Author Archives: Nick Heinzmann



NPI: Provider Introduction, Summary and SWOT

In a world where everything is rapidly digitizing and moving to a services-based delivery model, there is perhaps no category more difficult for businesses to manage than IT services. The more operations move to the cloud and businesses rely on major IT services providers like Microsoft, SAP and Oracle to get work done, those in charge of IT sourcing, whether that be procurement, IT or a dedicated team in a center of excellence, are encountering a higher volume of IT services purchases, more complex offerings and pricing structures to negotiate, and more risk inherent in making the wrong choice. And with worldwide IT spend projected to reach $3.8 trillion by the end of 2019, all of these issues are only expected to build on themselves.

Helping manage this situation is exactly what NPI, a consulting firm based in Atlanta, does for IT sourcing organizations. Founded in 2003, NPI helps businesses identify and eliminate overspending on IT purchases, as well as provides vendor-specific intelligence on a range of topics, including risk reduction efforts, licensing program optimization and negotiation playbooks. Its services span subscription pricing intelligence to renewal process advisory and IT sourcing transformation consulting, and the firm counts businesses as varied as Morgan Stanley, the Social Security Administration, Denver Health and Norfolk Southern as clients.

This Spend Matters PRO Provider Introduction offers an overview of NPI, including quick facts on the provider. The brief also has an introduction to each of NPI’s six business lines, an overall SWOT analysis comparing it to other procurement consultancies and a selection checklist for companies that may consider the provider.

Accrualify: Vendor Introduction (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

In our initial research brief on Accrualify, we introduced the four-year-old provider based out of San Mateo, California. The upstart procurement and finance technology vendor offers a unique set of technology capabilities to manage specific components of the invoice-to-pay cycle, as well as adjacent areas like basic requisitioning and broader accruals management.

The first part of this brief provided an overview of Accrualify’s offering and a short selection requirements checklist that outlined the typical company for which Accrualify might be a good fit. In today’s installment (Part 2), we provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, exploring Accrualify’s “positives” and “negatives.”

3 Reasons to Love ‘Nimble’ Procurement Technology Providers

Spend Matters’ analysts have been writing personal essays on their favorite SolutionMap personas: Nimble, Deep, Turn-Key, Configurator and CIO Friendly, as well as Optimizer for sourcing providers and Global for CWS vendors. The personas help companies select which solution provider is right for them. This week’s essay is by Nick Heinzmann, an associate analyst and a former editor of Spend Matters.

Let’s be blunt: If you’re going to pay five or six figures for a software license, you’d better hope your employees actually use it. But can your technology provider guarantee that everyone who uses the system — from admins to power users to the everyday requisitioner or collaborator — will adopt it? What about enjoy it, willingly log in and encourage everyone to collaborate on the platform?

For many companies, this is easier said than done. Implementations that seem well planned on paper can quickly become nightmares. Systems with deep, powerful functionality but archaic user interfaces can scare less ambitious users back to the warm embrace of Excel.

Issues like the above and others are why I love the Nimble persona — that best at understanding the “millennial” mindset when it comes to technology. Why can’t procurement software be as fun and easy to use as apps like Instagram, Venmo and Slack?

Accrualify: Vendor Introduction (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview

procurement

Most of the well-known solution providers in the P2P space got their start in one of two ways. They either began with improving on the e-procurement experience offered by ERP, pursuing an “Amazon-like” user experience for frontline buyers and then moving to invoicing and payments; or, they focused on the problems of invoice capture, validation and processing, expanding from AP automation to full invoice-to-pay support and later building or acquiring e-procurement functionality. Both approaches eventually allowed such providers to link the two “Ps” in P2P, bringing procurement and finance activities together under one technology roof.

Accrualify, the subject of this three-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction, has taken neither approach. Rather, the San Mateo, California-based provider started, in 2015, with tracking accruals and enabling simple B2B payments. It later built out functionality for AP automation and eventually PO management and requisitioning, giving it what we would call an almost complete P2P solution under the Spend Matters P2P SolutionMap methodology. Yet even without the catalog management and ordering functionality that would give it true e-procurement support, Accrualify has managed in four short years to build a commendable set of I2P capabilities, ones well-suited to the mid-market, as customers such as BitTorrent, Helix, FloQast, Lookout and Getaround can attest.

This Vendor Introduction series offers a candid take on Accrualify and its capabilities. The series will include an overview of Accrualify’s offering, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis, and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

Bid Ops: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT (Part 2)

In this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction, we’re introducing you to Bid Ops, a two-year-old vendor out of San Francisco that positions its cloud-based e-sourcing tool as the first AI solution for automating indirect procurement negotiations. Rather than focusing solely on serving the buyer, Bid Ops’ founders actually built the vendor side of their platform first, shaping the whole user experience around making negotiation faster, simpler and smarter. While it’s early, the solution is more RPA (robotic process automation) than AI (which is early stage assisted intelligence at best), but the vendor has notched some notable wins with big customers, claiming double-digit savings rates with the likes of Berkshire Hathaway, Los Angeles World Airports and the city of Detroit.

