Category Archives: SaaS

More Valid Uses for Gen-AI … this time IN Procurement!

Some of you were upset that my last post on Valid Uses for Gen-AI weren’t very Procurement centric, arguing that there were valid uses for Gen-AI in Procurement and that the doctor should have focussed on, or at least included, those because why else would almost every vendor and their dog be including “AI” front and center on their web-site (about 85%+)!

Well, you’re right! To be completely fair, the doctor should acknowledge these valid uses, even if they are very few and very far between. So he will. Those of you following him closely will note that he mentioned some of these in his comment on LinkedIn to Sarah Scudder’s post on how “AI is a buzzword“.

AI is a lot more than a buzzword, but let’s give Gen-AI it’s due … in Procurement … first.

With Gen-AI you can:

1. Create a “you” chat-bot capable of responding to a number of free-form requests that can be mapped to standard types.
This is especially useful if the organization employs one or more annoying employees who always waits too long to request goods and then, after you place the order, insist on emailing you every day to ask “are they here yet” in reference to their request, even though you flat out told them the boats are coming by ship, it takes 24 days to sail the goods across the ocean once they are on the ship, typically 3 days to get them to the port, 3 to 14 days to get them on that ship, 3 to 7 days to get the ship into a dock, 3 to 4 days to unload the ship, and 3 to 4 days from the fort, for a minimum delivery time of 35 days, or 5 weeks, and asking week one just shows how stupid this employee is.

2. Similarly, you can create a “you” chatbot for RFP Question Response.
More specifically, you can create a bot that can simply regurgitate the answers to sales people who won’t read the spec and insist on emailing you on a daily basis with questions you already answered, and which they would realize if they weren’t so damn lazy and just read the full RFP.

3. Create meaningless RFPs from random “spec sheets”.
Specifically, take all those random “spec sheets” the organizational stakeholder downloaded from the internet just so you can check a box, send it out, and make him happy. (Even though no good RFP ever resulted from using vendor RFP templates or spec sheets.) Which is especially useless if you have a subscription with a big analyst firm that includes helping you identify the top 5 vendors you are going to invite to the RFP where you will focus on the service, integration, implementation, and relationship aspects as the analyst firm qualified the tech will meet your needs. (After all, sales, marketing, human resources, and other non-technical buyers love to be helpful in this way and don’t realize that just about every “sales automation”, “content management”, and “application system” has all of the same core features and you can usually make do with any one of a dozen or more low-cost “consumerized” freeware/shareware/pay-per-user SaaS subscriptions.)

4. Or, do something slightly more useful and auto-fill your RFPs with vendor-ish data.
You could use the AI to ingest ALL of a vendor’s website, marketing, and sales materials as well as third party summaries and reviews and auto-fill as much of your RFP as you can before sending it to the vendor, and then approximately score each field based on key words, to ensure that the vendor is likely capable of meeting all of your minimum requirements across the board before you ask them to fill out the RFP and, more importantly, spend hours, or days, reviewing their response.

5. Identify unusual or risky requests or clauses in a “ready to go” contract.
Compare the contract draft handed to you by the helpful stakeholder to the default ones in your library that were (co-)drafted by actual Procurement professionals and vetted by Legal and don’t have unusual, risky, or just plain stupid clauses. For example, an unvetted draft could have a clause that says your organization accepts all liability risk, you agree to pay before goods are even shipped, you’ll accept substitute SKUs without verification, etc. (because the helpful stakeholder just took the vendor’s suggested one-sided contract and handed it to you).

6. Automatic out-of-policy request denial.
Program it to just say “denied” for any request that doesn’t fall close to organizational norms.

7. Generate Kindergarten level summaries of standard reports for the C-Suite.
Got a C-suite full of bankers, accountants, and lawyers who don’t have a clue what the business actually does and need simplified reports translated to banker-speak and legalese? No problem!

