October 28, 2016
Since 2001, Levvel Research has assisted organizations’ accounting, finance, and procurement departments to streamline processes, increase efficiency, and generate growth. The purpose of the majority of these projects is to assist with the initial RFP for, review of, and final selection of software solutions. The Navigator began as a straightforward spreadsheet model used to score solutions on pricing structures, functional offerings, and how they addressed any unique needs specific to an organization. Over the course of numerous engagements, it became clear that there was a sincere market need for a quantifying tool, and the Navigator became much more.
Historically, organizations have had few options when seeking truly objective, quantifiable, and functional analyses of Procure-to-Pay (P2P) software. Other models often included a subjective metric that measured something that is, by nature, immeasurable, such as a software provider’s strategy or future direction. A driving force for the creation of the Navigator model was the market need for quantifiable metrics in software analysis.
Levvel Research also believes that one or two numbers cannot adequately measure the complexities and capabilities of P2P software, especially if one measure is qualitative. The individual P2P needs of an organization depend on a wide variety of factors. Levvel Research’s Navigator evaluates solutions in twelve categories to help decision-makers better identify which providers’ strengths best meet their organization’s needs.
In short, the Navigator model and this report were created to fill a market need for a straightforward, unbiased review of P2P software.
Procure-to-Pay includes the back-office lifecycle of requisitioning, purchasing, receiving, paying for, and accounting for indirect goods and services. A successful P2P process involves full synchronization between procurement and accounting departments, enabling more transparency and strategic financial planning.
Automation technology for P2P processes is relatively new in the North American market, and unlike some countries in Europe and Latin American regions, adoption is not encouraged or mandated by the US government. As a result of these and other factors, the majority of today’s North American businesses are still operating under manual P2P processes in at least some or all of their backoffice departments. Figure 1 depicts the P2P adoption levels of US businesses in small, medium, and large market segments.
Under manual processes for procurement, AP, supplier management, and/or payments, organizations do not have a controlled environment in which they can manage and collaborate on purchasing activity and transaction information, and they experience a variety of process pains. These pains include high paper volume, lengthy approval cycles, late payments, weak supplier and buyer relationships, and limited control over spend throughout the back office. Manual processes also typically result in organizations over-staffing their backoffice departments to make up for time lost on processing errors. The overall inefficiency of manual P2P prevents CFOs, CPOs, and CEOs from employing strategy and innovation to improve the back office; instead, they spend most of their time on damage control.
The term “Procure-to-Pay” was popularized in the early 1990s as leading ERP solutions began to offer bolt-on purchasing and invoice management tools to their customers. These early modules enabled companies to move beyond simply hosting data related to purchasing and accounting transactions. They could now digitalize key functions around purchase order, invoice, and payment file management. They could also integrate their disparate back-office processes.
In the last decade, the rise of cloud, or SaaS, technology has created a dramatic shift in the way that organizations automate their P2P processes—and how solution providers offer their products. Native ERP and on-premise solutions, such as those offered by Oracle or SAP, have been gradually eclipsed by cloud solutions that are typically more affordable and technically versatile. For that reason, native solutions will not be discussed, measured, or included in this report, as Levvel Research feels they are no longer relevant to the discussion.
Cloud-based, third-party P2P solution providers are also more progressive in their product design, offering dynamic tools that bring more adaptability, customization, and efficiency to processes. For example, electronic procurement has transitioned from simple requisitioning and cataloging tools to real-time, Amazon.com-like shopping experiences that allow organizations to obtain quality goods at competitive, up-to-date prices. AP automation is no longer simply a bridge between a company’s ERP and scanned paper invoices—it now leverages supplier portals, electronic invoice formats, and approval workflow to facilitate secure, touchless processing and same-day approvals. Much of supplier information management software was little more than a database hosting catalog items and shipping addresses; today, this software dynamically manages all relevant supplier documents to help control risk and maintain tax and legal compliance. Electronic payments have broadened from electronic wire transfers and ACH payments to a wide range of electronic card types that offer more security, speed, and savings than most other options.
It is not uncommon for organizations to purchase one or more modules of a P2P software suite. For example, some companies use one or more P2P tools offered by their ERP, while also leveraging a third-party electronic payments solution. Another may adopt one solution from an eProcurement provider and an invoice management tool from an AP automation provider, while still mailing paper checks to their suppliers. Historically, organizations have struggled to obtain fully-automated P2P processes due to high costs, implementation difficulties, and internal resistance to software adoption. IT integration and configuration and the challenge of synchronizing many departments and locations are additional barriers to adoption, especially when transitioning from an ERP-based system.
Fortunately, the market has shifted away from older P2P deployment methods in recent years, allowing for easier adoption of automation solutions. The rise of cloud software has given organizations access to advanced technology without the investment and risk of hosting the system locally; the solution provider handles IT, maintenance, and system security. Today’s tools allow for easier, faster implementation than early P2P systems, sometimes within only a few weeks. They integrate with most existing financial systems, allowing for a seamless transition from ERP-based tools. These solutions are also offered at a much more affordable price point than their predecessors, and are often sold in modular form, allowing smaller organizations to adopt new elements as their growth and budgets allow. However, full adoption of a P2P software suite should be every organization’s eventual goal.
What are the advantages of automating the entire P2P process? From a strategic standpoint, comprehensive P2P automation brings down processing costs, speeds up cycle times, and improves visibility into spend management—all at a much greater level than piece-by-piece automation alone. For example, when an organization adopts an invoice receipt and workflow tool for its AP department, it will certainly achieve the benefits of less paper, faster approval times, and possibly more early payment discounts. However, without an automated procurement process or an electronic payment tool, the effects of AP’s efficiency are constrained to that department, and cannot permeate the rest of the organization.
When organizations automate every step of the P2P process, they gain tremendous value beyond just processing efficiency. They synchronize the flow of data among departments to reduce process errors and improve control over their supply chains. They improve employee productivity by giving them more powerful, intuitive tools and by allowing them to focus on value-added tasks. They give their executives and other decision-makers valuable insight into spend data, which will allow them to make more informed decisions. This Navigator report examines solution providers that offer full Procure-to-Pay software suites in order to present readers with an honest look at holistic P2P automation.
