Author Archives: Nick Heinzmann



Enabling the Living Contract: A Q&A with Icertis’ Co-Founder, CTO Monish Darda

Will procurement settle for merely a digital upgrade to contract management, or will it seize the opportunity to reimagine what contracts can be altogether? As Spend Matters framed it in our previous article in this series, the question comes down to a distinction between “smart” contracts and “live” contracts. To help organizations see the possibilities, we sat down with enterprise CLM provider Icertis’ co-founder and CTO, Monish Darda, for a Q&A exploring the live contracting concept, along with active use cases and a projection of what the future holds for contract management technology.

The Perils of Rogue Spend in Contingent Workforce Management

contingent workforce

Rogue contracting of freelance resources can, with the right supporting technologies, be turned from an operational risk to an attractive business opportunity — to drive savings, reduce compliance risks and provide improved visibility into and intelligent insights about this segment of the workforce to senior leadership. In this article, we examine the drivers and resulting issues of the increasing presence of rogue spend within contingent workforce management programs, and then we explore the opportunities and solutions that businesses can use to address this challenge.

3 Areas Where CSR Risks Hide in Your Indirect Spend (Part 2)

risk

Because procurement is so often measured on cost savings as its primary KPI, another essential factor can be left by the wayside: risk. Especially when it comes to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability, risk remains hidden within indirect spend. To see how these dangers go unaddressed, here are three areas with examples of where organizations miss — but, with proper tools, can address — CSR and sustainability risks for indirect procurement.

The CPO’s Conundrum (Part 1B): How Outside-In Issues are Shaping the Course of Procurement

As we noted in yesterday’s Spend Matters PRO article, if you were to ask a roomful of CPOs what was their top concern was, for this year or even the coming decade, chances are the majority would lead with cost management and supply assurance. And while this makes sense, supply assurance and cost reduction are just two of a host of broader issues that are being pushed to the front of mind for today’s CPOs. So we are dedicating a series to the broad scope of issues that the modern CPO must face, starting with an overview of how they break out in the common PESTLE framework. Yesterday we addressed the “PES” — Political, Economic and Social — and today we will address the “TLE” — Technological, Legal and Environmental.

The CPO’s Conundrum (Part 1A): How Outside-In Issues Are Shaping the Course of Procurement

If you were to ask a roomful of CPOs what was their top concern was, for this year or even the coming decade, chances are the majority would lead with cost management and supply assurance.

This makes sense. Within the hierarchy of procurement value, providing the right goods and services at the right time and place, preferably at the right (or better) price, constitute a foundation without which organizations cannot function.

Because of this requirement to secure and manage supply markets, procurement’s value proposition to the business is ultimately defined by its ability to access and derive value from markets. This means procurement value, then, is driven heavily from an outside-in perspective. That value starts with assurance of supply, just as top-line growth and brand development are foundational to sales and marketing.

The problem, however, is that supply assurance and cost reduction are just two of a host of broader issues that are being pushed to the front of mind for today’s CPOs. Because the CPO must manage multiple changing supply markets, and because those supply markets are affected by numerous external forces over which the CPO — let alone the business or even some governments — has no ability to influence, the CPO’s agenda is in reality much broader than assuring supply and reducing costs.

This brings us to what we call the CPO’s conundrum: Procurement organizations are primarily measured by the C-suite on supply assurance and cost control, but the agenda that the outside world is setting for the CPO is far bigger than just that. How, then, can procurement leaders meet the agendas recognized and prioritized by management while also addressing the equally (or perhaps more) important agendas of the changing, external supply world?

This Spend Matters PRO series examines the roots and resulting challenges of the CPO’s conundrum. In this brief, the introduction to this series, we discuss the current items on the CPO agenda, as well as the outside-in forces that are most notably butting their way in.

In subsequent installments, we will analyze overarching issues on the new CPO agenda individually, including corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability, digital business strategy, political and economic instability, and regulatory risk.

Outlaw: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT

When people think contracts, they think lawyers. And when people think lawyers, they think semantics, tedium, inefficiency. It’s no surprise, then, that the contract management process at many businesses is perceived as lawyer-like: slow, plagued by error-prone review processes and more inclined to risk-aversion rather than to embracing the new or innovative. But these flaws are also the result of ill-suited tools to manage contracts.

The dominant preference among business users for applications like Microsoft Word and email for the facilitation of contract authoring, review and negotiation is in no small way a reason why contract management processes can feel so archaic.

These applications are general-purpose tools that fail to address the complexity and the importance of contracts to a business. Yet contract management processes have largely been designed to fit to these tools, rather than the other way around.

Reimagining what the contract management process should be is the approach that Outlaw, a nearly two-year-old vendor based in Brooklyn, New York, has taken to designing its software-as-a-service solution.

The founders, both former consultants, were all too familiar with the headaches of contract drafting and approval, which inspired them to design a new contract solution around how they would want to create, negotiate and sign agreements. In doing so, they hope to bring an outsider’s perspective to contract management, rebuilding the process from the ground up so that it can be easier, faster and more enjoyable.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Outlaw and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of Outlaw’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.

Live Contracts: How Next-Gen CLM Solutions Will Make Contracts More Than Merely ‘Smart’

Enterprise contract management has become one of the hottest areas for digital investment, and rightly so. Because contracts form the foundational system of record for all commercial relationships, it stands to reason that, as business becomes increasingly digital, the foundation must also become digital to keep up.

Yet as companies move from storing contracts in filing cabinets to dedicated contract management software, another question arises: What next?

