Author Archives: Nick Heinzmann



Exploring Basware’s Recent Product Enhancements: Something for AP and Procurement (Part 2)

At its recent Basware Connect 2019 customer event in Chicago, Basware brought together both finance and procurement organizations for two days of learning and in-depth product discussions. During the event last month, Basware spent numerous sessions sharing recent product enhancements, as well as highlighting its own product roadmap path forward.

This Spend Matters PRO brief, the second installment in a three-part series, explores Basware’s roadmap for the following products:

— Data, Analytics and Supplier Management
— Networked Sourcing and Procurement
— Networked Accounts Payable and Payments
— IT Integrations and E-Invoice Sending
— Dynamic Discounting and Financing


And our analysts’ give the key takeaways on each of these areas.

Promena: Vendor Introduction (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

contingent workforce

In our last Spend Matters PRO post, we introduced you to Promena, an 18-year-old provider based out of Istanbul that is deploying a platform for strategic sourcing, supplier management and e-procurement. Operated under the umbrella of Zer, a procurement BPO firm that itself is a subsidiary of Turkey’s largest industrial conglomerate, Koç Holding, Promena has a solution with a long history of development and some relatively mature functionality despite its lower name recognition in the global procurement technology market. And while its newest modules are still finding their footing amid a rapidly changing sector, the solution overall offers a strong baseline off which Promena could expand it functional footprint.

Part 1 of this brief provided an overview of Promena’s offering and a short selection requirements checklist that outlined the typical company for which Promena might be a good fit. In Part 2, we provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis, and some final conclusions and takeaways.

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

twago

When asked to name the top locations of technology and startup ecosystems, one could be forgiven for not including Turkey. Globally, cities like London, Berlin, Tel Aviv, Stockholm, Singapore and San Francisco hold much of the technology economy mindshare, and recent political volatility in Turkey has not bolstered the country’s image as a stable place to start a business.

Yet Turkey has a lot going for it these days in terms of technological potential. As of 2017, the most recent year for available data, Turkey’s internet penetration rate was nearly 65%, giving the country Europe’s fifth-largest online population. Use of mobile devices is also relatively high, at 86% of the population. What’s more, Turkey’s demographics skew heavily toward younger generations: more than half of its 82 million inhabitants are under the age of 30, many of whom are enthusiastic about accessing and growing the technology economy in their home country.

And this technological potential is not just recent. In fact, when it comes to procurement technology, Turkey’s representative offering, Promena, has been refining its product for nearly two decades. Started in 2001 as a joint venture between Koç Holding, Turkey’s largest industrial conglomerate, and The Carlyle Group, Promena offers solutions for e-sourcing and e-auctions, spend analysis, supplier management and e-procurement. Now fully owned and operated under the umbrella of Zer, a procurement BPO firm also owned by Koç, Promena today counts more than 100 customers, with more than 11,000 sourcing events and $2 billion worth of transactions flowing through the platform.

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

Exploring Basware’s Recent Product Enhancements: Something for AP and Procurement (Part 1)

In April, Basware held its Customer Connect user event in Chicago. During a mainstage talk and break-out sessions, the procure-to-pay provider highlighted a number of recent enhancements and product roadmap areas, including the continued incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI) throughout its product line. Based on these presentations and recent Spend Matters SolutionMap RFI analysis, this three-part Spend Matters PRO brief highlights selected recent product enhancements as well as what Basware has in store for AP and procurement customers in the quarters to come based on its product roadmap. It also provides deeper insight into how Basware is embedding AI across its procure-to-pay solutions.

The following enhancements are covered and analyzed (with key takeaways included) in this research brief:

— Approval Confidence Scoring/Index
— Committed Spend
— SmartPDF (Basware’s version of InvoiceSmash/Cloudscan)
— Payment Plan Compliance
— Intelligent Order Aggregation

Tealbook: Vendor Introduction (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

cloud solutions

In our last Spend Matters PRO brief, we introduced you to Tealbook, a five-year-old provider based out of Toronto (with an office in New York City) that is deploying a new platform for supplier information management (SIM) and discovery. Combining machine learning to accelerate data cleansing and gathering with a social media-like user experience to encourage collaborative supplier information management, Tealbook is gaining use cases and enterprise-class procurement customers that want to:

— Consolidate and better manage their supplier master data — aka the “I” (Information and Intelligence) in SIM.
— Discover and on-board new suppliers more effectively than 1) Google searches and 2) searches within proprietary supplier networks.
— Create a system of intelligence surrounding suppliers both internally (e.g., within a spend category team or project team) and externally through fully permissioned, community-based knowledge sharing.
— Quickly bring supplier diversity programs to target levels.

Part 1 of this brief provided an overview of Tealbook’s offering and a short selection requirements checklist that outlined the typical company for which Tealbook might be a good fit.

In Part 2, we provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis, and some final conclusions and takeaways.

