Author Archives: Jason Busch



About Jason Busch

Jason is the founder of Azul Partners and co-founder of Spend Matters. He spends most of his time contributing to building Spend Matters SolutionMap. But he divides the rest of his waking hours between research, writing, due diligence analysis, corporate finance advisory and mentoring dozens of firms and procurement organizations in the industry. Prior to Azul Partners, Jason got his on-the-job education in procurement technology working at FreeMarkets for five years in a variety of roles. Before that, he started his career in consulting and merchant banking. Jason holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Current investment disclosures: Azul Partners, Inc., Koble, Inc., Public Spend Forum, LLC, RJSL Group LLC, Sigaria Ltd., Spendata LLC, and Spend Matters Europe Ltd.


Tradeshift’s “Sellers Club” Targets Bottomline and Accounts Receivable Technology With a Many-to-Many Offering

Sarika Garg, Tradeshift’s chief strategy officer, took the podium for a few minutes at Tradeshift’s analyst day to introduce what the procurement/finance technology provider is calling its “Seller’s Club.” The concept is that the “Club” is a membership, not a subscription. While a supplier-paid offering, Garg made the point of noting that Tradeshift remains free for suppliers to transact. Our take is that the Club appears to be a new offering for suppliers that is taking aim at another class of solutions entirely compared with procurement, accounts payable automation and supplier network offerings aimed at the buyer — where Tradeshift started.

Tradeshift Analyst Day Dispatch: “Do You Want Amazon to Own Your Supplier Relationships?”

On a well-timed East Coast swing, Lisa Reisman (Azul Partners’ fearless CEO) and I dropped by New York City for Tradeshift’s analyst day, the Tradeshift Innovation Summit. Christian Lanng, Tradeshift’s founder and CEO, kicked off the afternoon with a history lesson, drawing the parallel between Salesforce and the path he suggests that Tradeshift is on. He began his talk by noting that in 1999, Oracle, Siebel and SAP were “fighting it out over CRM” when the market was “fragmented, verticalized and on-premise.” But Salesforce came along with a different vision, building “software for the end-user” with an emphasis on “cloud” and eventually its “app” platform.

5 Reasons to Bet For and Against Coupa (Part 2: The Blindsided Prince)

Owing to its focus on “business” spend management and public company status, Coupa continues to serve as an ambassador and proxy for the procurement technology sector overall. As I noted in the first installment of this series — 5 Reasons to Bet For and Against Coupa (Part 1: The Virtuous ‘Cloud’ Prince) — it seems everyone has an opinion on Cramer’s new “Cloud Prince.” I shared five reasons I’d bet on Coupa from a procurement (not capital markets) perspective.

Today, to balance things out, I turn negative and introduce five reasons I’d bet against the firm, primarily revolving around how the sector and procurement, finance and supply chain may change around it. I’ll lump these reasons under the theme as “blindsided prince,” since I believe Coupa’s biggest risks come from outside, not within.

5 Reasons to Bet For and Against Coupa (Part 1: The Virtuous ‘Cloud’ Prince)

One of the best validations of the procurement technology sector is to see irrational exuberance from those who know comparatively little about it as they begin to speculate more aggressively on who is going to win in the market. Hearing Cramer call Coupa the “Cloud Prince” was but one example of the dozens I’ve heard both publicly and in one-on-one conversations in recent weeks from those outside the procurement solutions world.

These days, it seems everyone has an opinion on Coupa. Sometimes this speculation and soap-boxing grates on me because, in theory, it could mislead those within procurement and finance from making the best decisions if they get wrapped up in the noise. But it’s a price worth paying. Every insider — including everyone on the front lines of procurement, every tech vendor, every consultant, every analyst — should welcome every minute of attention Coupa gets. Why? Because it means there is going to be plenty of cash to fund the next generation of innovation for the sector.

Procurement is red hot right now, and honestly, shouldn’t saving money always be hot? But just how hot is Coupa? While I have real work to do providing a final set of eyes on some 250+ pages of draft copy for the Q2 SolutionMap Insider publications this week, I thought I’d procrastinate and share my own prognostications on Coupa and the arguments I’d make on betting both “for” and “against” the new crown prince — and also offer some fantasy sports commentary on just whom I’d combine Coupa with from the comfort of my lazyboy to conclude things (and luckily our SolutionMap framework lets us mix and match providers in different combinations — something that some of our early adopter practitioner clients are starting to explore in their evaluations).

