Author Archives: Jason Busch



About Jason Busch

Jason is the founder of Azul Partners and co-founder of Spend Matters. He spends most of his time contributing to building Spend Matters SolutionMap. But he divides the rest of his waking hours between research, writing, due diligence analysis, corporate finance advisory and mentoring dozens of firms and procurement organizations in the industry. Prior to Azul Partners, Jason got his on-the-job education in procurement technology working at FreeMarkets for five years in a variety of roles. Before that, he started his career in consulting and merchant banking. Jason holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Current investment disclosures: Azul Partners, Inc., Koble, Inc., Public Spend Forum, LLC, RJSL Group LLC, Sigaria Ltd., Spendata LLC, and Spend Matters Europe Ltd.


Building the Business Case for Managing Suppliers with Technology: 7 ROI Levers (Introduction)

If Rodney Dangerfield had ever worked in procurement, he would have been in charge of supplier management. While supplier management does get some respect, the late Dangerfield certainly would have agreed it does not get the respect it deserves.

Part of the challenge in garnering respect for supplier management is that it touches on so many workstreams, processes and business functions. And we’ve got to say, it’s also not as sexy as spend analytics, strategic sourcing, contract management or even spend management. Compounding these challenges is that few procurement, finance and shared services organizations have earnestly attempted to develop a business case and ROI model for investing in supplier management on an end-to-end basis. But trust us: If you do, you’ll run (not walk) to doing it right.

This Spend Matters PRO research series aims to both demystify the business benefits of doing supplier management “right” and help organizations build a business case to invest in supplier management processes, as well as supporting software. It also explores the ROI drivers organizations might consider in creating their own business case for rolling out a supplier management solution or building on investments they’ve already made.

In the first two installments of this series, we introduce the primary ROI levers of supplier management, starting first with those at the front end of the supplier lifecycle that can help with building a business case. Later in the series, we will provide more detailed ROI model inputs and ranges that can be used in building a business case in each of these areas.

Spend Matters PRO clients can also contact their client services representative for an interactive Excel-based ROI model that can serve as the basis for building supplier management business cases.

Jaggaer Indirect vs. Sievo: Spend Analysis Head-to-Head Technology Evaluation and Comparison

The bar for spend analysis software has risen considerably in recent years. Thanks to higher expectations for overall function enablement, enhanced reporting, artificial intelligence-based classification capabilities, and even predictive and prescriptive capabilities, a spend analysis tool designed even a few years ago may not stand the test of time as well as it might have in the past.

This makes the comparison between Jaggaer Indirect and Sievo all the more interesting. The good news for procurement organizations considering both solutions is that they perform at or above the Q2 2018 Spend Analytics SolutionMap overall — and individually help set the benchmark standard for certain areas. But how do they stack up against each other in a head-to-head bout?

Join us in this unfiltered SolutionMap results analysis from our Q2 2018 dataset, along with the commentary of the Spend Matters analyst team. These “Head-to-Head” columns share the insights of each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider Subscribers, providing unique comparative cuts of SolutionMap benchmark data along with the trademark quips that Spend Matters was better known for in its early years. So buckle your seat belt, prepare for some real data and expect a few sparks to fly as we pit Jaggaer Indirect against each other in the Spend analysis evaluation ring.

Not yet an Insider member? Here’s a preview: In most spend analytics categories — which include data layer, process support, technology and services — Sievo comes out on top (sometimes convincingly so). But in at least one area, Jaggaer delivers superior performance. And as you peel the onion between the two on a subcategory basis, the use cases for when one is likely a better fit than the other becomes clearer.

Recruiting an Executive Search Firm in Procurement: 7 Questions to Ask and Evaluation Criteria

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Talent makes procurement happen, and executive search firms play a critical role in bringing new talent into organizations. But when it comes to recruiting senior talent, few procurement teams we’ve spoken to take anything but a relationship-driven or ad-hoc approach to selecting executive search firms. The same relationship-based approach is also common with senior HR staff, CFOs and even CEOs, who often lead the selection process with executive search firms when they plan to hire a new chief procurement officer (CPO).

At Spend Matters, we are big believers in evidence-driven approaches to decision-making, as one can see through our SolutionMap methodology. In the case of procurement talent management and recruiting, this often starts with selecting the best possible executive search firm, especially hiring a CPO, VP and director-level talent. We recently assisted in the hiring of an executive search firm, but when tried to find an evidence-driven set of criteria for assessing such firms, we came up short. So we created a model ourselves, following the general theory suggested by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kanheman for optimal firm assessment.

