The Operations Category

Veraction Merges With Trax Technologies: A Q&A with CEO Chris Connell (Part 2)

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The transportation management industry is big, fragmented and ripe for disruption. In Part 1 of this interview with Chris Connell, CEO of Trax Group and former CEO of Veraction, we discussed the June merger of the two companies into a combined transportation spend management, freight audit and payments solution. Today, in Part 2, we conclude the conversation with a forecast of where the transportation and logistics markets are going, the potential asteroid that could disturb the whole ecosystem (hint: it involves Amazon) and how Trax fits into that future.

Veraction Merges With Trax Technologies: A Q&A with CEO Chris Connell (Part 1)

Earlier this summer, Veraction, a provider of transportation spend management and freight audit software, announced it would merge with Trax technologies, a provider of global freight audit and payments solutions. The combined company, which is retaining the Trax name, manages more than $10 billion in logistics spending across all transportation modes for more than 300 enterprise customers, according to a press release. To learn more about the transaction, as well as what companies like Trax can offer to procurement and supply chain organizations, we sat down with Chris Connell, former CEO of Veraction and now CEO of the combined Trax Group.

The Amazon Prime Effect: Rising Expectations for E-Commerce Delivery and Fulfillment

If the 100 million-plus shoppers who pay $119 a year for fast shipping via Amazon Prime are any indication, a smooth and expedient delivery and fulfillment process is crucial to e-commerce success. And expectations are rising. According to a recent survey of 3,000 online shoppers from Canada, the U.K. and the U.S., younger generations are particularly critical, with less than half of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 saying that they receive their orders on time and in perfect condition. These findings are published in a new report from Radial, “The Everyday Essentials of Successful E-Commerce Fulfillment.”

A.T. Kearney’s 2018 Reshoring Index: Has the Reshoring Trend Reversed?

Toyota supply chain

Harley-Davidson was in the news last month when it announced that it would be shifting some production overseas as a result of the E.U.’s planned retaliatory tariffs on the U.S. The American motorcycle manufacturer is also closing its Kansas City factory and opening a plant in Thailand, decisions that were spurred by sluggish domestic sales and the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). As it turns out, Harley-Davidson is hardly alone. Since 2013, A.T. Kearney has been tracking reshoring, and its 2018 Reshoring Index shows that the practice has not taken hold.

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5 Things Procurement Can Do to Stay Ahead of Software License Audits

Enterprises are undergoing vendor-initiated software license audits at an alarming rate. Gartner estimates that 70% of enterprises get at least one audit notification a year. It’s not uncommon for penalties to surpass $1 million, $10 million or more. Audits have become an unspoken part of the routine conversation between procurement and vendors. In that regard, IT sourcing teams represent a first line of defense against noncompliance and audit risk.

Auburn University’s Beth Davis-Sramek on How the Logistics Sector is Changing and Why the UPS Strike Was Unlikely

Late Thursday, the Teamsters Union and UPS reached agreement on a new five-year contract, averting what would have been the largest strike in the U.S. in decades. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the union representing UPS workers, had authorized a strike if the two sides do not come to an agreement before the current contract expires July 31. Before the two sides came to an agreement, Spend Matters talked to Beth Davis Sramek, associate professor of supply chain management at Auburn University, who made the prescient prediction that the strike would not go through. Read on for her thoughts on what the supply chain consequences would have been, potential contingency plans and what changes are in store for the logistics sector.

Why E-Commerce Trends Necessitate the Adoption of Automation and Analytics Tools in the Retail Industry

In November 2017, the popular online retailer ASOS introduced a new “try before you buy” service. The scheme, as the name suggests, allows customers to order multiple items — say, the same shirt in different sizes, or different items altogether — and try them on. Then customers can return the items they do not want, and ASOS charges only for the items they keep. This flexibility may be helping e-commerce businesses win market share, but for many retailers, the inevitable flood of returns make for a growing risk, a report from Brightpearl finds.

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May Resilience Be With You, Because Risk Sure Is

Like all great adventure stories, every one of the “Star Wars” movies is full of risk. The heroes and heroines of the series must overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to ensure that good prevails in the face of evil. Of course, the Jedi have the force on their side. Even a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, however, success depended on many of the same practices that apply on Earth today.

