Author Archives: Pierre Mitchell



About Pierre Mitchell

Pierre leads Spend Matters procurement research activities and has broader solution development responsibilities for intellectual property creation and firm strategy as Managing Director of Azul Partners. This includes spearheading efforts to build new types of interactive and social communities of interest within the procurement profession including overseeing the evolution of spendmattersnet.com, Spend Matters PRO, MetalMiner, and other digital assets within Azul Partner’s umbrella. Pierre has 25 years of procurement and supply chain industry and consulting experience, and is a recognized procurement expert specializing in supply processes, practices, metrics, and enabling tools and services. He is a regular contributor to business publications, a frequent presenter at industry events around the world, and counts himself fortunate to have served and interacted with so many CPOs and future CPOs. Prior to his positions in research and advisory, he led numerous operations and systems transformations at Fortune 500 organizations. Industry positions include manufacturing project manager at The Timberland Company, materials manager at Krupp Companies and engineer at EG&G Torque Systems. He holds an engineering degree from Southern Methodist University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. In the early 2000's, Pierre was the first supply chain practitioner to become a procurement "industry analyst" as the VP of supply management research at AMR Research (now part of the Gartner Group) where he provided trusted counsel to procurement executives, business leadership, IT, and the solution providers who serve them. Most recently, he was the head of procurement research and adjunct business advisor at The Hackett Group, where he helped expand Hackett's procurement benchmarks and research studies while growing the Procurement Executive Advisory Program into a gold standard membership-based procurement advisory service in the market today.


Deloitte 2019 CPO Survey — Insights Needed on Procurement Mastery in Action

ISM

Deloitte has opened up the 2019 version of its annual CPO survey for participants to share their insights. It’s important to participate because the survey’s depth, rigor and relevance produce influential findings that have set the gold standard for procurement studies.

And this year’s edition is very exciting, especially for me. I’ve been doing procurement research and benchmarking for 20 years, and I was thrilled to not only be given a sneak peek into this year’s study design but to be made me an honorary member of Deloitte’s extended research team to provide input. So, my challenge became how to make a great product even better.

But you can participate too. CPOs and their direct reports are needed — and participants will get an intelligence briefing about the study’s results. At the end of this article, I’ll get more specific about the ROI of participating in this year’s study.

Tealbook: Vendor Introduction (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

cloud solutions

In our last Spend Matters PRO brief, we introduced you to Tealbook, a five-year-old provider based out of Toronto (with an office in New York City) that is deploying a new platform for supplier information management (SIM) and discovery. Combining machine learning to accelerate data cleansing and gathering with a social media-like user experience to encourage collaborative supplier information management, Tealbook is gaining use cases and enterprise-class procurement customers that want to:

— Consolidate and better manage their supplier master data — aka the “I” (Information and Intelligence) in SIM.
— Discover and on-board new suppliers more effectively than 1) Google searches and 2) searches within proprietary supplier networks.
— Create a system of intelligence surrounding suppliers both internally (e.g., within a spend category team or project team) and externally through fully permissioned, community-based knowledge sharing.
— Quickly bring supplier diversity programs to target levels.

Part 1 of this brief provided an overview of Tealbook’s offering and a short selection requirements checklist that outlined the typical company for which Tealbook might be a good fit.

In Part 2, we provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis, and some final conclusions and takeaways.

Tealbook: Vendor Introduction (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview

Procurement organizations today talk a big game about automating transactional processes so that they can focus on upstream value creation opportunities. The thinking goes like this: The biggest opportunities for procurement are not in squeezing diminishing savings out of the usual vendors year after year but in identifying and contracting with the most innovative suppliers that can enable exclusive competitive advantages. These include not only strategic sourcing efforts around major categories or products but also mutually beneficial relationship-based activities like supplier collaboration, development, innovation and risk mitigation.

Yet there are several obstacles to this shift in emphasis toward more strategic activities. One is remarkably simple: The majority of procurement organizations do not have a single, accurate record of all of their suppliers. Most of the vital information that would constitute a vendor master file is instead scattered across various silos, including ERP systems, dedicated P2P or S2P tools, homegrown tools, and proverbial three-ring binders. So before procurement can earnestly attempt to spend more time on higher-impact value creation opportunities, most organizations have a lot of work to do forming a baseline off which they can build stronger supplier management, discovery and development competencies. This baseline of supplier knowledge is not just about maintaining an accurate vendor master file to pay the bills, but also a hub for information to help build supplier intelligence and a private supplier network (albeit with some community-based elements) rather than any single commercial network/marketplace.

