The Supplier Performance Category

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 7 — SRM Technology Components) [PRO]

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This series has explored the various aspects of a modern strategic procurement system that enables both enterprise-level programs and procurement-led programs and processes. We’ve explored in gory detail the elements for strong analytics, user experiences and agile architectures. The series began with strategic sourcing to illustrate that properly supported category management can be a pretty tall order. Within category management, we went from basic program management requirements that were quite demanding to in-depth program management requirements that, on the surface, might seem impossible to the average procurement software company, as well as analytics requirements that, at the present time, excludes most of the current vendors from the market. 

These requirements from a business standpoint are not unreasonable, but although the ability for most providers to meet them is certainly a work-in-progress, the value in doing so is compelling. Strategic personnel can truly do strategic functions, not spend their days filling out virtual paper and transcribing data. The biggest cost in procurement is the opportunity cost of wasting a professional’s time on firefighting, pushing paper, wrangling bad spend data amd “googling” for new suppliers, rather than creating the 5X–10X ROI that goes along with strategic procurement. 

But turning the tables is not easy. Take the last example from the list above regarding supplier discovery. Today's supplier networks are generally “walled gardens” built to support suppliers within the network, not to help buyers find suppliers beyond the network. This would require new approaches to supplier networks — and new technology building blocks. That’s why, in this post, we are addressing what those critical building blocks are.

5 Reasons Supply Base Rationalization Can Be the Enemy of Effective Procurement Spend Management

category management

Traditionally, procurement organizations have been advised to consolidate their supplier base (with the handful of suppliers with the greatest percentage of purchases), negotiate strong contractual discounts and encourage their employees to purchase from these preferred vendors at the prenegotiated pricing. On the surface, rationalizing an organization’s supply base can seem like an effective way to improve procurement performance. By rationalizing the number of suppliers that enterprises work with, procurement leaders can reduce costs, improve quality and save the time of procurement teams who are too often lost in the arduous process of managing indirect tail spend. However, due to the rise of more advanced B2B e-commerce platforms and highly volatile pricing fluctuations for products, the supplier consolidation strategy is quickly becoming outdated.

APEX Analytix: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis [PRO]

data analytics

APEX Analytix is far more than just a recovery audit and spend analysis software provider. It’s also a specialist in supplier management. This third and final installment of our Vendor Snapshot covering APEX Analytix’s supplier management solution provides a SWOT analysis of the company along with a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also offers recommended shortlist candidates that can serve as alternative vendors to APEX, complete with solution selection guidance. Finally, this research brief provides summary analysis and recommendations for organizations considering APEX for supplier management. 

For background on APEX, we encourage you to review Part 1 of the series, which provided an in-depth look at APEX and its supplier management solution, and Part 2, which gave a detailed analysis of product strengths and weaknesses, as well as a review of the its user experience.

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

spend analytics

Better known for its broader portfolio of recovery audit, overpayment and self-audit software, APEX Analytix also offers a specialized supplier management solution. APEX provides unique, out-of-the-box capabilities that support core supplier information management (SIM), validation and financial controls, as well as working capital optimization solutions. In addition, its supplier management solution delivers the broader configurability, workflow, rules, analytics, supplier portal and associated capabilities one would expect from supplier management software.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores APEX Analytix’s strengths and weaknesses in the supplier management area specifically, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement and finance 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 APEX Analytix. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

GEP vs. SAP Ariba: Supplier Management Head-to-Head Technology Evaluation and Comparison

A decade ago, supplier management solutions had not even established themselves as an independent category of procurement software. At the time, Aravo was fighting for credibility as the only focused solution in the space. But today, supplier management is more than established — it is one the core components of both procurement suites and specialist solutions, many of which tend to excel in specific functional areas.

Within the supplier management software market, GEP and SAP Ariba go head-to-head as two suite providers with functional capabilities at or above the benchmark for the Q2 2018 Supplier Management SolutionMap. While nearly all potential GEP and SAP Ariba customers will evaluate supplier management in the context of a suite selection — GEP is even adamant that it does not sell “modules” — supplier management is an important factor in an increasing number of source-to-pay suite selections. But how do the two companies stack up against each other in a head-to-head bout?

