Intake &
Orchestration Solutions

An In-Depth Guide

What are Intake and Orchestration Solutions? Definitions

Intake solutions aim to provide a user-friendly, fit-for-purpose data collection process to route, communicate and execute procurement requests by the business, with no-code workflows, simple UI, centralized triggers and visibility.

Orchestration solutions are the connective tissue between workflow actions across tools — starting with effective intake processes to tracking progress and facilitating the fulfillment of each step (even if the steps are in a different system or department).

As such, intake sits at the front end and tracks progress, and orchestration (which may include intake capabilities) delivers enhanced workflows to execute processes effectively.

Intake processes are often seen as cumbersome by the business, taking a one-fits-all approach (lengthy surveys and ineffective support resources) and lacking transparency. Business users often wrestle with adoption, yet the process owners (procurement, legal, finance and data security) need adherence to ensure policy compliance to avoid undue risk and rogue spending.

Intake and orchestration (I&O) solutions offer a user-friendly approach to guiding employees through cross-functional procurement approval processes and workflows, adjusting complexity dynamically based on the request with progress visibility along the way and high adoption. 

Intake and Orchestration Solutions — Why Now?

In the era of technology permeating all aspects of human life, with an expectation of ‘instant gratification’ and intuitive design, the importance of having a good user experience also carries over into our business practices. Our attention span, patience and willingness to invest time and effort have grown shorter. It’s no wonder business users are dissatisfied with traditional procurement intake processes or the lack of integration and user complexities of source-to-pay (S2P) applications.

As procurement and other functions have sought to create more value by aligning better with internal stakeholders and users, the role of ‘intake’ has become increasingly popular. The concept has existed for years within procurement but has been aspirational only and weakly implemented within the source-to-pay software market. This has led to a clutter of functionalities for requisition management, stakeholder/demand management, procurement service/‘help desk’ requests and more, all of which are disconnected from other needed partner functions (IT, HR, Compliance, Security and Finance). 

Procurement is not alone here. Other functions also struggle to bring a consumerized multi-channel user experience to internal users. While IT and shared services groups have been more advanced with service management systems, these don’t tend to support robust S2P processes that drive high economic value and extend unified process interactions out to the supplier/third-party base.

As such, you may intuitively understand that intake solutions likely also require (a level of) orchestration automation, breaking down silos between applications and reducing complexity in managing spend and suppliers. Orchestration solutions facilitate task and data workflows across functions (people and systems) from a single access point with progress visibility to get requests done faster and efficiently.

The demand by procurement leaders for this ‘internal CRM’ type of stakeholder/demand management functionality within a fragmented application landscape has prompted the productization of I&O management. The rapid growth of this market segment is due to how it immediately resonates with practitioners.

How Intake and Orchestration Solutions Factor into Procurement Workflows

Intake management inherently supports some level of orchestration, starting with the stakeholder user. Primarily, though, it serves as a common business application/UX on the front-end of the end-to-end processes to manage the upfront processes that include both reactive service/request management and proactive stakeholder/demand management.

In other words, orchestration tends to sit above and across all relevant process-specific applications, and intake management sits in front of other process-specific applications, e.g., S2P and service management. Intake management does not necessarily occur within orchestration systems. Intake management is the first application in the journey, but it is not the only one. Intake focuses on receiving and processing requests; orchestration focuses on automated coordination and management of systems, services and workflows. 

Some solutions cover both intake and orchestration, while others focus exclusively on one. While both intake and orchestration are growing areas, part of the reason intake management is the ‘hotter’ segment is that it aligns procurement, IT and other functions to their stakeholder ‘customers’ up front in the process, allowing those end users to continue using their preferred systems (and it also helps these functions to better integrate/coordinate their internal services to stakeholders rather than appearing to conflict).

Below you find a visualization of how Intake and Orchestration solutions factor into existing procurement processes.

At Spend Matters, we focus on procurement-enabling orchestration solutions (rather than organization-wide applications). While Procurement is the face of intake processes, I&O solutions solve business and procurement problems. Both allow teams and organizations to get work done faster with a unified user experience, but it’s never just a ‘snap of your fingers,’ is it?

