BPO Content

Services Procurement is Broken: Finding Fixes Beyond Contingent Workforce Management, E-procurement [PRO]

If you google the term “services procurement,” you’ll see an article from my colleague Andrew Karpie touching on the topic front and center. He talks about the need to transcend the traditional contingent labor-centric view of what is in fact a much larger scope dealing with the procurement of all services. Aggregate annual spend on complex services by U.S. organizations is on the order of $9 trillion to $10 trillion, while spend on temporary staffing is only on the order of $0.02 trillion. When looked at with a wider-angle lense, the scope of services spend is huge. But ...

This is where I’m going to carry the discussion forward. The problem that I’ll address is, to put it bluntly, the management of services spend is shockingly poor.

There are many reasons for this. The first is organizational.

A spend category like direct materials is fairly straightforward in terms of organizational reporting ultimately into the supply chain organization (and/or business unit). The same can be said for lab supplies managed alongside R&D or data center equipment managed alongside IT. But services are trickier, not only in their inherent complexity and variability, but also because of their organizational governance. For example, if I’m looking to bring in some DevOps contractors to supplant my IT outsourcing provider’s capabilities, do I use an IT category team, a contingent labor Center of Excellence or perhaps an IT Vendor Management Office to have the ITO vendor provision the resources?

Beyond the organizational governance issue, the bigger problem is the fragmented nature of managing (not just procuring) services and the underlying systems to manage them — even just in source-to-pay. Case in point: There is not a single source-to-pay solutions provider in the market that offers deep support for all enterprise spend on a platform with a single code base and a unified data model.

And this is 20 years after e-procurement systems started being developed. Let that sink in.

But before a few of the S2P suite vendors get their knickers in a twist over this statement, keep in mind that what I’m including with the term “deep support” is being able to track services work to the contingent worker level that temporary labor solutions (aka “VMS” solutions) and those solutions supporting independent contractors. These contingent labor procurement platforms for their part are only touching a portion of the spend, and the expansion of many of them into SOW-based spend isn’t necessarily something that firms want to use for all their contract-based spend given that modern S2P suites can do a reasonably good job of setting up SOWs against MSAs, modeling basic rate-based service catalogs, and then matching them to the downstream invoice-to-pay processes. The trick, however, is how to go beyond the basics and handle the real life requirements of complex services categories.

This transformation will require a new way to understand/frame services and a new class of architecture and platforms to meet these needs — while also making some practical moves with existing tools (e.g., using modern CLM platforms as a critical core to modeling the commercial details/attributes of these services). It will also require procurement to align more tightly with IT and to leverage an emerging ecosystem of platform providers and approaches that can help rise above the functional silos that manage services spend in disjointed ways.

Extracting maximum commercial value from services can only be done at an end-to-end process level, and procurement has an opportunity to help optimize the sourcing, consumption, settlement and ongoing management of these increasingly digital and externalized services (and their providers). By more easily extending the capabilities of digitally savvy suppliers into internal value chains with internal stakeholders, but also ultimately out to external customers, procurement can proactively be part of broader enterprise digital transformation activities.

In this SpendMatters PRO analysis, we’ll dive into the challenges of segmenting external business services (e.g., understanding the interplay between digital-dominant and labor-dominant services) and how to look beyond the traditional contingent labor approaches (hint: Segmenting the market based on the presence of a statement-of-work is clearly not sufficient).

Later in this series, we’ll dive deeper into a new commercial framework for services and then map the resulting business requirements to technology requirements and associated vendor/solution types that transcend the source-to-pay market (e.g., enterprise CLM, ITSM, low-code platforms, etc.).

Fairmarkit: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview [PRO]

Tail spend is a growing area of concern for procurement. Given the granular, dispersed and opaque nature of such spend, many organizations find the task of taming the tail daunting.

Purpose-built tools have long existed that adequately address strategic sourcing activities (e-sourcing) and route internal users to pre-approved catalog items (e-procurement), yet technology to support the 20% of spend that is not actively managed by procurement has comparatively lagged.

Instead, the answer for most procurement groups has been to either attack tail spend with a patchwork of variably effective methods (p-cards, marketplaces) or outsource the problem entirely, like to a BPO firm.

Yet neither of these methods is particularly attractive. With the patchwork approach, issues around risk and control are poorly addressed, and while routing purchases under a low threshold (e.g., $500) into a marketplace can satisfy the typical spot buy, this hardly represent a strategy around optimizing tail spend.

BPOs offer expertise and a “set-it-and-forget-it” mentality, but organizations often find that the process efficiencies that they had hoped to gain don’t materialize as promised.

Finding a third way between the patchwork and complete outsourcing is at the heart of how Fairmarkit, an upstart vendor out of Boston, is trying to solve the tail spend management problem.

