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.


Holding Managed Services Providers (MSPs) Accountable to a BPO-Based Standard (Part 3)

Consider that during the initial years of a services procurement outsourcing initiative involving legal spend, that pursuing e-billing programs that enable rate management and better invoice tracking along with formal rate management programs and related benchmarking, rate/value alignment and volume discounting is most likely to deliver optimal near-term results. Yet in most cases, in the out-years of a multiple-year legal spend management program, it makes sense to move to such areas as law firm selection, alternative fee arrangements, resource optimization and document discovery as the next areas to tackle.

bidmode: Vendor Introduction (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview

Those who think the sourcing optimization market is wrapped up by incumbent technology would be wrong. For at least the last few months, procurement organizations interested in sourcing optimization have had their choice of five different providers: SAP Ariba, Coupa, Jaggaer, Keelvar and SynerTrade. To this list, we can now add a sixth option: bidmode.

Among the first five on the list, currently available choices and capability vary significantly. SAP Ariba, the newest entrant, has big ambitions but limited capability. SynerTrade, which has not invested much in optimization since a few customers demanded the capability a decade ago, is in the same boat. The remaining three all offer differing degrees of more advanced capability.

But now to the sixth option. Without even a single mention in the media yet, bidmode, which launched this year, already has a few customers and a pipeline of about a dozen prospects for its new, low-risk entry model called "bidmode Inside," in which it serves as an extension to third-party sourcing capabilities.

This two-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction provides a candid take on bidmode and its solutions. Part 1 provides an overview of bidmode and its capabilities, as well as a checklist for those that might consider working with the company. Part 2 offers a perspective on what is comparatively good (and not so good) about bidmode’s solution, including a SWOT analysis.

Vroozi: Vendor Snapshot Update (Part 2) — Strengths, Weaknesses, Customer Perspective, Competition and Summary

Vroozi typifies the speed of innovation happening within the broader source-to-pay market in recent quarters. While much of our original Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot from early 2017 on Vroozi remains descriptive of the provider (see Part 1Part 2 and Part 3), Vroozi has picked up its pace of innovation.

This two-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot Update provides a refresh of our previous analysis of Vroozi. Part 2 provides updated strengths and weaknesses, customer reference insight, competitive landscape observations and summary recommendations on when to prioritize Vroozi as a shortlist candidate. The first installment of our 2018 update provides key facts on Vroozi, a solution overview, a recap of its overall footprint, and an update on new features and capabilities.

Vroozi: Vendor Snapshot Update (Part 1) — Updated Facts, Footprint and Enhancements

The e-procurement and invoice-to-pay technology markets, which we collectively describe as procure-to-pay (P2P), provide incredible choice to software customers today. Not only are these sectors not yet consolidated, there also are a range of smaller technology providers that are seldom invited to the shortlist and selection dance as often as they should be. Within e-procurement especially, Vroozi is one provider that fits this description perfectly.

Spend Matters originally published a Vendor Snapshot on Vroozi in early 2017 (see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). A little over a year since then, Vroozi has made a considerable effort to update its solution, making improvements across its suite, including significant enhancements to its invoice-to-pay capabilities and additional investments in its core e-procurement offering. Most recently, in Q1 2018, Vroozi was among the top performers in the Nimble persona for the Spend Matters E-Procurement and Procure-to-Pay SolutionMaps — highlighting the comparative progress the provider has made in this period.

This two-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot Update provides a refresh to our previous analysis of Vroozi. Part 1 provides updated key facts on Vroozi and a solution overview, including both a recap of the previous coverage and an update on new capabilities. Part 2 provides updated strengths and weaknesses, customer reference insight, competitive landscape observations and summary recommendations on when to consider Vroozi as a shortlist candidate.

Examining SMB Procurement Tech Needs: Do E-Procurement and SAP Ariba Snap Hit the Mark?

purchasing

SAP Ariba is making a bet on the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market with its new Snap offering. But to fully understand this bet, some context is in order.

Smaller middle-market companies are generally late to the procurement technology game, especially compared with Global 2000 and Fortune 500 organizations. The most fully adopted procurement technology component within the SMB market, accounts payable automation (inclusive of basic invoice-to-pay capability), is more likely owned by the finance function than by procurement. And while travel and expense software is also valued by smaller organizations, its impact on procurement goals and metrics is generally limited relative to other initiatives organizations can pursue.

