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, 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.

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

The contract lifecycle management (CLM) technology market is not one market. Rather, this technology comprises several subspecialties, each served by a diverse set of vendors with varying degrees of capability. Because of this, procurement, commercial, legal and other users have significant choice between broad-based suites and independent CLM vendors today.

Within this market, Icertis is one of the few providers delivering a robust enterprise-class CLM solution with significant depth across nearly all functional areas of CLM that Spend Matters tracks. Moreover, Icertis takes a truly platform-based approach rather offering just a set of fixed modules on a menu. It is also one of a handful of enterprise contract management solutions built on a modern technology stack, as well as one of the few that revolves entirely around the contract — even if its UI reminds us more of the end of the Obama era than Brexit.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Icertis’ product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should shortlist the vendor. It also offers a critique of the user interface. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Icertis in the P2P technology area. The final installment in this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

As our Q4 2017 CLM SolutionMap highlights, the range and depth of functional capability between suite-based contract lifecycle management solutions and independent, top-performing CLM vendors is increasing, not decreasing. Icertis, one of the top-performing CLM providers in the analysis, is driving this change. It is less than 10 years old but already used in 40 languages within 90 countries, supporting more than 750,000 users and 2.5 million active contracts.

But it is not just the underlying functional “mojo” among top-providers like Icertis causing the divergence for specialized CLM requirements. The most recent class of CLM providers that have graduated to best-of-breed status have designed their solutions to support an increasing range of contracting, collaboration and obligation management scenarios that support supplier agreements, sales contracts, leases, partnership agreements, employment agreements and other agreements between parties. And they are doing so with the simultaneous goals of increasing both efficiency and contracting effectiveness.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement and legal organizations make informed decisions about whether Icertis, as a standalone CLM solution, is a better fit than using a suite-based contract management provider. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Icertis. The remainder of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

All We Are “Saved” — Give Purchasing Consortia (Including GPOs) a Chance

Purchasing consortia and group purchasing organization (GPO) models have been accused of being fads in the past. But there are reasons they could more than go mainstream as a common procurement lever across industries, working outside of just healthcare environments, where they have thrived in the past. Spend Matters research suggests that there certainly are a number of underlying factors that make the consortia and GPO models more attractive than before (even if some suppliers, such as the airlines, will never play ball in working with these intermediaries). Indeed, several GPO and consortia providers not focused on one particular industry have a lot to offer to procurement organizations looking to better manage cost and quality for certain categories of spend.

In this Spend Matters Plus analysis, we will explore the reason behind the current and rising interest in these models and the benefits they can bring to procurement in such categories as IT spend (e.g., hardware, software, etc.), human resources (e.g., contingent staffing and MSP programs), office supplies, employee benefits (e.g., retirement/pension, pharmacy benefits, etc.), facilities and other professional and services categories (e.g., operations consulting, energy management, etc.), not to mention some areas of direct spend as well (e.g., metals). First up: exploring the different GPO benefits for both less mature and more mature procurement organizations.

Why Purchase Price Variance (PPV) Should Be Banished From Procurement Measurements and KPIs

One of the biggest challenges to overall program impact and improvement in all but the most advanced procurement organizations are the raw elements that many procurement organizations measure themselves against: key performance indicators (KPIs). Of these, purchase price variance (PPV) is particularly obnoxious in all but certain cases. PPV measures the difference in price paid for multiple purchases for the same SKU, part or service. It is typically employed in standard costing environment in an ERP system for SKU-based items where actual PO prices are tracked compared to the existing standard cost.

This methodology is great for the financial accounting function. The PPV can be calculated easily by the system by accumulating the PPV until the new standard is calculated (and those variances posted to the appropriate general ledger account). A favorable PPV (i.e., price is less than the standard) is also known as a purchase price reduction (PPR). This all seems straightforward for the accounting department, but it’s not a great way to judge procurement performance, at least not on its own. Why?

There are numerous reasons why PPV can be such a misleading figure. In this two-part Spend Matters Plus series, we explain why PPV is a KPI that procurement organizations should stop measuring internal and individual performance against.

Coupa R20: Incremental Disruption in Action

The Spend Matters analyst team recently spent some time going through a deep dive demo on Coupa R20 and found it to be a solid incremental product release. But in this brief, we wanted to discuss the “revolution through evolution” we saw in addition to the new product details that we cover. Coupa’s product releases are now running about three times per year, and it’s refreshing to see more than 500 clients quickly moving through these releases. Such is the promise of SaaS, right?

R20’s main improvements are focused on services procurement and community-based intelligence, which allows users to extract insights from the B2B data generated within the Coupa buyer and supplier base. The disruptive aspect of R20 is twofold: its attempt to tackle the big nut of services procurement with Services Maestro and its efforts to derive intelligence from its installed base through what it calls "community intelligence."

