Plus or PRO Content

CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: riskmethods — our first line of COVID-19 supply risk defense [PRO]

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, this Spend Matters PRO series examines selected technology providers that procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should explore to reduce and mitigate COVID-19 supply risk — and to recover faster on the upswing. The introduction to this series grouped the technology providers that we will cover into five specialty areas, with one vendor shown as an example:

* Supply risk management (e.g., riskmethods)
* Sourcing and commodity management, including advanced sourcing, direct sourcing and commodity management to help dynamically plan and source (e.g., Jaggaer)
* Advanced procurement analytics to enable direct procurement and/or to perform “spend planning” when demand drops out or spikes (e.g., Sievo. See the series profile of Sievo here.)
* P2P that emphasizes working capital, dynamic discounting, payment control and related finance priorities (e.g., Basware)
* Fraud, P2P and Vendor Management Safeguards (e.g., APEX Analytix)

Today, we profile the first essential COVID-19 procurement technology vendor: riskmethods.

Riskmethods is a fit-for-purpose, real-time global event monitoring solution that can be “loosely coupled” from an integration perspective, allowing rapid deployment. It showcases the ability to analyze COVID-19 event impact, identify mitigation approaches, define plans and enable the ongoing monitoring of countries, regions, suppliers and facilities — among other capabilities.

Let’s dive in.

Through March 2020, a special PRO Expert Survival Pack is available to procurement practitioners only* at up to 50% off - Learn more

Updated — CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: Consider These Procurement Technology Solutions To Get You Through the COVID-19 Pandemic (Introduction) [PRO]

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UPDATED Sunday, March 22: Spend Matters analysts have updated this PRO Coronavirus Response piece to include two additional categories and related providers, in addition to our five original categories. All of our recommended vendors are now listed in each category. Last week, this post was unlocked from behind the paywall so all Spend Matters readers could see the types of procurement technology solutions that can be helpful for businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. These solutions can only do so much, but we’re seeing some creative uses for their tools. And the providers are also responding with specialized programs and free/freemium offers to help out.

If you are a practitioner, consulting firm or a provider that has found novel ways to help cope with the disruption from the coronavirus pandemic, we’d very much like to hear from you and share your lessons and capabilities. We’ll also update our coronavirus resource page, which lists all of our COVID-19 coverage.

As this series continues, individual vendor profiles will be included in category-specific briefs for PRO subscribers — but, as always, the excerpts on the PRO briefs will be updated with helpful information that is free for all readers.

The genesis of this series is that the Spend Matters analyst team got together virtually in an emergency brainstorming session about the coronavirus outbreak. The purpose was to review our existing research and identify the most critical groups of procurement solution types and example providers that could be potentially useful to procurement organizations managing through the COVID-19 pandemic. We decided during this session to publish a comprehensive series to inform our subscribers.

As such, this PRO series will initially explore seven types of providers. And it will detail multiple providers in each category*, including how each specifically can address COVID-19 procurement challenges. We will add to this list as more practitioners, consulting firms and solution providers come forward to share their learnings and their relevant capabilities. If you are a member of one of these groups, and you are addressing the pandemic in a way that others can learn from that you can share, please contact us here and let us know more!

These are the seven categories of providers that we will profile in this series:

1. Supply risk management (e.g., riskmethods, resilinc, EcoVadis, Resilience360, RapidRatings, etc.) See the riskmethods profile for this series here.)

2. Sourcing and commodity management, including advanced sourcing, direct sourcing and commodity management to help dynamically plan and source (e.g., Allocation Network, Jaggaer, Synertrade, Tealbook, etc.)

3. Advanced procurement analytics to enable direct procurement and/or to perform “spend planning” when demand drops out or spikes (e.g., Sievo, LevaData, Suplari, and others.)

4. P2P that emphasizes working capital, dynamic discounting, payment control and related finance priorities (e.g., Basware, Coupa, Tradeshift, Taulia, etc.) to help inject cash into the P2P process — especially for harder-hit suppliers who are more than happy to trade discounts for mission-critical cash.

5. Fraud, P2P and vendor management safeguards (e.g., APEX Analytix, AppZen, ConnXus and others) when new suppliers need to be set up quickly, and also when lowlife fraudsters try to use the pandemic as a way to steal money and IP.

6. Providers with deep Contract Analytics that can analyze a contract portfolio for affected contracts from affected suppliers (and customers) for not just force majeure clauses, but other related clauses that tie to the multiple risks popping up at once in the pandemic. Sample providers include specialists such as Seal Software (now DocuSign), Conga (which acquired Counselytics), LegalSifter, and Kira Systems — as well as AI-capable CLM providers such as Icertis, Agiloft, SirionLabs, Exari (now part of Coupa), and a few others.

