Author Archives: Nick Heinzmann



ContractPodAi: Vendor Analysis — CLM Solution Overview, Strengths/Weaknesses, Company SWOT, Tech Selection Tips

contracts CLM

This one-part ContractPodAi Vendor Analysis includes an overview of ContractPodAi’s solution for contract lifecycle management (CLM).

The overlap of markets for legal tech and broader CLM solutions market has created a unique subsector that serves legal functions first and foremost but extends their value prop across the entire enterprise.

ContractPodAi is one such vendor, claiming to be built “by and for lawyers” but also serving cross-enterprise use cases.

The comparatively young vendor, which launched its current product in 2015 and landed a $55 million funding round in 2019, offers a highly usable CLM solution that even extends into some more advanced use cases around obligation tracking.

And, as its name implies, it supports a concerted focus on applying artificial intelligence (AI) into its platform, using technologies from IBM Watson and Microsoft Azure as its backbone.

So how does this legal-first, AI-via-partnership approach stack up against CLM incumbents, particularly those taking a “grow your own” approach to AI model and capability development?

This one-part ContractPodAi Vendor Analysis also offers a perspective on what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a tech selection checklist for organizations that might consider the vendor.

LogicSource: Vendor Analysis — Background, Solution Overview, SWOT, Tech Selection Tips

Oracle

The convergence of technology and services is a trend that’s hard to ignore in the procurement solutions market. Rare is the successful implementation story these days where a vendor deploys its software, trains the user and disappears until contract renewal. Rather, supporting services, including not only implementation and user training but also value-add activities like process outsourcing or digital transformation consulting, are becoming integral to creating satisfied customers. In fact, that’s why our highly technical SolutionMap evaluation includes both feature/function assessments of platform capabilities and requirements for services capabilities/customer feedback.

Perhaps ahead of this curve was LogicSource, a tech-enabled procurement business process outsourcing firm out of Norwalk, Connecticut, that offers services for sourcing and contract management alongside specialized tools for spend analytics, spend/savings tracking and P2P management.

Founded in 2009, LogicSource has its roots in the retail world, where the provider first focused on enabling direct and commercial print procurement. Today it has expanded its coverage to a slew of indirect spend categories, picking up BPO and tech-first clients like Rite Aid, GSK, The Hartford, Lululemon and Dish along the way.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis offers an overview of LogicSource, including quick facts about the provider. The brief also includes an introduction to LogicSource’s OneMarket solutions for spend analysis, savings tracking and P2P; an overall SWOT analysis comparing it to other procurement services providers; and a selection checklist for companies that may consider the provider.

Let’s take a look at LogicSource.

Teampay: Vendor Analysis — Solution Overview, Strengths/Weaknesses, Opportunities/Threats, Tech Selection Tips

This year, remote work went from a reluctant experiment in the corporate world to an economic necessity. But the coronavirus pandemic-induced shift from the office to working from home was about more than shedding commutes and embracing video chat — it brought processes home too. Employees who relied on office-based tools and organizational infrastructure to work found themselves isolated and more dependent on technology than ever before.

Teampay, the subject of this one-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis, sees this as a rapid acceleration of current trends rather than a jarring disruption.

In the view of this New York City-based provider, spend management is slowly becoming more decentralized, thanks to more tech-savvy end users and the shift of purchasing behavior to increasingly services-based offerings (think martech software, concierge tablets and print/marketing as services).

This vision of purchasing de-emphasizes the role of a central procurement department in, for lack of a better descriptor, most tail spend, instead empowering employees to make their own buys — within certain designated limits — and even pay for them with automatically generated virtual cards.

In Teampay terms, this is distributed spend management, and it’s the future of buying. But how does the Teampay vision work in practice, and how does it stack up against more traditional P2P vendors?

Let’s take a look.

