Author Archives: Jason Busch



About Jason Busch

The closest thing to a household name in procurement and supply chain, Jason has led the charge as an advocate, futurist and evangelist since the 1990s. Initially at FreeMarkets and then an adviser to Ariba and other firms, Jason branched out on his own to establish the Spend Matters brand (parent company: Azul Partners), which emerged to become the largest news and information portal covering the sector. Over the years, Azul Partners has expanded this digital portfolio to 12 affiliated properties including leading titles such as Spend Matters UK/Europe, MetalMiner and Public Spend Forum, making it one of the largest independent B2B digital media firms. Jason divides his time between research, speaking, corporate finance advisory and mentoring dozens of firms and procurement organizations in the industry. Prior to Azul Partners and FreeMarkets, Jason worked in consulting and merchant banking. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Personal investment disclosures: Azul Partners, Inc., Public Spend Forum, LLC, Remitia Ltd., RJSL Group LLC, Sigaria Ltd., Spare to Share, LLC, Spendata LLC, SpendLead, Inc., Spend Matters Europe Ltd., Spend Matters Group, LLC.


What is Your Procure-to-Pay Persona? Understand Your Requirements and Mass Customize Your Vendor Shortlist

No two procurement or finance organizations are alike. Each has its own persona that reflects not only its own value proposition and engagement approach but also the stakeholders it serves — and its supply base. The same principle holds true of procure-to-pay (P2P) application providers. Each has a persona (or more than persona) that reflects its value proposition, solution strategy and targeted customer segments. Therefore, companies should seek providers whose personas best align to theirs. In other words, there is no “magic” solution provider, and finding the right fit is critical, because a P2P application represents the main interface for most of procurement’s internal customers — and a common face to suppliers, as well.

To that end, we are excited to break down our approach to Spend Matters SolutionMapTM, a comparative analytical framework for practitioners to evaluate relevant solutions to meet their procurement needs. Our SolutionMap initiative depicts vendor rankings based on specific buyer personas to reflect the unique value proposition, solution strategy and customer segments served by a vendor. Participating vendors are scored both on their solution as well as on customer value, based on in-depth tech reviews (including live demos) by the Spend Matters analyst team and aggregated direct customer input from surveys. Each SolutionMap is updated quarterly rather than in 12-month (or longer) cycles, to accurately reflect the pace of market developments.

As part of our Spend Matters SolutionMap vendor comparison ranking, for procure-to-pay solutions (publishing in the coming days, with subsequent quarterly updates), the Spend Matters analyst team has dedicated considerable time to developing the unique organizational “personas” that we’ve most often seen in our decades of experience working with procurement organizations. We have used these personas to weight the requirements that we used in solution scoring, which includes customer satisfaction scoring by solution customers.

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

spend analytics

AnyData Solutions competes in a fragmented market for spend analytics. Yet unlike many of its peers, it is not a common procurement vendor name. But with better awareness, it could be a strong analytics competitor globally, especially considering how the solution packs a powerful one-two functional and pricing punch.

From a functional standpoint, AnyData’s rapid visual development framework can enable customers to go beyond spend analysis use cases to create custom, domain-specific analytics solutions (e.g., analytics centric contract lifecycle management and supplier performance management reporting and capability). Combined with AnyData’s low-cost pricing models (a fraction of the cost of other solutions under most scenarios), it should make the solution a shortlist candidate for just about any size organization needing a spend analytics platform that wants the option to move beyond the basics.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering AnyData Solutions provides an objective SWOT analysis of AnyData and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to AnyData, and offers provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies considering AnyData. Previous installments provide an in-depth look at AnyData 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).

AnyData Solutions: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses

Analytics

AnyData Solutions is not just a standalone spend analytics toolset that includes “the basics.” Rather, it is a standalone platform for capturing, managing, sharing and collaborating on structured datasets of any type.