7. Contingent Workforce and Services solutions that are able to, at a minimum, help rapidly ramp up on-demand workers to deal with massive resource shortfalls caused by the pandemic — especially within healthcare (e.g., see this Reuters article calling out staffing agencies that are paying $3,000-4,000 per week for fill-in travel nurses). We are looking at four categories of solutions for sourcing remote/online work; solutions for sourcing and managing contract workers at geo-specific capabilities; solutions to “direct source” and manage contract workers; solutions for data management and analytics. Some existing providers that we cover include Upwork, Shiftgig, Field Nation, Fiverr, Shortlist and others. But we expect many more use cases and providers to emerge given that the pandemic inherently affects people way more than it impacts widgets (other than critical medical supplies/equipment).

We can’t profile every provider in this quick-hit series, especially those that have not gone through a formal briefing, demonstration and fact-check process. And we’ll almost certainly be adding more providers and use cases as the situation unfolds. For example, supply chain planning and execution systems are getting tested right now as dynamic re-planning needs to occur (e.g., how to reschedule truck loads when drivers call in sick or have nowhere to rest/eat when the truck stops are closed).

Please note, this series will not duplicate past coverage. It is meant to build on existing research and share, specifically, how solutions can address the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (and those challenges that will emerge during it). Our approach is one of not just about throwing tech at the problem, but more of “the art of the possible” and tapping supply markets for innovation and capabilities (which is what procurement is increasingly tapped for itself). And we also want to state emphatically that this isn’t an opportunistic effort to capitalize on mass death. It’s a critical time for empathy, leadership and goodwill to try to help each other however we can.

Finally, our guidance does not focus on technologies to support “the basics,” such as listening to your major customers who are sending you guidance on risk mitigation (for example, a major retailer is advising suppliers to turn up the heat in warehouses, if possible, to reduce the likelihood of transmission). Nor other foundational work streams such as doubling down on janitorial support to disinfect surfaces, checking in with critical suppliers and getting feedback, evaluating the most critical contracts to get out of (and/or amend), understanding if you can get additional allocation if needed (with your hard-earned “customer of choice” status, right?), adjusting savings targets, reducing budgets (generally), etc. Some of this can seem like “supply risk motherhood and apple pie.” But, to borrow another cliche, you still need to “Just do it”!

Yet, some opportunities are not as obvious. So, in this PRO series of research briefs, we will focus on sharing specific use cases and example vendors that can make the difference beyond the basics, and put you, ideally, in a better situation than your peers — rather than simply treading water (or worse).

In this first installment, we will begin by framing each area in terms of the specific business issues that targeted technologies solutions can address. We’ll also give a preview of some providers in each area (i.e., vendors we will explore in greater detail in our category-specific drill-downs that we’ll be publishing soon within these “early” weeks of the global COVID-19 pandemic). Let’s begin.

* We’ll start the series with providers that have briefed Spend Matters about their solution, including going through detailed product demonstrations and research fact-checks in the past (resulting in PRO coverage and, if applicable, SolutionMap ratings). We may opt to add additional providers beyond these depending on the length of the crisis. Please note, owing to the fluidity of the situation and “need for speed” we may not provide fact-checks to the vendors mentioned if time does not permit, as we are basing our write-ups on our working knowledge of the solutions already, as demonstrated and validated previously.

Through March 2020, a special PRO Expert Survival Pack is available to procurement practitioners only* at up to 50% off - Learn more

Suplari: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — SWOT, Competitors, Selection Guide, Analysis [PRO]

Suplari faces significant competition from multiple market segments: S2P/P2P/S2C suites, best-of-breed spend analysis vendors, and generic best-in-class analytic and business intelligence (BI) solutions that are adding in a few spend/supplier-centric reports and touting themselves as solutions for back-office sourcing/procurement professionals. It's a very noisy, messy space, and it can be very confusing for an analytic novice to figure out which solutions are real and which are just the result of marketing mis-information.

And the trend is likely to continue. Competition will continue to increase as everyone jumps on the analytics bandwagon and peddles a platform that just might be free of any modern analytics capability whatsoever. And the relative lack of knowledge about Suplari, even compared to larger best-of-breed peers that have been around longer, as well as it's current lack of globalization puts it at a disadvantage, despite its focus on building a platform backed by machine learning and more advanced analytics than many second generation platforms out there.

In this final installment of our three-part Spend Matters Pro Vendor Snapshot on Suplari, we offer a competitive analysis and comparison with other providers of spend analytic solutions, like AnyData, Coupa, GEP, Jaggaer, Orpheus, Sievo, Simfoni and Xeeva. Part 3 also provides a SWOT analysis, selection considerations and final commentary. For an overview of the Suplari solution, see Part 1. For a deep dive into the platform's strengths and weaknesses, see Part 2.

