Solution Providers Content

Oracle’s Modern Business Experience Event: What’s On Our Mind This Week

Spend Matters analyst Xavier Olivera and I are attending Oracle’s Modern Business Experience event this week in Las Vegas. Procurement is well represented as a component of supply chain, with over 30 breakout sessions and other activities catering to purchasing, supply management and spend management-related areas. In addition, there are numerous sessions on blockchain, the internet of things (IoT) and related subjects that overlap with procurement.

We’ll attempt to cover as much as we can from the event this week and next. But here are some questions that we have on our mind as the festivities kick into high gear:

K2 Sourcing: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT [PRO]

The history of e-sourcing software stretches back to before the dot-com bubble burst, yet few of the original providers of RFX and auction management tools exist today as they did at their inception.

Some were bought and consolidated into the mega organizations we know today (e.g., SAP Ariba, which acquired FreeMarkets and Procuri), while others have slowly drifted into oblivion (RIP Emptoris). The result is that, with a few notable exceptions, procurement organizations today have few choices for standalone providers of e-sourcing tools.

One of those remaining options is K2 Sourcing, a provider of RFX and auction management software that has quietly served mid-market procurement organizations since 2003. Based in the Milwaukee area, K2 grew out of its founder’s frustrations as a procurement professional with the RFX and reverse auction platforms available then.

The young provider set out with one of the first cloud-based solutions in the space with a goal to “create the fastest, easiest and most transparent method for buyers to screen and select suppliers.” And while a lot has changed in the procurement and technology worlds in the past 16 years, K2 has managed, through a combined offering of subscription software and supporting sourcing services engagements, to build a stable and respectable client base, counting brands as varied as Verifone, Lozier Corp., Big Lots, Milwaukee Tool, Tempur Sealy, Kaiser Permanente and others.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on K2 Sourcing and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of K2 Sourcing’s offering, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

WPS Management (Wescale): Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis  [PRO]

Procurement organizations today don’t have to do a lot of legwork to build an initial shortlist for choosing an e-procurement or procure-to-pay solution. A Google search will return dozens of companies vying for your business, and the Spend Matters SolutionMaps for E-Procurement and Procure-to-Pay Suites make the process even simpler, rating top providers of these solutions against specific organizational requirements based on buyer demographics and psychographics.

Figuring out the differences between all of these choices, however, is easier said than done.

One of the key ways procurement organizations can do this is by understanding what type of market a vendor seeks to address. Although in concept the potential market a vendor is targeting could appear similar to how others position their solutions, the reality is that each provider is unique in terms of their best-fit customers, their capabilities and the technological foundations of their platform.

This is especially true of Wescale, which provides P2P functionality fit for a variety of businesses through an open business integration platform approach (PaaS, or platform as a service) not commonly seen from e-procurement or P2P providers in the North American market. For that matter, Berlin-based Wescale is not commonly seen outside of Europe — but to the detriment of potential U.S. and global customers that might overlook it due to its primary geographic focus.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Wescale, the branded name for WPS Management, includes an objective SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also has a recommended shortlist of candidates as substitute providers to Wescale as well as provider-selection guidance. Finally, it offers a summary analysis and recommendations for companies that can best take advantage of Wescale’s capabilities.

Part 1 of this series provided an in-depth look at Wescale as a company and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of its solution strengths and weaknesses as well as a review of the user experience.

Zycus: A Comparative Analysis of the S2P Suite (Source-to-Pay SolutionMap Analysis)

Zycus is part of an exclusive club.

It is one of the few source-to-pay suite vendors on the market that can offer at least adequate functional support across all six modular areas that Spend Matters tracks for S2P using only its internally developed capabilities. This stands in contrast to several of its biggest competitors, which have to varying degrees of success acquired and integrated best-in-class vendors or other suites to bolster their own capabilities.

And while Zycus cannot today claim its technology runs its suite of applications on a single data model, more than 95% of the solution is unified, and when compared against the market, it generally presents broad-based and out-of-the-box capability. Its solutions not only provide strong baseline (sometimes above-the-benchmark) functionality but they come from a single provider that is responsible for making it all work together.

This Spend Matters SolutionMap analysis examines Zycus’ solutions by modular and suite view to help interested parties understand the best components that make up the vendor’s end-to-end offering. It provides insight into which areas Zycus is strong in (and where it lags), how competitive individual modules are compared with best-in-class alternatives, and how combinations in the form of procure-to-pay (P2P), strategic procurement technology (SPT) and source-to-pay (S2P) suites stack up in comparison to Zycus’ broader peer group, including Coupa, Jaggaer, SAP Ariba, Ivalua and SynerTrade.

