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Community-based Procurement — Get a Buy with Some Help from Your Friends (Part 1) [PRO]

The Oxford dictionary defines “community” as “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common” and secondarily as “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals.” Procurement practitioners inherently have kinship with each other based on shared experiences, pain, rewards and knowledge/know-how. Being in the tribe means you can learn from this collective intelligence and apply it individually and locally.

But, what are the best ways for practitioners to gain the wisdom of the community? Certainly peer networking events (in person or virtual) are popular, but they can be time-intensive and difficult to justify on a hard ROI. Training, memberships, conferences, subscriptions and other discretionary expenses are the first to get slashed during budget cutting. The other related issue is that the knowledge being shared is scattershot rather than a focused knowledge transfer that delivers capabilities that will pay off toward some outcome.

Community-focused outcomes can take many forms (e.g., supplier diversity, sustainability, supply chain resiliency, innovation, quality, etc.), and these communities can have many “community owners” (e.g., associations, service providers, B2B networks, tech vendors and even practitioner organizations themselves creating communities with suppliers and other ecosystem partners), but nearly all procurement folks have a common goal: cost reduction.

If cost reduction is the goal, there are many levers to pull, but good old-fashioned buyer leverage through demand aggregation never seems to go out of fashion. The notion of collective buying power is certainly not a new concept. Agricultural buying cooperatives have existed for hundreds of years. And group purchasing organizations (GPOs) are certainly a tried-and-true strategy for procurement organizations, especially those outside the Fortune 500. We’ve written a lot about GPOs, and there are plenty to choose from that provide not just aggregated volume pricing, but also varying community-based services such as events, benchmarking and partner services.

While GPOs are great, the beast known as “digital” is eating, well, everything! So, we have to look at where tech providers are playing here. And even the idea of digitally enabled GPOs isn’t new. Ever heard of MobShop or Mercata? They tried to do automated demand aggregation almost 20 years ago and are now a footnote in the dot com dustbin. Even ICG Commerce (now Accenture) had a horizontal e-marketplace with a GPO component to it before it transitioned to its BPO model. Back then, Accenture and EDS formed ePValue and CoNext, respectively, as consortia buying groups within their client bases, but that didn’t pan out either.

Times have changed, though, and newer technology and business models are gaining traction. Back in that era, I was bullish on digitally enabled group buying and, more broadly, large buy-side app vendors harnessing the power of their collective installed base for economic benefit. I bemoaned that “enterprise application vendors with large installed bases are not bringing the leverage of group purchasing to their communities,” and posited that “many of these vendors have active vertical and horizontal user communities that could be leveraged into powerful group purchasing entities. Some vendors might choose to use as an attractive differentiator while others could offer it as a value-added service.”

Yet, while I’m happy to see so many evolving options in the market right now, there still are some areas for buyers to consider in building out their own ecosystem capabilities that may leverage various types of digitally enabled solution/service providers.

In this SpendMatters article, I’ll address the following:

* Evaluating practical group-buying options available in the market
* Looking beyond traditional GPO models for community-based value
* Examining how companies like Honda and Toyota use a community-based approach with their suppliers
* Broadening the focus from “community-based sourcing” to “collective intelligence” in procurement as a means to perform more scalable knowledge transfer than just traditional community approaches
* Examining our SolutionMap criteria element called “Community Knowledge and Collective Intelligence”
* Providing a snapshot into a serious multi-pronged effort that one vendor in industry is pursuing in this area — and should be considered the pacesetter

Without further ado, let’s jump into it ...

20 Tips to Maximize Private Equity, Investment and Strategic Buyer Outcomes (Part 3: Before the Process — Third-Party Validated Analysis and the Importance of Understanding the Strategic Buyer Landscape) [PRO]

Aside from companies already owned by private equity firms, it is the rare solution provider — or any company — that is selling to private equity, going out for a later investment round or seeking a strategic buyer that has prepared adequately for the transaction process in such a way that the efforts will fully maximize the valuation, terms and other factors in its favor. That is, unless it gets lucky, and to be fair, some folks get lucky!

As expert advisers — primarily to “buyers” — we’ve seen this phenomenon play out time-and-time again in the procurement solutions universe. But it doesn’t have to continue to be that way. This series is focused on leveling the playing field for more advanced sellers of all types, gained by sharing our lessons learned from over 20 years of involvement in transactions in the sector, and especially our work as advisers to private equity investors, nearly all of which are extremely methodical and rigorous in their deal screening and due diligence processes.

