Author Archives: Jason Busch



About Jason Busch

The closest thing to a household name in procurement and supply chain, Jason has led the charge as an advocate, futurist and evangelist since the 1990s. Initially at FreeMarkets and then an adviser to Ariba and other firms, Jason branched out on his own to establish the Spend Matters brand (parent company: Azul Partners), which emerged to become the largest news and information portal covering the sector. Over the years, Azul Partners has expanded this digital portfolio to 12 affiliated properties including leading titles such as Spend Matters UK/Europe, MetalMiner and Public Spend Forum, making it one of the largest independent B2B digital media firms. Jason divides his time between research, speaking, corporate finance advisory and mentoring dozens of firms and procurement organizations in the industry. Prior to Azul Partners and FreeMarkets, Jason worked in consulting and merchant banking. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Personal investment disclosures: Azul Partners, Inc., Public Spend Forum, LLC, Remitia Ltd., RJSL Group LLC, Sigaria Ltd., Spare to Share, LLC, Spendata LLC, SpendLead, Inc., Spend Matters Europe Ltd., Spend Matters Group, LLC.


Zycus: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis

Oracle

For many years, Zycus’ self-proclaimed corporate objective was to become a “top three” procurement technology solutions provider. The irony of this goal was that it would ultimately — at least until Q2 2018 — prove elusive, not because of a failure to execute on objectives but rather how the market (e.g., Jaggaer’s strategy of combining multiple larger vendors and niche specialists under a single roof) moved against Zycus through unexpected actions. But more important than this is what Zycus’ initiatives actually mean for customers, based on the underlying current capabilities of the provider’s modules, suite and ecosystem today — and its planned enhancements for tomorrow. In these areas, fortunately, Zycus’ approach to meeting its business goals proved more important than the initial objective itself.

The third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot series covering Zycus offers a SWOT analysis of the provider and a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to Zycus and offers provider selection guidance. Previous installments provided an in-depth look at Zycus as a firm and its specific solutions (Part 1) and a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses, as well as a review of the product’s user experience (Part 2).

Zycus: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

Zycus is one of roughly half-a-dozen true source-to-pay (S2P) platform providers that offer more than lip service across all of the elements that comprise this solution area. In some modular areas, however, its technology is deeper than others.

For example, while Zycus has the RFX and auction functionality found in just about every sourcing platform, it also brings sourcing project management, spend analysis, a supplier network with supplier relationship management functionality and contract lifecycle management. Zycus also brings significant support for downstream procurement with its own native catalog management, requisition management, purchase order management, e-invoicing, payment support and dynamic discounting capability. And threaded throughout the platform is S2P project management support, organizational “ask procurement” support, integrated search and suggest functionality, and the capability to run end-to-end performance metrics.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot continues our exploration of Zycus’ source-to-pay offering by diving into the platform’s strengths, weaknesses and user interface. In Part 1 of this series, we provided an overview of Zycus as an organization, its primary platform modules and key considerations that will help an organization decide whether or not it should be investigating Zycus to meet its source-to-pay needs. In Part 3, we will conclude our coverage with a SWOT assessment, a detailed user selection guide, competition overview and our expert analysis.

10 Reasons For Procurement to Work With Payments (Part 1)

Sometime shortly after the phrase “P2P” was born, we managed to collectively forget what the second “P” meant. As a friendly reminder, it stands for “pay.” Rather than spanning the length of a transaction from an initial order to payment to a vendor, P2P became known (while companies wrote RFPs for solutions and as vendors marketed tools) as the combination of e-procurement and e-invoicing. This duo, while extremely valuable, doesn’t exactly impact payment all that much (if at all).

But payment matters much more than most folks we talk to in procurement think. By taking control of payments, we can, for example, do an end-run around the administration hassles and supplier headaches that poorly run accounts payable (AP) functions create. And this is just one reason to consider getting more involved in payment strategy and execution. In fact, we can think of at least 10 reasons that should factor into a business case for procurement to seize control and initiative around payments.

Aravo: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis

suppliers

Of all the procurement solution providers Spend Matters has tracked over the years, Aravo was arguably the most ahead of its time, delivering a set of supplier management capabilities a decade before demand would catch up with supply for this multifaceted solution category.

Owning to the tenacity and passion of its original leadership and the secondary management team that would eventually take the helm, Aravo managed to survive and then thrive, waiting for the market to catch up to it — not the other way around. Today, Aravo excels at many disciplines within supplier management and third-party management, and has a track record of enabling some of the largest deployments of supplier information management (SIM) capabilities that Spend Matters has tracked in the broader market.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Aravo provides a SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as substitute providers to Aravo and provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies that can best take advantage of Aravo’s capabilities. Part 1 of this series provided an in-depth look at Aravo as a company and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses and a review of the user experience.

Aravo: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Platform Strengths and Weaknesses

Aravo was the original standalone supplier information management (SIM) solution in the North American marketplace. Founded in 2000, it is also one of the oldest independent procurement solution providers. After growing beyond its early roots as a catalog management enabler for Ariba implementations, Aravo launched a SIM solution capable of managing general supplier registration field and template-based initiatives. In more recent years, it has evolved into a full-fledged third-party and supplier data management solution that bridges a range of governance, risk and compliance (GRC) and procurement-centric requirements.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Aravo’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview, as well as a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Aravo. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Aravo: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview

The supplier management solution area consists of many subsegments that constitute their own individual markets. These include providers that specialize in aspects of supplier lifecylce management, the enablement of specific supplier management processes and the management of both structured — and, in certain cases, unstructured — supplier data. Few supplier management providers, however, have platforms that can tackle the majority of these areas effectively.