Spend Matters analysts spend their days assessing what I&O solutions can and can’t do. We’ve witnessed demos of many I&O solutions and can help you discern between truly new capabilities and re-packaged legacy solutions. Let us guide you as you come up to speed with what these solutions can do for you, help you make a business case and identify the best solutions for your organization.

Read on to find out more or, if you want some impartial advice, contact us.

Intake and Orchestration Solutions Differentiators

‘Intake processes’ themselves aren’t new, and every organization has a number of established workflows. It becomes interesting when you try to differentiate the capabilities of new versus legacy intake solutions (and services), as well as distinguishing between the new solutions in terms of depth, breadth and specialties, such as regions served, verticals, underlying platforms, (Gen)AI features, use cases and integrations.

Intake Solution Benefits and Drawbacks

Intake Solution BenefitsIntake Solution Drawbacks
Improved business user adoption & satisfaction due to:
  • Ease of use
  • Process/workflow visibility
  • Fit-for-purpose data gathering
Requires investment and buy-in across partners including IT and any functions involved in intake processes (i.e., legal, security, finance, risk/compliance/governance) and cannot be done in isolation
Centralized demand capture, routing, communication yielding process efficiencies between business users and all process partners, i.e., effective guided buying, user process adoption, shortened workflows, cross-functional collaboration, stakeholder engagement and supplier management practicesCan create bottlenecks as intake is about increasing the involvement of procurement, and the increase in ‘demands’ may overload teams
Yields increased spend under management and complianceOverlap and process duplication: by nature, intake applications take care of a portion of a process (the stakeholder request capture and its qualification/routing) that may overlap with the application that is used to execute the process (e.g., intake for purchase request vs. guided buying in a P2P app, intake for supplier creation vs SxM app)
Reduction in human support needsContract considerations regarding AI data security concerns
Process and performance analytics to better understand future requests and best practices

You probably agree that intake cannot be uncoupled from orchestration, or rather, intake cannot be fully effective unless the workflows are automatically moved through the process which requires oversight and visibility, data capture, system integrations (with the current tech stack) and a single user platform (versus multiple) — enter ‘Orchestration solutions.’

As mentioned, orchestration is about being the connective tissue, connecting multiple apps to ensure information is flowing and that there is an end-to-end view (in the orchestration app). In addition, it increases agility (process change, and underlying solution change).

Orchestration Solution Benefits and Drawbacks

Orchestration Solution BenefitsOrchestration Solution Drawbacks
Increased agility in advancing through process workflowsAnother layer on top of existing tech stack and possible overlap (what is done where, syncing challenge) between the orchestration and underlying applications
Easy and quick process/workflow changes: configurability without IT or third-party involvement (low- to no-code)Requires buy-in (and investment) from IT and functional partners (i.e., finance, legal, GRC, security)
Fit-for-purpose (intake) workflows for improved efficiency (i.e., reducing data entries, errors, integrating steps)Requires investment. Also, companies with a large, existing tech stack may struggle to make the business case
Pre-built, procurement-centric business logic built into the platform (vendor-maintained)Contract considerations regarding AI data security concerns
Visibility and accountability across workflows and functional partners

Procurement Intake & Orchestration Use Cases

The most commonly understood definition of intake management pertains to the use cases of:

  • Demand capture — the demand on procurement and other groups involved in meeting stakeholder needs (especially those fulfilled by suppliers).
  • Triage — determining the nature of demand and guiding how to manage it.
  • Tracking — actively monitoring the process and notifying process participants.
  • Resolution — the actual accomplishment of what diverse stakeholder groups need in terms of their desired objectives and the associated use cases.

Although these are the primary aspects of intake, the market is broader than late-stage procurement support/service requests by employees. Intake also includes proactive, procurement-led stakeholder engagement and process/performance analytics to better understand future demand and requests (i.e., supporting early demand visibility and influence that is a proven benchmarked best practice).

For procurement, intake management is not just about requisitioning. It is about optimally seeing and channeling inbound demand into the S2P process that eventually flows into payments, sourcing, contracting, supplier management or general procurement support. This gives end users a single point of engagement with accountability for and visibility into the entire procurement process. Intake solutions centralize stakeholder requests and help eliminate the need for end users to hunt for FAQs, policy documents and/or other employees. This also addresses ‘application fatigue,’ as stakeholders who solely need to make requests can now do so from one application experience.

