3 Reasons I Hate the Spend Matters 50/50

Spend Matters 50/50

I’ve personally gotten a dozen notes or calls from people I know in the past few days asking “why weren’t we” on the Spend Matters 2016 50/50 “Watch” and “Know” lists. Some were polite. Others less so. I know that my colleagues have gotten similar lines of questioning as well.

Inevitably, any list or ranking of vendors or solution providers will result in happy and unhappy people and providers. It comes with the territory. I do feel that we have an obligation to those who made the list and those who didn’t — not to mention those using the lists — to be transparent around the process and what led to inclusion (or not) in certain cases.

If you didn’t make the list this year, please feel free to reach out. We’re happy to have a candid discussion on it. But to be completely forthright, I personally hate the 50/50. There are so many other providers we’d like to list, and the broader procurement gets as an area the greater the level of disappointment that will exist among those who don’t make it.

But here’s why I hate the 50/50 (not the providers, but the concept of any type of list or ranking):

  • Accusations versus reality. A number of providers have approached us asking what they have to do (hinting they can pay us) to be on the list — or that those on the list seemingly paid us to get on it. We joke internally the 50/50 means “50 providers who pay us and 50 who don’t,” meaning about half of the providers are clients. The percentages have been roughly the same year-over-year since we started the list, which makes sense, as we’ve grown as a business. Yet our coverage areas have expanded as well.
  • Explaining the criteria has nothing to with working with us (again and again!) We simply don’t care if people work with us or not. To make the “Know” list, you need to be ubiquitous — a household name in procurement (or one that should be). To make the “Watch” list, which had significant turnover this year by design, you need to stand out from the crowd based on sector area, growth, product, customers or innovation. We admit: Certain areas (e.g., services procurement, direct spend, specialized category solutions) had an unfair advantage over others this year based on the fact we think it’s critical procurement invest more time in understanding how rapidly these areas are changing and the innovation among solution providers.
  • Any ranking or list is imperfect — The 50/50 is a living, breathing list. And it’s imperfect. There are those providers who perhaps should have been on it who are not (especially the “watch” list), but either have never reached out to us or our practitioner and consulting clients have never inquired about. But please rest easy in that we didn’t take any inclusion lightly. We take a zero-based budgeting approach to building the 50/50 lists and anyone who made it was debated at length. Still, I personally hate to disappoint people (child of divorced parents, you know!).

For those who did not make the lists, there’s still good news. The all-new Spend Matters Almanac offers a chance to showcase what you do, alongside our own commentary and reviews of your solution, whether you made it on the lists or not. Registering (it’s free) is also mandatory for those who may want to be included in the 2017 list.

Internally, we have no doubt the Almanac will become the absolutely definitive research and buyer’s guide to procurement solutions in 2016. The entire Spend Matters research and content effort planned around procurement solutions over the next 12 months is designed to feed into the Almanac to provide a one-stop shop for folks wanting to get smart on individual providers or entire market segments. We plan to make it the new homepage for those that need to be smart on the market.

And that’s something I most certainly don’t hate!

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