The SOW Category

Upwork Enterprise: What Makes It Great (Independent Contract Workforce Analysis)


Upwork, the well-known, global online freelancer marketplace, is increasingly becoming known for its Upwork Enterprise solution, a combination of technology and managed services designed to enable enterprises to source and engage freelance talent. Upwork Enterprise was recently evaluated in Spend Matters’ SolutionMap framework with the Independent Contract Workforce (ICW) enterprise solution category. The ICW solution segment is the most dynamic part of the contingent and workforce and services (CW/S) procurement technology market, which also includes the Temp Staffing (Vendor Management Systems/VMS) and Contract Services/Statement of Work solution segments.

Today’s ICW enterprise solutions — many originating, like Upwork, as online marketplaces — have their roots (or at least their impetus) in the so-called gig, freelance and peer-to-peer “economies” (the new world of Uber and Airbnb versus the establishment world of enterprise software applications inhabited for decades by providers like SAP and Oracle). Some of these “gig economy” solution providers have been clawing their way into larger enterprises with new technology platforms to allow those organizations to scale up their use of freelancers sourced through online platforms. This is what Upwork has been doing with Upwork Enterprise, which goes go market now as a combined managed services and technology solution (analogous, up to a point, of traditional managed service providers with their own VMS technology).

In the ICW solution segment, Upwork Enterprise is a unique solution that provides a set of functionality and services that organizations of any size can use to source, engage and pay remote, online freelancers and agencies from Upwork’s global marketplace. It provides clients with robust capabilities that includes management of SOW projects and the organization of preferred providers (freelancers/agencies) in private talent pools. And the value of the platform also is being amplified by a growing set of managed services and solution offerings.

Where does Upwork Enterprise fit into the burgeoning ICW market? As of September 2018, the Spend Matters SolutionMap contains functional and customer satisfaction benchmarks on over 50 providers within the procurement technology landscape, including six providers within the ICW segment. But where does Upwork Enterprise stand out most and help “set the bar” in for the ICW segment? And why should this matter for procurement and HR organizations? Let’s delve into the SolutionMap benchmark to find out where Upwork Enterprise is great.

“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.

Beeline: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses [PRO]

This Vendor Snapshot focuses on Beeline, a contingent workforce and services sourcing and management technology solution provider. For years one of the top global players in the traditional VMS software category, the company has begun to expand its solution in a number of different directions to address the changing needs of enterprise clients at a time when external workforce utilization is increasing and new technology solutions for sourcing and managing contingent workforce and services (CW/S) are required. Although Beeline, as a company now merged with IQNavigator (IQN), currently serves clients with two VMS solutions, in this series we focus on the Beeline platform; we plan to address the IQN solution in the future.

Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and solution overview, including basic fit criteria for firms considering Beeline. Part 2 explores Beeline’s product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist the vendor to enable their services procurement technology requirements. It also offers a high-level evaluation of the user interface. Part 3 of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Legal Sourcing and Billing: Category Sourcing, Maturity Models and Services Procurement Linkages (Part 2) [Plus+]

forced labor

Legal spend is a bit different than other categories in part because it cuts across all aspects of the business and the lines between “make” and “buy” can be drawn differently based on customer, need and timing. The fundamental challenge in this regard is that legal spending must be aligned with sales (customers), procurement (vendors), finance and operations (products) to deliver the right level of value. If it’s seen as a siloed compliance function, legal is doomed to languish as a subperforming cost center. In considering legal sourcing maturity, it’s essential to keep this in mind.

Sponsored Article

SOW Best Practices: The Three Pillars Model

Spend Matters welcomes this sponsored article from Michael Matherly, who leads the SOW practice for Geometric Results, the world’s largest independent, conflict-free MSP solutions provider.

To conclude our series on how to get to best practices with SOW (read the prior posts here and here), we look at how to implement and sustain them once they have been determined. The Three Pillars Model offers an effective strategy.

Sponsored Article

Planning for a Successful VMS Implementation

Spend Matters welcomes this sponsored article from Justine Hauth, implementation manager at SAP Fieldglass.

Your company has chosen a Vendor Management System (VMS) and you’re anxious to get started on implementation… but stop! An implementation project’s success begins with a well-organized and thought-out plan prior to kick off. Most of us have experienced the impact that poor planning can have: increased timelines, budgets, missed expectations and other frustrations that leave you scratching your head and asking “what went wrong?” and ”how did we get here?” So it’s essential that you consider the following while planning for a successful VMS implementation.

Is the IC Compliance Business Model Due for a Change?


Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Michael Matherly, CEO of Sourcing for Services.

