Author Archives: Pierre Mitchell



About Pierre Mitchell

Pierre leads Spend Matters procurement research activities and has broader solution development responsibilities for intellectual property creation and firm strategy as Managing Director of Azul Partners. This includes spearheading efforts to build new types of interactive and social communities of interest within the procurement profession including overseeing the evolution of spendmattersnet.com, Spend Matters PRO, MetalMiner, and other digital assets within Azul Partner’s umbrella. Pierre has 25 years of procurement and supply chain industry and consulting experience, and is a recognized procurement expert specializing in supply processes, practices, metrics, and enabling tools and services. He is a regular contributor to business publications, a frequent presenter at industry events around the world, and counts himself fortunate to have served and interacted with so many CPOs and future CPOs. Prior to his positions in research and advisory, he led numerous operations and systems transformations at Fortune 500 organizations. Industry positions include manufacturing project manager at The Timberland Company, materials manager at Krupp Companies and engineer at EG&G Torque Systems. He holds an engineering degree from Southern Methodist University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. In the early 2000's, Pierre was the first supply chain practitioner to become a procurement "industry analyst" as the VP of supply management research at AMR Research (now part of the Gartner Group) where he provided trusted counsel to procurement executives, business leadership, IT, and the solution providers who serve them. Most recently, he was the head of procurement research and adjunct business advisor at The Hackett Group, where he helped expand Hackett's procurement benchmarks and research studies while growing the Procurement Executive Advisory Program into a gold standard membership-based procurement advisory service in the market today.


What is Your Invoice-to-Pay Persona? Understand Your Requirements and Mass Customize Your Vendor Shortlist

e-invoicing

No two accounts payable, finance or shared services organizations are alike (or procurement departments, for that matter). Each has its own persona that reflects not only its own value proposition and engagement approach but also the stakeholders it serves — and its supply base. The same principle holds true of procure-to-pay (P2P) application providers. Each has a persona that reflects its value proposition, solution strategy and targeted customer segments. Therefore, finance and procurement organizations should seek providers whose personas best align to theirs. In other words, there is no “magic” solution provider, and finding the right fit is critical, because a P2P application represents the main interface for most of procurement’s internal customers.

To that end, we are excited to preview our approach to Spend Matters SolutionMapTM, a comparative analytical framework for practitioners to evaluate relevant solutions to meet their accounts payable, working capital and procurement needs. Our SolutionMap initiative depicts vendor rankings based on specific buyer personas to reflect the unique value proposition, solution strategy and customer segments served by a vendor. Participating vendors are scored both on their solution as well as on customer value, based on in-depth tech reviews (including live demos) by the Spend Matters analyst team and aggregated direct customer input from surveys. Each SolutionMap is updated quarterly rather than in 12-month (or longer) cycles, to accurately reflect the pace of market developments.

As part of our Spend Matters SolutionMap vendor comparison ranking for invoice-to-pay and procure-to-pay solutions (publishing next week, with subsequent quarterly updates), the Spend Matters analyst team has dedicated considerable time to developing the unique organizational “personas” that we’ve most often seen in our decades of experience working with procurement organizations. We have used these personas to weight the requirements that we used in solution scoring, which includes customer satisfaction scoring by solution customers. Having collected feedback from hundreds of invoice-to-pay users, vendors and consultants in recent months as part of our SolutionMap research, we see these personas as useful starting points for procurement organizations to classify themselves before looking at solution rankings of providers in the market.

This Spend Matters PRO analysis shares six of the most common customer personas in invoice-to-pay buying needs. Aimed at practitioners as well as vendors and the consultants advising them, this research brief will be helpful to drive the type of “mass customization” of procure-to-pay solutions needed to meet specific organizational needs.

Below, we present our six personas for invoice-to-pay. For each, we include: full definitions, typical organizational priorities (based on each persona), functional/solution and customer value emphasis and recommended selection processes. Comparative vendor rankings will be published for each persona next week on Spend Matters (and updated quarterly).

