Fieldglass: Doubling Down on Analytics to Drive Contingent Spend Savings (Part 1)

Earlier this month Fieldglass announced a new suite of analytics capabilities designed to help their customers -- and MSP partners on behalf of their customers -- make better contingent labor spending decisions. Fieldglass positions these enhancements as fitting into three categories: reporting, visualization, and benchmarking. But to me, they all fall under the broader umbrella of analytics. More important than what to call it, however, I had the chance to look at the application a couple of weeks ago and came away from the demonstration with the belief that Fieldglass put significant thought -- not just development time -- into the type of contingent spending intelligence that companies need to both save more from overall programs and realize better performance from partners for contingent spending. But what's driving the need for a new level of analytics, benchmark intelligence and visualization of services spending data?

Fieldglass believes that for a number of reasons, what they describe as the overall "contingent workforce and services industry", is entering a new stage of maturity based in part on the automation of core business processes. These include both the evolution of the blended VMS and MSP business model and the move to larger and often global and broad-based (versus regional and narrow) contingent spending programs. This evolution makes it, in their words, "easy to get lost in all of the activity" and to "lose a focus" on overall core business objectives. Simply put, the new scale and reach of large contingent Spend Management programs has outpaced the ability of organizations to report on and improve their standing to take their results to the next level -- not to mention staying in compliance with customer, regulatory and other reporting and compliance requirements.

From a benchmarking perspective, Fieldglass' new solution enables users to measure their capabilities against a database that represents over $8 billion in spend, 5,000+ suppliers and 10,000+ rate-cards. While these numbers might seem low relative to other competitors who can claim a larger database, Fieldglass has taken these elements and created a hybrid online/services environment -- versus just Excel or reporting based -- analysis for companies to analyze their own program. Users also have the ability to drill into the data and to understand how they stack up to others, using a variety of approaches (e.g., Pareto or 80/20 rule) common to other procurement areas. A user might, for example, use Fieldglass' benchmark capability to drill into actual rates vs. supplier rate ranges to see where a particular provider falls and whether they're consistently billing at the upper end of the rate spectrum (or not). Fieldglass is bundling this capability into "larger programs" as part of its core offering which is priced as a percentage of spend per industry norms. But whether they opt to charge for it in other cases "will depend on the customer," in their words.

Outside of just benchmarking, from a visualization standpoint, Fieldglass’ new capabilities continue to lead the market from an overall UI perspective based upon the types of information a typical business user is looking for. But specific to their visualization capability, users now have access to a number of off-the-shelf and customizable reports and templates which allow the ability to drill into data to extract additional insights (or to look at information in different ways). Examples of reports users can run and interact with include the basic (e.g., supplier performance and volume/spend ratings, top spending reports by supplier, cost center, etc.) as well as more in-depth information (e.g., work order rate analysis by title/work-site). It's not only easy to run and drill into data in different charting formats -- users can also export charts and data into a clip-board for presentation in another format (e.g., PPT, PDF, etc.)

As of November, approximately a dozen customers were using Fieldglass' new visualization capability. One company in the pharmaceutical and medical device arena used it to identify rate card discrepancies that they missed in previous analysis. And another large Fortune 200 client used it to help shape their overall contingent labor savings and program management initiatives for the coming year. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post when we examine a handful of scenarios that highlight how procurement, HR and IT organizations can use visualization, analysis and benchmarking capabilities from Fieldglass (and potentially other providers) to drive specific savings programs and initiatives across contingent spending categories.

Jason Busch

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