Helping organizations form this baseline is how Tealbook, a four-year-old provider based out of Toronto (with an office in New York City), is deploying its platform for supplier information management and discovery. Combining machine learning to accelerate data cleansing and gathering with a social media-like user experience to encourage collaborative supplier information management, Tealbook is gaining use cases with enterprise-level procurement organizations that want to consolidate their efforts in master data management (MDM), quickly bring their supplier diversity programs to target levels, and find new suppliers more effectively than a search on the open web allows, as well as expedite the supplier on-boarding process. And as it continues to bring more users and suppliers into its network, Tealbook generates insights that becomes increasingly valuable to its community (without ever sharing proprietary information between organizations).

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Tealbook and its capabilities. The first part of this brief includes an overview of Tealbook’s offering and a short selection requirements checklist that outlines the typical company for which Tealbook might be a good fit. The second part of this brief provides a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis, and some market implications and takeaways.

Ivalua NOW 2019 Chicago: Next Procurement Megavendor Steps Out of the Shadows

After attending Ivalua NOW 2019 in Chicago this week, the conference solidified in my curmudgeonly mind that Ivalua will be the next break-out vendor, following on the heels of SAP Ariba and Coupa (on a software/SaaS revenue basis, at least).

Ivalua is like the tortoise in the race with the hare, but in this case, the tortoise has been putting on roller-skates and building a jet pack into its upgraded shell (161 upgrades to be exact). And the firm’s stats prove the point.

Q&A on Digital Procurement’s Role in Sustainability, Ethics and Compliance

As supply chains get increasingly externalized and globalized, the broad scope of operations is subject to equally broad regulatory oversight and supply risk. Meanwhile, as consumers increasingly demand transparency and ethical behavior by value chain brand owners, supply chain organizations at those brands (and also at their suppliers), are having to increasingly respond to these demands. Procurement organizations, for their part, are trying their best to support this externalization on all fronts, but they are so busy with strategic sourcing and P2P execution that even the “basics” of supplier qualification, certification and on-boarding are suffering — never mind having time for more strategic activities in supplier innovation, advanced risk management, digital transformation and other areas.

So, what’s the solution? Well, procurement must first practice what it preaches by tapping supply market innovation for itself, and this innovation is taking many forms. In an everything-as-a-service (XaaS) world, procurement must not only take a leadership role in robustly contracting for these diverse cloud services, but also:

— identifying how various providers beyond cloud applications can help procurement execute much more efficiently — at the cadence of the business.
— embedding the best digital supply market innovations into its own service delivery in order to expand its own influence and brand within the enterprise.
— enabling and empowering functional partners in GRC, IT, Finance, Legal, HR, Risk/Audit, etc. to enable their own service value (increasingly in a cross-functional GBS environment) and integrate the disparate services together much more coherently.

For example, consider the question: Who is responsible for establishing the single face to the supplier when we digitally on-board and manage them to not only transact with them in a compliant manner, but also ensure that they’re operating securely, ethically and transparently more broadly? It’s not just procurement, but rather a combination of procurement, IT, GRC and various centers-of-excellence that should be working tightly together. Unfortunately, misalignment is the norm, but not because of outright conflict or malfeasance, but because functional folks are too busy just trying to execute within their own silos. And they’ll never extricate themselves from that situation unless they have drastically new capabilities to deploy.

This is where procurement organizations need to make smart choices on how they apply digital strategies and tools/services to this area of sustainability, ethics and compliance.

I was recently catching up with an industry colleague of mine named Tomas Wiemer on the topic (he’s a former procurement transformation leader from Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent). He is very deep into this area and typical of leaders at European firms who are definitely in the vanguard here. Tomas is considering some career changes right now, primarily with some emerging tech players who can have a dramatic impact in the industry. Tomas reminds me a bit of a European version of Roy Anderson, who just joined Tradeshift (here’s part 3 of an interview that I did with him), and I think that Tomas will do similarly well when he lands somewhere. He’s doing some interim work for a client, and I agreed to let him interview me for my inputs, but given my role, I asked him for the questions in writing so that I could fully respond in kind and publish it to our subscribers. The questions are below:

How do you view topics as compliance and sustainability in the procurement digitalization landscape?
Do you foresee a convergence/harmonization of sustainability/compliance requirements toward suppliers thanks to the rise of S2P platforms/marketplaces?
What do you believe is the greatest added value of procurement digitalization / AI for compliance and sustainability?
What do you think are the key conditions/requirements to enable the emergence of sustainability/compliance topics in digital procurement?

What’s interesting is that this topic is very hot right now. My business partner Jason Busch just attended the recent EcoVadis conference in Paris, and the buzz (beyond the buzz from the sustainably grown coffee that was undoubtedly served there) was palpable. Part of the reason is that the topic is giving many procurement organizations new ways to engage the business and the suppliers alike in a way that drives much more meaningful value across the value chain beyond just price-centric cost savings. And it also engages a new generation of procurement professionals who want to have a meaningful impact on value chains rather than just being deal-makers and “firefighters.”