The paradigm to date has largely focused on simplistic guided buying and category-specific ‘e-forms.’ The intake process, however, also transcends coarse-grained purchase requisitioning. Intake does not just add better process visibility and procurement engagement. It includes budget management, workload planning (e.g., sourcing/contracting for planned new deals and renewals), IT InfoSec checks and other use cases (see table below) that integrate with previously disjointed systems to enable real stakeholder-centric buying guidance/execution — hence, ‘orchestration.’ By connecting these systems (and by proxy, different departments within organizations), the overall process is made more efficient and more effective, e.g., supporting spend category management objectives to lower total cost and risk.

In simple terms, intake management solutions use interactive inquiries to understand needs, triage requests, determine the needed guidance and ultimately solve the problem through interactive and integrated workflows. They should help:

  • Determine what the end user is trying to achieve with forms and also interactive questionnaires and — as generative AI functionalities like ChatGPT continue to enter the picture — intelligent conversational chatbots.
  • Auto-triage the request or, if necessary, pass the user onto a ‘help/service desk’ for human-based assistance or to another system, e.g., a category-specific solution such as a contingent workforce application.
  • Interoperate with S2P resources that may not be formally managed by procurement resources (such as IT service management, HR, VMS, supplier systems, BPO/MSP or MDM) and coordinate the processes between the systems.
  • Pursue orchestration within the intake process until the user request/demand is met by passing control to a business application in S2P, service management, etc. and/or connecting with other corporate IT tools for real-time feedback for the original requestor, even when some steps are completed in other applications. These other tools can include RPA, iPaaS, process mining, low-code, analytics and data management.

Provide some level of ongoing process orchestration and analytics to support transformation efforts that drive further upstream into stakeholder/demand management and further downstream into execution. The transformation should evolve processes from coarse-grained operating models, e.g., binary purchasing involvement, pre-set n-step sourcing processes and crude ‘mega category’ support for services or tail spend, to more fine-grained and continuously refined approaches.

Cross-functional Use Cases for Intake and Orchestration Solutions

Intake solutions are ideal for organizations that have siloed software and processes but want to serve up cross-functionally integrated digital workflows to employees, such as for the following scenarios:

Intake use cases

Intake channel Example use cases Typical level of procurement involvement
HR (internal employees)Employee onboarding and offboarding process including smartphone provisioning, facility badging, corporate card access, etc.
HR (external employees)Requesting and managing contingent workers from staffing agencies, MSPs, service firms, talent marketplaces, or directly from independent contractors
ITOnboarding/offboarding, provisioning of laptops, SaaS licenses (productivity applications, eProcurement access, T&E, etc.) based on roles/permissions
CRMSupporting customer-facing areas of marketing, sales, and customer service that may also integrate to suppliers that provide third-party services/goods into those workflows
FinanceAccess to financial information such as remaining spendable budgets (and future budgets), in-process spending, FP&A process support, etc.
LegalAccess to commercial information such as upcoming supplier contract renewals (backward-scheduled dates, notification windows, obligation triggers), performance reporting, etc.
Center of excellenceRequesting resources for project/program management, digital support, internal consulting/training, innovation, ESG, market intelligence, and other areas that may require third-party provider integrations
ProcurementBuying products/services from suppliers/regular purchase management alongside a robust set of business requirements/rules (e.g., category-specific strategies, digitally-enabled operating models)

Developing an optimal enterprise-wide intake management strategy and associated digital strategy (i.e., the optimal mix of various applications and underlying digital platform components) and vendor approach is a broad and deep topic (contact us if you want to delve deeper). Better intake management alone is limited as it only improves the individual user experience. As such, functions, actions and tech need to be granularly integrated to collectively better serve joint stakeholders. Here are some examples of procurement orchestration use cases:

