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The Procuretech Podcast: Digital Procurement, Unwrapped
23 minutes | Jul 20, 2022
10 cool early stage European startups from Procurement Summit
It's the final episode of our second series. So to finish up, we're going to be doing something a little bit different. This week we're bringing you 10 new startups for the price of one! 10 cool early stage European startups from Procurement Summit I recently attended Procurement Summit in Hamburg. It's a fun, pleasingly non-corporate showcase for new companies in the digital procurement space. Where else would you find a Mario Kart competition at a procurement conference? I saw loads of exciting new ideas there, and I'd like to share ten of the best new startups that caught my eye during the conference's pitch event. 1. Flowciety Flowciety won the startup pitch event this year, and with good reason. They're a Berlin-based startup, all about data exchange and process automation, across both internal departments and external third parties. This automation enables you to have a fully auditable trail, avoiding PDFs and emails in favour of realtime tracking. It also enables you to manage supply chain and inventory across, for example, a subcontracted part of an external process. https://flowciety.de/ (Link to Flowciety website) 2. Shouldcosting This Swiss-based startup aims to make companies more competitive by using their internal data more effectively. This is a really smart calculation tool that takes things from the bottom up. It's a data driven engine that estimates product prices based on CAD drawings, specifications and materials. It estimates the cost of raw materials and of cost changes per part, based on engineering changes during the new product development process, or on commodity price movements in our increasingly volatile world. It also calculates labour costs and provides advanced analytics and material grouping. https://www.shouldcosting.com/en/ (Link to Shouldcosting website) 3. Hivebuy Hivebuy is a source to contract solution, strongly focused on process optimisation for small to medium sized businesses. The solution supports companies in budgeting, requesting and ordering services for their business. It also establishes better purchasing conditions for your business, through pooling of pricing on popular catalogues. Obviously this is quite market-dependant, and the company has a strong focus on Germany at the moment, but I'm told that they are looking to expand this scope. The software relies an intuitively designed approval process that link departments with a simple communication flow and approvals process. Control features offer a transparent dashboard for budget management per department. Hivebuy also offers supplier catalogues both externally and internally, along with contract management and repository as part of their more top end plans. It's a unique spin in a crowded niche, which I find very interesting. https://hivebuy.de/en/ (Link to Hivebuy website) 4. TrueLedger This startup from Zurich is a professional services platform focused on external workforce. According to their presentation, 30% of human capital is now external contractors, and this represents 42% of a company's spend on people, on average. As opposed to other external workforce platforms that focus on audit and legal compliance, these guys are very much focused on smart contracting as a way to reduce costs. TrueLedger offers many forms of control here: Time and materials contracts, cost ceilings, standard contracts, and risk sharing, across both blue collar and white collar. All of which flows through to automatic invoicing and ERP integration. https://www.trueledger.net/ (Link to TrueLedger website) 5. Lhotse Analyitcs Lhotse are very much focused on industrial manufacturing companies, from the midmarket to enterprise. Because these are often low margin industries, it's crucial to have better data that creates measurable value. They claim that their software can produce 7.5% savings on average to their customers, using market intelligence and cost breakdowns to offer...
24 minutes | Jul 13, 2022
Source-to-Pay for the Public Sector – Grant Smith from Elcom
This week we're looking at something we rarely talk about on the podcast - the public sector. Insights on Source-to-Pay technology in the Public Sector My guest this week is Grant Smith, COO of Elcom. He's here to lend his expertise, which is handy because the public sector is a topic I know relatively little about. Grant hails from the UK, but his experience should be applicable to public procurement in any developed markets. A brief overview of Elcom We kick off with a brief history of Elcom. It started out in the US in the early 90s as a hardware reseller. They developed a piece of software with MIT in Boston to run the ordering and procurement process for the business. When the dotcom bubble burst in the late nineties, they sold the hardware business and began to focus on the software side of things instead. In 2001 they were offered the Scottish government's P2P service, which they're still running. It's run as a shared service by the Scottish government, for and on behalf of the entire Scottish public sector, processing nearly 8 billion pounds worth of public sector spend each year. Elcom also does work across the UK in the health and education space, where the software covers sourcing, contract management, P2P, inventory, point of care, analytics, and more, along with supplier services such as bid management. It's a full stack suite, just in a very specific niche. And with such a saturated market, it's important to carve out that niche if you want to survive. How is public procurement different from the private sector? The main difference is that the public sector is quite heavily regulated. There are thresholds in terms of the value of goods, works, or services that you're buying that need to be advertised and go through a formal process. For example, in sourcing, there are procedures that must be followed quite rigigly. In the private sector, you go out, you get your quotes and you make a decision on who you're awarding to. But on the public side, there are a lot more rules to follow: Minimum number of bidders, the ratio between price and technical, and the documentation you need to go through, should the procurement be challenged. There are many more hoops to jump through on the public side, especially post award. We then move on to discussing some tangible examples of what we can learn from public procurement, and focus first on healthcare. What are the benefits of digitisation in public sector health care? Grant's UK-centric experience means that he's used to working in health care as part of the public sector. This is of course not the case everywhere in the world, for example in the US. But he's seen interesting things in the UK's inventory and point of care space that are applicable worldwide. In UK healthcare, there's a good initiative called 'scan for safety', whereby consumables are regularly barcode scanned to capture data and keep track of things during a procedure. The software captures information like stocktake data, items consumed during a procedure, who's in the room, and where a procedure takes place. An innovation here is RFID (radio frequency identification) , which could really revolutionise the provision, costing and tracking of care in a clinical environment. With barcodes, the problem is having to label everything manually: Staff need barcodes on their badges, each individual item has to be packaged with a label, and those labels need to be scanned by hand. It's labour intensive, and cost prohibitive. RFID, though, removes this practical barrier. You don't need to apply barcodes to each and every item. Now the software can use either the RFID or the barcode, and this is already reducing costs. The revolutionary benefits of RFID Think of the day when manufactures put RFID packaging on their items, as they do now with barcodes. You'd have RFID tags on every item, and also in each location. Stocktaking, which is now
30 minutes | Jul 6, 2022
Agile Spend Analytics for SMEs – Thomas Heller-Njor from CostBits
