October 24, 2018
When it comes to controlling spend and minimizing risk, sourcing and contract management processes are vital. Sourcing is key to organizations’ supply chain efficiency, while contract management helps to maintain compliance and regulation within supplier relationships. With success in both operations, businesses can make key strategic decisions and generate value.
Unfortunately, research shows that the sourcing and contract management processes within many organizations are slow, error-prone, and inefficient. Manual sourcing efforts often result in poor visibility and deteriorating relationships with suppliers, as well as inadequate supplier performance. Scattered contract management results in higher risk, inconsistency across contract formats and terms, and a cumbersome and costly creation and negotiation process.
With these problems in mind, businesses continually strive to enhance efficiency and minimize costs, and one of the best ways to accomplish this is through comprehensive Source-to-Settle (S2S) solutions. This technology automates and enhances sourcing, procurement, and contract management, and brings many benefits across the business, including collaborative processes downstream and better relationships with partners. Within the S2S software space, there is electronic sourcing (eSourcing) software and contract lifecycle management (CLM) software. eSourcing addresses every step of the sourcing process, from event creation to awarding a bid, while CLM software provides intuitive tools for contract authoring, negotiation, tracking, and storage. Whether these solutions are used together to create a fully automated S2S environment or separately to address gaps or needs within an organization’s unique business infrastructure, they can help in a variety of ways fundamental to proper cash, supply chain, and data management.
Growing awareness, development, and adoption of eSourcing and CLM attests to a more recognizable need for automation within businesses, but these technologies still have a relatively small market presence. Levvel Research believes that these low adoption rates can be attributed to indifference or relative contentment with current processes among organizations, as well as a lack of awareness of the value of automation.
In order to address the educational gap regarding eSourcing and CLM, this report explores the current state of sourcing and contract management in different industry sectors and revenue sizes, highlights the pain points of today’s S2S processes, and offers the latest information about eSourcing and CLM tools. Levvel Research delves into both business operations separately, and also explores the functionality and use case of combined S2S software. Levvel Research has also identified best practices for adopting S2S solutions for companies considering adopting an automated tool for their sourcing or contract management processes.
In order to gain an understanding of sourcing and contract management processes among today’s organizations, Levvel Research surveyed over 300 business professionals from various industries and market segments. The survey focused on current sourcing and contract management methods, as well as process improvements with automation.
Generally speaking, sourcing is the process of finding suppliers of goods and services at the best possible prices. The traditional process begins with a sourcing or procurement professional identifying a purchasing need, then recognizing that it would be best met through a sourcing event. The sourcing team will research potential suppliers and solicit quotes, comparing supplier responses to RFx or auction scenarios. The sourcing event is complete once the sourcing team awards a bid to the best supplier and then ultimately negotiates a contract.
“Does your organization utilize any electronic sourcing/project and RFx creation applications?”
Levvel Research’s survey results show that 45 percent of sourcing teams do not use any sourcing technology, relying instead on manual processes, see Figure 1. The second most-used sourcing technology is one that is built into an organizations’ ERP system, followed by cloud-based eSourcing solutions. ERPbased software and homegrown solutions often lack versatility and configurability, and often have much higher maintenance requirements than cloud-based tools.
The type of technology companies use to handle their sourcing processes—if they use any at all—is often related to the company’s industry and size. Manufacturing companies have some of the most manual processes of any industry, with 52 percent reporting a completely manual process. While only one quarter of respondents in the healthcare industry report using a manual process, 52 percent are using dated, ERP-based sourcing solutions. Within the two industries leading in technology adoption—finance and insurance—a combined 30 percent of companies use cloud-based eSourcing solutions. Levvel Research attributes this in part to the large amount of data that goes into their sourcing processes, and the importance of proper data management for successful procurement initiatives.
“Does your organization utilize any electronic sourcing/project and RFx creation applications?” & “What is your organization’s annual revenue?”
When it comes to size, companies with higher revenue are more likely to adopt cloud-based eSourcing, see Figure 2. This may be due to the fact that higher revenue companies tend to deal with more sourcing events and suppliers in a year than small-to medium enterprise (SME) organizations. For example, 70 percent of SMEs have fewer than 50 sourcing events in a year, with 97 percent of them working with fewer than 3,000 suppliers (and 73 percent working with fewer than 1,000), while almost half of enterprise organizations surveyed have more than 10,000 suppliers and 59 percent have more than 200 sourcing events. Figure 3 summarizes the average number of suppliers and sourcing events within the North American market by company size.
The more suppliers and sourcing events an organization must manage, the higher the chance of inefficiencies if these processes are managed with the wrong methods. Figure 4 shows the main pain points reported by companies using manual methods or outdated technology.
The most common operational pain point within the sourcing process is poor visibility into supply chain operations. Without automation in place, buying companies have limited transparency across supplier activity, payments, and contract commitments. Manual management of supply chain processes also results in poor supplier performance and consistency, as it is more challenging to oversee quality control. Pain points such as missed competitive pricing during
“Under your current sourcing process, what are the greatest operational pains you experience? (Select top 3)”
Sourcing engagements, as well as resulting higher processing costs, lead to lost profit opportunities.
Sourcing pain points vary by revenue size, see Figure 5. Larger enterprises report that their biggest pain point is poor supplier performance and consistency, which speaks to their high volume of suppliers and supplier data, and the widespread supply chain operations they must manage. Middle market companies were most likely to struggle to find high quality suppliers and assess supplier risk factors when conducting market research, which may be attributed to the fact that middle market companies are often scaling, and struggle to adapt their procurement teams to the new compliance and quality control requirements that come with rapid growth. SMEs and large enterprises were more likely to experience issues due to their decentralized sourcing and procurement divisions. This is likely because SMEs do not have a high number of sourcing engagements
“Under your current sourcing process, what are the greatest operational pains you experience?”
Per year and cannot easily justify putting a formal, centralized sourcing process in place. Enterprises, on the other hand, are often too large to easily bridge their separate departments, and because their current processes are working well enough, they do not feel the need to disrupt the status quo.
Levvel Research also found that the positions of the survey respondents highlight differing pain points—upper management mostly focused on poor visibility and higher costs, while lower and middle management and staff more often chose poor visibility and supplier performance and consistency as their highest pain points. Levvel Research attributes this distinction between the two groups to their varying levels of exposure to certain problems within the sourcing process. Upper management perspectives are focused on costs and overall supply chain problems, while lower and middle level staff are more concerned with more granular supplier performance issues.
Contracts go through many lifecycle stages within a business, from authoring and creation, approval to negotiation, execution, storage, and monitoring. The management of this entire process varies significantly across organizations, as does the level of automation used to control contracts’ lifecycle. While the majority of organizations have a dedicated team that manages contracts across all departments, only 27 percent of respondents are using CLM software, see Figure 6.
“How does your organization manage your contracts?”
When it comes to how many contracts a company manages, the type of company affects this number. Unsurprisingly, the larger the company, the more contracts they will typically manage, but contract counts also vary by industry. The industry with the highest number of contracts is aerospace/aviation/automotive. Levvel Research attributes this partly to the complexity of the industry’s products, services, supply chain, and regulations. Not only do these companies procure products from numerous vendors supplying different physical components, but the companies must navigate large webs of regulatory compliance, competitive innovation, and safety requirements. Organizations in this industry also tend to serve relatively higher numbers of public sector clients; doing so can often involve long-ter, contract-based engagements. Following the automotive sector in contract count are the transportation, pharmaceutical, accounting, and finance industries, some of which face similar challenges.
