Innovation Content

Not all ‘digital’ transformation is the same: 6 degrees of difficulty [PRO]

Buzzwords abound out there, and a lot of common words are used by folks without necessarily having a common understanding of the meaning. For example, take the phrase “digital procurement transformation.” Even the individual words themselves alone can have different interpretations:

* Digital — Does this mean digitization of procurement processes through workflow automation, or is it something broader?
* Procurement — Is this all of source-to-pay or just procure-to-pay? Or just everything that a procurement department does, including broader supply chain efforts?
* Transformation — Can this just be incremental, continuous improvement, or does it have to be a more discontinuous transformation program?

The problem for practitioners is how to cut through the clutter of this terminology and more easily learn from others surrounding adoption of “digital” in different ways. For example, there is certainly a lot to learn just in terms of better implementation of systems for automating good old-fashioned sourcing, requisitioning, ordering, receiving and paying.

But, there are also higher order digital capabilities that go beyond just automating the proverbial cow path. For example, advanced analytics such as bid optimization can enable new sets of sourcing processes that were not really feasible before. Similarly, techniques such as community-based procurement that use technology across firms can create new value beyond automating within a single firm.

There is actually a spectrum of digital related competencies from basic source-to-pay workflow automation all the way through to procurement-enabled disruptive value chain initiatives. So, if you have mastered some of these basic capabilities for digital transformation and procurement, it is time to raise the “degree of difficulty” and see how others are faring in terms of picking the higher hanging fruit.

In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, we will outline six levels of digital procurement sophistication, and also see how more than 400 organizations stack up based on the latest research.

Shelby Group creates ‘Digital Invoice’ solution to tackle paper invoices

In procurement software projects, consultants usually play a role in tech selection, implementation or training, but The Shelby Group has taken its procurement consulting knowledge even further and created a product — one that can fill a gap that it saw when businesses struggled to deal with paper invoices in the digital age.

In accounts payable departments worldwide, it’s a common problem that paper invoices are still received from countless suppliers of varying sizes, and it’s known that digitally reading those invoices can save time and money if the clear rate can be improved.

The Shelby Group’s Digital Invoice is a powerful solution that clears a majority of invoices (both verified/complete and “close enough”) without human intervention.

Commercial Value Management (Part 3): Critical Commercial Use Cases to Align Extended CLM with the Enterprise [PRO]

change of control clauses

In our last installment of this CVM series, we highlighted a graphical framework to depict how commercial value management is about extending CLM into a more commercially enabling role in all enterprise areas where contracts (and value promises) are stored.

In this next installment of this series, we’ll highlight these areas and how to unlock some of that value for the benefit of the firm — and procurement.

Let’s briefly look at some of these areas to see how extending contract management to broader CVM approach is a practical way for procurement to get aligned with other areas (and with itself).

Commercial Value Management (Part 2): Using Next-Generation Contract Systems to Integrate Operations, Financials, Risk and Technology [PRO]

Let’s start this piece with a question: How are high-flying SaaS providers measured?

Answer: Growth (hopefully profitable) through repeatable subscription-based revenue.

And what are those subscriptions? Contracts.

The enterprise value of these companies, like others, is based on the promise of future cash flows that are increasingly built upon a portfolio of contracts. Want to maximize enterprise value (like the CEO)? Better get good at managing contracts! This is not in the way that your legal department might think of contracts, but rather in a business sense that maximizes commercial value within those contracts that will add up to enterprise value.

Put another way: If chief procurement officers want to move from “chief spend officers” to “chief value officers,” they’re going to need better strategies and tools to do value management.

“Value management” is the highest level of procurement’s evolution in a framework that I developed in my previous life leading procurement research at The Hackett Group.

The problem is that while there are great tools for spend management, when you start going broader into demand (and multi-tier supply) and deeper into financial value flow beyond single-tier cash disbursements to suppliers, the technology requirements aren’t yet well supported by existing tools and vendors.

In Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO series on commercial value management (CVM), we highlighted the fact that contract management systems are morphing from legal documents focused on transferring risk onto your trading partners, and toward systems that model all B2B commercial (and even non-commercial) promises with trading partners, regulators and even just internal stakeholders. The financially related “promises” or “commitments” are really obligations/rights that can be viewed as liabilities/assets. And these aren’t just ledger entries to close the books for regulators, but rather living, breathing promises made up and down the supply chain to deliver value to customers — at a lowest total cost of course!

