Vendor Snapshots Content

Promena: Vendor Introduction (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

contingent workforce

In our last Spend Matters PRO post, we introduced you to Promena, an 18-year-old provider based out of Istanbul that is deploying a platform for strategic sourcing, supplier management and e-procurement. Operated under the umbrella of Zer, a procurement BPO firm that itself is a subsidiary of Turkey’s largest industrial conglomerate, Koç Holding, Promena has a solution with a long history of development and some relatively mature functionality despite its lower name recognition in the global procurement technology market. And while its newest modules are still finding their footing amid a rapidly changing sector, the solution overall offers a strong baseline off which Promena could expand it functional footprint.

Part 1 of this brief provided an overview of Promena’s offering and a short selection requirements checklist that outlined the typical company for which Promena might be a good fit. In Part 2, we provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis, and some final conclusions and takeaways.

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.

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.

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.

Artificial Intelligence Meets Payables and Dynamic Discounting: Oracle Cloud Vendor Snapshot Update (Part 1) [PRO]

At the recent Oracle Modern Business Experience event, artificial intelligence figured prominently in many of the mainstage and breakout sessions. Not surprisingly, AI is working its way into Oracle’s procurement suite of cloud capabilities.

Oracle’s investments in AI are centered across several areas leveraging a range of underlying algorithmic approaches (e.g., semantic analysis, neural nets, deep learning, etc.) that individually or collectively serve to enable different business use cases centered on what Oracle calls pattern recognition, smart recognition and smart prediction.

Within its procurement suite of cloud solutions, Oracle has released two AI-driven applications: intelligent supplier categorization (think spend classification) and intelligent payment discounts.

This two-part Spend Matters PRO research brief provides an introduction to the intelligent payment discounting module. For an introduction to the Oracle Procurement Cloud, see our previous Vendor Snapshot coverage (Overview and Introduction, Strengths / Weaknesses and Recommendations/Competitive Alternatives) and Comparative SolutionMap ratings as part of SolutionMap for Q1 2019 for E-Procurement, Invoice-to-Pay and Procure-to-Pay.

Part 1 of this research brief provides a description of capabilities and review of the solution itself — what it does, how it works and how AI makes it effective. Part 2 explores the strengths and weaknesses of the solution and provides customer recommendations.

WPS Management (Wescale): Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis  [PRO]

Procurement organizations today don’t have to do a lot of legwork to build an initial shortlist for choosing an e-procurement or procure-to-pay solution. A Google search will return dozens of companies vying for your business, and the Spend Matters SolutionMaps for E-Procurement and Procure-to-Pay Suites make the process even simpler, rating top providers of these solutions against specific organizational requirements based on buyer demographics and psychographics.

Figuring out the differences between all of these choices, however, is easier said than done.

One of the key ways procurement organizations can do this is by understanding what type of market a vendor seeks to address. Although in concept the potential market a vendor is targeting could appear similar to how others position their solutions, the reality is that each provider is unique in terms of their best-fit customers, their capabilities and the technological foundations of their platform.

This is especially true of Wescale, which provides P2P functionality fit for a variety of businesses through an open business integration platform approach (PaaS, or platform as a service) not commonly seen from e-procurement or P2P providers in the North American market. For that matter, Berlin-based Wescale is not commonly seen outside of Europe — but to the detriment of potential U.S. and global customers that might overlook it due to its primary geographic focus.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Wescale, the branded name for WPS Management, includes an objective SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also has a recommended shortlist of candidates as substitute providers to Wescale as well as provider-selection guidance. Finally, it offers a summary analysis and recommendations for companies that can best take advantage of Wescale’s capabilities.

Part 1 of this series provided an in-depth look at Wescale as a company and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of its solution strengths and weaknesses as well as a review of the user experience.

WPS Management (Wescale): Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

FM Global Resilience Index

While not well known outside of the European market, Wescale delivers a unique set of procure-to-pay capabilities originally built from its e-procurement plumbing and catalog management roots as Wallmedien and WPS Management, now branded as Wescale.