The Levvel Research Procure-to-Pay Navigator scores solutions in twelve different categories on a scale of one to ten. The visual representation of the Navigator is similar to a radar chart; the higher the score in a category, the closer to the outer ring the corresponding wedge will be, see Figure 2. All twelve categories are explained in detail in the next section.
The purpose of the Procure-to-Pay Navigator report is to:
Levvel Research’s methodology for the P2P Navigator included:
Levvel Research conducted interviews with C-level executives from each provider to discuss their product roadmap, company vision, and sales and marketing objectives. These interviews were used to help score each provider’s innovation, acumen of leadership, and vision.
Levvel Research received extensive product demonstrations with each provider, during which the provider’s solution was evaluated against an extensive list of over 1,000 individual criteria. Each of the providers’ features were scored on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being highest. For categories where no provider scored a 10, the scores were normalized, with the highest scoring provider being brought to 10 and other providers’ scores being increased by the same ratio. For readers who would like a more qualitative way to consider these numeric scores, Levvel Research suggests the following criteria:
One of the axes on Levvel Research’s Navigator Plane is Adaptability. To adequately score a provider’s adaptability, Levvel Research required providers toreport on a variety of key metrics around their experience and resources. Below are some of the criteria examined for the adaptability measure:
One of the axes on Levvel Research’s Navigator Plane is Adaptability. To adequately score a provider’s adaptability, Levvel Research required providers to report on a variety of key metrics around their experience and resources. Below are some of the criteria examined for the adaptability measure:
Based on this criteria, Levvel Research gave each provider an adaptability score. In short, the adaptability rating is a measure of the provider’s ability to meet the needs of any organization, regardless of size, industry vertical, or geographic location. Organizations that score high in adaptability have a wide-reaching solution, whereas organizations that score lower in adaptability typically have a niche vertical, geographic, or revenue segment focus.
Levvel Research’s Navigator model has progressed significantly over the past decade. In that time, the Navigator has evolved to meet the needs of our audience, which seeks a valuable, unbiased ranking of solution providers. As such, Levvel Research has taken the following stance on certain issues regarding the scoring of providers:
There is absolutely zero cost for providers to participate in Navigator reports, and no preference or bias is given to any existing customer relationships Levvel Research has with providers. Providers are given the opportunity to purchase distribution rights once the report is complete
Each solution provider’s self-described future roadmap has no effect on Navigator scoring. All functionality and metrics considered for scoring had a strict cutoff of August 5th, 2016. Any functionality, version updates, product demonstrations, or information given beyond that date was not considered for this report.
Solution providers were required to meet a variety of eligibility criteria for inclusion in the Navigator report. These included a minimum of $12 million
The following section details the twelve categories represented in the P2P Navigator model, including how those categories are defined and how Levvel Research identifies success in each category.
Definition - This tool allows organizations to create electronic purchase requests and automatically route them for approval. These requisitions are integrated with supplier product catalogs and contain up-to-date product information, and also incorporate company controls, such as catalog restrictions based on the user.
Identifying Success - Competitive and leading solutions allow users to access pre-built requisition templates, and allow them to customize these templates by purchase type, user, and other parameters. Leading solutions also offer integration with sourcing and contract management solutions to enable more visibility and control into purchasing.
Definition - Basic P2P solutions include support for at least one type of catalog—either static/hosted catalogs or external/punch-out catalogs. Users can fill out requisitions directly from catalog interfaces and send for a pre-configured approval workflow.
Identifying Success -Leading P2P systems have more interactive, user-friendly shopping experiences in order to provide a familiar, intuitive procurement process similar to what consumers are used to on websites like Amazon.com. Leaders in this area typically offer a hybrid between hosted and punch-out catalogs, as well as specialized catalogs tailored to specific industries or needs, such as a catalog for laboratory products. Other leading catalog tools include extensive search capabilities, the ability to compare items side-by-side, and integration with spend category or project-based budget limits. Leaders also offer dynamic approval workflows that include escalations and out-of-office forwarding, drag-and-drop customization, and the ability for approvers to drill down into POs and make order adjustments.
Definition- Once a requisition for goods or services is approved, P2P solutions send an associated purchase order to suppliers for fulfillment. Most solutions offer the ability for suppliers to acknowledge PO receipt and flip POs to invoices. The PO management functionality allows an organization to have full visibility into the status of the order throughout its fulfillment, and to communicate with suppliers regarding that order.
Identifying Success- Leading solutions automatically send POs to suppliers after a requisition has been approved. They also allow the user to batch multiple orders to a single supplier or send multiple POs to several different suppliers from a single requisition. Other leading features include the ability to send special terms and conditions with POs, make change orders, associate freight costs with cost centers and project codes, and designate multiple ship-to addresses on a single PO. Leading solutions also offer PO management functionality to suppliers, such as the ability to send a PO acknowledgment and to sign and return POs in PDF format.
Definition - Once an order has been received, P2P solutions allow a user to confirm delivery and create a goods receipt for the shipment. The receipt is checked against the corresponding PO and invoice to ensure reconciliation among the three (3-way matching).
Identifying Success - Leading features in this category include the ability to send ASNs, check orders against inventory/warehouse systems and contracts, support returns, and hold payment for an item. Leading solutions also support blanket orders and partial shipment orders, often updating contract terms or POs as shipments come in. These solutions also create a summary report of the order with all related documents (requisition, PO, etc.) for reconciliation.
Definition - Features in this category include supplier portal invoice creation, eInvoicing, and the ability to manage paper invoices. The invoice receipt process entails offering some sort of invoice receipt service, whether through a data capture tool that uses OCR technology to capture paper invoice data or a mailroom processing service. A basic solution offers at least one of the above options.
Identifying Success - Leaders in this area offer their clients a full range of invoice receipt options in order to ensure that all supplier invoices are managed electronically. For eInvoicing, this includes invoices in XML or other EDI (electronic data interchange) formats, online fillable forms (usually as part of a supplier portal), and/or a print-to-cloud solution that validates PDF elements instantly. Leaders in this area offer more than one eInvoicing method free of charge to suppliers to ensure maximum supplier adoption.
The most advanced solutions also meet the unique eInvoicing technical requirements for countries in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Leading paper receipt management services include both plug-in data capture tools for clients to use on-site and mailroom services for clients that wish to outsource the process. Leaders also provide high levels of data capture accuracy either through advanced OCR technology, human-driven accuracy checks, or a combination of both.