Unfortunately, this chain of value doesn’t exactly flow across the fragmented landscape of systems out there. It’s hard enough to see contracted revenue & cost/spend flows in the direct materials supply chain where only a few advanced firms can stitch together some semblance of integrated business planning that brings in multi-tier supply-aware cost modeling and contracting (e.g., buy-sell arrangements for volatile commodities). Now, consider the services supply chain and an XaaS world where omni-channel value chains need to merge products and services.

For example, think about the mind-numbing complexity of field services operations where customer warranties (contracts) and service levels (contracts) need to be translated to supply fulfillment that can include leased equipment (w/ contracts), outsourced transportation services (and contracts), third-party contractors (directly contracted or via a service provider with its own contract), and even outsourcing providers (with BIG complex contracts) who might run the whole shebang for you. These contracts, sub-contracts, MSAs, SOWs, POs (a contract), etc. all have information in them related to direct committed revenue and costs/spend, but also hints at potential spend and business risk depending on what’s in (or not in) those contracts.

But, if you’re a CFO trying to manage your spending (“Spend” with a big “S” and not just supplier spend with a small “s”) and see both types of spending in terms of:
* Tying spend to revenue to understand profitability
* Seeing and shaping spend and resource commitments before they occur
* Cash flow implications of that spend
* Category and supplier views to maximize value from supplier spending
* Spend volatility based on price risk, volume risk, competitive risk and other supply risk factors like geo-political risk (e.g., trade wars) and regulatory risk (e.g. data privacy)
* Projects that drive this spending (e.g., in project-intensive industries)
* Drivers of this spend that are hidden (e.g., IT/telecom contracts of all forms)
* Legal spend (internal and external) to manage all of these contracts!

The problem is that you don’t have a single system to see all this. You have a G/L to close the books and maybe a planning-and-budgeting application rather than the “financial control tower” (go ahead and trademark that — it’s available) that you’d love to have something like an EVA/ROIC-type model that drives all the way down to the atomic contracts and execution systems. And if you’re good, you have a CPO with a single spend database and contract repository.

But, let’s face it, even for those firms with this, the contract is still usually a document artifact to refer to and not a dynamic system with complex pricing modeling and linkages to dozens of execution systems in the field that are REALLY governing the commercial aspects of operations. All you likely have in your contract repository is a field called “contract value.” And even in the simplest case, and even with the most modern S2P application suite, you’re likely matching supplier invoices to POs with payment terms that aren’t likely staying synched with the original contract.

So, contract data and associated CLM systems must transcend their legal artifact role and even move beyond the level of contract clause libraries and associate basic clause metadata. They need to go much deeper into the business realm (and not just the legal department realm) and be able to model and manage commercial data much more deeply. Doing this requires improved systems that manage what we call commercial value management — which is about commercial lifecycle management rather than contract lifecycle management. “Spend Management” is great, but spend is what you pay, and value is what you get. So you need to be really clear on who gets how much of what, under what conditions, and what happens if they don’t!

We spent a fair amount of time in our last PRO series installment that dove into the specific elements of CVM. In this second SpendMatters PRO series installment, we’ll dive primarily into the buy-side aspects of this topic and discuss how procurement organizations — and procurement’s functional peers in finance, IT, legal, GRC, SCM, sales and HR (and any related CoE combinations) — can use contracts as commercial data hubs to better support not just basic buy-side CLM within a source-to-pay context, but also how to use it to better connect procurement with these internal partners to help them manage spend/suppliers in their functions individually and also collectively with each other — and out to external stakeholders.

We’ll also highlight a few areas where CVM support emanating from a next-gen CLM platform can likely disrupt a few existing niche markets within and outside of the procurement realm.

Digital Business Strategy: The CPO’s Outside-In Agenda (Part 3) [PRO]

In the first two installments of this Spend Matters PRO series (see Part 1A, Part 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.

Today we move on to the second item topping the CPO’s outside-in agenda: digital transformation.