Of course, the real question is to ask not what Gen-AI can do for you but what can you do without Gen-AI because the doctor would argue that you don’t need Gen-AI for any of this and that the non-Gen-AI solutions are better and more economical!

Let’s take these valid uses one-by-one:

1. You could hire a virtual admin assistant / AP clerk in the Phillippines, Thailand, or some other developing country with okay English skills to do that for 1K a month!
Furthermore, this full time worker could also respond to other, more generic, requests as well, and do some meaningful work, such as properly transcribing hand-written invoices (or correcting OCR errors), etc. And give your employees the comfort of a real, dependable, human for a fraction of the cost of that overpriced AI bullsh!t they are trying to shove down your throat.

2. Classic “AI” that works on key phrases in the hands of the admin assistant will work just as well.
It will find the most appropriate data, and then the admin can verify that the question can be answered by the paragraph(s) included in the RFP, or that the sales person actually read the RFP and is asking for a clarification on the text, or a more detailed specification. The sales person gets the desired response the first time, no time is wasted, and you haven’t p!ssed off the sales person by forcing him to interact with an artificially idiotic bot.

3. When they said the best things in life are free, they weren’t referring to vendor RFPs.
In fact, those free RFPs and spec sheets will be the most expensive documents you ever handle. Every single one was designed to lock you into the vendor’s solution because every single one focussed not on what a customer needed, but the capabilities and, most importantly, features that were most unique to the vendor. So if you use those RFPs and sheets, you will end up selecting that vendor, be that vendor right, or wrong, for you. The best RFPs and spec sheets are the ones created by you, or at least an independent consultant or analyst working in your best interest. No AI can do this — only an intelligent human that can do a proper needs, platform, and gap analysis and translate that into proper requirements.

4. Okay, you need AI for this … but … traditional, now classic, AI could do that quite well.
Modern Gen-AI doesn’t do any better, and the amount of human verified documents and data you need to sufficiently train the new LLMs to be as accurate as traditional, now classic, AI, is more than all but a handful of organizations have. So you’re going to pay more (both for the tech and the compute time) to get less. Why? In what world does that make sense?

5. Okay, you need NLP at a minimum for this, but you don’t need more. And you barely need AI.
All you have to do is is use classical NLP to identify clause types, do weighted comparisons to standard clauses, analyze sentence structures and gauge intent, and identify clauses that are missing, deviating from standard, and not present in standard contracts. And, as per our last use, do it just as well without needing nearly as much data to effectively train. Leading contracts analytics vendors have been doing this for over a decade.

6. Even first generation e-Procurement platforms could encode rules for auto-approval, auto-denial, and conditional workflows.
In other words, you just need the rules-based automation that we’ve had for decades. And every e-Procurement, Catalog Management, and Tail Spend application does this.

7. Any semi-modern reporting or analytics platforms can allow the templates to be customized to any level of detail or summary desired.
And if you have a modern spend analysis platform, this is super easy. Furthermore, if your C-Suite is filled entirely with accountants, bankers, and lawyers who don’t understand what the business does, because they fired all the STEM professionals who understood what the business actually does, then your organization has a much bigger problem than reporting.

In other words, there isn’t a single use case where you actually need Gen-AI, as traditional approaches not only get the job done in each of these situations, but traditional approaches do it better, cheaper, and more reliably with zero chance of hallucination.

At the end of the day you want a real solution that solves a real problem. And the best way to identify such a solution is to remember that Gen-AI is really short for GENerated Artificial Idiocy. So if you want a real solution that solves a real problem, simply avoid any solution that puts AI first. This way you won’t get a “solution” that is:

  • Artificial Idiocy enabled
  • Artificial Idiocy backed
  • Artificial Idiocy enhanced
  • Artificial Idiocy driven

As Sarah Scudder noted on “AI is a buzzword“, AI is a delivery mechanism which, scientifically speaking, is a method by which the virus spreads itself. This is probably the best non-technical description of what AI is ever! And the best explanation of why you should never trust AI!