In successful contract management, a lot of control can be gained or lost depending on how the contract is initially created. While a moderate 19 percent of respondents are using the authoring tool of a CLM solution, most companies are not using any form of CLM software, see Figure 7.
“How does your organization typically create/draft/author new contracts?”
Instead, for many companies, the process across contract creation is often decentralized and manually driven, spread across individual owners, legal departments, or external parties. This makes the authoring process prone to errors, and contracts become difficult to track, store, and update once complete.
The contract creation process varies slightly across revenue segments. SMEs are more likely to outsource their contract creation to third parties rather than authoring them with an in-house legal department. Although they may provide a more cost-efficient alternative, third-party contracts are often created from templates and do not offer much flexibility or customization in structure. On the other hand, larger organizations are more likely to simply have the contract’s owner update old contracts and make in-house edits as needed. While this approach gives businesses more internal control over their contracts and ensures greater consistency, it is still being done manually, which often sacrifices accuracy and precision.
When transporting and communicating on contracts, including authoring, negotiation, and approval processes, most businesses pass contracts back and forth via email, see Figure 8. While this is more efficient than manually passing paper contracts back and forth, it still does not lend control or timeliness to the contract lifecycle.
“How are contracts typically passed back and forth for authoring, approval, etc.?”
Under traditional, manually driven contract management methods, organizations often waste time and accuracy, and create unnecessary risks to their supply chain and data management. Among organizations without a cloud-based CLM tool, the top three pain points are a lack of consistency across contracts, cumbersome/costly methods, or time-consuming processes and supply chain continuity problems, see Figure 9.
“What business challenges do you face in regard to contract management?”
While this report has thus far explored sourcing and contract management trends separately, both processes are critical pieces of business operations and supply chain efficiency. There are also often shared pain points across both processes and/or teams, as well as shared pressures from upper management to evolve in a way that better supports supply chain operations. In the end, one of the most important shared goals between sourcing and contract management is to reduce costs in the processes, see Figure 10. The second greatest pressure is to gain more visibility into contract statuses, details, terms, and expiration dates,
“What pressures has your department felt by upper management to evolve your sourcing and contract management processes? (Choose as many as are applicable)”
followed by reducing paper and consolidating contracts. Fortunately, these and the other pressures listed in the Figure can be eased using the combination of eSourcing and CLM software via a Source-to-Settle software suite.
By automating and integrating sourcing and contract management, organizations reduce the overall complexity within the S2S process, leading to lower costs, increased savings, and more visibility. It also leads to improved relationships with suppliers due to better communication, streamlined interaction, and the ability to better negotiate and maintain agreeable terms and pricing on RFx and contracts.
Despite the pressures to revamp sourcing and contract management processes, there are several common barriers to adopting an electronic solution. Many companies feel that their current operations are working sufficiently, and do not see a need to change. Another common assumption is that upfront implementation costs of new software are often expensive and draining on internal resources. Levvel Research believes that many of these misconceptions can be changed with further research and education, and that automated technological solutions are beneficial long-term investments. The following section explores the features and functionalities of eSourcing and CLM solutions.
Automated sourcing solutions address every step of the full sourcing process. A user begins the sourcing process by creating an RFx and setting up an event. These events can be created from scratch, from a template library, or by incorporating elements from previous events or templates. Depending on the configuration of the system and the organization’s other automation tools, users could potentially also flip requisitions, contracts, and other business documents into an RFx.
As users create their event, multi-stage RFx templates offer functionality for RFI, RFP, and RFQ. Users can set up custom participation guidelines for suppliers, and assign them tasks or request documents. The RFx can include weighted questionnaires designed to score individual suppliers’ responses. This allows organizations to evaluate suppliers on more than just cost; they can collect data and score suppliers in many areas of business eligibility, including experience, tax and regulatory compliance, and quality of goods and services. Buyers can also attach internal documents, such as non-disclosure agreements. In all, the flexibility of template and questionnaire creation tools allows organizations to tailor RFx events to many different spend categories, markets, global regions, and types of suppliers.
As users create an RFx, they can use a collaboration workflow to send the template to colleagues for authoring, editing, and approval. For example, one user may complete the first stage of the template by defining the goods or services needed, while another may configure the scoring controls. The template could also be routed to the legal department for a risk evaluation, ensuring thatall details are legally compliant.
Once the RFx is ready, users can search the sourcing system’s supplier lists for candidates or choose from the solution’s recommendations. The solution automatically notifies suppliers about the event with a custom email invitation. Often, eSourcing providers offer access to a network of eligible, local, and global suppliers. This allows the user to source goods from a more diverse supplier pool, and to potentially build new, long-term business relationships.
Once the sourcing event has begun, users can check its progress at any time, with full visibility into vendor responses, tasks completed, and vendor timeliness. Solutions offer automatic scoring of responses based on questionnaires’ predetermined scoring weights, attachments, and completed or missing documents.
Event platforms allow for a comparison view of supplier responses to enable organizations to make an informed choice. Once the user has selected a vendor, the suppliers are automatically notified of the next steps. Awarded events can often be converted into single or multiple contracts.
Sometimes, a sourcing opportunity produces better results through a live auction environment. Users can turn an RFx into a reverse auction to increase supplier competition and receive lower prices, or to adhere to time constraints. These auctions are conducted in highly visible, interactive bidding environments that show bidding activity in real time. Auctions can be designed to run through several different bidding stages, and can also be extended if the buyer desires. Once the auction has finished, the same award processes apply as above.
A sourcing solution often manages supplier master data through the use of supplier portals and self-service tools. When suppliers choose to participate in an event or wish to register with the directory, they must submit certain information and documentation, such as company history, insurance certificates, and/or tax documents.
Supplier data is archived in a database, allowing for advanced searches based on supplier size, location, industry, or revenue. The solution also enables supplier categorization, which is based on general information, addresses, classifications, geographical scope, business type, references and user scores, miscellaneous buyer preferences, and other factors. When a buyer needs additional information from a supplier, they can easily use the contact database to send special requests.
eSourcing solutions’ vendor management is made possible by self- service supplier portals. Organizations can onboard suppliers to their sourcing platform through custom email campaigns, or suppliers can register independently through the sourcing portal or the buying company’s website. While the components of a supplier portal vary depending on the solution provider, most systems offer a holistic array of self-service controls around catalog management, profile management, and RFx event and auction participation. Suppliers can log in to their portals to view, accept, and reject contracts and RFx. They can upload documents such as insurance certificates, safety protocols, credit documentation, and environmental certificates. Suppliers can also access a negotiation template that tracks all changes to contracts. After an awarded event is flipped into a contract, some solutions even allow suppliers to manage contracts within the same system.
Some sourcing solutions include several tools and services for strategically enhancing existing purchasing processes and contracts, sourcing strategies, and supplier relationships. Supplier performance management tools enable organizations to look into suppliers’ past activities and make more informed decisions based on supplier value. This data can be leveraged to end nonstrategic or high-risk supplier relationships. Some supplier performance management tools allow organizations to assemble supplier ratings based on internal notes and reviews from sourcing and procurement users. These review templates can be pre-built or customized based on categories such as commercial risk, safety, quality, environmental, and performance history. In addition, some solutions include benchmarking capabilities that show negotiation rates and performance history based on internal data from other suppliers. The system can take the performance data and reorganize supplier lists by value and category. This data is available for import and export, and is also integrated into the supplier directory.
Another optimization tool is a strategic analytics engine found in some leading sourcing solutions. The engine re-evaluates an organization’s sourcing activities by examining various fields—including market research, RFx processes, negotiations, contracting, and transaction activities—and identifying savings opportunities. With this tool, organizations can restructure or renegotiate supplier contracts, and can change future company sourcing practices to produce more competitive, higher-quality results.
