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

Tradeshift is a cloud platform that connects buyers and suppliers with the goal of digitizing supply chain relationships, processes and information, while also enabling everyday procure-to-pay activities. Its capabilities span the buying of goods and services through to financing and payment — and significant capability in between, especially in the invoice-to-pay area.

In addition to providing its own procure-to-pay modules, Tradeshift offers an open integration framework that allows other technology firms (and customers) to integrate and/or development third-party “apps,” primarily centered on supplier connectivity, transaction enablement and collaboration. Tradeshift can even integrate alternative procure-to-pay providers in cases where specific enabling capability is desired.

This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides an introduction to Tradeshift, both as a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider and also as an e-procurement and invoice-to-pay technology vendor. It is designed to provide facts and expert analysis to help procurement and finance organizations make informed decisions about whether they should consider Tradeshift for both traditional “in-the-box” procure-to-pay requirements as well as unique marketplace/platform type digital initiatives.

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 Tradeshift as a complement to other procurement and finance solutions. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Direct Material Sourcing and Supplier Management Platforms (Part 2)

In the first installment of this series, I introduced six distinct platform areas that manufacturers are making investments in as part of core efforts to drive more successful savings, efficiency, compliance, collaboration and supplier engagement programs. The first, design/engineering and sourcing enablement solutions, represents a new class of direct materials e-sourcing toolsets that attempt to accomplish numerous objectives. Why are all of these areas so essential, especially in concert together? This Spend Matters Plus analysis examines why.

LexisNexis Entity Insight: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis

The supplier risk management market includes a highly diverse set of providers, many of which are difficult to compare on an “apples to apples” basis with each other — unlike just about every other procurement technology segment. Within this market — which also can extended deeper into the tiers of a supply base in the form of supply chain risk management — more organizations are seeking to automate the management of risk as much as possible, as accurately as possible. And arguably, LexisNexis Entity Insight (LNEI) is better positioned than many of its peers to have deep, methodologically-driven conversations based on how it adjudicates data and verifies document integrity to drive risk analysis.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering LexisNexis provides an objective SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to LexisNexis and offers provider-selection guidance. Finally, it gives summary analysis and recommendations for companies considering the vendor. Part 1 provided an in-depth look at LexisNexis as a supply risk provider and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses and a review of the product’s user experience.

Direct Material Sourcing and Supplier Management Platforms (Part 1)

In enabling basic strategic sourcing capability for indirect, services and basic direct materials spend, there are now a lot — and we mean it — of solid choices in the market. And it’s a space that’s getting more crowded everyday. Yet in comparison to the broader sourcing marketplace, the direct materials market is, unfortunately, given short shrift. There are potentially many reasons for this. First, it’s complex — there is not one category of solution. Second, the user for these tools is not always the same as one who might use a more generic sourcing toolset (at least not alone). And third, the processes that direct materials sourcing toolsets support are complicated because they are used not only across numerous internal functions (materials management, plant management, operations, supply chain, design/engineering, procurement, sales and operations planning, etc.), but span multiple tiers of suppliers.

In a three-part Spend Matters Plus series that will deliver a cursory attempt to segment this market, we’ll attempt to overcome the current lack of research in this area by providing a concrete segmentation of different technology categories and the capabilities within each. Today we’ll consider additional context and provide a high-level segmentation and explanation of tools (which we’ll flesh out and provide vendor short-lists for later in the analysis).

Coupa: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Commentary and Summary Analysis (2018 Update)

Since we last reviewed Coupa, the provider has continued to increase its market share within the source-to-pay technology segment, albeit with a primary focus on procure-to-pay (e-procurement and invoice-to-pay), spend analytics and sourcing. As we have noted in the past, numerous areas can be credited for its continued ascent, including a spend under management growth rate that continues to exceed revenue growth — a metric that shows the rapid manner in which customers are implementing and scaling Coupa implementations relative to first generation procure-to-pay (P2P) solutions. Coupa’s metrics-centric approach to measurable business value is an extension of its own culture, including an emphasis on rapid solution development based on listening to customers and creating accountability for results.

