Services and Indirect Spend Content

Afternoon Coffee: Basware, Taulia Making News; Arrow Electronics and Freelancer.com Connect; Tariffs to Stay

Basware gets PE investment from Bregal Milestone totaling €50 million. Taulia has rolled out a new version of its buyer platform, bringing enhanced artificial intelligence capabilities to its programs. Arrow Electronics, Inc., and Freelancer.com, one of the largest freelancing/crowdsourcing marketplaces, announced the launch of ArrowPlus powered by Freelancer.com. And Medpricer unveils a new analytics feature. Afternoon Coffee: the latest procurement and supply chain news.

9 Tips for Gig Workers to Get More Work This Year

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Mynul Khan, CEO and founder of Field Nation, which offers a specialized enterprise technology solution and online marketplace that enables the sourcing, dispatching management and payment of independent field tech contractors.

For gig workers, 2019 is expected to bring increased competition. The gig economy workforce is currently growing three times faster than the traditional U.S. workforce and is predicted to make up half of the workers by 2027. The good news is job opportunities are not slim because employers are increasingly looking for freelancers to help cut costs, supplement workflow and provide specialty skills. For gig workers looking to expand their client roster and build credibility, here are nine simple tips to get more work this year.

Sourcing and Engaging the Independent/Freelance Workforce — An Emerging Ecosystem? (Part 3) [PRO]

The overarching question motivating this five-part Spend Matters PRO series is one posed to practitioners: “As a services procurement manager, should I be paying more attention — maybe even taking action on — the independent contract workforce, or ICW, as a supply of skills/expertise?”

In Part 1 of this series, we examined if measures of size and growth of the ICW population provided a clear basis for answering this question and found that, at least in our opinion, it did not (see Part 1).

We also proposed that, in addition to monitoring demand within one’s organization (something not adequately done by most procurement organizations), the extent to which a new ICW ecosystem is emerging could also provide some basis for answering the question. We also proposed looking separately at the extent to which an ecosystem has been forming to:

  • Provide enterprises with the required capabilities to source, manage and maximize the value of this independent/freelance population (Parts 2 and 3 of this series)
  • Provide independent/freelance workers with the access to the opportunity pathways and the support/services they require to function as viable “operators.” (Part 4 of this series)
Starting in Part 2, we began looking at the formation of an ecosystem enabling organizations’ usage of (source, engage, manage and pay) independent/freelance workforce. In Part 2, we reviewed findings from a recent panel survey of CW/S solution provider executives which suggested that a new ICW ecosystem has been taking shape recently. When asked this: “Over the past three years, have you seen the emergence of new digitally-integratable, configurable ecosystem(s) of solution and service providers focused on enabling organizations and independent workforce on the demand and the supply sides?” over 80% of respondents answered “Yes, to some extent,” while none answered “No , I haven't seen that happening.”

In this third part of the series, we will continue this same assessment of an emerging ecosystem enabling organizations usage of ICWs , but dissecting it at the category and provider level.

In Part 4, we will provide a similar assessment, but from the standpoint of how ICWs are enabled/supported to function as viable operators. In Part 5, we will synthesize the findings and offer recommendations for services procurement practitioners and senior executives.

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.).

Upwork’s Latest ‘Future Workforce’ Report Shows Differences in Freelance, Remote Hiring by Millennials/Gen Z and Baby Boomer Managers

contingent workforce

The freelancer website Upwork on Tuesday released its third annual “Future Workforce Report,” which examines hiring behaviors of more than 1,000 hiring managers based in the U.S. It looks “specifically into how younger generations’ (hiring managers) are shaping the future of work.” The study is far-ranging, but our coverage will focus on some areas relevant to our procurement audience: younger generations’ attitudes toward changing work models — namely, remote work and external workforce.

Coupa, Services and Coupa Contingent Workforce: A Progress Report (Part 2) [PRO]

In this two-part PRO series, Spend Matters provides a review and analysis of Coupa’s recent evolution in addressing the category of services spend, including Coupa Contingent Workforce. In Part 1, we provided an overview of where Coupa is at with the integration and leveraging of DCR Workforce.

First, we revisited the Coupa “services procurement” background/context leading up to the DCR acquisition last year. We also recounted our September 2018 briefing, in which Coupa discussed the acquisition and what to expect as far as integration (or “unification”) of the acquisition over the coming months. Additionally, we discussed what we learned from our most recent January 2019 briefing by Coupa on the current state of the integration.

Based on this analysis, we concluded that, six months in after the acquisition, Coupa’s integration at the organizational and product levels appeared to be on course. The priorities seemed reasonable even given the unique dynamics of the VMS market — and the plan, based on Coupa’s history of stamping out post-merger integrations, seemed on track.

But beyond this, what has happened to the DCR product under the Coupa umbrella? And how is it fitting into the changing world of services procurement — and potentially even help to shape it? In Part 2 of this research series, we will provide our own observations on where Coupa seems to be going, in terms of the contingent workforce technology solution segment and its increasing overlap with other procurement technology solutions.

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List: March 2019 [Plus+]

Welcome to the March 2019 edition of Spend Matters’ Insiders’ Hot List, a monthly look at the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) space that’s available to PLUS and PRO subscribers. For those new to the Hot List, each edition covers the prior month’s important or interesting technology and innovation developments in the CW/S space. In February, the CW/S space continued to simmer, so for this edition we’ve taken a taste of what’s cookin’ in the kitchen — M&A, millions in funding raised and organizational developments.

