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.


Will Social Become a Paradigm or Destination for Procurement Technology?

SpendLead

As adults, many of us tend to obsess (without admitting to it) over specific social applications in our personal and business networking life. And we get worked up over those that our kids use for nefarious purposes (or to make fun of us as parents). Yet when it comes to procurement specifically, I’m not yet sure whether “social” will take the form of separate applications or simply become part of the fabric of the procurement suites and standalone tools we’re used to using already.

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

manufacturing

In North America, the vast majority of procurement technology expenditure, by Spend Matters estimates, has been focused primarily on automating indirect and services procurement activities spanning from strategy to payment. It’s worth noting that the opposite is true in countries such as Germany, where manufacturing is the focus of the economy. This has made it challenging for direct materials-focused technology providers like Directworks (and competitors such as Pool4Tool and SynerTrade, both of which have a strong base among European manufacturers) to be seen as a “must have” toolset compared with areas like indirect procure-to-pay (P2P) solutions and even more targeted modular areas like contract lifecycle management (CLM).

Directworks, along with its peers, is hoping to change this. Founded as Co-eXprise in 2004 with a goal of building a new type of direct sourcing solution not yet available in the North American marketplace, Directworks has since evolved since. What started as a solution to integrate the new sourcing tools of the day (e.g., RFX, auctions, project management, dashboards) with bill of materials, supplier management and collaborative workflow management has been evolving into a direct materials sourcing workbench.

Since then, Directworks has replatformed with an emphasis on being purpose-built for direct materials sourcing and cost management. There are gaps: auctions and sourcing optimization are absent, user-based workflow configuration is limited and product information management (PIM) is minimal. But the sum of how the parts interoperate is of more pragmatic value than before and should capture the attention of manufacturers.

This Spend Matters PRO vendor snapshot provides a history and overview of the Directworks platform, including how it can support direct materials procurement efforts today. 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.

Ariba’s Alex Atzberger on Why We’re Entering a ‘Golden Age of Procurement’

future

In the first part of this Spend Matters Conversation, Founder and Head of Strategy Jason Busch talks with SAP Ariba President Alex Atzberger about how to understand the digital supply chain. This second installment explores how this relates to procurement and what strategies organizations can implement.

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

data analytics

It’s possible to look at what Tamr is trying to do for procurement through multiple lenses. From one angle, Tamr is bringing a revamped approach to data management and data classification for basic procurement analytics. But from other angles, Tamr is pursuing a different end game entirely: attempting to expand procurement’s data-driven horizons from traditional spend analysis to broader supply analytics (which includes spend data). Supply analytics is about much more than looking at “how much we spent.” It’s about bringing in new datasets to procurement analytics and expanding the value procurement can deliver through: exploring drivers of activity, linking specific category-based datasets to measurement and strategy development, influencing future buying behavior, quantifying the strategic value of spend and supplier relationships and much more.

This is a significant shift. We like to joke around the Spend Matters office that traditional spend analysis approaches should really be called forensic “spent analysis.” This statement can be, of course, read in two ways. Literally, spent analysis is rear-facing — and of diminishing value over time. But one can also read the phrase as an indictment of the actual benefit of most spend analysis today, especially when compared to its true potential. After all, if our analytics approaches are “spent,” then maybe procurement’s value-add is similarly at risk.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering Tamr offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other spend analytics providers, as well as enterprise business intelligence vendors that are actually a better basis of comparison (if we want to move beyond “spent” analysis). 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 Tamr.

BravoSolution & Puridiom Acquisition First Take: SWOT Analysis, Customer, Partner & Competitive Considerations

Tradeshift Baiwang

BravoSolution, a procurement technology suite provider historically focused on delivering analytics, sourcing, supplier management and contract management solutions to private and public sector customers in Europe and North America, recently announced its acquisition of Puridiom, a procure-to-pay (P2P) technology provider. In the coming quarters, the transaction will broaden BravoSolution’s organic footprint and provide the organization with greater control over the future of developing an integrated source-to-pay (S2P) suite instead of having to rely on partner solutions to fill missing gaps. This Spend Matters PRO research brief provides a BravoSolution customer, partner and competitive landscape analysis and considerations based on the transaction, as well as a SWOT analysis (with the Puridiom asset).

BravoSolution Acquires P2P Provider Puridiom

kritchanut/Adobe Stock

BravoSolution announced early Monday that it had completed its acquisition of Puridiom, a procure-to-pay (P2P) technology provider specializing in middle market e-procurement. This Spend Matters briefing overview provides a summary of the transaction and features a Q&A on the transaction with BravoSolution’s CEO Jim Wetekamp. Terms of the transaction were not announced and both organizations are privately held companies.

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

Rawpixel.com/Adobe Stock

It’s an unfortunate fact that the procurement industry rarely gets to take advantage of leading edge technologies before other functions. Sales, marketing, IT, HR and supply chain/operations are often the first within companies to play in the technology innovation sandbox. Consider customer data integration (CDI) technology, other big data applications (e.g., complex entity management/collaboration, optimization/solvers and workforce planning and measurement as just a start. Yet Tamr is helping to buck this trend, bringing one of the most powerful machine learning-based analytics platforms for managing structured and unstructured content to procurement (and other value chain areas) to show the power of the technology applied to spend, suppliers, categories and any other datasets where data complexity can drag down any procurement analytics efforts. Providing a technology vote of confidence, Google, Thomson Reuters and HP are all investors in Tamr.

