Procurement Financials Content

CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: Procure-to-pay (P2P) keeps the cash flowing during the crisis [PRO]

In this installment of our “Coronavirus Response” series, Spend Matters will focus on procure-to-pay solutions and how they can help manage cash flow during a crisis.

The mission of this PRO 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.

This article addresses the fourth category of the seven we currently have outlined:

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.
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. 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.
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.

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.

Today, we begin our coverage of procure-to-pay (P2P) solutions from three of the P2P suite players with particular strengths in emphasizing working capital, dynamic discounting, payment control and related finance priorities to help inject cash into the supply base (especially harder hit suppliers in need of cash) via the P2P process.

They are Basware, Tradeshift and Coupa.

These initial three vendors, while each unique in the P2P/financing space, all have deep capabilities in payment automation and financing programs — like intermediate trade financing and not just basic non-intermediated early pay discount execution. If other practitioners, providers or consultants would like to contribute to coverage in this category, please let us know or fill out this survey.

If your organization doesn't have a P2P platform with payment and financing capabilities, one of these three platforms could be the most fit-for-purpose, off-the-shelf solution to help you preserve, deploy or have access to cash through the COVID-19 crisis, but obviously longer-term too.

Each category-specific PRO piece in this series will have 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 some value.

Some providers are offering COVID-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.

OK, let's dive into the power of P2P solutions.

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

The Impact of COVID-19 on M&A and Procurement Technology Investing (Part 1: Introduction)

I’ve decided to open up new Spend Matters Nexus columns and research briefs for everyone, not just subscribers, in the next few weeks, as we’re all certainly in a crisis period with the COVID-19 outbreak. To help make my coverage of investing and M&A more digestible, these dispatches will be shorter than usual (some will include frameworks and charts, others will not).

Having worked through two major shocks and downturns — the implosion in 2001-02, the 2008-09 recession — I’m seeing both similarities and differences between those times and the coronavirus fallout today in the procurement, finance and supply chain technology worlds. But for different types of investing, asset classes and M&A activities, it’s clear the effects are already quite individualized.

Today, I’ll start with a summary perspective on what entrepreneurs, CEOs and business owners should expect for the next few months, based on transaction type. Please note: This column is not based on extensive primary research and survey data, but rather anecdotal evidence from what I’m seeing in the market, primarily as an advisor to sponsors and executive teams, but also as an angel investor and advisor myself.

Jason Busch is Managing Partner of Azul Partners’ Investor Advisory Group. He works with sponsors, CEOs and boards on data-driven due diligence, M&A and strategy. Jason is also the lead author of Spend Matters Nexus, a private newsletter and subscription service.

Why Sustainable Growth Will Outshine Economic Uncertainty in 2020


Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from PJ Bain, the CEO of PrimeRevenue, a provider of working capital financial technology solutions.

In 2019, the economy defied expectations. Despite talk of a downturn and hordes of executives sitting on pins and needles, it never materialized. Economists were baffled by the juxtaposition of record-performing markets amid indications that a recession was on the horizon. To be fair, in any other cycle, those predictions would have probably come true — but not this time. It’s hard to remember a time when the economy was this … well, mystifying.

As we enter 2020, global uncertainty is still the name of the game. But businesses can find ways to invest in sustainable growth in uncertain times.

Omnia acquires InsightGPO: Putting M&A at the center of a growth strategy

This week, Omnia Partners announced it was acquiring InsightGPO, the group purchasing organization arm of Insight Sourcing Group. According to the announcement, the transaction closed on Dec. 31, 2019. Prior to the definitive agreement, “InsightGPO was one of five divisions of Insight Sourcing Group,” which provided its “clients with highly targeted offerings for office supplies, auto rental, MRO and office equipment,” according to the press release announcing the deal.

Yesterday, I had the chance to speak to Tom Beaty, CEO, Insight Sourcing Group, and M. Todd Abner, President and CEO of Omnia Partners, to learn more about the transaction.

This Spend Matters Nexus brief shares a bit of what was learned (Omnia facts, figures) along with our own transaction analysis and a back-of-the-napkin valuation and relative multiples in the GPO market. It also traces the history of Omnia and provides a perspective on the GPO today (at an investor level) and future scenarios. We will follow up this Nexus M&A analysis with a detailed vendor snapshot/overview of Omnia on Spend Matters PRO this quarter, including a full SWOT, customer recommendations, etc.

For those interested in learning the basics of GPOs and how to use them as part of a category management portfolio strategy, we suggest you start with our past coverage and a chart showing the primary GPO market segments:

● An Introduction to Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs)
● Group Purchasing Organizations: Supplier Perspectives and the Evolving GPO Landscape
● All We Are “Saved” — Give Purchasing Consortia (Including GPOs) a Chance
● The Healthcare Group Purchasing Organization (GPO) Landscape: Background, History and Introduction

Jason Busch is Managing Partner of Azul Partners’ Investor Advisory Group. He works with sponsors, CEOs and boards on data-driven due diligence, M&A and strategy. Jason is also the lead author of Spend Matters Nexus, a private newsletter and subscription service that publishes 50+ times per year. Spend Matters and Spend Matters Nexus are owned by Azul Partners. His investment disclosures and other activities can be found on LinkedIn.

