Gone are the days when procurement’s agenda could be contained to a small set of self-selected priorities. Now, procurement professionals are tasked with servicing the complex sourcing requests from numerous stakeholders, addressing new regulatory compliance requirements and furthering their organization’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments, to name a few. Procurement has become a multi-functional hub for supplier discovery, contracting processes and third-party risk management — the integral guide to the opportunities and risks of global supply markets.
Addressing so many new and emerging requirements on top of pre-existing priorities often involves the use of multiple software solutions and managing this growing spread of tools has become a job in and of itself. With an expanding scope of responsibility and constrained resources to address what businesses are throwing at them, procurement groups need a way to efficiently orchestrate their initiatives, daily tasks and data sources.
The solution to this conundrum is not a traditional S2P suite or best-of-breed application. Rather, it’s a different kind of platform entirely — one captured by the concept of an “Alt Suite.” In this emerging trend, new platform solutions (ones that can reduce the pain of managing multiple solutions and ongoing change management) are complementing currently deployed technology. In most cases, procurement teams can enable these platforms with little to no disruption to their existing infrastructure, making the upgrade to an Alt Suite as quick as it is powerful.
Procurement then and now
Procurement used to be all about managing spend, which is why most of the procurement platforms that exist today are source-to-pay (S2P) or procure-to-pay (P2P) suites.
Within the last decade, however, risk and compliance have come to the forefront. Procurement teams have had to stretch beyond spend management and have found themselves taking a leading role in bridging across information security, privacy, legal, compliance, finance and more. Efficiency has slowed as a result as many of these solutions were designed primarily for spend management, not these other critical capabilities.
Additionally, the next ten years will require impact and values alignment across entire companies, particularly on matters of ESG like managing a company’s carbon footprint and supplier diversity. Because of its role in bringing together so many key functions, procurement is set to be the department in charge of social impact initiatives.
The fact is, the software solutions and technology out there are heavily fragmented. They’re siloed among departments and functions. These need to be integrated to enable collaboration, but even if you can integrate them, it can be tricky to properly maintain and update these integrations, as any internal IT group will tell you. An update on one solution might not work with the current version of another it’s supposed to work in tandem with.
An Alt Suite is a complementary platform that can integrate and automate the adjacent, non-spend-based functions and capabilities procurement must handle. In select vendors who enable their customers via no-code capabilities customers can, without custom coding requirements, use simple drag-and-drop functionality to integrate and update existing systems.
Ease of use is a big part of why the Alt Suite will be so impactful in the coming decade; certain examples enable a single UX to orchestrate all of these initiatives in an incredibly powerful tool. The transparency of the process within a single system allows procurement professionals to be more effective, efficient and knowledgeable in all aspects of their multi-stakeholder agenda.
Business impact of the Alt Suite
- Speed – Integrated systems with no clunky moving back and forth mean reduced cycle times when working with vendors. The Alt Suite moves us past the days when procurement was a bottleneck.
- Transparency – Business users benefit from the platform’s integrations by seeing what functions are humming along and which need attention before the whole chain gets backed up. Approvals could be stuck in privacy or legal, or missing supplies might be holding up production — now the problem can be easily identified.
- Efficiency – Scaling up can be difficult with disparate solutions. The Alt Suite allows the procurement team to spend less time — and less cost — sweating the details and more time on the strategic moves that will push the company forward.
- Reduced audit costs – Alt Suites have complete audibility thanks to transparency and integration between functions. No more losing the thread of a project when it moved from one department to another.
- Risk management – That visibility goes a long way toward lowering the risk of fines or other costly mistakes. Reputation means a lot, and the first step to preventing potential reputation-damaging incidents is to catch them before they happen.
The Alt Suite brings together all of procurement’s emerging priorities, including issues that affect functions like ESG and diversity initiatives, and risk and compliance priorities like InfoSec, into a single solution.
With the Alt Suite folding so many of the functions that today’s procurement departments already juggle into a single solution that complements the entire technology suite, companies that are looking to take the next decade by the horns have a powerful tool at the ready.
Interested in learning more about emerging Alt Suite technology? Join Nick Heinzmann, VP of Research at Spend Matters, and Jag Lamba, Founder and CEO at Certa, on October 13th for a webinar on how the Alt Suite will transform procurement. Register here for the webinar.