Procurement Systems & Architecture Content

Accrualify: Vendor Introduction (Part 3) — SWOT, Competitive Placement and Customer Recommendations [PRO]

Accrualify is a new breed of finance-oriented solution that targets a range of procurement and payables processes. It is one of a handful of vendors that, especially within the middle market, can offer solutions that solve the needs of finance and procurement organizations directly. While Accrualify’s AP automation and procurement capabilities are not as robust as some, the overall package and approach could present a more attractive use case for nimble solution buyers with specific requirements in mind.

In Part 3 of Spend Matters’ PRO series examining Accrualify, we turn our attention to placing the provider in a competitive context of a new breed of solutions targeting finance and procurement, offer a strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/threats (SWOT) framework and conclude with recommendations for potential customers. (See Part 1 for an introduction to the provider as well as Part 2 for its solution strengths and weaknesses.)

NPI: Provider Introduction, Summary and SWOT [PRO]

In a world where everything is rapidly digitizing and moving to a services-based delivery model, there is perhaps no category more difficult for businesses to manage than IT services. The more operations move to the cloud and businesses rely on major IT services providers like Microsoft, SAP and Oracle to get work done, those in charge of IT sourcing, whether that be procurement, IT or a dedicated team in a center of excellence, are encountering a higher volume of IT services purchases, more complex offerings and pricing structures to negotiate, and more risk inherent in making the wrong choice. And with worldwide IT spend projected to reach $3.8 trillion by the end of 2019, all of these issues are only expected to build on themselves.

Helping manage this situation is exactly what NPI, a consulting firm based in Atlanta, does for IT sourcing organizations. Founded in 2003, NPI helps businesses identify and eliminate overspending on IT purchases, as well as provides vendor-specific intelligence on a range of topics, including risk reduction efforts, licensing program optimization and negotiation playbooks. Its services span subscription pricing intelligence to renewal process advisory and IT sourcing transformation consulting, and the firm counts businesses as varied as Morgan Stanley, the Social Security Administration, Denver Health and Norfolk Southern as clients.

This Spend Matters PRO Provider Introduction offers an overview of NPI, including quick facts on the provider. The brief also has an introduction to each of NPI’s six business lines, an overall SWOT analysis comparing it to other procurement consultancies and a selection checklist for companies that may consider the provider.

Accrualify: Vendor Introduction (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

In our initial research brief on Accrualify, we introduced the four-year-old provider based out of San Mateo, California. The upstart procurement and finance technology vendor offers a unique set of technology capabilities to manage specific components of the invoice-to-pay cycle, as well as adjacent areas like basic requisitioning and broader accruals management.

The first part of this brief provided an overview of Accrualify’s offering and a short selection requirements checklist that outlined the typical company for which Accrualify might be a good fit. In today’s installment (Part 2), we provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, exploring Accrualify’s “positives” and “negatives.”

3 Reasons to Love ‘Nimble’ Procurement Technology Providers

Spend Matters’ analysts have been writing personal essays on their favorite SolutionMap personas: Nimble, Deep, Turn-Key, Configurator and CIO Friendly, as well as Optimizer for sourcing providers and Global for CWS vendors. The personas help companies select which solution provider is right for them. This week’s essay is by Nick Heinzmann, an associate analyst and a former editor of Spend Matters.

Let’s be blunt: If you’re going to pay five or six figures for a software license, you’d better hope your employees actually use it. But can your technology provider guarantee that everyone who uses the system — from admins to power users to the everyday requisitioner or collaborator — will adopt it? What about enjoy it, willingly log in and encourage everyone to collaborate on the platform?

For many companies, this is easier said than done. Implementations that seem well planned on paper can quickly become nightmares. Systems with deep, powerful functionality but archaic user interfaces can scare less ambitious users back to the warm embrace of Excel.

Issues like the above and others are why I love the Nimble persona — that best at understanding the “millennial” mindset when it comes to technology. Why can’t procurement software be as fun and easy to use as apps like Instagram, Venmo and Slack?