This week we're diving back into the topic of spend analytics and spend analysis, with a focus on smaller and medium sized businesses. We'll look at the challenges they face, and how smaller businesses can afford a spend analytics solution that works for their unique needs. We're joined this week by Thomas Siersbæk Heller-Njor, from CostBits – a procurement professional who's entered the procurement tech space, with a unique spend analysis solution for the mid market. Tailoring Spend Analytics to the Mid Market First up, I ask Thomas to introduce himself and his background. Thomas started working in IT, then moved to working in procurement for the shipping line Maersk, where one of his projects was in spend management. He found himself living in Cape Town, doing an assessment for the 42 sub-Saharan countries, and realised he had no tool for the job at hand: Gathering PO data, contract data, spend data, etc. So he built a very crude version of his software then, and realised it was a tool that others could benefit from. He's excited to get to work in this space, and passionate about wanting to make data more accessible, available, and actionable. I pick up on the word 'actionable' as a key differentiator between CostBits and its competition. What does this mean, and makes CostBits stand out? There's a range of different factors here. From a user perspective, the main benefit of CostBits (as well as a simple UI), is that most people stop with analytics. Maybe people working in strategy look into analytics once in a while, but his experience is that a good contract doesn't always equal real savings. So how can he create a spend management platform that gives more? Data. All the data that CostBits get every minute, or even every second, can be mined. Let's say you agree on a price of a hundred, then you get billed for a hundred and twenty, CostBits can use data to see that and ask “is this a good idea?”. It generates actions and guidance for normal people who can't see through millions of lines of complex data. It notices things: “There's a contract for this category and you're not using it – is that okay?”. CostBits aims to bridge strategy and day-to-day operations with understandable suggested actions. Building on invoices, not orders This kind of contract / price discrepancy happens more often than we'd like to admit. One of my frustrations with pulling spend analytics from ERP is that procurement gets access to all the different reports around orders placed, but that's not spend – spend is what you actually pay on invoices. That's why CostBits is built entirely on invoices, and if they can get purchase orders, contracts, and catalogue information, that gets added on top. When working with smaller mid-market customers, invoices are where the real useful information lies. Smaller companies don't have a wealth of resources for data management. They may have maybe one person who does business intelligence, and they don't necessarily know the data. So CostBits simplifies this, by focusing on actions to create real impact. Data and resourcing are critical here, and that I'd like to come back to that point. But before that, let's get back to basics. How much revenue or spend would a company need to have before they'd see the benefits of what CostBits? The more spend you have, the more you can get out of it from a pure money perspective. Anything more than 5-10 million euros in spend is going to be more than enough. But he still wants to address folks in the mid-market, so one of the key indicators on whether they'll be able to get anything out of the software is whether or not they have distributed procurement: Not strategic, tactical procurement, but more purchasing and operational. Actions-focused spend analysis As an example, let's say you have a plant and a HQ. You're buying, but you don't understand the contracts – they're probably in binders behind somebody's desk. If you're
40 minutes | Jun 29, 2022
Profit from the Source – Dr. Wolfgang Schnellbächer from BCG
This week we’ve got another informal chat from The Procuretech Pub livestreams. I’m talking to Dr. Wolfgang Schnellbächer from BCG, the author of a new book fresh off the presses - Profit from the Source: Transforming Your Business by Putting Suppliers at the Core. Supplier-centric transformation and the future of procurement I ask Wolfgang for a quick bit of background, before we move on to talking about his book. He explains that he is currently leading procurement for BCG across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and South America. He focuses on procurement transformations across different industries, including automotive. In particular, Wolfgang says that he enjoys expanding the mandate for procurement for wider value generation, using technology. I ask Wolfgang about common mistakes in how organisations manage their procurement teams internally. He says that, interestingly enough, many of the biggest companies make the biggest mistakes - 50, 60, perhaps even 70 percent of a company’s overall budget is managed through suppliers by procurement. Oftentimes it goes even higher. If you look at how much time CEOs spend thinking about suppliers or procurement, you’d be surprised: 1% of their day, which is around seven minutes. There is not enough focus on procurement, when there’s such big potential in terms of overall spend numbers. Sales or sourcing? Why businesses need to shift their focus I ask Wolfgang why procurement doesn’t get the same level of attention as sales. He thinks that this goes overlooked because most CEOs come from a sales background. It’s a legacy issue that has to change. Look at Apple - Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO was a CPO before that. He’s always thinking in terms of profit from the source, and it’s paid off for them. I go on to ask Wolfgang if this means we need to get CEOs on board, so that organisations can view procurement differently. Or is it more simple, that procurement just needs a bigger training budget? Wolfgang thinks it’ll need a structural mandate to empower procurement. As an example, he asks us to imagine an engineering company: It may have relatively few engineers in-house, but imagine every engineer in that company’s supply chain, all the way down the tiers… It’s a huge number of people that could be coming up with great ideas for that company. It’s frustrating that procurement always gets so little time and money spent on it, so late in the process. He also agrees with my second point on training - we need to train people better. It all comes down to experience and expertise. If you have people working in steel procurement, they should have worked in a steel plant. Industry experience really matters. Category specific experience - why procurement deserves experts CPOs often move their procurement professionals around, presumably thinking that it’ll broaden their experience and expose them to more categories. But I put it to Wolfgang that he’s almost saying the opposite - procurement experience only has so much value, and it’s category-specific experience that really counts. He says that procurement people should have technical expertise in what they’re buying. They need to be able to trigger ideas from suppliers. This way you can align ideas coming from the inside and outside of the company. He thinks that many procurement professionals do this already - they do think deeply into their categories and they can innovate. But this potential is never tapped, they’re not heard in the organisation because they come into the process too late, and are often only expected to give a cost focus. We need to give a mandate for these people to speak up more. Again, he mentions Apple as an example. He also raises the pandemic - it was procurement in the end that solved those issues. I say this is all very well and good in theory. But go on to share some of my own experiences as an under-appreciated category manager: A lot of administrative busy...
25 minutes | Jun 22, 2022
Super Simple Category Strategies - Patrick Jonsson from DigiProcure
On this podcast, I’m proud that we take the time to talk to some of the more early stage companies operating in this space. And you don’t get much more early stage than just launched! Our guest today is Patrick Jonsson from Digi Procure, whose recently launched company offers a low code / no code guided category strategy creation tool. I welcome Patrick to the podcast and ask him to open up with a quick intro on his background. Low code / no solutions in digital procurement Patrick explains how he doesn’t come from anything of a tech background. From his home in Sweden, he’s embarked on an international career - everywhere from South America to Denmark. The bulk career of this was in procurement for complex organisational setups: Lots of stakeholder management and getting different cultures to agree. Then about three years ago, he went into consulting, but then decided it was time to move into the digital procurement space. He found low code/no code solutions really interesting, and so following a low budget, bootstrap approach he launched a minimum viable product with his first solution, which only cost around 2000 dollars. There were some issues with his first customers, but in solving those he fell on what seemed to be needed: A solution for guided category strategy creation. Simplicity is Patrick’s keyword here. Digi Procure is a very simple tool that helps you get started with making category strategies. And with a low code platform, he aims to add further functionality and complexity over time. I say to Patrick that any SaaS solution will face the conundrum of functional complexity versus user experience. There’s not really a right or wrong answer here, and it can often come down to organisational maturity and complexity. I ask Patrick who he sees as the target users for Digi Procure. Is he aiming for large enterprises, or smaller businesses? Patrick thinks the answer is medium-sized and up. In his experience, many organisations struggle with making category strategies. You might get a consultant in and end up with a strategy that’s maybe 30-60 pages long, and these just end up on the shelf. Follow up on implementation might not ever get done. Then later you get a new CEO who wants to make some category strategies and you start the whole cycle again. So Patrick is aiming for what he calls ‘maturity level 2’ companies. By this he means companies who are starting to dabble in strategic sourcing. You need that maturity and you need a certain size - maybe two or three category managers, before it makes sense to use Digi Procure. Simple and accessible early strategy for medium-sized companies I say that makes a lot of sense - we’re clearly not looking at greenfield here, as companies that young won’t have anything in place yet. But then the really big companies will probably want to go for that incredibly detailed kind of 60-page plan Patrick mentioned earlier. It’s really the medium-sized businesses that are just starting to dabble in category strategy who have the most to gain here. Patrick agrees. He goes on to say that you can go more complex, using Digi Procure, and he speaks to some experience with customers who have asked for deeper functionality. But that’s the great thing about low code / no code. It’s adaptable to an individual customer’s needs and particularities in a way that traditional SaaS solutions might struggle with. There’s also a much lower entry barrier when it comes to price - it doesn’t cost much to experiment with the kind of solution that Patrick is offering, compared to more established platforms with their own internal app stores. He aims to reach a point where he can use a huge repository of category strategy knowledge, and leverage that to help clients as quickly and responsively as possible. I bring up another benefit here - category strategy isn’t something that requires an integration with existing ERP systems. It’s an activity that largely allows