By using machine learning to analyze purchasing patterns and vendor fit, Fairmarkit automates the RFQ process for variable purchases that fall in the roughly $500 to $250,000 range. In the process, it wants to challenge the status quo for how businesses think about tail spend, enabling procurement groups to automate bidding and analysis on low-value purchases so they can assign team members solely to strategic events. And Fairmarkit already has had success doing so, claiming an average of 6% to 12% cost savings with clients as varied as the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), Univision and Yeti.

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

Procurement Technology and Solutions M&A Outlook: 10 Predictions for 2019 (Part 4) [PRO]

Today, I’ll share a critical 10th prediction (arguably the most important of all) of our M&A predictions series. Please allow me to indulge my last prediction in a folksy, CliffsNotes way to get both the seasoned experts on sector deals — of which we can count on just a few fingers — and everyone else on the same page as to what’s really happening.

In the third installment, I shared three additional predictions exploring how the procurement technology landscape is shifting as we enter 2019. The most recent prognostications centered on the rising intersection of procurement technology with payment and financing as a consolidation driver, more sellers engaging in proactive processes and unorthodox groups of strategic buyers emerging from left field on some deals.

These predictions build on the second installment of our M&A predictions for 2019, during which I explored an expanding focus on services procurement (assets), the increasing interest in strategic procurement technologies (SPT) and the scarcity of e-procurement and procure-to-pay targets left in the market.

And in the first installment in the series, I analyzed the deals that have happened already in 2018, as well as our first three of 10 prognostications for next year. First, private equity firms will play an increased role in the sector. Second, valuations will be all over the map. And third, peripheral players will respond to the “Amazon effect."

Happy holidays everyone and happy deal hunting in 2019! Let’s get into the final prediction.

Zycus Horizon Dispatch: Building the Partner Ecosystem

Earlier Monday at Zycus’ Horizon annual customer event in Virginia, CEO and founder Aatish Dedhia provided significant evidence that his source-to-pay firm has responded to the need to build out a global partner ecosystem, especially one centered on local customer implementation and enablement. Zycus global implementation/enablement partners now include over 35 organizations.

SirionLabs: What Makes It Great (Contract Lifecycle Management SolutionMap Analysis)

Just when you thought the contract lifecycle management (CLM) software market fit within a neatly defined 2x2 graph, along comes a vendor that breaks the mold, offering top functional capabilities while also redefining exactly what a CLM provider is capable of.

Who is this vendor, you ask?

SirionLabs.

Although it is fully capable of competing in the “traditional” CLM sector, SirionLabs is a powerful, specialized CLM solution that organizations have used primarily to manage and optimize the performance of large, complex, often multi-year services contracts. The solution combines core CLM components with added supplier management capabilities, like  performance management, relationship management and risk management. And it works for contracts of all shapes and sizes, delivering Value Leader (upper right quadrant) performances across every CLM SolutionMap buying persona.

As of Q3 2018, Spend Matters SolutionMap consists of functional and customer satisfaction benchmarks on more than 50 vendors within the procurement, finance and legal software markets. To date, Spend Matters’ analysts have evaluated 13 providers in the contract lifecycle management software segment, including SirionLabs. But where does SirionLabs stand out most, and why should this matter to procurement and legal organizations? Let’s dive into the CLM SolutionMap benchmark to find out.

“What Makes It Great” is a recurring column that shares insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider subscribers. Based on both our rigorous evaluation process and customer reference reviews, each brief offers quick facts on the provider, describes where it excels, provides hard data on where it beats the SolutionMap benchmark and concludes with a checklist for ideal customer scenarios in which procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should consider it.

HealthTrust: Healthcare GPO Provider Summary — Introduction, Summary Analysis, SWOT and Customer Engagement Tips [PRO]

Through a combination of organic growth industry consolidation, three group purchasing organization (GPO) providers have come to dominate the healthcare market. These providers — Vizient, Premier and HealthTrust — control nearly 75% of spend in the healthcare GPO market. Despite this level of consolidation, the three competitors have, in certain cases, targeted different markets and introduced unique offerings. This Spend Matters PRO research brief provides an overview of HealthTrust, including a general introduction, key points analysis, SWOT framework and customer tips for getting the most out of engagement. For background on the GPO market, check out our two earlier briefs, An Introduction to Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) and Group Purchasing Organizations: Supplier Perspectives and the Evolving GPO Landscape. For general context, perspective and analysis of the healthcare GPO market in particular, see our recent three-part series: Part 1 (Background, History and Introduction), Part 2 (GPO criticisms and market consolidation/bifurcation) and Part 3 (Key Takeaways, Emerging Paradigm Shifts and Customer Recommendations).

