Author Archives: Jason Busch



About Jason Busch

Jason is the founder of Azul Partners, a B2B research and digital media firm. He currently serves as Managing Director, Spend Matters Nexus, a membership program, providing market intelligence, strategy and due diligence advisory for private equity firms and investors. It also provides insight for CEOs, boards and leadership teams covering strategy, corporate development and business development/partnership areas. For all members, Spend Matters Nexus offers invitation-only networking opportunities. 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., Knnected Inc. (DBA SupplyHive), Public Spend Forum, LLC, Price Dynamics LLC (DBA MetalMiner Metal Price Benchmarking), Sigaria Ltd. (DBA Procurement Leaders)., Simfoni Group Ltd., Spendata LLC and Spend Matters Europe Ltd.


Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 6) — Commentary & SWOT

As we noted in Part 1 of this seven-part Spend Matters PRO series, Ivalua is no longer the Rodney Dangerfield of procurement suites, and we no longer need to apologize to the late comic. Since we last assessed Ivalua in-depth in 2016, the provider has achieved a lot of respect from the analyst community, the investment community (with a “unicorn” valuation exceeding $1 billion in their last funding last round), and most importantly, the customer community as evidenced by Ivalua’s 98% customer retention rate — even though Ivalua’s customer satisfaction scores have slipped slightly in its last SolutionMap rankings.

However, the firm’s larger peers still often seem quick to dismiss this “newcomer” to the S2P arena, even though Ivalua was founded in 2000! As a perceived newcomer in the North American marketplace, with a smaller customer count, less revenue and less perceived history, it still is often not even known, or well known, to some practitioners that we’ve run across who’ve not research the market deeply. This is despite the fact they Ivalua has:
* almost as large of a global presence (with offices across the Americas, EMEA and APAC)
* a track record of supporting a global customer base
* a valuation that smaller S2P players might sell their workforce into indentured servitude for
* a platform that is simultaneously so broad and so deep that it's becoming difficult for many of their peers to compete on out-of-the-box functionality, especially in the direct materials/sourcing space, in larger clients with extensive requirement lists.

As we noted in late 2016, “if we add up the differentiated combination of its architecture/platform, industry enablement, functional/modular capability (across the source-to-pay continuum), analytics and ‘overlay’ process support capabilities, the sum of the Ivalua package stands out from all others in a true ‘deadpan’ way — albeit with no laughing involved.”

When you augment this with leading direct sourcing support (with the re-platforming of its DirectWorks acquisition), improved workflow management, UI improvements, one-search, improved (direct) catalog management and bot-assisted guided buying, you get a platform that's a force to be reckoned with.

In short, Ivalua deserves much more regard from its peers than it has received to date, as it's well positioned to make a big dent in the global marketplace that will be hard not to take notice of. That said, some parts of the application suite can be improved (as we discussed in Part 5), there is a lot of unexpected capability under the hood around bill of material management (in a centralized module that allows for deep what-if scenario analysis), asset and tooling management, program and project management, third-party data integration and scorecard creation, accruals, and global tax compliance management. Plus, the cost breakdown analytics, NPI (new product introduction), corrective action capability, extended supplier profile management, and the ability to pull data into and push data out of the environment on a daily (or even hourly) basis is deeper than one might expect, especially with the large number of pre-configured interfaces out-of-the-box and the ability to acquire more through the add-on store.

And while Ivalua is still not perfect (but to be honest, no provider is), as it's still missing a few capabilities that we feel are becoming core with S2P (and even its updated UI is not industry-leading), we still believe that anyone who invests the time to get to know the solution on a product level will come away very impressed if they have the same technology-and-capability-centric proclivities as the Spend Matters team (even if it's not the right "fit" for the organization at the end of the day).

So, without further adieu, in this penultimate installment of our updated Spend Matters snapshot on Ivalua, we provide you with an objective SWOT analysis of the company, and a selection shortlist to help companies decide whether Ivalua should be in their crosshairs, whether they have their sights set on a platform, suite or modular capability.

Tomorrow, in Part 7 we’ll finish up with a competitive market segmentation, a comparative analysis and some final thoughts. We also include recommended short-list candidates as alternative vendors and offer some provider selection guidance.