29 minutes | Jun 15, 2022
Single Master Data Source of Truth – Costas Xyloyiannis from HICX
This week, we're going to be talking again about that little devil that keeps cropping up - data. I'm speaking to Costas Xyloyiannis, CEO of HICX, a company that takes a slightly different approach to data. Today we’re talking about what he thinks is the safest way to get clean data in your organisation. Before we dive into the specifics of what makes his approach to data so different, I start off by asking Costas to explain Hicx in a nutshell. HICX - A different way to handle data Costas explains that HICX is in the business of supplier experience management. Supplier experience, for Costas, equals data. The end state isn’t just that data - there are value drivers after that too - but data is the foundation of supplier experience management: Better data means better experience, and a better experience in turn yields better data. It’s a flywheel value effect for both sides. I ask how this differs from other solutions that take the approach of automatically gathering data using scraping techniques or AI. Costas gives a few differences here. Number one, what is the customer trying to solve? A lot of his customers want the right data in their systems. What you tend to find is that when you pull data out, clean it, change it, what you find is that you can never put it back into those systems. The data will have changed. So this is a very high risk, unsustainable approach. But this is the way most people have done it traditionally. HICX puts processes in place which control how data is entered into those systems. The supplier is the source of truth, so why not optimise the process of collecting data from suppliers? Only then does HICX apply automation to enrich that data. Customer experience and strategic sourcing I ask Costas to clarify that he is using some degree of automation, but the fundamental difference is that he’s relying on the supplier to provide the core master data. He says this is correct. He then goes on to speak to customer demand. Customers need a very granular view of their suppliers. If you’re looking at, for example, a process around manufacturing that has to take place at your supplier’s facility, most other sources don’t explain the things customers want to know: What is the parent legal entity, for example? These factors change how data and business processes are managed. I bring up vendor master data. We often think about this wrongly: “What data do we need in the system to pay the supplier?”. But in something like manufacturing, food or automotive where you’ve got health and safety requirements that are important to the qualification process, there has to be some way of distinguishing the supplier experience and on-boarding process. If you’re using a tool that automatically cleanses data, it’s not going to know how strategically critical a supplier will be to you. Costas agrees. He also says that context of how you use data is important. It could be the address of a supplier, it could be a payment address… When you’re cleansing you don’t know these things. Costas thinks that this is where customers need help: Who is the parent entity? Is this supplier part of the same legal entity? What is this address? How does it all fit together? This is what customers need to understand to a high degree of accuracy. He goes on to talk about the importance of being clear on your use case. If your use case is highly analytical, then using an outside source to cleanse your data makes sense, because your goal is to process a lot of data. If you actually want to change the data in your operational systems, this does not work. You need context to meaningfully make those changes. What does each data point mean to your organisation, and depending on context. The HICX Solution I mention HICX’s clients, who are largely enterprise-level organisations. If the suppliers are HICX’s source of truth, then what typically does Costas see from his customers when it comes to managing or changing...
46 minutes | Jun 8, 2022
Procuretech Pub: S2P Tips with Joël Collin-Demers from Pure Procurement
This week on the Procuretech podcast, I’m joined by Source-to-Pay (S2P) and implementation specialist Joël Collin-Demers, all the way from Montreal. Source-to-Pay today – Market trends, Roadmaps, and Best-of-Breed vs. Full Suite Today we’ll be talking about the dynamics of the source-to-pay application market, how to craft a transformation roadmap in that space, and where we see this market going in the future. But before that, I ask Joël to introduce himself. Once he’s given us some fascinating insights into his favourite vegetable (it’s eggplant, if you were curious), Joël goes on to speak about his twelve years of experience in the procurement space. He started off his career working for IBM, working on implementing procurement modules. He then progressed to implementing for direct and indirect materials, and looking specifically at source-to-pay applications that sit on top of ERP. For the last three years he’s been running his own independent consultancy, addressing exactly the kind of issues we’ll be talking about today. "Sauce"-to-Pay Joël mentions the classic ‘pasta sauce’ metaphor for consumer choice: There was a time when there were only two or three kinds of pasta sauce on the shelf, and no-one felt bad about their decisions. Nowadays, breadth of choice creates option paralysis - it’s almost impossible to know if what you’re buying is really the best deal out there. I point out that twelve years ago (2010) would’ve been around the time that Ariba, Coupa, Jaggaer - all the big suites - were just starting to mature and come onto the market. I ask Joël to talk about what it was like at this time, when all-in-one suites were hugely in vogue. He mentions SAP purchasing Ariba in 2012. For a while they didn’t do anything with it, but over time they integrated. Adoption in the market for these big suites really didn’t begin until a little later, maybe 2015 - at least from what Joël saw in the Canadian market. Many providers in this time were trying to buy up smaller solutions so that they could offer full suites covering the full procurement process. Developing bespoke applications in-house. Is it worth it? I bring up contract management and SRM, along with newer concepts like KYS. Going back to Joël’s “pasta sauce” analogy. I put it to him that I actually make my own pasta sauce - which, jokes aside, leads me on to asking if there’s any sense to companies building their own SAP tool. Cearly this isn’t viable for mid market businesses, but at the enterprise level, does it pay off to build things from scratch. What are the pros and cons here? Joël says that sometimes you need to make your own pasta sauce - on the shelf solutions might not fit your exact needs. Despite this, he’s never quite seen anyone build out their own application, in his twelve years of experience. But what he does see, is large amounts of customisation, or enterprises building out their own little bits of functionality that a core suite may be lacking. He compares it to a pyramid. ERP is at the base, this connects to other functions, then you add applications for specific use cases to build on top of that, then you may go and get specific applications for one specific vertical. If you can’t find something cost-effective on the market, this is when it pays to build things yourself. I ask if this is still a viable strategy now. Looking at Ariba and Coupa, and their app stores full of best-of-breeds that can be easily integrated, does this diminish the case for building an in-house app? Joël thinks so. He expects to see a funnelling down of use-cases where building your own app will be a viable strategy. Niche spaces are being increasingly served. But then again, there are always gaps to fill. Niche apps are still being developed, and not every niche has been colonised just yet. ERP, Data, and Single Source of Truth I ask Joël if we still need all-in-one suites to provide a single source of truth. Is he seeing a...