Premier: Healthcare GPO Provider Summary — Introduction, Summary Analysis, SWOT and Customer Engagement Tips [PRO]

healthcare

Through a combination of organic growth industry consolidation, three group purchasing organization (GPO) providers have come to dominate the healthcare market. These providers — Vizient, Premier and HealthTrust — control nearly 75% of spend in the healthcare GPO market.

Despite this level of consolidation, the three competitors have, in certain cases, targeted different markets and introduced unique offerings. This Spend Matters PRO research brief provides an overview of Premier, including a general introduction, key points analysis, SWOT framework and customer tips for getting the most out of engagement.

For background on the GPO market, check out our two earlier briefs, An Introduction to Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) and Group Purchasing Organizations: Supplier Perspectives and the Evolving GPO Landscape. For general context, perspective and analysis of the healthcare GPO market in particular, see our recent three-part series: Part 1 (Background, History and Introduction), Part 2 (GPO criticisms and market consolidation/bifurcation) and Part 3 (Key Takeaways, Emerging Paradigm Shifts and Customer Recommendations).

Vizient: Healthcare GPO Provider Summary — Introduction, Summary Analysis, SWOT and Customer Engagement Tips [PRO]

Through a combination of organic growth industry consolidation, three group purchasing organization (GPO) providers have come to dominate the healthcare market. These providers — Vizient, Premier and HealthTrust — control nearly 75% of spend in the healthcare GPO market.

Despite this level of consolidation, the three competitors have, in certain cases, targeted different markets and introduced unique offerings. This Spend Matters PRO research brief provides a summary overview of Vizient, including a general introduction, key points analysis, SWOT framework and customer tips for getting the most out of engagement.

For background on the GPO market, check out our two earlier briefs, An Introduction to Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) and Group Purchasing Organizations: Supplier Perspectives and the Evolving GPO Landscape. For general context, perspective and analysis of the healthcare GPO market in particular, see our recent three-part series: Part 1 (Background, History and Introduction), Part 2 (GPO criticisms and market consolidation/bifurcation) and Part 3 (Key Takeaways, Emerging Paradigm Shifts and Customer Recommendations).

The Healthcare Group Purchasing Organization Landscape (Part 3): Key Takeaways and Customer Recommendations [PRO]

This Spend Matters PRO series explores the history and current state of the healthcare group purchasing organization (GPO) market. In this third installment, we provide key takeaways for the industry, analyze emerging trends in the market and offer customer recommendations.

For background on the GPO market, we encourage you to start here with our two earlier briefs on GPOs, An Introduction to Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) and Group Purchasing Organizations: Supplier Perspectives and the Evolving GPO Landscape. Then explore Part 1 (Background, History and Introduction) and Part 2 (GPO criticisms).

The Healthcare Group Purchasing Organization Landscape (Part 2): Market Critiques and Effects of Consolidation [PRO]

This Spend Matters PRO series provides an introduction to the healthcare GPO market. Today in Part 2, we summarize healthcare GPO criticisms and survey the effects of consolidation in two GPO contexts (member consolidation and GPO M&A). We also discuss how models are bifurcating.

For background on the GPO market, review our two earlier briefs, An Introduction to Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) and Group Purchasing Organizations: Supplier Perspectives and the Evolving GPO Landscape. Then explore the first installment in this series, which provides a background, history and introduction to the healthcare GPO market.

The Healthcare Group Purchasing Organization (GPO) Landscape: Background, History and Introduction (Part 1) [PRO]

This Spend Matters PRO research series provides both an insider’s take on the healthcare GPO market from an industry perspective and an “outside-in” analysis of the market based on norms in the procurement industry overall. For an introduction to GPO models not specific to healthcare, including how they work and ways in which the GPO landscape is changing, see An Introduction to Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) and Group Purchasing Organizations: Supplier Perspectives and the Evolving GPO Landscape

Part 1 of our coverage provides background, history and definition of the healthcare GPO market. The remaining installments will provide insight into how consolidation (both within healthcare systems and within GPOs) is affecting the market, lessons from other industries and an analysis of the “Big 3” national GPO providers: Vizient, Premier and HealthTrust.

We will also provide a summary of GPO criticisms — including those that are fairly levied and those that are not — and provide a perspective on what changes that we might expect as the GPO landscape evolves. Put on the flak jacket (or should we say take an intravenous sedative) and let’s delve in.

Holding Managed Services Providers (MSPs) Accountable to a BPO-Based Standard (Part 3) [Plus+]

Consider that during the initial years of a services procurement outsourcing initiative involving legal spend, that pursuing e-billing programs that enable rate management and better invoice tracking along with formal rate management programs and related benchmarking, rate/value alignment and volume discounting is most likely to deliver optimal near-term results. Yet in most cases, in the out-years of a multiple-year legal spend management program, it makes sense to move to such areas as law firm selection, alternative fee arrangements, resource optimization and document discovery as the next areas to tackle.