So far in this Spend Matters Nexus series, we covered the initial seven tips to prepare — ideally far in advance — of the process itself (see Part 1 and Part 2). Today we continue with the next two tips to pay particular attention to in the lead-up to a process (but still ideally before it begins). And later in the series, we will explore tips to leverage in the actual process itself, ideally once you’ve fully prepared ahead of time to maximize your chances of an optimal exit, transaction or investment.

Jason Busch serves as Managing Director of Spend Matters Nexus, a membership, research and advisory organization serving technology acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and CEOs in the procurement and finance solutions marketplace (including contract management, B2B marketplaces/connectivity, indirect procurement, services procurement, direct procurement, commodity management, payment, trade financing, GRC/third-party management and related adjacent sectors).

The CPO’s Conundrum (Part 4): Economic Instability [PRO]

In the first three installments of this Spend Matters PRO series (see Part 1APart 1B), we noted that a number of pressing issues are shaping procurement from the outside in, yet chief procurement officers (CPOs) are still primarily concerned with issues set by an inside-out agenda — that is, cost-cutting and supply assurance targets mandated by upper management. Our PESTLE analysis of factors shaping the modern CPO agenda identified broad trends like economic instability, globalization, changing digital business strategies and the need to address corporate social responsibility (CSR) as areas that procurement organizations need to consider if they want to truly tap and manage the opportunities (and risks) offered by external supply markets, starting with sustainability and CSR in Part 2A and Part 2B and digital business strategy in Part 3.

Today we move on to the third item topping the CPO’s outside-in agenda: economic instability.

20 Tips to Maximize Private Equity, Investment and Strategic Buyer Outcomes (Part 2: Before the Process — TAM and Scenario Planning) [PRO]

Many solution providers’ executive teams that we have observed are not as prepared to enhance their chances of optimal private equity, investment and M&A outcomes. This Spend Matters Nexus series provides insight from the thousands of hours we have spent working with private equity groups, CEOs and boards to evaluate acquisition targets — and with sellers to optimize exit scenarios and outcomes in the procurement solution market.

In the first installment of the series, we provided five recommendations to prepare wisely for an eventual process.

Today, we continue the analysis with our next tips to consider as the actual process approaches (i.e., “pre-process” tips). These include instructive recommendations on taking the time to build a total addressable market (TAM) model and scenario planning/rehearsing the actual process itself, including how to prepare and interrogate a “data room.”

Later in the series, we will explore the deal process itself, offering tips for stewarding the effort and driving to an optimal outcome.

Jason Busch serves as Managing Director of Spend Matters Nexus, a membership, research and advisory organization serving technology acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and CEOs in the procurement and finance solutions marketplace (including contract management, B2B marketplaces/connectivity, indirect procurement, services procurement, direct procurement, commodity management, payment, trade financing, GRC/third-party management and related adjacent sectors).

20 Tips to Maximize Private Equity, Investment and Strategic Buyer Outcomes (Part 1: Preparing Wisely) [PRO]

In recent years, we’ve spent thousands of hours working with private equity groups, CEOs and boards to evaluate acquisition targets — and with sellers to optimize exit scenarios and outcomes in the procurement solution market. In each M&A advisory or SolutionMap due diligence benchmark engagement, there has not been a single study in which we have not learned something new as a team. While from a seller perspective specific tactics can change over time based on conditions in the capital markets, the overall economy and other externalities (e.g., the current “dry powder” excess), there are well over 20 universal tips that we’ve identified that can apply in nearly all scenarios.*

So we decided to write this Spend Matters Nexus brief to share our top 20 lessons learned from the perspective of sellers’ to maximize their private equity, investment and strategic buyer outcomes (based on working “the other side” of the transaction). Today, we start with an initial five tips to prepare wisely (ideally) before a process begins. In the second installment, we’ll continue to share the next five tips for preparing wisely as the actual process approaches (i.e., “pre-process” tips). Then in Parts 3 and 4, we will jump to the actual deal process itself, offering tips for stewarding the effort and driving to an optimal outcome.