A 21-Question Health Check to Score Your Procurement Scorecard (Part 2)

health

As the old business adage goes, “what gets measured gets done.” This is certainly true in procurement. If you want to do the right things for yourself and your stakeholders, you need to measure the right things and do it efficiently. You also need to ensure that you are measuring what your stakeholders want and what you are in fact delivering. It’s a foundational competency. In fact, in the most recent Hackett Group procurement key issues study, “value contribution visibility” ranked third in terms of procurement key capabilities that were viewed to be major or critical. This is the second in a three-part series providing a 21-question “health check” for your procurement scorecard, this time covering questions 6-15.

Procurement as a Service (PRaaS) — Part 4: Assembling Third-Party Services

supplier network

In our previous installment of this series, we discussed how an industrialized procurement as a service (PRaaS) model is critical to not just running procurement more efficiently and effectively but also buying and embedding cloud services better, as well as tie procurement into broader digital business strategy efforts. The notion of procurement as a “prosumer” (producer and consumer) of procurement services is both the DNA of modern procurement itself and of global business services.

Procter & Gamble is a great example. P&G was one of the pioneers of the global business services (GBS) model, and its current capabilities here are impressive. What’s also interesting about P&G was when its CEO drove the “connect and develop” program of open innovation to tap supply markets for product innovation and looking beyond internal R&D.

So, if R&D can do that for itself, shouldn't procurement be able to do the same? And isn't it even more important for procurement to do so when considering that nearly all supply market innovation tied to supplier spending is in play? Wouldn't it be important for procurement to lead by example in aggressively adopting such third-party services and also to share best practices around how other internal stakeholders in various spend categories are doing the same? You bet. This makes procurement an innovation gate opener rather than a policy gatekeeper.

Procurement as a Service (PRaaS) — Part 3: Unpacking the Services Stack

digital

In Part 1 of the series, we delved into why procurement should run itself as a services business, and in Part 2, we shared how procurement can learn from other types of professional services businesses to bring more rigor and value to its internal customers and even external customers. On this last point, organizations such as GE, IBM and others have been masterful at industrializing various services internally, and then using themselves as success stories to externalize those services to new customers. In doing this, they are trying to establish themselves as digital platforms that will be the underlying architecture of emerging digital value chains.

So, what does this have to do with procurement? Many things:

  • As we discussed in Part 2, procurement and other stakeholders must understand how supply markets are fundamentally shifting as this digital transformation occurs. Such disruption is not just the “Amazoning” or “Ubering” of the supply chain, but services, too. For example, consider the mind-blowing transformation that Infosys is embarking on with its Mana platform and its Zero Distance approach to innovating service delivery.
  • Procurement can use this trend to its advantage to bring some leverage to relationships with large incumbent providers that may be threatened. This is also a great time to be a “customer of choice” and use strategic supplier management to capture innovation from your incumbent suppliers while also testing out emerging digital services providers.
  • It’s also critical to understand the implications of signing up on someone else's platform and what that means to switching costs down the road, as well as to what extend today’s suppliers don’t become tomorrow’s competitors.
  • Finally, if your company is going through a digital transformation to execute a new digital business strategy where your firm may also be positioning as a “platform,” then it’s important to understand platform-based business models and also cloud-based architectures (i.e., an XaaS model that lets you deliver these services scalably over the web) to more easily plug and play supplier XaaS services (see IBM cloud reference architecture as an example) into your procurement services.

The IBM architecture diagram can be a little overwhelming, so, let me show you a slightly simpler procurement version of this “aaS” architecture and give some examples of some innovative services. Actually, it’s not simple either, but it’s as simple as it can be while explaining the fundamental design of the PRaaS model in one diagram.

