During my brief Chicago tour, I had a chance to sit down with Rod True of Procuri, Senior Vice President and the former President and Founder of TrueSource, acquired by Procuri last year, and talk not only about Procuri’s TotalSpend solution, but about what Spend Analysis, Visibility, and Intelligence means to Procuri and where their solution is going.
Although I do believe that their tool is not yet a perfect “total” spend solution (but to be fair, I do not think any tool is – which is probably obvious from my recent posts on the spend visibility space), I also believe that with the acquisition of TrueSource, Procuri are just as close, if not closer, than any of the other big players in the space. The reason for this lies largely with Rod True and the team he built and the fact that they get that “spend intelligence” requires three major components to be successful: accurate visibility across all of the relevant data, analysis capabilities, and the ability to use the data for compliance initiatives.
To this end, TrueSource spent a great deal of time on ETL tools that could not only load data from a large number of data sources, but map such data into a plethora of out-of-the-box and custom categorization schemes and do so in such a way that duplicates are detected and dropped. (After all, if your data is no good, neither is your analysis.) Moreover, knowing that most companies still use old ERP or database systems where the best they can muster is a full database dump (for the last month / quarter / year), they have built their ETL tools in such a way that their spend warehouse can be incrementally updated from a full database dump at any time.
They have also built in a large number of reports (over 70) and standard reporting capabilities (through a custom report builder) to allow for role-based reporting and analysis, compliance & audit management, category management, and diversity management and built their warehousing capabilities to support just about any categorization you can desire. They also have role-based dashboards, category project management, and category intelligence built into the solution.
Furthermore, knowing that they could not possibly think of all of the things you might want to do with the data, they also support the fine-grained export of any set or subset of data or report that you might want to analyze in further detail.
And this is where I believe their one weakness lies. They have visibility down pat (and pride themselves on their ability to be able to quickly develop an automated cleansing, classification, and refresh for just about any data source you can imagine), they understand that the entire point of any spend effort is all about compliance – with diversity requirements, with reporting regulations, with business decisions, and with sourcing decisions (otherwise your “savings” might never be realized), but their analytics is limited to what you can do with their pre-defined reports and report builder. And although I have to admit that what they have is most likely more than enough for most of the users in an organization – executives, managers, and even average users – I am not convinced it will ultimately satisfy the emerging spend power users.
It is true that a power user can easily integrate into their cleansed data feed and extract just the data they want (and they told me that they are surprised at how fast their power users can get just the data they want for a custom report and build it in another tool), but I believe that the next generation of spend power users are going to want the ability to create their own custom views, reports, and analyses in the tool itself, versus on their desktop with a Microsoft Office or similar end-user tool.
However, you still need a centralized spend repository with complete, clean, categorized data for your analysis, reporting, and compliance management – and this solution is definitely a valid starting point from that perspective.