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Are your spend classification efforts relevant and truly moving the needle?

Last month, we examined the current constraints on procurement today and discovered that data spend quality is an issue that’s holding organizations back. Digging in further, we found that spend classification is a big factor affecting organizations’ abilities to get high-quality data. The reality is you don’t know what you’re actually spending in each category. For many procurement teams, getting the insights they need is challenging because classification is painful and time-consuming, and they don’t know how to make things better.

Let’s take a deeper dive into some of the problems with spend classification today:

Why RPA is not a breakthrough advancement in procurement

Procurement teams globally are facing the same common challenges. We hear it over and over: CPOs are constantly being tasked with cutting costs and doing more with less … yesterday. But how are they doing in actually overcoming these challenges? Let’s take a look.

Today, many procurement organizations are attempting to solve these challenges by turning to robotic process automation (RPA) as a solution. But RPA, while serving as an important automation tool, operates in a regime that accepts current constraints as a given and works within them. It represents an incremental advance in the evolving technology frontier by addressing a subset of procurement domain competently, but it cannot be justifiably elevated to the status of a breakthrough technology.

Xeeva’s patented specialized procurement AI demolishes the resident constraints in procurement by transforming spend data and digitizing domain expertise.

Spend analytics solutions vs P2P: What to look for when your company needs insights

If you’re at a company that’s looking for more insight into its spend, you may be considering a procure-to-pay solution or you may just need to go with a spend analytics tool.

So, how does a business decide between the two?

P2P is often a robust system that a business considers when it needs to upgrade its processes as well as its technology. It’s often deployed when legacy systems need replacing or old workflows take too much time and effort from your staff.

A company choosing this option should be ready for a long implementation process that has costs beyond the hefty price of the system itself. Implementation, change management and staff training take time and money. And hidden costs can include poor user adoption of the system, which cuts into the return on investment if your personnel don’t use the system you just bought.

A spend analytics solution may be a better fit for established businesses that already have serviceable technology and sound workflows. Those companies may just need a system that offers more insight into the data they already have. That’s when you’d look for a best-of-breed spend analytics solution.

Tech selection Q&A: ‘I was like the most hated guy in the office for a while’

Tech selection requires evaluating a lot of procurement software vendors before making a choice, and our coverage typically focuses on the early part of the process to help companies buy a solution that’s the right fit for their needs. But we wanted to talk with a company well after its tech selection to gain insights on the process.

The strategic business enabler Tecom Group and its parent company, Dubai Holding, have gone through two rounds of tech selection to find a spend analytics firm to help them analyze high value transactions, find common spend areas, save money and add visibility for new business strategies.

To find out more about the tech selection process and its results, we did a Q&A with Cory Thwaites, Tecom’s executive director of procurement, about his efforts to bring in a spend analytics firm.

“I was like the most hated guy in the office for a while,” Thwaites said about trying to convince the staff that Tecom needed to know more about its spend.

He said that all changed once his team started seeing the dashboards that showed the actual state of Tecom’s spend.

Orpheus: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — SWOT, Competitive Analysis and Summary [PRO]

Spend Analysis. Every company needs it, but not every company knows what they need or how to use it. As per our first post, it could be defined as:

* An extensive set of canned reports across a defined data set
* User Defined Reports and Views on a static ROLAP Cube
* Dynamic Cube Construction and View Creation on a predefined data set
* Dynamic Cube Construction and Federation on an extensible, user-defined data set

Depending on the provider, it may or may not include:

* Data Consolidation and Cleansing
* Data Enrichment
* Data Classification and Categorization
* Data Synchronization with Source Systems

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg on what one has to consider before even inviting a pool of candidates to an RFI, yet alone whittling down to three that all have the core capabilities the organization needs and that can all, more-or-less, be compared apples-to-apples when the RFIs come in.

That’s why in the first part of this three-part series we took our time to define Orpheus and its solutions, including components and capabilities not offered by every spend analysis vendor on the market. Then, in Part 2, we dove deep into the solution, highlighting particular strengths and bringing to light some of the weaknesses compared to peers (which may or may not matter depending on what your organization is looking for). Now, in our third and final part, we will provide a SWOT analysis, a competitive market analysis and a summary with commentary.

Orpheus: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

In Part 1 of Spend Matters’ three-part PRO Vendor Snapshot on Orpheus, we started out by explaining how the definition of spend analysis differs from client to client and how it is a buyer-beware market — as not all vendors have the same technological capabilities, and you can’t compare their quotes as apples-to-apples. That’s why it’s important to understand what a vendor can do, and what it can’t, before whittling down to the final three and definitely before making a selection — because not all vendors will have what Oprheus has to offer.

While many vendors can slice and dice, cube and derive, and find opportunities on the fly — not all have initiative tracking, not all have AI, and not all have the experience of classifying over half a billion transactions across 4 million suppliers for 15 years of operation. This is pretty distinctive, and we’ve only completed the introduction so far.

In today’s post, we will dive into the strengths and weaknesses, giving you deep insight into the platform.

In Part 3, we will provide a SWOT analysis of Orpheus and discuss the competitive market that surrounds it. We will conclude with some commentary and hopefully will leave you with deep insights into who Orpheus is and what it can do.

Orpheus: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview [PRO]

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“Spend analysis” is one of the most misused terms in the solution space, especially since the exact scope of what a vendor offers with respect to spend analysis varies by vendor and the scope of what a buyer expects when they buy a spend-analysis solution varies by the buyer. You see, what a vendor offers depends upon their philosophy to analysis and where they are on the development curve with respect to that. What a buyer expects depends upon their level of procurement maturity, what they are aware of as being possible with a modern spend analysis tool, and their level of master data maturity.