In the first part of this two-part series, we provided an overview of Bid Ops’ offering and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider. In this second part, we will provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution and give a SWOT analysis.

Bid Ops: Vendor Introduction, Solution Overview, Selection Checklist (Part 1)

When it comes to bringing artificial intelligence into procurement software, there’s been a lot of hype and very few real advances. This is especially true of sourcing tools, which despite their potential for integrating AI and machine learning, have rarely moved beyond simple use cases like auto-fill of an RFX or automatic identification of the default award winner. And even when they have added early AI-based features into their platforms, sourcing solutions mostly focus on the application of AI to the benefit of the buyer. The suppliers on the other side of the solution — not an insignificant number of users — often have been left out of the AI conversation.

This is not the case with Bid Ops, a two-year-old vendor out of San Francisco that positions its cloud-based e-sourcing tool as the first AI solution for automating procurement negotiations using adaptive target pricing. Rather than focus solely on serving the buyer, Bid Ops’ founders actually built the vendor side of their platform first, shaping the whole user experience around making negotiation faster, simpler and more pleasant for vendors. While it’s still early days, and more RPA (robotic process automation) than AI (which is early stage assisted intelligence at best) the vendor has already notched some notable wins with big customers, claiming double-digit savings rates with the likes of Berkshire Hathaway and a Fortune 100 chemical producer.

This two-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Bid Ops and its capabilities. In this first part, we provide an overview of Bid Ops’ offering and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider. In the next part, we will provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution and a SWOT analysis.

Beeline vs. Coupa Contingent Workforce: Temp Staffing/VMS Head-to-Head Comparison

The market for vendor management system (VMS) solutions has undergone two major structural shifts over the last few years.

At the end of 2016, Beeline shrank the total pool of available vendors when it merged with IQNavigator, creating the largest independent, pure play contingent workforce and services procurement technology provider by a significant margin. The two VMS solutions — now a single entity under the Beeline brand — are being converged and replatformed into a unified offering (BeelineOne) while developing innovative approaches to external workforce sourcing and management requirements. Facilitating this effort is the private equity firm New Mountain Capital, which acquired Beeline in July 2018 and has been working to strengthen Beeline’s competitive positioning, especially against the VMS market’s largest offering, SAP Fieldglass.

But in late 2018, a new competitive threat emerged, one that could turn the current “Big 2” VMS provider dynamic back into a “Big 3.” This of course was Coupa’s acquisition of DCR Workforce, which catapulted the source-to-pay suite provider (and arch competitor with SAP Ariba) into the top tiers of contingent workforce and services procurement technology capability. Coupa has branded the current and eventually integrated and replatformed capabilities as Coupa Contingent Workforce (CCW). While Coupa previously did provide baseline support for contracted-SOW services through its Services Maestro module, the acquisition allows Coupa to expand its offering and provide the same range and types of capabilities that would generally be found in leading VMS solutions. Even as the full integration of the acquired DCR capabilities will take time, CCW already poses a competitive threat to the likes of SAP Fieldglass (recently consolidated with SAP Ariba and SAP Concur in the newly formed SAP Intelligent Spend Group) — and, of course, Beeline.

The rapid evolution of the “new” Beeline and Coupa’s surprise leap into the upper tiers of the VMS market raises the question: How do the two vendors stack up in a head-to-head bout? After all, competitive matchups between the two are already becoming a more frequent event, and both help set the average functional benchmark score in Spend Matters’ Q4 2018 Temp Staffing SolutionMap. (The Q4 results are labeled Coupa but look specifically at the DCR solution pre-acquisition because the integrated Coupa-DCR solution is still pending and has not been reviewed for SolutionMap.)

Join us in this unfiltered SolutionMap results analysis from our Q4 2018 dataset as we look at the two top ranked contingent workforce/VMS providers, along with the commentary of the Spend Matters analyst team. Bear in mind, the scores/ratings in this analysis are now approximately 9 months old, and some of the score differentials may have changed — however, we have no reason to believe significantly.

These “Head-to-Head” reports 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 Beeline and Coupa against each other in the vendor management system evaluation ring.

Not yet an Insider member? Here’s a preview: In certain temp staffing categories — which include Supplier Management, Candidate Evaluation/Selection/Submissions, Change Order Management, Engagement Management, On/Off-boarding, Rate Management, Requisition Creation and Approvals, Time and Expense and Worker Compliance — Beeline convincingly comes out on top. In others, it’s darn close, with Coupa coming out on top, or the two achieving a statistical tie. And in at least one area, Beeline delivers an unquestionably superior score.

