Author Archives: Nick Heinzmann



Givewith: Vendor Introduction (Background, Solution Overview, SWOT, Checklist)

wind power

Givewith and SAP Ariba announced a partnership today for Givewith to integrate with Ariba’s sourcing module so companies can find nonprofit groups that can help improve the companies' corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability efforts.

In this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction, let’s see what Givewith’s solution has to offer and why it’s important now.

Consumers, investors and governments are pushing businesses to consider the larger social impact of their operations. And corporations, for their part, are starting to evaluate the ways they can respond. The August 2019 Business Roundtable restatement on the purpose of a corporation is one prominent example, in which multiple CEOs affirmed that a company’s mission should include not only increasing shareholder value but also betterment of customers, employees, suppliers and communities.

Such declarations are noble on paper, but they also have profit-focused incentives behind them. ESG ratings (environmental, social and governance) are becoming more relevant in investor decisions, so corporations are finding investments in programs for sustainability and CSR are now required to attract funding. Similarly, a strong corporate responsibility vision and track-record of action on social issues is becoming a selling point with consumers, as well as a reason for those consumers to consider working for (and remaining employed at) those businesses.

So where does procurement fit into all of this? According to the thinking behind Givewith, B2B transactions represent a major opportunity to generate funding for nonprofit programs. If procurement can recommend a slate of potential CSR or sustainability initiatives to fund during an RFI (or, if a supplier can do the same when constructing a bid response, to create a unique selling point), the business can use existing sourcing processes to yield operational and social impacts.

It’s a unique concept in the B2B space, and one that Givewith aims to scale quickly via its major initial partnership: A prebuilt integration directly into SAP Ariba’s sourcing module.

This Vendor Introduction offers a deep look at Givewith and its capabilities. It includes an overview of Givewith’s B2B offering (Givewith Enterprise), a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

Mintec: Vendor Introduction (Part 2 — Positives and Negatives, SWOT Analysis, Selection Checklist)

As we indicated in Part 1 of this Spend Matters Vendor Introduction of Mintec, there is no WaaS (weather-as-a-service) and, as a result, commodity price volatility in the agricultural sector is here to stay for the foreseeable future. But procurement professionals have to manage it somehow, and the only solution they have now is commodity market intelligence, of which Mintec is one of the largest, and oldest, market-intelligence providers in the sector.

With a database of over 14,000 unique market data sets across 20+ commodity categories and truly global geographies, Mintec is the go-to source for many large agricultural buying organizations around the world.

Should they be your go-to source too?

In this second part of our introduction, we’ll look at the positives and negatives and provide an overall SWOT and a selection checklist — all of which can help you make an informed decision.

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

No matter how well they prepare, commodity buyers can do nothing about the weather. So until a supervillain decides to make a mid-life career shift to be a SaaS vendor — weather-as-a-service (WaaS), anyone? — procurement organizations buying in the food & beverage categories will have to manage commodity price volatility as it happens.

To do that, many businesses in the food retail, food manufacturing and hospitality industries turn to Mintec. Founded in 1982, Mintec is a UK-based provider of commodity data and analytics tools for the food and drink vertical. It collects, validates and organizes data across hundreds of agricultural commodities and related inputs (e.g., packaging, plastics, labor), which it then distributes via a SaaS platform designed for category planning and analysis.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Mintec and its capabilities. It includes an overview of Mintec’s SaaS offering (Mintec Analytics). Part 2 will offer a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about its solution, a SWOT analysis of Mintec, and a selection requirements checklist for businesses that might consider the provider.

Procurence Vendor Introduction (Part 2: Strengths/Weaknesses, SWOT, Selection Checklist and Market Overview)

In Part 1 of this two-part Spend Matters PRO series, we introduced you to Procurence — a relatively new entrant to the global direct material supplier management space, based out of Warsaw, Poland. It’s a recent entrant to our SolutionMap ranking of vendors, where its scores make it a customer leader in the SRM category. While still a small player, its solution already has a lot of the breadth of more established players like Jaggaer Direct (Pool4Tool), Ivalua (Directworks) and Allocation Network. Procurence’s utilization has been growing tenfold year-over-year by its buy-side user base of over 10,000 users and supply-side user base of over 30,000 users. Whether it has everything your organization needs, however, will come down to your mix of direct vs indirect, and how similar your needs are to its existing client base, which it has been developing its Meercat solution with for the past seven years.

While Part 1 of this brief provided some background on Procurence and a high-level overview of its offering, Part 2 will provide a breakdown of what is good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis and a short selection requirements checklist that outlines the typical company for which Procurence might be a good fit.

