Beeline/IQNavigator Customer Conference Dispatch: Catching up With Doug Leeby

I’ve long respected Doug Leeby, Beeline’s CEO for over a decade. Many would agree that the company he has fostered cares deeply about people, customers and culture — perhaps more so than any other technology vendor in the procurement solutions space.

But in a post-merger situation, not a day goes by where you’re not tossed into unfamiliar territory. I had a few minutes to spend with Doug Tuesday in a quiet corner during a whirlwind day at Beeline’s customer conference, where he now oversees two separate VMS solutions and a customer base twice the size of last year. Below are a few snippets from our conversation.

On bringing together two cultures and development teams:

“In the first 100 days, the cultural assimilation is going well from a front office perspective, and the product teams are coming together. They decide what gets pointed to IQN or Beeline, although the new microservices approach to incremental development can lead to enhancements on both VMS platforms at the same time regardless of which team takes lead.”

On solution focus:

“We’re staying true to the workforce optimization model, but with a focus on managing the extended workforce. Through partnerships we will look more holistically at all forms of talent, but from a development perspective, our focus is clear — enabling external labor, outcomes and projects of all types.”

On customers and product strategy:

“We held our first joint customer advisory council the day before the customer conference began. I would not be honest if I said we had things all figured out as a lot, of course, is in flux. There’s of course overlap on the Venn diagrams between our development plans and customer requirements. But we’re listening and prioritizing — based on what customer want as well as what innovation we can bring them.”

On freelancers, talent pools and self-sourcing:  

“Self-sourcing is ‘early going’ in terms of general acceptance, especially with MSPs, potentially because it could reduce their margins. We compensate them for that, but it hasn’t yet sunk in. We have the capability, but behavioral adoption and change management is a hurdle with both MSPs and self-managed programs. Even when we turn it on for customers and push candidates to job openings and just say ‘try it,’ they still need to use it. Having a feature that requires users to explain why they deselected a candidate helps to drive the equal consideration of alternative talent pools. Once people start seeing that they are mitigating risk by creating options and taking greater control of external talent, we’ll see a big uptick. And will then go hard and fast.”

On private equity ownership and the future:

“Private equity ownership is new to me, but this is a combination we wanted for a long time. GTCR is letting us do what we have to do, which is blocking and tackling at all levels of bringing together these two firms. It helps Q1 was double the size (in the number of new logos) year-over-year for both firms, but much work remains. We’re only 100 days in! What I can tell you is more acquisitions are not a priority at this stage.

“As Sherri, our CTO, said on stage today, there are three ways to mess up a merger: people, people and people. That is why we’re focused internally, not chasing new external pursuits in these formative months and quarters following the combination — and likely not in the foreseeable future, either. We have so much to do together on the platforms and serving both our direct customer relationships (local and global), as well as our MSP partners. Simply driving greater services procurement (SOW) adoption would be a huge victory for many of our customers (let alone self-sourcing). So much low hanging fruit remains.

“As to the future, we shall see. We’re focused on becoming a more valuable asset to our customers and partners first. There are a handful of large ERPs that lack sufficient depth in VMS and services procurement capability that could better serve their customers with it. But we’ve got more than enough critical mass to decide our path and continue to thrive into the future. Yet one thing is certain: a continued, directed focus on our customers. Together.”

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