Solution Providers Content

From Watch to Know in 2019: State of Flux Focuses on User Experience in SRM

Each year, some companies on Spend Matters’ 50 Providers to Know list and the list of 50 to Watch honorees here in the Spend Matters Almanac push themselves beyond simply a standout performance. They earn the recognition that they are not only bringing innovation into procurement organizations but also leading the charge to change the way we do business for the better. These are the providers who shifted from Watch to Know in 2019, like State of Flux.

To learn more about these providers, we reached out to a few such cases in our 2019 50/50 lists, asking how they’ve changed over the years and what differentiates them from the competition. Today’s Q&A features State of Flux Chairman Alan Day.

Sourceit: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT [PRO]

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.

50/50 Webinar: Lessons Learned from the 2019 Providers to Watch and Know

Now that Spend Matters’ 50 Providers to Know and 50 Providers to Watch lists have been released, we are diving deeper into the sets of honorees and examining the market trends they demonstrate. From A.T. Kearney through Zylo, there are plenty of intriguing tidbits and conclusions to draw.

Earlier this week, Spend Matters Chief Research Officer Pierre Mitchell hosted our annual Vendor Intelligence webinar exploring the 50 to Watch and Know (you can view the webinar on-demand here). Topics included the industry pace-setters, disruptive newcomers and how all the honorees are taking procurement to the next level. In the sixth year of the lists, there is still plenty to be learned.

Simplify Workforce: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT [PRO]

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.

ISM 2019 Houston Conference: Highlights and Musings (Part 2)

After a Spend Matters' team went to the ISM 2019 conference last week in Houston, I recapped the event in an earlier post, but today I want to focus on two more sessions, one titled "Procurement Hacks" and the other about sustainability, given by HP Enterprise. And I have a special shoutout for Katie Smith, who discussed a procurement digital transformation case study for HERE Technologies.

SourceDay: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT [PRO]

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.

Coupa to Acquire Exari: What Type of CLM Solution Is Coupa Getting? (Part 1) [PRO]

Coupa just announced that it intends to acquire Exari, a leading provider of contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions. Terms of the deal were not provided, but with Exari having almost 150 employees, it’s not unreasonable that the private firm would have over $30 million in revenues and a deal size valued at just over nine figures. Contract management is a red-hot space right now, and Coupa has a very strategic need for this product. Spend Matters believes that this acquisition is a very smart hand-in-glove acquisition even though it’ll require some alterations to truly fit properly.

Coupa currently has a basic contracting module as part of its “Business Spend Management” application suite within the source-to-pay market, but it was missing two critical aspects of modern CLM that are major strengths for Exari. On a product functionality basis, Exari is one of the very top performers in Spend Matters’ CLM rankings on SolutionMap, and it “ticks all the right boxes” for a best-of-breed CLM performer. It’s also unique in its knowledge-based approach to deep contract modeling rather than just straight AI and machine learning based on contract text analytics.

CLM is also not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and the market landscape depends heavily on many factors. Some providers are much more oriented toward the sell-side — e.g., CPQ-oriented providers such as Apttus or SpringCLM (recently acquired by DocuSign). Some are focused on the mass market with usability being a key focus (e.g., Concord, Outlaw, PandaDoc, etc.). And even within large enterprises looking at firms like Exari, Icertis, Agiloft, SirionLabs, and others, they differ in their requirements as to whether they want “deep” functionality, maximum configurability, ease-of-integration, attractiveness to many functions (e.g., the legal department), and/or being part of a larger application suite.

So, what is Coupa getting with Exari? What types of organizations are the best fit for this solution and the combined solution of Coupa and Exari? Is Exari a solution optimized for legal, procurement or both? And what will Coupa need to do to integrate Exari since this acquisition is not some simple bolt-on, but rather, a core platform component? Finally, what is the impact of this acquisition on the S2P and CLM markets?

This Spend Matters PRO quick take analysis provides insight for Coupa customers and the broader market on specifically what the provider is acquiring. Unlike past acquisitions, we believe Exari represents the greatest stretch away from its core economic buyer (at least historically). Find out why.

For an introduction to Exari, we encourage you to read our Spend Matters PRO review: Introduction & Solution Overview, Strengths/Weakness and Market/Competitive Analysis.

Comparing Coupa to Exari: Piecing Together a Top Tier Jigsaw Puzzle for CLM (SolutionMap Analysis)

With its announced intent to purchase Exari, Coupa has completed a full circle of acquisitions to bring best-of-breed applications to each area of the Strategic Procurement Technology (SPT) category of Spend Matters’ SolutionMap as Coupa expands beyond its original P2P roots.

