Procurement Technology - Premium Content

What’s the Price: Expert product cost management vendor review — a PRO Collab brief [PRO]

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Editor’s note: This vendor review of What's the Price is the first in our "PRO Collab" series. Spend Matters will be inviting our expert friends in the industry to collaborate with us and complement our PRO coverage of the procurement, finance and supply chain solution landscape. Eric Hiller, the most knowledgeable person we’ve ever met in the product cost management sector, will kick off our Pro Collab initiative with his perspective on how the vendor What’s the Price fits into the cost modeling landscape.

Hello there, spend analytics crowd, product cost management fans and anyone else interested in improving the bottom line!

Back in December, Spend Matters was kind enough to invite me to do a two-part series on the most popular tools for product cost management on the market today (see Part 1 and Part 2). These tools spanned a wide range of use cases, including should-costing, target costing, design for manufacturing and assembly, parametric costing, spend analytics, etc.

Those articles were written from a historical perspective, and they classified solutions into sub-groupings by how they work. We received quite a lot of positive feedback on these articles, but many readers also asked us if we could go deeper into some of these applications and what their proper uses are in driving impact to the bottom line. We want to make sure that we help everyone as much as possible, so this is the first in hopefully a larger series of these spotlights on product cost management software tools.

We're starting today with one of the youngest tools on the market, What’s the Price, or WTP.

What's the Price entered the market about 2012 as the brainchild of three founders: CFO Jan-Paul Plieger, a former CEO and supply chain economist; CEO Robert Driessen, a seasoned supply chain procurement executive; and CTO Nico Bontenbal, a software entrepreneur.

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In January, Jan-Paul and Robert welcomed me to their offices in Rossum, Netherlands, where they gave me a personal demo of the software and an in-depth explanation of how they have been able to help customers. They even were kind enough to give me a demo license to tool around in the application and put the horse through its paces.

Here’s my detailed take on the solution from a product cost management perspective.

DocuSign-Seal Software transaction analysis (Part 1): Looking at DocuSign’s CLM assets (DocuSign, SpringCM, Seal)

Spend Matters recently predicted that DocuSign, the electronic signature specialist, would buy the AI-assisted contract analytics firm Seal Software (another reason that subscribers to our PRO research are ahead of the market). As the prediction noted in January, “we can’t help but think that DocuSign will be actively looking for inorganic growth options in 2020, and Seal Software might be an obvious choice given its previous $15 million investment. DocuSign will also likely need to focus its attention to the buy-side to bring some parity to its SpringCM pickup.” And so the prediction came true. Perhaps faster than we might have guessed (although the transaction will not close until later this year).

In the coming weeks, Spend Matters Nexus will publish a series of briefs covering the transaction and what it means from a corporate strategy standpoint for DocuSign in regards to targeting CLM. Our approach will include exploring remaining gaps in buy-side CLM for DocuSign.

But let’s start today by focusing on DocuSign’s inventory of assets and what Seal brings to the table, specifically alongside SpringCM.

We’ll also tackle what Seal’s AI provides to DocuSign, and offer some initial analysis about the fallout for the competitive landscape in this brave new CLM-meets-AI-meets-“platform” world (spanning a range of providers like Icertis, Agiloft, Coupa, SAP Ariba, Conga, LegalSifter, Kira, Luminance, LawGeex, Zycus, etc.). An aside in this regard: Other buy-side providers who used Seal will now be likely looking elsewhere for CLM support for counterparty document shredding, analytics and repository creation (Seal’s partners include PwC, KPMG, E&Y, Deloitte, IBM, Coupa, SAP Ariba and many others).

Let’s dive in.

