Author Archives: Nick Heinzmann



SirionLabs: Vendor Analysis, 2021 Update (Part 3) — Company SWOT, SirionLabs’ competitors, tech selection tips, analyst conclusion

SirionLabs competitors

Last spring amid the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, SirionLabs announced it had completed a $44 million Series C round, an event that Spend Matters said signaled the vendor’s arrival at the CLM winners podium. Of course, from our perspective it had already been there for a bit, as Sirion has consistently placed in our Value Leader quadrant of the CLM SolutionMap since we launched our vendor rankings — a finding now shared by other analyst firms evaluating the CLM space.

But where exactly does Sirion differentiate from the competition, and which organizations will find the CLM vendor an ideal fit relative to a growing number of competitors for authoring and negotiation, contract analytics and end-to-end CLM?

The third and final installment of this PRO Vendor Analysis, 2021 Update looks at SirionLabs’ competitors and provides an objective SWOT analysis of the provider. Part 3 also includes provider selection guidance, recommendations for companies that can best take advantage of Sirion’s capabilities, and a summary analysis. Part 1 examined SirionLabs’ background and offered a detailed solution overview and a company profile. Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of SirionLabs’ solution strengths and weaknesses as well as a review of the user experience.

SirionLabs: Vendor Analysis, 2021 Update (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses

SirionLabs strengths weaknesses

Part 2 of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis provides a detailed assessment of SirionLabs’ strengths and weaknesses of its solution for contract lifecycle management (CLM) and supply management.

In many ways, the easiest method for differentiating CLM solutions comes down to two questions: How deeply does a system model the commercial aspects of legal language, and to what extent can the system facilitate the analysis, certification and management of that resulting contract data?

Some vendors go deep on the modeling of contractual information, allowing that commercial knowledge to drive risk and performance management with counterparties. Other — often newer — vendors take a different approach, optimizing the workflows of CLM such as contract authoring and negotiation as the path to fast system ROI.

SirionLabs is a helpful example in illustrating the first group of CLM vendors. Because its roots are in managing services agreements and the ultimate outcomes of agreements, its approach to modeling and managing contractual information embraces complexity — and as a result, it delivers insights about relationships that are uniquely valuable to customers.

Part 1 examined SirionLabs’ background and offered a detailed solution overview. Part 3 will cover Sirion’s competitors, a company SWOT analysis and tech selection tips.

Now, let’s learn more about its solution strengths and weaknesses.

Making sense of the world of B2B payments and procurement technology: Backdrop, market segmentation and vendor mapping

B2B payments vendors

A couple of years ago, I fought a small battle with the management team of Spend Matters’ parent company (Azul Partners) about making the investment to cover what was then a nascent market for B2B payments as a solution extension to categories that we cover in SolutionMap: Procure-to-Pay, Invoice-to-Pay and AP Automation solutions. I was not alone, among my colleagues, in making the case to cover B2B payments, both as a drill-down of SolutionMap within AP Automation and Invoice-to-Pay, but also as a stand-alone area on Spend Matters.

But those who weren’t initially taken with the idea asked the fundamental question: Why?

Why would procurement and AP leaders care about B2B payments in relation to their primary technology decisions? It’s a fair question.

It is clear from a range of M&A activity (e.g., the payments/treasury management services (TMS)/P2P/AP mash-up of Coupa/BELLIN last year) as well as converged solution featuring a combination of internally developed solutions alongside integrated third-party capability (e.g., Coupa Pay, Tipalti), not to mention pure-play solutions (e.g., AvidXchange), that B2B payments are converging with the world of procurement and AP technology.

This Spend Matters PRO series segments and explores the various providers in the non-bank B2B payments market into four distinct market segments while exploring the overlap (think Venn diagram) between the groupings and individual providers. But to get everyone started on the same level, we’ll begin by providing some context and history of B2B payments overall. Still, if you’re from procurement or AP and your relatively new to world of B2B payments (or brand-new), we recommend starting here:

But where do B2B payment technology vendors (and their procurement and AP counterparts) fit into this world today?

Let’s begin ...

ContractAI (App Orchid): Vendor Analysis — Solution overview for contract analytics and negotiation, ContractAI competitors, roadmap, customer feedback, analyst insights

ContractAI solution review

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis provides an overview of ContractAI and its solution for long-tail negotiations.

To say that artificial intelligence has become a hot topic in contract management would be an understatement. Whereas even two years ago AI was more of an aspirational goal among contract lifecycle management (CLM) vendors, today many of the best-known technology providers have either internally developed or partnered to bring some set of AI capabilities into their solutions — whether simply to accelerate contract review or to more deeply understand the semantic nuances of their previously executed agreements.

ContractAI, however, comes to the CLM world from the opposite path.