Leading sourcing solutions may also offer data and risk management through reporting and analytics tools. These tools can include commodity risk management and supplier risk analysis based on credit scores, user reviews, logistics, and delivery history. The resulting data can be compiled in interactive drag-and-drop reporting platforms, offering customizable or standard reporting.
Overall, eSourcing has many benefits, including simplifying the sourcing process by streamlining all strategic purchasing within one platform, eliminating redundant activities, synchronizing data across the supply chain, and automating key sourcing activities, including RFx creation and sourcing-based contract creation. Survey results show that the most notable improvements with sourcing automation include reporting and analytics, improved visibility, and increased savings, see Figure 11.
The improvements reported by businesses after implementing an eSourcing solution vary by industry, as their responses depend on the value placed on
“Which of the following improvement have you seen in your sourcing process since implementing a solution? (Select up to three)”
different benefits. In this case, the manufacturing industry saw a great deal of improvement in the visibility and performance of their suppliers, most likely due to the industry’s dependence on complex supply chain operations. In the healthcare industry, companies reported a decrease in sourcing-related spend and in supplier risk, which reflects the tight margins and high regulation that is currently pressuring the industry. Alternatively, education companies observed better reporting and analytics, savings opportunities, and consistency in standardization, which all streamline and reduce their often decentralized and diverse services.
Automated contract lifecycle management compiles many different business documents traditionally managed across various teams and through their assorted methods into one single platform. CLM manages and enhances important business information, resulting in more consistency and visibility across the board. With automation, standardization is easier to enforce (e.g., designated templates for common contract types). CLM also results in increased compliance with various regulations and contract terms, as well as proactive contract management. Companies can realize cost savings and optimize negotiated terms. Ultimately, CLM helps build and maintain better relationships with suppliers and results in more savings.
When it comes to contract management software, solutions often have different functionalities depending on contract type. Buy-side contracts are agreements in which a buyer acquires a good or service from a seller; buy-side contracts are mostly managed by procurement teams who manage RFx and contract processes. Conversely, sell-side contracts focus on the sale and delivery of goods of services and are often handled by sales teams. Where buy-side contracts focus on greater ROI through investments, sell-side contracts focus on selling an asset or service and responding to customers’ needs. Most CLM providers offer buy-side contract management functionality, while leading providers offer functionality for both buy-side and sell-side contracts.
Most CLM providers offer buy-side contract management functionality, while leading providers offer functionality for both buy-side and sell-side contracts. Organizations of any business type can benefit from CLM, although overall adoption is higher in companies with complicated supply chains that require recurring renegotiations, as well those with a focus on cost reduction, risk avoidance, and compliance for greater ROI. Because of this, CLM adoption is slightly more common among organizations that have high volumes of buy-side contracts.
There are three basic modules for CLM solutions: creation, tracking, and storage. These modules can be adopted individually based on the company’s needs (e.g., a buy-side-oriented business may only purchase a storage or tracking module), or can be implemented simultaneously as a comprehensive overhaul.
A contract’s lifecycle in a CLM solution begins with the contract request process. An end user can use a pre-configured template to request a contract from the legal department or a designated administrator, and, after approval, the solution automatically populates the template with the requested information. A contract template can also be automatically populated from purchase orders or sourcing events if the CLM system integrates with or offers these solutions.
Contract creation templates are highly customizable to ensure that the authoring process is as streamlined and compliant as possible. They can be as simple or complex as the client prefers, and can change according to user, contract type, supplier, or other parameters. Users can also create contracts from scratch depending on their access controls, or recycle and modify old contracts from an archive. Most CLM solutions support the management of a variety of contract types, including buy-side, sell-side, administrative, noncommercial, employment, and real estate contracts, as well as international trade agreements and nondisclosure agreements (NDAs). Users can also extend new child contracts from parent contracts, working much as a master and supplementary agreement operates in statement of work projects.
To ensure compliant and secure authoring, many solutions include a robust word processing software tool, such as a built-in Microsoft Word application or a Google Docs integration. Some solutions include an interactive clause library from which the author can pull legal text to assemble the contract. These clause libraries are often created by the solution provider in collaboration with the client’s legal team upon implementation. Some clause libraries are accessible in both the CLM system and the word processing tool.
Once internal teams have authored a contract, the document can be sent through an approval workflow. Approval workflows can be constructed according to contract type, price, area, and dollar amount thresholds, and can go through both administrative and legal review. The solutions facilitate editing and revision tracking, as well as the ability to leave comments, request extensive changes, and partially reject or approve contracts. Special approval workflows can be constructed for contracts with higher risk, while some providers offer automatic approvals for low-risk contract types.
During contract authoring, different users can collaborate on the creation of the contract with an approval workflow. The word processing tool supports version tracking with redlining tools, shows version comparisons, and records all revisions by time and author. It also allows authors to include comments and attach documents that remain with a contract for its lifecycle. All changes are included in the contract’s audit trail for future review.
Leading solutions offer highly configurable approval workflow capabilities, with drag-and-drop workflow builders to help users configure review and approval routing, as well as support for escalations, reminders, and out-of-office forwarding. Prioritization settings allow users to construct special workflows for contracts with higher risk; and many solutions support both sequential and parallel approval cycles, as well as stage-specific work ow steps (e.g., author vs. edit). Many solutions also offer one or more in-house or partner- supplied electronic signing service, such as EchoSign or DocuSign, for finalizing documents.
After approval, the contract goes through negotiation and approval with external parties, which involves many of the same collaboration tools included in the initial authoring process. In order to make sure a company has the same level of control while collaborating with these external parties, leading solutions provide a robust set of third- party collaboration tools. These tools include a designated portal for external parties, version tracking with redlining and side-by-side comparisons, and the ability to route externally revised portions of the contract for approval. Suppliers can access the same tracking, patching, and attachment tools in order to ensure effective collaboration and communication. Leading solutions maintain audit trails of all changes made by internal and external parties. They also often leverage more than one electronic signing tool to allow users to gain signatures from external parties, after which the solution should automatically store executed contracts.
After all parties approve the contract, CLM solutions continuously monitor the contract throughout its lifecycle. The solution makes sure negotiated terms are fulfilled and deadlines are met, and notifies users of upcoming expirations to prevent lapses in contracts. Some solutions integrate with users’ calendars to ensure that pending expiration and renewal deadlines or milestone commitments are not missed. Many solutions also offer an auto-renewal functionality that is adjustable according to the organization’s policies (e.g., a user can designate the number of times the contract will renew automatically before it is no longer active). Some solutions allow users to make amendments to executed contracts and send these changes through rules-driven approval workflows.
When organizations do not have CLM solution in place, contracts are typically stored either in an electronic repository on one computer or a server, on the computers of individual owners of each contract, or filed in paper formats. CLM software typically includes a storage module with extensive search features that allow users to search for and retrieve active and inactive contracts for review. This includes the ability to view contract history and attachments. Role-based access can be configured for the contract repository and search features. Leading solutions also store and maintain non-contract documents (e.g., due diligence, corporate organizational documents).
Many solutions offer a reporting and analytics module to optimize existing contract and CLM processes. This module includes reporting and auditing capabilities that evaluate data from the entire lifecycle of a contract to determine trends in contract compliance, costs, duration, and other key performance indicators (KPIs). Some providers partner with business intelligence software providers to offer more advanced analytics. Others will offer extensive functionality for identifying risk in contracts, including risk profiling based on configurable predefined models, publishable model templates based on contract types, and risk benchmark configuration. These solutions also automatically trigger exception approvals for high-risk contracts.