Vendor Summary Report: E-Procurement SolutionMap℠ Q2 2017

This SolutionMap analyzes a select group of e-procurement solution providers. It is part of our Q2 2017 SolutionMap report series, also featuring Invoice-to-Pay solution providers and Procure-to-Pay suites. Spend Matters tracks over 50 procure-to-pay solution providers. This analysis features many of the largest e-procurement providers, including BuyerQuest, Claritum, Coupa, Determine, GEP, IBX, Ivalua, Nimbi, Pool4Tool, SAP Ariba, Vroozi and Zycus. It also features industry specialists BirchStreet (hospitality) and Prodigo (healthcare), which were analyzed with respect to their vertical sector focus. SolutionMap ratings provide comparative rankings and insight into how each provider scored from a solution and customer value perspective. It provides a breakdown of solution scoring for each vendor on the category level (e.g. catalog management, shopping/requisitioning, ordering/order management, receiving, supplier network, configurability, technology/architecture and services). It also provides insight into how customers scored each e-procurement vendor (e.g. likelihood of recommending the provider, level of value perceived, business value, ability to meet expectations, deployment speed, ROI, TCO and innovation). Solution scoring is based on analysis of individual vendor capability, including in-depth tech reviews, a highly detailed Spend Matters RFI and live demonstrations and Q&A by the Spend Matters team. The Customer Value score stems from aggregated direct customer input (survey-based). While Spend Matters does not recommend that existing and potential customers of providers use technology and customer scoring alone to shortlist and/or evaluate technology providers, the insight, along with SolutionMap persona-based ratings, provides a point-in-time perspective which may be useful as either a starting point in an evaluation or a contributing factor to a formal software selection process. In this Spend Matters PRO research report, we provide an analysis of how all 14 participants in our Q2 2017 e-procurement SolutionMap scored on a comparative basis against solution/technology and customer value criteria.

A 21-Question Health Check to Score Your Procurement Scorecard (Part 1)

supplier scorecard

As the old business adage goes, “what gets measured gets done.” This is certainly true in procurement. If you want to do the right things for yourself and your stakeholders, you need to measure the right things and do it efficiently. You also need to ensure that you are measuring what your stakeholders want and what you are in fact delivering. It’s a foundational competency. For example, in a past Hackett Group procurement key issues study, “value contribution visibility” ranked third (after sourcing and category management) in terms of procurement key capabilities that were viewed to be major or critical, with 76% of firms having picked this. It even outperformed “SRM programs,” which got the fourth slot. In other words, the competency for value contribution measurement was higher than an area of actual value creation! (In the 2017 version of this report, "measuring value beyond savings" is a big part of Priority #1 — improving the stakeholder experience.) In this research brief, I’ll discuss how you can assess the quality of your procurement scorecard and how to improve it. To do so, I’ll assume that you have some type of procurement scorecard already, and that maybe you’ve even already adopted some smart principles to it. But, I’m going to go deep on this one and ask you a set of 21 questions about your scorecard. This first installment covers the first five.

Procurement Services Market Landscape: The Continuum of Procurement Services

consultant

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this research series, we discussed some of the drivers in how procurement services are increasingly consumed in the market. In this next installment, we will evaluate the market itself and the spectrum of service types/sectors within it. Defining a market is not a one-dimensional activity. Markets are segmented along multiple variables, which we discussed in the previously mentioned research, but there are a few key dimensions worth exploring. We will not look at the traditional dimensions such as spend magnitude, market complexity, business impact, level of market fragmentation, etc. We assume that the practitioner has a fairly good understanding of major segments of management like consulting, outsourcing, contingent labor, etc.

Why Every CPO is a “CEO” — But Not the CEO You’re Thinking Of

Global Risk Management Solutions (GRMS)

As value chains go digital, many enterprises have been trying to take a strategic approach in formulating digital business strategies rather than just translating existing business strategies into IT projects. Organizationally, many have appointed chief digital officers to manage this digital transformation. But digitization is only one megatrend. Its twin sibling is externalization, which is not just traditional outsourcing but the ability to similarly drive transformation by bringing the (increasingly digital) power of supply markets into the enterprise. You could then ask who would be best suited within the organization to perform the function of chief externalization officer (“CEO”).