Commercial Value Management: Making Contracts the Commercial Core of Enterprise Value (Part 1) [PRO]

contract

Contract management can seem like a boring topic in business — corporate attorneys taking far too long to create long documents of “legalese” designed around transferring risk to your trading partner in a deal. Managing these contracts in contract lifecycle management (CLM) is a step in the right direction by cross-functionally managing them throughout various business processes: order-to-cash, source-to-pay, hire-to-retire, record-to-report, etc.

Some organizations will even take contract management a little further and use the nomenclature of commercial management to help shift the focus away from the contractual artifact and more toward commercial business relationships. The focus becomes writing and managing better contracts to incentivize trading partners to more easily comply, collaborate and create a larger pie of value to share.

However, there is a subtle shift happening within the scope of contract and commercial management (CCM), and a not-so-subtle shift that is also happening within the digital realm (e.g., namely artificial intelligence, low-code platforms, open source, “XaaS”). What’s happening is that as contracts get digitized and more deeply modeled, they are becoming the single most important piece of master data within the enterprise that touches virtually every single stakeholder within these core processes and also within corporate functions such as R&D, risk management, strategic planning, treasury, audit, sustainability, digital/innovation and others.

The cornerstone to this transformation (in the private sector at least) is the notion of maximizing value created in commercial activities. Commerce is about exchanging value. Good commerce strives to maximize value for individual parties (i.e., large slice of the pie) and excellent commerce focuses on maximizing value to expand the total economic pie within a value chain. On the sell side, you want to deliver differentiated value to customers in order to retain them and make more money off them over the long term. On the buy side you want to maximize value (i.e., the most “bang for the buck”) by maximizing “bang” (what suppliers commit to deliver to you) and minimize the bucks (spend/costs) flowing out the door. These commitments of expected value to be delivered can take many forms, and using next-generation contract modeling (way beyond tagging and analyzing clause text) and process integration is turning out to be a very practical way to maximize value from the C-suite down to various functional process participants.

In this Spend Matters PRO series, we’ll cover some of the ways in which next-generation contract management (and underlying digital platforms) will model and manage commercial value much more deeply in a way that will support enterprise processes in areas such as GRC (governance, risk and compliance), Treasury, FP&A, IT service management, project/program portfolio management, commodity management, supply chain execution and many other areas.

Bid Ops: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT (Part 2) [PRO]

In this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction, we’re introducing you to Bid Ops, a two-year-old vendor out of San Francisco that positions its cloud-based e-sourcing tool as the first AI solution for automating indirect procurement negotiations. Rather than focusing solely on serving the buyer, Bid Ops’ founders actually built the vendor side of their platform first, shaping the whole user experience around making negotiation faster, simpler and smarter. While it’s early, the solution is more RPA (robotic process automation) than AI (which is early stage assisted intelligence at best), but the vendor has notched some notable wins with big customers, claiming double-digit savings rates with the likes of Berkshire Hathaway, Los Angeles World Airports and the city of Detroit.

In the first part of this two-part series, we provided an overview of Bid Ops’ offering and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider. In this second part, we will provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution and give a SWOT analysis.

The Best SolutionMap Persona: The Whole Nine Yards

Spend Matters’ analysts have been writing personal essays on their favorite SolutionMap personas: Nimble, Deep, Turn-Key, Configurator, CIO Friendly as well as Optimizer for sourcing providers and Global for CWS vendors. The personas help companies select which solution provider is right for them. This week’s essay is by Michael Lamoureux, our lead analyst for strategic procurement technologies and a futurist.

My favorite persona is the one we don't publish — the whole nine yards, which is basically the raw Solution Map with every single requirement evaluated and weighted full. It's a persona that almost no vendor would do well in, so why is it my favorite? Because it gets to the heart of what the vendor can't do and what its limits are.

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.

