Category Archives: Procurement Innovation

2020 is Fast Approaching – What Have You Accomplished? Part I

It was just five years ago that all of the big consulting houses — PWC, Accenture, Deloitte, etc. — were talking about the future of procurement in 2020 and how it was going to be nothing like what it was then, or should I say, what it’s like today because, to be frank, it really hasn’t changed that much in the past five years.

Despite all the recent talk about Cognitive Procurement and AI hitting the mainstream, Procurement platforms haven’t changed much. There’s only a few offerings outside of very point-based Contract Analytics offerings, like Dhatim, LevaData, and Xeeva, that have anything that’s truly cognitive-borderline, but even these platforms only work on a very narrow range of categories in one or two industries.

And sourcing platforms haven’t changed much either … very few have any capabilities whatsoever that didn’t exist five years ago. The biggest change is that you have more S2P suites, partly as a result of the M&A frenzy and partly as a result of PE firms investing deeply in platforms with the capability to be leading S2P platforms. Whereas a few years ago you really only had Ariba, Emptoris and Jaggaer (known as SciQuest) — although, five years ago, Jaggaer was more a collection of applications that would eventually become a platform; Emptoris was much stronger in Source to Contract than Procure to Pay; and Ariba was just acquired by SAP, which stagnated development for a few years.

But today, we have eight major S2P platforms, which are included in Spend Matters Q4 Solution Map: Coupa, Determine, GEP, Ivalua, Jaggaer, SAP Ariba, SynerTrade, and Zycus. Coupa, which was a leading P2P platform, acquired Analytics, Optimization, and Risk; built out contracts, and now has a complete S2P platform using a classic definition. Determine, which resulted from Selectica’s acquisition of Iasta and b-Pack and replatforming of everything on the b-Pack platform. GEP, which acquired Enporion in 2012, integrated, built up, and built out and now has S2P. Ivalua, which just acquired DirectWorks (formerly Co-exprise), has been building out end-to-end since the early days and now has pretty much everything except optimization from a classic S2P perspective (and is getting deeper in direct capability as a result of DirectWorks). Jaggaer integrated everything through a common data layer and had S2P, and then acquired BravoSolution last year (which also just achieved S2P from its Puridiom acquisition), and now has 2 complete S2P platforms as well as deep direct sourcing capability (from its Pool4Tool acquisition). SAP Ariba (which acquired Procuri years ago) has been developing extensively, replatforming its analytics on SAP Hana, simplifying implementations and supporting the mid-market through partners with SNAP, deepening its risk management to go head-to-head with best of breed, and so on. SynerTrade, like it’s counterpart Ivalua, has been developing an integrated platform for almost two decades, which started out as a collection of “apps” (like Pool4Tool started out as a collection of modules), and has everything one would expect as well as integrated optimization — it’s the best platform most of you haven’t heard of. And then we have Zycus — once the “dollar general” of S2P platforms, it’s come a long way and is starting to hold its own with the best of them (and with it’s new iRequest module, it’s bring S2P visibility to the masses).

But when you think about it, what do they have that past platforms didn’t have?

We’ll let you dwell on this for a day …

If you still think you don’t need to get with the program … Part II

So, if you’re still reading, you don’t believe that you are losing:

  • opportunities,
  • time,
  • innovation, and
  • value

by sticking with your 2nd (or, even worse, 1st) generation S2P platforms without program management. That’s fine. Maybe you have a crackerjack analyst team that is exceptional and finding opportunities. Maybe you have very well designed processes and your team, with experience, has actually become very efficient at using the platform. Maybe you R&D team is already using a cloud-based innovation platform. And maybe you actually got a good deal on the older platform you are using and actually realized value. It could happen. But, that’s not all you are missing by not getting with the program. You’re also missing:


… you don’t find. Let’s face it, no matter how great your team is, they can only analyze so much. And only on the data they have. An integrated S2P platform / process with integrated program management can allow all parties to not only do analysis to identify potential opportunities, but provide data, insight, and research the team didn’t do.

Relationship Building

Maybe you have SRM, and it contains functionality to manage your supplier relationships, but supplier relationships aren’t the only important relationships. Relationships with your extended team, especially the team members who manage your supplier and third party relationships, are critical. And without a platform to keep tabs on where they are, and how things are going, are you really maintaining the right relationships with the extended team across the global organization?

Process Innovation

Maybe you have an innovation platform that helps R&D with product innovation. And maybe it works great. But if you really want to maximize value, you have to optimize process efficiency. And if the process is disconnected across multiple BoB platforms, and only the core Procurement team is on the platform, you don’t get the full perspective, which means you don’t get enough perspective on how to possibly innovate the process. Which is another loss.

Enhanced Collaboration

If your platform is disconnected, your team is disconnected. Yes, you can do a lot over the phone and video conferencing, but that’s disconnected from the process. And where’s the record of it? And how do you know what’s been collaborated on, and what hasn’t? You don’t. Collaboration without program management is, whether you want to admit it or not, limited.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg of benefits you are missing without program management. So why don’t you get with the program?

If you still think you don’t need to get with the program … Part I

… maybe we should ask why?

Earlier this year, SI authored a paper, sponsored by Synertrade, on The importance of program management for savings and value realization (registration required), that laid it bare as to why you need to get with the program.