Digital transformation is increasingly creeping into a CPO's crosshairs because digitization is becoming a daily part of our personal and professional lives. Not only is software becoming critical for everyone in the organization to do their jobs, but the internet is becoming critical to sales and marketing to advertise and sell the product as well as to R&D to do research and engineering to control just-in-time manufacturing. Meanwhile, from a corporate strategy perspective, companies are aggressively looking at their digital business strategies — and consulting firms like Accenture, Deloitte, McKinsey and others are busy capitalizing on this. Distribution companies do not want to get “Amazoned.” (For example, Accenture is looking to next generation digital technologies to achieve it’s ZBx nirvana — and achieve sustainable zero-based spend in a zero-based supply chain.) Logistics firms do not want to get “Ubered.” Contract manufacturers want to become innovation incubators. And pretty much every finished goods manufacturer wants to embed telemetry to collect data and use it to improve customer satisfaction, increase top-line growth and pass the data back to the supply chain to improve operational efficiency.

Digitization is the new buzzword and just about every publication out there is talking about it, running articles on how to do it, and publishing “deep” exposes on the benefits of digitization. Best practice guides, case studies, futurist projections, and other in-depth studies are a daily occurence. Not all are equal, not all are relevant to your organization, and not all are even accurate. But that’s beside the point. Digitization is here, and its influence is only going to grow. So rather than sit back like a luddite and bemoan the coming wave of pink slips due to automation, CPOs need to rally their organizations around digital to help them see the benefits new technologies can bring (as tactical process cost reductions can always be invested in strategic value generation efforts if they use these same technologies to make the case, a case that does not necessitate a reduction in workforce, just a shift from the tactical to the strategic).

Guided Buying 4.0 — A Framework to Consider (Part 1: Guided Buying in E-Procurement) [PRO]

Many people know the term “Industry 4.0,” which describes the latest industrial revolution that combines big data, cloud computing, the internet of things (IoT), hyper connectivity, human-machine interfaces, robotics and embedded analytics that feature artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning. It’s revolutionizing manufacturing and supply chains, but what about the most basic processes that deal with B2B buying?

That brings us to the concept of "guided buying." It’s not new, but in the last five years of my experience as an analyst of P2P solutions, I have realized that it is a term used without much precision. I can compare it to terms like “platform,” "best practices," “world class” and others that have been overused so widely that they’ve lost the force of their meaning. Terminology should be defined with a specific scope, intent and substance for it to really be useful. So, I’ve been recently collaborating with my colleagues to provide more specific insights on this concept, and we’ve decided to develop a maturity framework to help do this.

The act of guiding is a deliberate and proactive process that helps the person being guided achieve their objective and reach their destination. This is a concept that we have applied to the purchasing function for several years. In fact, almost 15 years ago, the first analyst who wrote about this concept of "guided buying" was my friend, mentor and Spend Matters colleague, Pierre Mitchell. Here is some of what he wrote back then.

“Think about an end user who, rather than going to a clumsy Intranet site to find a few local e-catalogs and supplier ‘punchout’ sites, gets instead a corporate Google-like interface and types in whatever they’re looking for. Then, the user gets automatically guided to preferred supply sources/channels (e.g., an e-procurement catalog, a supplier website, an internal inventory location or a requisition that’s electronically escalated to the proper commodity manager) based on commodity taxonomies, supply strategies/policies, preferred supplier listings, commodity manager skills, local inventories, specialized knowledge rules and supplier website content (or that of specialized content providers). In other words, users are guided to preferred supply sources before a maverick spend ever occurs.”

Today, what's interesting is that we already have the IT tools and solutions that we did not have 15 years ago. Today, companies can apply the concept of "guided" in all areas of the organization, including in contracting and sourcing. However, the focus for this part of this series is in the transactional purchasing area within procure-to-pay.

Let’s take a look at this problem, our framework, and some strategies and solutions.

How to Tackle Spend, Pick the Right Technology and Gain Visibility

We recently talked with Nikesh Parekh, CEO of Suplari, to find out how companies are handling all of their spend data and learn why they need to digtialy transform. "The traditional function of procurement was, in the early days, to enforce a set of processes to prevent employees from making irresponsible or unwise spending decisions. It’s the quickest path to saving money," he said. "But today, our customers tell me that they are being asked to provide strategic value above and beyond cost savings and risk reduction. This is where digital transformation comes into play. If organizations want to move the needle beyond the tactics they’ve been employing, they need to be open to leveraging innovative technologies, such as artificial intelligence."

