The Spend Matters 50/50 – Kvetching, Inclusion, Criteria, and a Friday Toast

The past few days have been a whirlwind of activity following the launch of the Spend Matters Almanac Top 50/50 (Providers to Know and Providers to Watch). We’ve gotten kudos from all corners of the globe for finally doing something like this. But of course not everyone is happy, including dozens of providers that have reached out – a few in a manner that was not terribly polite – to complain about not making the list. Most, however, have been gentlemanly about it, presenting us compelling cases for why they should make next year’s list, wanting to know what it  takes to be 50/50 material.

Merely saying traffic is “up” is a huge understatement. Our poor server is strained (we’re actually adding capacity later today, so that should take care of any downtime you may have experienced this week). Yet beyond the technical side of supporting the interest in the list, after this experience, I know what it means to be on the receiving end of a kvetch fest like no other. Part of the issue is that I think people are misreading the 50/50 and what it stands for.

My colleague and conspirator Peter Smith captured what the 50/50 is – and is not – earlier this week in a post that puts it better than I ever could. It’s worth repeating what he had to say:

We want to be clear – neither Spend Matters 50/50 is the 'best' 50 firms in our solutions world.

The way we selected the ‘50 to Know’ was to imagine that we were asked this question by a new CPO – perhaps even someone who had come into the profession from another field ‘Which organizations who supply procurement solutions should I know at least a bit about so I can sound knowledgeable if someone asks me why we are / aren’t using them’? So you won’t be surprised at who is in that list in the main. Heck, you can probably think of 30 or so yourself straight off if you’ve been around in this world for a while. Hint – SAP are in there…

Then we have the ’50 to Watch’. Again, this is not the ’best’ firms, or a suggested short-list for buyers of these services. Rather, it is our somewhat subjective selection, but based on considerable experience and knowledge, I should say, of organizations that might not yet be in that SM 50 to Know but are worth checking out, because they are doing something clever, interesting or different. Some don’t have a broad geographic coverage yet, or operate in pretty esoteric niches, but Spend Matters has found all of them interesting and worth featuring for our readers.

What if your firm is not in either list? Well, we might not know about you, even though we do know more providers than most.  There’s an obvious response to that – tell us. The lists will be refreshed annually.

Or we do know you, but you just didn’t quite make it into the lists – we’re happy to explain why. It doesn’t mean that we don’t think you’re a great organization. But as explained earlier, this is not an analysis based on 73 criteria and 15 reference sites. It is our views, not made lightly (you have no idea of some of the internal fighting over this), based on hard experience, but with no pretense of great analytical methodology. 

We should also point out that this has nothing to do with who sponsors us. I can absolutely guarantee that. Indeed, you will see firms who (how shall I put it) don’t always see eye to eye with us on the list.

I would add to Peter’s last note “and some who won’t even officially talk to us” including, well, one large organization where my colleague was a past president. The organization views us as a competitor, so they won’t open a formal dialogue. Yet they made our list, as did others we don’t have formal “diplomatic” relations with.

Alas, as we’ve learned over the years in lost clients and partners, independence has its costs. But as long as we’re true to our mission, learning as we go and trying to be valuable, there’s not a job I’d rather have.

So here’s a quick toast to the Spend Matters 50/50 this Friday. Between you and me, after this week, I could use a pint already this morning.

To the inaugural 50/50: It’s honest. It’s imperfect. It’s us.


On a final note, we’ll make every effort to talk to those who have questions about the 50/50. And we’ll try to explain why we included different organizations as we write them up like b-pack today in the coming weeks and months – in as transparent and candid a manner as possible.

Thanks, as always, for giving us an audience for what we love to do. And please don’t hesitate to reach out over the 50/50 or any other matter. Our doors are open.

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Voices (2)

  1. Nick @ Market Dojo:

    Great stuff guys. Please have a drink on us. What you’ve accomplished is no mean feat and the step increase in web-traffic is a great indication that it’s fully deserved. No hard feelings on our side, I promise, and we’ll endeavour to make your list next year.

  2. kris colby:

    you’ve definitely earned a pint or two this week…

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