You see, "spend analysis" has been, is and will be defined in various ways by various vendors. Depending on the vendor, it could be defined as:

* An extensive set of canned reports across a defined data set
* User Defined Reports and Views on a static ROLAP Cube
* Dynamic Cube Construction and View Creation on a pre-defined data set
* Dynamic Cube Construction and Federation on an extensible, user defined data set

Depending on the provider, it may or may not include:

* Data Consolidation and Cleansing
* Data Enrichment
* Data Classification and Categorization
* Data Synchronization with Source Systems

And depending on the provider philosophy, the classification may be:

* Rules-based
* Automated using statistical / clustering / neural networks
* Machine learning that adjusts the rules to improve the classification over time
* Hybrid approach that does auto-classification and allows for pre-classification using fixed rules and post-classification for mapping corrections
* Machine learning that identifies fixed, deterministic classification rules that are applied with user defined rules for all classification

And the data may or may not be limited to:

* Integrated data sources in the platform that the analysis tool is integrated into
* Integrated data sources, pre-integrated ERP and select API feeds
* A data lake maintained by the provider
* Any data you can push into the data lake it is configured to work on

And so on. In other words, what a vendor offers when they offer spend analysis varies by the vendor, and what a buyer might get can vary widely.

So in this three-part Spend Matters Pro Vendor Snapshot on Orpheus, we will try to leave you with a clear understanding of exactly what Orpheus offers with respect to spend analysis and whether they might be the right provider for you.

In Part 1, we will provide a brief company overview and a look at Oprheus' main offerings.

For Part 2, we will provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and maybe not so good) about the solution.

In Part 3, we’ll offer a high-level SWOT analysis, some market implications and a summary.

Q3 2019 SolutionMap Release Notes: Source-to-Pay Suites

This Spend Matters SolutionMap Insider release note provides insight into the Q3 2019 SolutionMap release for Source-to-Pay, reviewing the process that we followed for this quarter’s release.

The providers in the Q3 2019 Source-to-Pay SolutionMap include Coupa, Determine, GEP, Ivalua, SynerTrade and Zycus. All of these providers were required to participate in SolutionMap for each underlying module, as well. These individual areas include Sourcing, Spend and Procurement Analytics, Supplier Relationship Management & Risk, Contract Lifecycle Management, E-Procurement and Invoice-to-Pay. All of these providers are also included in the individual Strategic Procurement Technologies (SPT) and Procure-to-Pay (P2P) suite views.

SAP Ariba did not update their scoring and, as a result, had their scores adjusted based on a common shift factor (that preserves positional integrity relative to peers) and any platform updates, or lack thereof, that the analysts have received since the last time the RFIs were filled out. We expect them to participate in upcoming releases.

The Source-to-Pay customer data set is composed of a subset of the 831 individual organization references included in the overall SolutionMap scoring as of Q3 2019*.

This SolutionMap Insider research note provides insight into the nature of the expanded RFI, methodology, customer references and additional changes in the Q3 2019 SolutionMap release.

(SolutionMap Insider members: access the Q3 Provider Scoring Summary reports right here.)

*Customers using more than one module that a vendor provides can opt to fill out a single survey within each individual suite area (e.g., a customer using two modules for P2P and four modules for SPT would need to fill out only two surveys).

Sievo’s customer reviews are in the new SolutionMap Customer Insights report

This week’s SolutionMap Customer Insights report focuses on customer reviews for Sievo, a top provider that analyzes business spend data. The applicable SolutionMap category for this report is in Spend and Procurement Analytics. SolutionMap Insider members can click the link in this article to read about Sievo in our latest report. In each Customer Insights report, we provide a one-page summary of data from the SolutionMap peer review process. It includes ratings on how well the vendor meets user expectations, three key differentiators for the vendor and a list of quotes about the vendor’s greatest strengths.

Recovery Audits Keep Your Business Churning and Money Leakage in Check

The complexity of today’s business environment — from siloed processes and disparate technology to constant changes like mergers, staff reductions, new software implementations and vendor turnover — can leave organizations susceptible to millions of dollars in leakage, even with tightly controlled accounts payable processes in place.

Perfecting the accounts payable process for every transaction can be a costly, time-consuming exercise, one that can reduce employee productivity and slow down daily business operations.

For finance leaders, establishing a streamlined AP process doesn’t have to mean leaving money on the table. In this article we’ll explore how a recovery audit can help companies gain greater insights into their losses and discover strategies for delivering substantial sums back to their bottom line.

Simfoni’s customer reviews are in the new SolutionMap Customer Insights report

This week’s SolutionMap Customer Insights report focuses on customer reviews for Simfoni, a top provider that analyzes business spend data. The applicable SolutionMap category for this report is in Spend and Procurement Analytics. SolutionMap Insider members can click the link above to read about Simfoni in our latest report. In each Customer Insights report, we provide a one-page summary from the SolutionMap peer review process. It includes ratings on how well the vendor meets user expectations, three key differentiators for the vendor and a list of quotes about the vendor’s greatest strengths.

Scooters on a business trip? T&E reports show popularity of Uber, Grubhub and new companies

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As business travelers and employees file travel-and-expense reports, they rack up a lot of receipts — and data, which gives a snapshot of how people are using ride-shares and food delivery services like Uber and Grubhub as well as documenting the rise of electric scooters for rent, oddly enough.

After assessing 10 million T&E reports every quarter in its spend management system, Certify has determined that Uber remains the most-expensed vendor — with Starbucks, Lyft, Amazon and Delta rounding out the top 5.

Find out what else Certify’s SpendSmart report for Q2 2019 reveals.