Today I’ll start with five reasons I’m bullish on Coupa for procurement organizations — the company, not the stock, which is an important distinction as I have no opinion on share prices — by sticking with Cramer’s “prince” analogy. Of course I can’t help but think back to a philosophy class in 11th grade with Dr. Morinelli where we learned and debated Machiavelli's “The Prince.”

Virtuous princes, as Wikipedia translates and paraphrases Machiavelli, “rise to power through their own skill and resources (their ‘virtue’) rather than luck … [even though comparatively they] tend to have a hard time rising to the top, once they reach the top they are very secure in their position. This is because they effectively crush their opponents and earn great respect from everyone else. Because they are strong and more self-sufficient, they have to make fewer compromises with their allies.”

How is Coupa the virtuous [resourceful] prince for procurement? Read on as we explore the five reasons I’d bet on Coupa’s continued success at the same levels of the past.

Ivalua vs. SAP Ariba: E-Procurement Head-to-Head Technology Evaluation and Comparison

Few procurement organizations evaluate Ivalua only from an e-procurement angle. Most prospective customers are looking for integrated suite capabilities that the uber configurable and increasingly industry-specific procurement provider can bring. Moreover, Ivalua has unfortunately remained somewhat of a “best kept” secret in the procurement tech community, especially in the procure-to-pay (P2P) area, owing in part to the double-whammy negative combination of less brand awareness than others like Coupa as well as having a smaller systems integrator community to recommend it (although it has a long standing and close relationship with KMPG).

Yet overall Ivalua does very well in the Spend Matters SolutionMap. As of Q2 2018 Ivalua delivers the highest ranked source-to-pay suite on a functional basis (across spend analytics, sourcing, contract management, supplier management and procure-to-pay). But how does Ivalua stack up to the biggies like SAP Ariba in e-procurement specifically? Curious? So were we.

Join us as we put Ivalua’s e-procurement capabilities to the test against SAP Ariba. Today, we offer a preview of the Q2 dataset (also see the Q1 2018 E-Procurement SolutionMap) and pit Ivalua head-to-head against SAP Ariba. These recurring columns share insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider Subscribers, providing unique comparative cuts of SolutionMap benchmark data, along with the trademark quips that have defined Spend Matters analysis since its inception.

So prepare for some real data and expect at least a modicum of salty opinion. Here’s a preview: across certain e-procurement functional requirements — which span catalog management, shopping/requisitioning, ordering, receiving, supplier network, configurability, technology (overall), general services and a summary e-procurement average — SAP Ariba, not surprisingly, comes out on top. But Ivalua more than holds its own in most areas and convincingly wins in one.

But real world procurement technology decisions are more complex that just module-by-module comparisons and geeking out over functional battles between two finalists across sets of hundreds of requirements. And this is where customers will likely gravitate to one solution over the other. So join us as we explore how each provider stacks up on a direct competitive basis and share our perspectives on which is likely a better fit in real-world circumstances.

The Q2 2018 E-Procurement SolutionMap benchmark is now based on an underlying dataset featuring 21 separate providers, including all of the “biggies” procurement organizations can expect to consider in a typical selection process. Whether you’re in the market for a new e-procurement product or want to know if you made the right decision for your organization, our SolutionMap analysis and benchmark data can tell you the answer. Curious to learn more? Don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Catalog Management: Technical and Functional Component Requirements (Part 5) — Catalog Contracts and Marketplace/Internet Search

Today we conclude our multi-part research brief exploring catalog management functional and technical requirements with an emphasis on the last two requirements we consider in our SolutionMap functional requirements for e-procurement.

The first requirement that we analyze is what we term “catalog contracts,” capability which focuses on pre-negotiated pricing through group purchasing organization (GPO) arrangements, leveraged buying or otherwise third-party negotiated typically contracts outside of what a procurement organization would negotiate itself. The second area, marketplace / internet search and catalog visibility, extends the scope of catalog management capability to integration with online marketplaces (e.g., Amazon Business) and electronic commerce storefronts on the Internet, a requirement which is increasingly becoming more important in the evaluation of e-procurement solutions overall.

