Daily Archives: May 20, 2016

Determine – Determined to Conquer b-pack’s Brave New World Part II

Our last post (re-)introduced you to Determine, a name you know even if it’s a name you don’t, as this provider is the successful fusion of the mature solution offerings that have been offered by Selectica since 1996 and Iasta and b-pack since 2000. We ended by noting that the new Determine platform is the platform that many sorcerers always wanted but never knew they were missing. Today we’re going to dive a little deeper into why.

Now, even though there’s not a whole lot new since SI last reviewed b-pack in its series on Taking Root in Their Brave New World (I, II, and III) or since SI last reviewed Iasta pre-acquisition (in Smart-Source Style, I, II, and III), these platforms have been integrated, their core modules have been enhanced and, most importantly, the (core) platform has a new UI that is not only easier to use than the one that b-pack had before, but is better looking to. (It was straight-forward, and there was nothing wrong with it, but parts of it looked like it was built as a Windows application and not a SaaS application.)

That being said, there are some cool new features, including:

  • Virtual Purchasing Contracts

    Good invoice and payment management requires m-way matching every invoice to at least a purchase order or contract and, if possible, a goods receipt as well. For many types of recurring payments — such as rentals, utilities, etc. — Procurement does not cut a contract and there is no Procurement record for AP to refer to when an invoice comes in. This prevents an m-way match and makes it difficult to detect duplicate, erroneous, or fraudulent invoices (and this, of course, contributes to over-payments). However, in the Determine system, you can set up recurring payment contracts and define expected payment dates along with expected amounts or ranges. Then, when an invoice comes in, it can be matched to an associated virtual contract payment, and if there is already an associated invoice, if the invoice is outside of the expected/agreed to range, or if the invoice is from a supplier without a virtual purchasing contract, it can be defined as duplicate, erroneous, or potentially fraudulent.

  • Supplier Network

    Often you know who the suppliers are you want to invite to a sourcing event, and often they are already in your Source to Pay system, but sometimes they aren’t in the system and sometimes you need to invite new suppliers that you don’t know. That’s why Determine is building a supplier network to not only help suppliers centralize their data management across multiple customers, but help buyers search for new suppliers. However, it takes time to build a supplier network so Determine comes …

  • … with TradeShift Integration

    … so that a buyer can find a new supplier “out of the box”. Tradeshift has a large global supplier network that can be used by any customer to jump-start their supplier identification and management for new sourcing events.

  • Full E-mail Approval Support

    Requisitions, purchase orders, invoices, etc. — anything that requires approval can be approved or rejected through e-mail, making it easier for buyers to get quick responses from approvers and executives who never need to log in to the system.

  • DocuSign integration

    Which allows for contracts to be created and signed electronically, eliminating the need for paper contracts (that get lost in filing cabinets), paper couriers (which can lose the contracts or fail to get them to their destination on time), and paper cuts (which are well deserved when paper is wasted).

And the following will be in the next release (end Q2 / beginning Q3):

  • Contingent Labour Management

    The b-pack platform had a very powerful catalog management system, which has recently been upgraded and extended in the Determine platform with full punch-out support to third party catalogs, and seamlessly integrates hosted catalogs and third party catalogs like any modern catalog system. It also supports standard requisition templates that allow a buyer to order merchandising (and simply specify the quantity and colors, etc. of the merchandise), bound documents (and specify the binding, paper, etc.), and other standard make-to-order products. And with the next release, it will also support embedded continent labour / service management capability where a buyer can search for resources with select skills, request a time of service, and send it off to one or more organizational contingent labour suppliers under contract (or create a requisition that will be fired off to the appropriate buyer for a sourcing event).

  • Workflow Driven Dynamic Questionnaires

    At present, the platform has standard workflows for new supplier registration, RFX creation, and so on, but these simply present pre-made questionnaire and forms to the user. As of the next release, the questionnaires will by fully dynamic and buyers and suppliers will only see the questions and information they need to see based upon their answer to current questions and their industry, product, service, etc.

  • Universal Action Plans

    One of the unique offerings of the b-pack platform was action plans, mainly used for corrective action plans in supplier management. In the next release, buyers will be able to create action plans for any process — including sourcing, procurement, and supplier development — manage them, and even tie them to appropriate metrics (built on the relevant platform master data).

And within a year Determine plans to have the Iasta platform native and all of the relevant CLM functionality native on the core b-pack platform, so not only will everything be off of one Master Data Management store, but one seamless user interface as well. And given the rapid pace at which they’ve integrated and extended the core platform so well, you can be sure that as long as Determine is determined, this will happen. In short, if you’re looking for a new S2P platform, this to know provider should definitely be on your short list.

For a deeper dive into the new Determine platform, watch for the two-part Pro coverage by the doctor and the prophet, coming soon on Spend Matters Pro (membership required).