The most common benefit received from a contract management solution is the improved ability to manage contract renewals, see Figure 12. Another benefit is an increase in compliance with corporate or government regulations. The benefits reported after CLM solution implementation by different parts of an organization are slightly different. Upper management employees (e.g., partners, VPs, C-suite, etc.) are more likely to cite an increase in compliance with corporate and government regulations as their biggest benefit, while middle management and staff-level employees saw more value in the improved ability to manage contract renewals. Once again, Levvel Research attributes these perspectives to
“Which of the following improvement have you seen in your sourcing process since implementing a solution? (Select up to three)”
different levels of exposure to specific pain points across the respondents, and to the long-term benefits of automation for these varying individuals.
While individual eSourcing and CLM technology platforms are all that some companies may need, others should take a more holistic approach to their backoffice by evaluating a holistic S2S software suite. Levvel Research identifies the main components of a S2S software suite as electronic sourcing, electronic procurement (eProcurement), CLM, invoice management and AP automation, electronic payments, supplier information management (SIM), and spend analytics, see Figure 13. Complete automation for both sourcing and contract management yields the most benefits for the overall Source-to-Settle process, and the greatest long-run results in supply chain management and costs savings.
Research shows that it is more common for organizations to use one or the other rather than both CLM and eSourcing technology, see Figure 14. Of the 27 percent of respondents that said they have a centralized automated contract management solution, 31 percent also have a cloud-based eSourcing solution. On the other hand, of the 20 percent of cloud-based eSourcing solution users, 42 percent also have a centralized, automated contract lifecycle management solution. This suggests that while many businesses recognize the value of having a complete automated Source-to-Settle platform (i.e. implementing an eSourcing solution hand-in-hand with a contract lifecycle management solution), there is still much room for growth and opportunity within the S2S space.
“Do you use eSourcing? If so, do you also use CLM?” & “Do you use CLM? If so, do you also use an eSourcing solution?”
The following steps are for companies seriously considering an eSourcing or CLM software solution. These steps should help streamline the implementation of the solution and improve the long-term success of its use.
Companies moving away from completely manual processes or existing systems must consider several possible risks associated with transferring existing contract data to a digital environment. Problematic components might include current piecemeal automation tools and homegrown document management systems. If contract information is not migrated with care and precision, important data can be lost. This can lead to security risks, missed contract obligations or expirations, or compliance issues with reporting requirements and audits.
Keeping these potential problems in mind, companies should develop a detailed plan for migrating all sourcing and contract information to one system. This plan entails choosing a solution provider that offers onboarding and migration services to ensure that all data is entered into the new system correctly, such as data entry, optical character recognition data capture technology, or a separate outsourced onboarding service. Security is also important once documents have moved to one holistic platform that can be accessed by all users. The provider should offer roles-based controls that allow the organization to control who has access to different information once it is all housed in one system. They should also offer flexible training programs to make user onboarding as timely and simple as possible.
Before moving forward toward implementing an automation solution, a company should map out its current Source-to-Settle state, evaluate its processes, and determine whether or not an eSourcing or contract lifecycle management solution is necessary, or if both should be implemented together. A company should consider pain points in its current processes and sources of indirect spend, as well as the degree of integration of current systems into overall procurement and supplier management operations.
A solution provider should work closely with clients to configure and customize a new sourcing or CLM solution to meet all their specifications, which can include categories, clause and template libraries, and compatibility requirements.
Organizations should create a map of the current state to improve the configuration stage of implementation. This map should include all users, departments, and stakeholders. For sourcing, companies should account for all suppliers in their master file, whether active or passive. For contract management, organizations should keep in mind all “touches” (the number of times the contract is passed between parties in its creation-to-execution lifecycle) involved for each type of contract, the number of each type of contract, and unique characteristics within more generic contract types. Companies should also account for current process workflows and any other variables and details that make the organization’s sourcing or contract management mechanisms unique.
The provider and client should expect extensive collaboration between the software developer, legal department, and administrators to ensure the currentstate information is properly leveraged when creating customized templates, approval workflows, and system controls.
Just as with a current-state map, identifying current-state KPIs will help the solution provider to understand the organization’s improvement goals—and adjust their solution and support accordingly. Measuring KPIs also helps organizations gain internal enthusiasm for software adoption and shows longterm return on investment (ROI) after implementation.
Once a company has decided on a solution—eSourcing, CLM, or both—it should research leading providers, and identify which would best meet their needs. While the eSourcing and CLM software markets are relatively small, there are still a surprising number of solution options available today. It is important to be able to judiciously filter through providers’ marketing efforts by taking advantage of objectively researched resources, such as Levvel Research’s Navigator reports. Navigator reports offer analyses of providers’ features and help decision-makers better identify which providers’ strengths best meet their organization’s needs. Readers can access Levvel Research’s recent CLM Navigator report here.
Today’s Source-to-Settle environment is full of inefficiencies and pitfalls, including cumbersome processes, poor visibility, high error frequencies, and high maverick spend. Manual sourcing and contract management methods limit strategic supply chain and business decisions, and can result in deteriorating relationships with partners, poor supplier performance, inconsistency across contracts, and problematic negotiations.
Automating sourcing and contract management efforts addresses these pain points either as separate processes or a fully integrated Source-to-Settle platform that can comprehensively enhance supply chain spend and data management. With an appropriately chosen automated solution, companies can reduce costs and increase savings, improve relationships with suppliers, and ultimately emerge as leaders within their industry.
The following profile showcases the features and services of one of today’s leading eSourcing and CLM software providers.
Founded in 1992, ASC Networks Inc. (ASC) is an omni-channel CLM, document management (any document or form type: quotes, orders, legal, corporate), quality management, and analytics provider. Full functionality is available for buy-side, sell-side, and enterprise-wide. In 2016, the company was acquired by Mediagrif, an eCommerce technology provider with a portfolio encompassing automation solutions for sourcing, contracting, procurement, supply chain, and supplier management. As part of the Mediagrif family of companies, ASC uses the integrated modules of its sister companies MERX (a prominent Canadian sourcing automation provider) and BidNet/BidNet Direct (a pioneering US sourcing automation provider) to extend its portfolio to encompass full strategic sourcing and enterprise CLM. These partnerships enable ASC to provide extensive sourcing and CLM functionality across a multitude of market verticals with easy scalability for small, mid-sized, and enterprise businesses. Specialized solutions are available for public sector, higher education, non-profit organizations, and other industries. The complete integration between ASC and the Mediagrif technology backbone gives ASC’s customers access to a full suite of strategic sourcing and CLM solutions. The suite can also be delivered as individual modules that augment a customer’s existing IT ecosystem. ASC offers consulting services to improve clients’ sourcing and contract management processes and use of automation technology. The company also offers solutions for unified commerce and specialized eMarketplaces.
|Headquarters||ASC – Ottawa, Ontario, Canada|
|Other Locations||North America, India, and China (shared Mediagrif locations)|
|Number of Employees||50 (Mediagrif: 510+)|
|Number of Customers||300|
|Target Verticals||Government, Education, Healthcare, Facility Management, Energy and Utilities, Telecommunications, Construction, Financial Services, Legal Services, Non-Profit, and more.|
|Partners/Resellers||Salesforce, Oracle, Seal Software, eSignLive (now OneSpan Sign)|
|Awards/Recognitions||ASC: One of the key suppliers recognized in the Levvel Research CLM Navigator; ASC: Listed as #16 in Capterra’s Top 20 Most Popular Contract Management Software; Mediagrif: Recognized as #76 in Branham300’s Top 250 ICT companies in Canada in 2018.|
ASC offers scalable solution editions, including Lite, Team, Professional, and Enterprise, with a SaaS licensing model on the CLM side and public and private portal offerings on the sourcing side. The platform can integrate with virtually any system including clients’ ERPs and accounting systems. The CLM module specifically has an open API with web services that enables exposure of the full Web Services Description Language (WSDL) for seamless, real-time, and bi-directional multi-system integration, including propriety, homegrown, and highly configured systems.
