Be Wary of Top X Lists That Only Have ONE Specialist Vendor!

For every area of Source-to-Pay, including, but not limited to Sourcing, Supplier Management, Contract Management, Spend Analysis, e-Procurement, Invoice-to-Pay, Accounts Payable, Intake, Orchestration, and Spend Management, you can find a Top 10 vendor list. In fact, you can find multiple … just do a Google or Chat-J’ai Pété! search. However, if you compare them all side by side, you’re likely going to see the same vendors over and over again. Specifically, in all but one of the lists, you’re likely going to see the following vendors: SAP Ariba, Coupa, iValua, GEP, Jaggaer, and Oracle. In other words, you’re going to see the same six vendors over and over again.

And therein lies the problem. These are top suites. Suites may be best in breed in the one or two modules they started off with when they were startups, or the one or two startups they just acquired, but they are NOT best of breed across the board. Not even close. If you’re looking at a Top X Supplier Management list, you want a vendor that is best of breed in (at least one aspect of) Supplier Management. If you wanted a top suite, you’d look at a top suite list.

And it wouldn’t be so bad if you knew this, but you don’t. You’re looking for these lists because you are looking for a solution, don’t know what the options are, or where to find them. So when there’s only one specialist vendor on the list, and the list is on a major site like Supply Chain Digital or CIO, how is an average Procurement Professional supposed to find out what vendors even offer the type of solution they are looking for, let alone who the best vendors may be?

The answer is they don’t. And who does help? No one! The reality is that those suites are enterprise suites, all designed for, and going after, the same Fortune 500 / Global 3000. All are great baseline end-to-end solutions. But this also means they are not designed for the next 30,000 companies in the mid-market. That they don’t have end-to-end deep capability, and may not have specialized capability in the one-or-two modules the organization needs deep capability in due to the organization’s specific needs. If the organization is a utility, it needs deep contractor vetting (which is a specialized type of supplier compliance management), especially when those contractors send people to consumer sites and a safety violation could not only harm them, but also harm the consumer. If the organization is a financial institution, contracts need to be extensive and iron clad when it comes to risk, compliance, and security and a top of the line contract management solution is needed. If the organization does a lot of small purchases, it probably needs a best-of-breed catalog management solution with easy search and request so the average organizational buyer can request it. If you examine each of these requirements, none of those suites due specialized contractor vetting. Only one has a best of breed CLM, and only one other has a partnership with a best of breed CLM (and while they’ll tell you otherwise, remember that the doctor was a Spend Matters Analyst, designed ALL of the original Source-to-Contract Solution Map evaluations [which are still the deepest technical evaluations in the analyst space], as well as led the development of the common stack and infrastructure sections across all of the Maps and knows with authority what the “best” solutions are in each of these categories when you go broad and deep technically*). With respect to catalog management, half of these suites do it quite well, but with regards to organizational roll-out and tail-spend capture, most don’t get good adoption and that’s why you have intake/orchestration specialists (like Zip, Oro, and Tonkean) providing easy to use, consumer friendly, natural language interfaces to the organizational users beyond Procurement (and sitting on top of these suites).

In other words, these lists are junk, and besides presumably keeping the advertisers happy, they offer no value to anyone. In fact, they are so junk that, if they are not clearly labelled as advertorials (because that’s what they effectively are), they could be in violation of Competition Acts (introduced to bring transparency into journalism and “influencing”) in some states and countries if it wasn’t for the inclusion of exactly one best-of-breed vendor on the list who clearly wasn’t paying the publication anything (because they are small and definitely couldn’t afford the advertising rates).

In short, if half of a “Best Of” list for a Procurement module is suites, it’s junk and you should completely ignore it, and the publication should do better (or not do it at all).

And while the doctor can’t point you to any Top X lists that are suite/advertiser free (as he’s never found any), what he can do is point you to non-exclusionary vendor lists that you can start from to do your own research. has an open directory of a large number of Procurement software companies organized across 20 categories and the Spend Matters Vendor Directory has an open directory of vendors across 26 categories. And while neither of their category definitions or segmentations is perfect, they’re pretty close and a great start (and infinitely better than useless suite-filled Top X lists).

Also, the doctor regularly posts easy access lists of vendors when he does a(n update of a) summary of an area, and so far has listed hundreds and hundreds of vendors across the main areas of S2P in these posts (with almost 100 vendors addressing some area of Supplier Management, over 80 of which ARE NOT SUITES — which means this recent Top 10: SRM Providers list on Supply Chain Digital was very, very, sad when it had 6 suites: Ariba, Coupa, GEP, iValua, Jaggaer, and Oracle; 2 Supply Chain ERPs: Blue Yonder and Epicor [well, 4 actually as SAP and Oracle are ERPs, but at least they have specialist Procurement suites]; 1 trade network (which isn’t actually SRM by the way); and EXACTLY ONE best of breed SRM solution: Vizibl. FYI: SI’s list of over 100 SXM platforms has over 20 SRM specialists … just sayin’.)

For easy consumption, here are:
75+ Sourcing Vendors
90+ Supplier Management Vendors
80+ Contract Management Vendors
40+ Spend Analysis Vendors
70+ e-Procurement Vendors
75+ Invoice-to-Pay/Accounts Payable Vendors
20+ Intake/Orchestrate Vendors
10+, 5+, and 20+ Legal, Marketing, and SaaS Management Vendors
55+ Supply Chain Risk Vendors

And if you’re wondering why the doctor doesn’t do Top X lists, it’s twofold. One, in no area are there exactly 10 best vendors, so it’s a disservice to you to leave vendors out or add vendors in just to make a round number. Two, and most importantly, the top X vendors are predicated on the specific functionality you are looking for and the ability of the vendor to plug into your software ecosystem. For example, in Supplier Management, there are over a dozen different areas of focus. the doctor‘s coverage included 10 major areas of functionality, of which “R”elationship was just one, and while a large number of vendors “do” relationship, there are a number of different definitions as to what that is (and what functionality must be included). So, without a good definition accompanied by an ecosystem definition, there’s 40-ish vendors that may or may not be on that list. Every module has 3 to 10 major functionalities it has to support, and then sub-functionalities you may want. Without that context, no one can provide you a Top 10. (But if you engage an advisor who knows all those vendors at a high level, and provide your requirements, that person can help you get to a relevant short-list quickly so that you are making meaningful comparisons at decision time.)

* the doctor also knows that you don’t always need the absolute best, that sometimes the 80% solution [compared to the absolute best] is more than enough for most organizations, and that’s why a suite is often the right starting point for a large enterprise; especially if the enterprise augments the suite with one or two specific best-of-breed applications for specific use cases, as needed; but that’s your decision, not the suite, and not an uniformed third party hiding potential solutions from you