The Procurement Category

Secrets to Better Technology RFPs: Avoiding Hijackings, Dying References and Key Takeaways [Plus+]

Quick: Who do you think has the upper hand in procurement/vendor negotiations when it comes to buying technology? If you guessed the provider, you would be right, in all too many cases. But it doesn’t have to be this way. And in fact, the best processes are anything but zero sum games. As a first step to maximizing procurement value and aligning outcomes with the business (and your vendor), getting the RFI/RFP process right is a critical step. In this Spend Matters Plus series, we shed light on a number of secrets of the trade and how to buy procurement technology — and indeed all technology — that much better. In this last installment of the series, we explore how to avoid IT and legal hijacking of the process as well as key takeaways and recommendations for procurement organizations.

How to Buy Procurement Technology 101, With a Public Sector Spin

If you’re new to procurement or have been sitting on the sidelines just waiting to get a pinpointed primer to the profession, look no further than Public Spend Forum’s latest webinar, “How to Buy Procurement Technology – Getting Started.” Like any 101 course, there are some fundamentals to consider before diving in.

Is Strategic Sourcing the Best Route to Smarter Bunker Procurement?

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Gaurav Singh, consultant at GEP.

Since the internet became commercially popular in the early 2000s, companies have made attempts to change the way the market trades bunkers. We’ve come a long way since 2000. Now we’re used to conducting transactions online in our everyday lives and have seen the rise of the “digital ship.” But although shipping was expected to be among the first industries to embrace technology, it has ended up as the last one to adopt new ways of doing business.

Dhatim Conciliator: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary & Competitive Analysis [PRO]

For most procurement organizations, artificial intelligence (AI) technology in 2017 is similar to what online marketplaces and B2B exchanges were to purchasing teams in 2000. In other words, more of a curiosity — and a place to potentially make investments — than a proven thing. But the similarity ends there.

AI is very much real — and early adopters in procurement, finance and supply chain are already taking advantage of its benefits. And perhaps most important for skeptical procurement functions more interested in containing technology risk than fully embracing digital capabilities, there is no chance that the AI movement will implode, like the majority of B2B exchanges from the turn of the last millennium — it’s too far along for that already and the benefits are all too real.

If you’re not yet convinced, use cases from providers like Dhatim will help you make you a believer. While not a traditional source-to-pay modular or suite provider, Dhatim brings adjacent AI-led spend, invoice, broader P2P and payment classification, analytics and proactive opportunity identification capabilities that are complementary to existing systems and the data they produce.

Today’s third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Dhatim provides an objective SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to Dhatim and offers provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies considering the vendor. Part 1 provided an in-depth look at Dhatim as a firm and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses and a review of the product’s user experience.

What Procurement’s Talking About at the Thanksgiving Table This Year

Spend Matters has very special powers.

We were able to travel into the future and become a fly on the dining room wall, joining several procurement practitioners gathered around the Thanksgiving table.

What is Procurement mad about this year? What are their concerns? What do they want to see changed? Here are some highlights of Procurement’s Thanksgiving 2017 discussion.

Dhatim Conciliator: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses [PRO]

“Cognitive” procurement has a ring to it. Enough so that any CPO who works for an organization with a broader digital transformation mandate just might pick up the old handset when a new technology provider that uses artificial intelligence (AI) in new ways decides to call. And Dhatim’s Conciliator, one of the first entrants into the cognitive sourcing market that uses AI and customized learning models to identify and predict savings opportunities, classification errors, and even individual (and theoretically supplier/vendor) performance/quality, may very well be the one on the other end of the line.