Earlier acquisitions of Trade Extensions, Spend360 and Hiperos helped Coupa assemble an SPT jigsaw puzzle for sourcing, spend analytics and supplier management, and Exari, with its AI-based approach to deep contract modeling and analytics, represents yet another piece of an emerging tableau. And a critical one at that: In many ways, CLM forms the critical link within Coupa’s source-to-pay suite between upstream sourcing activities and downstream P2P, meaning there are significant opportunities to mine here for Coupa users in areas such as risk management, strategic supplier relationship management and, of course, savings generation.

Yet in addition to the question of how Exari fits into the larger Coupa strategy puzzle, there is also a relevant one about how the vendor fits into Coupa’s current CLM product strategy (and current contracts application), from a feature-function angle as well as a technical (integration) perspective.

As the Spend Matters Contract Lifecycle Management scoring in SolutionMap illustrates, Coupa’s current CLM capabilities are stronger in some areas than others, whereas Exari’s help set the benchmark in many areas.

When brought into Coupa, Exari would theoretically help close some of the gaps in Coupa’s offering relative to best-of-breed pacesetters, as well as suite competitors that have made investments in strong CLM capability.

The technical reality, however, is not quite as simple. Exari itself is a vendor built somewhat from acquired solutions, and while its CLM capabilities are best-in-class, its three main components (contract parsing, template creation and core CLM features) are all built on different technology stacks.

So where do Coupa and Exari fit together, and what are their areas of comparative strengths and weaknesses at the time of the acquisition?

This Spend Matters SolutionMap analysis provides an overview of the two providers’ capabilities, their comparative rankings in the CLM category and what combining the solutions into one offering could look like. It uses as the basis of comparison the Q1 2019 SolutionMap for Contract Lifecycle Management, which analyzes 13 vendors across dozens of functional categories, including contract creation and authoring, core contract modeling, analytics, expiry and renewal management, and compliance.

Coupa to Buy Exari, Boosting CLM in Its Business Spend Management Suite

Efficio

Coupa Software is buying Exari to gain its best-of-breed contract lifecycle management (CLM) offering, Coupa announced Tuesday morning. Coupa, a San Francisco-area suite provider of business spend management (BSM), said in a news release that the transaction for Boston-based Exari is expected to close in its second fiscal quarter. In a disclosure to investors, it said the aggregate purchase price for the transaction is about $215 million in cash.

Exari is a top performer in Spend Matters’ CLM rankings on SolutionMap, and it is unique in its knowledge-based approach to deep contract modeling rather than just straight artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning based on contract text analytics.

ISM 2019 Houston Conference: Highlights and Musings (Part 1)

A small Spend Matters team descended on ISM 2019 conference this year in Houston (next year is in Boston, where I live!) and I wanted to share some thoughts on the event and a few of the great sessions there.

SAP Ariba Sourcing: How It Compares Today and What’s Coming Tomorrow (Part 1: Benchmark Performance, Product Roadmap) [PRO]

future

The strategic sourcing or e-sourcing technology market — we simply call it “Sourcing” in SolutionMap — has undergone significant transformation and bifurcation in recent years. On the one hand, disruption has come from simplicity and ease of use (e.g., Bonfire, Keelvar, Market Dojo, Scout RFP, etc.). And on the other hand, it has come from significant advances in functional capabilities in various areas (e.g., Coupa, GEP, Ivalua, Jaggaer, SynerTrade and Wax Digital, among others).

SAP Ariba, one of the stalwarts of the Sourcing world for over two decades (if you count the acquisition of FreeMarkets), remains a frequent competitor on a global basis today. But how does SAP Ariba compare to others in the market on a functional basis based on its current offering? And what is coming for SAP Ariba Sourcing tomorrow?

Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO analysis provides insight into SAP’s relative strengths and weaknesses today (based on our Q1 2019 SolutionMap release) and shares what we learned from the SAP Ariba Live event this month on an overall roadmap basis. Part 2 will provide additional insight into the new SAP Ariba Sourcing user experience as well as analysis, commentary and customer recommendations based on SAP Ariba’s Sourcing roadmap overall.

From Watch to Know in 2019: How APEX Analytix is Helping Transform Supplier Management

supplier management

Each year, some companies on the Spend Matters 50 Providers to Know and 50 Providers to Watch lists push themselves beyond simply a standout performance. They earn the recognition that they are not only bringing innovation into procurement organizations but also leading the charge to change the way we do business for the better. These are the providers who shifted from Watch to Know in 2019.

To learn more about these providers, we reached out to a few such cases in our 2019 50/50 lists, asking how they’ve changed over the years and what differentiates them from the competition. Today’s Q&A features Danny Thompson, SVP, Market & Product Strategy at APEX Analytix.