Definition - Invoice management involves linking invoices to POs and other receiving documents, and routing them through the appropriate approval chain based on terms identified within the invoice (such as requisitioner or department). Invoice management also includes exception management—establishing a basic workflow and routing procedure for invoice exceptions (e.g., a mismatch between an invoice and a PO, or missing information). This process allows users to re-route invoices and fix errors by viewing the original invoice. Invoice allocation assigns non-PO invoices to specific categories within the general ledger.
The invoice workflow category focuses on capabilities and tools for managers or “super-users.” Work-in-progress dashboards provide immediate insights into the productivity of accounts payable and accruals. Functionality for customizing workflows for separate departments or locations should also be present, including the ability to set reminders and escalation procedures for past-due invoices.
Identifying Success - Leaders in invoice management provide field-level matching, meaning that they match specific characters in invoice line items with their counterparts in POs. Leaders also enable fields with invalid or missing data to drive notifications or workflows. Finally, leading solutions feature the ability to drive workflows for nonPO invoices based on field-level identification.
Leading solutions in exception management facilitate the creation of custom workflows depending on the type of exception present. They also allow users to set thresholds for non-PO invoices to identify errors or fraud, such as identifying an invoice for snowplow services in July. Invoice allocation also weighs heavily when identifying leaders. Leading solutions allow for single or multiple line items to be assigned to multiple cost centers or multiple POs.
Leaders in invoice workflow allow users to create custom workflows with automated workload balancing and escalation procedure management. Visual workflow editors with detailed process-flows and drag-and-drop functionality are also prevalent among leading providers.
Definition - Basic supplier portals allow suppliers to upload invoices, check on the status of invoices, and communicate with buyers about exceptions and errors.
Identifying Success - Leaders in this category enable the creation of custom business rules at the point of supplier portal invoice upload. These rules create instant error notifications and allow PO flip from within the portal. Leading providers allow suppliers to input payment preferences, upload payment information, and verify payment information in real time. Leaders also allow suppliers to manage catalogs, choose how they want to receive POs, and submit important legal, tax, and validation documents.
Definition - P2P solutions that offer a supplier information and performance (SIM) module are automatically granted a competitive score in this category. Standard SIM solutions store and manage relevant supplier materials, documentation, and credentials, including tax forms, sustainability scorecards, attachments, qualification results, certificates, and risk assessments. This portfolio-level view of supplier relationships enables buyers to segment their suppliers according to certain parameters, engage with suppliers based on more strategic considerations, and reduce the risk of data, compliance, or legal problems arising downstream in supply chain processes. The most common type of SIM tool validates suppliers up front. These solutions use smart forms to request documents from suppliers during onboarding, and workflows to route documents to internal approvers for review when necessary. They also offer buyers a centralized repository for suppliers’ data, allowing them to perform quick keyword searches or advanced filtered searches of the directory using a variety of parameters, including region, type, and classification.
Identifying Success - Leaders in this category offer some type of vendor master file cleansing service at the beginning of their relationship with a client, and some offer this periodically as a free ongoing service. Leaders also verify suppliers by running them through international “Do Not Pay” lists, such as that from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Leading SIM providers are knowledgeable about current tax and payment requirements, and these solutions assist P2P departments by automatically gathering the right tax form and tax ID information from suppliers prior to payment. These solutions also provide supplier validation services to thoroughly vet suppliers; these are offered natively or through integration with third-party validation services for more extensive security and validation tests.
Definition - Basic solutions allow for the initiation of a payment file that goes to the ERP (which then initiates payment or sends a message to the bank). Basic solutions also facilitate the input of ACH information and transmission of remittance information to the portal.
Identifying Success - Leading solutions feature integration with virtual card solutions and actively onboard suppliers to virtual card programs for the client. These leaders cut checks on behalf of the buyer if they fail to onboard suppliers to virtual cards or ACH. Leading solutions also feature payment management capabilities which include DPO forecasting modules, dynamic discounting tools, supply-chain finance solution integration, and advanced payment audit capabilities (such as escheatment tools).
Definition - Basic solutions typically offer a set of standard out-of-the-box reports that can be exported to a spreadsheet tool. Report types typically include the most standard P2P process parameters, such as requisition number, PO number, date requisition Initiated, date PO issued, workflow approval status, and project.
Identifying Success - Leading solutions feature visually dynamic reporting dashboards, drag-and-drop functionality, and exceptional drilldown capabilities from within a configurable reporting dashboard. These solutions also allow users to schedule and subscribe to reports. Leaders in this area offer robust compliance and payments reporting, and often partner with outside business intelligence tools to offer more advanced analytics.
Definition - Versatility is a measure of breadth—how readily compatible a solution is with any business type, industry vertical, location, or revenue segment. Factors measured include vertical and ERP traction, language and currency support, and tax compliance.
Identifying Success - Success in this area is a simple measure of breadth within the area to which a solution is marketed. The biggest solutions (in terms of market presence and size of customer base) must have the most capabilities to score well. Successful track records of specific ERP integrations, tax compliance in Europe, LatAm, and AsiaPac, and a variety of supported languages are all considered.
Definition - Deliverability focuses entirely on customer experience, including implementation, initial and ongoing training, customer support, user interface, pricing, and ongoing cost of ownership.
Identifying Success - Mobile capability and user design are by far the biggest identifiers of success in this category. Leaders have both responsive web design and native apps, as well as solutions that minimize the need for training through intuitive user design. Leading solutions also feature shorter implementation times and provide one-on-one full-time implementation managers.
Basware was founded in 1985 in Finland with a focus on finance and accounts payable automation and has been publicly traded on the Nasdaq OMX Helsinki stock exchange since 2000, with offices across North America, Europe and Asia/Pacific. During the last decade, Basware has ventured into eInvoicing and cloudbased offerings, and it is now one of the largest and most well-known global providers of P2P automation services. While much of Basware’s experience has been with large enterprises in European markets, Basware’s recent acquisition of the eProcurement provider Verian has expanded its presence in the US.
