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ConnXus: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses [PRO]

From a technology and content perspective, the market for supplier diversity-specific supplier management solutions has remained somewhat of a cottage industry for over a decade. Larger vendors, including both software and risk-centric providers, have not been able to take advantage of scale or reach. Further, over the years, even those organizations which have acquired diversity-centric vendors (e.g., Kroll, Jaggaer) have not been able to consolidate the market.

This has opened the door for more recent entrants, such as ConnXus, to not only develop technology, solutions and content for supplier diversity professionals but also to integrate these capabilities with broader offerings across the supplier management spectrum, as well as set a new standard for what should be included in a supplier diversity solution in the first place.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores ConnXus’ strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. The first installment our analysis provided a company and solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering the provider. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

suppliers

The supplier management technology market is a microcosm of the procurement technology market generally, as it has many subsegments and is fragmented from a provider perspective. Procurement organizations need to do their full homework when evaluating potential suppliers, including newer technology vendors and a host of incumbents that have been competing for a decade (and sometimes more) in this market segment. Consider that two components within the supplier management, supplier information management (SIM) and supplier discovery management (SDM), have been around since the early 2000s, when Aravo pioneered capabilities in this area and signed progressive companies like Google.

But when it comes to supplier management, SIM and SDM are not the whole story. Within this segment, specialized supplier performance management (SPM), supplier relationship management (SRM), supply/supplier risk management, supplier network management (SNM), and other takes on supplier management that haven't even hit mainstream yet are helping drive specific buying decisions for technology. That probably accounts for the recent explosion in supplier management technology providers over the past few years, with a new one either hitting the market or becoming mainstream seemingly every quarter.

One of the companies that is now becoming mainstream in this broader sector is ConnXus. Founded in 2010 out of the founders’ frustration in their inability to quickly and easily identify, and qualify, new diverse suppliers as a result of incomplete databases, fragmented resources and expensive software, ConnXus is on some levels a next-generation version of previous diversity specialists including CVM Solutions and AECSoft. The founders also observed that small business owners and diverse suppliers found it difficult to share diversity qualifications or develop relationships with procurement executives directly.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about ConnXus’ solution offering in the supplier management and supplier diversity markets. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider ConnXus in the procurement technology area. The rest of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, and evaluation and selection considerations.

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

SciQuest

LevaData is a provider that challenges the traditional notion of “modules” in the procurement technology sector. In combining supply chain visibility, market data and benchmarks, community analytics, optimization, forecasting, AI techniques and strategic sourcing capability, LevaData is positioning itself as the first “cognitive sourcing” provider. While focused primarily today on select industries and categories, its goal is to become both a single source of truth and core enablement technology for broader direct materials sourcing. Today, LevaData’s solution blends integrated market intelligence, analytics and sourcing components in a single platform, primarily serving customers in the electronics/high tech manufacturing sector. While more mature in certain areas and less in others, the combined product set is not like anything else we have seen or analyzed in the market.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering LevaData offers a SWOT analysis, competitive assessment and comparison with other related vendors targeting direct materials procurement. It also includes a user selection guide and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep-dive solution overview, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider LevaData.

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

Quick, what would a mashup of an analytics, market intelligence and an optimization-backed advanced sourcing platform look like for direct materials procurement? It would need to feature at least the basics of line-level spend analytics and reporting, and, for manufacturers, ideally offer deeper bill of materials insight into sub-tier materials, parts and component data. It would have to provide market-based insights into relative total cost, as well as integrated access to external market data feeds to enable benchmarking. And it would need to feature sourcing capability that factors into account both internal and supply chain costs, constraints and business requirements in recommendations and decision-making.