This last trend is really the most disruptive aspect of what’s happening in digital value chains. It changes the provider value proposition from serving up “empty apps” that process the data of a single customer enterprise to one that provides a collective intelligence derived and captured from mass adoption of cloud-based tools that generate the data used to drive key insights.

There are some potential risks that companies face, however, when platform providers attempt to monetize (directly or indirectly) proprietary commercial information between buyers and sellers. Just as Facebook is not really free to the users who themselves are the “product” sold to advertisers, there’s a similar effect happening with suppliers who can use business networks for free but whose data is aggregated and repackaged in ways they aren’t necessarily aware of.

In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, we explore these topics and more, as well as share our initial thoughts on some of the more interesting features in R20.

Unlocking Deeper Value in the Procurement and Finance Relationship (Part 3): The Top 10 Impact Areas for Procurement’s Involvement in FP&A


In the second installment of this series, we discussed procurement’s role in helping finance professionals and budget owners use spend data to improve the FP&A process and general business planning. Now in Part 3, we get specific about how to tackle this beast with some specific recommendations that we’ve seen proven out at both advanced firms and at firms that are further back in the bell curve of procurement maturity.

Unlocking Deeper Value in the Procurement and Finance Relationship (Part 2): Spend Planning and Analysis


In the first installment of this series, we discussed ways to align procurement with the finance function, starting with financial accounting and then moving into cost accounting. Although cost accounting has one foot in the financial accounting world in terms of tracking costs and having them flow to the general ledger (GL), the more important side of cost accounting is its part in managerial accounting and total cost management.

Managerial accounting is about analyzing financials to make good business decisions. It includes analyzing historical costs and spending, but only in the context of improving future spending and reduce total economic costs. One aspect of economic costs is opportunity costs, and procurement must work hard with finance to understand the procurement ROI that comes from strong management of external spending led by the procurement organization. This ROI is measured in triple digits but must be demonstrated with hard numbers.

More importantly, however, procurement’s ability to partner with finance to better influence future spending is the most practical way to influence financial and business results. This comes from procurement aligning well with finance within the financial planning and analysis (FP&A) processes that occur in finance. Hopefully, FP&A is more than just basic budgeting at your organization. Done well, it provides the critical linkage to not only financial planning but also strategic and operational planning that drive success for budget owners, broader stakeholders and shareholders.

Given the importance of FP&A, we’re going to focus on this collaboration area and how to apply it to spend management, which you can think of as “spend planning and analysis” before the spend actually occurs, as opposed to traditional “spent analysis” of spend that already happened. This focus upstream is fundamentally about transformation and changing procurement’s role in the planning and budgeting process. Luckily, this area creates much higher quality of spend influence, which drives proven levels of spend savings.

E-Procurement 2018 Trends and Forecast (Part 3: Provider Analysis and Market Sizing)

AnyData Solutions

So far in this Spend Matters PRO series exploring 2018 e-procurement trends, we have covered both procurement organization (demand) and technology provider (supply) trends we are seeing in the market. Today we kick off the third and final installment of this series by examining three additional provider trends: the new, resurgent role of B2B e-marketplaces such as Amazon Business; new and varying approaches to chasing tail spend, including e-marketplace models; and the early rise of embedded artificial intelligence (AI) in an e-procurement context. Finally, we conclude this three-part brief with our 2018 market sizing for e-procurement and a list of trends we see driving demand in the market. Don’t forget to read Part 1 (2018 customer e-procurement trends) and Part 2 (2018 provider trends — M&A and B2B/P2P intersections), as well.

The 12 Supply Risk Management Disconnects that Destroy Value (Part 1)


“Risk” and “risk management” are terms that are like the ultimate Rorschach test in business: they mean many different things to many people. The same applies to the term “value” — and don’t even bring up “supply management.” Even a specific term like “supply risk” has many interpretations (e.g., it’s much more than supplier risk). The problem with this is that if people within a company define various terms differently, then how well will they be collectively managing those areas? Likely not well at all.

Risk management is a strange animal. On one hand, it focuses on “things gone wrong” and hones in on defining and mitigating various external risks that create adverse events in a value chain. On the other hand, those adverse events affect stakeholder-relevant performance (i.e., measurable value). Such performance and value delivery is focused on “things gone right” and reward rather than risk.

The key, therefore, is to realize that risk and reward are inextricably linked. If ensuring delivered value (and improving it over time) from the supply chain and from suppliers is what supply management is all about, then that supply value should not only be expected (i.e., expected value like discussed above) but also protected (i.e., protected value ensured through supply risk management). As a side note, have you ever considered that the concept of “expected value” uses the term “value” even though it is applied heavily to the world of risk management (i.e., calculating the expected probabilities and impacts of various risks)?

