4 Takeaways from ProcureCon Indirect West

ProcureCon Indirect West is a peer-led procurement conference for procurement professionals to network, learn and brainstorm with others in their field. It's also a showcase for new procurement technology. Here is what we learned from our time there.

Software and solutions.

That was the focus of ProcureCon Indirect West, which was held Feb. 27 – March 1 in San Diego, Calif.

The conference is billed as a peer-led procurement conference for procurement professionals to network, learn and brainstorm with others in their field.

As one of the few procurement practitioners specializing in the SAP Ariba product suite, these are the top issues we were asked to weigh in on:

  • The ongoing challenge of increasing user or supplier adoption for new or existing procurement software solutions.
  • Mitigating supply chain disruptions.
  • System optimization, training, and change management best practices.
  • Integrating third party software solutions into existing source-to-pay frameworks.

Here are our recommendations for these common problems:

1. Supplier and user adoption.

There were many software companies exhibiting their “simplified” solutions for everything procurement related: accounts payable and receivables, vendor and supplier management, contracts, travel, and corporate spend, to name just a few categories.

While SAP Ariba was not in attendance, we did see a number of other names that were showing off their Ariba integration capabilities, such as Keelvar and Icertis (SAP Ariba announced a major partnership with Icertis last year).

There’s good reason for this explosion of simple solutions: the biggest hurdle to getting maximum value out of your procurement software is simply getting people to use it properly.

This is the reason that SAP Ariba continues to simplify their own solutions with innovations such as Guided Buying, Buying 360 and Guided Sourcing. The idea is to create a more “drag and drop” or “shopping cart” type experience that users are already familiar with.

In other words, the simpler the solution, the more likely users are to work within the system, rather than trying to find manual workarounds.

There are also change management and training factors that come into play, but we were encouraged to see a trend toward source-to-pay software with intuitive interfaces.

2. Avoiding supply chain disruptions.

Supplier risk management, which we discuss in detail in our article, Understanding Supplier Risk Management, is still a top concern since the pandemic highlighted many inherent weaknesses in the supply chain.

The keys to avoiding these disruptions are diversity and resilience. Many companies are now realizing that they can’t be complacent about their current suppliers or overly optimistic about being able to quickly pivot to a new supplier if a current one can no longer fulfill their obligations.

Another important component of supply chain diversification is the increasing importance of understanding ESG compliance. ESG is a set of criteria that investors and other stakeholders use to evaluate a company’s performance on environmental, social, and governance issues. Monitoring and managing ESG issues reduces the risk of supply chain disruptions due to noncompliance.  

Software technology is now moving toward smarter digital solutions to pre-qualify and track suppliers, contractors, vendors and other crucial links in the source-to-pay process. This offers a more disciplined, dispassionate approach to risk management.

3. Companies don’t know what they already own.

As noted, supplier risk is something that procurement professionals are worrying about and trying to prioritize. Many companies asked us about supplier risk and audit solutions and how to evaluate these solutions and determine the best fit for their organization.

Some of these companies already have SAP Ariba’s Strategic Sourcing Suite and were surprised to learn that Ariba’s Supplier Risk Management module is typically included in their entitlements.

This is not unusual. We often find people who don’t realize, for example, that Guided Buying is included with Buying and Invoicing, and Guided Sourcing is included with SAP Ariba Sourcing – they just need to be implemented.

That is why we recommended that clients conduct a periodic review of their systems to see if there are any modules they’ve left on the shelf that could benefit them and merely need to be activated and configured.

4. Third party integrations services are becoming increasingly important.

While new and emerging technologies, especially in AI, are allowing companies to develop procurement software that’s faster, simpler, and easier to use, these are also standalone technologies that must be integrated into your existing systems. Many of the companies that sell the software don’t have a robust integration and training program to seamlessly integrate their third-party system into your current architecture.

CCP Global’s consultants spoke with many fellow exhibitors who were looking for an experienced consulting partner so they could offer full integration services to their clients. Since we have extensive experience in custom integration solutions, we can help to understand and guide how some of these new technologies can be integrated with the standard SAP and Ariba technology landscape.


Procurement technology is driving toward simplification: ease of use, speed. Developers are also keenly focused on the issues of data safety and security. And these things are happening with remarkable speed, much of that thanks to advancements in AI.

But many of the problems with implementing and getting the full benefit of these technologies are still there: user and supplier adoption, keeping data clean, integrating disparate systems to work seamlessly, and the challenge of navigating ever-changing guidelines and regulations.

It was helpful to be able to meet in-person with a large number of procurement professionals to talk about their shared challenges and better understand the current climate and the trends in the industry.

And we’re already planning a booth at ProcureCon East in Orlando in September. Stop by and see us there.

What are your procurement challenges?

If you’d like to discuss issues you’re having with your current system, or need assistance planning for your future state, we’re here to help.