Anyway, the questions above are big ones, and require very thorough answers, so without further ado, let’s get to answering them ...

ISM 2019 Houston Conference: Highlights and Musings (Part 2)

After a Spend Matters' team went to the ISM 2019 conference last week in Houston, I recapped the event in an earlier post, but today I want to focus on two more sessions, one titled "Procurement Hacks" and the other about sustainability, given by HP Enterprise. And I have a special shoutout for Katie Smith, who discussed a procurement digital transformation case study for HERE Technologies.

SourceDay: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT

The broader procurement technology market has always had a tenuous relationship with the direct procurement technology solutions. Old timers may remember SupplyWorks from the early 2000s, but it folded — and the SupplyWorks brand name now belongs to a janitorial/sanitation service provider (we won’t go down the easy joke paths on this one). More recently, DirectWorks, a perfectly decent solution for direct materials sourcing, also struggled until getting picked up by Ivalua.

Part of the challenge is that direct procurement is not only a subset of spend but also a superset of processes, because it’s essentially infused into the broader supply chain. This makes it addressable from multiple solution sectors like SCM apps, supply chain networks, integration players and industry players.

Source-to-pay application suites, for their part, are picking off some low-hanging fruit functionality here, but the broader requirements are spelled out well in our coverage of a distinct segment that may be forming for direct materials procurement solutions.

Manufacturers today are slowly seeing an expanding set of purchasing tools beyond ERP and MRP alone, and choice is generally a good thing if you have your overall solution strategy/approach nailed down before you go tool shopping. Many will be more than happy to explore this new market.

One of these newer choices is SourceDay, an Austin, Texas-based vendor that directly integrates with ERP and MRP systems to automate the management of purchase orders and supplier performance. By providing a more usable and procurement-centric layer over the data housed by a legacy ERP or supply chain application, SourceDay takes on many of the problems that procurement organizations find in managing direct materials spend.

The result is that procurement can save time, reduce errors and systematically manage supplier performance from a common cloud or mobile interface while still claiming the benefits that an ERP system can offer. There are obviously caveats to this statement — namely around integration — but we’ll touch on this later.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on SourceDay and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of SourceDay’s offering, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

Coupa to Acquire Exari: What Type of CLM Solution Is Coupa Getting? (Part 1)

Coupa just announced that it intends to acquire Exari, a leading provider of contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions. Terms of the deal were not provided, but with Exari having almost 150 employees, it’s not unreasonable that the private firm would have over $30 million in revenues and a deal size valued at just over nine figures. Contract management is a red-hot space right now, and Coupa has a very strategic need for this product. Spend Matters believes that this acquisition is a very smart hand-in-glove acquisition even though it’ll require some alterations to truly fit properly.

Coupa currently has a basic contracting module as part of its “Business Spend Management” application suite within the source-to-pay market, but it was missing two critical aspects of modern CLM that are major strengths for Exari. On a product functionality basis, Exari is one of the very top performers in Spend Matters’ CLM rankings on SolutionMap, and it “ticks all the right boxes” for a best-of-breed CLM performer. It’s also unique in its knowledge-based approach to deep contract modeling rather than just straight AI and machine learning based on contract text analytics.

CLM is also not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and the market landscape depends heavily on many factors. Some providers are much more oriented toward the sell-side — e.g., CPQ-oriented providers such as Apttus or SpringCLM (recently acquired by DocuSign). Some are focused on the mass market with usability being a key focus (e.g., Concord, Outlaw, PandaDoc, etc.). And even within large enterprises looking at firms like Exari, Icertis, Agiloft, SirionLabs, and others, they differ in their requirements as to whether they want “deep” functionality, maximum configurability, ease-of-integration, attractiveness to many functions (e.g., the legal department), and/or being part of a larger application suite.

So, what is Coupa getting with Exari? What types of organizations are the best fit for this solution and the combined solution of Coupa and Exari? Is Exari a solution optimized for legal, procurement or both? And what will Coupa need to do to integrate Exari since this acquisition is not some simple bolt-on, but rather, a core platform component? Finally, what is the impact of this acquisition on the S2P and CLM markets?

This Spend Matters PRO quick take analysis provides insight for Coupa customers and the broader market on specifically what the provider is acquiring. Unlike past acquisitions, we believe Exari represents the greatest stretch away from its core economic buyer (at least historically). Find out why.

For an introduction to Exari, we encourage you to read our Spend Matters PRO review: Introduction & Solution Overview, Strengths/Weakness and Market/Competitive Analysis.

