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.


Statess (State of Flux): Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Competitive & Summary Analysis

supplier management

Statess, a supplier management technology solution developed and owned by State of Flux, a consultancy, competes in a sector that is confusing for providers, let alone procurement organizations. The fragmentation of the supplier management technology market can make it difficult for procurement organizations to create the right provider shortlist and select the optimal technology to meet their needs. Statess is an upstart competitor in this highly complicated sector, although one not as well known as perhaps it should be, owning to the limited sales and marketing investment of its parent company relative to peers.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering Statess offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other supplier management providers. It also includes a user selection guide, user interface and user experience (UI/UX) analysis and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep dive solution overview, a SWOT analysis, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider State of Flux and the Statess product line.

Statess (State of Flux): Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses

supplier network

There are comparatively few sourcing and supplier management technology providers that specialize in the management of strategic supplier relationships. Statess, a vendor based in the U.K. and wholly owned by State of Flux, a consultancy and services firm, is one of them. What State of Flux originally launched as a relatively simplistic toolset for supplier performance management and (corrective) action planning has grown into a full-fledged supplier relationship management (SRM) solution that ecompasses supplier information management, performance management, risk management, governance and relationship management, corporate social responsibility (CSR), contract management and innovation management.

This Spend Matters PRO vendor snapshot explores Statess’ strengths and weaknesses in the supplier management area, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist the vendor as a potential provider. Part 1 of our analysis comprised a company and detailed solution overview and a SWOT analysis, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for what types of organizations should consider Statess. The remaining parts of this multipart series will offer a user selection guide, user interface (UI/UX) analysis, competitive alternatives and evaluation and selection considerations.

SciQuest’s Product and Solution Strategy: A New Leader, A New Philosophy

road

SciQuest’s new Vice President of Product Management and Strategy Deb Woods is not a conventional head of products. While she has a product management background, Woods has also worked in procurement and supply chain as a practitioner and is extremely experienced leading corporate development efforts as well. It’s arguably the perfect combination for what SciQuest needs in the current product leadership role as it finds itself under new (private) ownership with backing for both organic and inorganic investments.

Combine This! An Update on ASO (Part 2): SciQuest Next Level 2016 Dispatch

Global Procurement Tech Summit

While academic research and development for CombineNet dropped off dramatically after its acquisition, SciQuest has continued to make targeted investments in its sourcing optimization solution. These investments have produced continual improvements in several key areas. Yet while we commend these and other recent improvements to the toolset, SciQuest needs to double down on investments to this product line if it wants to remain a leader in the sourcing optimization market.

Are Catalogs Fleecing Procurement of the Best Deal? 5 Arguments in Favor and Against the P2P Catalog

olly/AdobeStock

This is the second installment of a series in which we are rhetorically going to war against catalogs (kind of like a certain presidential candidate bulldozing over everything and everyone in his path – for the better or the worse, we might add, depending on your perspective!). When we first gave the topic of killing the catalog some thought, we came up with a post in which we ending up sharing the pros and cons of catalog-based procurement today — and some of the options we would wager are coming down the pike. But let us take aim at catalogs in a different way today by positing arguably the most important procurement assumption of all: namely that catalogs are fleecing procurement of the best possible pricing in numerous ways...

Statess (State of Flux): Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview

Oracle

Unlike e-procurement and electronic invoicing, the market for supplier management technology is inherently complicated for two reasons. First, the range of use cases organizations can apply are broad, and second, the vendors serving the market are diverse, often with significantly different value propositions when compared with each other. There are different ways to segment the supplier management market and we would encourage Spend Matters subscribers to take the time to understand the advantages of using technology to support different initiatives, from accounts payable-based supplier onboarding to enabling supplier diversity programs to strategic supplier development.

One provider that began serving the market focused on strategic supplier development is State of Flux, which positions its applications division as a supplier relationship management (SRM) technology provider. Founded in 2004, State of Flux saw an opportunity from its consulting work to develop a solution focused on strategic SRM that would eventually become known as Statess. What started as a simple tool for performance and (corrective) action planning has grown into a full-fledged SRM solution that offers supplier information management (SIM), performance management, risk management, governance and relationship management, CSR (corporate social responsibility), contract compliance and innovation management.

This Spend Matters PRO vendor snapshot explores Statess’ strengths and weaknesses in the supplier management market, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist the vendor as a potential provider. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company and detailed solution overview and a SWOT analysis, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for what types of organizations should consider Statess. The remaining parts of this multipart series will offer a user selection guide, user interface (UI/UX) analysis, competitive alternatives and evaluation and selection considerations.

Combine This! An Update on ASO (Part 1): SciQuest Next Level 2016 Dispatch

apinan/Adobe Stock

We’ve long been fans of sourcing optimization approaches at Spend Matters. A number of years ago, SciQuest acquired the original pioneer in the sector, CombineNet, which had particular expertise in logistics procurement at the time. Since then, SciQuest has invested in two different sourcing product lines: Sourcing Director and Advanced Sourcing Optimizer. This two-part conference dispatch provides an update to ASO.

