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Procurement Services

Online Work Platforms and Enterprises: Survival of the Fittest or the Fastest? [PRO]

cheeta

In this PRO research brief, we provide an analysis of the complex dynamics that characterize the online work platform technology market, in particular with respect to large enterprise adoption (or, to date, the lack thereof). We also examine some promising platform strategies/approaches that may promote platform business viability and, over time, more success in achieving large scale enterprise penetration. Finally, we discuss the implications of our analysis for both platform providers and enterprise buyers.

(Note: To avoid possible perception that we are making endorsements or recommendations in this brief, we forego references to specific platforms (platform providers are evaluated separately, in our Vendor Snapshot and SolutionMap series, with these strategies and approaches in mind.)

Strategic Technology Planning: A New Imperative for Contingent Workforce and Services Procurement (Part 1) [PRO]

For many years now, planning for CW/S technology has been largely tactical, focusing almost exclusively on the capabilities and effectiveness of one VMS solution or another. Technology planning at a strategic level has been rare in CW/S procurement functions, in main part because it has not been necessary in a relatively static technology and supply chain environment. Need a core contingent workforce technology to manage processes, compliance, risk and cost? Adopt a VMS (or work through your MSP to get one). Seeking a specialized category solution? Work with the business owner (e.g., legal, telecom, facilities) to engage a vendor that meets everyone’s needs.

But in recent years, many aspects of the environment in which CW/S procurement executes its mission have begun to change significantly. Under these conditions, strategic planning becomes necessary. Because technology is now and will be presenting CW/S procurement functions with new opportunities to add value to their organizations in a variety of ways, allocating time and resources to conducting strategic technology planning is now an imperative. In most cases, this will mean starting from scratch. But foregoing strategic technology planning opens CW/S procurement to missed opportunities, core mission failure and possibly disruption.

In short: procurement, HR and IT organizations — not to mention line of business owners — need to work together to create their own CW/S technology information architecture through a strategic technology planning process. In Part 1 of this series, we build the case for strategic technology planning and provide an overview of what strategic technology planning means for a CW/S procurement function. In Part 2, we flesh out a targeted approach to CW/S procurement strategic technology planning and practical approaches for implementation within an organization.

Beyond VMS: The Creation of a New Technology Category for Contingent Workforce and Services [PRO]

For over 20 years, vendor management systems (VMS) have been the sole enterprise technology category for contingent workforce and services (CW/S) procurement. Within that category, especially over the last seven years or so, most VMS solutions have been (to a lesser or greater extent) evolving, upgrading their technology, deepening their core functionality and expanding the scope of the kinds of spend that can be managed. One prominent example of the latter has been the development of SOW/services management capabilities. A less prominent example has been the development of functionality for managing independent/contract workers. Finally, some VMS solutions have begun to develop digital sourcing solutions, which in some instances will link to online work platforms.

In many ways, this evolution parallels the shift from largely point solutions for transactional indirect e-procurement technologies to broader source-to-pay (S2P) and procure-to-pay (P2P) suites, networks and platforms. But it is also different, in that it takes advantage of more recent digital enabling technologies, as well as a fundamental shift in underlying workforce dynamics in the market. In other words, it is both “bottoms up” technically and driven by external forces, as well — a perfect recipe for digital disruption. This Spend Matters PRO research brief explores the creation of this new category, which we believe will reshape the current VMS-dominated services procurement ecosystem and drive existing providers to evolve and innovate in new ways.

Coupa Unveils Services Maestro: Will the Student Become a Master of Services Procurement and Contingent Workforce Spend? [PRO]

At its Inspire user conference in San Francisco last week, Coupa announced its “early access program” soft-launch of Services Maestro. The company’s first step into services procurement, Coupa presented Services Maestro in 2016 as a part of the product roadmap and has introduced the offering as part of Release 18.

“Customers will benefit from this application through automated contract compliance, improved supplier experiences and full visibility into spend — both goods and complex services — in one unified platform,” Coupa said in its press release.

It’s a commendable first step, but the sooner Coupa fully understands the complexity of the services Pandora’s box it has opened up by becoming an embedded and integral part of contingent workforce and services procurement programs, the better its ultimate solution(s) will be, should it decide to make services procurement and contingent workforce a core business pursuit. This Spend Matters PRO brief provides an introduction to Services Maestro and insight into what Coupa will need to add to truly compete in the contingent workforce and services procurement market if it decides to strategically pursue this market segment.

Beeline: Convergence, Balance and Client-Centric Innovation [PRO]

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This PRO brief, based on Spend Matters’ information gathering at the recent Beeline+IQN Customer Conference, provides an update on the new combined business called Beeline. We have covered details of the merger previously (see: GTCR Acquires Beeline From Adecco -- Merges VMS Firm with IQNavigator; Beeline, IQNavigator & GTCR: Transaction/Valuation Analysis, Future Product/Technology Considerations and SWOT Analysis; and Merging Beeline and IQNavigator: Customer, Prospect and Partner (MSP) Recommendations).

Our interpretation of what Beeline shared at the event suggests three key themes for where the provider is headed: convergence, balance and client-centric innovation. In this analysis, we share insight into these three areas, as well as provide an outlook for Beeline in what is perhaps the most dynamic and fast-moving procurement and HR market segment today.