If you’re new to the series, check out Part 1 (overall definition/background and supplier network intersections), Part 2 (catalog creation, supplier onboarding and data quality control) and Part 3 (maintenance, workflow and analytics) and Part 4 (catalog objects/methods and catalog mobility capabilities, expectations and requirements).

Whether you’re a procurement organization, supplier, software provider or consultancy, our goal with this series is to provide the bill of materials to allow the assembly of the best possible catalog management solution, either on a unified basis with the same e-procurement platform or integrated with a broader solution.

Catalog Management: Technical and Functional Component Requirements (Part 4) — Catalog Objects and Mobility

on-demand workforce

It’s possible to build or use a “good” e-procurement solution that has rudimentary catalog management. But it’s impossible to deliver or leverage a great one, unless its catalog management capabilities are best in class compared with the rest of the e-procurement and procure-to-pay (P2P) pack.

Based on our SolutionMap functional requirements for e-procurement, this multipart Spend Matters PRO research brief defines all of the elements of catalog management. It also provides a feature checklist of the elements that comprise each component, defining what constitutes best in class performance in each case. Today, in Part 4, we flesh out catalog objects and mobility capabilities, expectations and requirements.

Those new to this series can catch up with Part 1 (background and supplier network intersections), Part 2 (catalog creation, supplier onboarding and data quality control) and Part 3 (maintenance, workflow and analytics). Whether you’re a procurement organization, supplier, software provider or consultancy, this series provides the bill of materials to inform the assembly of the best possible catalog management solution, either on a unified basis with the same e-procurement platform or integrated with a broader solution.

Coupa’s Customer Conference and Earnings Continue to ‘Inspire’ — But a New Competitive Battle is Looming

A few weeks back we attended Coupa Inspire 2018. The event left us with a perspective that Coupa is not only doing some things extremely well but also that it would do well not to make the same mistakes of those that came before it with a similar rise to fame (i.e., a healthier dose of competitive paranoia is always more effective than getting punch-drunk on the fame of continued growth and capital market success).

In this Spend Matters PRO research brief, we provide a summary of a number of key announcements made during Coupa Inspire 2018 and over the past 18 months at Coupa. In addition, we’ll trace the history of Coupa’s product launches and introductions to provide context on how new offerings may evolve.

We’ll also offer perspective and opinions on the trajectory Coupa has been on — including whether it is sustainable — and conclude with comments on what has become arguably the most important procure-to-pay (P2P) battleground on which Coupa is positioning itself against competitors: how to enable as close to 100% of spend under management as possible with a P2P solution at the core. Incidentally, this is a topic that Oracle and SAP (inclusive of SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass and Concur) also have been doing quite a bit of thinking on of late — not to mention Coupa’s partner, customer and frenemy Amazon Business.

As a follow-on to this research brief, we will later share our thoughts on Coupa’s Q1 2019 earnings report from earlier in June, including how traction (and competition) in the market is translating both to wins and losses depending on customer requirements, channel/partner influence and competitive price pressure in select circumstances. Yet it would not be the Spend Matters way unless we wrapped this commentary around five reasons to bet for or against Coupa to maintain a “top three” position in the market.

For those wanting a primer on Coupa, we encourage you to check out our Vendor Snapshot on the provider (see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3) as well Coupa’s latest Q1 2018 SolutionMap performance in the e-procurement, invoice-to-pay, procure-to-pay and sourcing areas.

Jaggaer Indirect vs. Coupa: E-Procurement Head-to-Head Technology Evaluation and Comparison (Q2 2018 Preview)

Following the Jaggaer name change, some folks may have forgotten about the tech provider’s deep roots in the e-procurement sector. And no, we’re not talking about some evil clown-esque 6-foot walking beaker — sorry, Questie, SciQuest’s former somewhat loveable mascot, was just creepy — who had some superpowers over laboratory P2P enablement alone. We’re talking about the depths of catalog management, supplier enablement and other elements of e-procurement that made the original SciQuest stand out from the original e-procurement pack, albeit with a focus on specific market segments at the time.

But how well does Jaggaer’s e-procurement capability differentiate itself in 2018 on an overall functional basis? We’re excited to feature Jaggaer’s e-procurement module (for the first time) in the Spend Matters Q2 2018 E-Procurement SolutionMap, publishing in the coming weeks. Today, we offer a preview of the Q2 2018 dataset (also see the Q1 2018 E-Procurement SolutionMap) and pit Jaggaer Indirect head-to-head against Coupa. These recurring columns share insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider Subscribers, providing unique comparative cuts of SolutionMap benchmark data, along with the trademark quips that have defined Spend Matters analysis since its inception.