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

Procurement organizations today talk a big game about automating transactional processes so that they can focus on upstream value creation opportunities. The thinking goes like this: The biggest opportunities for procurement are not in squeezing diminishing savings out of the usual vendors year after year but in identifying and contracting with the most innovative suppliers that can enable exclusive competitive advantages. These include not only strategic sourcing efforts around major categories or products but also mutually beneficial relationship-based activities like supplier collaboration, development, innovation and risk mitigation.

Yet there are several obstacles to this shift in emphasis toward more strategic activities. One is remarkably simple: The majority of procurement organizations do not have a single, accurate record of all of their suppliers. Most of the vital information that would constitute a vendor master file is instead scattered across various silos, including ERP systems, dedicated P2P or S2P tools, homegrown tools, and proverbial three-ring binders. So before procurement can earnestly attempt to spend more time on higher-impact value creation opportunities, most organizations have a lot of work to do forming a baseline off which they can build stronger supplier management, discovery and development competencies. This baseline of supplier knowledge is not just about maintaining an accurate vendor master file to pay the bills, but also a hub for information to help build supplier intelligence and a private supplier network (albeit with some community-based elements) rather than any single commercial network/marketplace.

Helping organizations form this baseline is how Tealbook, a four-year-old provider based out of Toronto (with an office in New York City), is deploying its platform for supplier information management and discovery. Combining machine learning to accelerate data cleansing and gathering with a social media-like user experience to encourage collaborative supplier information management, Tealbook is gaining use cases with enterprise-level procurement organizations that want to consolidate their efforts in master data management (MDM), quickly bring their supplier diversity programs to target levels, and find new suppliers more effectively than a search on the open web allows, as well as expedite the supplier on-boarding process. And as it continues to bring more users and suppliers into its network, Tealbook generates insights that becomes increasingly valuable to its community (without ever sharing proprietary information between organizations).

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Tealbook and its capabilities. The first part of this brief includes an overview of Tealbook’s offering and a short selection requirements checklist that outlines the typical company for which Tealbook might be a good fit. The second part of this brief provides a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis, and some market implications and takeaways.

SupplyHive: Vendor Introduction (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

digital

In our last brief, we introduced you to Supply Hive, a provider based out of Chicago that is deploying a new platform for supplier performance management (SPM), specifically around simplifying the process of gathering and analyzing supplier performance reviews. Combining savvy UX/UI design and an apt use of natural language processing (NLP), SupplyHive has built a supplier performance review solution that addresses an acute set of pain points quickly, easily and relatively cheaply.

In effect, it has created what may be termed a “stupid simple” app for supplier management in a market where few vendors effectively address this requirement. Yet the biggest challenges that Supply Hive could face may have more to do with the highly varying levels of maturity that procurement organization demonstrate in support of supplier relationship management (SRM) than in the adoption of the technology itself.

The first part of this brief provided an overview of Supply Hive’s offering and a short selection requirements checklist that outlined the typical company for which Supply Hive might be a good fit. In this part, we provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, and some final conclusions and takeaways.

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

The market for supplier relationship management and risk solutions is broad and fragmented. Procurement organizations have their choice of point solutions for single areas of the supplier management lifecycle, broader suites that provide SRM capability as one module among many, and consulting firms and service providers that offer technology as an add-on to engagements, to name a few options. As a rule, however, there is no single firm that provides a comprehensive solution to all components of supplier management. Instead, they tend to focus either on several related components (e.g., supplier information management, on-boarding and master data management) or specialize in a specific area, positioning their technology as a tailormade solution to a subset of SRM pain points faced by procurement organizations.

The latter strategy is how SupplyHive, a one-year-old vendor out of Chicago and San Francisco, has approached designing and marketing its software for supplier performance reviews. Aware that procurement organizations have handled this essential step in the supplier management process either through minimally supportive survey functionality in P2P and S2P suites or, more commonly, through enormous spreadsheets, SupplyHive set out to create a tool for evaluating employee satisfaction with indirect suppliers that could gather and analyze needed data about supplier performance while offering a streamlined, B2C-like consumer experience.

To oversimplify, it’s Yelp for suppliers.

But even with that seemingly simple concept, SupplyHive has managed, through savvy UX/UI design and an apt use of natural language processing (NLP), to build a supplier performance review solution that addresses an acute set of pain points quickly, easily and relatively cheaply — with clients such as Abbott and Sprint signing on as early adopters.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on SupplyHive and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of SupplyHive’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 companies that might consider the provider.

Sourceit: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT

Marketing procurement can be a touchy subject for businesses. This critical category can make or break a company’s ability to attract new customers, yet it is rarely managed in an efficient, effective manner — at least as a procurement professional would define it.

Within most businesses, marketing procurement is plagued by poor corporate governance, uncompetitive sourcing practices and unfocused project management, frequently leading to cost overruns and delivery delays. This in turn leads to a strained relationship between marketing departments and their peers in procurement, who find it difficult to overcome their seemingly incompatible goals. The problem is so bad and so distinct to this particular category that it practically begs for a niche technology solution to address it.