Procurence Vendor Introduction (Part 1: Background and SRM Solution Overview)

direct materials sourcing

Supplier management is one of the most misunderstood terms in the procurement solution space, especially since the exact scope of processes supported by such systems varies by analyst, vendor and customer interpretation. In order to clarify, or at least differentiate, many vendors have begun slicing and dicing the SXM solution space to offer the likes of:

* Supplier Discovery Management: that help an organization identify potential new suppliers that can help it meet its products, services, diversity and/or sustainability requirements
* Supplier Information Management: that can help a supplier track all of the information it collects on a supplier, including locations, employees, products, services, certifications and certificates
* Supplier Performance Management: that can track not only supplier information but also relevant performance data on quality, reliability, delivery, invoice accuracy and sustainability
* Supplier Relationship Management: that includes not only performance data but also functionalities to manage the relationship, such as capabilities for supplier development, collaboration and innovation management
* Supplier Network Management: that can support supplier discovery but are primarily designed to support transactions (through e-document and e-payment exchange) with suppliers on the network
* Supplier Quality Management: that includes specialized capabilities to support direct materials procurement, including the management of non-conformance cost of poor supplier quality, and general quality management
* Supplier Risk Management: that includes the capability to gather multiple sources of risk data (financial, environmental, regulatory, geographic, etc.) and provide an overall risk profile

Very few vendors do more than half of this, at best, so when evaluating a supplier management software vendor, it's important to understand what fraction of this they do and whether that fraction is relevant to your business.

We'll take, for example, supplier quality management — this goes well beyond supplier performance management because it's not just tracking defect rates, uptime / reliability statistics, etc. but managing the quality process from the beginning of production to delivery of the product to the consumer. Ensuring the materials that are being sourced are of the appropriate standards and tested on receipt, that the appropriate production process is followed, that the machines are regularly tested, that the outputs are spot tested, securely packaged, and delivered to spec. Such a system should support ISO (International Standard Organization), ASQ (American Society for Quality) processes, Six Sigma, 8D Reports (based on Eight Disciplines methodology), and/or QDX (Quality Data eXchange). Very few solutions come close to this, even if they are designed for supporting direct procurement.

And while Procurence may not do all of this, it is one of the few supplier management solutions on the market that tackles quality management in addition to information, performance and risk, as well as aspects of relationship management.

Procurence was founded in 2009 in Warsaw, Poland, to provide tools to help buyers achieve transparency in their supply base, decrease supply risk, and streamline internal supplier management and communication processes.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Procurence and its supplier management capabilities. (Non-supplier management specific capabilities are excluded.) Part 1 includes a short company overview and a detailed look at Procurence’s offering. Part 2 will provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis, a short selection requirements checklist that outlines the typical company for which Procurence might be a good fit, and some market implications and takeaways.

Negotiatus: Vendor Introduction (Part 2 — Product Strengths and Weaknesses, SWOT, Selection Checklist)

e-invoicing

In our last Spend Matters PRO brief, we introduced you to Negotiatus, an upstart P2P provider out of New York City that’s offering a fresh take on how to solve the root causes of common purchasing headaches. Taking the view that procurement should route users and payments through one (consolidated) invoice approach, Negotiatus aims to help its customers drastically reduce the number of transactions they need to process. In this view, purchasing automation represents a symptom of dysfunction rather than a panacea to inefficient business processes, and many of Negotiatus’ strengths thus reflect its guiding philosophy of simplicity and elimination of unnecessary work.

This approach, complemented by its supporting technology and rapidly growing client base, was a central reason we named Negotiatus to this year’s inaugural Future 5 list, which highlights standout start-up companies in procurement technology. 

But such a philosophy may not be a fit for every procurement organization, and by its own admission, Negotiatus is often a better fit with younger, more “forward-thinking” procurement organizations than corporate stalwarts. Its functionality lags accordingly when compared with peers that strive to “check the box” on requirements expected by a more classically minded procurement group.

Part 1 of this brief provided some background on Negotiatus and an overview of its offering — from ordering/shopping and catalogs to invoicing and payment.

In Part 2, we will provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis and a short selection requirements checklist that outlines the typical company for which Negotiatus might be a good fit. We also give some final conclusions and takeaways.

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

The market for standalone e-procurement and P2P solutions appears to be entering a new act. After a wave of consolidation soaked up multiple best-of-breed providers (e.g., Verian, Puridiom, Aquiire), suite solutions took control, leaving only a handful of standalone alternatives. But now a new class of purchasing solutions is entering the market, each looking to disrupt the standard approaches to corporate procurement in their own way.

Some focus heavily on updating user experience and driving fast time-to-value. Others position their tools as a means to tackle specific problems (e.g., tail spend) or vertical-specific requirements. But generally the approach relies on a common theme: To win in the P2P market, new solutions need to do something different. Rather than accept the status quo of how procurement is done, many of these companies hope to offer a fresh take, whether that’s through how the technology is designed or how the business model can enable new approaches to purchasing.

