For procurement practitioners, managing spend across multiple categories and aligning them to the larger source-to-settle process is both a challenge and a goal. Manual, disparate processes require more time and labor than automated, aligned processes and are more prone to error. Even when systems are in place, getting all of the spend into them can be difficult, particularly services spend. These are but a few of the many reasons why having end-to-end solutions that can manage multiple spend categories can go a long way toward improving procurement (and overall enterprise) performance. Whether enterprises are trying to get a better handle on their indirect spend (e.g., travel and expense (T&E), office supplies, services) or direct spend (for manufacturing or product development), end-to-end supply management solutions can increase efficiencies, improve visibility and compliance, and driver greater benefits for the enterprise.
Deem, a long-time supply management solution provider, recently launched a suite of end-to-end solutions for organizations that are trying to align their indirect procurement processes under one system. Formerly known as Rearden Commerce, the company rebranded itself as Deem a few years ago while retaining its legacy as a T&E solution provider. When it acquired Ketera in 2010, Deem added a suite of cloud-based supply management solutions which included spend analysis, eSourcing, contract management, supplier enablement, and eProcurement capabilities. At the time of its acquisition, Ketera’s strengths were on the transactional side while its strategic sourcing solutions were still emerging. In November 2014, Deem relaunched the combined and revamped solution set as Deem Spend (while also noting in the brand logo that it was “formerly Ketera”), which Ardent Partners covered in this CPO Rising Tech Round-up.
We recently caught up with Roger Blumberg, Vice President of Products at Deem and Andrea Meyer, Senior Director, Communications for a briefing and demo of the newly re-launched portfolio.
Travel and Expense Management
A major part of the legacy Rearden Commerce offering, Deem provides a cloud-based, mobile-first travel and expense management solution that allows users to book, alter, manage, and expense business travel on the go. According to Blumberg, everything from the travel side automatically flows into the expense side, including receipts and credit card information, which is stored in digital wallets. Travelers can use standard expense reporting features to submit reports, which managers can then review for contract compliance and approve or deny accordingly. The travel booking tool allows users to search for and book flights on the platform and to automatically check-in to flights for optimal seating. One of the more advanced features shown was the auto-ticket exchange capabilities that helps travelers automatically and securely apply funds from canceled flights to new itineraries.
Deem’s T&E management tool also allows enterprises to perform “duty of care” analyses of their employees vis-à-vis catastrophic events. As Blumberg says that “with two clicks,” users can know who has or has not landed in that town, where they’re staying, who’s with them, and so on. Blumberg was also fast to highlight that the Deem travel solution includes integration to Southwest Airlines and claims that it is the only T&E enterprise solution provider to feature such an integration.
As we’ve noted on CPO Rising many times in the past, the realm of “Big Data” in the world of travel and expense management has become a critical component in how both procurement and finance executives attack this increasingly-strategic and complex spend category. Automated systems that can generate deep data related to travel and expense can assist organizations in not only understanding how spend within this category “sits” across the greater enterprise, but also contributes to intelligence-led strategies, such as calculating the exact ROI of business travel and the compliance ramifications of non-policy bookings.
Deem’s spend analysis tool can be used for travel spend analysis but also for enterprise spend data. The Deem team drives its spend analysis delivery from India where it will cleanse and categorize data to an at least 80% accuracy on the first pass before pushing it much higher via an iterative process with the client. Deem’s current spend analysis reporting tool is powered by Logi. The company has plans to use MicroStrategy’s BI engine for more a planned advanced analytics tool for its T&E solution.
Deem offers an eSourcing with solid capabilities for traditional sourcing projects. Users have full access to an array of customizable and detailed category sourcing templates. Deem has invested significantly in the development of these category templates and believes that having robust content pre-loaded into a tool that features a clean user interface will help to set it apart from their competitors. Deem’s lower-cost entry points for Sourcing are designed to help this solution find a market in 2015.
Deem’s contract management tools allows for contract authoring and contract storage. As part of its client-onboarding process, Deem consultants sit down with users to map out a digital contract conversion process which includes defining the metadata that must be captured and managing the data entry process. Blumberg tells us it is only a “matter of weeks” to have everything go from filing cabinets and documents into the tool. Users an also create/author and manage new supplier contracts.
Once contracts are in the tool, Blumberg notes that users can search them using multiple criteria. Users can set alerts for when another user views, checks in, alters, or checks out a particular contract. They can perform side-by-side comparisons of different contract versions, and view specific changes made within contracts. Users can also be alerted when contracts are nearing expiration – whether it’s 90, 60, or 30 days, etc. – and can control who is also alerted. Moreover, contracts can be segmented by business group, allowing one group within an enterprise to view and manage certain contracts while restricting their access to all other users.
Time did not permit a full demonstration of this application but its eProcurement tool is one of the more robust offerings in Deem’s product suite. Here, Deem sets itself apart from the market by featuring public catalogs that are pre-populated with suppliers of most standard indirect categories. Blumberg noted that the tool will soon features millions of SKUs for buyers to choose from, including multiple suppliers of the same product that will provide the user with the ability to comparison shop in a manner akin to shopping on Amazon. In doing so, it introduces what Blumberg calls “visual guilt” by recommending the best or lowest price among the user’s options and effectively forcing them to make the ‘right’ purchase. Blumberg says this is an example of how Deem’s eProcurement tool embraces the concept of “consumer shopping meets business logic.”
Roadmap and Plans for 2015
Deem has a number of product improvements planned for 2015, including enhanced requisition capabilities, the launch of an advanced T&E analytics tool, and new comparison shopping features. Lastly, Deem plans to provide more localized content for business travelers seeking to travel to other regions – content that is in the native language of a given travel destination.
Much has changed for Deem since the T&E market knew it as Rearden Commerce. In the interim, it has leveraged its acquisition of Ketera to provide a suite of cloud-based, mobile-first T&E and supply management solutions that can be linked and cross-leveraged for more effective and widespread enterprise use. While it is focusing on the mid-market to a degree, its T&E and eProcurement solutions, in particular, meet the requirements of many large and sophisticated procurement departments. Ardent Partners looks forward to seeing how Deem’s product enhancements add greater value to its suite, with announcements expected within the quarter.