As an end-to-end analytics platform, AnyData is quite different from other approaches to spend analytics on the market today. On many levels, AnyData is closer to the data-centric heritage of BIQ, as it is fundamentally a self-service analytics solution, compared with the vast majority of spend analytics providers, which prefer to handle cleansing and classification activities “as a service,” even if they offer to sell the classification engine separately (which rarely happens).

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores AnyData’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations and other customers decide whether AnyData is the right fit for their need. The first installment provided a company and solution overview and a recommended fit list of criteria for firms considering AnyData. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

AnyData Solutions: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview

There must be something in the procurement climate in the United Kingdom that encourages procurement technology entrepreneurs to start spend analytics businesses. Coming on the heels of Spikes Cavell (acquired by Xchanging), Spend360 (acquired by Coupa), Simfoni and Rosslyn Analytics is the newest upstart, AnyData Solutions, which was founded in May of 2013. AnyData is yet another spend analytics vendor with strong capabilities, even some unique ones. But like many of its peers, it has been undercapitalized from the start and as a result has not invested in the type of sales and marketing efforts necessary to make it a household name. It has also lacked the channel and business development prowess of Spikes and Spend360, which helped drive significant, yet behind the scenes, growth.

Perhaps most important, as chronicled by Spend Matters previously (see: Exploring the Customer Experience of a Spend Analytics Provider that Should be On Your Shortlist), AnyData’s broad claim around the delivery of broad, powerful analytics is not the typical smoke and mirrors marketing that many vendors put forth. Our analysis suggests it delivers a true end-to-end analytics platform (unlike just about every other spend analysis solution) that is extensible across functions, industries and different use cases both inside and outside of procurement.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about AnyData Solutions and whether its capabilities are a fit for their needs. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and a detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider AnyData in the procurement technology and solutions area. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Jaggaer Beyond the Rebrand: Building an Integrated Procurement Suite and Industry-Specific Capabilities

Earlier in the year, Jaggaer (formerly SciQuest) announced a new release Gazelle (17.1), which marked the largest set of enhancements to the solution set since Accel KKR’s acquisition of the company and the subsequent changing of the product development and management guard at the vendor. While the Spend Matters team is looking forward to getting a full deep dive of the latest product releases as part of our SolutionMapSM efforts in the coming weeks, we recently spent time with Jaggaer to understand some of the product philosophies and investments the new team is embracing, as well as to take a cursory look at some of the suite's new capabilities and new stack-level investments

Measuring the Procurement Technology User Experience: More Than Just a Pretty Screen (Part 1)

UXI

A good technology user experience is not like pornography: One can actually define it without seeing it, or at least attempt to do so.

As you may have noticed, the “Vendor Snapshot” deep dive reports that Spend Matters has been doing for the past year on technology providers have included a section on user experience (UI). In this section, we have rated UI on a number of factors. While it may seem that the first five ratings are subjective, they were all based on a comparison of the platform to other platforms, with a generalized baseline against a set of criteria for “good” user experience that the Spend Matters Analyst team has been developing for over a year.

But now that Spend Matters has released its first SolutionMap℠ — with many more to come — we decided it was time to put down a standard set of more specific definitions, across specific procurement technology modules, about what makes for a good user experience based on the criteria we ourselves use to evaluate UIs across the source-to-pay workflow.

Today, we’ll start our discussion by defining what general characteristics make for a good UI, and an effective user experience (UIX), primarily by sharing examples (without naming vendor names) and different use case scenarios that separate out a base-level UX from an advanced one.

What is Your Invoice-to-Pay Persona? Understand Your Requirements and Mass Customize Your Vendor Shortlist

e-invoicing

No two accounts payable, finance or shared services organizations are alike (or procurement departments, for that matter). Each has its own persona that reflects not only its own value proposition and engagement approach but also the stakeholders it serves — and its supply base. The same principle holds true of procure-to-pay (P2P) application providers. Each has a persona that reflects its value proposition, solution strategy and targeted customer segments. Therefore, finance and procurement organizations should seek providers whose personas best align to theirs. In other words, there is no “magic” solution provider, and finding the right fit is critical, because a P2P application represents the main interface for most of procurement’s internal customers.

