Daily Archives: February 5, 2024

2023 was the year of Intake. Will 2024 be the Year of Orchestration?

Orchestrate the feeds
Pave the way for meeting needs
Phase one is initiated,
there’s no more paper chase, eh?
Set the space ablaze
Case closed, we did rephrase
Workflows for phase by phase
Gets you through the hard days

To the tune of “Orchestrate” by Eliozie
(Outtro NSFW)

2023 may have been the year of Intake with Zip raising 100M to do Procurement intake management for the layperson, but 2024 will be the year of Orchestration. The reason is that while it’s great to manage intake and give the organizational end-users and stakeholders insight into where their request is in the process at all times, allowing them to interact with Sourcing and Procurement where needed, it’s even greater to give Sourcing and Procurement the orchestration engine they need to get their job done and fulfill those organizational requests efficiently and effectively – across people, processes, and platforms.

With so many challenges for an average buyer to fulfill a request from an organizational employee or stakeholder:

  • identify potential suppliers
  • identify potential products
  • verify products
  • for suppliers not onboarded, verify supplier eligibility for onboarding
  • onboard the required suppliers for the sourcing event
  • conduct the sourcing event
  • identify the winner
  • conduct negotiations and …
  • collaboratively develop a contract for signature
  • (e-)sign the contract
  • identify and track the performance obligations
  • identify and track the compliance obligations
  • import the pricing into the e-Procurement system
  • send out the (first) PO
  • track the order acknowledgement and the shipment
  • ensure and record delivery
  • etc. etc. etc.

Doing all of this often involves

  • using a third party supplier discovery service to identify potential solutions
  • searching product specs in a third party marketplace that integrates with your catalog management application
  • using a TPRM (third party risk management) to make sure the supplier doesn’t have any obvious red flags
  • onboarding the supplier in your supplier management solution to collect organizational specific data requirements in order for you to potentially transact with the supplier
  • switching to an e-Sourcing tool to do the RFP/RFQ (as appropriate)
  • running a (weighted) analysis on the bids to select a winner …
    possibly in an analytics solution
  • conducting negotiations in a negotiation management tool (that may or may not be integrated with the CLM)
  • managing the contract drafting processing in the CLM
  • … and the signing in the e-Signature tool
  • and then run the the contract through a contract analysis solution to push the performance and compliance obligations into the governance module
  • … and extract and push the pricing into the e-Procurement system(‘s integrated catalog)
  • … where the PO is cut and the Ack received before …
  • they have to manage the invoice in the I2P (Invoice to Pay) / AP (Accounts Payable) system as well as verify the goods receipt
  • etc. etc. etc.

Furthermore, even if the organization has a “suite”, chances are it’s not that “sweet” and many of the core modules aren’t tightly integrated (as most of today’s S2P “suites” were assembled through acquisition and while the UX has been cleaned up to look consistent at first glance and there is some “endpoint” integration, chances are that it’s minimal data push and pull between process endpoints). It’s also often the case that if the required workflow doesn’t exactly match a very specific use case, the integration just doesn’t work seamlessly and it’s a lot of effort. That’s for the modules in the suite. Not all modules are in the suite. Most suites don’t have full TPRM, extensive compliance management, negotiation support, inventory management, etc. and that is through non-integrated third party solutions. A simple process that should take a few hours of effort to check all the boxes can take days of effort as buyers have to switch between multiple systems, check status, re-enter data, switch back to the intake platform to update the requester, make changes, and so on. Just like the introduction of “modern solutions” has taken onboarding from a 2-day fax and email process to a 2-week gated process with multiple, disjointed, approvals, the proliferation of disjoint, specialized, Source-to-Pay-Plus solutions has taken simple processes that take hours of person-work and days in real-time to complex processes that take days of person-work and weeks in real-time.

The solution? Procurement orchestration. Something that integrates, to the extent possible, all of the modules together in the right process with the right steps in the right seamless flow that requires any piece of data to be entered once and only once in a consistent user interface … and works for all parties, the requester, the buyer, and any stakeholder involved in the process.