Anyway, the imperative becomes ensuring that the most important performance metrics (i.e., KPIs) are protected from risk. Yet these individual KPIs are rarely individually and systematically managed for risk, and the lack of risk-adjusted performance management means that you’re going to be exposed and it will catch up with you eventually. The problem isn’t just bouncing around and applying risk management technique X via tool Y to address risk type Z. There are a dozen fundamental disconnects in most firms that prevent risk management being properly resourced, aligned, managed and improved. Only by unpacking them and addressing them through focused practical interventions can you really get to the root cause issues that are likely keeping your supply risk management efforts suboptimized.

In this Spend Matter PRO series, we will explore 12 critical supply risk management disconnects. This brief, Part 1, focuses on the following four areas:

  1. Risk Scope and Stakeholders
  2. Performance vs. Risk
  3. Risk Type vs. Impact
  4. Risk vs. Cost (e.g., “cost of risk”)
If you’re a practitioner, you should be able to see which disconnects are the biggest issues for you and make yourself more resilient (i.e., ability to mitigate and recover from risks) and predictably high performing. If you’re a consulting organization, you’ll probably find some pointers to improve any methodologies that you have here. And if you’re solution provider, whether in the supply risk management area, or more broadly, you’ll hopefully get some ideas on how to address more strategic pain points.

E-Procurement 2018 Trends and Forecast (Part 2: Provider Analysis)

The pace of change in the e-procurement market is moving faster than a speeding cXML document flying across the internet. Software vendors are innovating more quickly than ever before; solutions are no longer are just “software” but come preloaded with a dizzying array of additional items that are difficult to compare on an apples-to-apples basis; and customers are coming in smarter both in “new” and “replacement” deals, with greater expectations from provider solutions than ever before, especially the rate at which they’ll begin to realize benefits.

Today we publish the second installment of our 2108 procurement technology trend and forecast series, focusing on solution provider trends and priorities within e-procurement market. Part 2 of this series provides an analysis and exploration of two provider trend areas: continued M&A consolidation expectations in the e-procurement market (fasten your seat belt on this one) and rising procure-to-pay (P2P) and business-to-business (B2B) intersections, including a quantitative look at the rise, definition and size of B2B e-commerce today. Following today’s analysis, the final installment in this series will feature three additional trends and conclude with our 2018 e-procurement market forecast.

So without further adieu, let’s introduce some controversy, data, practitioner recommendations and (hopefully) insight on the first and arguably the most important near-term provider trends Spend Matters is already seeing evidence of early in 2018.

Sourcing Head-to-Head Technology Evaluation and Comparison: Coupa and Jaggaer (BravoSolution)

When it comes to functional capability, BravoSolution (now Jaggaer) and Coupa are the two providers to beat.

Jaggaer’s sourcing strengths should come as no surprise to those familiar with its history. Coupa’s rapid e-sourcing ascent, however, will surprise many. It went from laggard to leader in the sourcing technology sector when the ink dried on its agreement to acquire Trade Extensions. Regardless, both providers excel on a functional basis and lead in many of the buying personas for our Q4 2017 SolutionMap.

But are they the right fit for your organization?

Join us as we put on the gloves and pit Coupa and Jaggaer “head-to-head” in the Spend Matters evaluation ring. We’ll start by providing a technology summary comparative rating of each provider and then explore business requirements and scenarios, calling out the winner in each match up. If you’re considering either vendor or other sourcing competitors, look no further for an evaluation and comparison you can’t get anywhere else. This is the first in a series of “head-to-head” evaluations based on our SolutionMap data, and more matchups will follow as additional providers step into the ring and seats to these SolutionMap subscriber-specific events become available (in addition to our usual vendor deep dives on Spend Matters PRO, of course). Stay tuned!

E-Procurement 2018 Trends and Forecast (Part 1: Customers Adoption and Priorities)

e-procurement market outlook

You know what they say about predictions? They’re about as common as opinions: everyone has one. This Spend Matters PRO series walks through the trends we are seeing unfold in the market today based on our technology analysis and practitioner research and engagement. So let’s not predict; let’s share and analyze.

Today, we start our 2018 procurement technology trend and forecast series, beginning with customer adoption trends and priorities within the e-procurement market. We’ll explore what customers are valuing most from a selection and deployment perspective in 2018, as well as early trends that are sprouting.

In the second installment of this series, we’ll offer insight into e-procurement technology provider trends and strategies of note, and ask whether these are a good thing for customers (and if not, our recommendations for customers to mitigate risks). We’ll also share our comparative market growth (and sizing) estimates for 2018 compared with last year.