For many years, we have watched with admiration as this R&D-centric provider has taken a road-less-traveled approach to enabling procurement users. But when it comes to procure-to-pay, where is it strong and where is it weak?

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Wescale’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the vendor. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview, as well as a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Wescale. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

WPS Management (Wescale): Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview [PRO]

Wescale is the broader “procurement umbrella” and new open business integration platform of WPS Management, a provider that traces its roots to 1997 with the creation of Wallmedien AG, one of the first e-procurement solutions for the SAP environment in Europe. We’re sorry if this sounds confusing (it is). But what matters is that since its founding, Wallmedien AG has managed to grow its core business in e-procurement while also adding additional capabilities through its affiliated businesses and product lines, including WPS4/Procure, Meplato and recently Wescale.

Wescale is the platform through which all WPS Management solutions are integrated. WPS Management (branded as Wescale) has participated in the Spend Matters E-Procurement SolutionMap, competing with specialists such as Vroozi, BuyerQuest, OpusCapita (jCatalog) and others with similar platforms like Basware, Tradeshift and Determine (now Corcentric).

This three-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot uses facts and expert analysis from Wescale’s participation in the 2018 SolutionMap to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about the broader umbrella of capabilities this provider offers. An update will be published this summer, based on Wescale’s latest 2019 capabilities.

Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as suggestions for when organizations should consider the Wescale platform. The remainder of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Fairmarkit: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT (Part 2) — Summary and Competitive Analysis [PRO]

The question of how to manage tail spend is as much a philosophical question as a technical one. There are issues around the thresholds that define tail spend, challenges around rogue spend that creates the long tail and the ultimate decision about who should be responsible for taming the tail.

But for most procurement organizations, the tail spend discussion is left unexplored.

Instead, the status quo way of managing tail spend often reigns. It’s rarely effective, so you’re left with the problems: wasted time by procurement and non-procurement staff, long lists of unknown or untrusted vendors, no clean data or visibility into savings left on the table.

Challenging this status quo is what Fairmarkit, a provider of tail spend management software out of Boston, seeks to do with its RFQ and analytics solutions. But where does Fairmarkit fit compared with other sourcing and tail spend management providers in the procurement technology market, and what are its relative strengths and weaknesses compared with direct and indirect competitors?

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Fairmarkit and its capabilities. Part 1 of this brief provided an overview of Fairmarkit’s offering and a detailed solution tour. Part 2 includes a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a competitive breakdown of other providers that a procurement organization might consider while evaluating Fairmarkit.

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.

Outlaw: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT [PRO]

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.

Field Nation: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis [PRO]

Field Nation — as discussed in this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot Part 1 and Part 2 — provides an online marketplace and an enterprise solution that enables companies and their managers to conduct “on-demand” sourcing, engagement, dispatch, management and payment of IT field services contractors, services providers and even their own company employees. Today, Field Nation still largely plays in the narrow/niche of online marketplace/work execution solution segment of IT field contractors/providers (what might be considered a niche, duopoly market where it competes against WorkMarket, now an ADP company). But it has recently launched its broader, enterprise-level Field Nation ONE solution, which implies a considerably wider competitive context. If one expands the potential market to include larger, enterprise-level field service management (“FSM”) solutions (or further, to address other on-demand, on-site project work categories), the addressable market would be much larger and the industry competitive landscape and dynamics would be significantly different.

Part 1 provided a company and detailed solution overview, as well as a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Field Nation. Part 2 discussed Spend Matters’ perspective on solution strengths and weaknesses along with a rating of UI/UX for firms considering solution options. In our third and final installment, we provide a SWOT overview of Field Nation as a whole, a high-level, comparative competitive analysis, key fit criteria and, lastly, brief commentary and suggestions for organizations that might consider Field Nation as a potential solution partner.