SAP Ariba Procurement Desk: Shared Services and Center of Excellence (CoE) Enablement [PRO]

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Procurement shared services groups can take different shapes and can add different sources of value. Shared services tend to focus on procure-to-pay (P2P) and accounts payable support, including supplier enablement, supplier master data maintenance, transactional purchasing, transaction processing, invoice automation and exception management. CoEs focus on both a classic shared services model (i.e., supporting processes on behalf of the business units) or a more transformational CoE model (i.e., giving business units tools, training and focused resources like third-party services). 

The former tends to focus on tactical buying like spot buying and tail spend management, and the latter tends to focus on strategic procurement areas such as analytics, sourcing, category and supply market intelligence, and contract management support. Increasingly, a number of CoEs are focused on both areas, whether run and administered internally or in an outsourced manner — sometimes only in part — by a business process outsourcing (BPO) partner such as Accenture or GEP.

Yet even with the help of these outsourced partners, procurement shared services teams and CoEs have not had up to this point a purpose-built technology solution to manage their own operations. SAP Ariba is hoping to change this with its new Procurement Desk product. Available in March to limited release customers and in the summer months to all SAP Ariba customers, Procurement Desk has big plans to improve the capability of shared services teams and CoEs to deliver value and drive continuous improvement.

Based on demonstration sessions, presentations and analyst discussions at SAP Ariba Live in March 2018, this Spend Matters PRO research brief introduces the initial release of Procurement Desk, explores some of SAP Ariba’s ambitions for future releases based on the product roadmap and offers our initial analysis of the new offering, along with recommendations for SAP Ariba customers. A subsequent PRO research brief will provide a generalized CoE operating framework spanning all areas that procurement shared services groups can address with SAP Ariba’s current and planned capabilities for targeting this market.

U.S. Companies are Rethinking Risk Management Strategy After the 2017 Hurricanes

For many large U.S.-based companies, last year’s hurricanes and the damage they brought have been a wake-up call. A survey of senior financial executives at U.S.-based companies with revenues of more than $1 billion, commissioned by FM Global, revealed that the hurricanes have prompted 68% to adapt their risk management strategy for the future.

51% of C-Suite Executives are Dissatisfied with Their Procurement Operating Model

There is a lot of hype in the procurement world around digital technology and talent, but a report from consultancy Ayming put the focus on something more elemental: the procurement operating model. Ayming’s survey of C-suite executives from across the globe revealed a mixed picture. More than half of respondents said that they do not consider their procurement operating model to be effective.

Supply Chain Visibility (SCV): Market and Solution Provider Overview [PRO]

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This Spend Matters PRO brief provides a high-level review of the supply chain visibility (SCV) solution market. SCV is an acronym often used to describe the inventory “track and trace” capability that shippers are rapidly implementing to help manage their logistics, even though SCV also has a broader context for inventory visibility across the supply chain (e.g., within the plant or at a supplier). Logistics providers are all doing so to meet a service level expectation that is coalescing around real-time, track and trace information flows. For example, whether it’s a Wal-Mart store awaiting a shipment or a consumer anticipating a package from Amazon, they both want to know delivery status — and they want that information at their fingertips. 

However, while consumers may only want to know “when,” the shippers want to know all of the surrounding details, including any and all performance and risk information that could support a better inventory management practice, capacity planning and transportation sourcing.

The carriers are also along for the ride (pardon the pun), not just because they’re obliged but also, because it will soon be in their business interest (from a load matching perspective). The more information they share (i.e., the more visible and transparent their hour-to-hour status is), the more likely it is their trucks will stay full — with the right kinds of loads, on preferred lanes.

Along with several shippers and other trade practitioners, we interviewed the following SCV solution providers:

  • FourKites
  • 10-4 Systems
  • project44
  • MacroPoint
Note: While there are many more SCV solution providers, and while they are typically distinguished by transport mode specialization or their target audience (shippers, carriers, LSPs), their ideas, techniques and raisons d’etre are all strikingly similar.