While Coupa is not an ideal fit for all procurement technology requirements, it has become the new benchmark by which other e-procurement and spend management technology suite vendors must measure themselves, or at least in comparison and differentiation. In many ways, Coupa’s initial public offering (IPO) established the first of a new generation of providers assuming a leadership position in the market.

From a competitive perspective, when we last wrote, we suggested that  Coupa had moved from the hunter to the hunted, although its competition remained fragmented, with the exception of SAP Ariba, which it continues to encounter most in shortlist and evaluation considerations, and Oracle, which is now its second largest competitor as it markets itself as the provider of “Business Spend Management” solutions. More recently, we also have seen Ivalua be considered in — and often win — a range of often large deals, with an emphasis on public sector, healthcare and manufacturing, in situations where Coupa, SAP Ariba and others might have been in the pole position in the past.

Regardless, Coupa competes against both a select few and many dozen of providers — depending on the situation and how fragmented the competition is for a given opportunity, geography, industry or modular need. Regardless, Coupa competes against both a select few and many dozen of providers — depending on the situation and how fragmented the competition is for a given opportunity, geography, industry or modular need.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Coupa provides an objective SWOT analysis of Coupa and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison based on Q4 2018 information. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to Coupa and offers provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies considering Coupa. Part 1 provided an in-depth look at Coupa as a firm and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses and a review of the product’s user experience.

An Introduction to Sourcing Business Intelligence (Part 1): Definition and Driving Forces

The problem with the term “sourcing business intelligence” is that it can have vastly different interpretations. Yet sourcing BI is a concept that we’re increasingly hearing mention of with our procurement practitioner and consulting firm clients, albeit with different names attached to it.

Not to be confused with spend analytics, the concept of Sourcing BI could prove as important to the digital procurement organization of the future as category management did in the past decade — or perhaps even more invaluable. This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides an introduction to the concept of sourcing BI, starting first with a definition and an overview of the trends that are driving it.

8 Quantifiable Levers Where Invoice-to-Pay Solutions Deliver ROI — Beyond Accounts Payable (Part 2)

Invoice-to-pay (I2P) solutions can provide significant leverage for a range of business functions that extend beyond accounts payable alone. In Part 1 of this series, we introduced the topic of where to look for value levers and ROI outside of AP enablement alone from I2P solutions and explored the initial four levers to pull: managing, controlling and enabling visibility into 100% of an organization’s spend; providing a means of onboarding and actively managing suppliers; driving stakeholder collaboration; and technical and business integration support that makes AP a “hub” rather than a spoke.

As we conclude our analysis, we will explore four additional areas where I2P solutions deliver extended value and measurable KPI improvement beyond AP-centric metrics alone. These areas center on compliance enablement (business and regulatory), data analytics, EBITDA improvement and working capital enablement, and driving broader business objectives (while reducing the “cost to serve”).

Please note that a SolutionMap Insider companion research brief is also being published that will detail SolutionMap vendor performance for all of these areas, ranking how individual vendors perform against these requirements based on the Q3 2018 Invoice-to-Pay SolutionMap benchmark.

8 Quantifiable Levers Where Invoice-to-Pay Solutions Deliver ROI — Beyond Accounts Payable (Part 1)

finance

Invoice-to-pay (I2P) solutions exist to serve the broader business, not just accounts payable functions. Spend Matters defines the I2P area as a combination of electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) and e- payments, which may leverage a supplier network model for connectivity and value-added capabilities.

I2P solutions not only reduce paper-based processes and increase efficiency (e.g., reduce cash disbursement costs per FTE) but also serve as a foundation for enabling finance organization improvements generally (e.g., by reducing late payments, optimized working capital and lowering non-compliance). The value-added capability of technology providers offer today can help procurement and finance to configure and deploy complex invoice workflow, matching, approvals, cash disbursements, trade financing options and better process management overall. ilities.

Yet all too often, these technologies are viewed as tactical and transactionally focused, when in fact they can deliver multiple strategic outcomes. Confining invoice-to-pay solutions to an AP-centric value proposition is a mistake that many organizations make when selecting technology. And it is one that that software providers also make when “under-selling” them into organizations. ilities.