Symfact: Vendor Analysis — Solution Overview, Strengths/Weaknesses, Company SWOT, Tech Selection Tips

Contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions are a “hot” market, and part of the reason for recent interest is because of their applicability to a wide range of enterprise use cases. Unlike other technology areas that touch procurement, CLM sells to multiple business stakeholders, often at the same time. There are some CLM vendors with particular strengths on the buy-side, sure, but there also are plenty of others that spring from sell-side use cases, or still more that support legal organizations first and foremost.

Symfact, a CLM vendor founded in 2002, provides an example of just such a “flavoring” of contract management solutions toward a unique business use case — governance, risk management and compliance (GRC). The Switzerland-based vendor, with a U.S. office in Chicago, offers a well-tested CLM solution that also links to other GRC-related apps (e.g., legal entity management, third-party risk management). This of course extends well to procurement, as suppliers also are third parties that need to be managed for many risks, which makes Symfact an interesting potential partner for buy-side CLM beyond its legal/GRC roots.

This one-part Vendor Analysis includes an overview of Symfact’s CLM solution, a perspective on what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a tech selection checklist for organizations that might consider the vendor.

SirionLabs raises $44 million, signals its arrival at the CLM winners podium

procurement

SirionLabs just announced it has raised $44 million in a Series C round that brings cumulative fundraising to $66 million for the contract lifecycle management firm with 400+ personnel. This is a major funding round and vote of confidence for SirionLabs as it moves into the leading positions top CLM market players, which includes providers such as:

  • Icertis, the current unicorn in the CLM pack. Both Icertis and SirionLabs are based in the U.S. with large development teams in India.
  • DocuSign, the ubiquitous e-signature vendor that has moved up the value stack by acquiring sell-side-centric CLM player SpringCM and also acquiring AI-pioneer Seal Software (a very smart move).
  • Apttus, now owned by Thoma Bravo, just announced its acquisition of Conga to help it penetrate the huge Conga customer base (another smart move albeit with some CLM application overlap in the portfolio).
  • Agiloft, an innovative CLM and services management application provider built upon a no-code platform that brings usable RPA and AI “in a box” alongside the apps.

We’ve been covering SirionLabs (and all of these players) for a long time. In its six-year history SirionLabs started out as a niche tool for managing strategic third-party relationships (and the contracts that sit underneath). It’s the detailed modeling of those complex services contracts that SirionLabs has mastered. You can see this in the webinar that we participated in with Unilever where Unilever has used SirionLabs to handle complex services contracts with literally tens of thousands of contractual measurements.

It’s this ability to model complex service levels and obligations (and the associated risks, opportunities and downstream “value leakage”) with a best practices knowledge base that is embedded into its system content and analytics (much of it with robust native machine-learning capabilities). This is why we’ve counseled SirionLabs to go all guns blazing into CLM, because in an everything-as-a-service (XaaS) world that is increasingly digitized, externalized and complex, the contract gets elevated from a one-size-fits all risk transference document owned by the legal department to an ultimate commercial system of record for business value — especially in B2B (this is also far more than a siloed sell-side CPQ systems that configure customer-facing proposals/quotes).

We call this new prospect for contracts and business value “Commercial Value Management” and it’s an underlying competency that underpins all enterprise business applications that manage processes or services that deliver business value — hopefully all of them!

SirionLabs has attained “Value Leader” status in our CLM SolutionMap for a while, with good reason: It has leading solution capabilities and it gets good marks from its customers. Some of the other industry analyst firms are only now starting to wake up to SirionLab’s capabilities. Our SolutionMap has hundreds of requirements in it and reflects our deep assessment and also pure voice-of-the-customer assessments, which is a differentiated methodology relative to the “magic wave scape matrices” out there. In fact, we’re in the midst of evaluating SirionLabs right now for our upcoming Fall 2020 SolutionMap release, and they’ve made huge strides in usability and AI, while furthering the embedding of deep knowledge and best practices into the platform.

So, how will the CLM battle play out with some of the players above? And what does this mean from an M&A and investment perspective? We’ll address this now in the rest of this Spend Matters PRO brief, and we offer some related PRO articles below.

