Author Archives: Nick Heinzmann



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.

Negotiatus: Vendor Introduction (Part 2 — Product Strengths and Weaknesses, SWOT, Selection Checklist)

e-invoicing

In our last Spend Matters PRO brief, we introduced you to Negotiatus, an upstart P2P provider out of New York City that’s offering a fresh take on how to solve the root causes of common purchasing headaches. Taking the view that procurement should route users and payments through one (consolidated) invoice approach, Negotiatus aims to help its customers drastically reduce the number of transactions they need to process. In this view, purchasing automation represents a symptom of dysfunction rather than a panacea to inefficient business processes, and many of Negotiatus’ strengths thus reflect its guiding philosophy of simplicity and elimination of unnecessary work.

This approach, complemented by its supporting technology and rapidly growing client base, was a central reason we named Negotiatus to this year’s inaugural Future 5 list, which highlights standout start-up companies in procurement technology. 

But such a philosophy may not be a fit for every procurement organization, and by its own admission, Negotiatus is often a better fit with younger, more “forward-thinking” procurement organizations than corporate stalwarts. Its functionality lags accordingly when compared with peers that strive to “check the box” on requirements expected by a more classically minded procurement group.

Part 1 of this brief provided some background on Negotiatus and an overview of its offering — from ordering/shopping and catalogs to invoicing and payment.

In Part 2, we will provide a breakdown of what is comparatively 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 Negotiatus might be a good fit. We also give some final conclusions and takeaways.

Negotiatus: Vendor Introduction (Part 1 — Background and Solution Overview)

The market for standalone e-procurement and P2P solutions appears to be entering a new act. After a wave of consolidation soaked up multiple best-of-breed providers (e.g., Verian, Puridiom, Aquiire), suite solutions took control, leaving only a handful of standalone alternatives. But now a new class of purchasing solutions is entering the market, each looking to disrupt the standard approaches to corporate procurement in their own way.

Some focus heavily on updating user experience and driving fast time-to-value. Others position their tools as a means to tackle specific problems (e.g., tail spend) or vertical-specific requirements. But generally the approach relies on a common theme: To win in the P2P market, new solutions need to do something different. Rather than accept the status quo of how procurement is done, many of these companies hope to offer a fresh take, whether that’s through how the technology is designed or how the business model can enable new approaches to purchasing.

This mindset applies to Negotiatus, the subject of this Spend Matters’ PRO Vendor Introduction. Based in New York City, Negotiatus is technically a P2P solution — that is, it supports ordering/shopping, catalogs, invoicing and payment, so in effect the whole P2P cycle — but it does not take a “check the box” approach to feature/function development. Instead, the founders decided to assess the root causes of common P2P problems and develop a solution that could eliminate them, rather than simply alleviate them. This approach works for some organizations better than others, but for clients such as Soul Cycle, Zeus Living and Cozen O’Connor, it’s a radical idea that can cut user ordering by as much as 75% and generate 8% median savings, according to Negotiatus.

This Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Negotiatus and its capabilities. The first part of this series includes a company introduction and an overview of Negotiatus’ offering. The second part of this brief provides a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis, and some market implications and takeaways.

Jaggaer Preps for the Big Value Creation Hunt: 3 Takeaways from the REV 2019 Keynote Speeches

taken 10/2/1019

The Spend Matters analyst team is harbor-side in San Diego this week for REV, Jaggaer’s annual customer conference. The two-day event offers a strong focus on technology and roadmap topics, and executive keynote speakers this morning articulated the emerging vision for Jaggaer’s product suite. Clarity of vision is critical today for Jaggaer after the whirlwind of recent years. Here are three significant takeaways from this morning’s presentations:

Symbeo: Vendor Introduction (Part 2 — Solution Strengths and Weaknesses)

In Part 1 of this two-part Spend Matters PRO series, we introduced you to Symbeo, a long-established company based out of Portland, Oregon, that offers invoice conversion services and AP automation technology globally. By deploying not only its SaaS solution for managing AP processes but also handling the full scope of invoice receipt, capture and validation, Symbeo covers a gaping hole in the AP cycle that most businesses need help addressing — especially when it comes to handling paper invoices. And while its approach and capabilities apply more to one side of the market than the other, the depth of its processes and technology leave a lot to be admired. Whether Symbeo is a fit for a procurement or AP organization’s unique challenges and needs, however, will come down to how exactly the AP cycle is perceived.

Part 1 of this brief provided some background on Symbeo and an overview of its offering. In Part 2, we provide a breakdown of what is comparatively 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 Symbeo might be a good fit. We also give some final conclusions and takeaways.

VectorVMS: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on VectorVMS and its capabilities that help companies with their contingent workforce programs. The brief includes an overview of VectorVMS and its solution offerings, a summary solution evaluation, a SWOT analysis and, lastly, a selection checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

Symbeo: Vendor Introduction (Part 1 — Background and Solution Overview)

AP automation can be a nebulous term. The exact scope of what business processes that a solution provider intends to automate, as well as whether automation covers truly hands-off processing or mere acceleration through digitization, can vary by the vendor. Generally, no vendor does everything comprehensively from end to end. Some can check the boxes in every part of the AP cycle, but none can check every box across the board.