BlueBean: Instant Coffee for Mid-Market “Tail”-Spend Procurement

Billing itself as a platform that lets you enjoy a consumer-like buying experience with enterprise-level controls on existing e-commerce websites, BlueBean is a new solution for easy, compliant, organizational Procurement that lets you control your budget and pay less right from your browser.

Billing itself as a “request-to-pay” solution, the goal of the BlueBean platform, and the founders, is to simplify end-user buying in an average mid-market organization in a Procurement-compliant way without the need for intake, orchestration, and/or a traditional tail-spend / expense management platform that expects an underlying e-Procurement platform when most of the spend in such an organization is driven by users (due to there only being a few categories where strategic procurement is worth while and/or an understaffed central Procurement department). Moreover, the goal is to deliver a completely browser-based SaaS solution that doesn’t require a buyer to learn a new platform to make a purchase from a vendor who has, or sells through, an existing on-line e-commerce site.

So what is BlueBean? For the end-user, it’s a consumer-like “coupon manager” app (implemented as a browser extension) that runs in the browser and allows them to quickly:

  • find preferred vendors for any product or service
  • identify the (discount) codes they use on the vendor’s site to ensure the organization receives their (GPO’s) pricing
  • request a virtual card for the product(s) or service(s)
  • instantly receive that virtual card if the purchase satisfies all defined organizational requirements
  • pay with that virtual card
  • … and capture the e-commerce receipt for automatic submission to the Procurement/AP department

In other words, for the average buyer, with the exception that they have to pull down the in-browser app to find the allowed/preferred vendors, request the virtual card, and then access and use the virtual card (when the request is approved), it’s a super minimally intrusive Procurement app that allows them to buy in the traditional e-commerce style they are used to without having to learn any new Procurement systems. Compare that to even the modern orchestration systems where these same users would have to log-in to the enterprise app, use the wizards, or, even worse, try to converse with the Gen-AI engine (that shows them the latest pair of Nikes when they want brake shoes to fix the delivery truck), and then jump to either the organizational catalog, or, if they are lucky, punch-out to the e-commerce site where they populate a cart they then have to pull back. In other words, BlueBean makes the average orchestration system look like overkill. (As orchestration was another app developed for Enterprise customers that needed a lot of Procurement modules and solutions, not mid-markets.)

The founders of BlueBean, who have built a number of enterprise Procurement systems, realized that while you need a Procurement system for large(r), strategic Procurements, also realized that for “tail” spend, traditional Procurement processes and systems are overkill, and this is why you have people avoiding them and/or being non-compliant.

The founders of BlueBean also realized that in order for an organization to have proper spend management, even Tail Spend needs to be managed, and, more importantly, it needs to be captured. So they created an app that allowed for Procurement to manage this tail spend without requiring organizational users, who just have to use the browser extension, to learn new tools or processes, which distracts these users from the job they need to do.

So they built a simple enterprise e-Commerce platform that is like a punch-out catalog management, p-card management, tail-spend procurement, budget-management, and a paypal/stripe platform all rolled into one — which also simplifies the process and technology landscape for overworked and under-staffed Mid-Market Procurement teams who need to roll out something to manage the majority of enterprise transactions that doesn’t fall under the strategic procurement spend they barely have time to manage (when you include all the OT they likely have to work).

Right now, the just-launched BlueBean platform contains the following capabilities:

  • Company Profile: the company profile (with subscription details)
  • My Profile: the Procurement user’s profile and access details
  • Account Details: the company’s expense account details — available and pending funding and linked bank accounts
  • Virtual Cards: the virtual cards that have been issued, and the users / teams they have been assigned to
  • Transactions: all transactions that have been put through the BlueBean platform (for the prescribed time-frame) (with receipt attachments)
  • Spending Limits: by person or team (or category, as a team can be setup per category)
  • User Management: the platform users (with their details, limits, etc.)
  • Savings MarketPlace: the sites that have been approved for organizational buying by the organization (from the BlueBean marketplace or the organization’s GPO marketplace), organized by category, broken down by savings plan (to keep track of each GPO, department, etc.)
  • Preferred Stores: the e-commerce sites that the organization has marked as preferred
  • Statements: monthly P-Card-like statements that can be downloaded or exported to your accounting system
  • Reports: simple, on-line, dynamic spend breakdowns by category, time-period, team/user, etc.
  • Security: security configuration