If you are new to CLM market, we recommend starting with the following research briefs:

* Seal Software: Vendor Snapshot — Part 1: Background and Solution Overview
* Part 2: Product Strengths and Weaknesses
* Part 3: Commentary and Summary Analysis
* For SolutionMap Insider subscribers, see the CLM Scoring Summary that shows where vendors rank and details their capabilities, including both pure play providers (e.g., Icertis, Agiloft, SirionLabs) and the S2P suite vendors. We’ll be adding Conga in our spring SolutionMap release in March — and then add Apttus and hopefully DocuSign (SpringCM) in the fall release. The public can see the SolutionMap CLM vendor rankings by persona here for free.
* Commercial Value Management: Making Contracts the Commercial Core of Enterprise Value (Part 1) [PRO]
* CVM (Part 2): Using Next-Generation Contract Systems to Integrate Operations, Financials, Risk and Technology [PRO]
* CVM (Part 3): Critical Commercial Use Cases to Align Extended CLM with the Enterprise [PRO]
* 2020 Predictions for Contract Management: Where the CLM Market Is Going This Year and This Decade [PRO]
* Free content: 2020 Predicaments in Contract Management: Poor Adoption, CLM Market Fragmentation and Limited Imagination
* Free content: Artificial Intelligence in Contract Management (4-part series)

2020 Procurement Predicaments and Predictions — Part 1 (Series Wrap-Up) [PRO]

As the first month in 2020 is drawing to a close, the holiday season is a distant memory and sleeves are being rolled up in earnest. As such, we’ll wrap up the Spend Matters analysts’ 2020 procurement predictions series for PRO subscribers as we look forward to this new year and new decade. We’ll first do a quick recap of our predictions in six procurement technology areas:

* Sourcing, by analyst Magnus Bergfors
* Supplier Management (SXM), by Magnus Bergfors
* Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM), by analyst Nick Heinzmann
* P2P (Procure to Pay), by analyst Xavier Olivera
* Services Procurement, by analyst Andrew Karpie
* Procurement Analytics, by analysts Michael Lamoureux and Pierre Mitchell, the series editor

For a discussion of problems in each of these areas, see the analysts’ non-subscription posts about the predicaments per category.

In this PRO brief, we’ll address some of the foundational platform elements and broader market shifts that are happening regarding areas such as low-code/no-code platforms, open source, AI, bots, mega-vendor ecosystems, microservices, analytics and other areas. These digital capabilities aren’t just happening in a vacuum, but rather, responding to:

* buyer needs for increased agility, innovation and market options to move at the pace of broader digital business transformation, but also more focused procurement needs for better analytics, supplier engagement, commercial excellence, category intelligence, etc.
* supply market changes as M&A and an influx of private equity is chasing new opportunities — especially related to AI and specific areas that are still decidedly problematic, such as services procurement, tail spend management (and guided buying), category-specific functionality, master data management and other areas.

So, in keeping with our series, let’s dive into the forecast scenarios where we think the market will respond to these buyer needs/predicaments.

2020 Predicaments and Predictions in Procurement Analytics: What’s Likely, What’s Revolutionary [PRO]

It shouldn’t be a big shock to learn that procurement analytics is a big deal right now. After procurement organizations have built some basic spend cubes (or “spent cubes”) and dashboards, they’re looking for deeper predictive insights into spend, contracts, suppliers, costs, process improvements, supply risk and other areas. In fact, analytics was by far the most cited technology area expected to have a business impact within the next two years by CPOs surveyed in the recent 2019 Deloitte Global CPO Survey.

The biggest area of interest within analytics have been:

* Self-service analytics/visualization for business stakeholders and procurement staff
* Predictive analytics for power users (e.g., for price/cost/volume forecasting)
* Performance analytics and dashboards (e.g., supplier scorecarding, category dashboards, etc.)
* Support for digital initiatives such as AI/machine learning (which is usually about focused predictive analytics problems), RPA (that either requires some analysis within a process or conversely is about helping to automate the analytic workflows), or big data analytics (e.g., using IoT sensor data from the supply chain)

The Predicaments
However, while analytics are hot, the implementation barriers can be stone cold killers:

* Poor data quality. 40% of CPOs cited the inability to generate insights and analytics because an even greater number (60%) cited poor master data quality, standardization, and governance.
* The master data quality problem is very familiar to practitioners who run any type of analytics that have to do with suppliers, items and contracts — i.e., most of them!
* Some ERP suites and procurement suites have fragmented master data within their product lines, and nearly all these solutions don’t have master data that can be used as part of an MDM-type solution (e.g., having a supplier master that can serve a true SIM solution from an MDM standpoint rather than just creating another vendor master file to add to the heap).
* Generating forward-looking insights based on external data and intelligence rather than just simple spend forensics — especially category-specific insights that are typically built from scratch.
* The struggle to create analytics that go beyond off-the-shelf operational reports from the various modules/tools in the market.
* Dashboards that are attractive, but can be visually overwhelming and not help you prioritize where the key opportunities are.
* IT organizations that may be pushing legacy data warehouses and BI tools that don’t allow more democratized analytics to be developed with an increasingly digitally savvy generation of business users and tools (that might also need to get adopted by an older generation of procurement practitioners). Data visualization and predictive analytics were the top two digital skills prioritized for procurement technology training over the next year.