Overall, the results suggest that the right solution will vary based on different organizational requirements. There’s no debate that VMS/temp staffing selection processes will reward procurement organizations that tailor provider selection to their specific needs.

Exploring Basware’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Capabilities and Roadmap: Something For AP and Procurement (Part 3)

Artificial intelligence is starting to transform the value proposition of procurement and finance technologies. But it is not just start-ups that are building new capabilities and gaining momentum. Procure-to-pay stalwarts like Basware are making significant investments in the area as well. This Spend Matters PRO brief explores where Basware’s AI investments are appearing in its invoice-to-pay and e-procurement solutions. Part 1 of this series explores Basware’s recent product enhancements, and Part 2 explores 2019 and 2020 roadmap items.

Exploring Basware’s Recent Product Enhancements: Something for AP and Procurement (Part 2)

At its recent Basware Connect 2019 customer event in Chicago, Basware brought together both finance and procurement organizations for two days of learning and in-depth product discussions. During the event last month, Basware spent numerous sessions sharing recent product enhancements, as well as highlighting its own product roadmap path forward.

This Spend Matters PRO brief, the second installment in a three-part series, explores Basware’s roadmap for the following products:

— Data, Analytics and Supplier Management
— Networked Sourcing and Procurement
— Networked Accounts Payable and Payments
— IT Integrations and E-Invoice Sending
— Dynamic Discounting and Financing


And our analysts’ give the key takeaways on each of these areas.

Promena: Vendor Introduction (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

contingent workforce

In our last Spend Matters PRO post, we introduced you to Promena, an 18-year-old provider based out of Istanbul that is deploying a platform for strategic sourcing, supplier management and e-procurement. Operated under the umbrella of Zer, a procurement BPO firm that itself is a subsidiary of Turkey’s largest industrial conglomerate, Koç Holding, Promena has a solution with a long history of development and some relatively mature functionality despite its lower name recognition in the global procurement technology market. And while its newest modules are still finding their footing amid a rapidly changing sector, the solution overall offers a strong baseline off which Promena could expand it functional footprint.

Part 1 of this brief provided an overview of Promena’s offering and a short selection requirements checklist that outlined the typical company for which Promena might be a good fit. In Part 2, we provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis, and some final conclusions and takeaways.

Promena: Vendor Introduction (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview

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When asked to name the top locations of technology and startup ecosystems, one could be forgiven for not including Turkey. Globally, cities like London, Berlin, Tel Aviv, Stockholm, Singapore and San Francisco hold much of the technology economy mindshare, and recent political volatility in Turkey has not bolstered the country’s image as a stable place to start a business.

Yet Turkey has a lot going for it these days in terms of technological potential. As of 2017, the most recent year for available data, Turkey’s internet penetration rate was nearly 65%, giving the country Europe’s fifth-largest online population. Use of mobile devices is also relatively high, at 86% of the population. What’s more, Turkey’s demographics skew heavily toward younger generations: more than half of its 82 million inhabitants are under the age of 30, many of whom are enthusiastic about accessing and growing the technology economy in their home country.

And this technological potential is not just recent. In fact, when it comes to procurement technology, Turkey’s representative offering, Promena, has been refining its product for nearly two decades. Started in 2001 as a joint venture between Koç Holding, Turkey’s largest industrial conglomerate, and The Carlyle Group, Promena offers solutions for e-sourcing and e-auctions, spend analysis, supplier management and e-procurement. Now fully owned and operated under the umbrella of Zer, a procurement BPO firm also owned by Koç, Promena today counts more than 100 customers, with more than 11,000 sourcing events and $2 billion worth of transactions flowing through the platform.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Promena and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of Promena’s offering, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

Exploring Basware’s Recent Product Enhancements: Something for AP and Procurement (Part 1)

In April, Basware held its Customer Connect user event in Chicago. During a mainstage talk and break-out sessions, the procure-to-pay provider highlighted a number of recent enhancements and product roadmap areas, including the continued incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI) throughout its product line. Based on these presentations and recent Spend Matters SolutionMap RFI analysis, this three-part Spend Matters PRO brief highlights selected recent product enhancements as well as what Basware has in store for AP and procurement customers in the quarters to come based on its product roadmap. It also provides deeper insight into how Basware is embedding AI across its procure-to-pay solutions.

The following enhancements are covered and analyzed (with key takeaways included) in this research brief:

— Approval Confidence Scoring/Index
— Committed Spend
— SmartPDF (Basware’s version of InvoiceSmash/Cloudscan)
— Payment Plan Compliance
— Intelligent Order Aggregation