Proactis in Play: Arbitrage and Analysis

Two weeks ago, Morningstar reported that Proactis had “received a takeover approach from an unnamed U.S. investor, together with a number (of) expressions of interest,” and that its bankers would review the offers. For those not familiar with the UK-based Proactis, the procurement solutions provider has deep spend management roots on both sides of the Atlantic spanning the private and public sectors, owing to numerous acquisitions made over the years, including, most recently, Esize in 2018.

This Spend Matters PRO and Nexus analysis provides a cursory overview of Proactis’ assets based on past coverage and analyzes the current situation and opportunities for the firm and potential acquirers — as well as different segments of acquirers that may be interested beyond financial buyers alone.

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 5) — Product Weaknesses

global trade

If you've already read Part 1 of our updated vendor snapshot on Ivalua (which includes a detailed company and solution overview), then you know that you're either going to be attracted to the depth, breadth and configurability of the solution — or perhaps overwhelmed by it if you're new to the advanced sourcing and procurement game. But, even with its prowess in deep configurability, Ivalua's solution is not without its weaknesses. In this Part 5 of our seven-part vendor snapshot, we are going to dive deep into Ivalua's product weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help a procurement organization decide whether they should shortlist the vendor. And an organization that is putting Ivalua head-to-head with a provider like Coupa should compare and contrast what we say here versus what we say in Part 2 of our Coupa vendor snapshot because near-equal scores in Spend Matters Solution Map does not imply near equal capability in all areas, and definitely not in the areas that might matter to your organization the most. Ivalua's weaknesses are similar to our last review a couple of years ago, but a few weaknesses have been addressed since last time (and while not as deep, but still exist against either suite-peers or best-of-breed), and the re-platforming of DirectWorks in particular has gone a long way to address specialized support around direct sourcing.

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 4) — Product Strengths

Global Risk Management Solutions

Anything Ivalua still lacks in global brand and market awareness along with sales/marketing infrastructure and prowess, it makes up for by delivering a source-to-pay platform designed to emphasize functional depth, suite-based capabilities and industry-specific enablement scenarios in the private and public sector. Ivalua delivers a no-compromise set of capabilities and an underlying platform that is most likely to appeal to procurement and IT organizations that want greater flexibility in executing a procurement technology architecture and strategy than what is offered by the majority of suite-based solutions on the market today. Ivalua is generally at the front of the pack in Spend Matters’ “configurator” persona of just about every SolutionMap we look at for our 2019 Q2 results — and the lead dog if the pack includes only the suite vendors.

If you've already read Part 1 of our updated, seven-part vendor snapshot on Ivalua (which includes a detailed company and solution overview), then you know that you're either going to be attracted to the depth, breadth and configurability of the solution — or perhaps overwhelmed by it if you're new to the advanced sourcing and procurement game. With the massive flexibility that comes with massive configurability, there is also a non-trivial degree of configuration settings to pay attention to. (See Part 2 for an upstream solution overview and Part 3 for details on the downstream capabilities.)

In this Part 4 edition of the vendor snapshot, we are going to dive deep into Ivalua's product strengths, providing facts and expert analysis to help a procurement organization decide whether they should shortlist the vendor. Of course, it’s best to read the SolutionMap analysis for all the providers in question. For example, an organization that is putting Ivalua head-to-head with Coupa should compare and contrast what we say here versus what we say in Part 2 of our Coupa vendor snapshot because near-equal scores in SolutionMap do not imply near equal capability in all areas, and definitely not in the areas that might matter to your organization the most.

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Downstream Solution Overview

supplier network

Ivalua has been growing steadily since Spend Matters’ comprehensive update in 2016, with the suite provider adding clients, offices, employees and capability around the globe. After we provided an updated background in Part 1, we delved into Ivalua’s primary upstream solution components around spend analysis, strategic sourcing, direct sourcing and contract management in Part 2.

Today, this seven-part Spend Matters PRO series will continue our solution overview with a look at the downstream components — namely catalog management, e-procurement and order management, e-invoicing, expense management, payment management and IVA for guided buying. After we review these downstream components, we’ll finish up our solution review with a couple of the cross-platform capabilities around risk and performance management, supplier information management and master data management (MDM). After we finish with our solution overview, in Parts 4 and 5, we will dive into Ivalua's particular strengths and weaknesses from a solution perspective.

