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.


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

BlueCart

We fully admit, in just about as non-scientific an analyst manner as possible, that the Spend Matters team has had fun reviewing BlueCart. The Washington, D.C.-based provider is a unique online order management platform for small (and even mid-size) restaurant buyers in the food industry, the suppliers and distributors that serve them and the sales reps that manage the relationships. Since a number of the Spend Matters extended team have worked in the front and back office of restaurants and even owned them — and some of us are related to current chefs and owners — we are fully aware of the uniqueness of restaurant buying, including the typical chef obsession with food cost (the most cost-conscious chefs and sous chefs can tell you precisely what a plated item costs down to the dime). We’re simply too close to the restaurant business not to let our opinions and past experience get in the way of just considering BlueCart’s technology without also providing context, as well.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering BlueCart offers a competitive analysis and comparison to other order management and procure-to-pay options in the restaurant industry, as well as lessons learned from this unique approach for other industries. 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 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 BlueCart product line.

Alex Atzberger Discusses What’s Next for Procurement Technology

AI

In the first part of this Spend Matters Conversation, Founder and Head of Strategy Jason Busch talked with SAP Ariba President Alex Atzberger about how technology is changing procurement. This second installment explores specific new technologies procurement will start using in the next decade and how their use will be a game-changer for businesses.

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

Kzenon/Adobe Stock

In the restaurant industry, just as in manufacturing environments, chefs care about the consistent performance of their suppliers. Consistency is 90% or 100% of why most chefs and sous chefs, with authority to decide vendor relationships, work with suppliers with whom they have a proven track record based on past quality, delivery and overconfidence (all three of which are key). It’s also one of the reasons why they avoid changing suppliers that they trust — that and the extra case of tomatoes, bottle of truffle oil or ounce of saffron provided as a “thank you” for doing business with a preferred purveyor.

Thanks in part to a freemium model that provides basic no-cost capabilities to those using its order management solution in restaurants, BlueCart is rapidly adding new customers around the globe and building an ecosystem of suppliers and distributors as well. This Spend Matters PRO vendor snapshot explores BlueCart’s strengths and weaknesses in the restaurant e-procurement, procure-to-pay (P2P) and supplier network areas, 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 BlueCart. 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.

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

restaurant

Is e-procurement getting specialized by industry? BlueCart, which launched in July of 2014 as an online ordering platform for small restaurant chefs, owners and buyers in the foodservice industry, is proof of the increasing specialization of different procure-to-pay (P2P) vendors and business models in targeting specific market segments. Incidentally, BlueCart is also an example of a platform-based model built from the ground up to also serve a specific ecosystem — including, in this case, the distributors and sales representatives that manage customer relationships.

Yet where BlueCart differs from the majority of non-specialized P2P and e-procurement providers — aside from offering restaurant-specific capabilities — is in its business model. BlueCart’s core requisitioning capability is free to those placing orders and it has decided that revenue will come from advertising and subscriptions to more advanced functionality (e.g., inventory management and spend analysis). This is similar to the freemium subscription models offered by big-name B2C platforms (like LinkedIn) that restaurant owners and buyers are familiar with.

Judging by its growth numbers to date, the model is working, despite the challenging and often unique dynamics of the restaurant business, including those that govern supplier and distributor relationships. This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores BlueCart and its unique approach to P2P and the restaurant supply chain, providing facts and expert analysis to help organizations decide if they should use the provider’s free or premium capabilities. It also provides lessons learned for e-procurement in other industries centered on the value of vertical-specific P2P capabilities. 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 BlueCart. 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.

Pricing Trends: VMS and MSP Pricing and Trends for SOW Programs

Tradeshift Baiwang

This fall, Spend Matters is conducting a survey of overall vendor management system (VMS) pricing trends in the market. But in the meantime, we thought it would be useful to share a joint perspective with an industry expert specifically around VMS and managed services provider (MSP) pricing and business model trends for supporting statement of work (SOW) programs. As SOWs become a larger percentage of typical services procurement expenditure in more mature procurement organizations — and as specialized technology and managed services offering continue to develop to support these programs on an end-to-end lifecycle basis — it is becoming increasingly important to think about managing these efforts in a dedicated manner. This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides insight into how procurement organizations can more effectively engage VMS and MSP providers in support of their requirements based on current pricing and business model trends,including supplier-funded models.

Technology is Changing Procurement — SAP Ariba’s Alex Atzberger Explains How

cloud

Technology is changing how we live our lives. From smartphones to the cloud, consumers have an almost unfathomable number of ways to access and produce information compared with only 10 years ago. The same goes for procurement. Emerging technologies like machine learning and blockchain are changing how companies buy — and challenging procurement to change with them. In this Spend Matters Conversation, Founder and Head of Strategy Jason Busch talks with SAP Ariba President Alex Atzberger about how procurement is growing up alongside technology and what users of the future will expect from their solutions.

