Purchasing Magazine ran a listing of vendors that offer spend analysis solutions, available via this link. It must be a tall order for companies to accurately assess and evaluate this technology solution, as I would only consider 11 of the 17 to be spend analysis tools. Some of those 11, I gave the benefit of the doubt because I do not know of a single time we have competed against them, nor do I know of any companies using the technology for spend visibility needs (eg, US Bank).
In fact, there only 7 on the list that I know we have competed against. Hence, to me this list just further validates that quality Spend Management vendor information simply does not exist, and is the reason why practitioners often are forced to rely on Analysts. Unfortunately, this method of qualification is hardly better, as I have previously proclaimed (accurately, I might add).
Personally, I think this excerpt of definition from Wikipedia, hits it on the head: A disadvantage of dead reckoning is that since new positions are calculated solely from previous positions, the errors of the process are cumulative, so the error in the position fix grows with time. In a nutshell, unless you really know what you are doing and have a lot of time, the informational errors will compound and your decision will be made without modern day navigational equipment that keeps you on course.
So, if there are no resources that can accurately maintain an unbiased vendor ranking system, what is a buyer to do?
For starters, do your research from at least 3, preferably 5 resources. This would include reading some analyst market reports, but NEVER just one. You should also thoroughly digest vendor websites and document features and benefits, to make sure they are each saying enough of the right things for consistency. Next, speak to your colleagues that have used SA tools, or been on evaluation teams at other companies. They can help you really reduce the noise. Lastly, be ready to concentrate during a minimum of 5 product demos, maybe more. If you are truly committed to choosing a partner and awarding the business, it is likely the finalists will give you access to their tool with a custom data set from your side.
Choosing the right tool for spend visibility is hard enough, be sure Garmin is turned on.