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

As indicated in Part 1, Suplari was formed to get the relevant purchasing data out of siloed enterprise systems and into the hands of procurement professionals who needed it to make decisions. Billing itself as “AI-Driven Analytics for Modern Procurement Teams,” Suplari was formed with the goal to use all of the available, disparate enterprise data, machine learning and a modern user experience to put the enterprise — and the employee — back in charge when dealing with their suppliers in negotiations.

The co-founders all had over two decades of experience in enterprise software, SaaS/Cloud, and data, so they realized this is no easy feat. Not only did they know that the data was usually dirty, and disparate, but that simply providing one view would result in a deluge that would be more than the average procurement professional could process, and that the professional would be no better off with too much data to try to make sense of in a limited time as they are when they have too little. To solve this problem, they decided they would apply machine learning and AI to identify patterns and simplify the processes of cleansing, classification and connection — the third being the more untapped need — and opportunity — in the procurement space today.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot will explore Suplari's strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help organizations decide if the vendor is the right one for their shortlist. For an overview of the provider and its platform, see Part 1. In Part 3, we will conclude with an analysis of Suplari’s competitors and offer a final summary.

Suplari: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background, Solution Overview, Selection Checklist [PRO]

This three-part Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot series will give an overview of the spend analytics vendor Suplari, examine its strengths and weakness, and provide a comparison with its competitors in the procurement technology market.

Billing itself as “AI-Driven Analytics for Modern Procurement Teams,” Suplari was formed to get the relevant purchasing data out of siloed enterprise systems and into the hands of procurement professionals who needed it to make decisions. However, realizing that the data is usually dirty, disparate and deluging for the average procurement professional, they also aimed to apply machine learning and AI to identify patterns and simplify the processing of cleansing, classification and connection.

In the early days of spend analysis, most of the best-of-breed vendors hitting the market focused on classification and categorization — because that was supposed to be the hard problem and everything else would be easy if you had clean, classified data. But that was just the first obstacle to good spend analysis. The next obstacle was connecting the dots to find the opportunities.

Early vendors purported to solve this problem with some canned top N reports — top N categories, top N suppliers, top N geographies, top N departments, top N off-contract categories, top N off-contract suppliers, etc. This worked well in the early days. A scrupulous sourcing professional would work their way through each and every report until they had evaluated the top 20 or so suppliers, geographies, departments and so on (or until they analyzed the top 80% of spend) and put contracts or procedures in place to capture the bulk of the savings. Six months later they'd run the reports again and then find ... nothing. They'd still be bleeding into the red, but wouldn't be able to do anything about it because most of the bleeding would not be with the top N suppliers, geographies, departments and so on.

Next-generation vendors reported to solve this problem with do-it-yourself reporting where buyers could run reports to target the suppliers, categories, geographies, departments, etc. where they believed problems lied. This was one step up, but the amount of time and effort it typically took to run a report, analyze it for a potential opportunity, determine the opportunity was not worth the effort it would take to capture it, and run another report made it too costly to find and capture all but a few opportunities. As a result, many second-generation solutions ended up being valueless and abandoned not long after their first-generation counterparts.

What was needed was a system that could iterate through all the categories, suppliers, geographies, etc. and find the largest opportunities in each, rank them in order of opportunity size, and present them for easy review by a procurement professional.

And what is really needed is a system that can look at the opportunity size, look at the contracts in place, look at the market pricing, look at historical and community results, and identify not only the opportunities that appear to have the largest size, but the largest opportunities that can be captured now. And while there isn't a system that's here yet, this is where a modern system should be going — and it's where Suplari wants to go.

Transforming from Contract Management to Commercial Value Management (Part 2): Putting Contracts at the Core of Source-to-Pay [PRO]

supplier network

In the first installment of this series, we discussed how contract management was morphing from a document-centric risk transfer legal vehicle to a broader commercial value management (CVM) competency that helps businesses:

* Perform spend planning rather than spent analysis
* Gain earlier and deeper visibility into financial obligations rather than just using the general ledger
* Operationalizing risk management rather than just one-off (or high-level) efforts
* Integrating upstream strategic sourcing to downstream P2P (of course)
* Explicitly tying sourcing and contracts into supplier management

In this installment, we will dive a little deeper into how next-generation contract management helps facilitate the flow of value (and prevent “value leakage”) within the source-to-pay process, but also the broader swaths of enterprise processes where controlling the contracts means controlling the spend — and how finance and procurement groups can use this to their advantage.

Cirtuo: Vendor Introduction (Solution Overview, Product Analysis, SWOT, Selection Checklist) [PRO]

For all the talk of “strategic sourcing” and elevating procurement as a “strategic partner” in the business, a lot of technology features in the S2P market today, to be frank, has nothing to do with strategy. Instead, their focus is often on transaction facilitation or generating operational efficiencies, which providers suggest will free up procurement resource time to focus on “strategy.” Strategic sourcing solutions, for example, facilitate e-auctions with suppliers and speed up event creation through reusable templates and supplier enablement. They do not, however, shape or improve your procurement organization’s actual sourcing strategies.

