Simfoni: Bringing the Orchestra to e-Sourcing

As noted in our last article on how Simfoni is Ascending the Scales in Spend Analysis, we last covered EC Sourcing (which is the foundation of Simfoni’s optimization-backed Source to Contract capability that resulted from their acquisition of EC Sourcing in 2022) on Sourcing Innovation in 2016 (getting ready to take the mid-market by storm), and more recently co-covered them on Spend Matters in a 3-part Vendor Analysis in 2022 (Part I, Part II, and Part III), but, as previously noted, you will need a Spend Matters Content Hub subscription to access that coverage.

Those who have been keeping up will know that Simfoni eSourcing has:

  • Flexible Multi-Round RFX Capability with composable questionnaires powered by conditional logic, unlimited user-defined columns, and multiple scoring options
  • Standard Auctions with enhanced lot management
  • Powerful in-tool pivotable matrix reporting so you don’t have to jump out to the analytics module to slice, dice, and compare RFX responses
  • Supplier Information Management with automatic supplier selection in events based on the products or tags
  • Supplier Portal with self-registration, onboarding, and corrective action support
  • Item Management which allows RFXs to be quickly constructed from scratch on existing items, or as copies of prior RFXs where items can easily be added or removed
  • Strategic Sourcing Decision Optimization with flexible scenario creation
  • Basic Sourcing Project Workflows that can be customized for every project
  • Contract Management with user-definable metadata, complete change history, approval workflows, and push from sourcing

Since their last major coverage over two years ago, Simfoni has integrated the EC Sourcing functionality into their platform and added the following capabilities:

  • Intake Management
  • Enhanced Project Management (Dashboard)
  • Integrated Opportunity Assessments and Wave Plans
  • Optimization Simplification

Intake Management

The buzzwords-du-jour are intake and orchestrate, and Simfoni has heard the message loud and clear. While their solution may not be on par with the big names like Zip for intake, it serves its purpose and intake alone is not a solution — you need powerful platforms for sourcing and procurement to back it up. Their solution allows anyone to make a Procurement request, and then view the status of that request at any time. It’s simple, but if you refer back to our post on Investigating Intake – Diving Into the Details, which was Part 37 of our Source-to-Pay+ is Extensive series, we only had six core requirements for intake for the requester:

  • Request portal: minimal, but check
  • Process visibility: minimal, but check
  • Asynchronous messaging: included in the Simfoni eSourcing foundation and available once the project kicks off
  • S2P platform integration: check
  • Budget tracking: available in the Sourcing Project and the Simfoni Analytics platform
  • Alerting: part of Simfoni eSourcing, and active once a project starts (as long as the requester is properly setup on the platform)

… and we only had six core requirements for the procurement buyer:

  • Request to process: Simfoni eSourcing has a good workflow, and it’s a single click to kick of a workflow
  • Workflow process definition: similar to above, it’s solid
  • Integrated approval workflows: not so much in sourcing, but in contracting and procurement (which will not be covered in this article)
  • Project management integration: sourcing projects are very well managed
  • Policy tracking: policies can be integrated across the Simfoni platform and quick links maintained in a policy widget on the main Terminal dashboard
  • Alerting: this is quite good for the buyer

Enhanced Project / Pipeline Management

The new dashboard for sourcing pipeline management hits the nail on the head. A buyer quickly sees all their open projects and their current stage, the baseline spend, budgeted savings, forecasted savings, and actual savings to date — and the CPO can log in and see the current status of everything at any time. No more “can you get me an update by Friday”. This information is always readily available.

Plus, with a single click, you can get the Kanban view and see which projects are in the:

  • Definition stage
  • Sourcing strategy definition stage: which allows for a task-based breakdown
  • Tender / RFQ / Auction stage
  • Negotiation and awarding stage
  • Implementation stage
  • Project close-out stage

Integrated Opportunity Assessments and Wave Plans

As we noted in yesterday’s article, Simfoni has created a great centralized opportunity assessment dashboard, with deep drill down capability, where a buyer can identify which sourcing project can be launched next and then kick off a project using the enhanced project creation capability and cross-platform integration. In addition, you can see each project in an integrated calendar view and know exactly how much is planned across the sourcing department at any time.

Optimization Simplification

Simfoni has extensively worked on simplifying the optimization interface making it super easy to set up a number of baseline scenarios (least cost, X suppliers, incumbents only), create a new scenario as a copy of an existing scenario with just one new constraint, see the spend summaries, and see summaries in pre-defined tabular views.

It’s also super easy to create constraints, which fall into one of six categories:

  • Competition: how many bidders can receive an award
  • Bidder: min or max award volumes to specific bidders
  • Qualitative: limit awards to bidders with custom attributes
  • Quantitative: limit awards to bidders with min or max scores (for risk, etc.)
  • Discount: define tiered bidder discounts (as percentages)
  • Subset: work on a subset of data

Creating a constraint is easy — you simply define

  1. the scope (which can be on any defined entity that is available including, but not limited to item, business unit, plant location, category, etc.) Note that if you want to apply a constraint to a group of items, plants, categories, locations, etc. then you need to define these as part of the sourcing event
  2. the bidder the constraint is applied to (if necessary, not all constraints are bidder-based), and
  3. the parameters (min, max, field value, etc.).

Also, you can create multiple constraints of the same type on the selected constraint screen (if you wanted an approximate 50, 30, 20 split, for example, you’d define three instances of the constraint, with the first instance awarding between 49% and 51%, the second awarding between 29% and 31%, and the third awarding between 19% and 21%).

In other words, in addition to integrating the EC Sourcing platform into their ecosystem, which included massive UX updates for consistence and modernization, Simfoni has continued to extend the capability and it’s still a solution that should be on the consideration list for any organization looking for S2C, especially where optimization or leading analytics is required.