Take, for example, paper invoice processing. Today’s major procure-to-pay solutions will tell procurement and AP organizations they can process all of their invoices digitally, using OCR-based technology and, in some cases, AI-based correction of that capture. But those invoices need to be captured by the P2P solution in a digital format, and then corrected by a human, as OCR accuracy rates, while admittedly improving, are still far from perfect. So if those organizations still receive invoices as paper — which, depending on the source, still can account for as much as 75% of all invoices sent — a standard SaaS AP automation solution would be insufficient to truly automate the AP cycle.

For small and mid-size businesses that don’t receive a large volume of invoices, an internal mailroom and a set of scanners may be enough to account for this imbalance. But for a large multinational corporation, manually scanning and capturing data from thousands of invoices a day quickly becomes a cost center.

This is the point where many multinational corporations call in a company like Symbeo.

Founded in 1983, Symbeo is a provider of invoice conversion services and AP automation technology. The Portland, Oregon-based company exhibits particular strengths in the receipt, capture and processing of manual invoices, including fax, email and paper-based invoices, using a comprehensive “human in the loop” process to maximize efficiency and accuracy. It also provides a SaaS solution for AP automation with an emphasis on exception handling, approvals and invoice collaboration, which depending on organizational requirements can be more than enough or just a starting point.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Symbeo and its capabilities. The first part of this brief includes a company history and an overview of Symbeo’s offering. The second part of this brief provides 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 Symbeo might be a good fit, and some market implications and takeaways.

The CPO’s Conundrum (Part 4): Economic Instability

In the first three installments of this Spend Matters PRO series (see Part 1APart 1B), we noted that a number of pressing issues are shaping procurement from the outside in, yet chief procurement officers (CPOs) are still primarily concerned with issues set by an inside-out agenda — that is, cost-cutting and supply assurance targets mandated by upper management. Our PESTLE analysis of factors shaping the modern CPO agenda identified broad trends like economic instability, globalization, changing digital business strategies and the need to address corporate social responsibility (CSR) as areas that procurement organizations need to consider if they want to truly tap and manage the opportunities (and risks) offered by external supply markets, starting with sustainability and CSR in Part 2A and Part 2B and digital business strategy in Part 3.

Today we move on to the third item topping the CPO’s outside-in agenda: economic instability.

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 7) — Competitive and Summary Analysis

contingent workforce

So how does Ivalua — previously the Rodney Dangerfield of e-procurement for getting no respect, but now is no laughing matter to its competitors — stack up to the market? In this seven-part PRO overview, Spend Matters has covered Ivalua’s history, internal capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. But to see how it fits into the marketplace, first we have to understand who it is up against. Namely:

* Full Source-to-Pay Suites, including SAP Ariba, Coupa, GEP, Jaggaer, Zycus, Corcentric/Determine, Synertrade, and even Oracle and a few others (e.g,. Wax Digital)
* Full P2P Suites, including Basware, BuyerQuest, Oracle, Vroozi and others
* End-to-End and Best-of-Breed “upstream” Sourcing and Strategic Procurement Technology (SPT) Offerings, including Allocation Network, Bonfire, EC Sourcing, Keelvar, MarketDojo, Scanmarket, * ScoutRFP and more
* e-Invoicing and e-Payment Specialists, including Proactis, Taulia, Tipalti, Transcepta, Tradeshift, Tungsten and others
* Supplier and Master Data Management (MDM) Providers, including Apex Analytix, Aravo, ConnXus, HICX, Procurence, Tealbook and others that don’t slot neatly into the supply management area within SPT.

We'll start by providing a more detailed overview of Ivalua's biggest competitors, namely SAP Ariba, Coupa, GEP and Jaggaer, before covering the rest of the S2P providers that it may encounter in potential deals.

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 6) — Commentary & SWOT

As we noted in Part 1 of this seven-part Spend Matters PRO series, Ivalua is no longer the Rodney Dangerfield of procurement suites, and we no longer need to apologize to the late comic. Since we last assessed Ivalua in-depth in 2016, the provider has achieved a lot of respect from the analyst community, the investment community (with a “unicorn” valuation exceeding $1 billion in their last funding last round), and most importantly, the customer community as evidenced by Ivalua’s 98% customer retention rate — even though Ivalua’s customer satisfaction scores have slipped slightly in its last SolutionMap rankings.

However, the firm’s larger peers still often seem quick to dismiss this “newcomer” to the S2P arena, even though Ivalua was founded in 2000! As a perceived newcomer in the North American marketplace, with a smaller customer count, less revenue and less perceived history, it still is often not even known, or well known, to some practitioners that we’ve run across who’ve not research the market deeply. This is despite the fact they Ivalua has:
* almost as large of a global presence (with offices across the Americas, EMEA and APAC)
* a track record of supporting a global customer base
* a valuation that smaller S2P players might sell their workforce into indentured servitude for
* a platform that is simultaneously so broad and so deep that it's becoming difficult for many of their peers to compete on out-of-the-box functionality, especially in the direct materials/sourcing space, in larger clients with extensive requirement lists.