In the rest of this Spend Matters PRO brief, we’ll dive into the current and future state of the procurement analytics area, and make some predictions about what we expect to see in 2020 from a market standpoint, but also a more detailed technical standpoint.

Invoice-to-Pay Tech Selection and the Turn-Key Persona: Analysis & Commentary [PRO]

The market for invoice-to-pay solutions, much like e-procurement, has grown in size and relevance to procurement organizations in recent years. We even expect the I2P market will begin to rival the EDI-based world in the 2020s, eventually overtaking it.

Despite this rapid growth, the total number of providers in this space will likely remain relatively small. As leading I2P solutions continue to grow their supplier networks, their increased clout, based on their ability to connect more and more buyers and suppliers, will impede new providers from breaking into the larger I2P market.

Yet competition will come from other fronts.

Procure-to-pay solution vendors, for example, have begun to invest significantly in developing the I2P half of their suites, rounding out transactional shopping/ordering capabilities with functionality for invoice processing and, in some cases, basic payments support. This could create competitive pressure on I2P specialists in tech selection scenarios where access to end-to-end P2P capabilities are an important criterion.

Similarly, AP automation solutions are taking a bite out of a different customer base altogether: the long underserved middle market. Small and medium-size businesses are increasingly seeing benefits to adopting software that automate invoice receipt, capture and validation processes (sometimes inclusive of payments execution), yet these customers also seem to be satisfied with an 80%, “good enough” solution in terms of functionality. This creates a new competitive dynamic for I2P solutions looking to move down market, as decisive tech selection criteria may revolve more around usability and collaboration features than supplier network breadth.

Given these different competitive fronts and the evolving needs of this market, how can companies with different technology requirements evaluate invoice-to-pay solutions amid an array of vendors with varying degrees and kinds of capabilities?

Spend Matters’ SolutionMap accounts for these differences using a persona-based approach. Each SolutionMap persona is calibrated to weight evaluation requirements so that it reflects the profile of certain kinds of buyers. For example, the “Nimble” persona reflects small and medium-size businesses that prioritize fast time-to-value and ease of use in the selections; the “CIO Friendly” persona emphasizes technical foundation and interoperability with other enterprise systems to make for a straightforward implementation.

So, what do SolutionMap personas look at in the Invoice-to-Pay rankings, and how can they help your organization make better technology decisions?

In this Spend Matters PRO series, we’ll analyze the invoice-to-pay market using our five I2P personas: Nimble, Deep, Turn-Key, Configurator and CIO Friendly. (See persona definitions* below.)

This review is organized just like our RFI for SolutionMap, according to these topics: platform capabilities, services, features & functionalities, and customer value.

Let’s look at the invoice-to-pay features and vendors as viewed by the Turn-Key persona.

E-Procurement Tech Selection and the CIO Friendly Persona: Analysis & Commentary [PRO]

The e-procurement solutions market has been growing for the last seven years. Because of this rapid growth, the market is also fragmented, with numerous vendors competing for procurement organizations’ attention. Yet no one vendor is an ideal fit for all companies, due to the unique requirements of different organizations’ sizes, industry/vertical and prior technology investments (or lack thereof).

So how can companies with different needs evaluate procurement solutions amid an array of vendors with different capabilities?

Spend Matters’ vendor rankings in SolutionMap account for these differences using a persona-based approach. Each SolutionMap persona is calibrated to weight evaluation requirements so that it reflects the profile of certain kinds of buyers. For example, the “Nimble” persona reflects small and medium-size businesses that prioritize fast time-to-value and ease of use in the selections; the “CIO Friendly” persona emphasizes technical foundation and interoperability with other enterprise systems to make for a straightforward implementation.

So what do SolutionMap personas look at for e-procurement, and how can they help your organization make better technology decisions?