To that end, we are excited to preview our approach to Spend Matters SolutionMapTM, a comparative analytical framework for practitioners to evaluate relevant solutions to meet their accounts payable, working capital and procurement needs. Our SolutionMap initiative depicts vendor rankings based on specific buyer personas to reflect the unique value proposition, solution strategy and customer segments served by a vendor. Participating vendors are scored both on their solution as well as on customer value, based on in-depth tech reviews (including live demos) by the Spend Matters analyst team and aggregated direct customer input from surveys. Each SolutionMap is updated quarterly rather than in 12-month (or longer) cycles, to accurately reflect the pace of market developments.

As part of our Spend Matters SolutionMap vendor comparison ranking for invoice-to-pay and procure-to-pay solutions (publishing next week, with subsequent quarterly updates), the Spend Matters analyst team has dedicated considerable time to developing the unique organizational “personas” that we’ve most often seen in our decades of experience working with procurement organizations. We have used these personas to weight the requirements that we used in solution scoring, which includes customer satisfaction scoring by solution customers. Having collected feedback from hundreds of invoice-to-pay users, vendors and consultants in recent months as part of our SolutionMap research, we see these personas as useful starting points for procurement organizations to classify themselves before looking at solution rankings of providers in the market.

This Spend Matters PRO analysis shares six of the most common customer personas in invoice-to-pay buying needs. Aimed at practitioners as well as vendors and the consultants advising them, this research brief will be helpful to drive the type of “mass customization” of procure-to-pay solutions needed to meet specific organizational needs.

Below, we present our six personas for invoice-to-pay. For each, we include: full definitions, typical organizational priorities (based on each persona), functional/solution and customer value emphasis and recommended selection processes. Comparative vendor rankings will be published for each persona next week on Spend Matters (and updated quarterly).

Vendor Summary Report: E-Procurement SolutionMap℠ Q2 2017

This SolutionMap analyzes a select group of e-procurement solution providers. It is part of our Q2 2017 SolutionMap report series, also featuring Invoice-to-Pay solution providers and Procure-to-Pay suites. Spend Matters tracks over 50 procure-to-pay solution providers. This analysis features many of the largest e-procurement providers, including BuyerQuest, Claritum, Coupa, Determine, GEP, IBX, Ivalua, Nimbi, Pool4Tool, SAP Ariba, Vroozi and Zycus. It also features industry specialists BirchStreet (hospitality) and Prodigo (healthcare), which were analyzed with respect to their vertical sector focus. SolutionMap ratings provide comparative rankings and insight into how each provider scored from a solution and customer value perspective. It provides a breakdown of solution scoring for each vendor on the category level (e.g. catalog management, shopping/requisitioning, ordering/order management, receiving, supplier network, configurability, technology/architecture and services). It also provides insight into how customers scored each e-procurement vendor (e.g. likelihood of recommending the provider, level of value perceived, business value, ability to meet expectations, deployment speed, ROI, TCO and innovation). Solution scoring is based on analysis of individual vendor capability, including in-depth tech reviews, a highly detailed Spend Matters RFI and live demonstrations and Q&A by the Spend Matters team. The Customer Value score stems from aggregated direct customer input (survey-based). While Spend Matters does not recommend that existing and potential customers of providers use technology and customer scoring alone to shortlist and/or evaluate technology providers, the insight, along with SolutionMap persona-based ratings, provides a point-in-time perspective which may be useful as either a starting point in an evaluation or a contributing factor to a formal software selection process. In this Spend Matters PRO research report, we provide an analysis of how all 14 participants in our Q2 2017 e-procurement SolutionMap scored on a comparative basis against solution/technology and customer value criteria.

Coupa Enters an Agreement to Buy Trade Extensions: A Game Changing Move For Strategic Sourcing

After market close on Friday, Coupa announced it had entered into an agreement to purchase Trade Extensions, a specialist e-sourcing and strategic sourcing optimization vendor.

