Procurement Strategy & Planning Content

Beyond the Traditional SRM Scorecard: Supplier Management Metrics to Diagnose Your Supplier Management Operations (Part 1: Search and Enablement) [Plus+]

Editor's note: This is a refresh of our 2017 series on supplier management metrics, which originally ran on Spend Matters PRO.

In recent years, prominent procure-to-pay (P2P) providers have increasingly offered opt-in peer benchmarking capabilities. This newly available data has changed the way consultants and advisors evaluate procurement performance. Benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPIs) once analyzed on a periodic basis, for instance, are now becoming embedded into procurement processes and continuously updated with new information as it becomes available.

Because of this, procurement organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits measuring performance based on a standard set of benchmarks and KPIs can bring to overall P2P performance. Yet the same cannot be said of supplier management activities, despite the significant cost and risk they pose to procurement. In fact, Spend Matters has found that most procurement organizations are not yet measuring a complete set of KPIs to manage the lifecycle of supplier activities and associated supplier information. Solution providers have not helped this situation, either, instead glossing over supplier management in favor of KPIs and peer benchmarking services in core transactional procurement areas.

It’s time to change this. To give procurement organizations operational metrics that mirror the KPIs available in P2P, this multipart Spend Matters PRO series provides an action guide for measuring and quantifying some of the benefits of "day in the life" operational supplier management activities. It also provides a roadmap and foundational input for building a business case to support these initiatives, including investments in dedicated technology solutions and tactical KPIs for managing them.

Part 1 of this series offers diagnostic KPIs for self-assessing supplier search and enablement performance. For each metric, we include commentary and insight on why it matters to procurement, guidance on enablement and measurement, suggestions for procurement technology systems that can be used for support and variable inputs for tracking.

We also encourage all Spend Matters readers, including non-Spend Matters PRO subscribers, to download our recent 2017 landscape definition and overview on supplier management and supply risk management, which provide details on the different technical components of these solution areas.

How to Make Your Procurement Organization like Amazon — Use the Flywheel! [PRO]

Many smart readers will be familiar with the Amazon flywheel. It is a graphical representation of Amazon’s business model that you can read about on this blogpost here.

The model from that post is shown below:


The graphic generally shows the self-reinforcing cycles of how Amazon’s focus on customer experience and product selection help drive demand — which in turn attract sellers while also then letting Amazon gain economies of scale (and also “economies of scope” when it jumps into adjacent markets) to then self-fund (i.e., re-invest all the profits) the offering of lower pricing AND the development of even better customer experiences … which then repeats the cycle continuously.

This graphical model is an oversimplification because there other things at play here:
* disintermediation in the supply chain to capture value
* building/buying capabilities to jump into adjacent markets
* driving not just experience and eyeballs, but also monopolistic power in categories
* acquisitions to accelerate category dominance
* subscription-based bundling and related incentives (“free” shipping with Amazon Prime)
* playing 3D chess by playing different roles — e-tailer, wholesaler, marketplace, platform — and then using that power with upstream suppliers
* speed to value and focused/driven/intense organizational culture on mission and results

I’m sure you could add more to the list above. That said, procurement and supply chain professionals understand many of these drivers when they look at supplier power and category strategy — especially when one of those suppliers may be Amazon (e.g., AWS)!

Many procurement organizations often have a difficult time expressing their organizational value-add to other stakeholders, or they end up focusing too narrowly just on cost savings. They need to be able to communicate higher impact value creation and also create some “branding” surrounding their spend/supply management services. So, they should consider adopting the Amazon flywheel to their organizations, and there are actually three ways in which they can do this:

* Apply the Amazon flywheel to the broader organization and then dovetail in how procurement helps to support the business flywheel. Most organizations want to be like Amazon in some respects, so this can help reinforce that.
* Apply the flywheel to the procurement organization as a spend/supply management “business” in its own right and then tweak the Amazon flywheel model to create a self-funding procurement flywheel.
* Apply the flywheel to sourcing, category management and supplier management as you engage suppliers.

