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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.

20 Questions for E-invoicing and Procurement Network and Platform Selection (Part 2) [Plus +]

supplier network

Editor's note: This Spend Matters Plus brief is a refresh of our 2013 series on supplier network selection, which originally ran on Spend Matters PRO.

In the first installment of this series, OB10/Tungsten, Ariba/SAP, and GXS: 20 Questions On Supplier Network Selection, we gave some context around the right organizational questions that procurement, accounts payable (A/P), finance and supply chain organizations should ask before getting to a supplier network selection RFP/RFI. We also offered up the first five of our 20-question list, which we’ll complete today.

But before we get started, it’s important to note that this list isn’t just relevant for an initial selection for new connectivity tools and on-ramps, but also for evaluating an ongoing strategy – and selecting the right set of providers to work with in the future. In nearly all cases, it will be multiple network or platform providers rather than a single one.

We begin our list by addressing this question of single/multiple providers directly and how to structure an arrangement with a preferred on-ramp, vendor, or working with multiple providers on the same level:

Defining AP Automation Functional Requirements (Part 5: Payment Options and Early Payment Financing) [PRO]

BuyerQuest

In the last installment of this five-part Spend Matters PRO series on accounts payable automation, we’ll list the functional requirements for payment options, like P-cards and financing programs.

AP automation capabilities vary dramatically between different software providers, and the capabilities a finance or procurement organization will require to support the automation of AP processes also vary materially, based not only on company size but a broad range of other factors. These include organizational complexity, invoice capturing requirements (e.g., paper, PDF, electronic, etc.), systems complexity, systems integration, industry, EDI integration/support, payment/financing capabilities, treasury integration/working capital management, geography and compliance requirements — to name just a few.

To understand how different providers stack up against these (and other) categories of requirements, the quarterly Invoice-to-Pay SolutionMap Insider report can provide significant insight. And to create a one-to-one map between business requirements for AP automation and vendor functionality capability, SolutionMap Accelerator can dramatically speed up the vendor shortlisting and selection process, even allowing companies to “skip the RFI” entirely.

This series defines AP automation requirements from a functional perspective to put AP, finance and purchasing professionals in the driver’s seat when they evaluate the available supply market for AP automation to fit their needs (either on a standalone basis or as a specific component of broader invoice-to-pay, procure-to-pay or source-to-pay solutions). Click to see our SolutionMap rankings of vendors in each category.

Part 1 of this series investigated core invoicing requirements for AP automation and some of the criteria that Global 2000 and middle market organizations should consider when selecting solutions (i.e., invoicing set-up, paper scan/capture support and e-invoicing).

In Part 2, we turned our attention to an additional set of AP automation functional requirements, including AP process, invoicing validations, workflow, collaboration and integration requirements.

In Part 3, we looked at the final set of AP automation topics: invoicing mobility, invoicing compliance and invoicing analytics.

In Part 4, we examined AP automation functions related to payment systems and methods, payment partnerships, payment processing and payment analytics.

Now, let’s look at payment options and early payment financing.

Defining AP Automation Functional Requirements (Part 2): AP Process, Workflow, Collaboration and Systems (Validations, Approval Processes, Integrations) [PRO]

AP automation capabilities vary dramatically between different software providers, and the capabilities that a finance or procurement organization will require to support the automation of AP processes also vary materially, based not only on company size but a broad range of other factors. These include organizational complexity, invoice capturing requirements (e.g., paper, PDF, electronic, etc.), systems complexity, systems integration, industry, EDI integration/support, payment/financing capabilities, treasury integration/working capital management, geography and compliance requirements — to just name a few.

To understand how different providers stack up against these (and other) categories of requirements, the quarterly Invoice-to-Pay SolutionMap Insider report can provide significant insight. And to create a one-to-one map between business requirements for AP automation and vendor functionality capability, SolutionMap Accelerator can dramatically speed up the vendor shortlisting and selection process, even allowing companies to “skip the RFI” entirely.

This Spend Matters PRO series defines AP automation requirements from a functional perspective to put AP, finance and purchasing professionals in the driver’s seat when they evaluate the market for AP automation to fit their needs — either on a stand-alone basis or as a specific component of broader invoice-to-pay, procure-to-pay or source-to-pay solutions. (Check the links to our SolutionMap ranking of providers in each category.)

Part 1 of this series investigated core invoicing requirements for AP automation and some of the criteria that Global 2000 and middle market organizations should consider when selecting solutions (i.e., invoicing set-up, paper scan/capture support and e-invoicing). Today we turn our attention to an additional set of AP automation functional requirements, including AP process, invoicing validations, workflow, collaboration and integration requirements.

Commercial Value Management (Part 3): Critical Commercial Use Cases to Align Extended CLM with the Enterprise [PRO]

change of control clauses

In our last installment of this CVM series, we highlighted a graphical framework to depict how commercial value management is about extending CLM into a more commercially enabling role in all enterprise areas where contracts (and value promises) are stored.

In this next installment of this series, we’ll highlight these areas and how to unlock some of that value for the benefit of the firm — and procurement.

Let’s briefly look at some of these areas to see how extending contract management to broader CVM approach is a practical way for procurement to get aligned with other areas (and with itself).

Five Scenarios for VMS 2025: Scenario 1 — Status Quo [PRO]

In this multi-part Spend Matters PRO series, we explore the future of VMS, not because we consider ourselves futurists, but because we think — as stated by my colleague Jason Busch in the introduction to the series — it is “critical for procurement organizations as they have the power to define how these technologies serve them rather than the other way around.”

The introduction laid out the thesis for the series — that the future of the VMS (the long-dominant technology solution model for managing contingent workforce) has become uncertain. Second, it pegged what a VMS is (or was) in terms of the Spend Matters SolutionMap categories saying:

As part of Spend Matters SolutionMaps for contingent workforce and services (CW/S) enterprise technology, we think of VMS as the solution for managing temporary staffing suppliers and workers. That is, within the Temp Staffing map — rather than Contract Services/Statement of Work or the Independent Contract Workforce maps.*

* Some providers of VMS solutions have, to some extent, expanded their platforms to address services/SOW and independent workforce. Hence, the major VMS providers’ solutions address more than just temp staffing. And those could be thought of as broader, but still specialized, solutions for sourcing and managing contingent or external workforce.

The introduction also mapped out five potential scenarios for the future of VMS by 2025: * The status quo, a largely independent VMS ecosystem, continues and new technologies, like artificial intelligence, lead to a better overall VMS experience and even “MSP bot-type” services.
* Integrated VMS and procure-to-pay technology suites gain momentum.
* Managed services providers (MSPs) rule the day as offerings evolve and increasingly leverage software as a competitive advantage (a market that could include new entrants as well).
* Talent management and human capital strike back — people are not widgets, and the VMS must operate in an increasingly dual HR-and-procurement universe in which value and outcomes become as important as price and timesheets.
* Temporary staffing (and hence the VMS) loses its influence as the core technology “anchor” that companies “buy first” when tackling services procurement.


In this part of the series, we look at “Scenario 1 — The Status Quo” in which VMS continues to evolve and flourish as a distinct, specialized enterprise solution (alongside e-procurement and human capital management) for sourcing of temps and, potentially, other forms of contingent workforce and also managing the spend and risk that comes with them.

Note: A scenario is not so much a prediction of a future state as it is the building of one possible future state, carried out with a mix of reasoning and imagination. Ultimately, scenarios are tools that assist planners and executives to think about the future.