Basware is an impressive company that offers a leading solution among global P2P providers. Basware’s primary strengths are its experience and resources, built upon its global presence and experience in the P2P market. Basware scored highest in Invoice Creation, Capture, Receipt and Purchase Order Management, Payment Initiation and Execution, Reporting and Analytics, and Versatility. Basware works with many large international companies, and its solution’s strength lies in its support for VAT-related invoicing requirements in Europe and Latin America and in its extensive language support—the solution is offered in more languages than almost any other tool. Basware excels in its reporting capabilities, which include out-of-the-box dashboards with a full set of both ad-hoc and custom reporting tools, and in payments support—it offers versatile financing services options and can integrate with almost any payment tool to streamline invoice payment.
Basware’s solution has some room for improvement in its goods receipt and reconciliation feature, which lacks transparency around blanket orders and inventory integration. Basware can also expand the solution’s self-service workflow management to give end users more autonomy in configuring approval routing. Additionally, the solution is built in a multi-tenant cloud environment, limiting updates and customizations for individual customers. Levvel Research sees the greatest areas for improvement in supplier information and performance management, where Basware offers little functionality when compared to the breadth and competency of its solution as a whole. Basware is developing this module to cover supplier validation and risk management capabilities to give its customers more control over and insight into their international suppliers across the supply chain.
Founded in 2002, BirchStreet is a leading provider of P2P automation within the hospitality, restaurant, club, and casino industries. The BirchStreet solution includes several modules specifically designed to streamline processes for organizations in these industries; among other items, it automates food and beverage P2P for large enterprise organizations operating multiple properties. BirchStreet has multiple offices in the United States, India, Singapore and China, works with over 14,000 properties in 103 countries, and offers multi-lingual and multi-currency functionality. BirchStreet has also recently acquired AccuBar, a beverage inventory management solution provider, which will further increase the BirchStreet solution’s appeal to the hospitality, restaurant, club, and casino industries.
BirchStreet’s catalog and PO management modules are some of its strongest features; these tools offer holistic and flexible functionality that fully supports the large, diverse orders characteristic of its target industries. Some features include shopping lists, budget controls, automatic GL coding, and side-by-side comparisons of suppliers’ offerings. For more specialized use, the solution also offers recipe and capital projects modules. When combined with the PO module, these tools enable their clients to manage a wide variety of purchasing processes. BirchStreet also offers leading functionality for invoice receipt, capture, and workflow that includes OCR data capture and eInvoicing network integration.
Considering BirchStreet’s strong and extensive offering set, Levvel Research believes the company would do well to expand its reach and services to other industry verticals beyond hospitality. Levvel Research also agrees with the company’s internal goal of building out its reporting and analytics module by partnering with a more advanced BI tool. The greatest potential area of improvement would be in BirchStreet’s supplier information and performance management tools. Even though BirchStreet’s network hosts an impressive 400,000 suppliers, the solution could offer more self-service tools for suppliers, particularly supplier payments support.
A newcomer in the P2P space, BuyerQuest was founded in 2011 by an executive team of professionals from both standard business procurement and eCommerce software fields. The company’s relative youth as a solution provider is reflected in its modern approach to user experience—an approach that sets BuyerQuest apart from many of its more mature competitors. The company’s primary focus is in eProcurement, but it does provide some support around invoice management and reconciliation.
The company’s ground-up approach to an eCommerce-like experience is evident in its solution interface and easy-to-use tools, making the requisitioning and shopping experience one of the strongest features. Although most providers claim to have an Amazon-like shopping experience, BuyerQuest delivers upon this claim. The solution’s catalogs are available in a standard/punch-out hybrid, and the entire requisitioning module is appealing to look at and use, with visibility into product details and an advanced workflow tool. The solution also has a robust goods receipt and reconciliation feature that brings further transparency and control to organizations, including advanced support around ASNs, blanket orders, and multiple shipping addresses.
BuyerQuest has poured the majority of its resources into its procurement module, but could easily improve the P2P suite by strengthening its Accounts Payable tools—particularly around invoice approval workflow—and by adding more self-service tools to the supplier portal. One of the most important opportunities for improvement is to build out the supplier information and performance management tools in order to strengthen BuyerQuest’s procurement module and its clients’ control over their supply chains. The solution currently lacks any complete tools around supplier information management. In addition, BuyerQuest should complete the entire P2P cycle by adding ePayments support.
Based in California and founded in 2006, Coupa has been a company to watch since it arrived on the spend management scene. Coupa’s success was recently confirmed by its decision to go public; it began trading on NASDAQ on October 6th, 2016, under the ticker symbol COUP.
Coupa’s first product was its cloud-based Spend Optimization tool, which includes procurement, accounts payable, and travel and expense management tools. It is now a fully unified source-to-settle and expense management suite with the addition through the years of sourcing, inventory, analytics, supplier management, and contract lifecycle management. A frequent participant in Navigator reports, Coupa is a leader in many areas of financial process automation—particularly in travel and expense management.
Coupa’s solution is modern and intuitive, and its transparency and versatility make it a strong option for larger organizations. Coupa’s solution scored highest in its supplier information and performance management module and its procurement module. From requisition to goods receipt and reconciliation, the procurement module earned leading scores in every category. Features include high user appeal due to easy PO creation and intuitive shopping interfaces, configurable approval workflows, and real-time visibility. The solution’s supplier tools eliminate much of the hassle of managing supplier information; Coupa captures a great deal of suppliers’ tax, risk, and legal data during supplier onboarding, and tracks supplier documents and supplier performance throughout the business relationship.
Coupa’s solution does not currently offer much support for companies with high volumes of paper invoices, since Coupa has instead focused on product capabilities that eliminate the paper. An easy improvement for Coupa would be to expand its Accounts Payable features, particularly in its invoice receipt area. Levvel Research has identified that Coupa is sometimes viewed as a higherpriced option in the RFP phase. However, their pricing model is often more all-inclusive than some other providers. Coupa should also continue to expand international invoicing compliance support into LATAM.
Determine is a company created by the 2015 partnership of three leading P2P and S2S software providers, Iasta, Selectica, and b-pack. These companies merged to develop a holistic spend management solution designed for global enterprise companies, which includes contract lifecycle management, strategic sourcing, and procurement solutions. As the three founding companies came from different continents, Determine has a strong global presence and diverse experience in B2B process requirements across many regions. This experience, the solution’s holistic breadth, and its flexible design all make Determine a good choice for companies with several international locations and/or subsidiaries.
