exceleratedS2P — A Very Good Overview of the Issues with S2P Solutions

At the recent eWorld Procurement and Supply event, a presentation from Conor Mullaney, a director of independent consultants exceleratedS2P, provided a very good overview of the issues around end-to-end source-to-pay software solutions.

Mullaney gave a good balanced view, not too sales-y, which overall was somewhat favouring the single "source to pay" platform model without being too dogmatic about it. His firm work s with clients to implement eProcurement solutions; their background is principally around Ariba / SAP but they are also now involved with clients who are implementing Coupa and other solutions.

Mullaney described how often, spend analysis and sourcing systems stand alone in organisations. Very few organisations have a single "source to pay" process owner, which is one reason why organisations often end up feeling disappointed with the software they have bought. Many organisations are also now rushing to jump on the cloud bandwagon, he explained, perhaps with eSourcing solutions, but doing so without thinking about integration issues.

He then talked about the alternative approaches; the fully integrated platform or suite from a single vendor; the "integrated hybrid" as he calls it, with perhaps a core P2P system and a limited number of other cloud-based elements combined with it; or of course the pure "best of breed " approach with multiple disconnected systems and vendors.

Now all the options have pros and cons, but the best of breed does have some risks; for instance around the danger of having "multiple versions of the truth", as Mullaney put it. If different systems hold different information about suppliers, or spend data, then getting a consistency of view is difficult. There is a danger that the buyer's view of a supplier is inconsistent or even inaccurate; that lack of visibility into supplier performance can have major implications.

However, there are ways of mitigating the risks even if there are multiple vendors and systems. Usability can be improved by developing a "skin" that can sit on top of the different systems and give a more consistent and consolidated user experience. Management dashboards can pull in information from different sources. But all of this costs money and development time, of course.

It's also worth pointing out that no single vendor can do everything that you might want procurement software to deliver. So a certain amount of integration - or indeed acceptance that there will be more than one platform - is probably inevitable for larger firms at least who want to take advantage of the breadth of capability. But certainly the issues highlighted by Mullaney are worth considering when you make technology decisions; and well done to him for making what could have a pretty dull session into something that was interesting and informative.

We will be also be covering the issues around source to pay and the integration issues again shortly - so look out for that.

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