Spend Analytics Offering from ePlus

Provider debuts graphical tool for analyzing procurement spending

Provider debuts graphical tool for analyzing procurement spending

Herndon, VA — November 1, 2004 — Enterprise software provider ePlus has debuted a new spend analytics offering called Spend+ VisualEngine, intended to reduce the time spent by procurement managers analyzing complex corporate spend data by presenting the data in easy-to-understand graphical maps.

The software is available either as an installed or a hosted application, along with such other Spend+ services and software modules as data collection, cleansing and analysis.

ePlus said that the visualization technology that drives the Spend+ VisualEngine application provides a paradigm that can depict more than a dozen data dimensions on one screen in interactive color-coded boxes to reveal spending patterns, non-compliant spend, supplier performance metrics, savings opportunities and other information at a glance.

The solution provider contends that this graphical representation of spend data makes it easier to identify problems that are difficult, time-consuming and in some cases, nearly impossible to detect in tabular reports.

With Spend+ VisualEngine, size, shape, color and other visual cues graphically illustrate such factors as the amount of off-contract spending in a category or the relative dollar volume spent with each supplier or by each business unit. The largest exceptions based on client business rules float to the top of each map, making it easier to spot the most critical areas of concern.

In addition, macro and micro views are presented simultaneously, enabling users to see as much or as little detail as desired while maintaining a big-picture view of corporate spend. One box might list the total amount of packaging materials purchased, for example, while also showing all packaging stock-keeping units (SKUs) for which less than 50 percent of orders were placed on contract.

Users also can be presented with a dozen or more dimensions of data on each screen, compared to two or three with conventional business intelligence tools. This is achieved in part with "mouseovers" that dynamically display category and order line details on the same screen, eliminating the need to scour multiple reports to extract the information. Detailed key information can be viewed by drilling down to associated layers of data.

The Spend+ VisualEngine application can be configured to visually identify specific trends that are of interest to the purchasing department, ranging from the top 10 items purchased off-contract to spending by geographic region, suppliers that are more than two days late on 50 percent of orders, or commodities that are purchased from more than six vendors.

Using the tool, enterprises can potentially reduce maverick spending; establish contracts with suppliers where no contract exists; consolidate purchases within suppliers as well as across locations and commodities; reduce purchase costs where individual buyers are realizing lower than contracted prices; and so on, ePlus said.

"Many organizations miss opportunities to trim excess procurement costs because they simply cannot 'see' where and how big these opportunities are," said Ken Farber, president of ePlus Content Services and ePlus Systems. "By presenting corporate spend graphically, we provide procurement officers the visibility to zero in on information that has traditionally been buried in spreadsheets, charts and graphs. This makes it far easier to identify and capitalize on cost savings opportunities."

ePlus can utilize procurement data from the customer or prepare the customer's data for meaningful analysis through Spend+ services. Those services include consolidating spend data from procurement, e-procurement, enterprise resource planning (ERP), manufacturing resource planning (MRP) and/or purchasing card systems and other sources, as well as de-duping, normalizing and classifying supplier and item information. Customers also have the option to do the spend analysis with the Spend+ VisualEngine visualization software themselves, ask ePlus to do it for them or both.

ePlus includes the underlying visualization technology of Vancouver-based Antarctica Systems through a distribution and teaming agreement established between the companies.

The Spend+ offering can be used in conjunction with ePlus' Procure+ e-procurement application and/or Content+ product content management software. Procure+ maintains a repository of an organization's procurement data, providing an interface with Spend+ for analysis of procurement spending. Content+ cleanses, normalizes and standardizes disparate data, providing the cleansing functions required before spend analysis is possible.