And, as noted, BlueBean allows for direct export of all transactional data, with receipts, into the accounting platform for full spend tracking and classification (by vendor and default category), which allows more organizational spend to be (at least minimally) under management.

It’s a very neat solution for a mid-market organization that needs to get tail-spend / end-user spend under management and under control, but doesn’t have a large Procurement team, the resources to train organizational users, or the time to impose full Procurement processes on organizational users who just need to get a job done. So, if this sounds like something your organization needs, even though they are the new kid (on the block), the doctor would recommend checking out BlueBean and giving your organization the caffeine-rush it desperately needs. It’s serving a niche that hasn’t been effectively served yet (as most existing Tail-Spend solutions were defined for larger organizations and most orchestration platforms require one or more Procurement solutions to already be in place, and a mid-market Procurement team doesn’t have the manpower, budget, or time to manage more platforms than absolutely necessary). The minimal imposition will make your end users happy (and that leads to adoption).

Firms that Rely on Logo Maps and Analyst 2*2s for Tech Selection are NOT Appropriate for Tech Selection!

In our last article, where we described in detail the many, many reasons why logo maps (including the Sourcing Innovation Mega Map on Source to Pay+ with 666 Unique Clickable Vendor Logos which were verified to be valid as of 2024 April 13), we not only reiterated how these maps are mostly useless but explained that your mileage will vary widely between a map created by an analyst who’s likely seen 1/3 to 1/2 of the vendors in depth and a(n) (former) implementation consultant or (want-to-be) influencer from a CPO background who has no in-depth technology education or experience (beyond the systems he used).

Those who read between the lines would have seen this post coming — not only are they not appropriate for tech selection, any firm that relies solely on them or analyst firm 2*2s (which are great if you are searching for some holy smoke to keep the beast of procurement technology at bay) is also inappropriate for tech selection projects.

Your results with such firms will be about the same as the bigger firms with “consulting partner” status with all the (same) big players, as they will ultimately just recommend the same ten firms for your Tech RFP over and over again, whether or not they are the right firms (and solutions) to meet your needs.

In order to effectively select a set of potential solutions for a client, you need to, at the very least:

  • understand the processes the client needs to support and the gaps they have
  • understand the solution types needed to support the processes, and the client’s gaps in particular
  • understand the client’s current technology landscape and Technology IQ, including what is replaceable and what is not (since, gosh darn it, some clients are going to hold onto that ERP they overpaid for until you dodge their six-gun pistols and pry the contract from their cold, dead hands)
  • understand the client’s unique situation based on vertical/industry, market size, and geography/culture
  • understand what global vendors support the processes, fill the gaps, synch with the tech stack, and can, possibly through third party integrations/partners, address the client’s unique requirements

This is a tall order. So tall in fact that, despite the growing demand for technology transformation and digitization across the Procurement landscape, outside of a few niche vendors that primarily focus on specific industries and specific solution types, the vast majority of procurement transformation shops aren’t able to fulfill it. Most will

  • have the processes down pat, they are consultants after all!
  • have a decent understanding of the common/core solution types, as they smart ones will actually read the expository articles written by the analysts (that they have access to anyway*)

Some, who employ technology and industry-specific professionals, will be able to build a decent understanding of

  • the client’s technology landscape and technology quotient
  • the unique requirements to look for/enable based on vertical/industry, organizational size, and geography

But few, if any will be able to:

  • identify even a handful of relevant global vendors that take into account the first four requirements

