Author Archives: Andrew Karpie



Category Manager at Greeting Card Company Brings Sentiment and Feeling to Dying Supply Chain

Alex Decker, a senior category manager at a well-known greeting card company, has developed an innovative supply chain management approach that promises to breathe new life into an industry disrupted by digitization. For over 25 years, Decker has been responsible for sourcing paper stock and ink, the two main materials inputs to the production of traditional paper greeting cards. Not long ago, he suddenly be became interested in innovation and in holding onto his job until retirement age.

Online Work Platforms and Enterprises: Survival of the Fittest or the Fastest?

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In this PRO research brief, we provide an analysis of the complex dynamics that characterize the online work platform technology market, in particular with respect to large enterprise adoption (or, to date, the lack thereof). We also examine some promising platform strategies/approaches that may promote platform business viability and, over time, more success in achieving large scale enterprise penetration. Finally, we discuss the implications of our analysis for both platform providers and enterprise buyers.

(Note: To avoid possible perception that we are making endorsements or recommendations in this brief, we forego references to specific platforms (platform providers are evaluated separately, in our Vendor Snapshot and SolutionMap series, with these strategies and approaches in mind.)

Strategic Technology Planning: A New Imperative for Contingent Workforce and Services Procurement (Part 1)

For many years now, planning for CW/S technology has been largely tactical, focusing almost exclusively on the capabilities and effectiveness of one VMS solution or another. Technology planning at a strategic level has been rare in CW/S procurement functions, in main part because it has not been necessary in a relatively static technology and supply chain environment. Need a core contingent workforce technology to manage processes, compliance, risk and cost? Adopt a VMS (or work through your MSP to get one). Seeking a specialized category solution? Work with the business owner (e.g., legal, telecom, facilities) to engage a vendor that meets everyone’s needs.

But in recent years, many aspects of the environment in which CW/S procurement executes its mission have begun to change significantly. Under these conditions, strategic planning becomes necessary. Because technology is now and will be presenting CW/S procurement functions with new opportunities to add value to their organizations in a variety of ways, allocating time and resources to conducting strategic technology planning is now an imperative. In most cases, this will mean starting from scratch. But foregoing strategic technology planning opens CW/S procurement to missed opportunities, core mission failure and possibly disruption.

In short: procurement, HR and IT organizations — not to mention line of business owners — need to work together to create their own CW/S technology information architecture through a strategic technology planning process. In Part 1 of this series, we build the case for strategic technology planning and provide an overview of what strategic technology planning means for a CW/S procurement function. In Part 2, we flesh out a targeted approach to CW/S procurement strategic technology planning and practical approaches for implementation within an organization.

A Closer Look SAP Fieldglass Live Insights, A New Market Intelligence-Based Decisioning Tool

In late April, we covered the introduction of SAP Fieldglass Live Insights, an analytical decision support capability that Fieldglass clients can use to make data-informed judgments prior to creating and releasing a requisition, as well as to analyze different sourcing strategies and scenarios. Since that time, we have had the opportunity to receive a demo of Live Insights and an update on launch progress.

Shortlist Continues its Market Entry in the Enterprise Freelancer and Services Platform Space

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Last week Spend Matters reported that Shortlist, a platform organizations can use to manage freelancers and service providers, had raised a $1.5 million seed round, bringing total funding from its inception in mid-2015 to $2.3 million. Shortlist now supports more than 25,000 users at companies that include Publicis Groupe, CBRE, Hays, Roche, AKQA and Western Governors University, according to a press release. We recently had the opportunity to talk with Shortlist Co-founder and CEO Martin Konrad about some aspects of the company that may not have thoroughly discussed in the brief press release.

Beyond VMS: The Creation of a New Technology Category for Contingent Workforce and Services

For over 20 years, vendor management systems (VMS) have been the sole enterprise technology category for contingent workforce and services (CW/S) procurement. Within that category, especially over the last seven years or so, most VMS solutions have been (to a lesser or greater extent) evolving, upgrading their technology, deepening their core functionality and expanding the scope of the kinds of spend that can be managed. One prominent example of the latter has been the development of SOW/services management capabilities. A less prominent example has been the development of functionality for managing independent/contract workers. Finally, some VMS solutions have begun to develop digital sourcing solutions, which in some instances will link to online work platforms.

In many ways, this evolution parallels the shift from largely point solutions for transactional indirect e-procurement technologies to broader source-to-pay (S2P) and procure-to-pay (P2P) suites, networks and platforms. But it is also different, in that it takes advantage of more recent digital enabling technologies, as well as a fundamental shift in underlying workforce dynamics in the market. In other words, it is both “bottoms up” technically and driven by external forces, as well — a perfect recipe for digital disruption. This Spend Matters PRO research brief explores the creation of this new category, which we believe will reshape the current VMS-dominated services procurement ecosystem and drive existing providers to evolve and innovate in new ways.

WorkMarket: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Competitive & Summary Analysis

The previous two installments of this PRO series provided an in-depth look at WorkMarket as a firm and its specific solution capability (Part 1) and a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses and a review of the product’s user experience (Part 2). WorkMarket is one of a growing set of providers in the market — and one of the few enterprise cloud platforms — with a solution that can complement a vendor management system (VMS) deployment to help procurement organizations manage and enable the expanding, external freelancer and independent contractor workforce.

The third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering WorkMarket provides a SWOT analysis of WorkMarket and offers a segmentation and comparison of the competition. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to WorkMarket, as well as provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies considering WorkMarket.

The Future of Digital Sourcing Channels for Labor and Services: Supply Side or Demand Side Driven?

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Over the past few years, we have been inundated with information and speculation about the future of work, the independent or freelance workforce, the gig economy, online marketplaces and talent clouds. Obviously, amidst all the verbiage, punditry and soothsaying, a lot of significant stuff has actually been happening. But what does it really mean for large organizations?

ICYMI: Data Analytics, the New Frontier for Workforce and Services Procurement

One of the hottest topics in procurement these days is data analytics (including big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing and algorithmic decisioning). Therefore, in case you missed it, we’re dusting off this primer on data analytics from mid-2016. It's still valid as ever and ready to read in one sitting.

How Stanford University is Bringing the Future of Work into Sharper Focus

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There has been so much discussion for so long about the so-called “future of work” that many of us — after several years — have had to take a deep breath and ask ourselves, “Is it here yet?” But while “the future of work” has become largely a platitude, some organizations (both private companies and public entities) and researchers (both industry analysts and academics) have devoted time and resources to tackle the problem head-on through real-world research and pilot projects (or in the case of crowdsourcing, serious adoption). Stanford University’s Human-Computer Interaction Group is one such example.

WorkMarket: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

This vendor snapshot series focuses on WorkMarket, an online (cloud-based) work intermediary that allows organizations to organize/manage their own “affiliated” (on-location, geographically-distributed) workforce across a range of labor categories, including independent workers, contractors, freelancers, alumni and employees as well as various service providers.

Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and solution overview. We noted that WorkMarket goes to market today with a broad, comprehensive platform that is undergoing continuing development and evolution. Rather than present the market with a clearly labeled, delineated set of modules, WorkMarket provides a platform, which organizations can choose to leverage in different ways, in accordance with their unique workforce management requirements and goals. Accordingly, in Part 1, we also identified basic fit criteria for firms considering WorkMarket.

Part 2 of this PRO Vendor Snapshot explores WorkMarket’s product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist the vendor to enable their services procurement technology requirements. It also offers a critique of the user interface. Part 3 of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.