In this Spend Matters PRO research brief, we share our framework for selecting executive search firms that specialize in procurement, using an evidence-driven model to support the best chance for positive outcomes. The frameworks comprises seven RFI questions to ask potential executive recruiting firms, scoring criteria for each question and a scoring matrix.

SAP Ariba Launches A New Sourcing Front — Decision Optimization (Part 2: Solution Analysis)

In a perfectly logical world, sourcing optimization would become the default means of the majority of strategic negotiations with suppliers. At Spend Matters, we believe its superiority to other sourcing techniques — especially in its ability to extend procurement’s influence to supply chain, finance and other areas of the business by incorporating multiple elements of data collection and analysis — is unmatched. But even though the benefits of sourcing optimization are real and core sourcing optimization technology requirements are well established, the capability today is more of an outlier than standard practice.

Might SAP Ariba be able with its recently enhanced sourcing optimization capability to bring optimization to the masses, and accomplish, at this point, what other more established solutions have not yet been able to achieve? Perhaps. But it will take more than the right capabilities to drive universal sourcing optimization adoption, as SAP Ariba’s competitors in the area have found. For the purposes of this Spend Matters PRO research brief, we’ll “constrain” our dataset to a much easier scenario to solve for: providing a perspective on how SAP Ariba’s current sourcing optimization capability stacks up against our core SolutionMap requirements for the area.

SAP Ariba Launches A New Sourcing Front — Decision Optimization (Part 1: Solution Components)

SAP Ariba has opened a new front on the strategic sourcing optimization software battlefield. We recently received a detailed product demonstration of the next evolution of SAP Ariba’s decision optimization capability, as well as a glimpse of what’s on the roadmap. Our take is positive. SAP Ariba’s foundation and future plans represent a solid start in this area. And while other established providers of sourcing optimization tools have a decade-long head start, we expect SAP Ariba to progress faster in its optimization journey than many of its peers.

In this two-part Spend Matters PRO analysis, we begin with an introduction to the required solution components of sourcing decision optimization and an explanation of the benefits they can bring to procurement organizations. In Part 2, we offer an overview of SAP Ariba’s new decision optimization capability, exploring its strengths and weaknesses. 

SpendHQ vs. Zycus: Spend Analysis Head-to-Head Technology Evaluation and Comparison

Two decades ago, Zycus pioneered the original spend classification and spend analytics sector, providing companies with an alternative to Excel and Access for cleansing, classifying, enriching and analyzing spend data. At the time, what Zycus came up with would become a huge step forward not just for procurement technology but for procurement overall.

But since Zycus got its start, dozens of new entrants have pursued the spend analytics market, both independently and as part of broader firms. One of these entrants, SpendHQ, grew out of a consultancy, Insight Sourcing Group. Originally, ISG used SpendHQ as both an internal tool (by the ISG team) and as a leave-behind for procurement organizations. But today, SpendHQ is a stand-alone solution in its own right, with a growth rate significantly outpacing the market that has made it the first or second largest stand-alone spend analytics vendor. (We don’t count Zycus in this area anymore, since it has graduated to a full-fledged source-to-pay suite vendor.)

Both SpendHQ and Zycus beat the average functional benchmark score in Spend Matters Q2 2018 Spend Analytics SolutionMap. But how do they stack up against each other in a head-to-head bout?

Join us in this unfiltered SolutionMap results analysis from our Q2 2018 dataset, along with the commentary of the Spend Matters analyst team. These “Head-to-Head” columns share the insights of each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider Subscribers, providing unique comparative cuts of SolutionMap benchmark data along with the trademark quips that Spend Matters was better known for in its early years. So buckle your seat belt, prepare for some real data and expect a few sparks to fly as we pit SpendHQ and Zycus against each other in the Spend analysis evaluation ring.

Not yet an Insider member? Here’s a preview: In certain spend analytics categories — which include data layer, process support, technology, configurability and services – SpendHQ comes out on top (sometimes convincingly so). But in others, Zycus delivers a superior performance (both by small and large margins, depending on area).

And overall, the results suggest that the right solution will vary based on different organizational requirements. There’s no debate that spend analytics selection processes will reward procurement organizations that tailor provider selection to their specific needs.