This is because, as pointed out in our last few articles:

  • the space is much bigger than they think, with
    • more types of product offerings,
    • considerably more vendors then they think exist, and
    • considerably more than they can process
  • they don’t have the deep technical background or technical understanding to differentiate between two vendors that speak the same and present applications that look the same in a 60 minute demo, but differ greatly in underlying power, extensibility, integration capability, etc. where you need a deep technical background and/or competitor understanding to tease it out (as well as a deep understanding of Procurement and the competitive [solution] market place)
  • they don’t have a process to do a proper technical assessment, diligence, or tech analysis …
  • and they certainly don’t know how to do a deep assessment by module/area to truly differentiate two solutions to qualify them as suitable for selection if they submit the best RFP

As a result, many consultancies will just do their in-depth process analysis, write up functional requirements based on that, and toss it over the wall to the solution providers to figure out, selecting from their partners if they feel there is enough overlap, then from the upper right in the analyst maps they paid for, and, finally, from the logo maps from their most trusted source. And, as we’ve explained, this doesn’t cut it and is why many sourcing / procurement software selection projects fail to live up to client expectations. Because, and we can’t say this enough, the most you can use logo maps / analyst 2*2s for is vendor discovery. Not validation for your projects!

Now, while the doctor has yet to receive an answer to his transformation process inquiries from any consultancy/service provider that fully satisfies him (he is demanding, after all), he is happy to say that, recently, a few# providers have acknowledged that transformation is going to require getting a lot more intelligent in tech and updating their processes and methodologies to recognize that, while it’s still The Wild West, it won’t be tamed by hope and grit alone — you’ll need the right tools to conquer it (and, FYI, those tools aren’t Gen-AI, they are good old-fashioned predictable, dependable steam- and gunpowder-powered tech solutions in the hands of us old and busted masters; the new hotness has nothing on us).

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* this is your regular reminder that Sourcing Innovation has never had a paywall and never will for baseline vendor coverage or expository posts; should SI choose to offer books, in-depth [comparative/market] intelligence, or similar IP services, for example, it may in the future sell this non-blog content, but every blog post will remain paywall free — almost 6,000 and counting …

# and we mean few, he can currently count them on his fingers on one hand, thumb not required

Like Analyst Firm 2*2s, Random Logo Maps are NOT Appropriate for Tech Selection!

In our last article, we explained why the doctor created the The Sourcing Innovation Source-to-Pay+ Mega Map, even though he despises logo maps. It was literally the only way he could expose how every one of logo maps released to date was completely useless (and some to the point that they were harmful, but that’s another rant for a later time).

In a nutshell, all of these maps had the following problems, which were correctable (and corrected in the Sourcing Innovation Mega-Map):

  • vendors / solutions no longer existed as of release date
  • categories were meaningless and not actual solution modules
  • vendor logos were not clickable or even footnoted (so you had no clue what that ruin actually represented — a new age vendor or a demonic symbol from a long lost hieroglyphic or symbolic language)

As well as the following problems, which still exist in the Sourcing Innovation Mega-Map (SIMM) because some of them are just not (fully) addressable:

  • nowhere near complete (the further you get away from the Source-to-Pay core, the less complete the SIMM likely is
  • no indication that the landscape changes DAILY (vendors come, get acquired/merge, go out of business, add new capabilities and modules, drop existing modules, etc.)
  • the vendors aren’t always comparable even at a functionality baseline
  • not all vendors with a comparable solution are relevant to the same (type of) company

We ended our last article noting that the right vendor for you was dependent not just on the module(s) you needed to address the process gaps the transformation consultants defined, but the industry/vertical you are in, the size of your organization, the cross-organization user base you need to support, and their technical intelligence (TQ).

The logo maps don’t capture that. (But, to be fair, the vast majority of the analyst market maps don’t either.)