Strategy, it seems, has more in common with art than software engineering — if you believe the focus of the S2P market, that is. In truth, though, there’s no reason that technology can’t be applied to the realm of strategy, whether for decision-making or strategy creation or performance improvement management.

Cirtuo, the focus of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction, proves this point convincingly — and in the process is creating what one could call an entirely different class of procurement solution.

This Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Cirtuo and its capabilities. The review includes a look at Cirtuo’s solution set, a perspective on what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for organizations that might consider the vendor.

Yooz: Vendor Snapshot 2020 Update — Part 3 (SWOT, Competitor Comparisons, Selection Tips) [PRO]

Yooz is one of the many providers that compete in the accounts payable automation market, and Spend Matters plans to launch its first AP Automation SolutionMap this spring. Combining a granular, AP-centric capability assessment with real-life customer reviews gives a deeper understanding of specialty vendors like Yooz. Initially, the AP Automation ratings will be published as a stand-alone benchmark ranking. The Invoice-to-Pay (I2P) SolutionMap rankings will eventually be enriched with AP Automation functional requirements as well.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series provides updates since our 2018 review of Yooz. The three-part series includes facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Yooz’s solution offering in payment automation and e-invoicing markets.

Part 1 of our analysis provided a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Yooz for finance technology. Part 2 covered product strengths and weaknesses.

This final installment offers a vendor SWOT analysis and competitor comparisons with vendors like Coupa, Basware, SAP Ariba, Oracle, Tipalti and Medius. It also includes more evaluation and selection considerations.

Yooz: Vendor Snapshot 2020 Update — Part 2 (Strengths and Weaknesses) [PRO]

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Yooz is a specialized middle-market software provider in the accounts payable automation sector with particular expertise in rapid deployment and broad-based support for payables processes. Its capabilities include invoice capture, validation and approval, ERP integration and AP payment processing through its partner ecosystem. (Given its focus on the middle market, areas like global compliance, supplier financing and robust supplier portal features are not yet a focus.)

This three-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot Update looks at Yooz since our 2018 review. Today’s Part 2 of the series explores Yooz’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. We note updates in invoice capture, integration partnerships, payment processing partnerships and workflow. Areas of needed improvement include UI/UX, analytics and master data capabilities.

Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview and a recommended fit list of criteria for firms considering Yooz. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Yooz: Vendor Snapshot 2020 Update — Part 1 (Background, Solution Overview, When to Consider Yooz) [PRO]

Yooz is a specialized accounts payable automation software provider that also offers adjacent capabilities in e-invoicing. Yooz supports 3,000 customers and 200,000 users worldwide, primarily mid-market companies that have $10 million to $500 million in revenue and that process more than 100 invoices a month.

Yooz competes in the diverse, sometimes confusing and overlapping procure-to-pay (P2P), e-invoicing and accounts payable automation ecosystems — with an emphasis on AP automation.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot offers an update since our 2018 review, noting that Yooz has since invested in its payments capabilities and that it has several features in beta testing.

The three-part series provides facts and expert analysis to help accounts payable and procurement organizations make informed decisions about whether they should explore this software provider within these ecosystems.

Part 1 of our analysis offers a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Yooz as a complement to other procurement and finance solutions. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, insights on competitors, a SWOT analysis, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

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 buys Seal Software: Why the CLM Market and Digital Platform Market May Never be the Same (Solution Overview and AI Competitive Analysis) [PRO]

Spend Matters reported last week that DocuSign, which offers its eponymous e-signature product and a CLM solution (formerly SpringCM), had entered a $188 million all-cash agreement to purchase AI and contract analytics specialist Seal Software. The transaction brings Seal’s capabilities for enterprise-wide contract discovery and analysis firmly into the wheelhouse of a growing CLM presence for DocuSign (beyond digital signatures), as well as raises the competitive bar for CLM specialists, suite providers of many forms and even for “digital platforms.”

But what exactly is DocuSign’s current positioning in the CLM market, and what does acquiring Seal Software bring to the provider’s platform — the “DocuSign Agreement Cloud”?

This Spend Matters PRO brief provides an overview of DocuSign’s current set of capabilities and applicability to the buy-side CLM market, as well as a reprise of Seal Software’s core functionality and offerings. It also includes a comparative rundown of where both specialist CLM vendors and S2P suites are in their own AI development journeys, along with our projection for how DocuSign’s CLM strategy will play out in the broader CLM space and potentially as a disruptive offering in the amorphous digital platform market.

To cut to the chase: The CLM market and digital platform market may never be the same.