So where does e-procurement fit into the SMB equation, and if SAP Ariba Snap does hit the mark, where might that middle-market sweet spot be? This Spend Matters PRO brief explores how e-procurement solutions, including SAP Ariba Snap, fit into the SMB procurement agenda. It also provides a checklist for middle-market firms to think through when it might make sense to prioritize procure-to-pay (e-procurement and invoice-to-pay) investments relative to other areas such as strategic sourcing, analytics and supplier management. (For a full introduction to SAP Ariba Snap, read our Spend Matters PRO brief on the solution.)

Holding Managed Services Providers (MSPs) Accountable to a BPO-Based Standard (Part 2)

In the first post in this series, we explored the changing managed services provider (MSP) ecosystem and suggested what we believe will be a new battle between business process outsourcing (BPO) firms and traditional, often contingent-focused MSPs for the management and program oversight of broader services procurement initiatives for organizations looking for an outsourced services procurement option.

In our view, the more effective BPOs we track are making substantial investments in senior client-facing resources that become effective members of the company procurement team. These individuals often focus on opportunities to drive results that extend far beyond basic sourcing or compliance opportunities. In contrast, MSPs often bring limited subject matter expertise outside of contingent labor or basic SOW-type procurement initiatives.

SAP Ariba Snap: Bucking Convention with a Real Middle-Market E-Procurement Package

SAP Ariba is serious about the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market for e-procurement and integrated procure-to-pay (P2P). With its new Snap offering, which takes a packaged approach to out-of-the-box capability and deployment, SAP Ariba is bucking convention. It’s doing so in two ways: first, by bringing to market a solution for which market demand is not yet established like it is in the Global 2000 and the upper mid-market; and second, by scripting, bounding and containing all aspects of deployment and configuration in a 12-week rapid implementation model (which many who know SAP Ariba might find hard to believe). 

The lower end of the middle market, a prime target for Snap, is unproven ground for e-procurement. While Coupa’s original business plan, Spend Matters believes, targeted largely SMB customers, a key pivot for the provider, in our opinion, was its realization that larger middle-market and Global 2000 companies generally represented a better fit for integrated procure-to-pay (although Coupa does still actively target and serve smaller customers, as well). In contrast, dozens of providers have successfully driven AP automation into the SMB market, with rumored IPO candidate AvidXchange arguably the most successful in North America from a growth and customer traction perspective, especially at the smaller end of the market.

This Spend Matters PRO brief provides an introduction to SAP Ariba Snap: what it is, what it consists of, its design and implementation philosophy, pricing, key takeaways, and our recommendations for customers and prospects. A follow-up Spend Matters PRO brief will focus on the strengths and weaknesses of the approach SAP Ariba is taking with Snap in targeting a market segment for e-procurement and procure-to-pay in which greater value within procurement typically comes from prioritizing different business process areas and supporting technologies.

Insight Sourcing Group (ISG): Provider Introduction, Summary and SWOT

consultant

Insight Sourcing Group (ISG) is likely the largest North American boutique management consulting firm providing strategic and operational solutions for procurement. But unlike similar firms, ISG offers more than just consulting services. Beyond its core business, ISG has three additional business units that form the nucleus of its offering: SpendHQ, a spend analytics platform; InsightGPO, a group purchasing organization (GPO); and ISG Energy, an energy supply and demand cost optimization practice.

This Spend Matters PRO Provider Introduction offers an overview of ISG, including quick facts on the provider. The brief includes an introduction to each of ISG’s four business lines, an overall SWOT analysis comparing it to other procurement consultancies and a selection checklist for companies that may consider the provider.

Holding Managed Services Providers (MSPs) Accountable to a BPO-Based Standard (Part 1)

Observing the broader procurement BPO market in recent years, we’ve seen a number of trends emerge among the leaders in the industry. When it comes to the world of managed services providers (MSPs), however, few firms, if any, mirror these trends, at least not consistently. Part of the reason for this is that many MSPs have long-standing relationships with their clients, often owning to the history of their staffing firm-based parent company. (Many MSPs work in either a stated vendor-neutral or non-vendor neutral manner, even if they are part of a staffing firm’s based P&L, indirectly or directly.)