20 minutes | Jun 1, 2022
10 Key Criteria to Consider when Buying Procurement Tech
This week we’re doing something a little bit different: A quick solo episode, bringing you ten key criteria to consider when sourcing a digital procurement solution. This is something that seems surprisingly hard to come by in popular articles and white papers, so here are ten helpful factors to consider. Let’s dive into the list… 10 Key Factors When Choosing A Procurement Solution 1. Cost The main question here is which cost model does the solution use? Most digital procurement tools operate a Saas (software as a service model). These will either charge you an annual or monthly fee for unlimited users, or on a per-user basis. Some solutions offer a hybrid approach somewhere between these two, or use a more modular structure. Per-user pricing gets expensive very quickly if you need to keep adding users. You may sign up to something like this, thinking that it’s affordable, but then scale up to a point where the fees get out of hand. For established businesses this is obviously less of a concern. 2. Features I’m particularly talking about best of breeds here, rather than legacy suites. Less is more is the key thing here - do you want it to do one thing very well, or would you like something more versatile that offers a modular structure you can expand over time? If you’re laser focused on a specific problem, for example contract management, or supplier relationship management, you’ll want something that can do the job well. But these focused solutions obviously lack flexibility. A more versatile, modular solution can expand as your business does. It’s important to consider this with your end goal in mind - what do you want to get out of the software, and what will your needs look like down the line? 3. Implementation How much time and resources will it take to implement a solution? Some of the bigger suites can take months to implement, not to mention an army of consultants in some cases! If you’re a mid market business with a limited amount of IT resources, then you need to be asking providers to give you estimates on the time and ease of implementation. How easy is it to connect to your existing systems, for example ERP? How open is the interface? Most modern best of breed solutions have APIs which should facilitate implementation, but be aware that ERP systems - especially older ones - may not have the kind of open ecosystem that modern tools have. If your solution is trying to communicate with these older ERP systems, then be sure to ask about this up front. Maybe ask for case studies to see how this integration works in real terms before you commit. 4. User Experience How easy is it to use - For you, for your stakeholders, and for your procurement practitioners? I’ve been in situations in my career where I’ve been given tools so complicated that even experienced procurement professionals don’t use them! If a tool creates extra work for your procurement team, or your suppliers, it might fall by the wayside. You want users to adopt new tech, and you want them to enjoy using it. If a tool becomes something users want to avoid, it’s not a fantastic tool in the first place. User experience is an often-overlooked factor, but I think it’s crucially important. Try to get a demo, or prior access before buying a piece of software - and try to check out how easy to use and accessible the key features for your business are. 5. Customer Support This is especially important with startups, who may not have 24/7 customer support. If you’re in a different time zone, trying to get hold of a company who don’t have an external customer support team, you could be waiting a while to resolve your problem! Try to get a picture of exactly what customer support is on offer. Do they have their own employees? Will they give you a dedicated customer success team member as a point of contact? Or, what if it’s the worst case scenario of a ticket system run by an external company? 6....
35 minutes | May 25, 2022
All-round Supply Chain optimisation – Tobias Larsson of Altana.ai
This week we're talking about supply chains. More specifically, where does the line lie between procurement and supply chain? Should we be concentrating on better understanding our multi-tiered complex chains, rather than just purchasing software to better track and trace shipments? Understanding the value of pre-emptive end-to-end supply chain management It's a bit of a loaded question, but I'm sure we're going to have a great debate today as we welcome an expert in the logistics and supply chain field, Tobias Larsson from Altana.ai. I welcome Tobias to the podcast, and ask him for a little bit of background before we dive into the bulk of this week's show. Tobias explains how he began his career in supply chain logistics with DHL. Starting as a management trainee, he'd take calls in customer service. This let him learn the nuts and bolts of the business before moving into working in freight, then in innovation at DHL. In 2011, just after the earthquake in Japan, he helped DHL develop a supply chain risk solution called Resilience 360. Eventually, this was spun out of DHL into its own business. Then, about a year ago, he left that organisation to join Altana.ai. He goes on to explain how Altana's mission is to create a living map of global supply chains. He sees it like the Google Maps of b2b commerce, giving customers multi-tiered visibility of supply chain networks by using a broad pool of datasets, all stitched together with AI. Of course, this kind of risk awareness is only becoming more valuable in our current geopolitical situation, be it due to COVID, or other disruptions to global supply chains. The future of supply chains – Just-in-time vs. Just-in-case I say that, in future, it's clear we'll need greater communication between corporate procurement at a strategic level, and local procurement at a more operational level. I ask Tobias, if he's starting to see a move away from procurement reporting into the CFO or a business unit, and instead reporting into supply chain, or the COO? He says yes, definitely. And goes on to describe how procurement has been a very strict process in companies, historically, acting almost as a policing faction. But now, looking at trends in the “new supply chain normal”, we've got bottlenecks, capacity shortages, transport issues, and a war in Ukraine. It's going to take time to get back to where we were before, with just-in-time supply chains, So now, pushing reliability upstream and expecting suppliers to deliver doesn't really work any more. Pointing your finger at suppliers is meaningless if they can't get access to the materials they need. It doesn't work to expect them to deliver on short deadlines. Collaboration and sharing responsibility Tobias says things are changing into a more collaborative environment where you need to work together with suppliers to manage risk. Procurement isn't a policing faction any more. Today's challenges call for a trusted, responsive network, so that we can all be more strategic and nimble. I ask Tobias to expand on the notion of near-shoring. Does he think that software like Altana.ai can offer the same kind of benefits? Could you keep a complex global supply chain in place while using that kind of software to mitigate risk? Or does he think a mix of both approaches is best? He says that balance is the way forward, here. Reducing long supply lines is useful, and it's worthwhile for companies to do that. But what Altana.ai focuses on is trust. Whether your suppliers are near or far, if you're better able to detail your value chain, that's going to have value. It's about bringing them closer to your business in more ways than simple geography. Will we ever see a return to the way things were? I ask about inventory – does the shift away from Just-in-time to Just-in-case is going to become permanent? Tobias thinks there'll be a strong re-balancing. It's more and more necessary to be mindful of your supply chains,...
35 minutes | May 18, 2022
Making the Case for the Suites – Jim Bureau of Jaggaer
This week our guest is Jim Bureau, CEO of Jaggaer. He’s carving out a niche for an all-in-one solution, at a time when best of breeds are gaining market share. I’m known as a bit of a best of breed fanboy, so Jim is stepping into the dragon’s den, here! I welcome Jim to the podcast, congratulate him for his bravery, and ask him about the challenges of offering a full suite solution in a tough market. Jim says it’s important to acknowledge that, while companies may want to commit strongly to either best of breed or full suite solutions, the reality is that most companies end up using a mix of different tech approaches. He goes on to talk about the importance of user experience. Whether a solution is best of breed or wider in scope, the thing that users pick up on is the experience. And that’s what Jaggaer focuses on. The future landscape for established suites I ask what Jim expects to see in the future for established suites like Jaggaer. Does he expect things to become more modular? Is that a direction he’s thinking of following with Jaggaer? Jim says that the reason why full suites exist in the first place is that it’s expensive to tie things together. He thinks that simplicity is key here, and that this question brings up two important initiatives for Jaggaer at the moment. One is creating an environment and ecosystem of partners that allows people to have suite systems while being able to plug niche, innovative vendors into that - quickly, easily and without requiring a lot of IT spend. Jaggaer allows customers to share third party modules and products that can easily be plugged in. Secondly, Jim is also working on something called Jaggaer Compose. This allows the customer and partner community to build out business processes that are specific to a niche or industry, and can then be shared amongst one another. He believes this will completely change the game on how people interact with these systems today. It will officially be launched at the end of Q2. A Pick and Mix approach I ask Jim if he sees a future where customers can take a more “pick and mix” approach. For example, let’s imagine a consumer thinks that an external spend analytics product is stronger than what Jaggaer can offer. Is that something that they could, as part of their RFP, specifically request? Jim says that, for any CEO, no-one wants to forgo business! But he accepts that this is how most companies want to work. Jim has spent a lot of time and effort on Jaggaer’s autonomous commerce platform. Autonomy is important, and true autonomy comes from embracing sources outside of your own system - taking information from sources like TealBook or EcoVadis, and working that into your machine learning. There are so many sources of information out there, and you’re never going to own everything. I agree that you can’t be everything to everyone - Ikea makes great kitchens but you wouldn’t buy your white goods from them. Customers want to use specialists. I use contract management as an example, and Jim jumps on the opportunity to speak more about this… Contract management and acquisitions Jim says that contracts are something people often use as an example of an adjacent market here, but he’s spent a lot of time and effort making Jaggaer’s contract features as usable as possible. He explains that he doesn’t want to force customers into adopting his contract module just because it’s there. By focusing on the user experience, and good application of data (from some acquisitions we’ll talk about in a moment..), he hopes that customers will gravitate to the best, easiest solution available - and if that’s Jaggaer, then great. I ask Jim what drives his strategy around staying on top of innovation? How would he decide whether to acquire a company or to enter a strategic partnership like he has with TealBook and EcoVadis? Jim explains that it comes down to comprehensiveness. Not just the...
