SciQuest — On the Public Stage Once Again, But What's Behind the Curtain? (Part 1)

Check out a video we previously posted on this subject here.

Over a month before Halloween, SciQuest came roaring back from the B2B crypt and jumped back on the public company stage based on a track record that has amounted to anything but a spooky procurement tale. Even though we will be exploring SciQuest in greater detail on Spend Matters in the coming month, given the timing of their IPO last week, we thought it would be worth going beyond the financials and numbers to share a few summary highlights about their solutions as well as overall strengths and weaknesses from a Spend Management software perspective. On the most simplified level, SciQuest is a very strong, vertically oriented provider in what Spend Matters labels the purchase-to-pay (or P2P) market. SciQuest is part of the broader Spend Management vendor ecosystem, which encompasses the entire analyze-to-source-to-pay-to-manage vendor and stakeholder engagement lifecycle. Even though SciQuest has competitive products that go up against the ERPs, it is less of a direct threat to the SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft ecosystem than Ariba, owing to their ability to augment existing implementations and "keep the procurement peace" in many customer environments where they coexist.

SciQuest's high-level claim to procurement fame is the level of solution differentiation and practitioner enablement they provide in the target verticals of life sciences, higher education and healthcare. In many cases, their vertical focus has denied more broadly focused competitors a point of entry, let alone a seat at the negotiation table. They've also adopted a hybrid strategy that can either replace existing ERP eProcurement systems (e.g., SAP SRM, Oracle Advanced Procurement, PeopleSoft SRM) or enhance the value that the enterprise software giants can deliver. In a recent discussion with a procurement product management and strategy lead from one of the ERPs, I learned this particular vendor really did view SciQuest in a different enabling light than Ariba (who they only saw as a competitor). Yet SciQuest is also capable of competing like an Ariba to replace ERP procurement technology.

From a vertical solution perspective, SciQuest excels at eProcurement, catalog enablement/management and the overall supplier connectivity process (including on-boarding, document management, etc.). Their particular niche is what some might describe as enabling "mission-driven" procurement and purchasing activities. In other words, SciQuest's solutions aren't just about getting tools in the hands of the buying masses to help control spending, drive compliance, stop maverick purchases, etc. Rather, SciQuest is about enabling frontline researchers, academics and functional experts to do their own buying better. Stay tuned as we continue to superficially explore -- before a broader analysis -- how organizations use SciQuest as well as the company's strengths and weaknesses.

Jason Busch

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