For this analysis, our report uses the aggregate results of nine SolutionMaps from Q4 2018 (the most recent in our quarterly update cycle), comparing a total of 58 solution providers across more than 600 granular functional benchmarks, which are aggregated into more manageable, tiered buckets for the purpose of this analysis. (Those procurement organizations leveraging SolutionMap for a software selection process gain insight into comparative performance at a significantly more granular level of detail that maps business requirements to functional performance.) The SolutionMap analyst ratings, also called the Solution scoring, used in this analysis are based on more than 3,000 hours of live product demonstrations and validated vendor RFI responses.

In subsequent briefs exploring SynerTrade and others, we will take a similar approach to analyzing source-to-pay providers, breaking down where end-to-end platforms excel (or fall below the functional benchmark) on module and suite bases. Previously, we covered the suite performances of Jaggaer, SAP Ariba, Ivalua and Coupa.

WPS Management (Wescale): Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

FM Global Resilience Index

While not well known outside of the European market, Wescale delivers a unique set of procure-to-pay capabilities originally built from its e-procurement plumbing and catalog management roots as Wallmedien and WPS Management, now branded as Wescale.

For many years, we have watched with admiration as this R&D-centric provider has taken a road-less-traveled approach to enabling procurement users. But when it comes to procure-to-pay, where is it strong and where is it weak?

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

Sourcing and Engaging the Independent/Freelance Workforce — An Emerging Ecosystem? (Part 3) [PRO]

The overarching question motivating this five-part Spend Matters PRO series is one posed to practitioners: “As a services procurement manager, should I be paying more attention — maybe even taking action on — the independent contract workforce, or ICW, as a supply of skills/expertise?”

In Part 1 of this series, we examined if measures of size and growth of the ICW population provided a clear basis for answering this question and found that, at least in our opinion, it did not (see Part 1).

We also proposed that, in addition to monitoring demand within one’s organization (something not adequately done by most procurement organizations), the extent to which a new ICW ecosystem is emerging could also provide some basis for answering the question. We also proposed looking separately at the extent to which an ecosystem has been forming to:

  • Provide enterprises with the required capabilities to source, manage and maximize the value of this independent/freelance population (Parts 2 and 3 of this series)
  • Provide independent/freelance workers with the access to the opportunity pathways and the support/services they require to function as viable “operators.” (Part 4 of this series)
Starting in Part 2, we began looking at the formation of an ecosystem enabling organizations’ usage of (source, engage, manage and pay) independent/freelance workforce. In Part 2, we reviewed findings from a recent panel survey of CW/S solution provider executives which suggested that a new ICW ecosystem has been taking shape recently. When asked this: “Over the past three years, have you seen the emergence of new digitally-integratable, configurable ecosystem(s) of solution and service providers focused on enabling organizations and independent workforce on the demand and the supply sides?” over 80% of respondents answered “Yes, to some extent,” while none answered “No , I haven't seen that happening.”

In this third part of the series, we will continue this same assessment of an emerging ecosystem enabling organizations usage of ICWs , but dissecting it at the category and provider level.

In Part 4, we will provide a similar assessment, but from the standpoint of how ICWs are enabled/supported to function as viable operators. In Part 5, we will synthesize the findings and offer recommendations for services procurement practitioners and senior executives.

P2P Provider OpusCapita Being Sold to U.S. Equity Firm

OpusCapita Solutions, the Finnish procurement provider known for procure-to-pay solutions and catalog management, is being sold by its parent company, Posti Group Corp., to the U.S. asset management firm Providence Equity Partners, of Rhode Island, according to an announcement. Spend Matters' analysts weigh in on the deal, which possibly sets up OpusCapita for more P2P projects.

Comparing S2P Procurement Technology Suites on a Functional Basis: Coupa, Ivalua, Jaggaer and SAP Ariba

Now more than ever, better choices exist at the top end of the market for source-to-pay technology suites. When it comes to overall suite functional performance in the Q4 2018 SolutionMap, a handful of suite vendors tend to stand out from the overall pack, often for very different reasons. Four of the top performing S2P suite vendors in the Q4 SolutionMap functional benchmark are Coupa, Ivalua, Jaggaer and SAP Ariba. But how do they compare to the overall SolutionMap source-to-pay benchmark dataset? You can find out here in our coverage, which will include Determine, SynerTrade and Zycus.

WPS Management (Wescale): Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview [PRO]

Wescale is the broader “procurement umbrella” and new open business integration platform of WPS Management, a provider that traces its roots to 1997 with the creation of Wallmedien AG, one of the first e-procurement solutions for the SAP environment in Europe. We’re sorry if this sounds confusing (it is). But what matters is that since its founding, Wallmedien AG has managed to grow its core business in e-procurement while also adding additional capabilities through its affiliated businesses and product lines, including WPS4/Procure, Meplato and recently Wescale.

