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.


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.

Group Purchasing Organizations: Supplier Perspectives and the Evolving GPO Landscape

Joining a GPO is like getting a Costco membership. You know you’re not going to get ripped off, so you probably won’t put much thought into joining. But therein lies the rub for GPO members. Like Costco, a GPO is a one-size-fits-all marketplace where you may overbuy when you get there or underbuy by not getting there at all.

In an increasingly Amazon-dominated world, however, this model is not the only available option.Today, the assortment and pricing of items available to consumers are tuned to the user and monetized most efficiently by intermediaries that can source better and optimize for lowest total landed costs better than individual buyers. Procurement organizations are now looking to bring this experience to the complex world of B2B purchasing. And where GPOs fit into this more sophisticated equation is not a simple answer (many are still trying to figure it out themselves). 

But that doesn’t mean GPOs will go the way of the 1980s big box retailer. Instead, GPOs will have to take on a role beyond the race to the lowest price. This multipart Spend Matters PRO series explains what motivates GPOs and helps procurement organizations best decide when and how to engage them. In this second installment (see our initial GPO introduction), we explore GPOs from a supplier perspective and offer recommendations for vendors working through GPOs to make these relationships more successful. We also explore how GPO options and capabilities are evolving and segment the GPO market by model and type and provide case example looks at different GPO business models. These include vertical/industry independent, member-owned, horizontal, affinity, category-specific and procurement technology led GPO models. 

Vendorful: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT

Just after suite providers claimed victory in the sourcing software arena for the value and optionality of combining integrated source-to-contract and source-to-pay capabilities, a backlash occurred. Many upstart sourcing provides, including ScoutRFP, Keelvar, Market Dojo and EC Sourcing, saw new customer acquisition growth that is at least on par with, if not increasing faster than, suites themselves.

Within this mix, we can add a “new” software firm to the mix. This sourcing provider is Vendorful, which now offers an RFX and reverse auction solution for middle-market companies that want to embark on — or accelerate — their RFX and reverse auction strategic sourcing journey. Vendorful rounds out these capabilities with basic supplier information management and contract tracking. Primary competitors include EC Sourcing, Keelvar, Market Dojo and ScoutRFP, although Vendorful differentiates itself from the market through its ease-of-use and user design.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Vendorful and its capabilities. It includes an overview of Vendorful’s solution set, a perspective on what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for organizations that might consider the provider.

IntegrityNext: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT

For many procurement organizations, monitoring suppliers for regulatory compliance and sustainability initiatives is becoming increasingly important. This is true with both larger, tier-one suppliers and smaller vendors further down in the supply chain. From supply disruptions to infractions in the court of public opinion, even the most hidden suppliers today introduce product and operational risks that can cause irreparable harm to a business.

Monitoring suppliers to reduce risk, however, is no easy task, especially across the long tail of suppliers. Many procurement organizations still require a basic platform that can manage supplier, information, performance, relationship and lifecycle needs to drive basic automation, collection, aggregation and maintenance of this data. In order to get a grip on supplier compliance to meet these objectives, procurement organizations generally need four things: supplier self-assessments that capture details on policies and procedures; certificates of verification; third-party audit information; and up-to-the-minute insight and analysis on reported events that could be early indicators of issues that need to be investigated.

At the nexus of these areas is IntegrityNext, a new solution provider in the supplier risk and compliance sector. IntegrityNext is aiming to offer an affordable and easy way for procurement organizations to access compliance assessments, up-to-date certifications and real-time market sentiment on their supply chains.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on IntegrityNext and its capabilities. It includes an overview of IntegrityNext’s offering, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for those that might consider the provider.

Procurement Business Drivers and Considerations For Digital and E-Signatures

Digital and electronic signatures can play a significant role in accelerating procurement and supplier management processes, reducing cycle times and eliminating latency across a range of activities. They can also help create value in other areas, from organizational and vendor compliance to saving money. This Spend Matters PRO series exploring e-signatures and digital signatures provides a foundation for procurement organizations to understand, evaluate and implement these solutions to enable a variety of use cases, including contract implementation and contract lifecycle management. In this research brief, we explore the business drivers for digital and electronic signature usage as well as selection considerations when evaluating potential solution providers.

An Introduction to Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs)

purchasing

Group purchasing organizations (GPOs) are not a new idea. Agricultural cooperatives aggregated the buying power of farmers hundreds of years ago. That said, GPOs have evolved quite a bit, and the infusion of new digital capabilities is taking that evolution to an even higher level. This evolution also means that procurement organizations must go in “eyes wide open” to best utilize this important tool in the procurement tool belt.