But more importantly, they don’t always (accurately) capture what solution(s) a vendor accurately captures. The reason for this is that, to be completely accurate, the creator would have to be fully aware of, and have seen, the current full end-to-end solution as of the day the map was released and then accurately map the providers’ solutions to each of their logo map categories.

the doctor has likely reviewed more Source-to-Pay solutions over the past 19 years as an analyst than almost any other analyst except for Mickey North Rizza (15 years at AMR / Gartner / IDC), Duncan Jones (who was Forrester Vice President and Principal S2P analyst for 16 years straight), and Pierre Mitchell (25 years at AMR / Hackett / Spend Matters). (Just about every other technology analyst still active in our space has only been a full time market analyst for a decade or less.) Even though he has reviewed, in depth, over 500 hundred solutions (and written about 350+ in detail on Sourcing Innovation and Spend Matters [but good luck finding at least 1/3 of the Spend Matters coverage since, as previously mentioned, the site refresh dropped co-authors on many articles, many of his articles were co-authored, and he was always second billing], he hasn’t even seen half the solutions on the map in depth (but still believes the ratio of in-depth vendor knowledge that went into this map is still greater than every other logo map produced). As a result, his classifications, like any other analyst, are based on, in order:

  • in depth demos, diligence or evaluation projects
  • detailed vendor communications (beyond just what’s on the website)
  • website / third party summaries (looking at the functionality where possible, not just the language)

Which means that, if the website/materials were out of date when reviewed (and it’s been a few years since the last review), the classification could now be highly inaccurate. The eProcurement vendor could have shifted mostly to I2P/AP. The supplier management vendor found a niche in risk management or category sourcing and dropped most SXM capabilities. The contract management solution, interchangeable with forty others, didn’t get traction and was dropped. And so on.

So if your mileage varies in this map, put together by someone who has consistently been at least a part time (if not full time) analyst since Sourcing Innovation was started in 2006, imagine how much it will vary in a map put together by a former consultant, who might have only seen the same ten solutions he was always implementing in depth, or a former product manager who doesn’t have a solid technical background and can’t accurately judge the true capabilities and potential of the solution he’s looking at. (the doctor has an earned PhD in computer science and has been a software architect / research scientist / CTO, compared to the average analyst who, in the early days, came from an operations / logistics / management background if you were lucky and a journalism,
English, or history background [because they could actually write] if you weren’t.)

In other words, no matter how cool these (logo) maps look, at best they will be mostly useless (if they give you clickable logos so you can begin your own research effort), or completely useless otherwise.

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the doctor dislikes logo maps! So why did he create one?

To demonstrate how, to date, they have all been completely useless, with some to the point of being actually harmful, but now that the gauntlet has been cast, he expects the next version of at least one of these maps to only be mostly useless (and maybe even only moderately useless) and mostly harmless. It’s the same reason he developed the initial versions of Solution Map*, because he found all of the big analyst firm maps mostly useless, and completely useless for tech selection.

(On the tech map front, how can you compare the technical capabilities of a solution where the axis are each on subjective classifications such as “strength and “strategy” or “execution” and “vision”, and, furthermore, where each of these nebulous concepts is made up of half a dozen subjective ratings meshed into one. While not perfect, at least Solution Map gave you an apples-to-apples pure objective technology rating (as each question had a defined rating scale based on technical maturity) against an unbiased pure customer opinion. So you at least knew whether or not

  1. the vendor actually offers a readily available solution of that type
  2. how it compares to the market average of vendors with actual available solutions of that type)

Thus, if you insisted on using logo maps, he at least wanted to make sure there was at least some redeeming qualities.  However, as he has already stated, his map is mostly useless and while a few flaws were corrected on release, some are inherently not addressable.  The problem with these maps in general is that, in addition to all the weaknesses the doctor addressed in his release post, namely:

  • Some vendors/solutions no longer existed as of release date (which was addressed)
  • Many of the categories are meaningless and not actual solution modules (which he corrected, but this means the fit varies across vendors in a category)
  • Vendor logos were not clickable, and not even footnoted when all you got was some strange symbol that looks like it should be carved on a 3000 year old ruin (which is the primary improvement, all logos are clickable and take you to the vendor site as of the release date).