As we noted in late 2016, “if we add up the differentiated combination of its architecture/platform, industry enablement, functional/modular capability (across the source-to-pay continuum), analytics and ‘overlay’ process support capabilities, the sum of the Ivalua package stands out from all others in a true ‘deadpan’ way — albeit with no laughing involved.”

When you augment this with leading direct sourcing support (with the re-platforming of its DirectWorks acquisition), improved workflow management, UI improvements, one-search, improved (direct) catalog management and bot-assisted guided buying, you get a platform that's a force to be reckoned with.

In short, Ivalua deserves much more regard from its peers than it has received to date, as it's well positioned to make a big dent in the global marketplace that will be hard not to take notice of. That said, some parts of the application suite can be improved (as we discussed in Part 5), there is a lot of unexpected capability under the hood around bill of material management (in a centralized module that allows for deep what-if scenario analysis), asset and tooling management, program and project management, third-party data integration and scorecard creation, accruals, and global tax compliance management. Plus, the cost breakdown analytics, NPI (new product introduction), corrective action capability, extended supplier profile management, and the ability to pull data into and push data out of the environment on a daily (or even hourly) basis is deeper than one might expect, especially with the large number of pre-configured interfaces out-of-the-box and the ability to acquire more through the add-on store.

And while Ivalua is still not perfect (but to be honest, no provider is), as it's still missing a few capabilities that we feel are becoming core with S2P (and even its updated UI is not industry-leading), we still believe that anyone who invests the time to get to know the solution on a product level will come away very impressed if they have the same technology-and-capability-centric proclivities as the Spend Matters team (even if it's not the right "fit" for the organization at the end of the day).

So, without further adieu, in this penultimate installment of our updated Spend Matters snapshot on Ivalua, we provide you with an objective SWOT analysis of the company, and a selection shortlist to help companies decide whether Ivalua should be in their crosshairs, whether they have their sights set on a platform, suite or modular capability.

Tomorrow, in Part 7 we’ll finish up with a competitive market segmentation, a comparative analysis and some final thoughts. We also include recommended short-list candidates as alternative vendors and offer some provider selection guidance.

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 5) — Product Weaknesses

global trade

If you've already read Part 1 of our updated vendor snapshot on Ivalua (which includes a detailed company and solution overview), then you know that you're either going to be attracted to the depth, breadth and configurability of the solution — or perhaps overwhelmed by it if you're new to the advanced sourcing and procurement game. But, even with its prowess in deep configurability, Ivalua's solution is not without its weaknesses. In this Part 5 of our seven-part vendor snapshot, we are going to dive deep into Ivalua's product weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help a procurement organization decide whether they should shortlist the vendor. And an organization that is putting Ivalua head-to-head with a provider like Coupa should compare and contrast what we say here versus what we say in Part 2 of our Coupa vendor snapshot because near-equal scores in Spend Matters Solution Map does not imply near equal capability in all areas, and definitely not in the areas that might matter to your organization the most. Ivalua's weaknesses are similar to our last review a couple of years ago, but a few weaknesses have been addressed since last time (and while not as deep, but still exist against either suite-peers or best-of-breed), and the re-platforming of DirectWorks in particular has gone a long way to address specialized support around direct sourcing.

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 4) — Product Strengths

Global Risk Management Solutions

Anything Ivalua still lacks in global brand and market awareness along with sales/marketing infrastructure and prowess, it makes up for by delivering a source-to-pay platform designed to emphasize functional depth, suite-based capabilities and industry-specific enablement scenarios in the private and public sector. Ivalua delivers a no-compromise set of capabilities and an underlying platform that is most likely to appeal to procurement and IT organizations that want greater flexibility in executing a procurement technology architecture and strategy than what is offered by the majority of suite-based solutions on the market today. Ivalua is generally at the front of the pack in Spend Matters’ “configurator” persona of just about every SolutionMap we look at for our 2019 Q2 results — and the lead dog if the pack includes only the suite vendors.

If you've already read Part 1 of our updated, seven-part vendor snapshot on Ivalua (which includes a detailed company and solution overview), then you know that you're either going to be attracted to the depth, breadth and configurability of the solution — or perhaps overwhelmed by it if you're new to the advanced sourcing and procurement game. With the massive flexibility that comes with massive configurability, there is also a non-trivial degree of configuration settings to pay attention to. (See Part 2 for an upstream solution overview and Part 3 for details on the downstream capabilities.)

In this Part 4 edition of the vendor snapshot, we are going to dive deep into Ivalua's product strengths, providing facts and expert analysis to help a procurement organization decide whether they should shortlist the vendor. Of course, it’s best to read the SolutionMap analysis for all the providers in question. For example, an organization that is putting Ivalua head-to-head with Coupa should compare and contrast what we say here versus what we say in Part 2 of our Coupa vendor snapshot because near-equal scores in SolutionMap do not imply near equal capability in all areas, and definitely not in the areas that might matter to your organization the most.