Orchestration use cases

ModuleExample use cases
SourcingPushing an intake request to a sourcing solution with little to no data entry (automated carryover of data) AND to get awards from the sourcing solution into the initial request
Supplier managementPushing an intake request to create or update a supplier in the supplier management master AND getting the relevant metadata/master data from the supplier management solution to drive/influence the intake process (e.g., supplier status, type, etc.)
Spend analyticsPushing KPIs/data to an analytics solution to allow reporting in that application AND getting the relevant data from the analytics solution to drive/influence the intake process (spend, performance, etc.)
Contract lifecycle managementPushing an intake request to a contract lifecycle management solution that creates/initiates a new contract in the solution, with the original intake/orchestration solution receiving real-time updates on contract status
AP automationPushing an invoice capture (intake) toward its digitization, matching, validation, and approval activities that would require collaboration among various stakeholders (both internal and external); drawing information from multiple systems/sources (e.g., POs, GRs, contracts, GL codes, taxes, etc.); optionally integrating with government tax systems for compliance purposes
Payments/early paymentsPushing an intake payment or early payment request toward the optimal payment method (card, ACH, ETF, cross-border, etc.); ensuring that all process/information/validation/approval/risk prerequisites are met irrespective of whether other internal/external stakeholders/systems are involved; connecting with the appropriate bank for payment transaction and subsequent monitoring
Payments/financePushing an intake request toward the optimal purchasing method (catalog-based, punchout, e-form, etc.); prefilling necessary information from various sources, confirming the supplier, and optionally ensuring the presence of the contract; incorporating automated guides for the user and integrating third-party information or activities seamlessly with other systems

Orchestration use cases (advanced)

ModuleExample use cases
SourcingIn an advanced use case, the orchestration goes deeper in the amount of information passed to/from sourcing. This may include detailed supplier information (performance, risk, etc.) to correctly scope the suppliers to be included in the RFX, and detailed bid information from the RFX for the next process steps (contracting, PO, etc.)
Supplier managementIn an advanced use case, the orchestration covers more than intake (e.g., creation of a new supplier) to constantly update supplier information (including scorecards and 360° views) with a complete and real-time picture. Also, changes in the supplier management solution (e.g., supplier status and qualification) are propagated to other solutions, as they are key drivers of other processes (sourcing, ordering, etc.)
Spend analyticsIn an advanced use case, the orchestration covers master data management. Any changes (e.g., mappings) of data in any system (supplier management, analytics) is orchestrated and distributed to ensure alignment
Contract lifecycle managementIn an advanced use case, the orchestration extends to visibility into contract risks, obligations, etc. with necessary approvals and insights available within the orchestration solution
AP automationIn an advanced use case, the process begins with automated invoice capture and validation against rules and historical data. Complex matching, including PO-based coding, is seamlessly managed with efficient exception handling. The solution integrates seamlessly with the ERP system
Payments/early paymentsIn an advanced use case, eligible invoices are identified through data analytics, considering factors like payment history and supplier relationships. The system automates invoice selection for early payment, using dynamic discounting or SCF programs. Orchestration involves real-time communication with financial institutions, and the workflow integrates into the existing AP process with comprehensive reporting for insights into cash flow optimization and program success
Payments/financeIn an advanced use case, the system automates the entire payment lifecycle. The orchestrated workflows ensure regulatory compliance and alignment with the organization’s payment strategy. Capabilities include dynamic routing, considering factors like urgency and cost optimization, and detailed reporting to minimize delays
E-procurementIn an advanced use case, a corporation can streamline supplier onboarding, centralize a dynamic product catalog, and automate strategic sourcing events. The system manages purchase requisitions, orchestrates approvals, and ensures accuracy through automated three-way invoice matching. It extends orchestration to payment authorization, integrating seamlessly with finance

The implementation of an intake management or orchestration solution requires a certain level of organizational maturity, as a well-defined and documented process with quality data will combine to generate the most value from the solution.

Core solution capabilities to consider

Spend Matters is leveraging its in-depth assessments of intake and orchestration solution vendors to identify and define detailed RFx requirements for SolutionMap (the Spend Matters proprietary, comparative procurement technology dataset based on solution capability and customer experience ratings). You can expect the addition of the Intake and Orchestration SolutionMap category come Spring 2025.

But you don’t have to wait until then to benefit from our unbiased vendor assessments. Start consulting the in-depth vendor analyses, and engage us to help you scout for your best-fit solution (including a current state assessment of your organization, RFx and selection advisory).