In other words, it would look something like LevaData, a manufacturing-centric procurement technology vendor that offers an integrated set of capabilities that is different from anything else we have reviewed in the market. This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores LevaData’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. The first installment of our analysis provided a company and solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering the provider. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

Outside of core ERP and supply chain planning systems, the technology market for direct materials procurement and sourcing is almost too nascent to even be considered fragmented. While many software firms claim they power direct materials procurement solutions needs, the reality is that most end up “kludging” off-the-shelf solutions based on existing, distinct modules for manufacturing. Yet new direct materials solutions are emerging that blur the line of modules, product classification and underlying technology in a not so dissimilar way that the adoption of their solutions also blurs the line from a user perspective between design engineering, procurement, quality and operations and supply chain.  

LevaData is one such emerging technology provider that has capability spanning direct materials procurement and cost analytics, bill of materials-level spend visibility, market/commodity intelligence and sourcing (optimization). It is one of the first entrants into the “cognitive sourcing” space, offering a platform that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) capability to make both part- and component-level sourcing recommendations, especially in the electronics industry, where LevaData has a statistically relevant number of customers and products in its database. Having recently raised $5 million in Series A funding in August 2017, LevaData appears ready to move beyond its initial 20 customers.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about LevaData’s solution offering. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider LevaData in the procurement technology area. The rest of this research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and evaluation and selection considerations.

When Advanced Contract Analytics and Spend Analytics Converge: Seal Software Vendor Snapshot Update [PRO]

Seal Software has historically focused on search, discovery and reporting on structured and unstructured contract data scattered throughout organizations (i.e., not just in a centralized repository). Recently, however, Seal expanded the scope of its capability with a bespoke “front-end” analytics offering, which on the surface more resembles spend analytics than contract management. But the new contract analytics solution is something fundamentally different, and its capabilities extend far beyond a standard spend analysis or contract reporting tool. This Spend Matter Vendor Snapshot Update provides an introduction to Seal Software’s new contract analytics capability and explains why it’s more than “another analytics dashboard” for procurement, finance, supply chain and legal stakeholders. It is an addendum to our previous review and analysis of Seal’s solution capability:

RapidRatings: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Competitive & Summary Analysis [PRO]

RapidRatings is a proven supplier risk management solution that specializes in financial risk management. Many large enterprises depend on it as a core component of their supplier risk management programs. It brings the ability — a critical one — to evaluate privately held suppliers, including a methodology to get even small and middle-market firms to submit financials with very high success levels.

Spend Matters analysis suggests that RapidRatings has a proven and comparatively superior methodology to alternative established models for developing accurate and predictive supplier financial risk ratings — especially for privately held companies — and gaining insight into overall supplier financial health. But it is important to note that the provider does not offer a comprehensive supplier or supply chain risk management solution and ideally should be considered as a component within a broader supply risk management capability.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering RapidRatings offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other procurement technology providers (suite and otherwise). It also includes a user selection guide, user interface and user experience (UI/UX) analysis and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep dive solution overview, a SWOT analysis, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider RapidRatings.

Oracle Procurement Cloud: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Competitive Analysis & Recommendations [PRO]

tech

With planned release enhancements in the coming year, Oracle Procurement Cloud could become the 80% headache (today it is the 70%) for procurement suite providers and even more specialized competitors. Already, Oracle Procurement Cloud not only provides newcomers to spend management an opportunity to build a strong procurement foundation, but for companies that have swung and missed (for whatever reason) in their attempts to establish such a baseline, Oracle brings a lot to the table and will likely surprise those that had previously looked at earlier releases or other Oracle procurement applications.

This third and final installment of our Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot provides a SWOT analysis of Oracle Procurement Cloud, as well as a segmentation and comparison of competitors. It also includes a recommended shortlist of candidates that could serve as alternative vendors to Oracle for source-to-pay (S2P) suites, procure-to-pay (P2P) suites and e-sourcing. Finally, we conclude with a summary analysis and recommendations for organizations considering Oracle Procurement Cloud.

