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.


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

Vroozi stands out in the crowded source-to-pay technology landscape by providing a specialized e-procurement capability that can leverage the underlying components of existing ERP, financial and purchasing systems. It also takes a mobile-first orientation to enabling both business and procurement users. Powering this approach is a robust catalog management engine that creates a single, searchable repository of internally hosted catalog, externally hosted catalog, punch-out and supplier web storefronts. This provides a user-friendly layer on top of the entire procurement experience for buyers, even if ERP and other purchasing components are used on the back-end.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Vroozi’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider Vroozi on a standalone e-procurement basis or as a component of a broader transactional procurement and buying environment. The first installment of our analysis provided a company and solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Vroozi. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

on-demand workforce

The source-to-pay market is one of the most diverse and fragmented of all enterprise technology areas. Only a select group of vendors have solutions that cover the broad set of functional areas than span procurement technology with any degree of depth in all key areas. These individual segments include spend/supply analytics, strategic sourcing, supplier management, contract management, e-procurement, invoice-to-pay, trade financing and supplier networks/connectivity. But in practice, most procurement and finance organizations end up initially selecting only a subset of these capabilities from a single provider even if they value the concept of an integrated suite when deciding on what vendor(s) to work with.

At its core, Vroozi, a specialized vendor in the procurement technology sector, supports what is arguably the most complex and challenging segment of this market: e-procurement. Its solution brings a range of capabilities to enable transactional purchasing and procurement spend controls, including catalog management, purchase requisitioning, purchase order processing, supplier portal, marketplace capability and procure-to-pay analytics. It can also augment and serve as a front-end to ERP and back-office purchasing system, creating a modern wrapper for both procurement and business users alike.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Vroozi’s P2P capabilities. 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 Vroozi in the procurement technology area. The remaining parts of this research brief cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

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

In the beginning of this Rapid Ratings Vendor Snapshot, the initial framework we incorporated showed how a supplier’s financial health was the keystone of broader risks in the supply chain. In other words, assurance of a supplier’s ability to deliver with consistency and quality requires assurance of a healthy supplier. To ascertain the financial health of the supplier, you can monitor its public financial data from Bloomberg or other external sources. This can be valuable if you know how to operationalize the information and can do it in a scalable and replicable way for many suppliers, over time.

But this doesn’t account for financial data from privately held companies that, for most corporations, account for 70%–80% of their strategic/critical suppliers. Such data on this group of suppliers is generally sparse, sometimes difficult to interpret, often unreliable for prediction and challenging to benchmark against peer firms. This is why Rapid Ratings’ approach to assessing supplier financial health (especially for this group) is attractive and unique. RapidRating’s FHR® (Financial Health Rating) is a focused and cost-effective supply risk monitoring solution that creates a forward-looking assessment of financial viability for the dozens or hundreds of key suppliers an organization may have — privately held or otherwise.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Rapid Ratings’ strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. The first installment of our analysis provided a company and solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering it. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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

purchasing

The full list of Simeno’s list of “substitute” competitors is long. The list of direct competitors is much shorter. Yet perhaps the more important question procurement organizations should ask when considering procure-to-pay (P2P) products is whether they view the solutions as a technology-driven extension of ERP or something else entirely.

Organizations that prioritize solutions like Simeno are more traditional customers of e-procurement and will typically view transactional purchasing activities as a means to both automate and influence everyday buying activities. In contrast, a newer breed of P2P “buyer” is as — and often even more — concerned with the other benefits solution can bring, including long-tail supplier enablement and adjacent functional capability.

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

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

Ask any procurement organization what area of risk is most pertinent to them and supplier financial risk will usually rise to the top. In particular, suppliers that are classified as strategic or critical based on business impact (not just annual spend) need to be monitored more closely and regularly to maintain operational resilience, ensure business continuity and minimize business risk — and this monitoring obviously must include evaluating financial viability. This is a core aspect of broader supply risk..

Predictive analytics are key to getting early insight (especially relative to your competitors) on suppliers whose financial health is starting to waver. Getting such intelligence via predictive analytics requires basically two things: strong analytic models and good data.

For publicly traded suppliers, you can get financial statements, but you still have to extrapolate from the historical financials to gain actionable insight or develop some sort of predictive statistic. Some companies have used the Altman Z empirical scoring model, but not only is Altman Z an outdated algorithm that has been shown to be inferior to more updated ones (to be discussed later), but you also have to spend the time compiling and interpreting the data, which tends to fall outside the usual purview of the procurement professional.