In a series of PRO articles, we’ll analyze the market according to the different SolutionMap E-Procurement personas: Nimble, Deep, Configurator, Turn-Key and CIO Friendly. (See persona definitions* below.)

This review is organized just like our RFI sent to vendors that are ranked in SolutionMap, according to these topics: platform capabilities, services, features & functionalities, and customer value.

Let’s look at the e-procurement features and vendors as viewed by the CIO Friendly persona.

E-Procurement Tech Selection and the Turn-Key Persona: Analysis & Commentary [PRO]

The e-procurement solutions market has been growing for the last seven years. Because of this rapid growth, the market is also fragmented, with numerous vendors competing for procurement organizations’ attention. Yet no one vendor is an ideal fit for all companies, due to the unique requirements of different organizations’ sizes, industry/vertical and prior technology investments (or lack thereof).

So how can companies with different needs evaluate procurement solutions amid an array of vendors with different capabilities?

Spend Matters’ vendor rankings in SolutionMap account for these differences using a persona-based approach. Each SolutionMap persona is calibrated to weight evaluation requirements so that it reflects the profile of certain kinds of buyers. For example, the “Nimble” persona reflects small and medium-size businesses that prioritize fast time-to-value and ease of use in the selections; the “CIO Friendly” persona emphasizes technical foundation and interoperability with other enterprise systems to make for a straightforward implementation.

So what do SolutionMap personas look at for e-procurement, and how can they help your organization make better technology decisions?

In a series of PRO articles, we’ll analyze the market according to the different SolutionMap E-Procurement personas: Nimble, Deep, Configurator, Turn-Key and CIO Friendly. (See persona definitions* below.)

This review is organized just like our RFI sent to vendors that are ranked in SolutionMap, according to these topics: platform capabilities, services, features & functionalities, and customer value.

Let’s look at the e-procurement features and vendors as viewed by the Turn-Key persona.

5 tips on buying procurement technology (Part 3) — Find the right vendor for you [PRO]

In my Spend Matters PRO series on five tips to think about before you invest in procurement technology, we covered the need to identify the root cause for why you want to invest in procurement technology, as well as why you should learn how to walk before your run, which covers tips 2 and 3. In this, the final installment of the series, we will look at the last two recommendations.

To recap, the five tips are.
1. Identify business objectives ✅
2. Don’t try to do everything at once ✅
3. Focus on the basics first ✅
4. Select a solution and vendor that meets your requirements 5. Review and redesign processes, and perhaps even your organization, as part of the preparation and implementation

So, by now, you have identified the business objectives to why you need and want to invest in new procurement technology. You have also prioritized these objectives and planned out how to approach the implementation. Now the next step is to find the right solution(s) and implement them. So how do you do that? By having completed these first steps it becomes easier. But you still need to make sure that you find the right supplier that meets your requirements and make sure you are not led astray by vendor marketing. After that, you need to make sure the solution gets implemented properly.

Procurement Technology, Consulting Pricing Trends and Negotiation Strategies – The Times They Are a-Changin’ (Part 1) [Plus +]

Editor's note: This is a refresh of our 2012 series on solution provider pricing trends and negotiation strategies, which originally ran on Spend Matters PRO.

This 4-part series will provide a look at software provider and management consulting pricing trends and negotiation strategies within the procurement and operations area. It provides insight to buying organizations that may be helpful in negotiating with vendors such as Ariba, SAP, Oracle, Emptoris, Zycus and others, as well as recommendations for how best to engage with consultancies for price and value in the current environment.

E-Procurement Tech Selection and the Configurator Persona: Analysis & Commentary [PRO]

The e-procurement solutions market has been growing for the last seven years. Because of this rapid growth, the market is also fragmented, with numerous vendors competing for procurement organizations’ attention. Yet no one vendor is an ideal fit for all companies, due to the unique requirements of different organizations’ sizes, industry/vertical and prior technology investments (or lack thereof).

So how can companies with different needs evaluate procurement solutions amid an array of vendors with different capabilities?