34 minutes | May 11, 2022
Solving Tail Spend in a Legacy S2P Ecosystem – Henning Hatje from Lhotse
This week we’ve got a sponsored episode, welcoming back a guest we last spoke to in September 2021, Henning Hatje from Lhotse. Lhotse has a tactical and tail spend solution, which they see as something complementary to a legacy suite based approach. So if you've spent a lot of money investing in one of these suites and you're not likely to change provider, or maybe your company has a strategy to use a specific ecosystem that matches and ties in with your ERP (not naming names!), then this solution could be for you. Lhotse pivots to enterprise with a new solution I welcome Henning back to the podcast and mention how, since he was last on the show, he’s been busy making changes to Lhotse that he’s very excited to share. He talks about how Lhoste have been securing funding, scaling their team, refining their value proposition and pivoting their target market over the last eight to ten months. Lhotse now have enterprise size organisations squarely in their sites. Henning explains how the team realised that Lhotse works best when implemented in large, existing structures like the ones mentioned in the podcast’s intro - for example SAP Ariba. Not so much as a standalone solution, but rather as an integrated solution that operates in the background of those legacy systems. What makes Lhotse different? Henning explains how these legacy systems don’t cover tactical spend well, and are often cumbersome to use from a UX standpoint. I ask him what makes Lhoste different, and how it can meet the kind of requirements that today's customer is demanding. He explains that Lhotse’s new approach hopes to supercharge procurement systems, working on two main axes: One focusing on the operative procurement teams, the spot by teams, the tactical teams, making their life easier and more efficient, bringing efficiency levers to their daily life, in terms of execution; And one focusing on the requester, the business users that are spread across the organisation. Henning says that business users never enjoy these big suites, because they’re made for experts, not occasional users. Although we both think that these big suites do have upsides, and we shouldn’t beat them up too much, we both agree that UX makes them very intimidating for new users. For tactical spend and tail spend, users need a system that's intuitive, because if they don't have that, it results in maverick spend. Why do things this way, as opposed to just connecting catalogues? I put forward a logical challenge to Henning: Why wouldn't you then just just connect a bunch of punch out catalogues with something like Ariba, or one of these big suites? Where is the gap between what Lhotse does and what and what a punch out catalogue running into one of these suites can offer? He explains that the chief benefit is central coordination and easy searchability. Lhotse can harmonise across catalogues, giving an integration layer that combines the process of searching for something, no matter if it's a catalog item, or a free text request that will go out to suppliers to get quotes. While common, repeatable spend might benefit from a catalogue approach, not all spend is of this kind. So Lhotse is also useful when it comes to non-repeatable spend - for example a marketing assistant buying conference meeting rooms. Unique spend like this is common, and no-one wants to use a static, unintuitive catalog for these sorts of purchases. Examples - How Lhotse could help your organisation What does the process look like for tactical and tail spend in a poorly managed organisation, and by contrast, what does the same process look like when using Lhotse? He proposes an example where a company is using Ariba: They get a first quote, put it into the system as a free text request, and then put this to the procurement team to action. In this example, the procurement team is effectively doing a job a robot could do. They're not even sourcing, just converting a purchase...
31 minutes | May 4, 2022
Using a Bot for Spot Ocean Freight – Alan Holland from Keelvar
This week we're taking on a very relevant topic in today's marketplace. Given the current supply chain crisis and geopolitical instability, what better time to speak to a guest from a unique eSourcing solution? Alan Holland, CEO of Keelvar, is here to tell us how AI can offer something more immediate, spot and transactional, in these unstable times when agility matters. Keelvar - bot technology for spot sourcing Alan begins by giving us a rundown of Keelvar - who it serves and how it works. Alan explains how his background in a university computer science department inspired Keelvar, and how his knowledge in AI has enabled him to develop a platform for sourcing excellence, that scales to any size of transaction. Recognising the importance of data... finally! Alan got into procurement after watching his PhD students making requests from chemical companies. It was a chaotic process, and as a computer scientist he identified it immediately as a data problem: Much richer information needed to be collected from suppliers, and data processes needed to be much more efficient. He explains a win/win situation here - with both buyers and suppliers benefiting from richer, more detailed data. This was how things got started for Keelvar. Optimising spot sourcing, as opposed to long-term tenders I ask Alan about Keelvar's unique focus: Optimising spot sourcing. Using ocean freight as an example, Alan begins by explaining what makes Keelvar stand out from its competitors. On the one side, there are strategic sourcing events that take a long time (often months) to complete. For these, Keelvar stands out by offering the most flexibility and detail. The other major challenge in ocean freight is change - be that rates, network requirements or ports. Every day you're going back to market with mini tenders to adapt to these changes. Keelvar has sourcing bots that can automate this process, and provide great flexibility in customising this automation. We talk about the difference between ocean freight and other areas such as consumer goods, highlighting how much flexibility and agility matter in an ever-changing marketplace. Predictability vs flexibility in ocean freight Many freight handlers reward predictability through their pricing. I ask Alan how Keelvar, which by nature doesn't provide that kind of predictability, can still create value when it comes to ocean freight. Alan explains how this capability is embedded in the sourcing bots: When requests come in, if there is predictability in the demand pattern, then that is gathered at the request stage and shared with the carriers. How does Keelvar deal with charges at port? Alan explains that each of Keelvar's customers has great flexibility in how they want to design their bid sheet. Each sourcing bot asks for different things. If you determine that port handling fees are cost elements that should be included in the overall offer, carriers can't submit a bid without including those fees. What is the biggest win offered by Keelvar? Is it cost, data quality, simplifying processes under one source of truth, or a mixture of all three? Alan thinks it's a mix of all three, but that time saved is the main thing - with one customer saving 93% of the time and workload required for these mini tenders in ocean freight. He sees this as Keelvar's top benefit. But other benefits included process consistency, and savings as a result of being able to approach a large number of carriers in parallel. Keelvar makes this kind of scalability easy, allowing you go out to many more suppliers and generate competitive tension in the process. Keelvar is also fast - there's no time spent waiting for someone in procurement to kick off a mini tender process. How does reporting work with Keelvar? All the big data is collected online, so it's not on spreadsheet. The bot then uses a chat interface with a human approver to offer a choice of available options: From...