Determine’s goods receipt and reconciliation features are leading, with many controls to ensure that all orders and relevant documents are received and managed properly, including roles-based receiving and PO-to-contract matching. The solution’s supplier information and performance management tools are also impressive, including vendor scorecarding; these tools are also customizable, allowing customers to capture the information most relevant to them. This feature, when combined with the company’s global focus and its support for eInvoicing in both North American and European countries, makes the solution a valuable tool for managing international supply chains.
Though built from many strong parts, Determine is still a new company, and as a result is in the process of ironing out some business and software-related issues. These issues are no surprise considering the freshness of the merger, and the company should be able to easily streamline its product and strategy in the next several months. To improve its solution, Determine can take its reporting and analytics tools further by adding more customizable dashboards, drill-down capabilities, and BI-based reporting. Although the solution offers great functionality for managing supplier information, Determine would also do well to expand its supplier-side capabilities by adding more self-service tools and giving suppliers more visibility into processes. Levvel Research’s greatest advisement for Determine is to complete its Purchase-to-Pay offerings with a payment initiation and execution tool. Determine’s current gap in this area prevents it from reaching its full potential in the P2P space.
Esker is a French business software firm founded in 1985. It diversified into fax software and the US market through acquisitions in the 1990s, before transitioning to a cloud-based document management solution in the early 2000s. Esker’s leading offerings include tools for invoice management and workflow and payments, and it has expanded its product set to include purchasing and supplier management in recent years. The company also recently acquired Term Sync, a cash collection solution, which will improve Esker’s capabilities around accounts receivable and order-to-cash. Esker has a global presence that reaches across North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia, and its solution is built to support international companies with multiple languages and ERPs. Esker also offers close integration with SAP software and the Oracle ERP, making it highly suitable for companies reliant upon these technologies.
Considering the breadth of experience Esker has in automating invoice management, it is fitting that the solution’s strengths are in its accounts payable component. This includes a robust mail management, scanning, and document capture solution, as well as a competitive invoice routing and approval workflow module, which has improved since Levvel Research’s 2015 review. The solution also completes the invoice lifecycle with strong payments initiation and reconciliation support; buyers have high visibility into payments and payments data. Esker has recently acquired CalvaEDI, an EDI and logistics company, which further strengthens the versatility of its invoice management tool, and will eventually enable customers to send purchase orders in EDI format.
Procurement has only been a recent focus in Esker’s product development, which explains the solution’s relatively limited capabilities. The company can easily expand its procurement offering to improve scores in this area, as well as improve the solution’s reporting dashboards. Levvel Research believes that the greatest opportunity for improvement is for Esker to build out its goods receipt and reconciliation tool, which is missing many key leading features, such as the ability to send an ASN. The solution also lacks supplier information and performance management support, which would greatly benefit global customers in terms of supply chain management and risk control.
In 1999, GEP was founded as a supply chain and procurement consulting and outsourced services firm. The company spent years integrating experience in spend analysis, category management, and supply market intelligence into a holistic SaaS software tool, SMART by GEP, which includes modules for fully integrated sourcing, contract management, procurement, and accounts payable. The company serves enterprise customers worldwide; its solution supports compliance with European eInvoicing requirements, and can be implemented in any language. The tool features a modern user interface and flexible configuration.
SMART by GEP’s strengths lie in its modern and holistic nature, as it was designed to create streamlined user access to many different tools from within one integrated platform. GEP’s global footprint and progressive strategy also lend it value as a provider. The solution’s procurement capabilities are comprehensive, and its goods receipt and reconciliation capabilities are particularly strong, containing all features required in a leading solution. The solution is also a leader in supplier information and performance management, as it offers support for tax, regulatory, and legal compliance. GEP also provides extensive services for supplier risk assessment, such as a supplier vetting workflow, and allows buyers to closely monitor and rate supplier performance.
While GEP has created a holistic tool with competitive offerings in each P2P module, its payment initiation and execution tools are not its strongest components. The payments module offers good support for payment information, but does not currently offer any ePayments tools, either in-house or through a partnership. In addition, the invoice receipt and creation capabilities lack some key leading features—such as the ability to capture invoice details from the body of emails—and SMART by GEP’s eInvoicing capabilities are not as versatile as some of its competitors. Levvel Research’s greatest advisement for GEP is to expand its reporting and analytics module to complement the transparency and strategic value already offered by its holistic solution. The reporting module is simple and effective as it stands, but does not offer a strong business intelligence focus for more in-depth process analysis.
Ivalua was founded in 2000 and released its flagship sourcing product in 2001. In 2006, the company released its full P2P suite, and has spent the last decade expanding its global customer base. Today, Ivalua boasts 500,000 users in over 70 countries, with a strong presence in North America and Europe, and has become an eInvoicing leader in many European regions. The company tailors services to large companies with global business requirements, and its product supports processes for international organizations working in Latin America and Europe. Ivalua’s software manages P2P processes from requisition to reporting, and includes modules for supplier risk management.
Ivalua’s solution has a robust goods receipt and reconciliation component that includes support for ASNs, return labels, partial shipments, blanket orders, and contract compliance. The solution’s supplier information and performance management module is also strong and provides controls that flag non-compliant supplier documents. Ivalua has good requisition and PO creation, purchase order management, invoice management and Workflow solution, and supplier-side capabilities. Ivalua also helps users maintain supplier tax and global regulation compliance. Ivalua’s end-to-end suite has services procurement, expenses, spend analytics, sourcing, contract, supplier and risk management organically integrated with its procure-to-pay capabilities. Ivalua’s solution and workflow is highly configurable by end users.
Levvel Research recommends that Ivalua further enhance its catalog management tool. Currently, it meets standard customer requirements to remain competitive, but the solution’s requisitioning experience could be enhanced as well as adding more controls to its requisition workflow and approval features. Ivalua also offers its cloud solution in a single-tenant environment, which may not appeal to some customers who want a public cloud. Another advisement for Ivalua is to further improve invoice creation, capture and receipt capabilities, reporting and analysis, and to offer payment initiation and execution support. The solution does not offer an in-house payments tool at this time.