The bigger problem, though, is the lack of financial data readily available for private firms — especially in the U.S. For most corporations, up to 80% of their strategic/critical suppliers are private and don’t typically share their financial statements with customers for various reasons. One of those reasons may be that they’re highly profitable and don’t want procurement to see this information, although this is certainly not always the case. In other circumstances, a supplier might feel that being private exempts them from disclosure. Or in the worst of cases (from a supply risk perspective), a vendor might not be doing well financially and is worried about losing additional business. Yet, a customer still wants to be sure that a supplier is not in financial distress — or moving in that direction. So, what the buyer would really like is a scalable managed service with a service provider that can help predict supplier financial health, including bankruptcies.

But this won’t happen unless such a provider can address the supplier concerns of protecting the confidentiality of their raw financials.

This is where Rapid Ratings comes in. Rapid Ratings is a provider of empirically driven financial health scoring of businesses — including private suppliers. The firm’s Financial Health System uses financial data as inputs and then utilizes them within 25 industry-specific, integrated analytic models that calculate a normalized financial rating (0-100 scale) designed to help predict future corporate defaults and identify companies’ inherent strengths. Think of it as a “FICO score for corporations.”

Rapid Ratings claims to have predicted 94% of bankruptcies at least six months in advance, and that the FHR provides predictive capabilities out to 12–18 months. The firm also specializes in working with private suppliers to obtain the necessary financial data to produce their FHR. In fact, nearly two-thirds of the more than 40,000 rating events performed by Rapid Ratings are of private companies. Most impressively, the firm claims a greater than 85% success in getting private suppliers to submit their data.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Rapid Ratings' solution offering. 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 Rapid Ratings in the procurement technology area. The rest of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

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

Even though many procure-to-pay (P2P) deals are increasingly becoming showdowns between Coupa and SAP Ariba, the long tail of procure-to-pay (P2P) providers remains significant. In fact, many of these companies continue to thrive. Spend Matters tracks hundreds of different providers in the P2P market, and within e-procurement alone there are dozens. One of these is Simeno, a provider and “solution integrator” that is expanding in North America. Although not well known outside of Europe, Simeno has a strong track record of enabling complex e-procurement scenarios for global companies as a “surround” approach to ERP providers. It brings particular capability in catalog management, which drives its shopping, search and broader capabilities. Curiously, it also leads its own implementations, bringing its own consulting/systems integration capability.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Simeno’s product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should shortlist the vendor. It also offers a critique (pros/cons) of the user interface. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Simeno in the P2P technology area. The final installment in this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Coupa: Solution Review & Analysis

There are many perspectives on Coupa. These range from those who believe that the vendor has single-handedly transformed the world of spend management by atoning for the over-customization, product and user interface sins of those that came before, to those who think that Coupa has expanded too quickly and is doomed to repeat the past mistakes of others.

Our vendor snapshot series on Coupa is not about perspectives. It aims to be the first to review Coupa’s technology and modules in the context of what they actually do today and how they are differentiated — or not — from others. Please note: Our Vendor Snapshot series was written before Coupa's acquisition of Spend360.

We have comparatively analyzed Coupa and its competitors for a range of constituents including procurement and finance organizations, for suppliers participating in supplier network ecosystems, and for consultants and systems integrators. This Spend Matters Plus analysis provides an introduction to Coupa for procurement organizations looking to understand whether they should consider adding the provider to their shortlists for consideration and competitive alternatives.

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

To create “life” you need a number of ingredients. Scientists will say that these inputs include an atmosphere, water and a source of energy, such as sunlight. In a similar way, the number of focused European procure-to-pay (P2P) enabling providers — including Simeno, Wallmedien, jCatalog (now OpusCapita), IBX/Capgemini — that have quietly emerged with little or no marketing is a result of a confluence of different inputs, giving “life” to a sector that otherwise would not have been created or grown. These inputs include the following: the ubiquity of SAP as a core ERP/MRP provider in manufacturing-centric European markets; gaps within SAP MM, ECC and SRM (prior to Ariba) from a procurement and an invoice-to-pay (inclusive of e-invoicing) perspective; and a market that prides itself on being educated on the vendors to shortlist for consideration and that takes an RFI-driven approach in which procurement/IT already know the available supply market, alleviating the need for vendors to “market” their brand and solutions as they would in other works.