Not all GPOs (or GPO models) are the same. Understanding the differences will make you a more educated, and thus likely more successful, buyer. Therefore, we’ve decided to delve a little deeper into this obscure sector of the procurement provider market and shed some light on how to best extract value from it.

This multipart Spend Matters PRO brief is designed to demystify GPOs and put procurement organizations on the same information playing field as the GPOs attempting to sign them up, expand their utilization of contracts and sell additional services. Within this series, we will explore GPOs by type, as there are several business models in play, and by industry segment, as GPOs are heavily embedded in certain markets and are little more than a supply option in others.

This first installment in our GPO coverage:

  • Defines what GPOs are (and are not)
  • Explains how GPOs operate
  • Explores GPO “spend coverage and fit”
  • Analyze the GPO market segments and how to engage them
  • Offers tips and tricks for engaging GPOs based on their own constraints/models
  • Provides both basic and advanced takeaways for procurement organizations that are thinking through GPOs as an alternative supply option
  • Offers a checklist of activities to consider when sourcing GPOs

The Smart PE Money Knows When to Pay Up: Avetta Gets New Ownership

To say private equity firms have been ogling over procurement technology and solution firms of late is an understatement. The floodgates have been unleashed. Case in point: PE firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe announced earlier Wednesday it will acquire a majority interest in Avetta, a supplier compliance and risk management firm, in a deal that likely broke multiple records (double meaning intended) in the procurement solutions market. (Another firm, TCV, will also acquire a minority stake.) The transaction is significant for the procurement technology space for a number of reasons. But perhaps most interesting, it highlights the differing approaches PE firms are taking to buying, operating and selling solution providers, as well as the kinds of business models that have become attractive (and lucrative) to these firms.

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

Icertis is one of a select number of contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions that can equally support the needs of both legal and procurement organizations. Its solution provides role-based dashboards and workbenches that enable diverse users across global organizations to interact with contracts, related information and documents not only within the context of core CLM but also within other processes such as source-to-pay (S2P), quote-to-cash and industry-specific workflows.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Icertis 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 Icertis 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 Icertis as a technology provider 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.

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

The contract lifecycle management (CLM) technology market is not one market. Rather, this technology comprises several subspecialties, each served by a diverse set of vendors with varying degrees of capability. Because of this, procurement, commercial, legal and other users have significant choice between broad-based suites and independent CLM vendors today.

Within this market, Icertis is one of the few providers delivering a robust enterprise-class CLM solution with significant depth across nearly all functional areas of CLM that Spend Matters tracks. Moreover, Icertis takes a truly platform-based approach rather offering just a set of fixed modules on a menu. It is also one of a handful of enterprise contract management solutions built on a modern technology stack, as well as one of the few that revolves entirely around the contract — even if its UI reminds us more of the end of the Obama era than Brexit.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Icertis’ 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 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 Icertis 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.

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

As our Q4 2017 CLM SolutionMap highlights, the range and depth of functional capability between suite-based contract lifecycle management solutions and independent, top-performing CLM vendors is increasing, not decreasing. Icertis, one of the top-performing CLM providers in the analysis, is driving this change. It is less than 10 years old but already used in 40 languages within 90 countries, supporting more than 750,000 users and 2.5 million active contracts.

But it is not just the underlying functional “mojo” among top-providers like Icertis causing the divergence for specialized CLM requirements. The most recent class of CLM providers that have graduated to best-of-breed status have designed their solutions to support an increasing range of contracting, collaboration and obligation management scenarios that support supplier agreements, sales contracts, leases, partnership agreements, employment agreements and other agreements between parties. And they are doing so with the simultaneous goals of increasing both efficiency and contracting effectiveness.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement and legal organizations make informed decisions about whether Icertis, as a standalone CLM solution, is a better fit than using a suite-based contract management provider. 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 Icertis. The remainder of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

E-Signatures and Digital Signatures in Procurement: Definitions and Considerations

digital signature

While the terms e-signature and digital signature are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Every digital signature is electronic, but not every electronic signature is digital. This may sound a bit confusing, but it's not with proper definitions. This three-part research series provides a foundation for procurement and supply chain practitioners to understand the benefits that digital signatures can bring to contracting and contract management, as well as interactions with internal stakeholders, suppliers and partners. This first part provides definitions, a general background on the topic and the benefits and drawbacks of these tools.