Conciliator is not the first “next generation” integrated AI-based solution that we have seen with true cognitive procurement (or sourcing) capabilities. LevaData (see our Vendor Snapshot series here, here and here) takes that prize. But Conciliator is one of the first true cognitive platforms on the market with an ability to do deep predictive analytics on certain categories in certain verticals in ways that go beyond basic AI applications to spend classification, fraud detection, predictive risk scoring and other established use cases alone.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Conciliator’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Conciliator. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Are You Wasting Time and Money on Technology RFPs? [Plus+]

Technology selections are a serious but often overlooked topic, especially given not just the time and effort involved — but also how long you'll live with the results of your decision. This article describes many cost/benefit aspects of the RFP process when it comes to technology solutions and shares some insider "secret" provider insights. We will also share how to avoid allocating inordinate amounts of time and resources in return for a suboptimal outcome. More importantly — and this might sound like a bold statement — sometimes (maybe even most of the time) it just doesn't make sense to do an RFP! Sourcing practitioners might scoff at this, but read on as we challenge the notion that an RFP is the best path to a successful solution provider selection outcome. 

More on Healthcare’s Saline Bag “Shortage”

The saline bag “shortage” in healthcare has been going on for a few years. I’ve got some strong opinions on the matter, as I have had the pleasure of interviewing the assigned category managers at the nation’s largest healthcare GPOs, health system sourcing professionals and executives at Baxter, B.Braun and Hospira, the nation’s three largest manufacturers and suppliers of the product. It turns out that there are very few resin producers that make the type and grade used to manufacture saline bags. Not only did these producers cut production, but they’ve increased their pricing by more than 300% in the last year. Why?

Dhatim Conciliator: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview [PRO]

You might not know it, but France has a great history of building outstanding, engineering-led procurement technology firms. Ivalua and b-pack (now Determine) stand out for different reasons, but both have achieved varying degrees of success globally. Dhatim, founded in 2007, stands to follow in their footsteps — and potentially create an even larger imprint. While not a new technology provider in the procurement space, Dhatim, and its solution named Conciliator, is relatively new outside of its home country. Like others that have expanded outside the French market before it, Dhatim is looking to build a global presence, first in Europe and the UK, and then beyond.

Dhatim’s Conciliator is not a procurement suite. In fact, it would misleading to view the provider as a module-centric vendor only. Rather, it has developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-centered suite of applications that leverage the underlying learning and analytics capability to solve specific procurement, finance and even HR business challenges as well as shared services end-to-end processes operational challenges, primarily centered on automated compliance. Many of Conciliator’s large customers are keen to take advantage of digital initiatives that center on “cognitive procurement” and related areas. Conciliator not only checks the box but also delivers against use cases in which other, non-AI based solutions would have a much more difficult time — if they could do it at all.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement and finance organizations make informed decisions about whether they need a solution like Conciliator alongside or as an adjunct to other analytics and data classification technologies. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Conciliator. The remainder of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

The Amazon Effect: Competition for Procurement Talent

No one and no thing is now safe from what is known as the “Amazon effect.” As Bezos’s behemoth continues to expand in multiple locations, including the addition of the impending HQ2, it is disrupting hiring and retention efforts in all business functions. Top procurement talent is especially susceptible, as it’s hard not to be seduced by arguably the No. 1 supply chain company in the world, with a Gartner Supply Chain Masters honor to boot. This should rightfully strike fear in leaders of procurement organizations.

Cutting BigLaw Down to Size: New Alternatives for Legal Services Procurement (Part 1)

A number of unwelcome trends over the past decade have put large law firms on the chopping block. Among these has been the increasing involvement of procurement in managing legal services, along with the emergence of a range attractive alternatives to traditional full-service firms. While this has been a nightmare for the firms that constitute “BigLaw,” it is a shared opportunity for legal services procurement and for emerging alternative legal services providers. In Part 1 of this two-part series, we focus on BigLaw’s challenges, changing corporate buying behaviors and the rise of procurement in legal services sourcing and spend management.

‘Appy Procurement: Applying the AI-Powered Customization of B2C Apps to B2B Procurement Technology

on-demand workforce

“There’s an app for that!” Well, of course there is. These days, there are apps for nearly everything in the B2C sphere. And B2B, including procurement technology, is gradually catching up. Solution providers are using artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technologies to make procurement “smarter” and more relevant to users. Last week, Pierre Mitchell, chief research officer at Spend Matters, and Paul Blake, senior manager of technology product marketing at GEP, held a webinar on this trend, appropriately titled “There’s an App for That: Procurement Gets Smarter.”