2020 M&A and Procurement Investment Predictions: 10 Trends to Watch (Part 1)

M&A and investment activity in the procurement sector has started 2020 with a bang based on Coupa’s acquisition of Yapta and CVC’s $200 million investment in EcoVadis (which came on the heels of Workday’s buyout of Scout RFP in November). Spend Matters actively tracks over 600 procurement technology providers, of which more than 300 are featured and segmented by capability (suites and modules) in a recent PRO research brief and graphic (see below).

But we believe the actual number of providers — if we consider peripheral areas focused on category and market intelligence, analytics, services procurement and adjacent finance, supply chain, risk and supplier-related GRC applications that are still of interest to procurement organizations as the primary economic buyer — brings the list to over 1,000 different providers.

Many of these providers will raise capital or get acquired in 2020.

But what trends are driving acquisition and investor interest in the sector, and what types of transactions should we look for?

This Spend Matters Nexus brief provides an introductory analysis of sector M&A and investment predictions for 2020, exploring the first three of 10 trends we’re starting to spot:
* Trend 1: Competition grows between strategic and financial buyers (and those that fall somewhere in the middle).
* Trend 2: ERP and big tech get more active in the sector.
* Trend 3: Buyers and investors expand their definition of procurement technology.

Subsequent briefs in the series will cover additional trends as well flesh out some of the more important strategic and financial buyer (and investor) priorities on a more granular basis. Let’s get started!

2019’s top 5 most-viewed Nexus posts: 20 Tips; Workday-Scout RFP deal insights; Icertis and the red hot CLM market


In July, Spend Matters Founder Jason Busch launched Spend Matters Nexus — his focus on the M&A and business side of the procurement technology market. Here’s how he describes it:

“The Nexus membership program is designed for investors/acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and solution provider CEOs in the procurement and finance technology/solution ecosystem. Membership offers a new strategic lens to the solution areas covered on Spend Matters.

"Nexus was borne out of an increased demand for research subscriptions, due diligence and strategy support with our private equity clients in late 2018 (which has picked up exponentially this year). But recently, our team realized there was a flip side to working with technology acquirers — providing relevant market intelligence and fresh, data-driven analysis for solution provider CEOs, boards and leadership teams.”

And here is a countdown of the top 5 most-viewed Nexus stories of 2019:

20 Tips to Maximize Private Equity, Investment and Strategic Buyer Outcomes (Part 9: Defining the ‘Post-Close’ Plan) [PRO]

In this Spend Matters Nexus brief, we’ll look at our final tip (No. 20!) for sellers to get the most from a liquidity event when raising a large growth capital round or selling to private equity or strategic buyers. This tip, defining the “post-close” plan, may seem like a simple follow-on effort that you can worry about after the ink is dry on a transaction.

But displaying leadership when it comes to the post-close plan before a deal is complete will both help your organization accelerate out of the gate after it is acquired or merged and will burnish your reputation with your new owners. As important, showing the ability to develop a realistic post-close plan with key checkpoints and milestones at specific intervals (like 90 days, 180 days, etc.) is a strong leading indicator that the implementation of such an effort will be a success — even if its components and details shift post transaction.

If you are just getting introduced to this series, start with the earlier tips. (Click here for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7 and Part 8).

SoftBank invests $1.65 billion in supply chain finance. Why?

At $100 billion, the SoftBank Vision Fund is both the largest private equity fund ever raised and one of the most complicated. On the heels of some public wounds with the likes of WeWork and Uber, I wondered why the keen interest in supply chain finance (SCF).

A Due Diligence Survival Guide: What to Expect (Part 1: Passing Architecture & Structural Product Scrutiny)

public procurement

This Spend Matters Nexus series on due diligence kicks off Nexus as its own subscription stream apart from PRO content.

The series is a survival guide on the due diligence process for sellers, especially all the areas outside of finance and accounting (though we’ll eventually get to this part of the process). And we hope that acquirers and investors — even seasoned corporate development, PE and venture types — will find it useful as well. We unfortunately know some buyers who could have spared themselves some headaches had they been as anal as we are in many of these areas.

Perhaps the biggest challenge that executives going through a fund-raising or transaction process face is that they are not adequately prepared for all the curveballs — many of the Astros batters facing the Nationals Stephen Strasburg’s recent loopers come to mind — that might get tossed their way in the due diligence process.

There are so many areas that investors and acquirers might decide to take an extra look at that even world-class “hitters” might not see them coming. And even those who think they are prepared for all the pitches might not fully anticipate the twists and turns the ball might take just before it hits the strike zone (we’ll stop with the baseball analogies, but with one of us coming from the North Side of Chicago, we’re empathetically giddy about our friends in Washington being able to claim victory in the World Series for the first time, turning around what initially looked to be a modest season).