A User’s Guide to the Gig Economy for Procurement Practitioners [PRO]

The gig economy has been talked about so endlessly that the term has become nearly meaningless. Yet contingent workforce and services procurement practitioners know there is something going on beyond the buzzwords, something that is beginning to matter to the work they do. It is difficult, however, for many practitioners to distinguish what is essential and of importance in the context of their procurement goals. To aid in that effort, this PRO brief explores how practitioners can make the gig economy work for them.

Procurement Services Market Landscape: The Continuum of Procurement Services [Plus +]

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In Part 1 and Part 2 of this research series, we discussed some of the drivers in how procurement services are increasingly consumed in the market. In this next installment, we will evaluate the market itself and the spectrum of service types/sectors within it. Defining a market is not a one-dimensional activity. Markets are segmented along multiple variables, which we discussed in the previously mentioned research, but there are a few key dimensions worth exploring. We will not look at the traditional dimensions such as spend magnitude, market complexity, business impact, level of market fragmentation, etc. We assume that the practitioner has a fairly good understanding of major segments of management like consulting, outsourcing, contingent labor, etc.

7 Habits of Highly Successful Consumers of Procurement Services [Plus +]

services sector

In Part 1 of this series, we laid out the challenges that practitioners face in getting more value from a complex procurement services market. To address these problems, it’s important that practitioners:

  • Evaluate the spectrum of procurement services holistically to see how the sectors and the players are evolving individually and also collectively. SaaS providers are increasingly baking industry/category content into their products while consulting and BPO providers are similarly productizing reusable knowledge into lighter footprint service offerings.
  • Have a market map to help evaluate the provider types and emerging trends. Doing so can help you actively participate in shaping the provider market rather than just accepting the current ‘menu choices’ of traditional service offerings.
  • Know themselves in terms of not just their current budgets, but also their current capabilities and what is truly important to them as internal service providers. Are you looking for results on-demand, or are you looking to build your own bench capabilities?
  • Develop an internal operating model that makes it easier to consume these services and also get a better ROI from them so they deliver value over the long-term and not just the duration of a project. World class procurement organizations do not spend money needlessly on program du jour services that don’t “stick” and get baked into their internal processes.
To assist procurement organizations (and providers) in this regards, it’s important to first understand the market drivers that will shape the market evolution, which we lay out. Finally, we pinpoint 7 habits of highly successful consumers of procurement services.

The Procurement Services Market: Backdrop and Challenges [Plus +]

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With all the focus on Software as a Service (SaaS) in the procurement market, many forget the importance of procurement services as a, well, service. These services include not just consulting, but business process outsourcing (BPO), knowledge process outsourcing (KPO), supplier management, quality and auditing services, content/information services, network services, intelligence services, training/certification services, adjacent services (e.g., working capital, asset disposition, transportation, legal, group buying, M&A support). Some of these areas are procurement-specific, but many also are part of a broader services spectrum. Procurement practitioners are getting smarter and more sophisticated in how they buy procurement services; however, they do face numerous challenges that prevent them from unlocking more value from the market and making their lives easier. In this Spend Matters Plus brief, we outline 10 of those challenges.

Top Challenges and Questions Facing Corporate Legal Departments [Plus +]

UpCounsel

The market landscape for legal services is much more dynamic than it may appear to most outside observers — and as a result we are seeing a number of meaningful trends in the market.

The provider landscape is rapidly changing. Firms are specializing in certain legal matter areas, and non-law firm providers are emerging as viable alternatives to perform certain types of legal work at lower cost and higher efficiency. And as in almost every industry and market, technology is playing a more transformational role in the legal services market, with implications for both buyers and suppliers.

In this article, we share some of the frequently asked questions we have received from GCs, and our responses and recommendations.

CRM for Procurement: Lessons from the Sell Side [Plus +]

In a world where everything is quickly becoming a service (XaaS), perhaps the single most important differentiator is being customer-focused and aligned in order to allow you to deliver value to them over the long run. It is a simple principle, but procurement is not so easy to implement. Everybody who spends money in the enterprise has the potential to get more value from their spend and is a potential “customer” for procurement to help. Given procurement’s limited resources, adopting and adapting CRM principles, practices, and tools can help. As we get started, note that CRM for “supply” and suppliers is not the buy-side of “SRM” or supplier management – it’s a much bigger, hairier, and more encompassing beast.

So who are the customers? And should they even be called customers?

Many procurement organizations do not like the term “customers.” Some use the term “clients,” and others use the term “stakeholders.” Still others use the term “internal partners.” It doesn't really matter as long as the organization defines the nomenclature that works best for them. That said, it is important to understand who all the various stakeholders are within the procurement process, so that they can be appropriately targeted to drive more value out of the process. In fact, if you think of the term "stakeholders," it means anyone who has a stake in the process and who consumes the outputs of that process: information, materials, services, cash, goodwill, etc.

So, to be a stakeholder in a procurement process means to be a customer of that process. This means that procurement needs to be explicit in defining and working with 10 key stakeholders – and reconciling which of these will get the most attention.

Let’s get to the list (and beyond that, 14 critical areas of CRM begging to be addressed).

Digital Service Providers: Do They Require Your Attention and Why? (Part 2) [PRO]

crowdsourcing

In Part 1 of this series, we described and unpacked the topic of digital platform-based service providers, which represent a modest but growing spend category far outside of the scope of contingent workforce and services (CW/S) procurement programs. While they are not on procurement’s radar, Spend Matters believes these providers will increasingly become a significant part of organizations’ services consumption and spend over the next 10 years.

In Part 2, we review what is arguably the most successful sub-segment of these digital service providers, as well as revisit the question of whether they require your attention and why.