Analysis of Apttus-Conga deal — Background, transaction analysis and a bit of armchair speculation

Mergers and Acquisition News in procurement industry

Apttus made waves in the CLM market this week with an announcement of its intent to acquire Conga, merging the two firms under the Conga brand to create a hefty player for “configure, price, quote” (CPQ) software, CLM and document management with roughly $400 million in revenue. The deal is perhaps not the transaction one would expect of either player. Both vendors have considerable product overlap, bringing together a set of sell-side CLM capabilities and deep historical hooks into the Salesforce ecosystem.

Still, there is some rationale for the deal. As you peel the onion on customers, the CLM market and where future deals could arise, you can see the potential logic behind Apttus owner Thoma Bravo’s move. At its core, the deal is about quickly producing scale, as the combined firm counts well north of 11,000 customers. It also brings a significant toolbox of CLM adjacent tools (e.g., CPQ, BPM/workflow management) into one ecosystem, which in turn creates a competitive alternative to the other elephant in the CLM room (especially from a customer count standpoint), DocuSign, which with its acquisitions of SpringCM and Seal Software has built its own contract management ecosystem enabled by its ubiquitous e-signature product.

So just what exactly do Apttus and Conga offer customers today, and what are the key takeaways for the CLM market? Spend Matters has not yet been briefed on the “new Conga” product merger plans and firm strategy, but we do have deep background into Conga, given its recent participation in the Spring/Q1 2020 CLM SolutionMap, and a few ideas about how the transaction could play out for another strategic buyer down the road.

Let’s explore these now ...

Coupa buys ConnXus: Product Background and Deal Rationale

Coupa announced Monday it has acquired ConnXus, an Ohio-based provider of supplier relationship management and diversity solutions, for an undisclosed sum.

The deal continues Coupa’s ongoing R&D investment augmented by its corporate development streak. Over the past 18 months the San Mateo, California-based S2P provider has acquired five firms, including another in the SRM space, Hiperos (now unified into the Coupa platform as Coupa Risk assess). But while the Hiperos purchase expanded Coupa’s third-party risk management capabilities, ConnXus brings an entirely different set of supplier management functionality. This includes deep expertise and data related to supplier diversity initiatives — for which ConnXus is best known — as well as several related offerings, such as an automated supplier master data cleansing service.

So what does ConnXus bring that’s new to Coupa, and why does the acquisition make sense in the context of an already strong-performing supplier relationship management and risk solution? This Spend Matters PRO brief reviews the SXM offerings of both ConnXus and Coupa, exploring the deal rationale from a product perspective. It also explores what the deal means for current customers and prospects. A separate brief from Spend Matter Nexus will cover the acquisition from an investment perspective.

Ravacan is a new provider carving a niche in the growing direct materials space

direct materials sourcing

To understand why the technology market for direct materials is seeing a rise in young solution providers like Ravacan, it’s important to understand the space and how it compares to the indirect procurement market.

Thanks to several developments over the last decade, indirect procurement organizations have seen a “rising tide” effect in the number of choices and increasing capability of today’s solution providers.

As first-generation indirect procurement solutions moved to the cloud and second-generation entrants gained notoriety, interest in the procurement sector grew — which lead to new funding for startups, providers crossing international borders and incumbents pushing the envelope of what they could do using automation, like RPA, and early attempts at AI, like auto-classification of spend data.

Direct procurement technology, though, is a different story.

While there are choices today for various direct procurement solutions, the pool is much smaller, and the options are less consistently mature (or developing) than their agile indirect peers.

But to the list of standalone providers targeting a niche in the direct material procurement space, we can now add Ravacan.

ProcurePort: Vendor Analysis (Solution Overview, Strengths/Weaknesses, SWOT, Market Analysis)

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on ProcurePort and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of ProcurePort’s strategic sourcing 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.

ProcurePort offers a strategic sourcing solution that’s main focus is on configuring and managing RFX and auction processes. The vendor started out in 2011 as a reverse auction platform, later adding support for RFX creation and adjacent capabilities for contract and supplier information management (SIM). In 2018, ProcurePort acquired a separate P2P platform that it now sells under its brand, but the upstream and downstream solutions are separate products and not sold as a unified source-to-pay offering. (This analysis does not consider ProcurePort’s P2P product.)