Spend Matters’ vendor rankings in SolutionMap account for these differences using a persona-based approach. Each SolutionMap persona is calibrated to weight evaluation requirements so that it reflects the profile of certain kinds of buyers. For example, the “Nimble” persona reflects small and medium-size businesses that prioritize fast time-to-value and ease of use in the selections; the “CIO Friendly” persona emphasizes technical foundation and interoperability with other enterprise systems to make for a straightforward implementation.

So what do SolutionMap personas look at for e-procurement, and how can they help your organization make better technology decisions?

In a series of PRO articles, we’ll analyze the market according to the different SolutionMap E-Procurement personas: Nimble, Deep, Turn-Key, Configurator and CIO Friendly. (See persona definitions* below.)

This review is organized just like the RFI for SolutionMap, according to these topics: platform capabilities, features & functionalities, and customer value.

Let’s look at the e-procurement features and vendors as viewed by the Configurator persona.

Not all ‘digital’ transformation is the same: 6 degrees of difficulty [PRO]

Buzzwords abound out there, and a lot of common words are used by folks without necessarily having a common understanding of the meaning. For example, take the phrase “digital procurement transformation.” Even the individual words themselves alone can have different interpretations:

* Digital — Does this mean digitization of procurement processes through workflow automation, or is it something broader?
* Procurement — Is this all of source-to-pay or just procure-to-pay? Or just everything that a procurement department does, including broader supply chain efforts?
* Transformation — Can this just be incremental, continuous improvement, or does it have to be a more discontinuous transformation program?

The problem for practitioners is how to cut through the clutter of this terminology and more easily learn from others surrounding adoption of “digital” in different ways. For example, there is certainly a lot to learn just in terms of better implementation of systems for automating good old-fashioned sourcing, requisitioning, ordering, receiving and paying.

But, there are also higher order digital capabilities that go beyond just automating the proverbial cow path. For example, advanced analytics such as bid optimization can enable new sets of sourcing processes that were not really feasible before. Similarly, techniques such as community-based procurement that use technology across firms can create new value beyond automating within a single firm.

There is actually a spectrum of digital related competencies from basic source-to-pay workflow automation all the way through to procurement-enabled disruptive value chain initiatives. So, if you have mastered some of these basic capabilities for digital transformation and procurement, it is time to raise the “degree of difficulty” and see how others are faring in terms of picking the higher hanging fruit.

In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, we will outline six levels of digital procurement sophistication, and also see how more than 400 organizations stack up based on the latest research.

So You Want to Build a P2P Marketplace? An Introduction to Unique B2B Technology, Platform and Application Requirements [PRO]

Procure-to-pay (P2P) solutions do not just have to take the form of “vanilla” cloud/SaaS applications. Increasingly, organizations are becoming aware of the power of B2B marketplace models and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) models, which can enable greater flexibility to configure P2P capabilities for a combination of internal and third-party users — and in certain cases, to leverage the buying, distribution, payment / financing (in the case of banks), and supply chain assets of the marketplace sponsor to create entirely new business models through the use of technology.

In many ways, this is the realization of the vision of the original B2B marketplaces from two decades ago (e.g., Commerce One MarketSite, i2 TradeMatrix, Ariba/Tradex, Atlas Commerce, etc.), but with technology that can support the complex requirements involved in many-to-many and multi-tier collaboration models, as well as integration approaches that go beyond standard API calls.

This is B2B nirvana for procurement and supply chain geeks like us who have lived through multiple cycles of marketplace enthusiasm (madness?). The fact that a number of vendors exist today that can service these models effectively is testament to just how far technology has come in recent years. This includes not only the usual P2P best-of-breed subjects supporting these models (e.g., Basware, Coupa, Ivalua, SAP, Tradeshift, etc.) but also names you might not be familiar with as well.

This Spend Matters PRO brief provides an introduction to the types of platform and functional capabilities necessary for organizations considering building a marketplace model or leveraging an existing PaaS application ecosystem to go outside the box of standard P2P process models and operating models for internal use only.

Leveraging Spend Matters’ experience in managing the technology selection processes for marketplace initiatives and our SolutionMap vendor RFI requirements, our analysis introduces a range of platform and application requirements that companies should consider when evaluating solutions that can power the requirements of marketplace models for B2B relationships beyond the standard requirements expected of P2P solutions.

These include core platform components, data schema, data management, workflow, personalization, supplier portal, supplier information management, analytics, globalization and related requirements.