Puridiom has been in the procurement software industry for over 30 years. Its software is highly versatile and offers deep visibility into spend. The solution is relatively niche, as it has a strong presence in service industries, and the company is aware of its strengths as a provider. The modular platform allows for quick implementations, making Puridiom a good option for midmarket companies. Despite Puridiom’s years of experience, the company remains relatively small, and it has not invested heavily to expand its global market presence. However, this is partially explained by Puridiom’s focus on procurement and serving its customers with close personal relationships—it accepts a set amount of engagements each year and works with clients that desire a more in-depth, service-based relationship with their software provider. Puridiom’s recent acquisition by the procurement provider BravoSolution will likely enhance its offerings and market standing.
Puridiom’s solution offers leading functionality for electronic requisitioning and PO creation, complete with automatically generated requisition templates and automatic approvals for requisitions that meet certain criteria. The requisition and PO creation interface is intuitive to use, allowing purchasers and approvers to quickly navigate and use the system. Puridiom also offers an impressive set of supplier information and performance management features, including robust supplier validation services and the ability to rate suppliers on risk, performance, and compliance.
Levvel Research recommends that Puridiom build out its workflow capability for invoices and requisitions. It should also build out its catalog management feature, which currently lacks the same ease-of-use and intuitive design seen in other areas of the solution. Levvel Research’s greatest advisement would be for the company to improve its reporting and analytics offerings, which lack an ad-hoc reporting offering and only provide minimal drill-drown capabilities into process data.
Although SAP Ariba did not choose to participate in the P2P Navigator, Levvel Research would be remiss to exclude a company that has historically dominated much of the modern P2P software market. Levvel Research viewed a highlevel product demonstration by a sales representative at an industry event, but was unable to score the solution against Navigator criteria. This profile is thus primarily derived from market research and common knowledge.
Founded in 1996, Ariba went public shortly afterwards, becoming one the first web-based B2B companies to do so. It has been a leader among procurement providers for almost two decades, and the company’s recent acquisition by the software giant SAP has further expanded the company’s market presence.
Ariba’s product offerings include eProcurement, financial, S2S, and contract lifecycle management software. The company’s strengths lie in its extensive product set and experience in the market, although its product’s price point typically only makes it a viable choice for large enterprise companies. The company also has one of the largest supplier networks in the market, with over 2 million suppliers, but it is unknown how many of those suppliers are active. Most suppliers are charged fees to join or participate in the Ariba Network, which can be another drawback for small and mid-sized companies, since they typically have limited push power over their supplier base and cannot achieve high participation rates. However, SAP Ariba recently released a free adoption model that will give smaller suppliers partial access to the network without fees. Under this model, suppliers will be able to interact with buyers when transactions are below a certain dollar threshold, but will not be able to take advantage of any supplier-side capabilities.
In the past few years, Levvel Research believes that SAP Ariba’s size and age have made it difficult to adapt to the rapidly-changing P2P market filling with competitive cloud providers. The company recently overhauled its SaaS offering, taking a more modern approach to the UI and feature set, but it is unclear how many of SAP Ariba’s current customers will be able to easily upgrade to this model. Overall, the company is working to reclaim its hold as an indisputable market leader, but given its size, progress is slow.
SciQuest was founded in 1995, initially developing B2B eCommerce software for scientific products. It has since expanded its offerings to cover a wide range of spend management processes, starting with strategic eProcurement and branching into supplier management, spend analysis, AP automation, and most recently, sourcing and contract lifecycle management. In 2010, the company went public, but in 2016 it was acquired by Accel-KKR (“AKKR”), a technology-focused private equity firm, and was taken private. SciQuest is the top eProcurement provider to the higher education industry, and it offers several solution features specifically tailored to these organizations.
SciQuest’s holistic and customizable product makes it is a strong player in the spend management space. Among the leading features, SciQuest’s goods receipt and reconciliation tools are particularly robust, providing support for ASNs, roles-based receiving, partial shipment receiving, and managing order reconciliation across multiple shipping addresses. The reporting and analytics tools are also impressive; the solution offers out-of-the-box and ad-hoc reporting, and allows users to drill down into a variety of P2P process parameters.
SciQuest’s solution would benefit from more comprehensive supplier-side capabilities, as this component is currently lacking some features around supplier payments support. The solution’s invoice management and workflow are also lacking the configurability that would set it as a leading tool. Levvel Research’s sees great opportunity for improvement in SciQuest’s payment initiation and execution tools. Levvel Research also believes SciQuest should consider moving beyond its target verticals more aggressively in the future. This can be accomplished by tailoring more of its solution modules to different industry needs, as SciQuest has done for higher education organizations.
Founded in 2012, Tradeshift is a Danish company that initially offered AP automation software, but has recently expanded into the P2P space with its eProcurement solution. While the company is relatively young, its solution’s modern user interface and comprehensive invoice management strategies have made Tradeshift a disruptive presence among established P2P software providers. Tradeshift’s progressive approach attracted an impressive client list soon after its first product launched. Tradeshift’s supplier network connects over 800,000 companies across the world, and its application ecosystem allows third parties to create their own applications for the Tradeshift platform, which has allowed Tradeshift to get to market much faster in a number of areas. The P2P solution offers support for international eInvoicing, and Tradeshift is one of the few AP automation providers to offer support for Chinese tax compliance, making the solution well-suited for global businesses. Tradeshift has recently entered the T&E automation market with the release of Tradeshift GO, an app that serves as a virtual assistant for travel booking and payments.
Tradeshift’s solution scored very high in purchase order management, as its tools enable control over and visibility into the fulfillment process. Features include the ability to customize and change ship-to addresses on POs, associate freight costs with cost centers or project codes, and collaborate with suppliers. Supplierside capabilities are another strength of the Tradeshift solution, as it provides suppliers with self-service tools for managing POs, invoices, and payments. These tools provide access to documents and audit trails, collaboration capabilities, payment validation support, and the ability to manage email notifications. The solution also verifies invoices upon submission and allows suppliers to correct any discrepancies before sending the invoices to buyers.