Core considerations of an Intake solution

Intake solution assessments must include an exploration of the following:

  • Ease of use
  • Dynamic (AI-based) workflow/routing adjustments by user
  • (Native) external integrations
  • (Native) regional adjustments
  • Level of user guidance
  • Dynamic user display/process visibility
  • Dynamic compliance assessment based on request scope
  • Dynamic request assignments based on master data points
  • Ability for procurement (or functional partner) to alter a (sub)process
  • Automatic data validation, system recommendations and reassignments
  • Enablement of collaboration across functional partner stakeholders and suppliers
  • Automated alerts and notifications capabilities
  • Ability to communicate through the solution with users and stakeholders
  • Automatic approval designations based on intake information
  • Support for parallel, progressive and/or third-party-generated approval workflows

Core considerations of an Orchestration solution

In addition to the above intake features, Orchestration solution considerations include the following:

  • Level of (end-to-end) visibility of the entire request (via automated permissions)
  • Visual audit trail across orchestration solution or third-party platform
  • Interoperability with other applications
  • Data integrity and consistency processes between integrated systems
  • Built-in UX components for smooth handover for tasks that can only be completed from a connected application
  • Multi-system communication options (e.g., messaging from a connected application)

Back-end and Administrative considerations may include the following:

  • Ability for administrators to adjust workflows without coding expertise
  • Level of built-in procurement semantics and modules
  • Native (data-flow) integrations to other systems (i.e., ERP, CRM, buy-tech tools, collaboration/communication apps) and ease of integration
  • Level of data integrity, consistency and ability to write back to the system of record with integrated solutions
  • Depth of reporting capabilities

Discover Intake and Orchestration Vendors

These are the vendors we are covering today (or very soon). Visit their vendor directory pages on Spend Matters for a quick vendor overview, demographic information and relevant articles including vendor analyses.

Solution Provider Focus Why it matters
AcadaOrchestrationAcada offers project portfolio management with a focus on indirect procurement and narrow intake capabilities for UK-based organizations.
ConvergentISIntakeConvergentIS connects to SAP Ariba’s guided buying module to supplement SAP’s intake capabilities. It leverages AI to generate questions and tailor guided buying scenarios.
Focal PointIntake and orchestrationFocal Point’s procurement intake, collaboration, execution and performance management modules cover the entire scope of the procurement department’s day-to-day functions via configurable, workflow-based collaboration.
LevelpathIntakeLevelpath’s solution covers intake and project management, offers a supplier portal to make procurement easy to work with and is taking an AI- and mobile-first approach to guide stakeholders to the right path.
OmneaIntake and orchestrationIn addition to typical intake capabilities, Omnea’s risk-management capabilities uses an AI-driven recommendation engine to resolve spend optimization and supplier oversight issues.
OpstreamIntakeSuited for services and SaaS purchasing intake needs, Opstream offers valuable insights during the requisition process and robust vendor management capabilities.
ORO LabsIntake and orchestrationORO Labs offers an easy-to-use procurement front-end for business users, suppliers and functional stakeholders by bringing speed, visibility and compliance at scale in the end-to-end processes.
PipefyOrchestrationPipefy’s custom workflow solution focuses on procurement and HR’s needs.
PivotIntakePivot focuses on simplifying various procurement, accounting and legal processes and offers an intake solution.
ProductivSaaS management and intakeProductiv automates SaaS intake, renewal and management processes.
ServiceNowService management, intake and orchestrationServiceNow provides a user-friendly portal for all types of requests (beyond procurement and with a focus on IT and services) that also automates repetitive tasks and orchestrates workflows.
TonkeanIntake and orchestrationTonkean gathers requests from any source, e.g., the solution itself, emails, messaging interfaces and so on, and offers centralization, automation- and rules-based triage and more. It has a partnership with Coupa.
TropicSaaS management and intakeTropic’s SaaS management and purchasing solution has intelligent intake forms to streamline requests across all categories.
Service managementWorkday’s procurement management offering includes a request (intake) module with which business end users can submit requests directly in the solution to be turned into projects or go straight into sourcing events.
ZipIntake and orchestrationZip facilitates the intake-to-procure process with guided forms and low- and no-code workflows for organizations to initiate any request type, including purchase, contract, vendor, contractor and payment.
Zoho (Qntrl)OrchestrationZoho’s Qntrl workflow automation solution offers procurement orchestration.

Solution Provider?

Are you an Intake and/or Orchestration solution provider and want to be included in our research? Create your free vendor directory listing to get started (followed by our own intake RFI and demo process).