All enterprises, our customers and prospects included, share a common challenge when it comes to supply management, That challenge is the burden of having a plethora of siloed solutions. The solutions range from supposedly comprehensive spend management platforms to spreadsheets and manual processes, to category-specific solutions and supplier portals. Help, however, is on the way and it isn’t taking the form of the unattainable ERP vision of one all-inclusive behemoth.
Enterprise technology solutions tasked with making business processes work better, faster and cheaper are entering a new era of openness ushered in by the advent of the consumerization of technology. For certain, consumerization will bring mobility, analytics and ease of use to the world of enterprise software solutions. And each of those topics on their own will have tremendous impact and warrant your attention. Just as important from an enterprise perspective, consumerization will be a driving force towards truly interoperable solutions because the end-user expects a consistent and coordinated experience across all the business processes they touch. Truly open solutions will hasten the obsolescence of siloed business software that ignored the wider organizational context and complexity within which they operated and thus limited their adoption and ultimately their business impact. This next generation of solutions will interact in the broader solution ecosystem, working seamlessly in concert with internal and external solutions and sources of content. Over time, the distinction between internal and external solutions will blur and dissipate.
This era of solutions can’t come soon enough for the challenges of supply management. Consider the nuances and complexity associated with the processes an organization undertakes to manage all their spending and supply base. Not only is the breadth of a full source-to-settle process itself challenging at a generic level (think catalogs), but when you factor in category-specific nuances where highly specialized capabilities and content are needed, it becomes clear that no one solution provider has the ability to offer all things an enterprise requires for successful spend management. Sorry ERP. Gartner has termed these category-specific solutions “work-stream-specific” solutions and notes in a recent report how these solutions are helping to drive the ROI of P2P solutions higher.
The classic example of a “work-stream-specific” solution is a category solution for labor, specifically contingent or temporary labor. Historically, Vendor Management Solutions (VMS) have been implemented alongside traditional P2P solutions to manage this category. Yet the management of temporary labor itself is evolving with the introduction of new types of labor pools in the form of freelance and micro-tasking. These evolving demands are further evidence of the need for open, interoperable solutions to present a unified experience. So even if, like the Determine solution, there is support for traditional VMS-like capabilities, there is still the need to interact in a seamless manner with other closely related solutions to truly manage the spend. In the end, the ability to quickly plug-n-play with an ever evolving domain of highly specialized solutions is the only way to maintain the necessary levels of enterprise control and compliance.
To achieve the demands of consumerization, a system has to be built from the ground up with these goals in mind. At Determine, we have architected our solutions and our underlying platform with these requirements as foundational principles.
* Read this article featuring Gartner research to learn about the complete source-to-pay process, the importance of collaboration, and how to define a shared vision and goals with an enterprise approach to strategic sourcing and contract management.