From a foundational perspective, MSPs provide a number of core services that we explore in the report "The Managed Services Connection— The Evolving Roles of MSPs in Services Procurement." In this analysis, we suggest that on the most fundamental level, all MSPs should provide transactional management in the area of contracted services (or outcomes), including the area of cost reduction.

Tech Enabling Procurement Shared Services: SAP Ariba Begins the Journey

Procurement shared services organizations and centers of excellence (CoEs) are sometimes tasked with the operational management of source-to-pay technologies on behalf of the organizations they serve. But up until now, they have not utilized purpose-built solutions to improve their own operations. While many use core analytics, sourcing, contract management, supplier management, e-procurement and invoice-to-pay solutions in some capacity in the delivery of their services, the actual operational management of shared services organizations and CoEs themselves has been loosely integrated with underlying procurement technology at best.

In other words, there has not been an operational solutions layer specifically designed for procurement shared services and CoE groups that provides a single workbench to manage activities. This is true even though legacy SharePoint, business process management and workflow solutions often loosely hold some knitting together for these teams. SAP Ariba is hoping to change this with introduction of its Procurement Desk product, which Spend Matters PRO recently profiled, covering the solution’s current capabilities in its initial release and planned roadmap for the coming quarters.

This Spend Matters PRO brief explores how different procurement technologies enable the various roles that shared services organizations and CoEs assume — and the opportunity for an operational overlay on top of underlying procurement technology modules. As part of this analysis, we also consider how Procurement Desk may help meet the broader needs of shared services and CoEs, as well as opportunities for SAP Ariba and others to close the gaps that remain in developing purpose-built operational management solutions for these organizations.

SAP Ariba Procurement Desk: Shared Services and Center of Excellence (CoE) Enablement

category management

Procurement shared services groups can take different shapes and can add different sources of value. Shared services tend to focus on procure-to-pay (P2P) and accounts payable support, including supplier enablement, supplier master data maintenance, transactional purchasing, transaction processing, invoice automation and exception management. CoEs focus on both a classic shared services model (i.e., supporting processes on behalf of the business units) or a more transformational CoE model (i.e., giving business units tools, training and focused resources like third-party services). 

The former tends to focus on tactical buying like spot buying and tail spend management, and the latter tends to focus on strategic procurement areas such as analytics, sourcing, category and supply market intelligence, and contract management support. Increasingly, a number of CoEs are focused on both areas, whether run and administered internally or in an outsourced manner — sometimes only in part — by a business process outsourcing (BPO) partner such as Accenture or GEP.

Yet even with the help of these outsourced partners, procurement shared services teams and CoEs have not had up to this point a purpose-built technology solution to manage their own operations. SAP Ariba is hoping to change this with its new Procurement Desk product. Available in March to limited release customers and in the summer months to all SAP Ariba customers, Procurement Desk has big plans to improve the capability of shared services teams and CoEs to deliver value and drive continuous improvement.

Based on demonstration sessions, presentations and analyst discussions at SAP Ariba Live in March 2018, this Spend Matters PRO research brief introduces the initial release of Procurement Desk, explores some of SAP Ariba’s ambitions for future releases based on the product roadmap and offers our initial analysis of the new offering, along with recommendations for SAP Ariba customers. A subsequent PRO research brief will provide a generalized CoE operating framework spanning all areas that procurement shared services groups can address with SAP Ariba’s current and planned capabilities for targeting this market.

Use Cases of E-Signatures and Digital Signatures in Procurement and the Supply Chain

digital signatures

E-signatures and digital signatures are a rapidly growing sub-segment of the procurement and broader enterprise technology market. The numbers are truly off the charts. According to industry research, for example, the segment experienced 48% growth in 2011, and an average of 53% annual growth in 2012 and 2013. But where do e-signatures and digital signatures fit into e-procurement, beyond simply replacing handwritten signatures on the contract paper? This Spend Matters Plus research brief provides examples and use cases where these solutions can play a critical role supporting end-to-end source-to-pay (S2P) and related procurement processes.