37 minutes | Apr 27, 2022
Source-to-Pay in the Mid-Market – Frank Schmidt from Onventis
Digital transformation doesn't necessarily have to be complex. Sometimes, an end-to-end source-to-pay (S2P) solution that joins up the dots, and automates a lot of otherwise manual processes, can give a huge productivity advantage. The mid market has traditionally been underserved by procurement software, with tech companies typically going after large enterprise clients at their expense. One of the older players in the European market is Onventis, who have successfully been improving and extending their offering since 2000 and successfully serving mid-market businesses. My guest today is their CEO, Frank Schmidt. Providing a solid solution for source-to-pay in the mid market - Onventis has survived and thrived Frank's audio unfortunately is pretty bad, so apologies for that ahead of the interview. We did the best we could. Who is the target market for Onventis? Mid-sized businesses for Onventis are those who fall into the bracket of internationally active manufacturing companies with an annual turnover of EUR 100 million to EUR 1.5 billion (approx. $110 million to $1.65 billion). Although they have customers who are much bigger than this too. What does their suite cover? At its core, Onventis is a source-to-pay suite but its functionality is more wide reaching than this. Their sourcing module goes right through to offer auctions, as well as basic contract management functionality. There are also additional applications covering supplier and risk management, as well as the catalogues and e-procurement functionality associated with the traditional full stack P2P offerings. How do they fare against some of the enterprise suites? Frank agrees that towards the upper end of their customer base, they are playing on the same turf as some of the more well-known enterprise level procurement suite providers. There has already been a lot of consolidation in this market, and Onventis has also been no stranger to this. Their recent acquisition of Swedish spend analytics platform Spendency, along with an invoice automation platform called Workflow Wise who were acquired by Onventis two years ago. My interview with Arvid Fredin, who was Spendency's CEO prior to the acquisition, can be found in Episode 24 of the podcast. As a German company, it's no surprise to learn that 70% of Onventis' customers are in a SAP ecosystem. This enables them to offer fully standardised integration with SAP, when so much of their business comes from customers already using SAP as their ERP system. Coming into contact with Ariba and Coupa is also commonplace. Why go for a suite vs. 2 or 3 best-of-breed solutions bolted together? Customers in this segment are always somewhat more price sensitive than enterprise customers, and the "time to value" is key in terms of seeing the ROI on their investment. Time to implementation is key, as is the ability to pick and choose which modules of the suite to purchase in the initial phase. Customers often want to see proof of concept or run a pilot and to see a positive return on their price to performance ratio. Offering modularity allows companies to tackle their digital transformation in a piece-by-piece way by capturing the most added value at first and then building on this. How much greenfield business is still out there? There isn't much greenfield business out there, which kind of surprised me a little when Frank said this. Most of the business they see is replacement business or expansion business in one form or another. Frank sees a lot of legacy tech, fragmented systems and botched transformations out there. Much of the technology is siloed, such as invoice automation in Accounts Payable, which is an area they often come across and are asked to consolidate into their suite approach. There is also a differentiation in the various industry sectors. Industrial manufacturing industries such as automotive are often ahead of their counterparts in service industries, where Frank...
57 minutes | Apr 20, 2022
Procuretech: Past, Present and Future – Dr. Elouise Epstein from Kearney
My guest this week on The Procuretech Pub requires no introduction to anyone who is familiar with the digital procurement space. Dr. Elouise Epstein is Partner at Kearney in San Francisco and author of the book https://www.kearney.com/procurement/trade-wars-pandemics-and-chaos (Trade Wars, Pandemics and Chaos: How Digital Procurement Enables Business Success in a Disordered World). We have an informal and very open discussion about procurement technology's past, present and what direction the future trends are moving in this space. Procuretech's evolution, where it's at and where we're headed: The Procuretech Pub with Dr. Elouise Epstein Elouise begins by giving a whistle stop tour of her career and some of the things she's seen in the digital procurement space along the way. From its beginnings, where best of breed led the way, through the rise of the suites and now to a more emerging hybrid model. She explains how around 2013, Kearney began receiving calls from enterprises who had implemented what I now often refer to as "legacy suites", saying that users didn't want to use them and they weren't seeing their return on investment. It wasn't really until 2020, where Covid definitely seems to have given the market a push, that organisations started to adopt more of a "platform-based" approach with an increasing emphasis on a best-of-breed tech ecosystem. Elouise's "spider diagrams" and the current "platform" trend "The suites failed to deliver and there is legacy sunk cost investment" and as a result of that, often these suites are used as a platform from which companies build out their tech stack. Elouise is a big critic of the big suite approach and is an advocate of the platform approach, where this is built upon through best-of-breed technology. We just don't have 100% the ideal, perfect platform that we need just yet. The software used as a platform has ended up being in that role kind of by default, and there isn't a system built to act as a platform in its core function just yet. Building their own platform can also be an option for very large enterprises who have the IT capabilities in-house to do this. This is an approach for the brave / well resourced IT departments, but advantage of this strategy is that each "module" can easily be exchanged. Using a legacy suite as the platform doesn't allow this to happen as easily for P2P, or S2C to some extent. Will the legacy suites survive this pivot? I ask Elouise what the future holds for these suite providers with this market backdrop. While the market leaders are secure, especially with SAP Ariba and Coupa having implemented App Stores to allow easy bolt-ons and integrations for best-of-breed solutions, some of the others are "under duress". She sees the suite market as being "propped up" to some extent. Who will come in to challenge the market leaders? Will someone from outside procuretech come in to challenge them, such as Salesforce or AWS? And, where will the others go if they survive this? It could be that they pivot more towards the mid market, but that would obviously mean a significant realignment of their pricing model and features offered in order to compete and flourish in this market segment. How useful or reliable are the "best-of" lists when evaluating the market? Elouise is openly critical of analysts and consultants in general and sees the hype as being self-serving. She starts off by saying she's not a fan of 2x2 evaluations because they create artificial markets rather that have to fit into that specific evaluation framework. Much of the innovation doesn't neatly fit into a box, and innovation is constantly changing as the market evolves. How the data is being used and how the evaluations are put together is important to be able to truly appreciate and evaluate which procurement software is best for a specific business, based on their own unique, individual criteria. Keeping on top of the market evaluations and...
43 minutes | Apr 13, 2022
Guided Contract Authoring and Routing – Giles Thompson from Avvoka
The relationship between Procurement and Legal can often be somewhat strained. Procurement's hands are tied because they have to seek legal support. Legal typically is under-resourced to serve the growing needs of procurement teams, especially when Sales often gets priority in the internal legal support pecking order. My guest today is Giles Thompson, Chief Growth Officer of London-based contract process automation tool Avvoka. We discuss how both teams can work smarter with the right tech to improve relationships, free up time and ditch the repetitive tasks. Improving Procurement and Legal team relationships and workflows thanks to automated and smart processes Giles is a lawyer by trade and educational background, and so is great to approach this discussion from someone on the "other side of the fence" so to speak. He tells the story of how in his short time dealing with procurement professionals, he often found himself offering the same advice and amending the exact same clauses each time he was asked to get involved in a contract negotiation process. Avvoka as a solution essentially helps to simplify and automate this process by enabling the buyer (or the seller for that matter) to generate a contract template by answering questions as part of a guided process to determine the risk and thus the level of complexity required in numerous different contract scenarios. Why is Legal such a bottleneck in large enterprises? Legal is being asked to weigh in on more and more different processes and requirements, but the headcount is not being increased to the necessary level to cope with this. Procurement, likewise, is being expected to do more with less, and as such this creates the classic bottleneck and frustration that goes with it. Whereas in reality, the vast majority of contracts don't need to go to Legal for the green light or for very straightforward, commercially driven amendments. Having the ability to use a self-service portal that generates or inserts the necessary contract clauses depending on the specific requirements can save time, money and unnecessary frustration. The power of aggregated data Giles makes a great point that through having a platform that tracks and documents each time a counterparty redlines something in a standard contract or requests changes, this is stored in a central database. If it's costing time and money to renegotiate a particularly troublesome clause every single contract negotiation, then perhaps there's a valid argument to just swallow this as something that most vendors just won't accept, and move on with a more realistic contract template that's likely to be adopted. How many times have we clashed heads with different suppliers over the exact same standard contract clause, every single time?! Over time, the template then becomes more workable and less likely to cause conflict during negotiations. How to simplify and self-serve legal advice to buyers Often a procurement professional will not feel comfortable negotiating certain (more legal-specific) clauses in a contract. Especially if they don't have a formal procurement or contracting background and have not been trained in commercial contract management. Giles gives examples of how a tool like Avvoka can enable self-serve advice directly in the platform. He gives the example of liability clauses, and how embedded videos from in-house Legal, along with various different templates, can offer a "grocery store" environment to pick the best clause according to perceived level of risk and buyer vs. supplier power balance within the negotiation. The classic "work smarter, not harder" opportunity. Dealing with supplier generated (third party paper) contracts Avvoka is geared up to work on native contract formats but can also work with third party contracts. Controlling the platform that the contract is being negotiated on can often be a small win, especially if you're forced due to relative supplier...
