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SpendHQ Vendor Snapshot 2020 Update: Part 1 (Company Background, Solution Overview, Selection Checklist) [PRO]

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot 2020 Update builds on our 2016 review of SpendHQ. Part 1 of this update provides a history and overview of the SpendHQ spend analytics platform, and can begin to help procurement organizations decide whether SpendHQ is a good shortlist candidate for their analytics needs. Part 2 will focus on product strengths and weaknesses. And Part 3 will have a company-level SWOT analysis, competitive alternatives, a user selection guide, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

SpendHQ’s parent company, Insight Sourcing Group (ISG), was founded in 2002. ISG has its roots in delivering savings to clients on a consulting basis through strategic sourcing and related procurement transformation, category management and operational cost-reduction programs. It has always had a unique approach to driving category savings, and has, for example, eschewed reverse auctions and traditional e-sourcing tools throughout its past (and this despite a strong technology prowess).

Spend analytics would prove different than e-sourcing technology, however. Yet ISG did not set out to build a standalone analytics package from the start — it began by building an application for its internal use, in large part because third-party spend analysis tools did not meet its requirements. Yet rather quickly, the internal would become the external. The story follows a logical progression:

* As more and more customers saw the reports (developed internally with the tool), and results and reporting they delivered, they requested access directly. After prodding, ISG built a viewer that clients could use to track and keep on top of their spend.
* When customers saw the data and the insights that could be derived if their buyers could drill in and explore in-house, they asked if they could leverage the technology themselves to drive their own sourcing and category management efforts. Finally, in 2012, ISG decided to productize the solution and SpendHQ was formed — and, of course, they brought in developers with expertise in analytics to help them build the application.
* SpendHQ became a complete cloud-based SaaS spend analysis and visibility offering that was being used by a number of clients, including some Fortune 500/Global 2000 companies out of the gate.
* By 2016, SpendHQ appeared to be winning as many spend analysis deals (if not more) than other procurement technology firms …
* … but the do-it-yourself reporting capability was extremely limited (to customizing what SpendHQ had already produced), opportunity insights were limited to pre-defined categories, and mapping fixes still required SpendHQ. … SpendHQ was starting to fall behind in technology, so they brought in a platform/product management expert in 2017 (in the form of David Bush, former CEO of Iasta that sold to Selectica and then became part of the Determine platform) to help them build a product, with a company behind it, to rival its current, and future, best-of-breed peers.
* Now, in 2020, they have released a complete overhaul of the platform that has most of the benefits the platform had before with best-of-breed do-it-yourself reporting, opportunity insights across the entire spend-base, and better AI categorization with the ability for users to define overrides on supplier and transaction mapping.

While this is only the second real “deep dive” that the author has written about SpendHQ, the Spend Matters team can vouch that the product is solid. Both the author and Spend Matters Founder Jason Busch have been evaluating release versions since SpendHQ’s very early days, tracing its evolution and providing critical feedback in its early years. We’ve also written about it on a regular basis since 2014, the year that SpendHQ was first named to the Spend Matters 50/50 list.

Since the launch of its initial spend visibility product, SpendHQ has also added compliance management, supplier information management and visibility, do-it-yourself reporting and opportunity insights — the latter capabilities being quite unique and one of the few tools that can enable procurement organizations to avoid the need to invest in all but the most complex gain share recovery audits after the fact, a topic we will discuss in Part 2 in this series.

And, this year, SpendHQ released its second major revamp to the SpendHQ platform where it improved the core and completely redid the UX to provide buyers with the insights they need to make more meaningful decisions front-and-center immediately upon login. In addition, the new UX supports best-in-class do-it-yourself report building on par with the best stand-alone spend analysis and BI tools and real-time drill down that can take a buyer to just the data and/or transactions they want to see when they want to see it — from anywhere in the product.

Over three updated installments, we will dive deep into the new platform, its strength and opportunities for improvement, and how SpendHQ compares to other vendors in the market.

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