Join us in this unfiltered SolutionMap results analysis from our Q2 2018 dataset, along with the commentary of the Spend Matters analyst team. These “Head-to-Head” columns share the insights of each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider Subscribers, providing unique comparative cuts of SolutionMap benchmark data along with the trademark quips that Spend Matters was better known for in its early years. So buckle your seat belt, prepare for some real data and expect a few sparks to fly as we pit GEP and SAP Ariba against each other in the supplier management software evaluation ring.

Not yet an Insider member? Here’s a preview: In the majority of supplier management categories — which include master data management (MDM), supplier information management (SIM), supplier portal, supplier initiative management, technology, configurability and services — SAP Ariba comes out on top (sometimes convincingly so). But GEP shines in specific areas that could tip the scales in cases when a broader suite, managed services or BPO selection is involved.

Overall, the results suggest that the right solution will vary based on different initiative and organizational requirements — and how much “heavy lifting” procurement or AP organizations want to take on to enable supplier management versus working with a partner. There’s no debate that supplier management solutions will reward procurement organizations that tailor provider selection to their specific needs and even specific supplier management initiative requirements.

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Procurement Begins with Sourcing: The myConnXion Story

To understand procurement and sourcing as a buyer, we must start with the supplier. Small and diverse businesses are often cited as being more nimble, innovative and cost effective, but are often most strained in resources. Suppliers have to register their profiles with many different buyers (sometimes paying to do so, for buyers who adopt the pay-to-play model) and may not even get a contract as a result of their efforts. On the other side, many buyers end up with outdated supplier information and expired diversity certifications, contaminating their supplier database with inaccurate data. Sourcing with unreliable information hampers the abilities of procurement professionals and negatively impacts bottom line.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 6 — An Introduction to SRM Programs) [PRO]

Global Risk Management Solutions

In our last set of posts, we addressed the basic requirements for any organization that wants to stand up a modern application to support sourcing programs that not only have a great user experience but are also backed by deep analytics. We went from basic program management requirements all the way to those that might seem near impossible to the average provider. We assure you they are not, although the chances of many providers meeting them are improbable, as we are requiring big leaps in typical back-office platform functionality.

But this is absolutely necessary. When people say that the creative process is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, the corollary is that for the average procurement professional, business processes are 10% strategic and 90% tactical. Not a good use of a highly educated individual's time. The tables have to be flipped so that strategic personnel can truly do strategic functions, not spend their days wrangling spend data, searching for new suppliers, assembling supplier qualification documents or doing manual contract review.

Changing this is not easy, especially because of the wide variety of programs that an SRM manager needs to implement. To crystalize the need for such extensive capabilities, we discuss some typical projects and how the technology-enabled experience needs to change for each SRM program.

Building the Business Case for Managing Suppliers With Technology: 7 ROI Levers (Part 2 — Supply Risk Management) [PRO]


Thus far in this series we have examined six levers procurement organizations can pull, both at the front-end of the supplier lifecycle and those in the active phase of supplier management, to build a business case for managing suppliers with technology. In the case of the former, we focused on business case components for supplier search and discovery, supplier onboarding, and supplier enablement. In the latter, we examined contract compliance and enforcement, compliance and credentialing, and supplier performance management.

All of these areas can form core components of a supplier management business case. But on a standalone basis, thousands of global companies have already invested in data sources, specialized software or a combination of the two to monitor at least certain elements of supplier risk outside of these other supplier management areas. Indeed, of the seven levers organizations can pull in building a business case for managing suppliers through technology, supplier risk management — and broader supply risk management — is the one that is often most put to use.

In today’s installment, we zero in on the seventh supplier management business case lever, introducing business case and enabling technology considerations for supplier risk management. We discuss select solution components within this area, as well as high-level ROI considerations. Later in the series, we will provide more detailed ROI model inputs and ranges procurement teams can use in building a business case in each of these areas.

Spend Matters PRO clients can also contact their client services representative for an interactive Excel-based ROI model that can serve as the basis for building supplier management business cases.