ASC is an ISO-certified company and follows industry standard best practices for data security and data privacy. The company is SSAE 18 certified. The platform has a responsive design for any device, and also has apps for iOS and Android devices.
ASC’s core competencies include contract lifecycle management, contract insights and reporting, electronic document management, electronic bidding solutions/eSourcing, and supplier information and performance management. For sourcing, the solution automates the entire RFx, or solicitation, management process, including solicitation creation, distribution, response management, online evaluations, and flip to contract. To begin a sourcing event, users can create RFx documents from scratch or based on a library of templates with full auto-generation capabilities. A quick quotes feature is also available.
To help source competitive suppliers, ASC offers clients access to a supplier network with more than 120,000 suppliers across the US, Canada, and around the world. As an example, in the US, registered suppliers are notified of matching statewide bids from both state departments and local counties, cities, school districts, and other government agencies throughout their registered state(s). The ASC solution includes an online supplier registration capability and notification database tool that can be integrated with the customer’s website and enables suppliers to self-register at no cost. Within the tool, suppliers can edit their profiles, select commodity codes, subscribe to notifications, upload certifications, and perform many other tasks related to the sourcing process.
For all sourcing and CLM modules, the solution has a robust business rules engine and enables the configuration of conditional and unconditional workflows, including multi-tiered approval workflows.
The tool can route RFPs/RFxs and contracts to required approvers based on volume and other important milestones and tracked criteria. Approval features include escalations and reminders, out of office/proxy settings, and ad-hoc rerouting.
The solution offers supplier invitation management, response management, real-time tracking and reporting, and automated notifications. The system enables scoring and awarding based on event responses and assists solicitation evaluators in their evaluation of supplier responses with options like scoring tools and matrices. An online proposal evaluation and collaboration tool supports configurable bid scoring and quantitative analysis, summary dashboards and detailed views, notes, and other features.
Customers can create and publish awards to one or multiple suppliers. When pricing is submitted by line item, items can be split among multiple awards. Bid tabulation or evaluation is seamlessly integrated for electronic submissions. Physical submissions can also be evaluated online and awards can be announced. Once an RFx has been awarded to a supplier, the solution allows clients to flip the event to a contract.
The ASC contract management module supports virtually any type of contract or solicitation document, including buy-side, sell-side, admin, non-commercial, NDA, lease, and employee/HR documents. The solution provides separate buy-side and sell-side focused modules, as well as a blended solution for enterprise-wide needs. The solution enables flexible contract creation, including easy-to-use wizards and a smart form-based interface (easily configured to the customer’s exact terms and requirements) with parent-child hierarchies, and context- relevant tips to help guide users through their selection of contract options and new contract requests. Wizard-driven content authoring, offline forms, and other features are also available to ensure that users are using pre-approved legal templates (MSAs, NDAs, SOWs, quotes, orders, etc.) with the latest terms and conditions and clauses, corporate language, pricing, or other essential information dependent on contract type.
The contract management solution natively integrates with Microsoft Word as the format of choice for template creation and redlining and also supports the use of XLS and XML templates for document creation or generation and for negotiation. The solution can be configured to leverage Workshare Compare, Google Docs, or other customer systems as needed.
The contract management solution also has an integrated inbox capability that enables easy, automated capture of email correspondence between the system and the customer’s email client. System emails are automatically assigned a special identity tag which allows any subsequent email responses to be automatically attached to the correct contract record, including the email body contents and document attachments.
The contract management solution provides users with the ability to finalize or execute (e.g., send for signature) contracts when the negotiation process is complete. Once ready, the final contract can be generated in a PDF format and sent to the client/supplier for signature via basic electronic approval, digital signature, eSignature, and wet signature (e.g., uploaded signed contract images). The system has embedded FedRAMP-approved eSignature capability with full workflow automation, but can also be fully integrated (pre-built) with the customer’s electronic signature provider of choice.
The ASC platform provides configurable, automated alerts which can be set for time-based events, date and financial calculations, threshold triggers, compliance-based alerts, recurring metrics, user-defined alerts, and milestone and deliverable notifications. These notifications can be configured based on a client’s business rules and workflow, and according to unique compliance rules. The solution can also be set to alert users if clauses, templates, or contracts have been edited or changed.
ASC features capabilities for audit-ready history evaluations, key performance indicators (KPIs) and business intelligence metrics, and a robust searching and reporting engine. All system fields and document contents are searchable. The solution also offers a document management module and central repository for easy storage, tagging, retrieval of all documents types, bulk updates, configurable data retention, and customizable archives.
ASC’s solution suite can be up and running quickly, and it offers a flexible fee structure and modular implementation methodology designed to fit any organization and budget. Start and finish dates of an implementation project depend on the date of the contract and final determined solution configuration (from out-of-the-box to highly configured), integration requirements, and size of the client company as it relates to potential user access control, template and process complexity. During implementation, ASC provides multiple training delivery methods, including one-on one, train-the-trainer, and web training. ASC supplies all necessary training documentation, including a training sandbox for hands-on user training as well as printed and online material. Users can access online help at the system contract or field level, and rollovers and tooltips are also widely available. For ongoing support after implementation and training, customers can select from one of the three support models, which are standard, premium, and “Mission Critical.”
For core solicitation, supplier management, bid evaluation, and supplier performance management, ASC offers public and private portals, purchasing group models, and buyer-funded, supplier-pay, or partial-pay options. Pricing is dependent on the selected approach.
Coupa Software is a leading technology platform offering cloud-based financial process solutions. Coupa provides a comprehensive, unified approach to Source-to-Settle, including procurement, invoicing, inventory, contract lifecycle management (CLM), supplier information management, spend analytics, travel and expense management, risk management, and services procurement/ contingent workforce management. Coupa’s S2S solutions accept every currency and support over 20 languages, and are used by over 750 customers headquartered in more than 40 countries. Coupa’s Strategic Sourcing and CLM solutions are natively integrated with the rest of its business spend management platform, which presents its applications with a single UI and complete mobility across all products. Individual solutions can either be bought separately or as a package with Coupa’s other applications, depending on a customer’s needs.
|Headquarters||San Mateo, CA|
|Other Locations||25+ global locations across North America, EMEA, and APAC|
|Number of Employees||1000+|
|Number of Customers||750+|
|Target Verticals||Financial Services, Manufacturing, Healthcare, Retail, Professional Services, Food and Beverage, Technology, Energy|
|Awards/Recognitions||Gartner Magic Quadrant for P2P Suites 2018, scoring Highest in Completeness of Vision; IDC 2018 Marketscape for Cloud Enabled Sourcing Applications, scoring highest in Capabilities and Strategy; Forrester Wave for eProcurement 2017, scoring highest in Current Offering and Strategy; The Silicon Review, listed among 30 Most Trustworthy Companies of the Year, 2017|
Coupa partners with Amazon for physical hosting infrastructure via Amazon’s EC2 service, and leverages Amazon’s physical security measures. Coupa’s open architecture allows customers to easily integrate the solutions with any third-party system and software application, from financial/ERP to HR to inventory management systems. Clients can use the Coupa API, flat files, web services, custom code, or any integration provider to make seamless connections between Coupa and their ERP platform.