In other words, change “growth” to “profitable growth” and then change “sellers” to “suppliers” and you get the general idea.

In the rest of this Spend Matters PRO research brief, we’ll share our adaptation of the Amazon flywheel to a “procurement flywheel” that procurement organizations (and to the digital solution/service providers who help support them) can adopt for themselves and their stakeholders.

For any qualified practitioners interested in this PRO content, please feel free to reach out to us and we can make it available to you if you’re looking for support in your digital transformation.

2020 M&A and Procurement Investment Predictions: 10 Trends to Watch (Part 2)


M&A and investor interest in the procurement technology sector is at an all-time high. Of course it also helps that there are more than 1,000 providers in the procurement solutions market (software, consulting, outsourcing, managed services, market intelligence, etc.) and adjacent markets than ever before — and new start-ups popping up on what feels like a weekly basis.

In the first installment of this series, we covered the first three sector M&A and investments trends that we’re paying attention to in 2020. These are competition growing between strategic and financial buyers; ERP and big tech getting more active in the sector; and buyers/investors expanding their definition of procurement technology.

Today, we turn our attention to our next two trends. These are:

Trend 4: Convergence of sourcing, category and market intelligence solutions: blurring the lines (i.e., application/technology, services, content/intelligence, etc.)

Trend 5: Payments, accounts payable and procurement intersections accelerate

2020 Predicaments in Supplier Management: Top 3 Problems in SXM

LinkedIn ProFinder

(Editor’s note: Spend Matters’ analysts are taking on the new year by looking at their areas of procurement technology to see what’s broken and what can and should be fixed this year. Here, analyst Magnus Bergfors lays out the predicaments faced in supplier management (SXM). And for our PRO subscribers, his other post today offers his predictions for 2020.)

Just before the holidays we published a PRO brief (The 5 Building Blocks of Supplier Management Capabilities) on the complexity of the SXM market and created a framework for how to define this space. That article highlights one of the lingering issues with supplier management: There is no one-size-fits-all solution here. That is, however, a very broad predicament, and in this article we want to break this down into a few more specific predicaments.

2020 Predictions in Supplier Management: 5 Areas for Improvement in SXM [PRO]

In our other post today on SXM predicaments in 2020, we discussed some of the current predicaments around supplier management centered on supplier data, supplier segmentation and category management.

To address these issues, buying organizations need to get serious about supplier data management as well as overall supplier management strategies. Unfortunately supplier management is often a secondary responsibility for procurement organizations where the focus tends to be on sourcing and delivering savings. The exception is in some cases in the IT space where some organizations have established vendor management offices (VMOs) to manage the more strategic and critical supplier relationships.

The sourcing and savings focus also results in a lack of interest in making sure that supplier data is managed correctly. Onboarding suppliers often falls to accounts payable organizations whose focus is on making sure that the vendor master data is accurate from a standpoint of getting invoices paid and preventing fraud.

More mature organizations have, however, realized that suppliers need to be managed (not only sourced) and that there is an enormous amount of value to be realized through better supplier management and collaboration — as well as, in some cases, co-innovation.

But we also need improvement in the applications and technology to support this. In this Spend Matters PRO article, we will explore five predictions in how we think applications and the SXM market will evolve to meet these challenges and help procurement organizations manage their  suppliers better.

2020 Predicaments in Strategic Sourcing: How to Make It More Strategic

(Editor’s note: Spend Matters’ analysts are taking on the new year by looking at their areas of procurement technology to see what’s broken and what can and should be fixed this year. Here, analyst Magnus Bergfors lays out the predicaments faced in strategic sourcing. And for our PRO subscribers, his other post today offers his predictions for 2020.)