Building the Business Case for Managing Suppliers With Technology: 7 ROI Levers (Part 1 — Active Supplier Management) [PRO]

category management

The return on investment (ROI) for supplier management does not have to be nebulous. With limited effort, procurement organizations can build a compelling business case for supplier management either as a component of broader source-to-pay implementations or on a standalone basis, as well as to develop specific KPIs to measure overall program savings and ongoing cost avoidance.

In the first two installments of this series, we introduce the primary ROI levers of supplier management technology initiatives. Our introduction to the topic explored the three levers at the front-end of the supplier lifecycle that can form the foundation of a business case. Today we continue our exploration of the seven primary ROI levers, with an emphasis on those in the “active” phase of supplier management efforts. These include contract compliance and enforcement, compliance and credentialing, and performance and risk management. Later in the series, we will provide more detailed ROI model inputs and ranges procurement teams can use in building a business case in each of these areas.

When you’ve got your supplier management business case ready, check out the latest Spend Matters Supplier Management SolutionMap to see how supplier management solutions such as Aravo, ConnXus, Determine, GEP, HICX, Ivalua, Jaggaer, SAP Ariba, State of Flux, SynerTrade and Zycus stack up in each of the areas we pinpoint as savings levers.

Spend Matters PRO practitioner clients can also contact their client services representative for an interactive Excel-based ROI model which can serve as one of the basis for building supplier management business cases.

Building the Business Case for Managing Suppliers with Technology: 7 ROI Levers (Introduction) [PRO]

If Rodney Dangerfield had ever worked in procurement, he would have been in charge of supplier management. While supplier management does get some respect, the late Dangerfield certainly would have agreed it does not get the respect it deserves.

Part of the challenge in garnering respect for supplier management is that it touches on so many workstreams, processes and business functions. And we’ve got to say, it’s also not as sexy as spend analytics, strategic sourcing, contract management or even spend management. Compounding these challenges is that few procurement, finance and shared services organizations have earnestly attempted to develop a business case and ROI model for investing in supplier management on an end-to-end basis. But trust us: If you do, you’ll run (not walk) to doing it right.

This Spend Matters PRO research series aims to both demystify the business benefits of doing supplier management “right” and help organizations build a business case to invest in supplier management processes, as well as supporting software. It also explores the ROI drivers organizations might consider in creating their own business case for rolling out a supplier management solution or building on investments they’ve already made.

In the first two installments of this series, we introduce the primary ROI levers of supplier management, starting first with those at the front end of the supplier lifecycle that can help with building a business case. Later in the series, we will provide more detailed ROI model inputs and ranges that can be used in building a business case in each of these areas.

Spend Matters PRO clients can also contact their client services representative for an interactive Excel-based ROI model that can serve as the basis for building supplier management business cases.

Aravo: What Makes It Great (Supplier Management SolutionMap Analysis)

Aravo is both a pioneer and a survivor. Not only was Aravo the first specialized supplier management software provider to deliver unique capabilities outside of previously established procurement and GRC solution areas, it also emerged, over a decade, as a leader in the new space it carved out itself.

Today Aravo has a strong focus on targeted supplier management technology areas, including third-party risk management, anti-bribery and corruption, data security and privacy, and responsible sourcing. As the Spend Matters Q2 2018 Supplier Management SolutionMap illustrates, Aravo delivers above-the-benchmark functional capability across these and dozens of other key supplier management requirements. Its SolutionMap performance provides compelling evidence that the provider is a must-shortlist candidate for the majority of supplier management buying scenarios.

“What Makes It Great” is a recurring column that shares insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider Subscribers. Based on both our rigorous evaluation process and customer reference reviews, each brief offers quick facts on the provider, describes where it excels, provides hard data on where it beats the SolutionMap benchmark and concludes with a checklist for ideal customer scenarios in which procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should consider it.

Finalizing the Business Case for SRM Investment

Spend Matters welcomes this guest series from Sean Harley, co-founder and CEO of LUPR. 

In this final entry in our blog series on developing the business case for investment in supplier relationship management (SRM) capabilities, we bring together all of the various elements we’ve discussed in the preceding blogs. We’ll also be responding to reader feedback in the comments section. The business case for SRM must be based on a diverse and complementary suite of benefits directly supporting your organization’s business strategy, whether through hard dollar estimates or other means.