-center immediately upon login. In addition, the new UX supports best-in-class do-it-yourself report building on par with the best stand-alone spend analysis and BI tools and real-time drill down that can take a buyer to just the data and/or transactions they want to see when they want to see it — from anywhere in the product.

Part 1 provided a history and overview of the SpendHQ spend analysis platform. And Part 3 will have a company-level SWOT analysis, competitive alternatives, a user selection guide, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Now let’s look at the strengths and weaknesses.

SpendHQ Vendor Analysis 2020 Update: Part 1 (Company Background, Solution Overview, Selection Checklist)

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot 2020 Update builds on our 2016 review of SpendHQ. Part 1 of this update provides a history and overview of the SpendHQ spend analytics platform, and can begin to help procurement organizations decide whether SpendHQ is a good shortlist candidate for their analytics needs. Part 2 will focus on product strengths and weaknesses. And Part 3 will have a company-level SWOT analysis, competitive alternatives, a user selection guide, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

SpendHQ’s parent company, Insight Sourcing Group (ISG), was founded in 2002. ISG has its roots in delivering savings to clients on a consulting basis through strategic sourcing and related procurement transformation, category management and operational cost-reduction programs. It has always had a unique approach to driving category savings, and has, for example, eschewed reverse auctions and traditional e-sourcing tools throughout its past (and this despite a strong technology prowess).

Spend analytics would prove different than e-sourcing technology, however. Yet ISG did not set out to build a standalone analytics package from the start — it began by building an application for its internal use, in large part because third-party spend analysis tools did not meet its requirements. Yet rather quickly, the internal would become the external. The story follows a logical progression:

* As more and more customers saw the reports (developed internally with the tool), and results and reporting they delivered, they requested access directly. After prodding, ISG built a viewer that clients could use to track and keep on top of their spend.
* When customers saw the data and the insights that could be derived if their buyers could drill in and explore in-house, they asked if they could leverage the technology themselves to drive their own sourcing and category management efforts. Finally, in 2012, ISG decided to productize the solution and SpendHQ was formed — and, of course, they brought in developers with expertise in analytics to help them build the application.
* SpendHQ became a complete cloud-based SaaS spend analysis and visibility offering that was being used by a number of clients, including some Fortune 500/Global 2000 companies out of the gate.
* By 2016, SpendHQ appeared to be winning as many spend analysis deals (if not more) than other procurement technology firms …
* … but the do-it-yourself reporting capability was extremely limited (to customizing what SpendHQ had already produced), opportunity insights were limited to pre-defined categories, and mapping fixes still required SpendHQ. … SpendHQ was starting to fall behind in technology, so they brought in a platform/product management expert in 2017 (in the form of David Bush, former CEO of Iasta that sold to Selectica and then became part of the Determine platform) to help them build a product, with a company behind it, to rival its current, and future, best-of-breed peers.
* Now, in 2020, they have released a complete overhaul of the platform that has most of the benefits the platform had before with best-of-breed do-it-yourself reporting, opportunity insights across the entire spend-base, and better AI categorization with the ability for users to define overrides on supplier and transaction mapping.

While this is only the second real “deep dive” that the author has written about SpendHQ, the Spend Matters team can vouch that the product is solid. Both the author and Spend Matters Founder Jason Busch have been evaluating release versions since SpendHQ’s very early days, tracing its evolution and providing critical feedback in its early years. We’ve also written about it on a regular basis since 2014, the year that SpendHQ was first named to the Spend Matters 50/50 list.

Since the launch of its initial spend visibility product, SpendHQ has also added compliance management, supplier information management and visibility, do-it-yourself reporting and opportunity insights — the latter capabilities being quite unique and one of the few tools that can enable procurement organizations to avoid the need to invest in all but the most complex gain share recovery audits after the fact, a topic we will discuss in Part 2 in this series.

And, this year, SpendHQ released its second major revamp to the SpendHQ platform where it improved the core and completely redid the UX to provide buyers with the insights they need to make more meaningful decisions front-and-center immediately upon login. In addition, the new UX supports best-in-class do-it-yourself report building on par with the best stand-alone spend analysis and BI tools and real-time drill down that can take a buyer to just the data and/or transactions they want to see when they want to see it — from anywhere in the product.

Over three updated installments, we will dive deep into the new platform, its strength and opportunities for improvement, and how SpendHQ compares to other vendors in the market.

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!