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

repair

The worlds of supplier networks, supplier management and services procurement compliance are converging — and Avetta is one of the providers at the forefront of this convergence. Avetta’s initial releases and managed service offering addressed independent contractor verification, validation and management. In some industries, accidents or errors from unqualified third-party contractors, either due to lack of training or lack of certification, can result in million-dollar lawsuits and threats to public safety, so ensuring proper qualifications and training is key.

Today, Avetta has evolved its offering to deliver an enhanced supplier management platform customized for credentialing, certification and contractor capability tracking with respect to health and safety, sustainability and other specific needs. However, unlike some niche supplier information management solutions, the solution allows the questions and profiles to be configured for each supplier based upon service(s) provided, risk profile or industry — and takes this capability down to the individual contractor level.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering Avetta offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other procurement technology 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 Avetta.

7 Secrets to Creating Supply Risk Management Leverage

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As recent events such as Hanjin Shipping’s bankruptcy, the Zika virus and the East Coast oil disruptions have demonstrated, supply risk management is more important than ever. Yet trying to implement supply risk management as a standalone program is often a tough affair for companies where the modus operandi is unprotected “supply reward management.” All too often, organizations view risk management as a glorified insurance policy instead of as a strategy integrated with the rest of the business.

This is a mistake. Risk and reward can work together to create true win-win situations for both suppliers and the business. In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, we share seven strategies that leading supply chain organizations have found to be successful.

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

ranco lucato/Adobe Stock

What would you get if you combined elements of supplier management, supplier risk management, vendor management system, talent marketplace and contractor compliance systems together, all with a specific design around skilled, often trades-based third-party and contractor management, especially in field intensive industries? We can make the case at Spend Matters that this mash up of capabilities would look something like Avetta, formerly known as PICS Auditing. Avetta solves a key problem that many companies in industries that rely heavily on contractors have: proper contractor vetting. Most supplier management providers vet the supplier, but it is not the supplier or contingent workforce provider alone that matters — it is the employee, or in some cases, the contractor, and if that employee or contractor is doing trade work, he or she has to be trained, certified and reliable.

While lacking some of the nuanced capabilities of many individual solution areas such as a VMS, Avetta makes up for any shortcomings with a purpose-built solution that is a particular fit in industries such as chemicals, construction, facilities management, oil and gas, telecommunications and related sectors. In many ways, Avetta extends the contractor credentialing paradigm of what Vendormate — which GHX acquired after as it scaled a highly successful supplier-paid business model in the healthcare matter — could have become had it remained independent, targeted multiple industries and adopted a supplier model.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Avetta’s strengths and weaknesses across its procurement technology suite, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist the vendor as a potential procure-to-pay solution. 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 Avetta. 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.

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

MRO as a service

Despite its low profile in the procurement world, Avetta, formerly known as PICS Auditing, is better known in certain markets, especially industries that rely heavily on field work and contractors (e.g., energy companies, cable companies, wireless companies, and other utilities). Avetta’s traction in these market segments may not capture the attention of more generic procurement technology providers, but the SaaS applications vendor has seen year-over-year growth in the 30% range over the last 15 years. Avetta combines elements of supplier onboarding, supplier management, contractor management, supply risk management and third-party data aggregation in a unique solution purpose-built to support industry use cases. Avetta now has more than 300 clients (most of them larger Global 2000 firms) that collectively use more than 50,000 suppliers in 100 countries in a network graph with more than 250,000 active connections at any one time.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Avetta and its unique approach to supply chain risk management and supplier management, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist the vendor. 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 Avetta. 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.

An Apology to the Factoring Community: When Attempted Humor and Rhetoric Go Too Far

apology

A couple of weeks back, I authored a post on Spend Matters, “Die Factoring, Die,” which was also picked up my colleague, David Gustin, on Trade Financing Matters. The essay attempted to address a serious topic in a humorous, somewhat satirical way, starting with a title that was intentionally overboard. In my attempt to have a bit of fun with the topic of factoring, I failed. I offended a number of people in the factoring community with my language and metaphors.

Claritum: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3): Competitive & Summary Analysis

VMS

There is a curious category-specific boxing match brewing for the future of what we might term “non-vanilla e-procurement.” In one corner of the ring, we have traditional procure-to-pay (P2P) incumbents, such as Ariba and Coupa, which are increasingly configuring unique versions of their capabilities for specific user or industry requirements, some more successfully than others. In the other corner, we have specialist providers that designed their e-procurement applications from the ground up to meet very specific needs (e.g., print and marketing procurement) rather than serving as broad-based P2P platforms. Claritum is one such provider.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering Claritum offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other procurement technology 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 Claritum.