In concluding our analysis of Provade's VMS capability, we'll turn our attention to the SOW area. In this regard, the native SOW capability built-in to Provade is not as well known in the market as it should be. The ability to carefully define milestones and goals early on in the project creation and requisitioning process and then to measure, report and act-on specific activities (e.g., invoice approval) based on specific statuses, workflows and outcomes provide basic SOW enablement. MSPs and users can also configure this information by industry, although only a minority of Provade's customers, relying on MSP-managed programs, have their MSP manage a range of SOW programs as well. For example, users may opt to look at progress logs, consolidated invoices and report and track payments based on specific in-level details.
It's important to understand that what Provade has built for SOW, like some other capabilities in the market, is largely still a generic yet flexible driver for different types of categories, approvals and processes. It lacks, for example the ability to get away from managing certain types of attachments as well as the ability to configure an n-tier print, marketing, legal/matters management or other complex SOW management type initiative (though I suppose you could go fairly deep on the configuration in the event you had the time, it would likely make sense to seek out targeted category tools in these areas). Still, relative to where some of Provade's other top competitors are in SOW, they're certainly at the table today and ahead in certain cases from some of the less developed VMS providers who have not tackled SOW yet.
In summary, Provade provides a decent sent of native capability for both contingent workforce management as well as basic SOW/project-based enablement and deserves to surface more than it has in the past -- with the limited distribution of its small direct sales efforts and MSP channel outreach capabilities (not to mention the PeopleSoft sales tie-ins). The ability to more closely link its sales with a diversity MSP that is looking to partner more closely with larger MSPs (to carve out various solution areas and elements of broader contingent spend) is potentially quite clever. But ultimately, just as in the past, I would bet as much on the gregarious leader behind Provade, the personable "EJ", as much as anything else. Without his tenacity and charmingly disarming persona, I doubt the recent buy-out would have happened and Provade's ending might have been very different. I suspect he'll be as much an asset to the growth and continued success of the Provade platform as the wider distribution that Pinnacle can bring.
Check back on Spend Matters later this year as we examine the Pinnacle offering and Provade acquisition in more detail, including the rise of diversity MSP offerings and models.
-- Jason Busch