Vendor Snapshots Content

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.

Field Nation: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

In the first of this three-part Spend Matters PRO series, we introduced you to Field Nation, a digital platform that enables companies and their managers to conduct “on-demand” sourcing, engagement, dispatch, management and payment of technical field services contractors, services providers and, recently, employees.

For a number of years, Field Nation has been providing what was basically a many-to-many online spot-buy marketplace. But last year, the company launched an enterprise-level, blended-workforce sourcing and management platform solution called Field Nation ONE, and that is the focus of this product evaluation.

Among other enterprise technology solutions that address independent contract workers (ICWs) and are featured in the Spend Matters ICW SolutionMap, Field Nation ONE stands out with laser-like focus in the field services vertical and its integrated proprietary marketplace of roughly 15,000 field service contractors in the U.S. and Canada. But while Field Nation ONE is an enterprise, S2P solution addressing the ICW work category, it is nonetheless a specialized one and needs to be evaluated on that basis. It also bears noting that Field Nation ONE is at the very beginning of its product maturity curve.

Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO series provided company background and a detailed solution overview, plus a set of solution-fit considerations. In Part 2, we now cover what we see as the strengths and weaknesses of the solution as well as a rating of UI/UX. Part 3 will provide competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Transparency-One: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT [PRO]

Procurement and supply chain organizations are facing pressure from consumers, governments and investors to clean up their supply chains. Whether it’s traceability of ingredients (including their source and their quality), assurance that labor and facility conditions are up to code, or proof that emerging compliance standards like modern slavery laws are being met, companies are increasingly being tasked with mapping their entire supply chain while ensuring that suppliers are meeting, and tracking, myriad metrics for safety, sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

This is the narrative that Transparency-One, a provider of supply chain visibility and compliance tracking solutions, is betting the farm on. (This is apt, because the provider actually models and monitors farms as part of the extended supply chains being tracked within its system.)

Founded in 2016, Transparency-One enables executives in charge of sustainability or responsible sourcing to report accurate supplier and compliance data to sales, marketing and regulatory compliance functions about what’s happening in their supply chains end to end, as well as to map product tracking and quality information down to the lot/batch level.

While many such efforts are already underway at major companies, compliance tracking is often fragmented, with initiatives like conflict minerals compliance managed separately (and in different tools) from the tracking of, say, facility safety certifications. Transparency-One is seeking to bring all of these efforts into a single platform, starting first with the food, retail (e.g., grocery, apparel) and industrial materials (e.g., rubber, chemicals) sectors.

Currently operating in 30 countries and in six languages, Transparency-One counts traceability projects with Intermarché, Carrefour and Mars among its pilot customers. It has offices in Boston and Paris.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Transparency-One and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of Transparency-One’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. It also touches upon graph databases and their use in this supply chain management, supplier management and risk management mashup area.

TenderEasy: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT [PRO]

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Despite the current tide of populism, the growing globalization of businesses and, thus, corporate supply chains is a trend no procurement organization can ignore.

Alongside this push into new markets for both sales and production comes a need to more effectively procure transportation because moving commodities or finished goods between facilities, like factories or distribution centers, and their final destinations has become more complex. Add to this a litany of procurement-specific obstacles to effective freight sourcing and management — from a dearth of qualified internal resources to sparse, inaccurate data about freight spend — and the challenge becomes even more daunting.

This combination of logistics category complexity and insufficient procurement capability to manage it is what originally gave rise to the sourcing optimization solutions that most North American organizations are familiar with.

Trade Extensions (now Coupa Sourcing Optimization), CombineNet (now Jaggaer Advanced Sourcing Optimization) and Keelvar (one of the few independent sourcing vendors that currently supports bid optimization) all got their starts enabling logistics procurement across thousands of lanes. As they grew, however, each of these vendors evolved their solutions to support additional categories beyond freight, enabling larger and more complex scenarios while leaving other elements of the transportation equation (like execution) to other technology providers.

TenderEasy, a 14-year-old firm that launched its SaaS solution for freight procurement in 2012, has taken the opposite approach. Rather than expand its sourcing optimization capabilities beyond logistics, TenderEasy has doubled down on freight, positioning itself as the entry point to a broader transportation management ecosystem. It committed to this strategy in 2018 when it became part of the Alpega Group, a global logistics software company that offers end-to-end solutions for transport needs, including not only freight sourcing but also access to freight exchanges and transportation management systems.

Leveraging this network of transportation solutions, Stockholm-based TenderEasy is hoping to bring its Europe-centric expertise across the Atlantic — the company already counts Heinz, adidas Group and British American Tobacco (BAT) as clients — taking on incumbent sourcing optimization vendors in the process.

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

BirchStreet Systems: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis [PRO]

The hotel, hospitality, restaurant, casino and food manufacturing industries have a range of specialized procurement technology requirements, especially in the procure-to-pay area. But what are these, and more important, how does the market leader in the sector, BirchStreet Systems, stack up to alternatives in the market?

Part 1 of Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provided a company and detailed solution overview, as well as a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering BirchStreet. Part 2 focused on its strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the vendor.

In our third and final installment, we provide a SWOT overview of BirchStreet as a whole, a comparative and competitive market overview, and provide some final summary analysis and recommendations for organizations that might consider BirchStreet as a potential solution partner.

BirchStreet Systems: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores BirchStreet Systems' 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 BirchStreet. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.