SciQuest Next Level 2016 Kicks Off: New Attendees, New Ownership and a New Ecosystem

Next Level

Xavier Olivera, Pierre Mitchell and I are down in Nashville this week at SciQuest’s annual Next Level customer conference. This year’s Next Level, the largest one held to date, features a curious mix of attendees from the private sector, higher education and government. It is also host to a mix of exhibitors and sponsors, including a surprising number focused on enabling punch-out catalog models (not to mention Amazon Business, which is also speaking at the event).

Keelvar: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary & Competitive Analysis

apinan/Adobe Stock

When Keelvar launched, in 2012, the sourcing optimization technology provider competed in a sector with several providers offering more similar than different capabilities. At the time, sourcing optimization competitors included nearly every vendor with an e-sourcing tool and a solver — BravoSolution (VerticalNet originally), SciQuest (CombineNet originally), Determine (Iasta originally), IBM (Emptoris originally). But in 2016, Keelvar's most direct competitor that is focusing similar percentage investment levels in sourcing optimization as a percentage of overall R&D is Trade Extensions. This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering Keelvar offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other e-sourcing providers. It also includes a user selection guide, user interface and user experience (UI/UX) analysis and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep dive solution overview, a SWOT analysis, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider Keelvar.

Keelvar: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses

Global Risk Management Solutions

From its roots in Irish mathematical academia, Keelvar has evolved in less than five years since launching to become the most user-friendly sourcing optimization solution in the market. It offers an advanced sourcing technology that a typical procurement team member can take full advantage of with minimal training and no special quantitative or analytical skillsets. In expanding the potential universe of advanced sourcing applications, Keelvar has brought a better approach to category sourcing and events that procurement would have previously negotiated in a manner that cost them potential implementable savings (and a chance to build better relationships with both internal stakeholders and suppliers).

Today, Keelvar regularly handles events with thousands of line items (and lanes, in the case of transportation). It also enables data gathering and scenario analysis in real time, just like its competitors. Plus, it now supports more than 40 of the most common constraints (e.g., split of business) that procurement organizations would apply to sourcing processes that take advantage of capabilities to optimize award decisions. More recently, Keelvar has expanded beyond the initial traction it built in public sector to retail, CPG and transportation companies, and is now even serving some Fortune 500 and Global 2000 manufacturers.

This Spend Matters PRO vendor snapshot explores Keelvar’s strengths and weaknesses in the e-sourcing and sourcing optimization areas, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist Keelvar as a potential provider to replacement or use alongside other sourcing technologies. (Incidentally, Spend Matters research shows that Fortune 500 companies typically use at least three different sourcing solutions.) Part 1 of our analysis comprised a company and detailed solution overview and a SWOT analysis, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for what types of organizations should consider Keelvar. The remaining parts of this multi-part series will offer a user selection guide, user interface (UI/UX) analysis, competitive alternatives and evaluation and selection considerations.

Keelvar: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview

FM Global Resilience Index

The capability of most e-sourcing suites has evolved relatively slowly compared with other procurement technology areas in the past decade. Yet there is one exception to this rule: sourcing optimization or, as some label it, “advanced sourcing.” On the supplier side, these technologies encourage vendor creativity in bid responses and even allow alternative bids. For procurement, they enable the application of flexible constraints (not just weights) against supplier responses to create optimal bid award decisions that factor into account price and non-price factors.

While advanced sourcing technologies got their start supporting logistics procurement events across thousands of lanes, they have now evolved to support just about any strategic category of spend where a direct competition route that encourages apples-to-apples bids in a reverse auction manner will likely not yield the best result. Sourcing optimization solutions today have supported some of the largest and most complex sourcing events ever conducted — in some cases, single events spanning multiple tiers of the supply chain with more than $1 billion in expenditure being awarded. Yet overall, adoption has lagged the market for general-purpose e-sourcing tools and suites.

Keelvar, a four-year-old firm that started as a spinout from a research lab at a university, is hoping to change this. Incidentally, CombineNet (now SciQuest) and Trade Extensions, two additional providers in this sector, also share similar academic roots. Keelvar's primary differentiation is that, unlike the majority of sourcing optimization software providers, it realized from day one that the solution wasn't a better optimization module, it was a better sourcing platform where ease of use was the most important driver of adoption. This Spend Matters PRO vendor snapshot provides a history and overview of Keelvar’s sourcing technology. This multi-part research brief comprises a company and solution overview, company-level SWOT analysis, product strengths and weaknesses, competitive alternatives, a user selection guide and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Should We Kill or Evolve the Catalog?

Eric-BOULANGER_AdobeStock_guillotine_08142016

We’ve long written in favor of catalog management as a form of controlling indirect spend. For starters, a catalog-driven approach to controlling buying activities is pretty much standard practice in Europe (for companies that have adopted a technology solution for procure-to-pay activities). In the U.S., spend going through true buyer-managed and supplier-managed catalogs, as a percentage of overall buying activity with P2P platforms and networks, is material. Although, to be accurate, we should also point out that punch-out, web storefronts and marketplaces (e.g., Amazon Business) capture a substantial percentage of spend as well, even though many of these are really catalogs in disguise (in which procurement has less SKU-level control).