Coupa will pay $45 million for Trade Extensions when the transaction closes — $41 million will be paid in cash and $4 million in stock (which will be issued, it appears, to employees). Spend Matters estimates the valuation range for Trade Extensions (as a multiple of revenue) is in line with other typical SaaS companies, and that Coupa did not pay a premium for Trade Extensions, especially considering how unique the asset is in the market.

ZeroChaos: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview

ZeroChaos is a provider of global, vendor-neutral contingent workforce management services/solutions. Going beyond traditional MSP, VMS, payrolling and agent of record categories, ZeroChaos provides clients with a range of services, which can be assembled into a client-specific solution supported by the company’s own technology platform and analytics. As such, ZeroChaos represents a quintessential integrated solutions provider in a converging procurement world, in which services providers are codifying IP and extending their reach and capability through applications while software providers are embedding additional content and intellectual property in their applications.

Having started over a decade ago in the contractor employer of record and agent of record space and later distinguishing itself as a disruptor in the staffing supply chain, ZeroChaos competes today in a field of evolving solutions providers offering outsourced contingent workforce management solutions to enterprises.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations make informed decisions about whether they need a solution like ZeroChaos as an alternative for or complement to their organizations’ incumbent solutions for organizing/managing and assigning work to their own “affiliated” workers or to help control and drive savings across broader services procurement categories. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider ZeroChaos. The rest of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Defining Blockchain For Procurement (Part 1): Background and Use Cases

blockchain

For procurement, finance and supply chain organizations, blockchain has the potential to revolutionize different areas of supplier engagement, collaboration, traceability and management. But how (and when) it ultimately changes the way we use technology in such areas as supplier networks/supplier enablement, supplier management, contract lifecycle management, payables (and trade financing) and commodity management, among other areas, remains to be seen.

This multipart Spend Matters PRO series aims to both demystify (and explain) blockchain architectures while putting it in the context of procurement, providing a roadmap for practitioners to consider as they think about adopting the technology in the years to come.

Part 1 of this series starts by defining and explaining blockchain for a “non-technologist” and providing use cases for procurement organizations as they consider how they might adopt blockchain alongside their existing applications and supplier connectivity solutions. Part 2 and 3 will provide additional insight into early blockchain deployments and how providers, including both vendor upstarts as well as established providers such as SAP Ariba, may include blockchain as an integral component (or alongside) existing application and network architectures.

What is Your E-Procurement Persona? Understand Your Requirements and Mass Customize Your Vendor Shortlist

No two procurement organizations are alike. Each has its own persona that reflects not only its own value proposition and engagement approach but also the stakeholders it serves.

The same principle holds true of procure-to-pay (P2P) application providers. Each has a persona (or more than one persona) that reflects its value proposition, solution strategy and targeted customer segments. Therefore, procurement organizations should seek providers whose personas best align to theirs. In other words, there is no generic “magic” solution provider, and finding the right fit is critical, because a P2P application represents the main interface for most of procurement’s internal customers.

A modern procurement organization with a streamlined and tailored approach to influencing stakeholders is poorly served by buying a complex, one-size-fits-all application that puts off those stakeholders. Not enough procurement organizations look at an e-procurement application as their main business-facing interface — but it is.

The face a procurement organization presents to the business through an e-procurement application may vary. For the frontline business user, some e-procurement systems are extremely easy to use and may even suggest a lack of policy by procurement based on how they’re configured and put into the field. Others are more directive and prescriptive. Many e-procurement solutions serve as a portal to more than just transactional buying — for example, serving as a hub for all employee engagement related to supplier spending.

To that end, this multipart Spend Matters PRO analysis shares six of the most common customer personas in e-procurement and invoice-to-pay (the two segments that comprise the P2P market), starting first with a look at e-procurement. For each, we include: full definitions, typical organizational priorities (based on each persona), functional/solution and customer value emphasis and recommended selection processes.