5G and IoT Offer Big Opportunities for Communication Service Providers (CSPs): Ericsson

telecommunications

A handful of the first 5G enabled smartphones are being released this year, signaling the start of a new era of faster data speeds, more reliable connections and significantly lower latency for many electronic devices. The impact of 5G will be felt across a wide-reaching group of businesses and industries, creating entirely new sources of data and allowing it to be transmitted and analyzed with speed, accuracy and completeness that was simply not possible using previous generations of wireless communications technology.

The Swedish multinational telecom Ericsson has worked closely with many of the world’s leading communication service providers (CSPs) and recently released its “Realizing IoT Strategies” study, drawing on its planning, operational and strategic experience to examine the traditional strengths and weaknesses of CSPs and highlight how they are working to position themselves for the enormous opportunity that 5G technology represents.

How to Use Drones in the Public Sector and Procure Their Services

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Public Spend Forum, a sister site of ours that each week helps us look at public sector procurement. This week we explore the increasing use of drones — in agriculture, construction, emergency response — and how to procure those services.

We are truly in the modern era — drones are now everywhere, no longer just tools for movie making or toys for tech-savvy teens. And “everywhere” includes their increasing use in the public sector. Between 2016 and 2017, drone bids and RFPs saw a growth of 194%. To properly cover this important topic, this article will focus on:

— What drones can be used for in the public sector
— Tips to keep in mind when procuring drones

Exploring Basware’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Capabilities and Roadmap: Something For AP and Procurement (Part 3) [PRO]

Artificial intelligence is starting to transform the value proposition of procurement and finance technologies. But it is not just start-ups that are building new capabilities and gaining momentum. Procure-to-pay stalwarts like Basware are making significant investments in the area as well. This Spend Matters PRO brief explores where Basware’s AI investments are appearing in its invoice-to-pay and e-procurement solutions. Part 1 of this series explores Basware’s recent product enhancements, and Part 2 explores 2019 and 2020 roadmap items.

Sponsored Article

Finding the Right Fit and Function for Your Procurement Vision

Most procurement departments would agree that introducing a category management structure is a good way to secure the best-in-class status they crave. On the tactical-to-strategic spectrum, it’s still a notch below “trusted adviser” status, but it’s several more notches removed from reactive purchasing and the three-bid-and-buy mentality. While they’ve largely got a consistent end goal, procurement departments vary wildly when it comes to progress.

Many are still hard at work introducing even a foundational level of strategy. Others are mired in damage control after trying and failing to build a more strategic procurement function. Even those exemplary departments that can call category management a next step have a lot of work ahead. Like their less advanced peers, they’ve got to change their organization’s mindset if they want to truly transform procurement. To transform the function, they’ve got to first change the way other business units perceive and engage it.

AI in Supplier Management: The Day After Tomorrow [PRO]

digital business transformation

In Spend Matters’ last pair of articles for the PRO series AI in Supplier Management, we reviewed some of the exciting capabilities that you will be able to expect in tomorrow's supplier management platforms, where we define AI, for the purposes of this article, as “augmented intelligence” because, as we've stated in our AI series, there is no true AI in any enterprise technology today.

In our initial entries of the series, we discussed how the advancements in usability and computing power have made it possible for platforms to implement better and more powerful guided on-boarding mechanisms that can allow a supplier to on-board from existing profiles more quickly and efficiently than ever before. We also discussed how embedded community intelligence will help you make better supplier selections, better performance monitoring will help you keep on top of performance problems before they lead to disruptions, KPI monitoring will identify a range of issues, risk monitoring will identify risks as soon as they come to pass, and resource assignment will be automated for common project tasks.

In our follow-up entries, we indicated that each of these capabilities would be improved with automated reasoning and machine learning technologies. Profiles would be automatically maintained. Community supplier intelligence will be augmented with supplier intelligence. Relationship status will be monitored in real time across all purchases and projects. When issues arise, corrective action plans will be automatically created. When risks are identified, mitigation plans will be automatically created. When resources are needed for more critical projects, they will be re-assigned, and projects realigned, in real time.

But is this the best we can hope for?

When we extend our event horizon out further into the future, we can predict that, at some point, industry-leading supplier management platforms are going to support:

— Supplier future state predictions
— Category-based supplier rebalancing
— Supply chain rebalancing
— Real-time order rebalancing