Some easy improvement opportunities for Tradeshift are in its electronic requisitioning and PO creation tool and in its invoice management and workflow tools. There are a few pieces missing from these modules that keep the solution from a leading score, such as contract management integration and drag-anddrop workflow configurability. However, many of these features are currently in development. One of Levvel Research’s greatest advisements is for Tradeshift to improve upon its catalog management capability. Currently, Tradeshift only offers hosted catalogs, and the shopping experience does not match the modern and dynamic nature of the rest of its solution. Another area in which Tradeshift could improve is goods receipt and reconciliation. The solution does not offer a native tool, but allows clients to integrate with third-party applications or their existing receiving systems. Levvel Research advises Tradeshift to develop a native goods receipt and reconciliation module to complete its P2P suite.
Founded in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1997, Verian is known primarily as an eProcurement software provider; it also offers automation for expense reporting and invoice management, as well as fully integrated inventory management and asset management modules. Although the company has offices in India and Germany, it deals primarily with US organizations. The company was recently acquired by the global P2P automation provider Basware, which will expand Verian’s offerings and increase its global presence.
Verian’s strongest capabilities lie in requisitioning, PO creation, and PO management. It offers several leading tools in these areas, including user-based purchasing controls, extensive workflow configurability, and budgeting and inventory integration. The solution also leads with its supplier-side capabilities, which offer a high degree of control and visibility into current processes for both POs and invoices. The solution’s transparent views into spend across entire organizations and built-in, detailed permissions tools make it especially fitting for companies in government and healthcare.
Verian offers very little for accounts payable automation—it does not offer OCR data capture services or EDI invoicing, leaving customers to manually enter the majority of their invoice data. However, in light of Verian’s recent acquisition, Levvel Research predicts this will not be an issue for long. Combined with Basware’s leading invoice management system, the Verian solution will gain value. Levvel Research does suggest that Verian improve its native supplier information and performance management capabilities, as these are lacking in many crucial areas, including vendor database management capabilities and support around supplier risk and legal compliance. Levvel Research also advises Verian to expand its presence beyond US markets to raise its competitive standing—though this will likely also happen under Basware’s parentage.
Note: All statements in this report attributable to Verian represent an interpretation of data prior to Baseware’s acquisition of Verian and do not necessarily describe the current status and position of an integrated Baseware/Verian solution
Founded in 2001, Wax Digital is a UK-based company. Its product suite, web3, supports over 265,000 users in 102 countries, and supports B2B requirements for both Latin America and Europe. web3 covers both P2P and source-to-settle automation, and is offered as a holistic suite or in modular units to promote timely implementation and scalable adoption. Wax Digital is also highly focused on integration, and offers a versatile Integration Platform as a Service, web3 Connect, that connects with all leading ERPs and facilitates repaid delivery and deployment of interfaces to any number and nature of third party systems.
Wax Digital’s main strength is the adaptability of its solutions, as well as the breadth of its suite and comparative strength in both upstream and downstream procurement. web3’s toolset offers strong support for compliance and control over organizations’ purchasing processes, and its reporting and analytics module is a leading feature. This module offers both out-of-the-box reports and custom report builders, and a partnership with the Microsoft Power BI tool to drive deeper analysis. The web3 suite is delivered via the cloud and is upgraded on a quarterly basis across all clients. Wax Digital’s strong integration support makes it a good choice for companies with many different ERPs and other back-office systems.
One advisement for Wax Digital is to improve the web3 solution’s goods receipt and reconciliation feature, which is currently missing a few key features, such as ASN support. Wax Digital has enhanced its accounts payable automation capabilities significantly in recent years, but there remains work to do around invoice receipt automation. The company also has limited experience outside of UK markets, and Levvel Research would advise it to expand its customer base in the US and other regions. The company’s global relevance can be improved by offering more global eInvoicing support and by partnering with supplier validation service providers to improve supplier management capabilities.
Xeeva, formerly known as Supplier Software, was founded in 2008 as a division of Netlink, Inc, a global IT services firm. Leaders of that division included professionals with backgrounds in software development, procurement, and supply chain consulting. Created as a separate product offering in 2014, Xeeva includes solutions for source-to-settle, supplier collaboration, and P2P automation, as well as several value-added tools such as category management and inventory management. Xeeva has a wide global focus, with offices in many regions, including North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia and implementations in over 45 countries. Xeeva’s market standing and company value has recently increased with its acquisition of ProcurePack, a provider of cloud-based eSourcing and vendor relationship management software.
Xeeva’s solution offers leading features in several areas, including goods receipt and reconciliation, and invoice creation and receipt. For invoice intake, customers can scan and capture invoices, leverage the solution’s EDI support, and access Xeeva’s mailroom services, which include OCR data capture and human verification of data. In receiving, the solution can support complex shipping and receipt routes, and offers visibility into shipping statuses and documentation. Overall, Xeeva’s global focus and capabilities, as well as its source-to-settle offerings, make it a competitive option for mid-sized and large international companies.
While the Xeeva solution’s supplier-side capabilities provide suppliers with visibility into invoice and PO statuses and audit histories, it is missing some vital features specific to eInvoicing—particularly in the area of invoice exception management—preventing Xeeva from earning a leading score in this category. The solution’s invoice management and workflow tools could also do with a few minor improvements that would establish Xeeva as a leader in the category, such as by adding escalation features to approvals. Levvel Research strongly advises Xeeva to expand its payments program to include ePayments tools or integration support; currently, customers can only confirm in a feed to an ERP that invoices are ready for payment. Levvel Research also recommends that Xeeva also target clients in the lower middle market segment (less than $500M in annual revenue), as the solution’s intuitive and flexible design would do well for these clients.
Founded in the US and headquartered in Princeton, NJ, Zycus launched its first spend analytics product in 2002, and has consistently expanded its product suite to include eProcurement, eInvoicing, spend analysis, contract management, supplier management, and electronic sourcing. All modules are developed on the same codebase, creating a unified experience for users across the P2P process, and the company has made this holistic design approach a key focus in its client outreach. In fact, Zycus has reported substantial growth in the last year, with many clients purchasing the entire source-to-settle suite rather than only a few modules.
Zycus’ main strength lies in its eProcurement tool. It offers a simple and intuitive shopping experience through a dynamic interface, and high transparency into product and supplier details. The solution has leading functionality in the electronic requisitioning and PO creation category, as well as in catalog management and requisition workflow and approval. These features include automatic template configuration, hosted and punch-out catalog capability, the ability to rate products and suppliers, and extensive requisition workflow controls and configuration. Zycus also provides electronic sourcing and contract management integration, bringing more transparency to goods receipt and reconciliation.