Strategic sourcing as a concept was introduced in the 1980’s and heavily influenced by consulting firms such as McKinsey (which gave us the famous Kraljic matrix) and A.T. Kearney — and is a process that is designed to help procurement organizations successfully source or renegotiate products and services in a deliberate manner.

While this process can deliver billions in savings, there is a larger problem. This approach is binary — you either run a strategic sourcing project or you don’t — and it’s very episodic in that once you have implemented the strategy, you then move on to the next project. This is the proverbial “drive-by sourcing” and “three bids and a buy and a cloud of dust.” This means that the follow-up and management of the contract is ignored.

Then there's the concept called category management. It has its roots going back to the Kraljic matrix (which profiles various spend/supply categories and then tailors the resulting supplier sourcing/management strategies), but the term “category management” really originates in retail, where the idea is to treat your categories as individual business units. Applied to procurement, it becomes a process to continuously manage your category.

In 2020, how should these two concepts be addressed by procurement technology vendors?

2020 Predictions for Strategic Sourcing: Continuous Analysis Needed for Category Management [PRO]

In today’s Spend Matters post about predicaments in strategic sourcing, we talked about the missing support of category management in existing e-sourcing solutions. The result of this is a lack of connection between the category management strategy and the tactical execution of sourcing events, which leads to a fragmented execution of the overall sourcing and procurement strategy.

To truly transform procurement you need to start from the top by defining your category management framework, then create the actual category strategies based in this framework and finally cascade this down into sourcing events as applicable. This is obviously doable without having a system to support it, but then, in my experience, you run a significant risk of creating category strategies once a year that you then put away and don’t look at until next year when it’s time for an update. By using a tool that has contract data, spend data and supplier management data (natively or through integration), you could create a dashboard that would support the continuous analysis of trends, risk, demands or supply changes. The defined strategy should also guide you to the right type of sourcing event with the right category-specific features and configuration.

Creating this type of solution is obviously not easy, especially the category strategy part, but we are seeing some interesting developments in the market and hearing some interesting things from vendors, and linking e-sourcing to category management is the next logical step in the evolution of sourcing technology.

In this Spend Matters PRO brief, we’ll look at a number of developments about how we believe this will play out.

Invoice-to-Pay Tech Selection and the ‘CIO Friendly’ Persona: Analysis & Commentary [PRO]

The market for invoice-to-pay solutions, much like e-procurement, has grown in size and relevance to procurement organizations in recent years. We even expect the I2P market will begin to rival the EDI-based world in the 2020s, eventually overtaking it.

Despite this rapid growth, the total number of providers in this space will likely remain relatively small. As leading I2P solutions continue to grow their supplier networks, their increased clout, based on their ability to connect more and more buyers and suppliers, will impede new providers from breaking into the larger I2P market.

Yet competition will come from other fronts.

Procure-to-pay solution vendors, for example, have begun to invest significantly in developing the I2P half of their suites, rounding out transactional shopping/ordering capabilities with functionality for invoice processing and, in some cases, basic payments support. This could create competitive pressure on I2P specialists in tech selection scenarios where access to end-to-end P2P capabilities are an important criterion.

Similarly, AP automation solutions are taking a bite out of a different customer base altogether: the long underserved middle market. Small and medium-size businesses are increasingly seeing benefits to adopting software that automate invoice receipt, capture and validation processes (sometimes inclusive of payments execution), yet these customers also seem to be satisfied with an 80%, “good enough” solution in terms of functionality. This creates a new competitive dynamic for I2P solutions looking to move down market, as decisive tech selection criteria may revolve more around usability and collaboration features than supplier network breadth.

Given these different competitive fronts and the evolving needs of this market, how can companies with different technology requirements evaluate invoice-to-pay solutions amid an array of vendors with varying degrees and kinds of capabilities?