It is a standalone product built on an enterprise AI platform (App Orchid), meaning its foundations lie in engines for unstructured data processing, knowledge graph construction and the like, rather than in CLM workflow management or facilitating negotiation version control. This has allowed ContractAI, in a comparatively short period, to develop a competitive solution for legacy contract analysis and supplier negotiation — with an analytical depth that some of its peers may envy.

Of course, ContractAI is also a young vendor, and one currently approaching CLM from a set of highly tailored use cases. Those best-fit cases — for procurement, for enterprise-wide CLM deployments, and for certain steps in the contract management lifecycle — are what we will explore in this Vendor Analysis.

We also will delve into the concept behind ContractAI and look at its platform, application and supporting services. This post also has a verified customer reference analysis, a competitive market analysis and key analyst takeaways.

SourcingCockpit (from With): Vendor Analysis — Solution overview for vendor and contract management, roadmap, SourcingCockpit competitors, analyst insights

sourcingcockpit analysis

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis provides an overview of SourcingCockpit and its solutions for vendor and contract management.

The convergence of technology and services is a key trend we’re watching in the procurement solutions market.

More often than not, procurement transformation projects are accompanied not only by the adoption of a new system to standardize processes and simplify information management but also by a team of implementation consultants who coach the organization through to a higher state of maturity.

Such value-added services around maturity benchmarking, process improvement and opportunity identification are becoming increasingly important in solution selection, which is why Spend Matters’ highly technical SolutionMap vendor evaluations include requirements for services capabilities in addition to functionality assessments.

SourcingCockpit is a solution that embodies this trend. It is part of a tech-enabled services firm, named With. Offering experience in advising large and mid-size procurement organizations in the areas of RFX creation/management, supplier selection, due diligence, negotiation, contract authoring and transition processes, With helps clients diagnose their maturity levels, develop a roadmap to building vendor and contract management competency, and provides the supporting technology to codify new roles and ways of working. The supporting solution, however, is not a “leave behind” but a fully standalone tool, one that occupies an interesting gray area between supplier management and contract lifecycle management.

This Vendor Analysis explores the concept behind SourcingCockpit and looks at the platform, application and supporting services that the vendor delivers. This post also details SourcingCockpit’s competitors in a market analysis, complete with key analyst takeaways.

Ravacan: Vendor Analysis — Solution Overview for Mass Production Planning, Supplier Collaboration and Asset Management

Ravacan

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis provides an overview of Ravacan and its solution covering direct materials and asset collaboration management.

The notion that spreadsheets are archaic tools dying to be replaced by SaaS solutions is somewhat of a cliché in the enterprise software world. Yet the adoption of cloud-based alternatives for various business processes still lags in multiple areas, sometimes to a shocking degree.

Direct materials sourcing and purchasing, unfortunately, is still one of those areas.

The founder of Ravacan, a SaaS solution built for supplier collaboration on mass production planning and asset management, knows this situation all too well. As a global sourcing manager (GSM) and commodities manager at several international manufacturing firms, Anne-Sophie Le Bloas built massive spreadsheets for managing quarterly price updates and tracking externally located assets (e.g., injection molding machines) with contract manufacturers — and rebuilt spreadsheets whenever she started a new position.

Ravacan is her effort to break this cycle. Her solution takes the intimate knowledge of direct materials supply chain planning that global sourcing managers have and standardizes it into a collaborative, easy-to-use system. This “built by GSMs for GSMs” mindset is shaping a unique player in the emerging space for direct procurement technology specialists, as well as proving a key satisfaction driver with Ravacan’s initial customer and pilots.

This Vendor Analysis explores the concept behind Ravacan; the platform, application and supporting services the vendor delivers; a verified customer reference analysis; and a competitive market analysis, complete with key analyst takeaways.

ChAI: Vendor Analysis — Solution Overview for Commodity Price Forecasting and Risk Management, Customer Reference, ChAI Competitors

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis provides an overview of ChAI and its solution for commodity price forecasting.

Hedge funds and commodities traders are no strangers to volatility. Investors are in the business of predicting price movements and designing hedging strategies to manage risk. And as technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have gained stronger footholds in corporate use cases, traders have expanded their toolboxes to create ever more complex and accurate methods for price prediction.

Yet these same tools haven’t made it upstream into the hands of those who perhaps need them most — the procurement and supply chain groups actually using raw materials.

ChAI (pronounced like the tea) is trying to change that.

Founded by a group of former investment world employees with experience in global commodity trading and ML/AI for commodity price modeling, ChAI brings hedging strategies to procurement via explainable price predictions. The London-based firm is rapidly building out proprietary models for multiple categories, starting with industrial metals and common packaging plastics, by blending traditional price data, macroeconomic indicators and correlated data from other sources, like satellite images.