Coupa supports all ERP systems, including Oracle, SAP, JDE, PeopleSoft, Lawson, QuickBooks, Great Plains, and NetSuite. Coupa’s software is fully mobile, allowing clients to access any part of the solution from any browser or through Coupa’s native mobile application.
Coupa’s Sourcing solution offers an intuitive, user-friendly experience that enables buyers to easily and quickly create and manage sourcing events. The solution allows employees to create sourcing events by leveraging preconfigured templates, previous events, questionnaires, and RFx or other event tools. Users receive tailored suggestions on the company’s most-researched opportunities, such as increased spend in a particular category.
The application’s sourcing optimization techniques empower buyers to find the best combination of suppliers, goods and services to meet their company’s specific needs. Coupa has extensive scoring, reviewing, awarding, and weighted supplier questionnaire functionality tailored to the type of event. This data is collected, stored, and used in future evaluation formulas.
When setting up an event, event authors can assign weights to the different sections of the RFx. Coupa supports collaborative event authoring with internal commenting capabilities and an external message center. User access to sourcing events can be granted at an item level, and users from different departments may be invited to participate. An event can be opened at the end of a planning phase, at a specific time, or manually, and may be paused if needed (e.g., to adjust/correct data, add items, etc.). Upon receiving responses from suppliers, evaluators are invited to review the responses. Evaluators grade these responses, and the solution calculates an overall score for that response based on pre-determined weighted factors. Once all the scores are submitted, the event owner can review the grading and evaluator comments in order to make a final decision and award the RFx to a supplier.
After making the final decision, the event owner can seamlessly turn the award into a requisition, a contract, or catalog items in the procurement system. Coupa’s application automatically pushes newly awarded contracts from completed sourcing events to catalogs, updates terms, and adds new items. Supplier collaboration, spend analysis, and sourcing events with supplier responses are all maintained in a single repository.
Coupa’s online CLM solution provides complete contract automation that is designed and optimized for buy-side contracts, including master agreements, leases, statements of work, and NDAs. A contract repository includes search, reporting, and alert features, as well as a customizable hierarchy to navigate through master service agreements (MSAs), statements of work (SOWs), and amendments. Contracts can be authored from templates or from scratch after sourcing events, and templates can be modified or configured with the option to include pre-approved clauses. All buying and invoicing activities related to contracts are tracked in real time, ensuring that customers get value out of their sourcing events and contracts.
Coupa’s advanced and user-friendly contract collaboration capabilities streamline the entire contract workflow from authoring to execution, allowing for internal review, online collaboration, document sharing, and supplier negotiation. Coupa supports both Microsoft Word and native online document editing and redlining, as well as version control. Within a single platform, internal stakeholders and suppliers can draft and share contracts digitally, finalize contracts with suppliers and internal approvers, and execute with native eSignature functionality or through the embedded DocuSign feature that allows contract owners to see the status of signatures within the Coupa contract.
Key stakeholders can access an organization’s sourcing and CLM activity on one accessible dashboard in real time, granting them visibility into company spend and removing the need to manually compile that spend data. Coupa’s AI-driven spend analytics solution identifies new sourcing opportunities by standardizing and classifying all existing spend data from all sources. Coupa CLM offers automated alerts for data such as consumption, renewals, and expiry notices.
A typical Coupa implementation takes 2-4 months for mid-market customers, and 6-9 months for enterprise customers. For sourcing solution implementations, the process includes loading buyers (event owners) into the system, setting up sourcing licenses and roles, building sourcing templates, and launching sourcing events. CLM implementations require creating and streamlining contract templates, amendment directories, pre-approved clauses, and current contract information across clients. For existing Coupa customers, the implementation time is shorter. Coupa’s system allows Coupa Sourcing and CLM to work with the same users, roles, authorizations, approval workflows, and other master data elements of the Coupa platform without any additional integration.
Sourcing QuickStart is a pre-implementation consulting service that provides customers with assistance running their first few sourcing events. Coupa Advantage is included in each subscription, helping buyers extend the reach of their procurement and sourcing teams from categories they do not actively manage. The program provides Coupa customers with pre-negotiated pricing on more than 20 different spend categories with no minimums or exclusives. The Coupa Advantage program leverages more than $750B in Coupa customer spend to drive down pricing for all Coupa customers.
Coupa also offers a Customer Success portal, which is an interactive medium for users to share ideas, participate in discussions, and learn from Coupa’s Knowledge Base and other Coupa users. Coupa also offers a wide variety of spend insights covering commodity, supplier, risk, operations, and more. This community-drawn data is available due to their multi-tenant SaaS model which allows for data normalization and intelligence.
Determine is a leading global provider of Source-to-Settle and Enterprise Contract Management solutions, with more than 21 years of experience working with organizations of all sizes across all industries. Determine offers experience in every area of Source-to-Settle, including procurement, sourcing, supplier management, contract management, and analytics. Determine is well-suited for enterprise companies that are transitioning away from manual contract management and sourcing tools, implementing solutions for the first time, or replacing disparate point solutions. The flexible and configurable modular approach of the Determine Cloud Platform enables quick implementation, and is adaptable to business workflows and complete data integration with minimum disruption.
|Founded||In 2015, three companies rebranded as Determine, Inc: CLM provider Selectica, founded in 1996; P2P provider b-Pack, founded in 2000; and Sourcing Suite provider Iasta, founded in 2000.|
|Headquarters||Carmel (Indianapolis), IN|
|Other Locations||Atlanta, GA; London, England; Paris, France; Aix-en-Provence, France|
|Number of Employees||160+|
|Number of Customers||250+|
|Target Verticals||Financial Services/Insurance, Retail, Life Sciences/Biotech/Pharmaceutical/ Healthcare, Manufacturing, Transportation, Agribusiness|
|Partners/Resellers||TRADESHIFT, Woodworks, Cap Gemini, Deloite|
|Awards/Recognitions||Spend Matters, Top 50 Providers to Know 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018; Spend Matters SolutionMap E-Procurement 2018, 2017, Value Leader; CFO Tech Outlook, Top 10 Accounts Payable Solution Providers 2017; Gartner P2P Magic Quadrant 2017, #1 Out-of-the-Box P2P Functionality|
Determine provides companies with the flexibility and tools to manage strategic sourcing and contract management needs while also addressing compliance requirements. The Determine Cloud Platform includes modular vendor management, contract management, and strategic sourcing solutions in a responsive UI with full mobile capabilities across locations, users, and devices. In addition, contract management is fully integrated and accessible within Salesforce.com via the Determine CLM Salesforce App. Through the Determine Core, all modular solutions are seamlessly integrated with the platform though a single source of real-time master data and metadata. The Business Process Management tool analyzes business event patterns based on dynamic workflow, events, or predictive (statistical) models, combining them with contextual information. Determine solutions support complex business needs, such as multiple ERP integrations and multi-regional jurisdictions that require a range of tax and accounting services, languages, currencies, and other specifics. The Determine Cloud Platform is fully integrated with Tradeshift, offering a full range of seamless S2S application functionality and access to a leading supplier network.
Suppliers can participate in sourcing events (RFx or auction) from the online platform, and can answer questionnaires online, via Excel import, or directly from the email tied to the sourcing event. Determine’s Sourcing solution is fully integrated with its contract management functions, allowing users to create contracts from awarded sourcing events. Determine’s solution uses a mobile application native to Salesforce’s services.