Wescale is the platform through which all WPS Management solutions are integrated. WPS Management (branded as Wescale) has participated in the Spend Matters E-Procurement SolutionMap, competing with specialists such as Vroozi, BuyerQuest, OpusCapita (jCatalog) and others with similar platforms like Basware, Tradeshift and Determine (now Corcentric).

This three-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot uses facts and expert analysis from Wescale’s participation in the 2018 SolutionMap to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about the broader umbrella of capabilities this provider offers. An update will be published this summer, based on Wescale’s latest 2019 capabilities.

Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as suggestions for when organizations should consider the Wescale platform. The remainder of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Coupa: A Comparative Analysis of the S2P Suite (Source-to-Pay SolutionMap Analysis)

It is impossible today to discuss procurement and finance software solutions without mentioning Coupa. Since its founding in 2006, Coupa has grown into one of the best-known providers of technology for corporate purchasing as well as invoicing and payments, sourcing, and spend analysis. And its philosophy of business spend management (BSM) resurrected — and improved upon — the original premise that gave rise to Spend Matters back in 2004 (spend does matter).

The awareness of Coupa in the market is due in no small part to its 2016 IPO, which brought the provider into the wider public eye while also providing it with the balance sheet to support an aggressive M&A program. The result is that Coupa can now claim some of the most advanced procurement-specific capabilities in multiple technology areas, as it has acquired several market-leading vendors and integrated their functionality into its own platform.

But where does Coupa excel the most, and where do its comparatively few weaknesses lie, measured against both best-of-breed vendors for standalone technology areas (e.g., contract lifecycle management) and competing suite providers (e.g., procure-to-pay, source-to-pay)?

 This Spend Matters SolutionMap analysis examines Coupa’s solutions by modular and suite view to help interested parties understand the best components that make up the vendor’s end-to-end offering. It provides insight into which areas Coupa is strong in (and where it lags), how competitive individual modules are compared with best-in-class alternatives, and how combinations in the form of procure-to-pay (P2P), strategic procurement technology (SPT) and source-to-pay (S2P) suites stack up in comparison to Coupa’s broader peer group, including Jaggaer, SAP Ariba, Ivalua, Oracle, SynerTrade and Zycus.

For this analysis, our report uses the aggregate results of nine SolutionMaps from Q4 2018 (the most recent in our quarterly update cycle), comparing a total of 58 solution providers across more than 600 granular functional benchmarks, which are aggregated into more manageable, tiered buckets for the purpose of this analysis. (Those procurement organizations leveraging SolutionMap for a software selection process gain insight into comparative performance at a significantly more granular level of detail that maps business requirements to functional performance.) The SolutionMap analyst ratings used in this analysis are based on more than 3,000 hours of live product demonstrations and validated vendor RFI responses.

In subsequent briefs exploring SynerTrade, Zycus and others, we will take a similar approach to analyzing source-to-pay providers, breaking down where end-to-end platforms excel (or fall below the functional benchmark) on module and suite bases. Previously, we covered the suite performances of Jaggaer, SAP Ariba and Ivalua.

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Rethinking the RFP Process for Public Procurement Systems

When procuring an e-procurement system for public spend, one could argue that the complexities and differentiated requirements always call for a competitive RFP process. The problem is that some state and local governments are tight on resources or unclear on which requirements to include in the solicitation, so they outsource the market research and RFP development processes for e-procurement buys to consultants who, in turn, do one of two things. But both outcomes put agencies at an automatic disadvantage.

Fairmarkit: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT (Part 2) — Summary and Competitive Analysis [PRO]

The question of how to manage tail spend is as much a philosophical question as a technical one. There are issues around the thresholds that define tail spend, challenges around rogue spend that creates the long tail and the ultimate decision about who should be responsible for taming the tail.

But for most procurement organizations, the tail spend discussion is left unexplored.

Instead, the status quo way of managing tail spend often reigns. It’s rarely effective, so you’re left with the problems: wasted time by procurement and non-procurement staff, long lists of unknown or untrusted vendors, no clean data or visibility into savings left on the table.

Challenging this status quo is what Fairmarkit, a provider of tail spend management software out of Boston, seeks to do with its RFQ and analytics solutions. But where does Fairmarkit fit compared with other sourcing and tail spend management providers in the procurement technology market, and what are its relative strengths and weaknesses compared with direct and indirect competitors?

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Fairmarkit and its capabilities. Part 1 of this brief provided an overview of Fairmarkit’s offering and a detailed solution tour. Part 2 includes a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a competitive breakdown of other providers that a procurement organization might consider while evaluating Fairmarkit.