Spend Matters’ SolutionMap accounts for these differences using a persona-based approach. Each SolutionMap persona is calibrated to weight evaluation requirements so that it reflects the profile of certain kinds of buyers. For example, the “Nimble” persona reflects small and medium-size businesses that prioritize fast time-to-value and ease of use in the selections; the “CIO Friendly” persona emphasizes technical foundation and interoperability with other enterprise systems to make for a straightforward implementation.

So, what do SolutionMap personas look at in the Invoice-to-Pay rankings, and how can they help your organization make better technology decisions?

In this Spend Matters PRO series, we’ll analyze the invoice-to-pay market using our five I2P personas: Nimble, Deep, Turn-Key, Configurator and CIO Friendly. (See persona definitions* below.)

This review is organized just like our RFI for SolutionMap, according to these topics: platform capabilities, services, features & functionalities, and customer value.

Let’s look at the invoice-to-pay features and vendors as viewed the CIO-Friendly persona.

2020 Predicaments and Predictions in Procure-to-Pay: Issues with E-Procurement, Invoice-to-Pay and AP Automation [PRO]

(Editor’s note: Spend Matters’ analysts are taking on the new year by looking at their areas of procurement technology to see what’s broken and what can and should be fixed this year. Here, analyst Xavier Olivera lays out the predicaments faced in the procure-to-pay sector. And for our PRO subscribers, this post also offers his predictions for 2020.)

The market for procure-to-pay (P2P) solutions — including its submarkets for e-procurement, invoice-to-pay and AP automation solutions — came a long way in the 2010s.

For e-procurement providers, we saw a strong focus on improving the overall user experience of their tools; a push to help organizations increase their percentage of spend under management; new approaches to identifying and eliminating maverick spending; and increased availability of intelligent analytics that can recommend strategies and action items that lead to better purchasing decisions.

Invoice-to-pay providers, for their part, didn’t sit still either. In fact, many solutions in the I2P and AP automation sectors evolved to better digitize and automate processes around invoice capture, validation and approval — primarily through the application of AI and machine learning to their tools.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t still problems, of course. So as we start 2020, we wanted to take a step back and look at two persistent predicaments in the P2P space that procurement organizations and their technology providers are facing:

* In e-procurement, there’s one problem in particular that will continue to plague vendors over time, requiring new capabilities and creativity to solve it: the need for procurement organizations to generate new savings year after year, especially when savings tend be viewed as related to sourcing while P2P is viewed as more transactional and focused more on efficiency savings.
* In I2P/AP automation, the real challenge is to support the broader organization's goal of improving cash flow and optimizing working capital while balancing the needs of suppliers, who want to be paid as soon as possible. Balancing these goals requires improvements in the current P2P solutions capabilities, such as by incorporating functionality for payment processing, supply chain financing, and the ability to move money worldwide at a lower cost (especially in cross-border payments).

We consider these two challenges critical not just for procurement transformation but also for supporting value creation across the whole business. So now that we are entering 2020, this Spend Matters PRO also offers some predictions in regards to these challenges for what we believe P2P providers will do this year — or at least we wish they would. Issues include the need for total costs to be calculated in e-procurement, and for better P2P answers to working capital, financing and payments.

2020 Predicaments in Contract Management: Poor Adoption, CLM Market Fragmentation and Limited Imagination

contract lifecycle management

(Editor’s note: Spend Matters’ analysts are taking on the new year by looking at their areas of procurement technology to see what’s broken and what can and should be fixed this year. Here, analyst Nick Heinzmann lays out problems in contract lifecycle management (CLM). In another piece also published today for our PRO subscribers, he lays out his predictions for 2020.)

Businesses may be trying to bring themselves into the 21st century on a wave of digital transformation, especially as it relates to B2B e-commerce, but this technological evolution has a major stumbling block — contracts.

Across industries and company sizes, businesses exhibit low maturity for their approach to contract management.

This presents both a problem and a missed opportunity.