4. They are nowhere near complete.
Most of these maps are in the 100 to 150 logo range. As the doctor has clearly demonstrated that’s only 1/7 to 1/10 of the number of vendors in the core space. Furthermore, even though the doctor does a full database update at least annually, he will guarantee that not even his map is close to complete. While he’d wager he has 90% of the vendors actively selling in North America and Western Europe in the core Source-to-Pay buckets, that percentage goes down as you venture out into the periphery. Plus, in some areas, like ESG/Carbon, he tracks only those focussed on carbon/scope 3 accounting with supplier management / sourcing integration capability, and ignores the remaining ESG/Sustainability/Climate vendors, of which there is likely 10 times as many right now (although we’ll see a lot get swallowed up or die off as the space matures). Most of the supply chain risk vendors are missing unless they offer core supplier management capabilities, or integrate with supplier management modules, as well. And so on.

5. The landscape changes daily.
the doctor did a full database review last year when he did his 39 steps … err … 39 clues … err … 39 part Source-to-Pay+ series, and since then, over half a dozen vendors/offerings are completely gone and over a dozen acquired and swallowed into larger vendors. One, acquired in 2022 that was still offered as a standalone solution late March disappeared by the final link checks that began on April 13. So, while these maps are distributed by their creators for months, and sometimes a year, they are only valid as of the last date where the creator actually re-verified every single vendor.

6. The vendors are only comparable at the baseline, IF they are comparable at all.
If no two (2) vendors are created equal, imagine how different twenty (20) are, or one hundred (100)! If you refer back to our previously referenced 39 part Source-to-Pay+ series,

  • sourcing vendors break down into RFX, Auction, optimization and may/not contain (best-practice) templates or category expertise
  • contract management generally breaks down into negotiation support, (post-signing) lifecycle (execution) management and tracking, and analytics
  • spend analysis is similar, but differs on DIY vs. services led, load/classification support vs. self load/(re)class, out of the box report templates, autonomous analysis and opportunity identification, etc.
  • supplier management was broken down into the 10-segment CORNED QUIP mash, which expressly excluded DEI, because most application thereof is definitely NOT equitable (as the biggest promoters clearly never looked up what the words actually mean in a dictionary)
  • eProcurement, while it revolves around a PO (and, hopefully, a no PO, no pay policy), may or may not have punchout/internal/managed catalog support, may or may not support receiving, may or may not support price tiers and discounts, etc.
  • I2P, while it revolves around the invoice, it may or may not support anything beyond internal PO flip or XML, may or may not support m-way match, may or may not integrate with a payment system, etc.
  • and the same variation exists across every other category

This is assuming that the creator actually understood what every vendor offered and classified according to what the vendor’s product actually did vs. what language the vendor chose to use to describe their product.

7. Even all the vendors with comparable solutions are NOT relevant for you.

When you are considering a vendor, at the very least you have to consider

  • the verticals/industries their solution was designed on, and designed for
  • the organizational size they were developed for

and a host of other considerations based on your industry, your organizational size, and the hole you are trying to fill.

This is why so many Source-to-Pay+ selection projects end up not (fully) delivering and why most big consultancies just keep recommending the same-old same-old five (5) (big) vendors regardless of what your needs are, because they don’t know any different and at least those vendors will be around tomorrow. And this leads into a bigger discussion of why these logo maps, like most analyst maps, are NOT appropriate for transformation projects. Which we’ll take up in our next article / rant.

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* and the doctor would like to make it very clear he had NOTHING to do with the current interface and presentation of Solution Map; it’s likely many of the questions are still his, but to be valuable, SolutionMap has to be properly scored and the ratings properly compared and applied relative to a number of factors not explicitly captured in the map