Jason Busch serves as Managing Director of Spend Matters Nexus, a membership, research and advisory organization serving technology acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and CEOs in the procurement and finance solutions marketplace (including contract management, B2B marketplaces/connectivity, indirect procurement, services procurement, direct procurement, commodity management, payment, trade financing, GRC/third-party management and related adjacent sectors).

Coupa’s 3 Special Forces Teams (Part 3: Value Engineering + Customer Success) [PRO]

In the final installment in our series covering Coupa’s 3 Special Forces teams (see Part 1: Corporate Development and Part 2: Alliances + Business Development), we cheat a bit from a series title perspective. And that’s because Coupa’s final special forces team essentially represent two functions in one (although they are in fact different groups): value engineering (sometimes called “value optimization”) and customer success.

Our analysis today begins by defining what value engineering and customer success functions do (and not do) for enterprise software/Saas/cloud companies. Then we provide the details behind Coupa’s programs. And finally we explore how Coupa leverages these two areas in ways that disproportionately benefit its broader operations in business spend management (BSM).

Jason Busch serves as Managing Director of Spend Matters Nexus, a membership, research and advisory organization serving technology acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and CEOs. The views expressed in this research brief are his and do not necessarily reflect that of the Spend Matters analyst team. But he would like to thank his colleague Pierre Mitchell for his review and input on this piece, given his deep experience in this area. Research note: This brief is based on extensive primary research. Beyond already available public information, no data or insights were provided by Coupa. However, a fact-check was provided to Coupa for informational purposes to ensure accuracy.

Digital Business Strategy: The CPO’s Outside-In Agenda (Part 3) [PRO]

In the first two installments of this Spend Matters PRO series (see Part 1A, Part 1B), we noted that a number of pressing issues are shaping procurement from the outside in, yet chief procurement officers (CPOs) are still primarily concerned with issues set by an inside-out agenda — that is, cost-cutting and supply assurance targets mandated by upper management. Our PESTLE analysis of factors shaping the modern CPO agenda identified broad trends like economic instability, globalization, changing digital business strategies and the need to address corporate social responsibility (CSR) as areas that procurement organizations need to consider if they want to truly tap and manage the opportunities (and risks) offered by external supply markets, starting with sustainability and CSR in Part 2A and Part 2B.

Today we move on to the second item topping the CPO’s outside-in agenda: digital transformation.

Digital transformation is increasingly creeping into a CPO's crosshairs because digitization is becoming a daily part of our personal and professional lives. Not only is software becoming critical for everyone in the organization to do their jobs, but the internet is becoming critical to sales and marketing to advertise and sell the product as well as to R&D to do research and engineering to control just-in-time manufacturing. Meanwhile, from a corporate strategy perspective, companies are aggressively looking at their digital business strategies — and consulting firms like Accenture, Deloitte, McKinsey and others are busy capitalizing on this. Distribution companies do not want to get “Amazoned.” (For example, Accenture is looking to next generation digital technologies to achieve it’s ZBx nirvana — and achieve sustainable zero-based spend in a zero-based supply chain.) Logistics firms do not want to get “Ubered.” Contract manufacturers want to become innovation incubators. And pretty much every finished goods manufacturer wants to embed telemetry to collect data and use it to improve customer satisfaction, increase top-line growth and pass the data back to the supply chain to improve operational efficiency.

Digitization is the new buzzword and just about every publication out there is talking about it, running articles on how to do it, and publishing “deep” exposes on the benefits of digitization. Best practice guides, case studies, futurist projections, and other in-depth studies are a daily occurence. Not all are equal, not all are relevant to your organization, and not all are even accurate. But that’s beside the point. Digitization is here, and its influence is only going to grow. So rather than sit back like a luddite and bemoan the coming wave of pink slips due to automation, CPOs need to rally their organizations around digital to help them see the benefits new technologies can bring (as tactical process cost reductions can always be invested in strategic value generation efforts if they use these same technologies to make the case, a case that does not necessitate a reduction in workforce, just a shift from the tactical to the strategic).

Jaggaer Deal: 5 Enterprise Value Creation Takeaways Learned From Shaping a Procurement Workhorse (Not Just a Unicorn) [PRO]

Last week, Jaggaer announced that Cinven, a European-based private equity firm, had acquired a majority stake in the provider. Various sources, including Bloomberg, place the enterprise value of the transaction, including debt, at $1.5 billion. But as in all private company valuations, it is important to exercise caution in reported numbers and even more so “unofficial” numbers, given the various minority ownership interests, debt, covenants and other considerations associated with such a transaction.