SAP Intelligent Spend Group is future for Ariba, Fieldglass, Concur (Part 2): Hard Questions on Integration [PRO]

integration

In late April, SAP announced its “Intelligent Spend Group,” a combination of SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass and SAP Concur. As the new operating unit eventually becomes “one” from a product perspective as well, it is important to realize the level of complexity that SAP will confront along the way. For example, SAP Ariba product managers have to deal with their individual platforms/ecosystems (SAP Ariba, Fieldglass, and Concur), but also with integrating to the Ariba Network, relevant SAP applications (e.g., Integrated Business Planning), with partner apps in each of those ecosystems, and the move toward an SAP-centric application stack and platform stack.

For example, SAP has its own journey from ECC to SAP S/4HANA in the cloud via S/4HANA Cloud Foundation, S/4HANA Cross Engineering, S/4HANA Enterprise Architecture, and other toolsets. S/4HANA then needs to integrate to the SAP Cloud Platform applications that will themselves need to integrate with each other as they slowly migrate to an underlying SAP Cloud Platform that includes a range of areas described in this second of three briefs in Spend Matters' PRO research series.

It’s not simple to run — unlike SAP’s old slogan of “Run Simple” used to say.

Best-of-Breed Solutions with Simple Integration Give Businesses More Choice

LinkedIn ProFinder

Businesses deserve to have the procurement technology that best suits their needs, and with the rise of the cloud and easier integration of best-of-breed solutions, businesses of all sizes can choose from an array of offerings to solve specific problems.

This increased choice stems from the trend toward more open computer networks and APIs, the application programming interface. What the API does is let companies bring data, workflows and in some cases third-party functionalities to their existing backbone system or ERP to create their own version of an end-to-end suite.

As companies mature in their digital transformation from manual processes to automation, they’re in a better position to consider the buffet of solution options that will help them become more strategic.

If Ivalua is now a yardstick, how do competitors like Coupa, SAP Ariba, Oracle measure up to it? [PRO]

At Spend Matters, most of our time is spent actually looking at solutions and evaluating and validating detailed RFI responses. So when a procurement organization asks us, for example, “how does SAP Ariba compare to Coupa for source-to-pay,” we can provide a detailed explanation across hundreds of different functional specifications and customer satisfaction benchmarks about how the two precisely compare and differentiate. We get questions on these two providers a lot.

Technology vendors reach a milestone when other providers (as well as practitioner and consultants) start using them as a yardstick to measure and compare capabilities. And now with Ivalua reaching unicorn status and sharing current growth metrics that generally dwarf that of its larger peers — based on organic product growth — we expect to hear more and more procurement organizations ask about Ivalua in the same way they ask about SAP Ariba and Coupa. And of course from a SolutionMap perspective when it comes to technology selection, we can answer that question with hard, objective data on a capability-by-capability basis (now mapped to procurement business requirements).

But off-the-cuff, how does Ivalua and its unified suite compare to others?

I asked my colleagues on the Spend Matters analyst team who know different areas of Ivalua (and its peers) to comment not using the SolutionMap benchmark, but their own opinion.

So without further adieu, let’s read the Spend Matters analyst team’s candid take of how Ivalua’s source-to-pay competitors measure up to it (including positives and negatives comparisons for each). Our analysis explores, on an overall company basis, subjective views about how the following vendors compare to Ivalua: Coupa, Determine (now part of Corcentric), GEP, Jaggaer, SAP Ariba, Oracle, SynerTrade and Zycus.

Do you want the objective, hard comparative data on a functional and product basis to understand how Ivalua stacks up to peers? Check out SolutionMap Insider.

Exploring Basware’s Recent Product Enhancements: Something for AP and Procurement (Part 2) [PRO]

At its recent Basware Connect 2019 customer event in Chicago, Basware brought together both finance and procurement organizations for two days of learning and in-depth product discussions. During the event last month, Basware spent numerous sessions sharing recent product enhancements, as well as highlighting its own product roadmap path forward.

This Spend Matters PRO brief, the second installment in a three-part series, explores Basware’s roadmap for the following products:

— Data, Analytics and Supplier Management
— Networked Sourcing and Procurement
— Networked Accounts Payable and Payments
— IT Integrations and E-Invoice Sending
— Dynamic Discounting and Financing


And our analysts’ give the key takeaways on each of these areas.