SAP Ariba Live (Part 1): SAP Fieldglass Integration, the Ariba Network and Other Topics & Analysis

Accenture

For the industry analysts in attendance, SAP Ariba Live 2019 kicked off Monday in Austin, Texas, with a candid Q&A session with Barry Padgett, president of SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass; Darren Koch, chief product officer of SAP Ariba; and Vish Baliga, chief technology officer of SAP Fieldglass. During the session, Padgett, Koch and Baliga shared the latest from SAP in terms of numbers growth and SAP Fieldglass’ integration into a common business unit with SAP Ariba, among other topics.

Many of these themes were echoed throughout the 100-plus breakout (and mainstage) sessions that took place Tuesday and Wednesday, including multiple sessions on the SAP Fieldglass integration as well as the Ariba network, among other topics.

This Spend Matters PRO live report provides insight into these updates from the public sessions and what’s driving them. It also includes an analysis and key takeaways from our first 24 hours at SAP Ariba Live. In subsequent briefs, we will explore these and other topics in more detail.

Is Telecom and Freight ‘Commodity’ Spend? Look How Uber/Lyft and Amazon Manage Them!

I’m sitting in on a webinar tomorrow with some amazingly deep transportation experts over at Spend Management Experts. These guys live and breathe small parcel, and if you want to learn about what’s really going on in this category and what you can do to bring more than a knife to a bazooka fight, you should check it out. For a preview, read how telecom for Uber equates to logistics for Amazon.

Services Procurement is Broken: Finding Fixes Beyond Contingent Workforce Management, E-procurement

If you google the term “services procurement,” you’ll see an article from my colleague Andrew Karpie touching on the topic front and center. He talks about the need to transcend the traditional contingent labor-centric view of what is in fact a much larger scope dealing with the procurement of all services. Aggregate annual spend on complex services by U.S. organizations is on the order of $9 trillion to $10 trillion, while spend on temporary staffing is only on the order of $0.02 trillion. When looked at with a wider-angle lense, the scope of services spend is huge. But ...

This is where I’m going to carry the discussion forward. The problem that I’ll address is, to put it bluntly, the management of services spend is shockingly poor.

There are many reasons for this. The first is organizational.

A spend category like direct materials is fairly straightforward in terms of organizational reporting ultimately into the supply chain organization (and/or business unit). The same can be said for lab supplies managed alongside R&D or data center equipment managed alongside IT. But services are trickier, not only in their inherent complexity and variability, but also because of their organizational governance. For example, if I’m looking to bring in some DevOps contractors to supplant my IT outsourcing provider’s capabilities, do I use an IT category team, a contingent labor Center of Excellence or perhaps an IT Vendor Management Office to have the ITO vendor provision the resources?

Beyond the organizational governance issue, the bigger problem is the fragmented nature of managing (not just procuring) services and the underlying systems to manage them — even just in source-to-pay. Case in point: There is not a single source-to-pay solutions provider in the market that offers deep support for all enterprise spend on a platform with a single code base and a unified data model.

And this is 20 years after e-procurement systems started being developed. Let that sink in.

But before a few of the S2P suite vendors get their knickers in a twist over this statement, keep in mind that what I’m including with the term “deep support” is being able to track services work to the contingent worker level that temporary labor solutions (aka “VMS” solutions) and those solutions supporting independent contractors. These contingent labor procurement platforms for their part are only touching a portion of the spend, and the expansion of many of them into SOW-based spend isn’t necessarily something that firms want to use for all their contract-based spend given that modern S2P suites can do a reasonably good job of setting up SOWs against MSAs, modeling basic rate-based service catalogs, and then matching them to the downstream invoice-to-pay processes. The trick, however, is how to go beyond the basics and handle the real life requirements of complex services categories.

This transformation will require a new way to understand/frame services and a new class of architecture and platforms to meet these needs — while also making some practical moves with existing tools (e.g., using modern CLM platforms as a critical core to modeling the commercial details/attributes of these services). It will also require procurement to align more tightly with IT and to leverage an emerging ecosystem of platform providers and approaches that can help rise above the functional silos that manage services spend in disjointed ways.

Extracting maximum commercial value from services can only be done at an end-to-end process level, and procurement has an opportunity to help optimize the sourcing, consumption, settlement and ongoing management of these increasingly digital and externalized services (and their providers). By more easily extending the capabilities of digitally savvy suppliers into internal value chains with internal stakeholders, but also ultimately out to external customers, procurement can proactively be part of broader enterprise digital transformation activities.

In this SpendMatters PRO analysis, we’ll dive into the challenges of segmenting external business services (e.g., understanding the interplay between digital-dominant and labor-dominant services) and how to look beyond the traditional contingent labor approaches (hint: Segmenting the market based on the presence of a statement-of-work is clearly not sufficient).

Later in this series, we’ll dive deeper into a new commercial framework for services and then map the resulting business requirements to technology requirements and associated vendor/solution types that transcend the source-to-pay market (e.g., enterprise CLM, ITSM, low-code platforms, etc.).