Regardless, we suspect that Accel-KKR, which previously held a majority stake and retains an ownership interest in Jaggaer — as well as Italmobiliare, the original owner of BravoSolution, and a near 10% owner in Jaggaer prior to Cinven’s investment — post transaction, materially increased the enterprise value of the combined SciQuest, BravoSolution and Pool4Tool assets that it brought together under the Jaggaer umbrella. This Spend Matters PRO and Nexus research brief quickly analyzes the state of Jaggaer post-Cinven investment and provides five takeaways for investors, CEOs, corporate development professionals and others curious about the synergies that Accel-KKR created.

Coupa’s 3 Special Forces Teams (Part 1: Corporate Development) [PRO]

Coupa has assembled three behind-the-scenes weapons — non-product, non-solution and non-R&D teams — which it uses to great effect to collectively win individual battles against competitors and, at least so far, the broader growth war in the source-to-pay market from a logo growth perspective in recent years. These are effectively “special forces” groups that have leverage far beyond their individual ability to contribute alone (but would not be successful without the broader Coupa arsenal that they’re supporting).

Other vendors may have one of these weapons individually. Or on paper. But collectively Coupa is the only one that combines them to great effect as it moves its chess pieces around the tactical and strategic board. This Spend Matters PRO brief provides a unique take from the perspective of   long-time industry insider who has seen them put to use effectively from a unique vantage point. Today we start by exploring the first of Coupa’s special forces teams: corporate development.

Jason Busch serves as Managing Director of Spend Matters Nexus, a membership, research and advisory organization serving technology acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and CEOs. The views expressed in this research brief are his and do not necessarily reflect that of the Spend Matters analyst team.

2019 M&A and Investment Dynamics For Procurement Technology and Solutions: Segmenting the Market (Part 2) [PRO]

By Spend Matters’ count, there are hundreds of cloud technology providers in the procurement technology sector, and well over a thousand if you count providers with a solution orientation (which may include market/category intelligence, consulting, advisory and related capabilities). Investor and M&A interest across this landscape of providers — from both strategic and financial buyers — is at an all-time high.

We define procurement solutions as technologies and services that target a range of areas that include:

— Core procurement (i.e., source-to-pay, procure-to-pay, etc.)
— Direct procurement
— Services procurement
— Contract management (that goes beyond supplier contracts)
— Accounts payable
— Trade financing (B2B Fintech)
— B2B (transactional connectivity, marketplaces, aggregation and GPO models)
— Third-party (supplier) management, from a GRC standpoint as much as from a procurement standpoint

In the first installment of the series, we introduced the first five groups of providers attracting the most investor and buyout attention: procurement technology suites, transaction-focused solutions, payment/financing providers, nimble solutions and leveraged buying/GPO models.

Today, we continue our focus on the “who” — exploring the final five groups of providers, including sharing illustrative providers in each segment and why buyers are attracted to each group. The five groups are:

— data/analytics/market intelligence solutions
— services procurement providers
— contract management and analytics vendors
— supplier management (and contractor management) providers
— “finance first” or “fi-pro” procurement solutions

Series Abstract: This multi-part Spend Matters PRO research brief explores the “who” (i.e., what types of companies are attracting the most interest and the profile of different buyers), the “why” (i.e., typical investment theses) and the “how” (i.e., the mechanics of deal processes and what is unique to the solution area, including where buyers that are new to the sector often have a higher learning curve than expected). It also explores some important dynamics in the market that have changed in recent months as buyer interest from both the strategic and financial sides increases.

Q&A on Digital Procurement’s Role in Sustainability, Ethics and Compliance [PRO]

As supply chains get increasingly externalized and globalized, the broad scope of operations is subject to equally broad regulatory oversight and supply risk. Meanwhile, as consumers increasingly demand transparency and ethical behavior by value chain brand owners, supply chain organizations at those brands (and also at their suppliers), are having to increasingly respond to these demands. Procurement organizations, for their part, are trying their best to support this externalization on all fronts, but they are so busy with strategic sourcing and P2P execution that even the “basics” of supplier qualification, certification and on-boarding are suffering — never mind having time for more strategic activities in supplier innovation, advanced risk management, digital transformation and other areas.