The Q2 2018 Spend and Procurement Analytics SolutionMap benchmark is now based on an underlying dataset featuring 11 separate providers, including nearly all of the must-shortlist invoice-to-pay technology providers procurement organizations can expect to consider in a typical selection process (as well as those they should consider but might overlook). Whether you’re in the market for a new invoice-to-pay product or just want to know if you made the right decision for your organization, our SolutionMap analysis and benchmark data can tell you the answer. Curious to learn more? Don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Tradeshift vs. SAP Ariba: E-Invoicing and Supplier Network Evaluation and Head-to-Head Comparison

In its early years, Tradeshift was a thorn in the side of SAP Ariba in a handful of strategic accounts. More recently, as Tradeshift transitioned from operating at least in part (previously) on the PowerPoint platform to its own, the provider has emerged as more than just a credible threat and is now an everyday competitor to SAP Ariba, Basware, Coupa and many others.

Tradeshift has real, proven capability today. Through the Spend Matters SolutionMap process, we’ve benchmarked its solution on a functional and customer satisfaction basis across hundreds of procure-to-pay functional and customer satisfaction areas 20 competitors. And when we talk about functional analysis, we’re talking about actual product demonstrations of real GA product.

SAP Ariba and Tradeshift are among the two strongest invoice-to-pay providers in Spend Matters Q2 2018 Invoice-to-Pay SolutionMap on a functional scoring basis. But how do they stack up against each other in a head-to-head battle, especially when considering core e-invoicing and supplier network capabilities as part of the invoice-to-pay solution area?

Join us in this unfiltered head-to-head SolutionMap results analysis from our Q2 2018 dataset, along with the commentary of the Spend Matters analyst team. We will be writing “Head-to-Head” columns on a regular basis, sharing the insights of each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider Subscribers and providing unique comparative cuts of SolutionMap benchmark data, along with the trademark quips that have defined Spend Matters since its inception.

Not an Insider member yet? Here’s a preview: In certain invoice-to-pay categories — which include supplier network, configurability, technology (overall), general services, invoicing setup, invoicing creation/capturing/submission, services invoicing and contract invoicing, invoicing collaboration, invoice validations/approvals, invoice integrations, invoicing compliance, invoice mobility, invoicing analytics, payment/financing and overall invoice-to-pay scoring — SAP Ariba comes out on top. In fact, SAP Ariba, on a straight line, “Deep” persona invoice-to-pay functional basis factoring into account all scoring criteria, is the top performing solution on an analyst scoring basis in Q2 2018.

But in specific categories, Tradeshift wins the race. And overall, the results specific to core accounts payable and invoice/document automation might surprise companies that think experience and size triumph over youthful ambition. Perhaps more important, the SAP Ariba vs. Tradeshift head-to-head shows that one size does not fit all for e-invoicing and associated capabilities. There’s no debate that invoice-to-pay selection processes will reward those procurement and finance organizations that tailor provider selection to their specific needs.

The Q2 2018 Invoice-to-Pay SolutionMap benchmark is now based on an underlying dataset featuring 13 separate providers, including nearly all of the must-shortlist invoice-to-pay technology providers procurement organizations can expect to consider in a typical selection process (as well as those they should consider but might overlook). Whether you’re in the market for a new invoice-to-pay product or just want to know if you made the right decision for your organization, our SolutionMap analysis and benchmark data can tell you the answer. Curious to learn more? Don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Tradeshift By the Numbers (1H 2018) and a New Bank Offering (The “Early Payments Wallet”)

In New York City yesterday, following the announcement of a $250 million funding round, Tradeshift provided an update to analysts, customers and partners. We covered a couple of the general updates already, including the announcement of a new receivables-centric application and supplier network offering (see: Tradeshift’s “Sellers Club” Targets Bottomline and Accounts Receivable Technology With a Many-to-Many Offering) and parallels Tradeshift is drawing from others in developing its own strategy (see: Tradeshift Analyst Day Dispatch: “Do You Want Amazon to Own Your Supplier Relationships?).

In today’s Spend Matters PRO coverage, we turn our attention to other announcements from the event, including a general corporate update (i.e., Tradeshift by the numbers) and other product announcements. The emphasis is on Tradeshift’s new bank-centric offerings that support early payment programs, including bank and multi-bank funding options, along with KYC (Know Your Customer) and the other alphabet soup requirements that banks require from a supplier/customer onboarding standpoint. We’ll also share our observations coming out of the event. Let’s begin.