Aravo is one of a handful of providers that can. At the time of its founding nearly two decades ago, Aravo pioneered the supplier management technology market (specifically supplier information management), tracing its roots to Ariba-based supplier enablement and catalog support. But since then, Aravo has not rested on its legacy, despite retrenching to focus on software development and customers in recent years, especially large, complex supplier management deployments. GE, for example, manages 1.2 million suppliers and third parties using Aravo, with integrations to 24 different ERP and GRC software instances across 19 business units.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Aravo and whether its technology is a fit for their needs. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Aravo in the supplier management and quality management areas. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

An Opportune Time for Collaboration: Procurement and Accounts Payable (Part 1)

Historically, procurement and accounts payable have been slightly awkward bedfellows in many companies. They’ve been loosely coupled through the front-end (e.g., vendor on-boarding, registration process) and the back-end (e.g., approvals, dispute management, discounting, payment, invoice auditing) in both online and offline worlds for various aspects of supplier engagement and management.

Yet in the past decade, procurement as a role and business focus (not always as function, mind you) has garnered greater respect as a means of driving bottom line savings — often identified, not always implemented. It has still been one part of an odd couple, unfortunately, but the lesser odd partner. But that’s the subject for another post, let alone a volume of books. More important, for our purposes, accounts payable has not garnered the same level of interest, and has truly remained an odd cost-center and stepchild under the broader finance umbrella.

In fact, as many procurement organizations have been able to make the business case for more strategic resources based on quantifiable value (e.g., cost reduction, risk analysis/reduction) in the past decade, accounts payable has faced a near constant pressure to cut costs through reduced resources based on various automation schemes — internal shared services, business process outsourcing (BPO), technology or a combination thereof.

Procurement has not been overly keen on taking ownership of accounts payable, either. This goes back a long way. One of my favorites comes from Spend Matters UK/Europe Managing Director Peter Smith. Below, we feature his story and view into accounts payable from a CPO perspective.

Zycus: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview

Aatish Dedhia, Zycus’s founder, has long preached the benefits of technology provider self-sufficiency, including management-driven investment, profitable growth and organic, suite-based product development. It is based on these principles that Zycus “grew up” from a razor-focused pioneer in the spend classification sector nearly 20 years ago into a strategic procurement technologies suite and, eventually, a full end-to-end source-to-pay (S2P) suite provider. While Zycus has strong comparative solutions depth and capability in certain areas, part of its broader market appeal has been often comparatively low pricing, which we view as a value-based feather in its cap.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement and finance organizations make informed decisions about whether a provider like Zycus, either on a modular or source-to-pay suite basis, is likely to be a strong shortlist candidate for their needs. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Zycus for their S2P needs. The remainder of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Beeline Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Competitive and Summary Analysis

Beeline remains one of the top vendor management system (VMS) brands in the contingent workforce market today, holding market share that is roughly equal to SAP Fieldglass following its merger with IQNavigator. The company, which operates independently of any larger software or staffing-related firm, has distinguished itself with a forward-looking strategy and innovative solutions to changing market requirements.

But in a sector marked by rapid change, including procurement’s continued interest in gaining greater control over complex services spend (e.g., professional services) as well as labor market alternatives (e.g., freelancers), the traditional VMS solution model is evolving and its scope widening. That can be both positive and negative. VMS, now becoming more of a broader solution suite, may be perceived in the market as transforming from a sharp, fit-for-purpose tool to a Swiss army knife. While Beeline is not sitting still in this market by any means, it faces — as do other VMS providers — dampened growth rates and narrowing margins, as well as the specter of continuing direct competition from other VMS providers, new competition in the VMS market and a range of alternatives and substitutes targeting different types of services and labor.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot provides a SWOT analysis of Beeline and offers a competitive segmentation of the complex landscape Beeline faces. It also includes recommended candidates that could serve as alternatives to Beeline, as well guidance for procurement practitioners developing a shortlist. Finally, it provides a summary analysis and recommendations for companies considering Beeline.

Counselytics: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis

Counselytics is one of a number of upstart providers specializing in the application of semantic artificial intelligence (AI) technology to contract data, including both internal and third-party paper. While limited in its ability to build out a broad-based suite of capabilities based on its size and the amount of capital it has raised to date, Counselytics has spent its limited R&D budget on its core algorithms and reporting capabilities to build a highly targeted solution that complements existing contract lifecycle management (CLM) and source-to-pay technologies.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Counselytics provides a SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as substitute providers to Counselytics and provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies that can best take advantage of Counselytics’ capabilities. Part 1 of this series provided an in-depth look at Counselytics as a company and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses, as well as a review its user experience.

Counselytics: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

Within the procurement technology sector, early artificial intelligence (AI) techniques have primarily been applied against structured data needs. Yet the class of AI techniques that these providers have deployed is actually quite different from the semantic AI analysis that is starting to gain traction in the contract search and analysis area. Within this new market, Counselytics is one of more than half a dozen upstart competitors that are collectively targeting an opportunity that is fundamentally different from — yet complements — contract lifecycle management (CLM).

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Counselytics’ strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Counselytics. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Oracle Emphasizes Cloud Procurement at Modern Supply Chain Experience 2018

Two members of the Spend Matters analyst team attended Oracle’s Modern Supply Chain Experience 2018 event in San Jose this week. Procurement received its own track at the event, and various Oracle procurement solutions — with an emphasis on the source-to-pay cloud offerings — were on display in the solution pavilion. We also had a chance to speak both informally and formally with different members of the Oracle procurement product, marketing and development teams.