Oracle Procurement Cloud: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses [PRO]

Oracle Procurement Cloud is a procurement technology suite that is targeted primarily at three key market segments. First, net new Oracle ERP Cloud customers who are looking to add procurement suite functionality. Second are those organizations that are current Oracle eBusiness Suite, PeopleSoft or JD Edwards ERP customers that may migrate to the cloud for their core financial system. And third are those customers with “installed” Oracle solutions for procurement (Oracle eBusiness Suite Procurement, PeopleSoft SRM, etc.), although these organizations may or may not (yet) be a fit for Oracle Procurement Cloud based on organizational requirements, including the degree of customization done to previous solutions.

Regardless, in many cases, Oracle customers considering Procurement Could will not have purchased a full source-to-pay (S2P) or procure-to-pay (P2P) suite from third-party vendors in the past, although they may have had experience with individual modules and solutions from Oracle procurement competitors. But in certain cases, Oracle customers have replaced suite capability from providers such as SAP Ariba and Coupa.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Oracle Procurement Cloud’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the solution. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Oracle. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Oracle Procurement Cloud: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview [PRO]

You can almost set your watch on it. When ERP vendors decide to enter a particular solution market, impassioned arguments debating the tradeoffs of their approach versus the perceived benefits of those taken by specialized application vendors turn up the volume on a regular basis. “To ERP or not ERP,” that is the question. And while Oracle’s Procurement Cloud has not yet settled this debate, the offering will continue to draw the attention of many companies as well as Oracle’s installed base during their respective source-to-pay (S2P) technology evaluation processes, especially as Oracle’s solutions continue to improve and mature in the area and take their place as cloud-native solutions, turning entirely away from the ERP installed software legacy.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Oracle Procurement Cloud and whether its capabilities are a fit for their needs. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and a detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Oracle Procurement Cloud. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Supply Dynamics: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses [PRO]

manufacturing

One of the major gaps today between supply chain planning and collaboration solutions and direct materials procurement technologies is the lack of spend/supply visibility for raw and semifinished materials used at different stages in the supply chain. These materials include commodities such as metals, resins, electronic components, chemicals and standard parts purchased by suppliers such as fasteners.

Granted, manufacturers are getting better at SKU-level demand planning and forecasting on both and inbound and outbound levels, not to mention managing all of the logistics associated with moving goods and materials. This is the basic “feeds and speeds” of the supply chain. Manufacturers also more frequently gaining visibility and orchestrating controls and processes around overall “spend” at the line item and supplier level, but this is only historical “spent analysis” of material consumption within their own four walls. Few companies have a true bill of material- and design drawing-level understanding of what upstream materials they’re buying vis-a-vie their suppliers. In other words, the lack of visibility into their suppliers’ spend and underlying costs prevents them from uncovering cost savings opportunities that are hidden upstream in their supply chains.

This is precisely where Supply Dynamics, a provider that specializes in multitier direct materials procurement, proposes to fill an important analytics and solutions gap through its SDX platform. It’s an area that even direct materials procurement technology specialists such as Jaggaer/Pool4Tool and SAP Ariba, with their new solution releases, do not begin to address effectively.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Supply Dynamics’ strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the firm. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview, as well as a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Supply Dynamics. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Beeline: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview [PRO]

Beeline is a global “external workforce management solutions” provider and, alongside SAP Fieldglass, one of the top two providers of VMS solutions globally, based on volume and revenue. After years occupying the traditional VMS software category, the company has begun to expand its solution in a number of different directions to address the changing needs of enterprise clients at a time when external workforce utilization is increasing and new technology solutions for sourcing and managing contingent workforce and services (CW/S) are required.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations make informed decisions about whether they need a solution like Beeline as provider of VMS software or a provider of technology-based CW/S solutions beyond traditional VMS. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Beeline. Parts 2 and 3 of this multipart research brief cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, user selection guides and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Note: Since Beeline merged with IQNavigator in 2016, there have been two VMS technology platforms operating under the Beeline brand. (A process to “converge” the two platforms on a new, state-of-the-art technology architecture is underway.) In this particular Vendor Snapshot, the section Beeline Solution Overview — Offerings and Functionality (below) focuses only on the Beeline VMS technology platform, pending separate treatment of the IQN platform. The order of treatment is in no way intended to suggest a ranking of one platform over the other.