Good Times for CombineNet, Strategic Sourcing Specialist

Most strategic sourcing software solution vendors nowadays offer spend analysis, contract management, and supplier performance management tools within their solution suites. CombineNet is unique in its status as a specialist, with a laser focus on strategic sourcing optimization and bid evaluations. CombineNet products provide the mechanism to negotiate the best deal that satisfies overall supply chain and the master company requirements.

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For a few years now, the desire among spend management software suite vendors to expand their functional footprints, diversify their offerings, and create up- and cross-sales opportunities within their existing customer base has created a spate of (mostly) complementary vendor acquisitions. For example, SAP acquired Frictionless Software and recently Ariba (after Ariba made its own fair share of acquisitions). Then there’s IBM, who acquired Emptoris, after Emptoris too had made acquisitions. Most recently, SciQuest acquired Upside Software, but the list goes on. 

As a result, most strategic sourcing software solution vendors nowadays also offer spend analysis, contract management, and supplier performance management tools within their solution suites. Spend analysis tools identify improvement opportunities by gathering spending transaction data from disparate systems, identifying and matching duplicate records, and enhancing the data with granular classifications for in-depth reporting and analysis purposes. Spend analysis can be delivered either as an application or service. Contract management automates the documentation and structure of the final deal via a searchable repository of contracts. Basic contract functionality will support templates for contract creation and alerts for contract administration (e.g., renewals, extensions, exceeded limits, etc.). Advanced tools feature contract clause libraries and templates, redlined authoring and revisions, and the flexibility for use across multiple contract types, including sales. Finally, as its name suggests, supplier performance management has functionality to track supplier qualification, onboarding, and performance. The creation and publication of regular supplier scorecards is typically the focal point of these solutions.

CombineNet—Focus on Sourcing Optimization

One company is more than happy to be a specialist, with a laser focus on strategic sourcing optimization and bid evaluations. CombineNet products provide the mechanism to negotiate the best deal that satisfies overall supply chain and the master company requirements. They allow potential bidders to propose a variety of terms for each deal and then find the optimal bid based on a given set of parameters and rules for fast and easy what-if scenario optimization. This capability leverages a set of business rules, such as to award a percentage of an order to the incumbent vendor, award a percentage of an order to minorityowned businesses, and award a particular business to no more than three vendors, to recommend different award scenarios.

Optimization is used mostly in conjunction with flexible and scalable requests for proposals (RFPs) and requests for information (RFIs), so that one can compare RFI and RFP responses alongside any combination of business rules and preferences (some vendor products allow the application of only one business rule at a time). The true leaders in sourcing optimization offer users the ability to input requirements at the line-item level in the RFP (rather than have to specify requirements separately) and unlimited RFI and RFP/bid collection capabilities, along with the expressive bidding capability for price and non-price bid components, supplier innovation, and value-add, which will be explained later. The ability to easily upload existing Microsoft Excel bid sheets to create online RFPs that cover full functionality and the point-and-click scenario creation and bid analysis make the solution easy to use and are responsible for its fast adoption.

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