Plus or PRO Content

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.

Are Organizations Using More of the Independent Workforce? [PRO]

talent management

Several years into the gig economy hype cycle, much has happened and many questions remain unanswered (the least of which is: “What are we talking about?”). A handful of survey-based studies — using different population definitions, methodologies and time intervals, — have focused on the population of people in the U.S. engaging in some kind of full- or part-time alternative work arrangement, temp work, freelancing and/or independent contract work. The result, not surprisingly, has been widely varying estimates of population size and rate of change.

But trying to answer questions about the independent workforce population may be missing the point. A more relevant and important set of questions for procurement and HR practitioners in organizations may be: Have organizations been sourcing and engaging more workers in non-traditional work arrangements? Why or why not? And so on. To get at some of these questions, we have surveyed a panel of executives of contingent workforce technology solution and service providers and analyzed the results.

Artificial Intelligence in Sourcing: The Day After Tomorrow [PRO]

In Spend Matters’ last PRO article about AI in Sourcing, we reviewed some of the exciting capabilities that you will be able to expect in tomorrow's e-sourcing systems, where we define AI as “augmented intelligence” because, as we've repeatedly stated in our articles in this ongoing AI series, there is no true artificial intelligence in any enterprise technology today. In fact, there won't be anything close, at least on the open market, even tomorrow. But it will be closer tomorrow, and it will approach the point where it can be labeled augmented intelligence as it will allow you to make better, smarter, decisions — no matter how good and smart the decisions were that you made in the past.

In the last article, we discussed the following augmented intelligence capabilities in particular that will be part of tomorrow's e-sourcing platforms:



  • Event-based category alignment
  • Market-based sourcing strategy identification
  • Automatic strategic sourcing events
  • Suggested award scenarios

However, as great as event-based category alignment and market-based sourcing strategy identification will be, and as fantastic as automatic strategic sourcing events with suggested awards will be, there will be even better augmented intelligence capabilities in the e-sourcing platforms of the future. Specifically, the day after tomorrow, you will be able to expect the following seemingly magical capabilities:

  • SKU replacement
  • End-of-life (EOL) recommendations for products
  • Real-time strategy alignment
  • Auto-pause/extend

And more. But anything beyond these could be quite a ways out, so we will stick to these for now.

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.

Supply Risk Management in Mexico: Tips and Analysis For Multinational Procurement Organizations [Plus+]

Editor's note: This is a refresh of our 2015 briefing on supply risk management, which originally ran on Spend Matters PRO.

Supply risk management continues to be an important topic of not just debate but practice, too, within global procurement organizations. And on a more frequent basis, supply risk management efforts are extending “south of the border” for North American companies, as manufacturers continue to emphasize a more prominent role for Mexico and Mexican suppliers in their global supply chains. In this Spend Matters Plus analysis, we explore how Mexican companies are managing supply chain risk. We also share survey results from a study in the region and provide tips and lessons learned for multinational procurement organizations that are increasingly sourcing and manufacturing in the region as well as general supply chain risk management best practices.

Coupa CLM: Vendor Snapshot Update [PRO]

Coupa is a full suite provider of source-to-pay (S2P) applications (which Coupa calls Business Spend Management), but we’ve not yet included a formal analysis of its contract lifecycle management (CLM) application other than our ongoing coverage within the SolutionMap framework.

Coupa is a bit of a conundrum because, relative to its competitors, it has some unique functionality that no other competitor possesses, but at the same time, the provider is also missing a core aspect of CLM functionality that its primary competitors already have.

As Spend Matters’ Q4 2018 Contract Lifecycle Management SolutionMap indicates, Coupa does well with customer scoring across its various CLM personas, but it lags in its solution score due to the aforementioned functionality gap that we’ll explore later in this piece. Coupa acquired a small Canadian CLM startup named Contractually in 2016 that had some nice collaborative redlining functionality (and written within Ruby on Rails framework like Coupa), and that form of “collaboration” (i.e., technical collaboration between buyers and suppliers on the Coupa user interface) is supported as well by basic MS-Word integration.

Coupa doesn’t really try to differentiate itself as a best-of-breed stand-alone CLM application provider though (and certainly not beyond the bounds of S2P to support enterprise CLM functionality across all contracts), and the contract is really treated as the core commercial system of record that is at the heart of an S2P suite. It focuses on integrating the contract into all of the other elements of this suite, especially with its focus on operationalizing contracts via transactional P2P execution, including enforcement of buying/paying against contracts, and tying the spend back to contracts and budgeting (aka spend planning and control).

