Author Archives: Xavier Olivera

Accounts Payables Automation update (Part 2) —  Re-evaluating e-pro, supplier enablement, invoicing, payments, financing, analytics


As Spend Matters re-evaluates the AP automation sector’s technology developments, Part 2 of this PRO analyst series will focus on the six key elements of AP automation that we evaluate for our SolutionMap’s scoring and ranking of vendor offerings. (Don't read this without reading Part 1, about re-evaluating the tech developments in AP automation.)

We saw these six areas change in 2020, so we’ll look at how the function is evolving. This post explores the technological, functional and document-level components required to automate the AP function, and it mentions the stakeholders involved.

There are likely use cases that require much more technology, or much less, than what we mention here. So give us your feedback.

In Part 3, we’ll discuss the market landscape for AP automation providers.

Vroozi: Vendor Analysis (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis

Despite the 100+ different vendors that can check the box on having various procure-to-pay (P2P) solution components, there is a surprisingly small number of “pure-play” e-procurement providers that remain today, especially those with a primary focus on serving the North American market.

Within this context, Vroozi competes as one of the last remaining e-procurement “pure-play” technology providers, although it is building out adjacent invoice-to-pay capabilities (albeit these are not competitive with specialists in the invoice-to-pay or broader P2P areas).

This final installment of our Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering Vroozi offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other e-procurement and P2P technology providers. It also includes a user selection guide, user interface and user experience (UI/UX) analysis, summary evaluation, and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provided a company and deep dive solution overview, SWOT analysis, product strengths and weaknesses, and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider Vroozi.

Managed Services and Connectivity Vs. Software and Networks

Evaluating a comprehensive business solution can be tricky, especially when the organization is evaluating just software capabilities — which is to say “features and functionalities” — but the provider brings more than this alone. For example, it can be difficult to do apples-to-apples sourcing comparisons when considering the types of value-added services that a solution provider can offer (by itself or a third party) to complement or strengthen its own technological solution.

GEP: Solution Review & Analysis

GEP (formerly Global eProcure) is an integrated procurement solutions and services firm that offers managed services (including full BPO capabilities), transformation services (i.e., consulting) and its own internally developed source-to-pay (S2P) technology suite. The combination of these individual capabilities from a single provider, especially as they become increasingly synergistic, makes GEP truly standalone in the industry. Ultimately, the company made the strategic decision to develop its own native source-to-pay cloud platform suite (“SMART by GEP,” released in 2014). It’s a strategic bet that procurement organizations of varying sizes want the agility and depth of a single provider that can flexibly assemble a solution of technology, managed services and transformation services to support their dynamic needs. This Spend Matters Plus analysis provides an introduction to the GEP solution for procurement organizations looking to understand whether they should consider adding the provider to their shortlists for consideration and competitive alternatives.

ePS: Becoming a Player in the Education Industry (and Perhaps Beyond)

ePS, a Michigan-based technology company that established itself within the e-procurement supplier side of the automotive industry 10 years ago, has now begun emerging as a serious player of e-procurement buyer-side solutions to the education industry. Now that ePS is squarely in the game and going head-to-head with other higher education providers such as Sciquest, ESM and Unimarket, it has launched a unique go-to-market positioning approach to capture large schools (and it has its eyes set on other industries where repairs, maintenance and supplies procurement functions have been underserved). ePS is positioning its platform to be more of a complete procurement service offering for customers versus a software application. Branded as “e-procurement services providing complete, intuitive spend management solutions,” ePS is aiming to differentiate and deliver real value to educational institutions that have had a history of sinking money into procurement-related software systems, but have been less able to get measurable ROI though procurement results. ePS’ procurement services ecosystem approach allows institutions – in this generally financially-strapped sector – to start generating procurement improvement as soon as the ePS software is turned on. ePS innovations and success in the education market eventually also help allow it to expand its business into other verticals.

SciQuest: The New Suite Dimension That Puts the Supplier First

SciQuest has proven to be one of the source-to-pay (S2P) leaders in higher education and life sciences (as well as some public sector areas). The organic traction it has realized in these markets – albeit with increasing competition from ESM Solutions, Periscope Holdings (BuySpeed/BidSync) and Unimarket within higher education and state/local government – signifies that it has been successful even without a fully integrated suite (until now) in its core industries. Currently, with the new integrated suite value proposition and particular strength at the intersection of P2P and supplier management (and rising capability in sourcing), it is likely to be in an even better position to compete in these and new markets. If you’re considering other providers such as Ariba, Coupa, SAP, Oracle and Ivalua for integrated S2P, this analysis will provide context to understand if SciQuest should be added to your vendor shortlist.