Levvel Research sees an easy opportunity for Zycus in its goods receipt and reconciliation which, if minimally improved, would give the entire procurement module a leading score. In addition, Zycus should leverage the same strengths from its requisition workflow and PO management in the invoice management and workflow tool, which currently lacks the same dynamic usability and configurability. The area most vital to improve is invoice creation, capture, and receipt—Zycus only offers basic OCR capabilities for paper invoices, and much of the data capture and invoice intake is customer-driven.
The Navigation Plane is a scoring grid that compares providers across two metrics: proficiency and adaptability. Proficiency is a measure of both the functional capabilities and the innovative focus of a provider. Adaptability is a measure of the relative experience and resources a provider has and their ability to meet the needs of a variety of different business types, sizes, geographies, and industry verticals.
A final consideration is that these graphs are an enlarged version of the actual grid, which scores solutions between 1 and 10. It should be noted that if a provider is in the lower left corner of the chart, it does not mean that it necessarily lacks proficiency or adaptability; those providers just had a lower score relative to the other participants. Also, this plane represents a comparison of the best of the best providers. Every provider in this report was selected out of a much larger list of providers and should be considered a leader in the P2P solution marketplace. Even the lowest-scoring candidate has a more viable product than several other providers that did not meet the qualifications for this report.
The list below covers a few best practices in choosing and adopting a P2P solution.
In order to properly prepare for automation, organizations must know the current condition of their P2P operations. They should gather metrics on costs, processing times, and all other quantifiable items, as well as top pain points and challenges. They should also evaluate their technical and structural needs to identify the type of solution that would best fit with current business processes and existing financial systems.
With their gathered metrics, companies should develop a selection checklist in order to choose a provider that complements their internal strategies and business needs, including business process flows, unique industry requirements, IT needs, and financial parameters. This list should include both negotiable and non-negotiable features and services desired from a solution. A useful selection checklist also requires considering the company’s future plans. If an organization hopes to eventually expand automation to other back-office departments, it should add that the provider should offer sourcing, contract management, or even expense management modules. If the company hopes to expand business operations to other countries, it should add global experience to its checklist.
For an automation overhaul to be successful, the entire organization must be in agreement about the value, need, and primary use of the software. Gaining corporate buy-in is the surest way of creating a successful automation initiative. Those proposing the implementation of new software should present a detailed plan for implementation, highlighting the long-term benefits of the solution in both hard and soft costs. One of the most effective ways to do this is by leveraging the results of the current state analysis.
There are many different types of P2P providers; some offer more generic solutions that can easily plug into any business type, while others have more experience in a few specific industries, such as higher education, healthcare, or professional services. In addition, many solutions are built differently according to the market segment the provider caters to; there are solutions with features and pricing options designed for small, medium, and large organizations. A buying organization should evaluate the solution against both of these distinctions.
It is just as important to look at a P2P provider’s track record as it is to look at their solution. Organizations should evaluate the provider’s versatility by reviewing their experience with the organization’s own business type, industry vertical, geographic location requirements, and company size. They should also measure the solution’s ability to integrate with different financial systems/ ERP systems, and whether it offers support for several different languages and currencies—if applicable. Organizations should review a provider’s implementation agendas and average timelines, training methods, and support programs offered both during and after implementation.
Silencing the noise of providers’ marketing efforts can prove frustrating and difficult to organizations looking for a solution, even with tools like the Navigator report. This is especially true since each organization’s individual needs are different and often complex. Organizations in the market for a solution should consider speaking with professionals like Levvel Research about choosing a provider that best meets their needs.
Levvel Research, formerly PayStream Advisors, is a research and advisory firm that operates within the IT consulting company, Levvel. Levvel Research is focused on many areas of innovative technology, including business process automation, DevOps, emerging payment technologies, full-stack software development, mobile application development, cloud infrastructure, and content publishing automation. Levvel Research’s team of experts provide targeted research content to address the changing technology and business-process needs of competitive organizations across a range of verticals. In short, Levvel Research is dedicated to maximizing returns and minimizing risks associated with technology investment. Levvel Research’s reports, white papers, webinars, and tools are available free of charge at www.levvel.io
All Research Reports produced by Levvel Research are a collection of Levvel Research’s professional opinions and are based on Levvel Research’s reasonable efforts to compile and analyze, in Levvel Research’s sole professional opinion, the best sources reasonably available to Levvel Research at any given time. Any opinions reflect Levvel Research’s judgment at the time and are subject to change. Anyone using this report assumes sole responsibility for the selection and/ or use of any and all content, research, publications, materials, work product or other item contained herein. As such Levvel Research does not make any warranties, express or implied, with respect to the content of this Report, including, without limitation, those of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. Levvel Research shall not be liable under any circumstances or under any theory of law for any direct, indirect, special, consequential or incidental damages, including without limitation, damages for lost profits, business failure or loss, arising out of use of the content of the Report, whether or not Levvel Research has been advised of the possibility of such damages and shall not be liable for any damages incurred arising as a result of reliance upon the content or any claim attributable to errors, omissions or other inaccuracies in the content or interpretations thereof.
Research Senior Manager
Anna Barnett is a Research Senior Manager for Levvel Research. She manages Levvel's team of analysts and all research content delivery, and helps lead research development strategy for the firm's many technology focus areas. Anna joined Levvel through the acquisition of PayStream Advisors, and for the past several years has served as an expert in several facets of business process automation software. She also covers digital transformation trends and technology, including around DevOps strategy, design systems, application development, and cloud migration. Anna has extensive experience in research-based analytical writing and editing, as well as sales and marketing content creation.
Levvel’s 2021 Payables Insight Report serves as a buyer’s guide to identify, select, and implement such a tool and looks into the trends, challenges, and the current state of AP.
2020 has been an eventful year for Travel & Expense Management (TEM). Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel has declined significantly, which made it seem like TEM automation would take a back seat to more urgent priorities.
Levvel Research's 2020 Travel & Expense Insight Report is set to be a standout amongst previous years’ versions. Because of COVID-19, 2020 has been a year unlike any other, and corporate travel and expense management has been drastically affected.
Although COVID-19 will eventually reach a resolution, the agility that investment in technology empowers will endure. And a key tech investment organizations can make is adding software to their back-office processes.