Clients grant access to the sourcing platform by role, and authorized users can create sourcing events from templates. Users can create RFQs and RFIs manually or by importing from a spreadsheet or questionnaire template. In sourcing events, users can manage supplier bidding with default scenarios like Best Price per Item and Best Price per Item Group—or they can create custom scenarios.
Determine offers collaborative event authoring across different parts of a company. An assigned Sourcing Event Initiator, who can be from any department, can create a sourcing event, and is assigned to a buyer who will manage the sourcing process. All changes to a sourcing event are tracked in an audit trail with restricted access capabilities.
When a sourcing event is open, suppliers can respond online via the supplier portal, and receive alerts on a dashboard. Each sourcing event contains a “Question & Answers” section that acts as a real-time communication portal for suppliers and sourcing event managers. The portal also supports the transfer of document attachments and comments. Determine is currently developing a new generation of program management functionality to manage the entire procurement process associated with internal projects from requirements to full execution (available in 2019). This app will combine requisitions, sourcing, contract, and procurement with team and task management, online collaboration, project goals and budgets, single source of truth, and robotic task automation.
The eAuction module is compatible with English, Dynamic, Dutch, and Japanese auction types. RFI questionnaires can be reviewed and scored after a supplier has submitted their answers. Each question can be customized and weighed by reviewers. In a comparison and analysis screen, the buyer can view all supplier offers listed with percentage differences from the best offer, as well as the eventual results from the scoring process.
The vendor management module includes supplier registration, onboarding, validation, and qualification, including questionnaires with a manual review process and automatic self-scoring. Scoring can be used to manage supplier performance and statuses. Supplier validation status capabilities help control supplier relationships inside the full suite, enabling tasks like sending confidential information, awarding an event, signing a contract, or sending a PO or payment.
Determine’s Contract Management solution supports the needs of both contract managers and occasional users, with different features and services available for different user roles and contract types. These contract types include legal agreements, sales agreements, purchase agreements, and real estate agreements. Clients can apply different users, views, rules, policies, and procedures to how each contract type is processed, and contract types can be grouped into hierarchies, or families.
Users can author contracts with Microsoft Word templates and integrated clause libraries. The platform’s workflow features allow authorized users to send contracts to other members of the organization for review and collaboration. The solution also offers eSignature support through DocuSign and self-service capabilities for extending contract management usage to a wider group of users. After contracts are approved and activated, the solution offers full lifecycle management that includes versioning, contract amendment, and renewal tracking.
Contract management can also be used as part of any sourcing activity, like automatically generating and electronically signing an NDA as part of a vendor qualification process.
Determine’s self-service supplier portal enables suppliers to engage with their customers through integrated S2S capabilities on the Determine Business Network. These capabilities include certification management, catalog management, RFx management, and quotation management (with planned contract management). The portal offers dispute management capabilities, which help clients identify supplier issues and provide the information needed to resolve them. Determine also partners with third-party supplier risk management providers, including D&B and Ecovadis.
The Reporting Generator offers reporting and analytics across the platform and gives users access to preconfigured KPIs and dashboards, allowing them to develop custom reports. Determine helps users identify new sourcing opportunities and dynamically manage suppliers with spend analysis, supplier segmentation, and supplier analysis through this reporting toolkit.
A typical Determine solution implementation typically takes up to three months to complete. After implementation, application support includes a personal Customer Success Manager, phone- and email-based error resolution, and technical troubleshooting, and standard support is available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST (excluding holidays), as well as premium 24/7 support as needed. Determine’s pricing structure is based on the complexity of the client’s organization (number of countries or companies), the solution modules being implemented, and the number of named users in the application. This pricing can be presented either à la carte or bundled.
GEP is a procurement technology developer with over 15 years of experience in deploying Procure-to-Pay and Source-to-Settle solutions. With its P2P/ S2S platform, SMART by GEP®, GEP has made it possible for all tasks in the purchasing and payables processes to be carried out in one system and from any device. The unified platform is designed to automate and accelerate the management of a strategic indirect spend program, with automation for spend management, procurement, sourcing, contract management, order management, supplier self- service, and invoice processing.
|Other Locations||London, Prague, Mumbai, Shanghai|
|Number of Employees||c. 3,000|
|Number of Customers||>250|
SMART by GEP is a highly secure, cloud-native procurement platform developed on the Microsoft Azure cloud. All of GEP’s development, data handling, and operational facilities and systems are certified to SSAE16 standards. GEP uses a web- based methodology to integrate with its customers’ third-party systems. The solution is mobile-native and works on any browser and platform. SMART by GEP’s invoice management functionality is fully integrated with the rest of its Source-to-Pay platform.
SMART by GEP Sourcing supports many complex sourcing functions, from Requests for Information (RFI) to reverse auctions. The solution features an Opportunity Finder tool that helps the buyer identify savings and targets for strategic sourcing waves, and to create new events out of those opportunities.
SMART by GEP Sourcing employs an easy-to-use process to create complex and comprehensive sourcing events. Users can create events from templates, copies of earlier events, Excel file uploads, or from scratch. Within each event, various components such as text-based guidelines, questionnaires, and price sheets can be stored in and retrieved from a repository. Teams of individuals can work collaboratively on sourcing events, which could involve many possible combinations of event authors, evaluators, and approvers.
Once an event is published to suppliers, the buyer has complete control over it. In RFx events, the buyer can monitor acceptance, rate of completion, and submission of each supplier’s responses. Responses can be scored, evaluated, and sent back for revision. During a live auction, the buyer can monitor all bid activity in real time, with the ability to reject individual bids and set auction extensions, safety nets, and visibility rules. All sourcing events feature a communications center that enables broadcast or one-to-one communication between buyers and suppliers. All assigned evaluators review bids, and once the final award decision is made, automatic award and non-award messages can be initiated. Awarded events can be flipped directly into contract negotiations using the “flip to contract” feature. The negotiated line item and pricing details are inherited by the contract, which is created using the correct template for the category in question.
The solution can be configured to support any contract types required by the client, and can include client-specific terminology and document descriptions. SMART by GEP enables contract creation in a variety of ways: from scratch, from templates, or from past or current contracts replicated as new templates; or they can be compiled from a clause library.
Contracts can be amended through collaborative editing, clause libraries, and version controls. Users can perform necessary edits online through SMART by GEP’s built-in rich-text editor. Alternatively, users can edit and author a contract in Microsoft Word using the solution’s plug-in. The system can perform version comparisons by highlighting edited sections and clauses of the contract. Users can store attachments along with the contract body, and contract authors can set placeholders within the document for the Legal department and supplier to sign. This capability extends to the supplier side, whereby that party can offer redlining and commentary input during negotiation.
SMART by GEP supports a configurable approval workflow that automates multilevel approval processes based on organizational hierarchy, dollar amount threshold, business unit, region, and category. Once contracts have been internally and externally approved, SMART by GEP supports buyer and supplier electronic signatures via built-in password-based signatures and/or support for third-party eSignature solutions, according to the customer’s preference.
The solution allows users to monitor, track, and measure thousands of suppliers in one system. It provides a contract lifecycle dashboard that incorporates all of a single vendor’s contract activities, including information on contract values, expiration dates, and service or product offerings under specific contracts. The system also supports automatic contract renewals, for which the system will alert the contract owner if they’d like to extend the expiration date of the contract.
SMART by GEP is a supplier portal as well as a buyer portal. Suppliers can receive and participate in sourcing events, review and sign contracts, and manage and maintain their system profile. They can also complete forms and performance scorecards, receive and handle purchase orders, and create shipping notices and invoices.