Tradeshift’s “Sellers Club” Targets Bottomline and Accounts Receivable Technology With a Many-to-Many Offering

Sarika Garg, Tradeshift’s chief strategy officer, took the podium for a few minutes at Tradeshift’s analyst day to introduce what the procurement/finance technology provider is calling its “Seller’s Club.” The concept is that the “Club” is a membership, not a subscription. While a supplier-paid offering, Garg made the point of noting that Tradeshift remains free for suppliers to transact. Our take is that the Club appears to be a new offering for suppliers that is taking aim at another class of solutions entirely compared with procurement, accounts payable automation and supplier network offerings aimed at the buyer — where Tradeshift started.

Tradeshift Analyst Day Dispatch: “Do You Want Amazon to Own Your Supplier Relationships?”

On a well-timed East Coast swing, Lisa Reisman (Azul Partners’ fearless CEO) and I dropped by New York City for Tradeshift’s analyst day, the Tradeshift Innovation Summit. Christian Lanng, Tradeshift’s founder and CEO, kicked off the afternoon with a history lesson, drawing the parallel between Salesforce and the path he suggests that Tradeshift is on. He began his talk by noting that in 1999, Oracle, Siebel and SAP were “fighting it out over CRM” when the market was “fragmented, verticalized and on-premise.” But Salesforce came along with a different vision, building “software for the end-user” with an emphasis on “cloud” and eventually its “app” platform.

5 Reasons to Bet For and Against Coupa (Part 2: The Blindsided Prince)

Owing to its focus on “business” spend management and public company status, Coupa continues to serve as an ambassador and proxy for the procurement technology sector overall. As I noted in the first installment of this series — 5 Reasons to Bet For and Against Coupa (Part 1: The Virtuous ‘Cloud’ Prince) — it seems everyone has an opinion on Cramer’s new “Cloud Prince.” I shared five reasons I’d bet on Coupa from a procurement (not capital markets) perspective.

Today, to balance things out, I turn negative and introduce five reasons I’d bet against the firm, primarily revolving around how the sector and procurement, finance and supply chain may change around it. I’ll lump these reasons under the theme as “blindsided prince,” since I believe Coupa’s biggest risks come from outside, not within.

5 Reasons to Bet For and Against Coupa (Part 1: The Virtuous ‘Cloud’ Prince)

One of the best validations of the procurement technology sector is to see irrational exuberance from those who know comparatively little about it as they begin to speculate more aggressively on who is going to win in the market. Hearing Cramer call Coupa the “Cloud Prince” was but one example of the dozens I’ve heard both publicly and in one-on-one conversations in recent weeks from those outside the procurement solutions world.

These days, it seems everyone has an opinion on Coupa. Sometimes this speculation and soap-boxing grates on me because, in theory, it could mislead those within procurement and finance from making the best decisions if they get wrapped up in the noise. But it’s a price worth paying. Every insider — including everyone on the front lines of procurement, every tech vendor, every consultant, every analyst — should welcome every minute of attention Coupa gets. Why? Because it means there is going to be plenty of cash to fund the next generation of innovation for the sector.

Procurement is red hot right now, and honestly, shouldn’t saving money always be hot? But just how hot is Coupa? While I have real work to do providing a final set of eyes on some 250+ pages of draft copy for the Q2 SolutionMap Insider publications this week, I thought I’d procrastinate and share my own prognostications on Coupa and the arguments I’d make on betting both “for” and “against” the new crown prince — and also offer some fantasy sports commentary on just whom I’d combine Coupa with from the comfort of my lazyboy to conclude things (and luckily our SolutionMap framework lets us mix and match providers in different combinations — something that some of our early adopter practitioner clients are starting to explore in their evaluations).

Today I’ll start with five reasons I’m bullish on Coupa for procurement organizations — the company, not the stock, which is an important distinction as I have no opinion on share prices — by sticking with Cramer’s “prince” analogy. Of course I can’t help but think back to a philosophy class in 11th grade with Dr. Morinelli where we learned and debated Machiavelli's “The Prince.”

Virtuous princes, as Wikipedia translates and paraphrases Machiavelli, “rise to power through their own skill and resources (their ‘virtue’) rather than luck … [even though comparatively they] tend to have a hard time rising to the top, once they reach the top they are very secure in their position. This is because they effectively crush their opponents and earn great respect from everyone else. Because they are strong and more self-sufficient, they have to make fewer compromises with their allies.”

How is Coupa the virtuous [resourceful] prince for procurement? Read on as we explore the five reasons I’d bet on Coupa’s continued success at the same levels of the past.