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Upstream Solution Overview

gig economy

In Part 1 of Spend Matters' seven-part PRO series, we provided an updated background on Ivalua, which has been growing steadily since our last Vendor Snapshot in 2016, adding clients, offices, employees, customers and capability around the globe. No longer the Rodney Dangerfield of procurement, Ivalua is finally getting some real respect, having just reached unicorn valuation status in its last funding round.

There are a number of reasons for this, some of which revolve around services and global support capability, and others that revolve around its extensive solution platform. The latter is the subject of our articles today and tomorrow, where we will overview all of the major components, starting with the upstream ones today. Then, after we review the downstream components in Part 3, we will dive into Ivalua's particular strengths and weaknesses from a solution perspective in Parts 4 and 5.

10 Reasons for Procurement to Work With Payments (Part 3)

early pay

Closing the payment gap – not just the invoicing gap – remains a Holy Grail for procurement organizations looking for greater oversight and control in transactional purchasing and even supplier relationship management. It’s also a means to bring finance and procurement organizations closer together – and to prove that finance is really procurement’s ally in the struggle to wrestle the maximum amount of utility out of P2P programs together, rather than separately. As my colleague Pierre Mitchell has noted, “any land grab is usually about job security built upon the pillar of bureaucracy.” In other words, finance and procurement must really be in the payables thing together.

The 10 reasons for procurement to work with finance departments are:

1. The value of control and oversight of the end-to-end transaction with suppliers
2. Building greater invoice/transaction insight that can bridge the visibility gap in getting line-level detail to supplier invoices without having to request information from suppliers
3. Being able to quantify efficiency driven metrics through a Trojan Horse adoption approach to e-invoicing
4. Reducing supplier risk
5. Capturing savings/leakage through closing the transaction, invoice and payment loop
6. Not getting taken advantage of by vendors that hide the total cost of P2P implementations by masking the amount suppliers are charged
7. Flexibility on supplier engagement/fee assumption in the case of supplier network models
8. New securitization/capitalization opportunities (e.g., securitizing the discount of forward payables through converting the discount classification to revenue)
9. Effectively addressing payables also forces addressing the “payment clock” question as early as possible to capitalize on opportunities.
10. Create powerful “information exhaust” around the optimal means of engaging with suppliers on a total cost basis – beyond just reducing risk. This not only includes capturing additional discount opportunities through payment integration, but also understanding how and when suppliers (and different groups of suppliers) are taking advantage of different payables opportunities.

Coupa’s 3 Special Forces Teams (Part 3: Value Engineering + Customer Success)

In the final installment in our series covering Coupa’s 3 Special Forces teams (see Part 1: Corporate Development and Part 2: Alliances + Business Development), we cheat a bit from a series title perspective. And that’s because Coupa’s final special forces team essentially represent two functions in one (although they are in fact different groups): value engineering (sometimes called “value optimization”) and customer success.

Our analysis today begins by defining what value engineering and customer success functions do (and not do) for enterprise software/Saas/cloud companies. Then we provide the details behind Coupa’s programs. And finally we explore how Coupa leverages these two areas in ways that disproportionately benefit its broader operations in business spend management (BSM).

Jason Busch serves as Managing Director of Spend Matters Nexus, a membership, research and advisory organization serving technology acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and CEOs. The views expressed in this research brief are his and do not necessarily reflect that of the Spend Matters analyst team. But he would like to thank his colleague Pierre Mitchell for his review and input on this piece, given his deep experience in this area. Research note: This brief is based on extensive primary research. Beyond already available public information, no data or insights were provided by Coupa. However, a fact-check was provided to Coupa for informational purposes to ensure accuracy.

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background

FM Global Resilience Index

A lot has changed since Spend Matters’ last full snapshot on Ivalua in December 2016, when we said (with apologies to the late comic) that Ivalua was the Rodney Dangerfield of procurement suites in terms of not getting any respect. At the time, we clearly noted that “if we add up the differentiated combination of its architecture/platform, industry enablement, functional/modular capability (across the source-to-pay continuum), analytics and ‘overlay’ process support capabilities, the sum of the Ivalua package stands out from all others in a true ‘deadpan’ way — albeit with no laughing involved. In short: Ivalua deserves much more respect than it gets from a market that is typically less familiar with it compared to larger peers.”