SMART by GEP is built upon a data warehouse model for reporting and dashboards, providing the end user with access to all data across the
procurement landscape. Its reporting services include dashboards and drag- and-drop, ad-hoc reporting functionality that allows users to create reports
based on any parameter captured within the system. Users can create custom reports, which can then be added to the dashboard, viewed in a graphical format, exported in multiple file formats, and scheduled at a desired frequency. The SMART by GEP platform supports customization of dashboard views per individual users’ requirements.
Implementation of SMART by GEP solutions includes configuration to the client’s business processes and robust customer support to drive end-user adoption. Post- implementation, GEP provides phone and web-based support. GEP’s global customer support staff is based out of three regions (US, Europe, and Asia Pacific) and is available in 24/5 and 24/7 variants.
During implementation, SMART by GEP captures and imports all current contract information from client systems at the metadata level, with a scanning service to capture metadata elements and contract clauses from paper-based contracts. The system also offers industry-standard contract templates based on client-specific categories.
SMART by GEP is an annual subscription-based service priced on a function-by- function basis, largely according to the number of users of each function for each year of the contract. The different factors considered for pricing include number and type of users, interface languages, contract and template configuration requirement, and support services.
Founded in 2001, Wax Digital is a UK-based eProcurement and spend management company. Its product suite, web3, supports over 265,000 users, with £23 billion of spend under management in 102 countries, and supports B2B requirements for North America, Latin America, and Europe. Wax Digital’s software suite has been developed on a single code base and is deployed in a range of stand-alone modules, which seamlessly interoperate to deliver a fully integrated Source-to-Settle platform, web3. The suite’s modules include eSourcing, Contract Management, Procure-to-Pay, Spend Analysis, Supplier Relationship Management, Supplier Information Management, and web3 Connect, a systems integration platform. Wax Digital works with some of the world’s leading organizations across a wide range of industry sectors, including private, public, and non-profit.
|Other Locations||New York City; Chicago; Stockholm; Copenhagen|
|Number of Employees||94|
|Number of Customers||Over 100|
|Target Verticals||All verticals, with particular strengths in Food & Beverage, Construction, Healthcare, Defense & Aerospace, Financial Services|
|Partners/Resellers||Exostar, Sapphire Systems, EFFSO, Proxima|
|Awards/Recognitions||Gartner Magic Quadrant Procure to Pay suites ‘Visionary’; Spend Matters ‘50 To Watch’ Vendor; Red Herring Europe 100 Winner; National Business Awards Finalist|
Wax Digital is highly focused on integration, and offers a versatile Integration Platform as a Service, web3 Connect, that connects with all leading ERPs and facilitates rapid delivery and deployment of interfaces between third-party systems. Clients can integrate with existing finance and other legacy systems through out-of-the-box adapters for common business systems, or they can use an interface to build and deploy custom connections to remote systems. Wax Digital operates an ISO27001 certified Information Security Management System (ISMS) that preserves confidentiality, responsibility, and availability of information across all locations.
web3 is multi-lingual and multi-currency enabled, facilitating cross-territory trade and budgeting across multiple currencies. web3 also offers a compliant environment for local legal requirements regarding tax and record retention worldwide, including facilities for qualified digital signatures, verification, and time stamps, as well as archiving services.
web3 is designed as a fully HTML-compliant system that can be used in the same manner on any smartphone or tablet. It is also presented as a cross-platform native application on iOS, Android and Windows platforms.
web3 users can create and store multiple RFx types, either individually or as a series of linked stages passed automatically from one section to the next. Users can take advantage of templates and wizards in order to create a RFx. They can choose from a library of pre-populated templates that can be customized at will using built-in wizards or by merging information offline in Excel. This allows users to configure an event’s settings including attachments, lines, questions, participants, stakeholders, email templates, alerts, and evaluation criteria.
web3 encourages collaboration among key business stakeholders, allowing them the opportunity to contribute to the relevant sections of a sourcing event. This includes the ability to establish an evaluation panel for collaborative scoring, and direct team members to the sections/responses that require their review and sign-off. Employees must be assigned a sourcing user role to be eligible for inclusion as a team member.
Open sourcing events can be publicized from web3, allowing suppliers to review documentation and self-register should they wish to participate. web3 is also a real-time competitive bidding engine that can facilitate several different auction types.
Through the web3 Supplier Portal, suppliers and their users have direct and managed access to the system. The portal is specifically available to enable suppliers to access the dashboard to respond to RFxs, supplier registration forms, surveys and auctions; and manage their own profile and response history. An instant messaging board for each event is also available to both users and suppliers.
Once approved, suppliers can participate in any relevant sourcing events published within the system. Suppliers are able to prepare a response to documents and questionnaires, and edit their responses as many times as required until the deadline has passed.
Following a deadline, web3 provides in-solution evaluation functionality with the ability to define the weighting/score by question or by response options. This flexible functionality enables the user and/or an evaluation panel to create an independent evaluation structure for each sourcing exercise. Once an event has been closed, awards can be communicated to suppliers via the web3 platform.
web3 Contract Management provides a common, searchable repository for the storage and audit trail of different types of contracts and associated documents (e.g., NDAs, schedules, SLAs, business cases, etc.). Both buy-side and sell-side contracts are managed within web3 using standard functionality.
Users can load contracts quickly and easily with a range of pre-set templates, which are configurable to an organization’s requirements. Contracts can be classified by different categories, as well as linked to specific contract information, attachments, and files. Contract clause libraries and authoring capabilities are not currently supported as standard functionality.
web3 automatically sends contract records for review and approval to the relevant team member according to the pre-defined workflow/scheme. The solution also supports version control with all contract approvals tracked for audit purposes. Users can also review and manage contract records for the purpose of monitoring initial approval activities, adding documents or notes, amending details and alerts, and monitoring the contract value against procurement costs. The DocuSign digital signature platform is fully integrated within web3 to allow for the electronic signing of contract documents
The platform also incorporates powerful reporting and analytics capabilities, which give users and stakeholders instant access to configurable dashboards and reports. Reports can be generated automatically to ensure that relevant stakeholders receive actionable information and are able to make informed and data-driven business decisions.
Wax Digital’s solution modules can be purchased separately or combined, providing a streamlined and integrated Source-to-Contract solution. The average timescale for full integration/implementation of web3 Source to Contract is 4-6 weeks, depending on the specific requirements of a client. Prior to the go-live phase of a project, Wax Digital operates training packages to transfer skills to the key gateway users of the web3 system.
During and after implementation, clients have access to a 24-hour, online support helpdesk. Clients are also allocated an Account Manager for the duration of their relationship with Wax Digital. Regular roadmap workshops and customer/product forums are conducted with clients to collaborate on functional extension and improvement. There is also Best Practice Network that fosters an online client community and provides access to learning materials.
web3 is licensed annually on a named user basis with a one-time implementation fee charged in the first year.
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Research Content Specialist
Jamie Kim is a Research Content Specialist for Levvel Research based in New York City. She develops and writes research-based content, including data-driven reports, whitepapers, and case studies, as well as market insights within various digital transformation spaces. Jamie’s research focus is on business automation processes, including Procure-to-Pay, as well as DevOps, design practices, and cloud platforms. In addition to her research skills and content creation, Jamie has expertise in design and front-end development. She came to Levvel with a research and technical writing background at an IT consulting company focused on upcoming AI and machine learning technologies, as well as academic book editorial experience at Oxford University Press working on its music list.
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.