From Watch to Know in 2018: How Scout RFP Helps Procurement Put the ‘Strategic’ Back in Sourcing

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Each year, some companies on the Spend Matters 50 Providers to Know and 50 Providers to Watch lists push themselves beyond simply a standout performance. They earn the recognition that they are not only bringing innovation into procurement organizations but also leading the charge to change the way we do business for the better. These are the providers who shifted from Watch to Know in 2018.

To learn more about these providers, we reached out to the four such cases in our 2018 50/50 lists, asking how they’ve changed over the years and what differentiates them from the competition. Today’s Q&A features Alex Yakubovich, chief executive at Scout RFP, a provider of sourcing solutions.

Spend Matters: In case our readers aren’t fully familiar, can you give us a one-sentence summary of what your company does?

Alex Yakubovich: Scout is a collaborative, cloud-based sourcing suite that helps companies operate more strategically and more collaboratively and make more informed purchasing decisions faster.

Spend Matters: How has your company changed since it was first named a Provider to Watch? What is the biggest lesson you've learned?

Alex Yakubovich: Our entire philosophy is to start simple and then work with our customers to enhance, improve and expand Scout to help them meet their goals. Since we were named a Provider to Watch, we’ve extended our offering from a streamlined, automated RFP tool to a full sourcing platform — while keeping the focus firmly on delighting the customers and suppliers who use it.

Since last year, we’ve grown our customer base by more than 75%, raised a Series B funding round and launched exciting new products that help enterprises manage their savings, engage more effectively with the business and put in place effective, measurable supplier lifecycle management programs. Along the way, we also kicked off Spark, our first user conference in San Francisco, and have helped our customers deliver over $874 million in savings to their business partners.

Spend Matters: What are your two or three best features or services that make you a Provider to Know?

Alex Yakubovich: I see Scout as a single platform, more than a set of features, and as a result I always get more excited to hear the stories of how we’ve helped our customers put the “strategic” back in sourcing.

In the weeks leading up to the May 25th GDPR date, our customers have used our new supplier performance management capabilities to quickly assess their terms and contract risk, segment data processors in their catalog, and create a repeatable process to support their security team’s need to mitigate the risk of this regulation. We talked to one tech company that managed this whole process — across thousands of suppliers — in a few short weeks.

I’m hearing a lot of excitement from customers large and small about how our savings tracker makes it easy for their teams to not only track savings across the enterprise, but tightly align themselves with bigger strategic and financial corporate initiatives. We’re giving them the tools to have a more impactful conversation with the business.

And finally, by changing the way teams manage project intake, planning and execution, our Pipeline approach gives customers a much more streamlined and intelligent way to manage a complex portfolio of projects. We have companies effortlessly managing thousands of events a month with better visibility and insight into new opportunities than they ever had before.

Spend Matters: How are you thinking about your competitive landscape? How are you differentiating yourself from other Providers to Know in the industry and upstarts on the Watch List?

Alex Yakubovich: The sourcing and procurement functions are just stepping into a period of rapid transformation, very similar to what I’ve seen happen in the office of the CIO in the last decade. There’s a unique opportunity here to make an impact and help our industry take that strategic step forward.

What will define success in this market is delivering not only a sourcing tool, but a new way of doing business, that sourcing teams — not to mention suppliers, stakeholders and the rest of the business — will actually want to use. Even as we’ve expanded our product offering, we’ve always kept a firm focus on a simple user experience, which translates to quick implementation (89% of Scout users launch their first event with a week), seamless collaboration across the business, and extraordinarily high adoption.

Our vision at Scout is to unite intelligent sourcing with the benefits of great supplier lifecycle management — not just managing risk, but also informing the business and helping companies make more informed decisions overall.

Spend Matters: Where do you see the procurement sector going in the next several years, and how is your company helping organizations through that?

Alex Yakubovich: This transformation is just beginning. I feel like we’re in the requirements-gathering phase of a massive, industry-changing event. We’re at the point where exciting new tools are entering the market, and innovative sourcing teams are starting to adopt new ways of working. With that initial foothold established, our challenge now is to help organizations simplify their complex, manual processes and find new opportunities to make an impact.

For many people, this is a familiar story, the classic first stage of disruption. From these initially simple-looking tools, strategic sourcing teams are now empowered with automated and streamlined processes. This then creates the bandwidth and the insights for these teams to take their work to the next level — to become truly strategic players, driving results that impact the entire organization and fundamentally transform the way businesses do business with each other.

If we do this right (and I think we can), not only will we change sourcing, but we’ll fundamentally transform commerce between businesses.

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