This Spend Matter Vendor Snapshot Update reviews its solution, Coupa Contract Management, and highlights the good, the not-so-good and the potential of its current product.

An Introduction to Sourcing Business Intelligence (Part 3): Analytics and AI in a Sourcing Context [PRO]

In the third installment of this Spend Matters PRO series, we turn our attention to how traditional human intelligence and artificial intelligence intersect with sourcing business intelligence (BI), leading to a new type of cognitive procurement built on larger and larger data foundations.

We trace the evolution of select artificial intelligence (AI) applications in procurement that are generally available today and provide examples of models that are just becoming mainstream in select markets.

But most important, we show how it is possible to let a combination of off-the-shelf capabilities and “as a service” providers do the heavy lifting in the journey toward sourcing (business) intelligence and more broadly toward supply (business) intelligence.

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.

Artificial Intelligence in Sourcing Tomorrow (Part 2) [PRO]

digital

In this Spend Matters PRO series on AI in Sourcing, we began our discussion of some situations where you will find AI in e-sourcing platforms, where AI is defined as “augmented intelligence” (because, as we have discussed in prior articles, there is no true artificial intelligence in enterprise platforms today and there won't be tomorrow either). AI is a buzzword, not a reality. But we don't need true AI to achieve software that can radically increase our productivity. Reaching augmented intelligence will add multiples to our productivity and savings.

In our last post, AI in Sourcing Tomorrow (Part 1), we discussed how the sourcing platforms of tomorrow will offer event-based category alignment functionality as well as market-based sourcing strategy identification. Together, these augmented intelligence features will not only save you a lot of time and effort in the identification and conducting of a proper sourcing event, but will also maximize your chances of success with the strategies that you follow.

It will be a magnificent start to the sourcing process. But it won't stop there. Because it can't stop there.

As per our article on AI in Sourcing Today, there's a lot of manual effort involved in a sourcing event. And the platforms of tomorrow will integrate workflow automation and auto-fill to handle a lot of the drudgery that will be required in any sourcing project.

However, just including workflow automation and auto-fill isn't getting you to sourcing utopia, where you’re getting maximum return for minimum effort. Something more is needed. How much more? Let's read on to find out.

Best Practices for Your P2P Implementation Project And How to Keep it From Becoming a Nightmare [Plus+]

complex sourcing

Editor's note: This is a refresh of our 2015 series on running a successful P2P implementation, which originally ran on Spend Matters PRO. Read Part 1 here.

In the Spend Matters webinar “Nightmare on Procurement Street,” we discuss how to successfully implement a procure-to-pay solution (P2P) and avoid the process from turning into a terrible experience. This 2-part Spend Matters Plus series lays out what tips we suggested for procurement organizations embarking on a P2P project. This is not meant to be an all-inclusive, step-by-step implementation guide, however. We simply want to share our best practice ideas based on our experience and our discussion in the webinar. Today, we will focus specifically on project management as a procurement responsibility, as well as ensuring finance and accounts payable (A/P) are included in the P2P implementation project. Other areas we will cover are remembering the importance of supplier integration, system testing and user training in the P2P process.

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.

Artificial Intelligence in Sourcing Tomorrow (Part 1) [PRO]

In Spend Matters' last PRO article, Artificial Intelligence in Sourcing Today (The Situation Now), we overviewed some scenarios where you can find AI in e-sourcing platforms today, where we define AI as “assisted intelligence” because, as we've stated in this series about AI in modern sourcing and procurement technologies, there is no true artificial intelligence in any enterprise technology today. In fact, there is nothing close, at least not on the open market.

But we will be closer to artificial intelligence tomorrow, and in the near future, we may get to the point where the average market leading platform offers you augmented intelligence on a daily basis.

In our last article, we reviewed the common instances of the assisted intelligence technologies on the market today, namely: auto-fill, workflow automation, outlier identification and rule-based auto-award identification.

However, this is just the beginning of what you should have as a sourcing professional, especially considering what's coming in AI Tomorrow. For example, if you go back to our series in AI in Procurement Tomorrow, you know that soon you will have technologies to prevent overspend, buy on your behalf invisibly, buy automatically, identify opportunities while you sleep, identify new categories before you know of their existence and identify procurement methodologies for success.

But these improvements will spill over into the sourcing domain as well. In Tomorrowland, as a buyer, you will also have augmented intelligence technologies that will allow for:

* Event-Based Category Alignment — not just new category detection * Market-based Sourcing Strategy Identification — not just the right methodology for procurement * Automatic Strategic Sourcing Events — not just auto-buy from a catalog or contract * Suggested Award Scenarios — not just canned options

And it will make your buying life much more efficient. But how?