The advent of artificial intelligence-based technology offerings has promised procurement organizations an era of automated, “smart” contracts that execute predetermined actions when specified conditions are met. Such functionality is attractive, to be sure, but the scope of the smart contract concept is also inherently limiting.

To attain the true benefits that digital transformation is bringing to contract management, procurement organizations must go beyond simply making their contracts smart. Instead, they should strive for a more powerful paradigm: “live” contracts that convert their documents into living, adaptable tools for transaction acceleration, risk management and value creation.

Transparency-One: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT

Procurement and supply chain organizations are facing pressure from consumers, governments and investors to clean up their supply chains. Whether it’s traceability of ingredients (including their source and their quality), assurance that labor and facility conditions are up to code, or proof that emerging compliance standards like modern slavery laws are being met, companies are increasingly being tasked with mapping their entire supply chain while ensuring that suppliers are meeting, and tracking, myriad metrics for safety, sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

This is the narrative that Transparency-One, a provider of supply chain visibility and compliance tracking solutions, is betting the farm on. (This is apt, because the provider actually models and monitors farms as part of the extended supply chains being tracked within its system.)

Founded in 2016, Transparency-One enables executives in charge of sustainability or responsible sourcing to report accurate supplier and compliance data to sales, marketing and regulatory compliance functions about what’s happening in their supply chains end to end, as well as to map product tracking and quality information down to the lot/batch level.

While many such efforts are already underway at major companies, compliance tracking is often fragmented, with initiatives like conflict minerals compliance managed separately (and in different tools) from the tracking of, say, facility safety certifications. Transparency-One is seeking to bring all of these efforts into a single platform, starting first with the food, retail (e.g., grocery, apparel) and industrial materials (e.g., rubber, chemicals) sectors.

Currently operating in 30 countries and in six languages, Transparency-One counts traceability projects with Intermarché, Carrefour and Mars among its pilot customers. It has offices in Boston and Paris.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Transparency-One and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of Transparency-One’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. It also touches upon graph databases and their use in this supply chain management, supplier management and risk management mashup area.

Streamlining Supplier Management to Scale Globally: A Case Study of Geosyntec Consultants and AdaptOne

MRO as a service

Geosyntec Consultants, an engineering and consulting firm, needed to upgrade its supplier management system so it could streamline and improve its business. The Florida company works with public and private sector clients across the U.S., Canada, Malaysia and the U.K. It employs more than 1,200 consultants (engineers, scientists, technical personnel) and manages more than 8,300 suppliers, many of which require stringent safety certifications and compliance requirements that come from their clients.

As Geosyntec expanded its practice, it looked for a supplier management solution that could streamline its manual and disjointed processes, all while maintaining needed organizational accountability. Find out what it learned in the process and how it made its choice: AdaptOne.

Afternoon Coffee: Some Countries See Bright Side in U.S.-China Trade War

The U.S.-China trade war is widely viewed as a drag on the global economy, but for some Asia-Pacific nations, the ongoing dispute may have some silver linings. After nine months of increases, U.S. consumer prices fell in December, mainly due a steep drop in the price of gasoline, CNBC reports. Still, underlying inflationary pressures remained strong, with rental housing and healthcare costs rising steadily. Afternoon Coffee brings you the latest in procurement and supply chain news.

TenderEasy: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT

trucking

Despite the current tide of populism, the growing globalization of businesses and, thus, corporate supply chains is a trend no procurement organization can ignore.

Alongside this push into new markets for both sales and production comes a need to more effectively procure transportation because moving commodities or finished goods between facilities, like factories or distribution centers, and their final destinations has become more complex. Add to this a litany of procurement-specific obstacles to effective freight sourcing and management — from a dearth of qualified internal resources to sparse, inaccurate data about freight spend — and the challenge becomes even more daunting.

This combination of logistics category complexity and insufficient procurement capability to manage it is what originally gave rise to the sourcing optimization solutions that most North American organizations are familiar with.

Trade Extensions (now Coupa Sourcing Optimization), CombineNet (now Jaggaer Advanced Sourcing Optimization) and Keelvar (one of the few independent sourcing vendors that currently supports bid optimization) all got their starts enabling logistics procurement across thousands of lanes. As they grew, however, each of these vendors evolved their solutions to support additional categories beyond freight, enabling larger and more complex scenarios while leaving other elements of the transportation equation (like execution) to other technology providers.

TenderEasy, a 14-year-old firm that launched its SaaS solution for freight procurement in 2012, has taken the opposite approach. Rather than expand its sourcing optimization capabilities beyond logistics, TenderEasy has doubled down on freight, positioning itself as the entry point to a broader transportation management ecosystem. It committed to this strategy in 2018 when it became part of the Alpega Group, a global logistics software company that offers end-to-end solutions for transport needs, including not only freight sourcing but also access to freight exchanges and transportation management systems.

Leveraging this network of transportation solutions, Stockholm-based TenderEasy is hoping to bring its Europe-centric expertise across the Atlantic — the company already counts Heinz, adidas Group and British American Tobacco (BAT) as clients — taking on incumbent sourcing optimization vendors in the process.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on TenderEasy and its capabilities. It includes an overview of TenderEasy’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.

Afternoon Coffee: U.S. Renews China Travel Advisory, Washington and Beijing Set Trade Talks for Monday

American citizens should exercise caution when traveling to China, as they could face the risk of arbitrary detention, according to a travel advisory the U.S. State Department renewed Thursday. Beijing announced Friday that American envoys will travel to China on Monday for new talks to resolve the ongoing trade war. Afternoon Coffee brings you the latest in procurement and supply chain news.