SciQuest Becoming a “Sweet” Suite Team Player

Along with my colleague Jason Busch, I recently spent 3 days at the SciQuest customer conference in Washington, D.C., talking to dozens of customers and sitting through many product demonstrations and breakouts. SciQuest has invested significant money and effort to develop a new integrated source-to-pay (S2P) platform entirely, and the launch of its new version 15.1 signifies a material step forward in this area. This Spend Matters PRO analysis will provide an introduction to SciQuest’s new suite capabilities and roadmap. As I myself was an outsider to this firm before the event, it will be most useful starting from a low knowledge base on the provider as well as for those who may wish to consider adding SciQuest to their S2P vendor shortlist along within Ariba, SAP, Oracle, Coupa, Ivalua and others – and to understand where the provider comparatively fits today.

Coupa Sets Itself Apart in the S2P Sector

Coupa stands alone as the most aggressive vendor in the source-to-pay sector on virtually every level – starting with breakneck pace R&D development and continuing to assertive sales and partner tactics. In this PRO analysis, the Spend Matters research team provides an outlook for Coupa in 2015 and 2016 and offers their thoughts on what potential activities and actions mean for customers, possible customers and partners, including an examination of what the future for Coupa may bring. It is important to factor in both upside and downside potential based on multiple developments occurring in the sector, some of which are outside of the provider’s control.

Coupa Looks Ahead in 2015 – History and Context

In recent years, Spend Matters research suggests that Coupa has led the market for new e-procurement sales in North America. It also built material traction in parts of Europe – something that many US providers struggle to do. The European traction is all the more remarkable because Coupa brings a very US-centric view to P2P – empowering the end-user rather than creating a command/control catalog-driven structure. In this PRO analysis, the Spend Matters research team explores a number of scenarios and considerations for Coupa in 2015 and 2016 (including a potential IPO), and what it means for customers, potential customers and partners of the high-growth vendor. The team begins today by providing historical context for Coupa and outlining engagement tactics for maximizing value when working with the fast growing vendor.

Invoiceware Solves E-Invoicing Specific Country-by-Country Challenges

Latin American e-invoicing requirements vary significantly on a country-by-country basis. Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay, Peru and Colombia all have – or will soon have – unique requirements. Traditional P2P and e-invoicing systems from SAP, Ariba, Oracle, Coupa, Ivalua and others come up short for meeting these localized requirements. In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, Xavier Oliver, Spend Matters P2P lead analyst and director for Mexico and Latin America, explores the challenges of localization in Latin America and how Invoiceware International has focused on solving specific country-by-country challenges.

Invoiceware Targets E-Invoicing Localization for Latin America and Hits a Bulls Eye

Having and maintaining IT systems (ERP) processes and functionalities that meet government requirements of more than one country has always been a challenge for companies and providers of technology and services. Invoiceware International is the one cloud and network provider that stands out in leading the charge to untangle this compliance mess for companies operating in a single state or multiple Latin America countries. In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, Xavier Oliver, Spend Matters P2P lead analyst and director for Mexico and Latin America, explores localization challenges in the region and provides an analysis of Invoiceware International. We invite Spend Matters PRO Advisory members to talk to Xavier about localized requirements in Latin America.

Catalog Management: Vroozi, smartOCI and Enabling P2P as an ERP Extension

Catalog management is a Trojan horse of sorts. Inside complex ERP procurement environments, it can serve as a gateway to driving indirect and services spend under management as a foundation of a broader indirect procurement program (in certain cases without specialized e-procurement capabilities from P2P providers). But more important than simply extending ERP, catalog management occupies a curious space that sits between a buyer’s ERP environment – or more likely, multiple ERP environments – and supplier data. Part production information management, part configurator, part search tool, part stealth workflow enabler (in certain cases), catalog management is often misunderstood, yet it can bring significantly more value to procurement than most realize. As we continue our analysis of one approach to integrated catalog management, Vroozi’s smartOCI solution, Xavier Olivera, director and lead P2P analyst, expands his analysis and explores the benefits of catalog management independently and as a surround strategy for ERP procurement.