This Spend Matters PRO vendor snapshot explores Tamr’s strengths and weaknesses in the spend analysis and supply analytics areas, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist Tamr 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 Tamr. 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.

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

analytics

Tamr, founded in 2013, is an analytics platform and applications provider that, in its own words, “combines machine learning software with data science expertise so analysts can breakthrough the data quality and preparation bottlenecks that prevent fast, accurate analysis.” But since nearly all procurement organizations buy procurement applications, not true platforms, Tamr offers a suite of procurement analytics that is understandably anchored in spend analytics. Spend analysis is not just part of sourcing but also part of a broader supply analytics.

The founding team of Tamr leveraged their background (e.g., Dr. Michael Stonebreaker is actually a Turing Award winner) to create an artificial intelligence-based probabilistic machine learning engine that can match the cleansing and classification capabilities of the other best-of-breed spend analysis providers in the market. Yet, Tamr is really something more, at least as we see it. It is one of the first “supply management” analytics providers that bridges procurement and supply chain at the core (and of course finance and other functions) rather than the general-purpose mega analytics platforms out there (e.g., Tableau, Qlik, SAS, IBM, Informatica, etc.).

Tamr’s early stage traction working with a select group of Fortune 500 customers shows that its current functional capabilities within procurement are at least close enough to other established providers that have been delivering spend analysis solutions for over a decade. Yet these organizations are also looking for next level supply-centric opportunities beyond simple spend visibility alone. This Spend Matters PRO vendor snapshot provides a history and overview of the Tamr’s AI and spend analysis platform, including how it can support both core spend analysis requirements as well as advanced use cases beyond the realm of how typical procurement organizations are deploying analytics solutions today. 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.

ISG Spend HQ: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary & Competitive Analysis

Analytics

What happens when you cross the expertise and tenacity of one of the largest independent sourcing and procurement consultancies in North America with a long-enough time horizon to construct a purpose-built analytics application for both their own purposes and to serve their customers with a highly competitive streak that says, “We can do this differently and better that software companies.” You get SpendHQ, that’s what. Spend HQ is a spend analysis solution designed by sourcing and spend experts that blends a SaaS-based deployment model with managed services. SpendHQ manages the entire process of implementation, data integration, spend normalization, classification and enrichment, as well as regular refreshes and the creation and maintenance of savings opportunity reports.

SpendHQ designed its spend analytics as a complete package for procurement organizations that want third-party oversight, guidance and deep insight into “what to do with the data.” The provider’s parent company, Insight Sourcing Group, has been doing spend analysis projects for almost 15 years. While perhaps the largest differentiator of SpendHQ comes from how it unearths different types of savings opportunities and spoon feeds this information to users, the solution is particularly suited for those organizations with a “portfolio” of spend that want to be able to roll-up and roll-down different views of data (e.g., private equity firms, holding company structures, distributed P&Ls).

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering SpendHQ offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other similar or related vendors that companies may wish to shortlist. 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 SpendHQ.

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

AnyData Solutions

It is the rare scenario that those using a purpose-built technology are the best ones to build it. But in the case of Insight Sourcing Group’s (ISG) SpendHQ solution for spend analytics, the influence of those who initially built it from the ground up to suit their own purposes is undeniable. Spend HQ needed a means of helping clients unearth, implement, track and manage different types of procurement savings opportunities in the most efficient manner possible. And they were not happy with fitting off-the-shelf spend visibility solutions to their own processes. Unsurprisingly, the final product, built by analytically-oriented sourcing professionals for analytically-oriented sourcing professionals, would end up beating to its own sourcing and cost reduction drum — and is quite unlike any other spend analysis solution in the market today.

In addition to offering a managed service for data cleansing, classification and enrichment, SpendHQ provides a core spend visibility engine, which provides an overall snapshot and drillable view into past expenditure and savings opportunities. The application also provides a module that offers enriched vendor detail information (with Hoover’s-level type information on suppliers) and a contract module, which stores all contracts, metadata, and allows for the creation of alerts and notifications around the metadata. Finally, Spend HQ also provides a compliance module, where the user can see for the selected categories, the addressable spend, the managed spend, the compliance rate and the impact rate (percentage of compliant spend against addressable spend) as categories with low impact rates have high opportunity category (savings) management, which, on a category basis, summarizes spend, managed, core list compliance and pricing accuracy.

This Spend Matters PRO vendor snapshot explores SpendHQ’s strengths and weaknesses in the spend analysis 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 SpendHQ. 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.

Tips for Preparing the Business (and IT) to Adopt E-Procurement: Usability, Tactics and ERP Considerations

e-procurement

Getting frontline users ready to adopt e-procurement systems consistently is a last-mile challenge that too few procurement organizations confront directly as a central piece of a procure-to-pay (P2P) rollout strategy. We should never assume that change management is something that “just happens” with business users (and suppliers), even if a new process or technology is inherently better, easier-to-use or faster than an older one. But how do you get front lines to really use tools consistently?