Procurement - Premium Content

Staffing suppliers respond to COVID-19 — What does Bullhorn’s survey data tell us? [PRO]

The vast majority of spend on contingent workers goes through staffing suppliers. More procurement control and VMS have exerted continuous pressure on supply bases to perform with greater efficiency, driving suppliers to use more technology for a wide variety of purposes. COVID-19 has brought a shock to an industry that may cause staffing businesses to rethink how they operate at a more fundamental level.

Bullhorn, the leading software solution provider to staffing firms, recently published the results of a survey that took the temperature of some 800 staffing company respondents globally. Bullhorn’s recent survey posed a number of questions to firms in May of this year about how they were adapting to the COVID-19-induced demand shock that came months prior.

This Spend Matters PRO article looks at the Bullhorn survey data and adds context, as well as providing our perspective on the temp-staffing supplier industry segment looking forward into 2021.

Preparing for 2020: Digital Procurement Trends in Review (Part 2: Vendors and Capabilities) [PRO]

Zycus Horizon

For our first Spend Matters PRO series in 2020, we’re preparing for the future by understanding recent trends. So we’ll look at last year through the lens of category management. Since Spend Matters’ analysts are essentially category managers for the mega supply market of over 1,000 providers that help buy-side practitioners manage their spend, supplies, services and suppliers, we’ll look back at 2019 trends through both the demand-side lens of practitioners/buyers and the supply-side lens of providers. In this analysis, we’ll use:

— Findings from our advisory work with procurement practitioners (and supported by primary research)
— Trend analysis of top provider performance taken from our SolutionMap database — from a solution scoring standpoint and also from a customer satisfaction lens
— Observations from our M&A due diligence advisory work from our Nexus service offering
— Solution development activities from the providers in the market
— Insights from service providers in the market who are increasingly themselves developing technology to create hybrid service offerings

Part 1 focused on the practitioner trends of 2019, and Part 2 will review vendor trends in innovation, supplier networks, contingent workforce/services, M&A and other areas where our analyst team has weighed in.

Preparing for 2020: Digital Procurement Trends in Review (Part 1) [PRO]

For our first installment of Spend Matters PRO in 2020, it’s important to know the past as we prepare for a new year. So we’ll look at last year through the lens of category management.

Since Spend Matters’ analysts are essentially category managers for the mega supply market of over 1,000 providers that help buy-side practitioners manage their spend, supplies, services and suppliers, we’ll look back at 2019 trends through both the demand-side lens of practitioners/buyers and the supply-side lens of providers.

In this analysis, we’ll use:

— Findings from our advisory work with procurement practitioners (and supported by primary research)
— Trend analysis of top provider performance taken from our SolutionMap database — from a solution scoring standpoint and also from a customer satisfaction lens
— Observations from our M&A due diligence advisory work from our Nexus service offering
— Solution development activities from the providers in the market
— Insights from service providers in the market who are increasingly themselves developing technology to create hybrid service offerings

The two-part series will focus primarily on the overall market, and then dive into specific areas where our analyst team has weighed in. In Part 2, we’ll look at what the vendors have been up to. Finally, we’ll foreshadow some predictions that we’ll be making in the coming weeks regarding the biggest problems that still need to be solved in the market — issues that actually have a chance of being meaningfully addressed in 2020.

Proactis in Play: Arbitrage and Analysis [PRO]

Two weeks ago, Morningstar reported that Proactis had “received a takeover approach from an unnamed U.S. investor, together with a number (of) expressions of interest,” and that its bankers would review the offers. For those not familiar with the UK-based Proactis, the procurement solutions provider has deep spend management roots on both sides of the Atlantic spanning the private and public sectors, owing to numerous acquisitions made over the years, including, most recently, Esize in 2018.

This Spend Matters PRO and Nexus analysis provides a cursory overview of Proactis’ assets based on past coverage and analyzes the current situation and opportunities for the firm and potential acquirers — as well as different segments of acquirers that may be interested beyond financial buyers alone.

10 Reasons for Procurement to Work With Payments (Part 3) [Plus +]

early pay

Closing the payment gap – not just the invoicing gap – remains a Holy Grail for procurement organizations looking for greater oversight and control in transactional purchasing and even supplier relationship management. It’s also a means to bring finance and procurement organizations closer together – and to prove that finance is really procurement’s ally in the struggle to wrestle the maximum amount of utility out of P2P programs together, rather than separately. As my colleague Pierre Mitchell has noted, “any land grab is usually about job security built upon the pillar of bureaucracy.” In other words, finance and procurement must really be in the payables thing together.

The 10 reasons for procurement to work with finance departments are:

1. The value of control and oversight of the end-to-end transaction with suppliers
2. Building greater invoice/transaction insight that can bridge the visibility gap in getting line-level detail to supplier invoices without having to request information from suppliers
3. Being able to quantify efficiency driven metrics through a Trojan Horse adoption approach to e-invoicing
4. Reducing supplier risk
5. Capturing savings/leakage through closing the transaction, invoice and payment loop
6. Not getting taken advantage of by vendors that hide the total cost of P2P implementations by masking the amount suppliers are charged
7. Flexibility on supplier engagement/fee assumption in the case of supplier network models
8. New securitization/capitalization opportunities (e.g., securitizing the discount of forward payables through converting the discount classification to revenue)
9. Effectively addressing payables also forces addressing the “payment clock” question as early as possible to capitalize on opportunities.
10. Create powerful “information exhaust” around the optimal means of engaging with suppliers on a total cost basis – beyond just reducing risk. This not only includes capturing additional discount opportunities through payment integration, but also understanding how and when suppliers (and different groups of suppliers) are taking advantage of different payables opportunities.