So, what’s the solution? Well, procurement must first practice what it preaches by tapping supply market innovation for itself, and this innovation is taking many forms. In an everything-as-a-service (XaaS) world, procurement must not only take a leadership role in robustly contracting for these diverse cloud services, but also:

— identifying how various providers beyond cloud applications can help procurement execute much more efficiently — at the cadence of the business.
— embedding the best digital supply market innovations into its own service delivery in order to expand its own influence and brand within the enterprise.
— enabling and empowering functional partners in GRC, IT, Finance, Legal, HR, Risk/Audit, etc. to enable their own service value (increasingly in a cross-functional GBS environment) and integrate the disparate services together much more coherently.

For example, consider the question: Who is responsible for establishing the single face to the supplier when we digitally on-board and manage them to not only transact with them in a compliant manner, but also ensure that they’re operating securely, ethically and transparently more broadly? It’s not just procurement, but rather a combination of procurement, IT, GRC and various centers-of-excellence that should be working tightly together. Unfortunately, misalignment is the norm, but not because of outright conflict or malfeasance, but because functional folks are too busy just trying to execute within their own silos. And they’ll never extricate themselves from that situation unless they have drastically new capabilities to deploy.

This is where procurement organizations need to make smart choices on how they apply digital strategies and tools/services to this area of sustainability, ethics and compliance.

I was recently catching up with an industry colleague of mine named Tomas Wiemer on the topic (he’s a former procurement transformation leader from Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent). He is very deep into this area and typical of leaders at European firms who are definitely in the vanguard here. Tomas is considering some career changes right now, primarily with some emerging tech players who can have a dramatic impact in the industry. Tomas reminds me a bit of a European version of Roy Anderson, who just joined Tradeshift (here’s part 3 of an interview that I did with him), and I think that Tomas will do similarly well when he lands somewhere. He’s doing some interim work for a client, and I agreed to let him interview me for my inputs, but given my role, I asked him for the questions in writing so that I could fully respond in kind and publish it to our subscribers. The questions are below:

How do you view topics as compliance and sustainability in the procurement digitalization landscape?
Do you foresee a convergence/harmonization of sustainability/compliance requirements toward suppliers thanks to the rise of S2P platforms/marketplaces?
What do you believe is the greatest added value of procurement digitalization / AI for compliance and sustainability?
What do you think are the key conditions/requirements to enable the emergence of sustainability/compliance topics in digital procurement?

What’s interesting is that this topic is very hot right now. My business partner Jason Busch just attended the recent EcoVadis conference in Paris, and the buzz (beyond the buzz from the sustainably grown coffee that was undoubtedly served there) was palpable. Part of the reason is that the topic is giving many procurement organizations new ways to engage the business and the suppliers alike in a way that drives much more meaningful value across the value chain beyond just price-centric cost savings. And it also engages a new generation of procurement professionals who want to have a meaningful impact on value chains rather than just being deal-makers and “firefighters.”

Anyway, the questions above are big ones, and require very thorough answers, so without further ado, let’s get to answering them ...

Sustainability, Environmental Stewardship and CSR: The CPO’s Outside-In Agenda (Part 2B) [PRO]

sustainable supply chain

In our last article in this Spend Matters PRO series, we focused on several pressing issues that are shaping procurement from the outside in, yet chief procurement officers are primarily still concerned with issues set by an inside-out agenda — that is, cost-cutting and supply assurance targets mandated by upper management. However, our PESTLE analysis of factors shaping the modern CPO agenda identified broad outside-in trends that an organization needs to consider if it wants to truly tap and manage the opportunities (and risks) offered by external supply markets. (Read the CPO’s Conundrum: Parts 1A and 1B.)

Nowhere is this more readily apparent than with the topic of sustainability and environmental stewardship, the focus of today’s brief. The environment is an inseparable component of any business. It forms the platform layer off which all goods and services are produced, and cannot be ignored. And the difference between effective and sustainable management and ineffective and unsustainable management, as pointed out in yesterday’s article, is shocking. Not only would investments in environmental sustainability focussed companies over the past two decades doubled an average rate of return, but millennials will pay a (small) premium for sustainably (and ethically) sourced products and you are ensuring that you will have raw material supply for years (and decades to come).