Simeno is “proof of life” based on this somewhat unique set of inputs of a technology supply market that is still thriving, especially in the German and Nordic markets, despite the broadening out of SAP with Ariba and the emergence and early success of North American providers such as Coupa in these geographies.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations, suppliers and partners make informed decisions on Simeno’s procure-to-pay capabilities as a complement and “surround” approach to company ERP systems, especially SAP. 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 Simeno in the procurement technology area. The rest of this multi-part research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Scanmarket: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Commentary and Summary Analysis

Today’s landscape for e-sourcing (RFX, auction, category management, sourcing optimization, etc.) is highly fragmented. There is not a single market-share leader or “dual” leadership in this sector (as is the case with Coupa and Ariba for procure-to-pay). However, there has been one trend when it comes to consolidation, and that is providers focused on the “upstream” areas inclusive not only of sourcing, but also supplier management, contract management and analytics, either building or buying their way into the procure-to-pay sector — or merging their capabilities with other solution providers in this market.

Yet one nearly full “upstream” provider focused on this market remains independent: Scanmarket. (We say “nearly full” because it remains dependent on a partner for spend classification, and it has some functional gaps in the supplier management and contract management areas.) Of course Scanmarket faces competition from different segments of providers with either more targeted or overlapping functional footprints. But its commitment and focus on strategic sourcing technology and adjacent capabilities at a global scale remains singular today, at least as independent vendors go.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Scanmarket 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 Scanmarket and offers provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies considering the vendor. Part 1 provided an in-depth look at Scanmarket 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.

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

Scanmarket is one of the last remaining independent “upstream” procurement technology suite providers. While it brings particular capability and expertise in running both simple and complex RFX and auction processes (and formats), it also offers a range of adjacent capabilities in project management, supplier management and contract management. On many levels, Scanmarket is one of the heirs apparent to the specialized e-sourcing capability pioneered by firms like FreeMarkets and Procuri — and it also represents a targeted and cost-effective alternative to full-suite providers (as well as deeper sourcing capability than procure-to-pay specialists in the market today).

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

SciQuest: Solution Review & Analysis

SciQuest is arguably the most challenging procurement technology suite vendor to compare directly to the competition. This perhaps explains why it has tended to surface less in competitive procure-to-pay (P2P) or source-to-pay (S2P) suite opportunities outside of its traditional key vertical sectors for transactional procurement (e.g., higher education, laboratory/research, life sciences, public sector) in the past. While it is possible to label SciQuest as a procurement technology suite vendor (source-to-pay, source-to-contract and procure-to-pay), the reality is that to date, the provider has competed in multiple, infrequently overlapping segments of the procurement technology market.

Historically, SciQuest has generally had different sets of customers, prospects and competitors for its core P2P product and its sourcing optimization, spend/supply analytics and contract lifecycle management solutions. This stands in contrast to many of its peers, which have generally chosen to focus on fewer market segments (e.g, eProcurement, invoice-to-pay, etc.) rather than more as primary entry points to customers.

Yet after being acquired by Accel-KKR last year, SciQuest has started an accelerated strategic and marketing transformation process that is uniting its disparate suite elements. Today’s Spend Matters Plus analysis provides an introduction to SciQuest for procurement organizations looking to understand whether they should consider adding the provider to their shortlists for consideration, as well as competitive alternatives.

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

The sourcing and supplier management suite market (inclusive of spend analytics, e-sourcing, supplier management and contract management) was a crowded sector for many years. But as more providers with capabilities focused on this area have expanded their product offering to transactional procurement and as vendors in the procure-to-pay (P2P) sector expanded through acquisition into sourcing and supplier management, the number of targeted suite providers focused solely on what we describe as the “source-to-contract” market has declined. Yet Scanmarket is one of those that remain (and it is the vendor with the most traction and the largest customer base). And it is a solution provider that is more than standing its ground in a market where consolidation and the march to both strategic and transactional suites is becoming the norm.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations, suppliers and partners make informed decisions on Scanmarket’s source-to-contract capabilities. 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 Scanmarket in the procurement technology area. The rest of this multi-part research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, insider evaluation and selection considerations.