And then, over the past few months, over on Spend Matters Pro [membership required], the doctor, with the help of the prophet, the maverick, and the revolutionary, has been penning a series on Program Management and how you might go about actually doing it across the Source-to-Contract cycle. For those who might have missed it, here are the links:

But, of course, the how to is irrelevant if you don’t accept the why. Without getting into too many details, as you can download The importance of program management for savings and value realization for free upon registration, the main reasons we pushed you to get with the program were:

  • lost opportunities,
  • lost time,
  • lost innovation, and
  • lost value

But maybe you think you have all the answers with your current non-program based S2P platforms and systems. Maybe you think your processes are sufficiently refined such that you can identify all the opportunities, attack them efficiently, and still innovate acceptably without program management. And if this is the case, you’re probably quite happy with an easy to use, adoptable, second generation S2P platform(s) and see no need to modernize again. But you need to. Why?

Come back for Part II.

e-Procurement Benefits – What’s the ROI? Part II

In our last post we reminded you that there are valuable benefits to e-Procurement systems, as evidenced by the fact that many organizations are claiming to have saved millions of dollars thanks to their modern e-Procurement systems. This is great, but one shouldn’t just look at the savings, because if you spend enough on anything, you will likely show some savings for it. The real measure is the ROI.

And when you break it down as to where the ROI comes from, you see that it’s possible to get almost the same benefit from pretty basic systems that enable the proper processes and provide the right insight, often at a fraction of the price tag that comes with the big P2P/S2P systems. This means that the organization is not getting the ROI it could be — and isn’t the smartest business move to always chase the biggest ROI? (Since that leaves more money on the table for other high-performing initiatives?)

Yes, it is. So does this mean you go with the cheaper systems? That depends. On what? On what else the integrated system brings, your ability to use it, and your ability to define more sophisticated — and more appropriate — ROI models. If the benefits you expect to take advantage of in the beginning are few, and there are lower-end systems that give you 80% or more of those benefits for a fraction of the price, maybe you should acquire a low-cost SaaS subscription to a lower-end system for a few years. Reap the reward, improve your Procurement proficiency, and when you are ready to take advantage of more benefits, then you can upgrade to a bigger better system.

For example, a bigger, better, more integrated system can also bring the following benefits:

  • negotiation management and contract creation support — integrated redlining, audit trails, e-Signing
  • centralized supplier data and scorecards — make better informed, more risk averse decisions and identify opportunities for non-risky supply base consolidation and volume leverage
  • wider adoption throughout the enterprise — this is important especially when department managers are authorized to do their own purchasing up to 10K or 25K …
  • … and a slew of others …

But only if the organization is ready for them. In other words, in order to determine if an e-Procurement system is the best buy, the organization needs to evaluate the solution against an ROI model that accurately models the benefits its able to capture, not the benefits that are theoretically there.

In other words, just like there is still no one-size-fits-all P2P/S2P solution (and that’s why the doctor works with Spend Matters to make sure Solution Maps accurately capture and convey the differences), there’s no one size fits all ROI model either. Just because a competitor saved 9M on a 1.5M investment and saw a 6X return, that doesn’t mean you will. You have to take your time, do the proper evaluation, and run the proper analyses. That’s the only way to truly benefit from e-Procurement.

e-Procurement Benefits – What’s the ROI? Part I …

In our last post we provided an overview of the big benefits of e-Procurement systems, namely:

  • on-contract spend
  • market costs
  • one-off spend approvals

These are valuable benefits, and the reasons that many organizations claim big, multi-million dollar savings from their e-Procurement system. But are these the system? Or the process? And, the most important question, what’s the ROI? Remember, big P2P installations can run your organization a million dollars — or more — up front and millions more over the years.

At a high level, the ROI calculation is easy. The system costs 1M, but saves you 5M, so it’s a 5X ROI. Right? Well, if all 1M is the result of the system. But chances are, only a small fraction of that is the system.  But even if we attribute all 100% to the system, is it really the system.   Or is it just because you have a system.

Let’s start with on-contract spend. If before the system was installed the organization had a 65% on-contract spend rate and after the system was installed the organization has a 90% on-contract spend rate, then the system boosted on-contract spend by 25%. If this resulted in a 2M savings, 40% of the 5M savings is due to this boost. This also means that 40% of the cost can be attributed to the on-contract spend potential.

Let’s move to market costs. If the system reduces off-contract spend by 1M on average over what was 20M of market spot-buys, then the organization improves spot buy spend by 5%. And since this is 20% of the 5M savings, 20% of the cost can be attributed to this savings.

Finally, let’s end with one-off spend approvals. Let’s say the organization does a lot of big asset rentals and purchases and they are typically done whatever way the individual wants. But lets say the standardized approach supported by the system allows the organization to reduce costs by 20% on the 10 M+ they spend annually, then another 40% of the big savings is due to this ability and 40% of the cost is attributable to this capability.

In other words, the organization is paying 400K to increase on contract spend 25% and save 2M, 400K to save on one-off spend approvals and processes to save 2M, and 200K to take advantage of market cost data to save another 1M. At this point, you’re probably saying, so what? It’s still a 5X return any way that it’s broken down. And you’re right.

But what if an organization can acquire all the market cost data it needs from a subscription to a commodity price consolidation service that costs 50K a year? Is the 1M system worth it then? Especially since the amortized cost for what the organization is using is effectively 200K? Is it worth sacrificing a 20X return for a bit of convenience?

And if the organization just needs a better RFP process with embedded collaboration to reduce those one-off spend approvals by 1,600K, and that better process can be obtained from a simple e-Negotiation platform for a mere 50K a year, instead of 400K, the organization is sacrificing a 32X return for a bit of convenience. Is that worth it?

And if the on-contract spend can be increased by 20% with a simple best-of-breed catalog solution which can also be acquired for about 50K a year from a leading provider, then the organization could save another 1.6M for 50K, another 32X return.

In other words, the organization could acquire 3 basic systems for 30% of the cost and see 80% of the return for a 28X ROI. So why spend 1M on a complete S2P suite?