34 minutes | Apr 6, 2022
AI-Powered Contract Redline – Dan Broderick from BlackBoiler
We're diving in again to the ever-expanding contract management space this week, looking at a piece of software that straddles the murky waters between procuretech and legaltech. Redlining and amending contracts is a boring and tedious process to most procurement professionals, but a necessary evil that comes with the territory for commercial contract negotiations post-sourcing and award. My guest this week to break down how technology can get us to our destination faster is Dan Broderick, CEO and Co-Founder of Washington DC-based legaltech start-up BlackBoiler. Utilising AI to speed up and simplify your contract clause redlining process I start off by asking Dan about who he typically sees as being the customer's job title in the roles that they sell to, with this being a more legal-focused solution, and to what extent Procurement features in this. We then move on to some of the key features that BlackBoiler offers to set the scene of what it can actually do to aid us as procurement professionals to speed up an otherwise cumbersome and tedious task. What is Black Boiler's sweet spot? There's a lot of contract management software now on the market and it's becoming an increasingly crowded space. Dan sees BlackBoiler's sweet spot as being a contract negotiation automation software that helps customer and supplier get to the point of a mutually acceptable negotiated position on contracts, through the use of automation on changes to standard contract copy. This can be applied on both native contracts and third party documents. Both Legal and Procurement alike are seen to Dan as being potential "buyers" in this space. Also Sales to some extent are involved in the conversation because they're often struggling to conclude contracts fast enough to satisfy customer expectations. What inspired Dan to found BlackBoiler? As a lawyer, he found that he was often tasked with negotiating contracts that were very similar, and was responding to very similar counter-party positions and redline in these documents. After getting the feeling that his work felt more than a touch robotic, it made him realise that a significant part of his job could potentially be automated to free up time and to speed up the process. Are the must-have features different when viewed from a sales, procurement or legal perspective? YES! Dan explains that the key challenges tend to be: Self-empowering Sales to avoid them having to go to legal and potentially lose a sale due to the bottleneck. Enabling Legal do their work faster, and looking at how can they make their work less repetitive. Procurement is working with a business need for them to purchase something. As the gatekeeper, speeding up the end-to-end Source-to-Contract process is key. How to bridge the gap between AI, and the professional expertise of the lawyer? Dan explains that BlackBoiler (or indeed any AI-powered solution for that matter) is not designed to work on its own. The objective is to speed up the process and enable arrival at the destination faster, not to eliminate Legal from the process completely. Helping the legal counsel to become more efficient and free up their resources to work more strategically is the overarching objective. By enabling them to not be actively involved in fairly routine higher volume, lower risk agreements will add value to both Procurement and Legal alike. Dan likens this to using a junior counsel rather than a highly experienced legal professional for more routine agreements. What about greenfield or decentralised procurement with no standard contract templates? This is an area where it's difficult to apply the typical solution that BlackBoiler would go in and solve. Dan mentions that they're currently working on building something that will enable new or less structured procurement teams to go in and generate some standard clauses based on some standard intake questions. The solution isn't ready for...
28 minutes | Mar 30, 2022
Managing a Contingent Workforce – Igor Putrenko and Tobi Schmidt from Eqip
Managing a situation where an increasing percentage of any company's workforce is composed of external, contingent workers is a challenge that many companies are already dealing with. While many more will have to figure this out pretty soon too, as they move to a more flexible labour model with the advent of the "gig economy". How to mange this digitally, to both ensure compliant onboarding of consultancies, contractors and freelancers, as well as streamlining the administrative hassle associated with this? Tobi Schmidt and Igor Putrenko from external workforce management platform Eqip are my guests to discuss this. Digitally managing the Contingent Workforce: Compliant onboarding, payroll and cost management Managing this process using dozens of different recruitment agencies, or even using individual interim managers directly, isn't realistically an efficient strategy that larger businesses can manage at scale. So, there's a recognised need to manage this more effectively. What is already out there in terms of existing technology? Enterprise Resource Planning tools (ERPs) such as SAP and Oracle tend to be used more for matters relating to the internal workforce. Payroll, salary info, taxes, deductions, compliance requirements and so on. Vendor Management Systems as Igor calls them, or VMS for short, have systems and records for all external providers of services. Examples here in the more traditional enterprise software space are SAP Fieldglass, AgileOne and Beeline. Cost and lack of intuitiveness when it comes to ease of use are cited as being pitfalls of these platforms. Whereas on the other end of the spectrum, platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr are the go-to websites for managing more traditional freelancer and small agency relationships. These are popular in the tech startup and lifestyle business space, but would not be considered as rigorous when ti comes to the needs of larger businesses with compliance and due diligence requirements. How does Eqip differentiate their offering? Eqip is a B2B marketplace which incorporates proper screening process, and also caters to more niche, white collar consultancy or expert professions. This is essentially the differentiation between them and more generic freelancer marketplaces. In terms of the legacy enterprise software, they attempt to also provide this in one platform but in a more agile way, enabling a faster onboarding process for vendors. Hard-to-find skills, such as cybersecurity experts, can be very tough to find through traditional recruitment agencies. The existing enterprise software doesn't really provide the tech to enable cross-border talent scouting and a solution to compliantly onboard them. Eqip saw a gap in the market to fix this, by enabling Swiss companies originally to recruit hard-to-find contractors and consultants from a talent pool in Central and Eastern Europe. Furthermore, it also enables them to manage these workers if they are performing the work remotely from their home countries rather than actually needing to be on site at the client. What are the emerging trends in this market? On the one hand, companies struggle to find workers in their own country and simultaneously are becoming more comfortable with remote work. This is leading to more geo-arbitrage when it comes to recruitment, especially in the contingent workforce. Whereas on the other hand, Eqip is also seeing an increasing demand on the platform for more "operational" consulting requirements from companies who would typically perform the work on site. Igor also mentions the increasing erosion of the "job for life" concept and a move towards a larger percentage of a company's total workforce being contingent rather than permanent, salaried employees. Is HR the key stakeholder, and how open are they to change? While HR teams are a cog in the wheel, Tobi and Igor actually say that their sales and business development strategy is usually focusing on...