Vndly Closes $11 Million Series A Funding Round: A VMS Category Buster in the Making? [PRO]

Workforce Reimagined concept on the gearwheels, 3D rendering

Vndly, which describes itself as a “cloud-based work management system (WMS) to power the new gig economy,” announced Thursday that it has closed an $11 million Series A funding round led by Battery Ventures and Hyde Park Ventures. According to the announcement, the “investment will be used to drive product innovation, customer adoption and global expansion.”

Vndly describes itself as a software-as-a-service WMS system, which “unlike legacy VMS offerings … uses an ‘outcomes’-based management approach rather than a traditional ‘process’-based approach, along with machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithms to automate manual tasks.” The announcement also states that the Vndly platform has four major modules: contingent workforce management, statement of work (SOW) management, independent contractor (IC) compliance and total talent acquisition.

When Cincinnati-based Vndly entered the contingent workforce/services (CW/S) solution space, launching with beta clients in mid-2017, it came out swinging.

Co-founder and CEO Shashank Saxena has been clear about the intent to reframe the problem and the solution of businesses managing the non-employee/contingent workforce at the end of the second decade of the 21th century. In the announcement, Saxena said, “We founded Vndly ... to address a rapidly growing problem fueled by the rise of contractors, freelancers and the gig economy” and “we are poised to transform the legacy VMS market with our WMS platform.”

Spend Matters has spent over a dozen hours reviewing and demoing the Vndly solution in recent quarters and validating its RFI responses as part of Spend Matters SolutionMap. We have also created a summary research brief exploring where it excels on a comparative basis compared to peers.

In this Spend Matters PRO briefing, rather than focus on the specifics of the funding event, we instead examine Vndly’s approach to addressing current and emerging requirements (of organizations, suppliers, intermediaries and workers) for CW/S enterprise technology solutions. In addition, we place Vndly in the broader context of a once well-defined, VMS-centric CW/S technology solution industry in which the solution provider landscape has been evolving and the boundaries of solution categories have been changing over the last five years.

Five Scenarios for VMS 2025 — An Introduction

gig economy

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the future of the vendor management system (VMS) in the services procurement world — including the potential for growing overlap with source-to-pay technologies. My thinking is in part shaped from a result of increasing integrations between SAP Fieldglass and SAP Ariba, Coupa’s absorption and integration of DCR Workforce and increasing “fringe” services procurement capabilities offered by source-to-pay suite providers (e.g., Ivalua).

Why does this matter? This future state, VMS 2025, is critical for procurement organizations as they have the power to define how these technologies serve them rather than the other way around (which is the dominate scenario today).

But before we explore what the future might hold for procurement, let’s define what a VMS is or at least has been in the past (we know the concept of a VMS is evolving).

Sourcing and Engaging the Independent/Freelance Workforce — An Emerging Ecosystem? (Part 2) [PRO]

In Part 1 of this five-part Spend Matters PRO series, we asked the question: “As a service procurement manager, should I be paying more attention — maybe even taking action on — the independent contract workforce (ICW) as a supply of skills/expertise?” Answering this complicated question requires looking at the state of the ICW population and, more importantly, the extent to which an ecosystem of ICW technology solutions, intermediaries and value-added service providers is taking shape.

In Part 1, we tried to cut through the gig-economy hype and see what has really been happening in the supply-side population of independent contract workers over the past three years. Starting in Part 2, we will now begin to assess to what extent there has been evidence of the emergence/formation of a new ecosystem from the standpoint of enabling organizations’ usage of (source, engage, manage and pay) independent/freelance workforce. We will also review findings from a panel survey.

In Part 3, we will continue this same assessment, but dissecting that emerging ecosystem at the category and provider level. In Part 4, we will provide a similar assessment, but from the standpoint of how ICWs are enabled/supported to function as viable operators. In Part 5, we will synthesize the findings and offer recommendations for services procurement practitioners and senior executives.

A ‘Human Touch’: VectorVMS Talks Rebrand and What the Future Holds

workers

The market for contingent workforce solutions has been evolving rapidly, including a new name for a vendor that has a deep history in the sector. VectorVMS, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based provider of a vendor management system (VMS) solution, recently became its own brand after spinning off from PeopleFluent, which had been Peopleclick. Since “people” are a prominent thread here, we caught up with Marc Husain, the general manager of VectorVMS, for a Q&A on the company's new developments.

Coupa, Services and Coupa Contingent Workforce: A Progress Report (Part 1) [PRO]

In September 2018, Coupa surprised the contingent workforce industry (and others) with its acquisition of DCR Workforce, a leading VMS solution.

In short order, the DCR solution was rebranded as Coupa Contingent Workforce (CCW). Coupa also immediately indicated that CCW — which includes its own best-in-class solution for sourcing as well as managing SOW engagements and complex services — would coexist with its Services Maestro that became available for all Coupa customers at the start of 2018.

After all that, it was then possible to see all the pieces of the puzzle but perhaps not really understand how they would all come together. In September, we had our first briefing on the acquisition, the rationale and next steps. And we recently saw an update on the progress with CCW.

In this PRO briefing, in addition to reporting on some of what has been happening with Coupa and its acquisition, we also want to use our perspective — now six months later — to try to render a more complete view into Coupa’s services procurement strategy based on the briefings and our own observations and inferences.

In what follows, we will provide background and context leading to the acquisition, revisit the key points and the setting of expectations in our initial briefing in September; discuss what we learned about progress in our most recent briefing; and, provide our own observations on where things seem to be heading for Coupa and in the contingent workforce industry and its increasing overlap with procurement technology solutions.