Most important, though, ChAI is no black box. Rather, each prediction it provides comes with a set of parameters delivered as natural language (prose) that a procurement professional can use when building a hedging strategy or collaborating with colleagues in treasury to take a position. It is in this context that ChAI becomes a compelling start-up to watch for category intelligence and how it really states its case — as an enabler of complex sourcing strategies that were previously burdensome for procurement to design and execute.

This Vendor Analysis also explores the concept behind ChAI; the platform, application and supporting services it delivers; a verified customer reference analysis; a market analysis of ChAI’s competitors; and key analyst takeaways.

Malbek: Vendor Analysis — Solution Overview for Contract Management, Roadmap, Customer Feedback, Competitors, Analyst Insights

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis provides an overview of Malbek and its solution for contract management.

They say hindsight is 20/20, but rarely in the competitive world of software development do people get a chance at a do-over. Malbek, a 4-year-old contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution, may just be the exception. Many of the New Jersey-based vendor’s current and founding employees are alumni of prior CLM vendors, and these CLM veterans have brought to Malbek a set of insights about how to “reimagine” their space.

The resulting solution is not one that aims to blow up CLM as we know it and upend the typical features. In the view of Malbek, the foundational aspects around contract modeling, portfolio management, authoring workflows and the like are all relatively sound. Rather, the aspects of CLM that Malbek wanted to reimagine was the approach to deployment, integrations, system upgrades and end user configurability. And while that may sound less “sexy” than cutting edge, AI-based features — which, for what it’s worth, Malbek also supports in many areas — these emphases give Malbek a compelling case for being able to address key pain points for CLM prospects, especially in the middle and enterprise market segments.

The brief explores the concept behind Malbek; the platform, application and supporting services the vendor delivers; a verified customer reference analysis; and a competitive market analysis, complete with key analyst takeaways.

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

Parley Pro, a contract lifecycle management provider that’s the subject of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis, aims to move CLM beyond the category’s current concept.

Historically, many CLM vendors have focused on maintaining a repository of agreements for customers to help them better manage post-signature lifecycle events. Indeed, centralized storage and renewal management formed the main value proposition that most early CLM vendors competed on, with standardized authoring as an added benefit.

Parley Pro wants to change that.

The Los Altos, California-based vendor represents an emerging class of CLM solutions that aim to streamline and improve the upfront creation and negotiation process.

That’s not to say Parley Pro skimps on the traditional CLM requirements: It checks all of the expected boxes across repository setup, searching, template management, post-signature tracking (e.g., renewals) and reporting.

But where the vendor differentiates — and wins in competitive scenarios — is on its ability to optimize digital or online negotiation workflows, both internally and with the counterparty.

This one-part Vendor Analysis includes an overview of Parley Pro’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.

Trakti: Vendor Analysis — Solution Overview for Contract Management, Roadmap, Customer Feedback, Competitors, Analyst Insights

labor

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis provides an overview of Trakti and its solution for contract management.

With the rise of the contract lifecycle management (CLM) market, contract management has slowly become more digital. The same cannot be said, however, of contracts.

The contracts that CLM solutions deal with are in practice electronic versions of prose. A few more advanced vendors venture into the electronic representation of contract elements, but as a rule most aspects of a contract are either included in an attached document or modeled as metadata tags with the system.

Trakti, in contrast, is a step toward CLM that is digital native — that is, agreements modeled and managed in a fully electronic format. Via a combination of contract management expertise and targeted use of blockchain technology, Trakti offers smart contracts functionality in an end-to-end CLM system it has applied across enterprise use cases, at real customers, at supply chain scale.

The brief explores the concept behind Trakti; the platform, application and supporting services the vendor delivers; a verified customer reference analysis; and a competitive market analysis, complete with key analyst takeaways.

Pactum: Vendor Analysis —  Solution Overview for Long-Tail Negotiation, Roadmap, Customer Feedback, Pactum Competitors, Analyst Insights

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis provides an overview of Pactum and its solution for long-tail negotiations.

It takes two to negotiate, yet more often than not negotiations are one-sided. Depending on the scenario, one party usually has a stronger position than the other.

But asserting power over another party for a preferred outcome isn’t the point of a negotiation — at least, not in negotiation theory, anyway. If you ask an academic, there’s actually a range of outcomes that maximize value for both parties, and a truly successful negotiation is one that reaches the sweet spot, the Pareto optimal. Simply put, win-win deals are usually the best outcome, rather than, say, a steep price cut that later contributes to supplier insolvency.

Delivering these optimized, win-win deals is how Pactum, a one-year-old vendor out of Mountain View, California, approaches negotiation.

But outcome optimization is only one part of Pactum’s value prop. The other is that it has developed an AI system that can negotiate with a human supply-side rep to deliver savings and execute a contract. And it can do this for tens of thousands of vendors without any procurement involvement.

This Vendor Analysis also explores the concept behind Pactum; the platform, application and supporting services the vendor delivers; a verified customer reference analysis; and a competitive market analysis, complete with key analyst takeaways.