The ProcurePort customer base includes both larger manufacturers and small companies (i.e., teams of two or three practitioners managing approximately $50 million in spend). Manufacturers in particular gravitate to ProcurePort for its ability to handle large item counts — ranging from 1,000 to 15,000 items in some cases — as well as its positioning as a competitively priced tool (single seats and bundles are priced significantly below those of S2P competitors like Coupa, Ivalua and Jaggaer).

In addition to its SaaS solution, ProcurePort also offers managed services for reverse auction management and spend analysis (e.g., spend classification).

Let’s take a deeper look at ProcurePort and its solution.

CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: Fraud, P2P and Vendor Management Safeguards — Protecting cash and rapidly vetting suppliers in a crisis

In this installment of our “Coronavirus Response” series, Spend Matters will explore fraud, P2P and vendor management safeguards. With the COVID-19 crisis creating new fires for procurement to put out and critical supply risks arising to address, fraud is an unfortunate reality that businesses need to remain on guard against — especially in times where bad actors mobilize to take advantage of distracted and newly remote operations. This PRO brief will focus on the first three solution providers that we’ll profile in this category: AppZen, ConnXus and APEX Analytix.

The mission of this series is to examine categories of relevant solutions and example providers that professionals in procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should investigate to reduce, and even mitigate, coronavirus supply risk. And even if the solutions are only addressing a subset of the issues, the ability to respond intelligently in the short term can also help set organizations up for the future when sanity returns to the world.

Today’s brief focuses on the fifth of the seven solution categories that we’re covering:

1. Supply risk management solutions that include supply chain risk, CSR risk, supplier financial risk, etc.
2. Sourcing and commodity management, including advanced sourcing, direct sourcing, automated supplier discovery, and commodity management to help dynamically plan and source. (See this category’s recommended solutions for direct sourcing here.)
3. Advanced procurement analytics to enable direct procurement and/or to perform “spend planning” when demand drops out or spikes. (Its profile for this series is here.)
4. Procure to Pay (P2P) that emphasizes working capital, dynamic discounting, payment control and related finance priorities to help inject cash into the P2P process — especially for many cash-starved suppliers. (This category is discussed in-depth here.)
5. Fraud, P2P and vendor management safeguards when new suppliers need to be set up quickly, and also when lowlife fraudsters try to use the pandemic as a way to steal money and IP.
6. Providers with deep contract analytics that can analyze a contract portfolio for affected contracts from suppliers (and customers) for not just force majeure clauses, but other related clauses that tie to the multiple risks popping up at once in the pandemic.
7. Contingent Workforce and Services solutions that are able to, at a minimum, help rapidly ramp up on-demand workers to deal with massive resource shortfalls. We are looking at four categories of solutions for sourcing remote/online work; solutions for sourcing and managing contract workers at geo-specific capabilities; solutions to “direct source” and manage contract workers; solutions for data management and analytics. (The first PRO brief from this category, about sourcing remote/online work, can be read here.)

Owing to the magnitude of the crisis, Spend Matters recently made the series introduction available for free to all readers. PRO subscribers can see our follow-up pieces that profile the other categories and their solutions in that market. We will include a lot of information on each category PRO brief that readers can see without hitting a paywall, but since we also draw heavily from our existing deep-dive analysis of the providers from our SolutionMap database, some information will be available only to our PRO subscribers.

For fraud and vendor safeguards, the immediate need for companies in all sectors will include proactively detecting fraudulent behavior from all possible sources, whether it’s employees abusing normal corporate channels (e.g., stocking their own homes with toilet paper on the company dime) or cybercriminals posing as suppliers to reroute payments into personal bank accounts. At the same time, manufacturers may need to identify new sources of supply, leading them to rapidly onboard new suppliers. Yet without proper safeguards in place, a frantic selection could lead to longer-term problems, should the supplier have past issues with regulatory compliance or run an unsustainable operation.