7 Habits of Highly Successful Consumers of Procurement Services

services sector

In Part 1 of this series, we laid out the challenges that practitioners face in getting more value from a complex procurement services market. To address these problems, it’s important that practitioners:

  • Evaluate the spectrum of procurement services holistically to see how the sectors and the players are evolving individually and also collectively. SaaS providers are increasingly baking industry/category content into their products while consulting and BPO providers are similarly productizing reusable knowledge into lighter footprint service offerings.
  • Have a market map to help evaluate the provider types and emerging trends. Doing so can help you actively participate in shaping the provider market rather than just accepting the current ‘menu choices’ of traditional service offerings.
  • Know themselves in terms of not just their current budgets, but also their current capabilities and what is truly important to them as internal service providers. Are you looking for results on-demand, or are you looking to build your own bench capabilities?
  • Develop an internal operating model that makes it easier to consume these services and also get a better ROI from them so they deliver value over the long-term and not just the duration of a project. World class procurement organizations do not spend money needlessly on program du jour services that don’t “stick” and get baked into their internal processes.
To assist procurement organizations (and providers) in this regards, it’s important to first understand the market drivers that will shape the market evolution, which we lay out. Finally, we pinpoint 7 habits of highly successful consumers of procurement services.

What is Your E-Procurement Persona? Understand Your Requirements and Mass Customize Your Vendor Shortlist

No two procurement organizations are alike. Each has its own persona that reflects not only its own value proposition and engagement approach but also the stakeholders it serves.

The same principle holds true of procure-to-pay (P2P) application providers. Each has a persona (or more than one persona) that reflects its value proposition, solution strategy and targeted customer segments. Therefore, procurement organizations should seek providers whose personas best align to theirs. In other words, there is no generic “magic” solution provider, and finding the right fit is critical, because a P2P application represents the main interface for most of procurement’s internal customers.

A modern procurement organization with a streamlined and tailored approach to influencing stakeholders is poorly served by buying a complex, one-size-fits-all application that puts off those stakeholders. Not enough procurement organizations look at an e-procurement application as their main business-facing interface — but it is.

The face a procurement organization presents to the business through an e-procurement application may vary. For the frontline business user, some e-procurement systems are extremely easy to use and may even suggest a lack of policy by procurement based on how they’re configured and put into the field. Others are more directive and prescriptive. Many e-procurement solutions serve as a portal to more than just transactional buying — for example, serving as a hub for all employee engagement related to supplier spending.

To that end, this multipart Spend Matters PRO analysis shares six of the most common customer personas in e-procurement and invoice-to-pay (the two segments that comprise the P2P market), starting first with a look at e-procurement. For each, we include: full definitions, typical organizational priorities (based on each persona), functional/solution and customer value emphasis and recommended selection processes.

The Procurement Services Market: Backdrop and Challenges

service

With all the focus on Software as a Service (SaaS) in the procurement market, many forget the importance of procurement services as a, well, service. These services include not just consulting, but business process outsourcing (BPO), knowledge process outsourcing (KPO), supplier management, quality and auditing services, content/information services, network services, intelligence services, training/certification services, adjacent services (e.g., working capital, asset disposition, transportation, legal, group buying, M&A support). Some of these areas are procurement-specific, but many also are part of a broader services spectrum. Procurement practitioners are getting smarter and more sophisticated in how they buy procurement services; however, they do face numerous challenges that prevent them from unlocking more value from the market and making their lives easier. In this Spend Matters Plus brief, we outline 10 of those challenges.

Procurement is from Mars and Finance is from Jupiter: How to Align Planets

finance

Mars might be the god of war and mighty in its own right – ready to battle any time with a combative supplier or recalcitrant internal stakeholder. But Jupiter is the king of gods: large, distant, cold, foreboding. (There is no Venus here...that's a Plus brief — nay, multipart series — for another day on working with Marketing). These gods might seem similar, and in the business world, Procurement and Finance should in theory be highly aligned and focused on cost management, risk mitigation, quantitative analysis, and other areas. For example:

  • Enterprise risk management requirements (e.g., fraud, regulatory compliance, etc.) should extend seamlessly into the supply base.
  • Working capital should be optimized alongside cost reduction and compliance.
  • The Source-to-Settle process should have an embedded P2P process that aligns purchasing and AP to each other and to broader spend category requirements.
There are many things that keep the two groups from singing Kumbaya. In this Spend Matters Plus brief, we list five important ones and give practitioners some suggestions on how to align and conquer (no lightning bolts or Holst necessary).