Source-to-Pay+ is Extensive (P39) … DeObfuscating the Orchestration – Fitting it all Together

In our three installments last week (Part 34, Part 35, Part 36) we noted that, when you are in Sourcing/Procurement, you need to intake requests, manage projects, and/or orchestrate your technology-enabled processes, depending on what the modules/suite you have do and don’t do and what your particular situation warrants. However, we also noted, that you won’t find a single platform that does everything you need to do, and you’ll be lucky to find a platform that does even half of it. And even then, it probably won’t do more than half of that well. That’s because, as we explained, these emerging platforms typically fall into the categories of Intake Management, Procurement Project Management, or Orchestration. In Part 35 we overviewed the core capabilities at a high level, but skipped the deep dive in an effort to get you the fledgeling vendor list (which is still quite small) so you could start getting familiar with who is out there and have an idea who to investigate when the time is right.

However, once you get a shortlist, you need to be able to evaluate where the platform is now relative to where it should be and what you will need. Thus, in this installment, we are going to continue our dive into each of these three product classifications (which, hopefully, will someday become one as you need all three sets of capabilities for successful orchestration). We’re concluding with Orchestration, because once you have accepted the request and defined the project, you need to execute it.

Orchestration is, in essence, the integration of as many modules as you need into a configurable workflow that suits your specific organizational processes for the procurement at hand.

Easy Self-Serve Data Stream / Partner Module Integration
A buyer should be able to select the supported applications that they own, enter their license codes, and it should automatically integrate with the orchestration tool. It should be a single click to integrate a supported data stream (once purchased).

Low-Code Integration for Arbitrary Source to Pay+ Modules
It should be almost as trivial to integrate non-partner source to pay modules which have a well-defined (open) API simply by defining the API link, the buying organization’s unique keys, data mappings from the orchestration platform to module data tables/objects, entry and specific task links, etc. that is sufficient for pulling data from preceding modules into the application, pushing data out required for metrics and successive modules that are required in the procurement process, launching the application, quick-linking to a specific screen, and integrating the module into the appropriate process workflows.

Workflow Automation
The entire idea of process orchestration is to support the right workflows to support the various sourcing, contracting, onboarding, procuring, payment term analysis, and other source-to-pay projects the procurement organization needs to undertake. It should fully automate the workflow defined in the intake module and/or the project defined in the procurement project management platform.

Smart Progress Tracking
The orchestration module should automatically track where every single process is and when a buyer comes in, take the user to the right screen corresponding to the current step of each procurement process it is managing. It should also push the required data for process and project tracking into the intake and procurement project management modules that will allow those platforms to automatically track the current project process.

Effectiveness KPI Tracking
Whereas a procurement project management module should track the efficiency of the procurement projects, orchestration should track the effectiveness. For a sourcing project, what was the identified savings? (It should track the prior cost per unit, the estimated demand for the next year & contract term, and the identified cost per unit.) For a contract renewal, what were the cost/service/quality/etc. gains? For a catalog procurement, what was the cost savings over the prior (non-catalog) procurement? For an analysis, what opportunities were identified in what time frames? And so on.

Predictive Analytics Integration
The platform should be capable of integrating with a platform capable of doing predictive analytics around expected process times, expected performance (savings, etc.) outcomes, and other metrics the user might want to consider before kicking off a project.

Rule-Based Automation
The platform should support rules-baed automation that will allow parts of the process to be fully automated within certain constraints. For example, if it’s a sourcing project, the RFQ, once defined, can automatically go out to approved vendors, when the quotes are returned, the lowest cost quote(s) accepted, the contract draft auto generated, and so on.

Data Flow Definition
It should be trivial to define the data flows between the different source to play modules that will be used in a given procurement process.

This completes our deep-dive of the intake management / procurement project management / orchestration modules that exist today, and that we listed in Part 36.