The 2019 baseball Fall Classic aside, fully preparing for diligence is about practice (a topic we’ll explore later in this Nexus series), and it’s one that we ideally recommend companies rehearse — even though few will be prepared from “regular season” play alone at the level that ideally they should be at. Regardless, even those that do not practice sufficiently will stand to benefit from a comprehensive checklist about what to expect.

In Part 1 of our series, we’ll start first with an overall list of areas to consider from a diligence checklist perspective. Then we’ll immediately dive into what to expect around architecture and structural product diligence. (Warning: This is deep!) In the weeks to come, we’ll crawl out of the technology weeds as our exploration continues.

And of course throughout this Nexus series, we’ll aim to put a unique spin on the topic for procurement, finance and supply chain software companies, as these are the software segments we’re most experienced in scrutinizing — and occasionally preparing or dressing up for a process.

Let’s begin.

Jason Busch serves as Managing Director of Spend Matters Nexus, a membership, research and advisory organization serving technology acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and CEOs in the procurement and finance solutions marketplace (including contract management, B2B marketplaces/connectivity, indirect procurement, services procurement, direct procurement, commodity management, payment, trade financing, GRC/third-party management and related adjacent sectors).

20 Tips to Maximize Private Equity, Investment and Strategic Buyer Outcomes (Part 8: Knowing Your Weaknesses)  [PRO]

In this Spend Matters Nexus brief, we’ll look at our next-to-last tip for sellers to optimize the outcomes of an exit process/liquidity event when selling to private equity or strategic buyers. Tip 19, know your weaknesses, may sound simple, but it is an area where blindspots are more common than 360-degree vision.

Our tip today centers on the notion that for sellers, it is helpful to not only be able to articulate areas for improvement in such things as product (mix, capability, etc.), team, geographic presence, etc. But it is also important to display the right level of self- and market-awareness in what you would like to do about it. That is, if given the resources to execute.

If you are just getting introduced to this series, start with the earlier tips. (see Part 1 , Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7).

Jason Busch is the Managing Director of Spend Matters Nexus, a membership, research and advisory organization serving technology acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and CEOs in the procurement and finance solutions marketplace (including contract management, B2B marketplaces/connectivity, indirect procurement, services procurement, direct procurement, commodity management, payment, trade financing, GRC/third-party management and related adjacent sectors).

Leases lurk in businesses, leak money: Why lease spend isn’t managed well

Every department in a business has leases — from office printers to office space and routers to forklifts. But not all of this haphazard leasing and its hidden costs goes through the cost-saving negotiation and management provided by a procurement department. That rogue spend adds up, and businesses are starting to understand the full scope of their leasing spend and why it is so poorly managed.

Companies this year are seeing the full extent of this sprawling lease spend because a new accounting standard required that public companies move leases from the footnotes of their financial reports onto balance sheets. Private companies as well as state, local and federal government agencies will face the same reckoning over the next few years as they adopt these new accounting rules.

The new accounting standards have forced companies to wrangle all the leasing information across their business and put it into a centralized system in order to perform the necessary financial reporting. The unexpected benefit of this massive accounting compliance effort is that companies are now sitting on a pile of valuable information about their leases, which creates the promise for saving money and improving efficiency.

Defining AP Automation Functional Requirements (Part 5: Payment Options and Early Payment Financing) [PRO]


In the last installment of this five-part Spend Matters PRO series on accounts payable automation, we’ll list the functional requirements for payment options, like P-cards and financing programs.

AP automation capabilities vary dramatically between different software providers, and the capabilities a finance or procurement organization will require to support the automation of AP processes also vary materially, based not only on company size but a broad range of other factors. These include organizational complexity, invoice capturing requirements (e.g., paper, PDF, electronic, etc.), systems complexity, systems integration, industry, EDI integration/support, payment/financing capabilities, treasury integration/working capital management, geography and compliance requirements — to name just a few.

To understand how different providers stack up against these (and other) categories of requirements, the quarterly Invoice-to-Pay SolutionMap Insider report can provide significant insight. And to create a one-to-one map between business requirements for AP automation and vendor functionality capability, SolutionMap Accelerator can dramatically speed up the vendor shortlisting and selection process, even allowing companies to “skip the RFI” entirely.

This series defines AP automation requirements from a functional perspective to put AP, finance and purchasing professionals in the driver’s seat when they evaluate the available supply market for AP automation to fit their needs (either on a standalone basis or as a specific component of broader invoice-to-pay, procure-to-pay or source-to-pay solutions). Click to see our SolutionMap rankings of vendors in each category.

Part 1 of this series investigated core invoicing requirements for AP automation and some of the criteria that Global 2000 and middle market organizations should consider when selecting solutions (i.e., invoicing set-up, paper scan/capture support and e-invoicing).

In Part 2, we turned our attention to an additional set of AP automation functional requirements, including AP process, invoicing validations, workflow, collaboration and integration requirements.

In Part 3, we looked at the final set of AP automation topics: invoicing mobility, invoicing compliance and invoicing analytics.

In Part 4, we examined AP automation functions related to payment systems and methods, payment partnerships, payment processing and payment analytics.

Now, let’s look at payment options and early payment financing.