The initial three solutions — from AppZen, ConnXus and APEX Analytix — all have capabilities in proactive fraud detection or supplier risk management, especially as it pertains to the validation of supplier information. We will likely add providers with similar and other strengths in fraud detection and vendor risk management at a later stage.

Each category-specific PRO piece in this series has three sections:

1. Problems and Use Cases. We’ll highlight the problems in force (which will vary through different phases of the crisis) and the various scenarios where solutions can provide deeper insights, intelligence and scalable workflows.
2. Solution Rationale and Value. We’ll outline how various solutions can help solve the problems and the specific questions that they’ll help answer.
3. Example Providers. We’ll highlight the solution providers that can support the problems and deliver value.

Some providers are offering coronavirus-specific programs and “freemium” commercial offers, and we’ll note those whenever we update this piece. We’ll also start the series with providers that we already have deep knowledge on, but we’ve been seeking information from other vendors too.

Let’s jump into how fraud and vendor safeguard solutions can help.

Through April 2020, a special PRO Expert Survival Pack is available to procurement practitioners only* at up to 50% off — Learn more

For coronavirus crisis, SourceDay customers share a consistent lesson: Prioritize supplier collaboration today

As manufacturers weather the uncertainty wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, they’re learning that effectively managing the information supply chain with a distributed workforce requires adjustments from the traditional approach.

Supply chain managers are now cut off from their office’s communications that they’ve grown dependent on to collaborate with suppliers — things like spreadsheets saved to desktops, office phones set up to make international calls on behalf of the company. The supply chain managers are either feeling the pain of relying on manual processes or adapting to a new world where critical supply chain information is intermediated by SaaS solutions.

The latter approach is how customers of SourceDay, a provider of supplier collaboration solutions for manufacturers, are handling the COVID-19 outbreak. In a briefing with Spend Matters on Thursday, the Austin, Texas-based provider shared data it has been tracking across its user base on how the outbreak is affecting manufacturer behavior, along with case studies of how the SourceDay users have applied the tool to combat this crisis.

The lessons from SourceDay customers outline a clear trend: Pursue mass segmentation and communication of priorities with suppliers rapidly, or risk being overwhelmed by the deluge of change orders, delays and cancellations created by the pandemic.

AppZen: Vendor Analysis — Strengths/Weaknesses, Company SWOT, Competitors, Selection Checklist

The term “audit” usually implies a reactive activity. When something goes wrong, a business conducts an audit to find out what happened, then corrects its procedures to prevent the error from recurring. This approach is, of course, not ideal. Rather than spend time and energy retroactively correcting a problem, taking a proactive, preventative approach to auditing would be more efficient as this would allow businesses to stamp out potential risks before they became problems.

The idea that a business should proactively address risks may seem obvious, but for many accounts payable organizations this is easier said than done. The major barrier to doing so is one of prioritization. A Fortune 500 enterprise may process billions of transactions a year, many of which represent normal, expected spending. But a handful should raise flags — for potential instances of overpayment, duplicate payment or even fraud. The challenge of proactive auditing is not one of developing a proper mindset but of determining how best to find the needle in the expense and invoice haystack. AppZen is like a super magnet for those needles. Founded in 2010, AppZen is an expense and accounts payable auditing platform that uses AI to help businesses identify spending risks before they make payments. Its roster of more than 1,500 customers — including many of the top brands in industries from banking to media and pharma — use the solution to spot non-compliant employee expenses, duplicate charges and other anomalies (e.g., consistent overcharging from a supplier).

This Spend Matters Vendor Introduction provides an overview of AppZen’s solution set. It includes a perspective on what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis, a look at competitors (or lack thereof) and a selection requirements checklist for organizations that might consider the vendor.

Also, we will post a profile of AppZen for our Coronavirus Response series, which highlights go-to vendors to help mitigate the business risks and aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Through April 2020, a special PRO Expert Survival Pack is available to procurement practitioners only* at up to 50% off - Learn more