Transform your upstream to better leverage your downstream.
The recent release of The Forrester Wave™: Source-To-Contract Suites, Q4 2019 was a reminder of the critical importance of this particular set of components in the broader overall source-to-pay continuum. In essence, get the upstream right and the downstream is going to be that much more smooth flowing.
Streaming content — let it flow.
As the report notes, this particular source-to-contract (S2C) toolset evolution has been primarily driven by CPOs, who are keen to integrate the various capabilities into one interface with data and workflows that go from application to application. “Seamlessness” is a concept that gets a lot of play in technology solutions, but lack of friction has to extend beyond how the solutions work together behind the scenes; It has to translate into the most intuitive user experience.
Screens, navigation, workflow, approvals — all the things that drive the day-to-day (or drive people crazy) really have to be second-nature simple. Forrester’s research shows that “one big happy family” is not always the case when approaching solutions across an organization — people get territorial, so there is still a ways to go to achieve true seamlessness. And if you’re gumming up the works this far upstream, like a game of telephone it’s only going to get worse the further you get into the procurement side.
It’s interesting to note that, in many ways, the combined solutions in S2C really add up to supplier management; There are few things that filter through every stage of source-to-pay like third-party relationships. Supplier Information Management (SIM) and Supplier Performance Management (SPM) overlap source-to-contract, P2P processes, spend analytics and beyond, affecting everything from strategic planning to compliance and risk management. As through-the-stream relationships gain more prevalence, as they are increasingly being recognized for their role in organizational success, and not just for procurement.
The Forrester report notes that “S2C suites offer the software tools” to help achieve certain supplier management criteria, including choosing the right ones, creating contracts, building solid relationships and maintaining performance and risk criteria. This is because of the source-to-contract software solutions included, but as mentioned previously, having them on a platform with integrated data and a single UI/UX is what enables companies to optimize their usage, and hence their effectiveness.
Pre-gaming your downstream.
Spend management and cost savings will likely always be the bread-and-butter criteria by which procurement is judged, though they seem to be less and less weighted than in the past. But optimizing those results means you’ve found suppliers who are truly committed to working with your organization to achieve mutual success.
That requires a data-fueled sourcing capability that takes into account deep spend analysis and opportunity identification. But that has to go hand-in-hand with an accelerated contract creation process, especially supplier certification and validation to mitigate risk, as well as building-in the right transactional terms and obligations. Which lays the groundwork for continuous supplier evaluation in order to refine the relationship on the fly. Get those right, and the purchase-to-pay side is going to be that much more efficient and effective.
As Forrester covered in the report, you want to look for solutions that are truly integrated, offer a fast, painless implementation process and achieve rapid adoption because they are easy to use. In other words, if you want to successfully navigate upstream, make sure you have the right paddle.