Independent and contingent workers are all the rage these days. What used to be 10%–15% of the total workforce just 15 years ago is pushing 25%–30% today, and the tide is still rising. This flood of contingent talent has begun to alter the moorings of many vessels in our industry, none more so than the independent contractor (IC) compliance solution. The rise of the contingent workforce and particularly the proliferation of independent or freelance workers, has put misclassification risk, and the providers that help companies manage that risk, on the HR and procurement radar in a big way, across all sectors.

The Rise of SOW Spending and a Look at the Technology Needed to Support It – Certified Fresh Research

The vendor management system (VMS) has come a long way in a short period of time, but many procurement organizations are still evolving from simple use of a VMS to managing staffing firms and contractors and leveraging the same technology to actively manage and influence more general services procurement spend. Read all about it in this complimentary research brief, A Simplified Look at the Rise of SOW Spending and Understanding the Technology Necessary to Support It.

Sponsored Article

What Comes Before SOW Best Practices? (Part 2)

change of control clauses

The first installment in our statement of work best practices series tried to answer the question, “What comes before best practices?” We soon realized there isn’t an easy answer. While some companies discover they aren’t complying with SOW contract terms, others may find their pricing structures and payment practices are the problem. Bottom line: Companies often discover what best practices look like only after they’ve recovered from a few bad ones. In our experience, implementing best practices that help organizations control costs, avoid risks and deliver deeper savings can be one key to SOW success. Here are a couple of real life examples of not-so-great practices that led to positive changes.

Sponsored Article

What Comes Before Best Practices in SOW?

Spend Matters welcomes this sponsored article from Michael Matherly, who leads the SOW practice for Geometric Results, the world’s largest independent, conflict-free MSP solutions provider.

We all strive to instill best practices in our organizations — I’m a procurement guy, so those revolving around sourcing, contracting and vendor management are what I seem to be constantly pursuing on behalf of our clients. Recently, I’ve been thinking about what precedes these so-called best practices. Were they actually the worst practices or were they the result of an organization’s a natural tendency to settle on adequate or merely sufficient practices?

Sponsored Article

Change Management for a Successful VMS Implementation

Spend Matters welcomes this sponsored article from Stephen Fedor, manager, implementation services, at SAP Fieldglass.

“Why is it that we never have time to do it right, but always have time to do it over?” Spend Matters posed this question in a recent article and it inspired the SAP Fieldglass implementation team to reflect. Implementing a new technology, VMS or procurement aside, comes with inherent change management challenges. These can include low end user adoption, unclear support materials and lack of training and communication resources. We’ve learned the value of careful change management planning, especially when it comes to managing services procurement and the external workforce with a new technology.

SirionLabs: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary Analysis & Recommendations [PRO]

When our most strategic suppliers truly become embedded in our business and the scope of the relationship involves specialized obligations and commitments centered on measurable outcomes that extend beyond quality and on-time performance alone, traditional indirect materials source-to-pay (S2P) and vendor management system (VMS) SOW capabilities may come up short. This statement holds true not just for managing business process outsourcing (BPO) and other services-centric relationships, but also the most strategic vendor partnerships with manufacturing suppliers as well. SirionLabs, a specialized procurement suite vendor, has built a solution that faces little competition in addressing much (but not yet all) of the lifecycle for managing the most strategic, outcomes- and obligations-based supplier relationships.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering SirionLabs offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other similar or related vendors that companies may wish to shortlist. It also includes a user selection guide, user interface and user experience (UI/UX) analysis and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep dive solution overview, a SWOT analysis, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider SirionLabs.

SirionLabs: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses [PRO]


Many procurement organizations looking at SirionLabs for the first time might be surprised at the level of depth the solution goes to around enabling better savings, outcomes and value centered on a single type of spending: highly strategic, highly complex and often highly fluid services relationships. Compared with other source-to-pay (S2P) solutions in which organizations engage and manage categories and spending across dozens, hundreds or even thousands of suppliers, some SirionLabs customers often use it for just a single supplier (although many use it for more than this).

For those that manage truly strategic services suppliers, this should not be a surprise. Just as there is not a one-size-fits-all strategy to achieving savings in procurement, there is not a one-size approach to managing suppliers that procurement can apply across the lifecycle of relationships from pre-contracting to post-contracting. Moreover, by the same token, the value levers that we can pull most effectively vary dramatically by category and spend/supplier characteristics as well.

This Spend Matters PRO vendor snapshot explores SirionLabs’ strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist the vendor as a potential provider. Part 1 of our analysis comprised a company and detailed solution overview, a SWOT analysis and a summary recommended fit suggestion for what types of organizations should consider SirionLabs. The final installments of this multipart series will offer a user selection guide, user interface (UI/UX) analysis, competitive alternatives and evaluation and selection considerations.