So what’s holding businesses back from attaining contract management enlightenment? We see a few major impediments:

2020 Predictions for Contract Management: Where the CLM Market Is Going This Year and This Decade [PRO]


Contract management technology is stuck between a rock and a hard place. At its full potential, CLM solutions promise the ability to plan and orchestrate the fundamental instruments of enterprise value creation — that is, an organization’s contracts — yet their current adoption and use within businesses (beyond their current role of legal risk transfer documents) is less robust than one might expect (see today’s post “2020 Predicaments in Contract Management: Poor Adoption, CLM Market Fragmentation and Limited Imagination”).

No one is fully to blame for this historical lackluster state of affairs regarding contract management transformation, but things are starting to change. 2019 has actually been an extremely strong market based on market demand because:

* A combination of the money at stake that is currently buried within opaque legal language in contracts — and the commercial risks that continue to ramp up as global business conditions become more volatile.
* An increasing realization by practitioners of the value leakage that is occurring because of contracts that are not adequately managing commercial complexity and are not integrated with execution systems.
* Since contracts are the lynchpin between sourcing and both P2P and supplier management, CLM becomes a natural extension of these areas into the other. * The need to cure M&A hangovers and gain enterprise scale by getting visibility of contracts, standardizing them (and the contracting process), and tying them into all business processes that touch contracts (hint: the majority of all processes!).
* A desire to apply AI in an area where it can have substantial impact on process costs (i.e., internal/external counsel rates for contract review are not cheap) and process effectiveness where CLM is the perfect candidate.
* Vendor dynamics that have impacted re-looking at CLM solutions — e.g., IBM Emptoris exiting the market; broader suite-level selections that include CLM; ERP upgrades; and/or legal groups looking to be proactive in finding solutions that go beyond glorified document management.

On the provider side, there’s also been some key growth drivers related to private equity investments in best-of-breed CLM players like Icertis, SirionLabs, Agiloft, etc. and also numerous niche AI-centric start-ups. And S2P suites have made incremental improvement, but only insomuch as to keep up competitive parity, rather than deeply innovativing.

But there are, in our view, a few key problems among providers of CLM systems that, if fixed, would go a long way toward improving the contract management maturity of their customers. Some problems are readily addressable, and we think procurement and legal organizations will see progress on these issues within the next year. Others are much thornier, and while a potential solution is conceivable, vendors will likely take several years to get there — if not the rest of the decade. There will also potentially be some disruptive moves in application categories outside of core CLM, S2P, CRM, etc. that we actually see as very feasible.

In this Spend Matters PRO brief, we’ll examine three of the biggest impediments to CLM system success within procurement and legal organizations, as discussed in our other blog post today. We’ll then project potential scenarios that vendors could follow to help solve these problems, including some “predictions” for how the market could evolve in the next year and beyond.

2020 Digital Procurement Series: Predicaments and Predictions, an Introduction

2020 is finally here and there’ve been many “2020 Visions” (get it?) published as various analyst firms and consultancies have published their predictions for the coming year. As you may know, we are generally not big fans of the typical predictions pieces because their insights are too obvious.

Don’t get me wrong — there’s nothing wrong with summarizing the trends that are happening right now and then extrapolating those forward with some prediction based on high likelihood scenarios. But if you overly focus on existing players in existing markets using traditional approaches, you may very well miss emerging threats and opportunities, both as a practitioner and as a solution/service provider.

So, next week, Spend Matters’ analyst team will be publishing a series of 2020 predictions within their respective areas based on:

* The largest digital procurement capability/vendor gaps that are plaguing practitioners.
* Vetting these areas to make sure they’re addressable technically and also commercially — e.g., total cost modeling and management is a foundational capability that has huge gaps and organizational disconnect (between procurement and finance) and an area that we geek out on, but will not likely see much movement as a breakout category even though a few interesting big data/AI start-ups are nobly charging at this windmill.
* Some higher probability scenarios, but also some scenarios where we’ll go out on a limb.

Today, you can read more about the predicaments and pain points that we’ll address regarding digital procurement: