The ERP source-to-pay landscape has spent the last decade transforming itself from a blank canvas to a partially complete montage, with varying degrees of elegance and execution. Despite that Oracle and SAP have greatly evolved their solution sets in this time, both acknowledge that gaps remain (e.g., supplier enablement and invoice automation) through their actions to engage preferred partners. IT and Oracle and SAP procurement organizations can drive significant incremental benefit from enhancing existing and planned ERP supplier relationship management (SRM) and procurement implementations with third-party tools in the catalog management and master data management (MDM) areas.
Providers that can enable the ERP ecosystem in this arena typically focus on supplier self-service, multi-catalog search, configuration and what we’ll term “virtual punch-out,” which includes distributed content search, aggregation and presentation of information (not to mention the application of specific rules to this distributed data). Moreover, many providers in these areas can enable technically savvy business users (not IT) to administer the overall content and catalog management program once it’s up and running. Content and catalog management tools are most appropriate as solutions above and beyond the organic capabilities of ERP when:
- Your organization thinks it is important to incorporate consumer (i.e., Google) search capabilities.
- The expected level of catalog maintenance and updates is not something that a single internal resource using a standard ERP toolset can expect to accomplish across dozens or hundreds of suppliers.
- IT will take a secondary role, without dedicated resources, in the administration and ongoing support of the peer-to-peer environment (and content management, to be specific).
- The ability for suppliers to control and update their own content (with validation or approval) is a known requirement.
- Organizations need to manage complicated, often configuration-driven buying and specification approaches.
- New catalogs and catalog content (within existing catalogs) will be added (e.g., new attributes to existing stock-keeping units (SKUs).
- Catalog content management takes on a vertical focus with specialty suppliers possessing unique sets of defined product attributes.
- Federated search (i.e., across multiple catalogs either internal or supplier-hosted), supplier websites and potentially other information sets are required.
- Kitting and bundling is an important part of the requisitioning process (e.g., a decision to buy one SKU can then lead to a required request or form to order another related one).
- Information ontologies and the potential for faceted navigation of complex information will improve the buying process.
Procurement and IT organizations should consider numerous third-party vendors for catalog and content management support. jCatalog Software AG has been among the most innovative in recent years and continues to invest heavily in its processes, and has a strong list of reference clients in SAP environments.
Vinimaya takes a highly differentiated approach that has solid penetration in the Oracle user base. Vertical specialists such as SciQuest, Science Warehouse, and Unimarket have targeted experience and focused capabilities in such areas as life sciences, research and higher education.
Other content and catalog management providers include Ariba, Enporion, Ketera, Hubwoo, Perfect Commerce and Requisite Software.
For a complete, comprehensive look at this subject beyond this article, download our Compass Research Paper.
If you’re interested in learning more about procurement solutions that can enable the ERP ecosystem in general, download our latest Compass research on the subject.
Jason Busch is Principal Analyst at Spend Matters. His contributions are based on Spend Matters Compass research, which examines a range of procurement and supply-chain technology solutions and trends.