Since then, Ivalua has raised two massive rounds of capital, the first in April 2017 when it raised $70 million from private equity firm KKR (to build a war chest to accelerate R&D, expand its global footprint, triple down on marketing and make strategic acquisitions), and the second funding round just a couple of months ago when it raised another $60 million and achieved “unicorn” status. Now it's the envy of its peers, and we know for a fact that the other big players — Coupa, Jaggaer, Oracle, GEP and SAP Ariba — have taken notice.

But before we put the cart before the horse (or, in this case, the analyst’s conclusions before the background and solution overview), we're going to back up and start at the beginning now that you have an idea of what's to come.

Ivalua is one of the few source-to-pay (S2P) providers that has built its end-to-end solution on a single technology stack from the ground up, and one of the fewer still that doesn't try to grow through an acquire-and-integrate approach (like SAP Ariba, Jaggaer and even Coupa), or replatforming (like Determine or Oracle), but rather, develops its own native stack (as has GEP, Zycus, and mostly Coupa). Furthermore, it's also one of the few that has enough depth and breadth across each core area to enable it to serve as a single technology S2P suite for the procurement organization. That should not be a surprise given that the firm has been building this platform in-house on a single stack for the past 19 years while working with a global customer base.

This is important because there comes a point when the overall procurement organization performance beyond sourcing-identified savings and P2P-catalog compliance relies on a single extensible platform approach that goes beyond just functional enablement within procurement. Plus, if you want real automation/RPA, guided procurement and real AI someday — you’ll really want a single-workflow-driven platform that works on a single data store, because no advanced technology works without a sufficient amount of good, clean, harmonized data.

This revised, seven-part Spend Matters PRO snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions based on Ivalua's source-to-pay capability, its suitability for specific industry segments, its global service and support footprint, and how each of these stacks up to its competition. (Hint: Ivalua is second in four out of five Source-to-Pay and Strategic Procurement Technology SolutionMap rankings, and second in two out of five P2P maps — namely the Nimble and Configurator personas — in terms of analyst score in the 2019 Q2 SolutionMap release.)

Part 1 of our updated vendor snapshot provides a company background and a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations might want to consider Ivalua in the procurement technology arena. Parts 2 and 3 provide a detailed solution overview. Part 4 will dive into the strengths, and Part 5 looks into the weaknesses across the product line. Part 6 will provide commentary and a SWOT analysis, and Part 7 will provide a comparative market overview and final summary analysis.

6 Factors that Impact the Cost, Hassle and Heartache of E-Procurement and P2P Deployments

p2p deployment

In this research brief, we explore the specific elements that impact the costs and hassles of P2P implementations and ways of controlling them — or at least managing expectations upfront. What’s perhaps most valuable in our findings is that these six elements don’t just show up during the course of a given implementation — they’re often visible upfront if you know where to look. And they can even prove to be leading indicators of trouble to come before you sign a contract with a vendor. In short, if you know what potential roadblocks to look for upfront, you can minimize or avoid unnecessary costs and hassle down the e-procurement road. Here’s how.

SAP Intelligent Spend Group analysis: 10 observations of the new Ariba-Fieldglass-Concur business unit

Last week, SAP released its financial results for the second quarter 2019. In the announcement, presentation and earnings call, SAP broke out revenue for its new Intelligent Spend Group (in previous quarters, it broke out revenue for the similar “Business Network” segment). This business unit consists of SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass and SAP Concur. According to SAP, quarterly performance for the group represented approximately $880 million (USD) in revenue based on actual reporting in euros of €786 million. At constant currency levels, revenue was up 17% year-over-year, or 22% factoring in currency changes.

This Spend Matters PRO brief begins by highlighting some of the additional detail provided on the earnings call and then provides 10 observations on the current state of the business unit based on customer, channel and other checks conducted by the Spend Matters analyst team. Spend Matters PRO subscribers also have access to previous coverage of SAP Intelligent Spend Group. Recent briefs include:

* SAP Intelligent Spend Group is future for Ariba, Fieldglass, Concur (Part 1): Customer Analysis, Solution Integration, Roadmap [PRO]
* SAP Intelligent Spend Group is future for Ariba, Fieldglass, Concur (Part 2): Hard Questions on Integration [PRO]
* SAP Intelligent Spend Group is future for Ariba, Fieldglass, Concur (Part 3): How can the SAP spend platform ‘Run Simple’? [PRO]
* With Barry Padgett leaving SAP, what’s next for new Intelligent Spend Group? [PRO]

Icertis becomes first true CLM unicorn, with $115M funding round — and it sits atop a market that’s red hot and ripe for M&A

Global Risk Management Solutions (GRMS)

Icertis announced today that its latest funding round raised $115 million and that the provider of contract lifecycle management (CLM) is now valued at more than a billion dollars, reaching proverbial “unicorn” status.