This mindset applies to Negotiatus, the subject of this Spend Matters’ PRO Vendor Introduction. Based in New York City, Negotiatus is technically a P2P solution — that is, it supports ordering/shopping, catalogs, invoicing and payment, so in effect the whole P2P cycle — but it does not take a “check the box” approach to feature/function development. Instead, the founders decided to assess the root causes of common P2P problems and develop a solution that could eliminate them, rather than simply alleviate them. This approach works for some organizations better than others, but for clients such as Soul Cycle, Zeus Living and Cozen O’Connor, it’s a radical idea that can cut user ordering by as much as 75% and generate 8% median savings, according to Negotiatus.

This Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Negotiatus and its capabilities. The first part of this series includes a company introduction and an overview of Negotiatus’ offering. 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.

Jaggaer Preps for the Big Value Creation Hunt: 3 Takeaways from the REV 2019 Keynote Speeches

taken 10/2/1019

The Spend Matters analyst team is harbor-side in San Diego this week for REV, Jaggaer’s annual customer conference. The two-day event offers a strong focus on technology and roadmap topics, and executive keynote speakers this morning articulated the emerging vision for Jaggaer’s product suite. Clarity of vision is critical today for Jaggaer after the whirlwind of recent years. Here are three significant takeaways from this morning’s presentations:

Symbeo: Vendor Introduction (Part 2 — Solution Strengths and Weaknesses)

In Part 1 of this two-part Spend Matters PRO series, we introduced you to Symbeo, a long-established company based out of Portland, Oregon, that offers invoice conversion services and AP automation technology globally. By deploying not only its SaaS solution for managing AP processes but also handling the full scope of invoice receipt, capture and validation, Symbeo covers a gaping hole in the AP cycle that most businesses need help addressing — especially when it comes to handling paper invoices. And while its approach and capabilities apply more to one side of the market than the other, the depth of its processes and technology leave a lot to be admired. Whether Symbeo is a fit for a procurement or AP organization’s unique challenges and needs, however, will come down to how exactly the AP cycle is perceived.

Part 1 of this brief provided some background on Symbeo and an overview of its offering. 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 a short selection requirements checklist that outlines the typical company for which Symbeo might be a good fit. We also give some final conclusions and takeaways.

VectorVMS: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on VectorVMS and its capabilities that help companies with their contingent workforce programs. The brief includes an overview of VectorVMS and its solution offerings, a summary solution evaluation, a SWOT analysis and, lastly, a selection checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

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

AP automation can be a nebulous term. The exact scope of what business processes that a solution provider intends to automate, as well as whether automation covers truly hands-off processing or mere acceleration through digitization, can vary by the vendor. Generally, no vendor does everything comprehensively from end to end. Some can check the boxes in every part of the AP cycle, but none can check every box across the board.

Take, for example, paper invoice processing. Today’s major procure-to-pay solutions will tell procurement and AP organizations they can process all of their invoices digitally, using OCR-based technology and, in some cases, AI-based correction of that capture. But those invoices need to be captured by the P2P solution in a digital format, and then corrected by a human, as OCR accuracy rates, while admittedly improving, are still far from perfect. So if those organizations still receive invoices as paper — which, depending on the source, still can account for as much as 75% of all invoices sent — a standard SaaS AP automation solution would be insufficient to truly automate the AP cycle.

For small and mid-size businesses that don’t receive a large volume of invoices, an internal mailroom and a set of scanners may be enough to account for this imbalance. But for a large multinational corporation, manually scanning and capturing data from thousands of invoices a day quickly becomes a cost center.

This is the point where many multinational corporations call in a company like Symbeo.

Founded in 1983, Symbeo is a provider of invoice conversion services and AP automation technology. The Portland, Oregon-based company exhibits particular strengths in the receipt, capture and processing of manual invoices, including fax, email and paper-based invoices, using a comprehensive “human in the loop” process to maximize efficiency and accuracy. It also provides a SaaS solution for AP automation with an emphasis on exception handling, approvals and invoice collaboration, which depending on organizational requirements can be more than enough or just a starting point.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Symbeo and its capabilities. The first part of this brief includes a company history and an overview of Symbeo’s offering. 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, a short selection requirements checklist that outlines the typical company for which Symbeo might be a good fit, and some market implications and takeaways.

The CPO’s Conundrum (Part 4): Economic Instability

In the first three installments of this Spend Matters PRO series (see Part 1APart 1B), we noted that a number of pressing issues are shaping procurement from the outside in, yet chief procurement officers (CPOs) are still primarily concerned with issues set by an inside-out agenda — that is, cost-cutting and supply assurance targets mandated by upper management. Our PESTLE analysis of factors shaping the modern CPO agenda identified broad trends like economic instability, globalization, changing digital business strategies and the need to address corporate social responsibility (CSR) as areas that procurement organizations need to consider if they want to truly tap and manage the opportunities (and risks) offered by external supply markets, starting with sustainability and CSR in Part 2A and Part 2B and digital business strategy in Part 3.

Today we move on to the third item topping the CPO’s outside-in agenda: economic instability.