31 minutes | Mar 23, 2022
Know Your Supplier: Full Stack SRM – Sam Jenks from Kodiak Hub
As procurement pros, we're feeling the heat a lot right now dealing with problems of a reactive nature. We're having to fight to secure supply and deal with crisis management with increasing frequency. Moving to a more predictive form of supplier relationship management (SRM), while at the same time handling the transactional and compliance part of the requirements is what my guest, Sam Jenks, CMO of Kodiak Hub, is here to talk about today. Full Stack SRM: The case for "Know Your Supplier" with due diligence and risk monitoring What started off as Kodiak Rating in 2015 recently rebranded to Kodiak Hub back in September last year. Part of this was the wider evolution of their platform from being primarily a compliance and controls platform to what has now become a full SRM tool, both on the predictive / market intel side as well as on the more traditional audit and reports side. As Sam explains, this was more of an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary process. Customers needed a platform that could expand into other areas of SRM other than the compliance piece, and Kodiak walked with them on their journey and built out their platform to evolve into what it is today. Onboarding and assessment was the core feature, but this has since expanded to cover: Credit rating Third party market intelligence Due diligence (audit) module Supplier performance How has the evolution affected their customer base? Primary customers have moved to be slightly larger than previously, but they have maintained to a large extent a customer base which is predominantly manufacturing businesses with a large spend on raw materials. The industry sectors have remained pretty consistent along their journey but they are now seeing more success acquiring customers more positioned towards the enterprise segment. Whereas previously, most of their business was coming from the mid market. Breaking down SRM: tactical and strategic How can this experience be improved and optimised within a digital platform, based on what Kodiak Hub has built? Tactical: Supplier onboarding, compliance checks and audit - removing manual data entry and ensuring that the data gathering piece can be automated to the greatest possible extent. Supplier pre-qualification and onboarding also requires the supplier to be actively engaged and to find the process intuitive. Industry or customer specific content around supplier onboarding has been built into the platform to avoid Weighting and KPIs can be modelled based on customers' individual criteria. Strategic: Collaboration space - having an interactive platform which can be used either for corrective actions, or for innovation focused activities. Looking at innovative activities, this is more based on project management or more strategic activities such as joint R&D. Performance evaluation - removing the "Excel hell" from the process and having 6 different standard areas for performance. Everyone's needs when it comes to performance are different, depending on what they are buying and the industry sector they are in. Predictive analytics: While there are a lot of stand alone best-of-breed solutions out there offering individual solutions - e.g. news monitoring, financial risk, traceability - Kodiak has tried to bring this all under one umbrella. Their approach is to partner with third party solutions providers who can do all of this in one platform rather than try to build out their own proprietary technology for everything to try to compete with the single-solution software providers. What makes Kodiak different from all-in-one suites which have SRM platforms? Sam highlights the fact that a lot of the suites are not user friendly and there is a lot of legacy technology out there with some of the traditional suites. He also mentions that through their approach of partnering with technology providers who are experts in the space of each of the specific areas they
27 minutes | Mar 16, 2022
ProcurementSoftware.site – The FREE resource for digital procurement
Today is a very proud and special day for me as I launch our new venture: Procurement Software. The ProcurementSoftware.site website sets out to democratise access to information and resources on digital procurement as a free platform, focusing on helping procurement leaders, CFOs and boutique consultancies serving mid-market businesses. What makes ProcurementSoftware.site different and unique? I've listed 10 reasons why I believe that Procurement Software provides a solution that nobody else out there is offering....here goes: 1. Completely FREE to access for the buy side We don't charge any subscription to buyers. Neither to the individual, nor to the company. Our directory is completely free to access all areas. 2. Focus on software that's within reach of mid-market businesses The existing content platforms and research houses who are specifically focused on the digital procurement ecosystem are very much targeting enterprise level procurement pros as their target audience. While anyone in a large corporate will still get value from our solution, we have deliberately included some of the less well-known software that focuses on mid-market and SMEs as their target customer base. All of the legacy suites and new best-of-breed solutions who target enterprise customers are also included in the directory, but our blogs and this podcast is more focused on the mid market. 3. More transparency There are a number of "best of" lists out there. They have varying transparency when it comes to how these lists are put together. Some are more clear than others, but still, there is a lot that remains murky. We have circumvented this potential issue by making the directory completely comprehensive and including anyone in there who we believe has a relevant solution and a saleable, useable product with existing customers. 4. We're all busy: you don't have time for complex research Procurement pros - I know you're busy. There are enough challenges in the world right now keeping you up at night. That's why we feel that a lot of the detailed research and white papers are unnecessarily complex. You're smart people. If you're given the basics to get on with, you can do your due diligence on the potential software suppliers you're considering. Do you need to pay several thousand dollars for a white paper you'll probably never read in full? That money could be better spent hiring someone to help you source and implement the software from the shortlist of solutions we'll provide you for free. 5. User Friendly Our content and our software directory is easy to use, easy to find and intuitive. I talk about UX being an under-appreciated feature for procurement technology to help with adoption and uptake. The exact same thing applies here. We will definitely also listen closely to user feedback and improve our UX as we go! 6. No Corporate Subscriptions So, if your organisation doesn't have a corporate subscription to one of the big research houses, then how do you access market knowledge? As an individual, you can't take out a subscription. And even if you could, it would be prohibitively expensive. That's why we're never going to offer this as a business model. Even if we sell content in the form of digital downloads on the site in future, my goal is to ensure we offer this at an affordable price that any procurement pro could purchase, even for those of you who are unable to claim it back as a company expense. 7. No Jargon! I hate complexity for the sake of it. White papers and solutions maps can be unnecessarily confusing. Lots of competitor websites are full of acronyms and procurement-speak. That's why we want to give you a simple solution which just requires a few mouse clicks. We've also spelt out in full all of the acronyms that are in our software finder, so you're not scratching your head if you're not an expert in this space. 8. No "pay-to-play" business model Every software solution...
36 minutes | Mar 9, 2022
Strategic Supplier Innovation – Matt Zaleski from Procurence Meercat
With the backdrop of inflation, supply chain shortages and now as I currently write this, a war being fought on European soil, supplier collaboration and supplier innovation are two topics that I think we can be sure will increase in priority. My guest to deep dive on this topic is Maciej (Matt) Zaleski of Procurence Meercat, a software platform for industrial manufacturing companies who have recently developed a supplier innovation module for their solution. Using software to successfully drive a transparent supplier innovation program Against the rather bleak backdrop we're currently up against, the focus right now is to ensure that manufacturing businesses are able to become a customer of choice to their supply base. With a tight market and the need to innovate to stay ahead, avoid material shortages and optimise lead times, this is particularly good timing to be discussing this topic. Procurence grew out of Matt being frustrated at what was already out there. He found himself as a consultant having to leave a client with Excel sheets rather than a nice software dashboard. This is ultimately what drove him to start the business. Starting off with a procurement, quality and vendor master data solution, Procurence has since grown to become a full stack solution on the quality and New Product Introduction (NPI) side in addition to the pure procurement modules. This focus has enabled them to thrive in manufacturing industries, especially the automotive sector. New modules have very much been based on customer feedback, and supplier innovation is no different, growing out of a request from AGCO Corporation, one of Procurence's key customers, to streamline and digitise the process. Define "Supplier Innovation": What does it mean? There are three key pillars that Matt typically sees from Procurence Meercat clients: Design to cost Quality Sustainability Matt explains that it's all about looking at what hides below the waterline. Continuous Improvement often sits below the top of the iceberg but is nonetheless a very important component of supplier relationships. Different stakeholders will drive the process depending on what the end result should be. Ideas generation typically becomes a lot more bottom up process and as such requires a greater amount of participation from a wider number of stakeholders e.g. engineering, marketing, supply base, manufacturing. Early involvement with suppliers is key. Otherwise, the potential is that a company misses out on ongoing feedback during a design process or project ideation if they are only contacting suppliers once the design and features are a done deal. R&D is a more strategic function, but often don't have the manufacturing experience or the technical knowledge of the supplier's production process. A hands off approach will result in the supplier doing as they're told. Whereas in a more collaborative environment, they will volunteer suggestions and improvements during a more consultative process. How can software assist this process? Channel between internal stakeholders and suppliers. There are often multiple stakeholders who need to have access to a two-way conversation between the company and its supply base. "Crowdsourcing" of innovative solutions to specific problems around product design, production process, quality improvements, kanban etc. Software platforms facilitate this through making the conversations visible to multiple stakeholders and removing the silos we see when this task is performed through emails and spreadsheets. Supplier to internal stakeholder: procurement doesn't know everything that's going on in the company. Procurement often expects a clear specification to be able to go to market with an RFP or RFQ. Stakeholders may look to suppliers to assist them with this process and thus reduce the time to introduce the part or project. This can also work in service companies, and...
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