So prepare for some real data and expect at least a modicum of salty opinion as we pit Jaggaer and Coupa head-to-head in the Spend Matters evaluation ring. Here’s a preview: In certain e-procurement capabilities — which span catalog management, shopping/requisitioning, ordering, receiving, supplier network, configurability, technology (overall), general services and a summary e-procurement average — Coupa convincingly dances on Questie’s grave.

But in others, the victor is not as cut and dried, and certain use cases illustrate when Jaggaer can be particularly attractive, especially when coupled to the vendor’s integrated suite value proposition in areas such as supplier information management (SIM) and contract management. Moreover, Jaggaer Indirect is one of the higher performing providers overall in the Q2 2018 E-Procurement SolutionMap and bests the majority of other SolutionMap participants in many of the functional areas in which Coupa comes out on top in a direct comparison.

The Q2 2018 E-Procurement SolutionMap benchmark is now based on an underlying dataset featuring 21 separate providers, including all of the “biggies” procurement organizations can expect to consider in a typical selection process. Whether you’re in the market for a new e-procurement product or want to know if you made the right decision for your organization, our SolutionMap analysis and benchmark data can tell you the answer. Curious to learn more? Don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Why the Staffing and Contingent Marketplace is Failing Procurement

In our prior analysis of the services procurement market, we looked at the evidence showing how the staffing marketplace is failing procurement organizations. Today, we turn our attention to the “why” and the factors holding organizations back from gaining more value from their services procurement spend. This value includes greater savings, of course, but also reduced risk, increased compliance, improved talent management and recovered time to focus on innovation, continuous improvement and business outcomes.

We are not purporting any grand conspiracy of sorts here. Rather, the fundamental challenge with services procurement and the staffing industry centers on a supplier-led industry dynamic that has been able to break free from the bounds of how procurement manages all other spend areas, directing the buy-side rather than having to adjust its own sell-side driven business to maturing procurement expectations and requirements.

In this Spend Matters Plus analysis, a refresh of our 2014 series, we consider the “why” of the problem and go beyond the standard “fox watching the henhouse” issues with the traditional MSP/staffing market. Finally, to conclude this series, we will offer a prescription for changing the market from the inside out with procurement-led initiatives.

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

Per Angusta is the only technology solution Spend Matters has reviewed that is entirely focused on program management in support of category, sourcing and supplier and broader procurement activities. Moreover, the provider represents a unique case in which it is increasingly focused on developing tight, platform-based integrations with leading source-to-pay suite and module providers, embedding its capabilities out-of-the-box on an integrated basis with third-party technologies.

This two-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about whether Per Angusta, as a standalone or integrated program management solution, should be looked at as a “nice to have” or a mandatory extension of their current capabilities and solutions. 

Part 1 of this series provided key facts on Per Angusta, a detailed solution overview and shortlist criteria for organization that should prioritize the provider. Part 2 provides an analysis of Per Angusta’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as summary recommendations on when to consider Per Angusta as a technology to support program management requirements.

Catalog Management: Technical and Functional Component Requirements (Part 3) — Maintenance, Workflow and Analytics

If there were ever an esoteric yet critical insider series on technology aimed at procure-to-pay process owners, this is it. In the past year, the Spend Matters analyst team has spent hundreds of hours tearing into the catalog management capabilities of all the leading e-procurement vendors as part of our SolutionMap analysis, as well as in the course of vendor selection work for clients. Our main finding: No catalog management solution we’ve seen is interchangeable with another — and most leave a lot to be desired.

As our catalog management series continues, we turn our attention to the technical and functional components of the maintenance, approval/workflow and analytics components of catalog management, whether used on a standalone basis with ERP procurement or when integrated as a component of e-procurement. So far in this series (see Part 1 and Part 2), we’ve defined the specific components of catalog management and explored supplier network intersections and tie-ins based on the Spend Matters SolutionMap RFI requirements. We’ve also gone into the weeds, delving into the functional definitions and technical components of catalog creation, supplier onboarding and data quality control components.