Forrester’s Services Procurement Wave — Do the Means Justify the End? (Part 3)

As I called out in parts one and two of this mini-series looking at Forrester's latest services procurement Wave, this particular report does at least as much as a positive service as disservice (despite my overall discontent with forced analyst rankings in general). Perhaps the best (and worst) feature of the report in question is that it's the first analyst to separate out VMS from non-VMS in the services procurement arena. It's our belief at Spend Matters that statement of work (SOW) Spend Management tools deserve more attention and respect that they get. As we've said in our own research, "from legal to marketing to print to outsourcing, company spending across a breadth of often complicated and hard-to-manage services categories typically is large-- significantly larger than most companies realize before analyzing it--and decentralized." Yet many VMS platforms aren't necessarily designed to handle the unique challenges of managing the lifecycle administration of SOW spend in the same way as contingent labor.

Forrester, to its credit, recognizes this and turned what was originally a very limited focus on SOW in its initial questionnaire to vendors into a far larger focus of the Wave, even breaking out SOW vendor capabilities into a separate ranking. But the disserve in doing this was to suggest that there were actual "Leaders" in this market by placing four vendors in the leader area of the chart. In my view, this is heresy, as the SOW spending focus even among the most advanced procurement organizations is often in silos -- and that's in the best of cases (see this post for additional insight into how sophistication often breaks down today).

Just as there are virtually no leaders in the user community around SOW technology usage and deployment, there should not be any vendor leaders, either. The market is simply too early. Even amongst IQNavigator and Fieldglass, the two leaders in the broader services procurement market based on our own research, SOW usage greatly trails VMS adoption. Calling leaders in this market would have been like labeling Ariba and Commerce One the victor of the eProcurement/ORMS space in 1997 (before SAP and Oracle even competed). Still, at least Forrester had the good sense to give SOW spend the attention it deserves separate from VMS.

For additional Spend Matters research into this area, you can download our free Compass research on the subject:

Selecting Services Procurement Technology – Options, Approaches, and Philosophy

Services Spend -- Beyond Contingent Labor: Achieving And Implementing Savings Across Previously Unmanaged Categories

Making Procurement a Services Spend Ally: Tips and Tactics for Winning over Business Stakeholders and Spend Owners

The Managed Services Connection -- The Evolving Role of MSPs in Services Procurement

You can download your complimentary copy of Forrester's Wave™ Report on IQ Navigator's website, and see a feature about it here.

Jason Busch

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