The funding round was led by two groups, Greycroft and PremjiInvest, with participation from B Capital Group, Cross Creek Advisors, Eight Roads, Ignition Partners, Meritech Capital Partners and PSP Growth, according to a press release. The latest round brings total funding to date to $211 million, the release said.

Mark Terbeek, a partner at Greycroft, said in the release: “We’ve seen (Icertis) become the undisputed CLM leader, acquiring a huge stable of blue-chip customers and generating a return on capital that is among the best we’ve ever seen. We have no doubt they will become the next giant in the enterprise SaaS market.”

The release also noted that “the AI-infused Icertis Contract Management (ICM) platform is used by companies like 3M, Airbus, Cognizant, Daimler, Microsoft and Sanofi to manage 5.7 million contracts in 40+ languages across 90+ countries.”

Icertis is private and doesn’t disclose revenues, but it has been growing extremely quickly (claiming 125% CAGR over the last four years), and with over 800 employees, a forward-looking revenue run rate approaching $200 million seems reasonable, and only requires a 5X multiple to get to a $1 billion valuation (we believe the revenue multiple to be higher than this).

Also, Icertis is a clear market leader in the CLM space based on our latest Q2 2019 SolutionMap deep-dive competitive assessment (available here for free). And, Icertis competitor Exari was recently acquired at roughly a 10X multiple, so there should be little doubt about Icertis’ favorable prospects.

Icertis announced that its new $115 million in funding will be used for continued product development in adjacent product areas (and geographies), verticalization, possible acquisitions, blockchain development and, of course, AI — which is red hot in CLM.

Spend Matters has covered Icertis for years, and while the firm’s stated mission to “become the contract management platform of the world” may seem a bit audacious, the firm has executed historically well due in part to its strong management team and focused strategy as a true CLM pure play that doesn’t focus on any one particular business process area (e.g, within the sell-side for customer contracts).

The firm is also buoyed by the fact that the CLM market is throwing off its shackles as a place for glorified document management systems set up by legal departments to transfer commercial risk to counterparties. Rather, contracts are becoming the ultimate system-of-record for B2B commerce, not just from a legal department standpoint, but a financial one (e.g., where contracts become the new ledgers that augment the G/L), a regulatory/risk standpoint, and an operational one relevant to any place where internal/external stakeholders make commitments to each other.

We call this concept “commercial value management” (CVM), and we discussed its framework in a recent Spend Matters PRO research paper titled “Commercial Value Management: Making Contracts the Commercial Core of Enterprise Value (Part 1).” In it, we stated:

“There is a subtle shift happening within the scope of contract and commercial management (CCM), and a not-so-subtle shift that is also happening within the digital realm (e.g., namely artificial intelligence, low-code platforms, open source, “XaaS”). What’s happening is that as contracts get digitized and more deeply modeled, they are becoming the single most important piece of master data within the enterprise that touches virtually every single stakeholder within these core processes and also within corporate functions such as R&D, risk management, strategic planning, treasury, audit, sustainability, digital/innovation and others.”

In the rest of this Spend Matters PRO / Nexus brief, we’ll examine the following topics:

* Icertis’ prospects relative to multiple CLM market segments and competitors
* How CLM’s evolution to “CVM” impacts Icertis. (Think of CVM as “extended CLM” on steroids.)
* M&A, exit and other considerations for Icertis — including potential acquirers as an alternative to an IPO.

And in a subsequent deeper dive in the August/September inaugural Spend Matters Nexus members’ newsletter for private equity firms/investors, corporate development teams and solution provider CEOs, we’ll feature Icertis and analyze:

* Icertis’ strategy: lessons learned and key takeaways
* Valuation drivers (for Icertis and similar firms) and possible Icertis M&A acquisition prospects/targets
* The prospects for procurement suite providers with legacy CLM capabilities and Apttus, Conga and others in a CVM world

OK, let’s get to it …