This Spend Matters PRO research brief explores eight business levers that I2P solutions can pull to deliver return on investment (ROI), as defined by the functional requirements in Spend Matters SolutionMap. We have authored it to help organizations better quantify the extended returns they can realize from I2P solutions when building business cases and to help solution providers better sell the full business value of what they deliver. ilities.

Please note that a SolutionMap Insider companion research brief is also being published that will detail SolutionMap vendor performance for all of these areas, ranking how individual vendors perform against these requirements based on the Q3 2018 Invoice-to-Pay SolutionMap benchmark.

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

supplier network

As a standalone component of procurement, supplier management is not new. Nor is the technology to enable it. But most procurement organizations still only have sourcing or e-procurement technology (at best) with capabilities that offer targeted supplier support for larger vendors. From a supplier management standpoint, the majority of firms still pay little attention to the long tail of hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of suppliers that they do business with. One of the key promises of supplier management solutions is to tier engagement levels and manage these suppliers across the entire lifecycle of engagement.

Within this market, AdaptOne offers targeted capabilities that focus on supplier information management (SIM) and supplier diversity, which represent two sub-disciplines within supplier lifecycle management. Having started out as an enterprise business process management (BPM) and workflow management provider that customized solutions to client processes, AdaptOne evolved into a SIM provider that offers turn-key solutions inclusive of customized configuration.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores AdaptOne’s product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist the vendor. It also offers a critique of the user interface. Part 1 of our analysis offered a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider AdaptOne’s supplier management software. The final installment of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

The supplier lifecycle management software market — which can be segregated at least half a dozen different ways — includes dozens upon dozens of different providers specializing in one or more enterprise technology areas. These include supplier information management (SIM), supplier performance management (SPM), supplier relationship management (SRM), supplier quality management (SQM), supplier discovery management (SDM), supplier diversity, supplier risk management, and governance, risk and compliance (GRC). 

Some of these areas are data-centric, others are process-centric and others still are relationship-centric. Following this pattern, from a tech vendor “supply market” perspective, some of the providers that compete in this sector are well known to procurement organizations, having invested heavily in marketing and sales for many years. But the majority tend to slip under the radar, either due to lack of marketing investment, lack of focus or simply poor communication (e.g., getting caught up in broader offerings/suite capabilities). And some are not even on the radar of most organizations.

One of the providers in these latter camps that recently caught our attention is AdaptOne. And not necessarily because it has a unique supplier management solution, as the truth is there is a lot of similarity between it and a few other SIM solutions. Rather, AdaptOne piqued our interest because it comes from a unique background and sells the solution from a new perspective. Leveraging a business process management (BPM) development and deployment orientation, AdaptOne’s solution is more configurable and, well, adaptable (sorry, we could not resist) than most of its peers.

But how does AdaptOne stack up functionally, and what does its solution offer? This Spend Matters Pro Vendor Snapshot provides an overview of the AdaptOne solution, along with facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations, suppliers and their partners make informed decisions about AdaptOne's SIM-centric solution. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations might want to consider AdaptOne. The rest of this multipart research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitors and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, insider evaluation and selection considerations.

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

BuyerQuest

The competitive landscape for e-procurement software still counts dozens of vendors globally that offer varying degrees of solution breadth, depth and focus. One provider that drives to the core of e-procurement requirements (search, shopping, catalog management, compliance, requisitioning and approvals) with a set of deep and differentiated capabilities is Aquiire.

This third and final installment of our Vendor Snapshot covering Aquiire provides an objective SWOT analysis of the vendor and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates that could serve as alternatives to Aquiire and offers provider selection guidance. Part 1 provided an in-depth look at Aquiire as a technology provider and its specific solutions. Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses.

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

Despite what Coupa and SAP Ariba would like companies to believe, the e-procurement market is far from consolidated. Moreover, some of the lesser-known vendors in the sector are not only driving some of the more unique areas of spend management innovation, but can also be the most adaptable to unique requirements that fall outside of the standard e-procurement box (which might include a single “buyer” or even a broader consortia of organizations coming together to buy in a “marketplace”). Aquiire is one such provider.

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