This is precisely the inspiration behind Sourceit, a four-year-old provider of sourcing and e-procurement tools for marketing services. Born out of a homegrown print sourcing solution at Finsbury Green, an Australian printer and managed services provider, Sourceit market and catalog offers a targeted set of capabilities that illustrate a deep understanding of the common hurdles of marketing procurement as it applies to print technology. The technology was spun out of Finsbury Green in 2015 as a standalone SaaS platform, then over the past four years has expanded from Australia into the UK, Canada, Brazil and, as of 2017, the U.S., under a reseller model in each market.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Sourceit's capabilities. The brief includes an overview of “sourceit market” and “sourceit catalog” applications, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

Simplify Workforce: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT

Because of recent M&A consolidation and multiple external drivers, the market for vendor management system (VMS) solutions has become fairly complex. Competing vendors have been absorbed or combined, draining the field of vendor choices that can be applied in a wide number of scenarios. Concurrently, businesses have shifted away from their focus on temporary staffing labor to a rising emphasis on statement of work (SOW) spend, while also exploring new talent engagement models that increase program complexity, to include the exploratory enterprise adoption of the “gig economy” in the form of independent contractors. Add in the typical challenges of effectively operating a temporary staffing program — from cost control issues to quality maintenance and the management of intermediaries like MSPs — and it’s easy to see why procurement organizations are finding the old paradigm for VMS solutions is no longer holding up.

Going against the grain of complexity is a newer VMS provider that incorporates simplicity (i.e., ease of use) into its name — and its solution. Founded in 2016, Simplify Workforce provides an end-to-end SaaS solution for managing the extended workforce.

The Jersey City, New Jersey-based provider enables this through separate modules for contingent workforce (or in our SolutionMap classification, Temp Staffing) and statement of work (Contracted Services/SOW), with an emphasis on configurability, adaptability and ease of use that has typically eluded past VMS solutions. In doing so, Simplify Workforce aims to address the long-underserved middle market — specifically, businesses with annual contingent workforce spend of $1 million to $100 million — with the ability to scale up or down on spend easily, with a VMS and SOW solution that can solve the majority of daily contingent workforce challenges without overwhelming users, implementation teams and budgets with unnecessary complexity.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Simplify Workforce and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of Simplify Workforce’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 companies that might consider the provider.

SourceDay: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT

The broader procurement technology market has always had a tenuous relationship with the direct procurement technology solutions. Old timers may remember SupplyWorks from the early 2000s, but it folded — and the SupplyWorks brand name now belongs to a janitorial/sanitation service provider (we won’t go down the easy joke paths on this one). More recently, DirectWorks, a perfectly decent solution for direct materials sourcing, also struggled until getting picked up by Ivalua.

Part of the challenge is that direct procurement is not only a subset of spend but also a superset of processes, because it’s essentially infused into the broader supply chain. This makes it addressable from multiple solution sectors like SCM apps, supply chain networks, integration players and industry players.

Source-to-pay application suites, for their part, are picking off some low-hanging fruit functionality here, but the broader requirements are spelled out well in our coverage of a distinct segment that may be forming for direct materials procurement solutions.

Manufacturers today are slowly seeing an expanding set of purchasing tools beyond ERP and MRP alone, and choice is generally a good thing if you have your overall solution strategy/approach nailed down before you go tool shopping. Many will be more than happy to explore this new market.

One of these newer choices is SourceDay, an Austin, Texas-based vendor that directly integrates with ERP and MRP systems to automate the management of purchase orders and supplier performance. By providing a more usable and procurement-centric layer over the data housed by a legacy ERP or supply chain application, SourceDay takes on many of the problems that procurement organizations find in managing direct materials spend.

The result is that procurement can save time, reduce errors and systematically manage supplier performance from a common cloud or mobile interface while still claiming the benefits that an ERP system can offer. There are obviously caveats to this statement — namely around integration — but we’ll touch on this later.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on SourceDay and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of SourceDay’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 companies that might consider the provider.

Sustainability, Environmental Stewardship and CSR: The CPO’s Outside-In Agenda (Part 2B)

sustainable supply chain

In our last article in this Spend Matters PRO series, we focused on several pressing issues that are shaping procurement from the outside in, yet chief procurement officers are primarily still concerned with issues set by an inside-out agenda — that is, cost-cutting and supply assurance targets mandated by upper management. However, our PESTLE analysis of factors shaping the modern CPO agenda identified broad outside-in trends that an organization needs to consider if it wants to truly tap and manage the opportunities (and risks) offered by external supply markets. (Read the CPO’s Conundrum: Parts 1A and 1B.)

Nowhere is this more readily apparent than with the topic of sustainability and environmental stewardship, the focus of today’s brief. The environment is an inseparable component of any business. It forms the platform layer off which all goods and services are produced, and cannot be ignored. And the difference between effective and sustainable management and ineffective and unsustainable management, as pointed out in yesterday’s article, is shocking. Not only would investments in environmental sustainability focussed companies over the past two decades doubled an average rate of return, but millennials will pay a (small) premium for sustainably (and ethically) sourced products and you are ensuring that you will have raw material supply for years (and decades to come).