In our last post, we made the bold statement that it’s not optimization, it’s strategic sourcing and the even bolder statement that SI believes it has become practically impossible to do true strategic sourcing without optimization.
This is probably scary for those of you that are looking for a strategic sourcing solution and just figured out that, if the doctor is right*, then most of the organizations on your RFX list are not going to make the cut because while there are dozens of Sourcing platforms on the market, there are only six (6) that have true strategic sourcing decision optimization that implement all four (4) pillars defined in the classic wiki-paper that formally defined strategic sourcing decision optimization (SSDO).
So who are these six strategic sourcing samurai? They are the six remaining companies that took the time and effort to not only research and build a solution, but take it to market and wait while the market caught up with the vision that a few pioneers had fifteen years ago — a vision of true best-cost global sourcing from a total cost of ownership (and, more recently, from a total value management) perspective.
- BravoSolution (acquired VerticalNet, which acquired Tigris)
- Determine (formerly Selectica, which acquired Iasta)
- IBM (acquired Emptoris, which acquired MindFlow)
- SciQuest (which acquired CombineNet)
- Trade Extensions
It’s not a long list, but it’s an important list. Furthermore, one can be sure that there will be more companies to add to the list in a couple of years, especially since there are a number of advanced solvers out there — such as CPLEX, Gurobi, XPress, etc. — to build solutions on; a number of 3PLs — such as APL, Schneider, etc. — that have very advanced logistics optimization solutions; and a few companies — such as LLamasoft, Oracle, etc. — that have very advanced Supply Chain (Network) Optimization solutions (which is not the same as SSDO). Optimization is spreading, and as more companies realize its power, it will continue to spread. However, now that the early adopters have proven the power of decision optimization, the question is, are you going to be a leader, and one of the first to capitalize on it, or a laggard, and watch as your competition moves faster, captures more market share, and generates a greater year-over-year profit based on the advanced cost reduction and cost control methodologies that optimization provides?
As for those of you that already have a previous generation sourcing solution and, for one reason or another, are locked in to it, don’t fret. A few of these vendors are quite happy to license their software as a secondary solution because, even though optimization should be used in every event, the reality is that, if the category has been well studied, the cost model is relatively simple, or the product is going out for an all-inclusive bid, the additional savings that optimization is likely to find is small and those categories can continue to go through the current platform. By cherry picking the categories with the largest (un-managed spend) and which appear to have the largest opportunities, and simply conducting those through the secondary optimization platform (and then pushing the bids and awards back into the primary platform to maintain a single database of bid and award data), it’s likely that the organization can easily identify 80%+ of all of the additional savings opportunities identifiable through optimization for a small additional investment. It’s whatever works. If the organization can get by on one platform, great, but if it can’t, or feels it can extract more value from two platforms, that’s fine too. Strategic Sourcing is for everyone, and that’s why the leading optimization vendors are quite happy to work with everyone who’s ready.
* the doctor is right. The real question is, when will your organization be ready to accept it? If your organization has not yet reached a level of sourcing maturity that, at the very least, puts it in the Hackett Group top 8%, it may not be far enough along it’s sourcing journey to truly understand why optimization is a necessary for strategic sourcing in the latter half of this decade.