Artificial Intelligence Meets Payables and Dynamic Discounting: Oracle Cloud Vendor Analysis Update (Part 1) [PRO]

At the recent Oracle Modern Business Experience event, artificial intelligence figured prominently in many of the mainstage and breakout sessions. Not surprisingly, AI is working its way into Oracle’s procurement suite of cloud capabilities.

Oracle’s investments in AI are centered across several areas leveraging a range of underlying algorithmic approaches (e.g., semantic analysis, neural nets, deep learning, etc.) that individually or collectively serve to enable different business use cases centered on what Oracle calls pattern recognition, smart recognition and smart prediction.

Within its procurement suite of cloud solutions, Oracle has released two AI-driven applications: intelligent supplier categorization (think spend classification) and intelligent payment discounts.

This two-part Spend Matters PRO research brief provides an introduction to the intelligent payment discounting module. For an introduction to the Oracle Procurement Cloud, see our previous Vendor Snapshot coverage (Overview and Introduction, Strengths / Weaknesses and Recommendations/Competitive Alternatives) and Comparative SolutionMap ratings as part of SolutionMap for Q1 2019 for E-Procurement, Invoice-to-Pay and Procure-to-Pay.

Part 1 of this research brief provides a description of capabilities and review of the solution itself — what it does, how it works and how AI makes it effective. Part 2 explores the strengths and weaknesses of the solution and provides customer recommendations.

The SpendHQ Customer Experience: What Makes It Great (Spend and Procurement Analytics SolutionMap Analysis)

data analytics

Spend and procurement analytics solutions are fundamentally  designed for business users rather than IT organizations — or should be. Why? Because procurement is their master.

But all too often, IT-led business intelligence initiatives — or spend analytics solutions built on the premise of BI-centric reports rather than a design-centric philosophy around procurement and category management needs — end up becoming the vehicle by which an organization looks at its spend and supplier data. The result? Some of the most salient potential insights go unfound.

SpendHQ, a solution built “by procurement and for procurement users,” takes a different approach entirely to the spend analytics process and the presentation of spend and category intelligence. This is reflected in what its customers have to say about its solution and how their experience compares to users of more traditional, BI-centric spend analytics.

As of December 2018, the Spend Matters SolutionMap contains functional and customer satisfaction benchmarks on more than 50 providers within the procurement technology landscape. But where does SpendHQ stand out most and help “set the bar” in spend analytics from a customer-ratings perspective, and why should this matter for procurement and finance organizations?

Let’s delve into the SolutionMap benchmark to find out where SpendHQ is great, sharing both customer anecdotes and ratings.

“What Makes It Great” is a recurring column that shares insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider subscribers. Based on both our rigorous evaluation process and customer reference reviews, each brief offers quick facts on the provider, describes where it excels, provides hard data on where it beats the SolutionMap benchmark and concludes with a checklist for ideal customer scenarios in which procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should consider it.

Procurement Technology and Solutions M&A Outlook: 10 Predictions for 2019 (Part 1) [PRO]

It’s that time of year. And no, I’m not referring to eggnog (even the vegan sort, of which I’m partial to) and good holiday cheer alone. Nor am I referring to tech providers complaining about their latest SolutionMap scores (a byproduct of the fact that the real world is not “up and to the right”). Rather, the object of this statement is my old stomping ground — the original reason I got into this sector as junior corporate development runt at Freemarkets 20 years ago — and where I still spend too much time today: M&A.

Just as I’m about to take off and look forward to a few days in a warmer climate than Chicago with the family, sector M&A interest is heating up again from all sides and threatening the seasonal vacation. This seems to happen most Decembers as firms and companies begin to look at what’s on the potential table for the new calendar year (and realize just how fast that year is approaching).

But this year is different — there is more interest than ever from a demand perspective, and it’s coming from all angles at often very different sectors and targets. Despite this perhaps rational exuberance, I’m not letting it ruin my vacation. I’m getting too old for that stuff. So rather than go “one-to-one” in advice with my clients, in the spirit of the rise of many-to-many marketplaces again — remember the “fat butterfly” model from the original B2B.com implosion, anyone? — I thought I’d author an M&A outlook for 2019.

So read on. Today, I’ll start by providing a list of the M&A deals that occurred in 2018 and sharing our full Spend Matters coverage to date. And then I’ll tackle our first three of 10 M&A predictions for 2019 (with the remainder to follow in the coming week).

Recruiting an Executive Search Firm in Procurement: 7 Questions to Ask and Evaluation Criteria [PRO]

interview

Talent makes procurement happen, and executive search firms play a critical role in bringing new talent into organizations. But when it comes to recruiting senior talent, few procurement teams we’ve spoken to take anything but a relationship-driven or ad-hoc approach to selecting executive search firms. The same relationship-based approach is also common with senior HR staff, CFOs and even CEOs, who often lead the selection process with executive search firms when they plan to hire a new chief procurement officer (CPO).

At Spend Matters, we are big believers in evidence-driven approaches to decision-making, as one can see through our SolutionMap methodology. In the case of procurement talent management and recruiting, this often starts with selecting the best possible executive search firm, especially hiring a CPO, VP and director-level talent. We recently assisted in the hiring of an executive search firm, but when tried to find an evidence-driven set of criteria for assessing such firms, we came up short. So we created a model ourselves, following the general theory suggested by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kanheman for optimal firm assessment.

In this Spend Matters PRO research brief, we share our framework for selecting executive search firms that specialize in procurement, using an evidence-driven model to support the best chance for positive outcomes. The frameworks comprises seven RFI questions to ask potential executive recruiting firms, scoring criteria for each question and a scoring matrix.

Supplier Onboarding: Linking Design With Action (Part 2) [Plus +]

You’ve defined a strategy for supplier onboarding and given full consideration to all of the elements that make your requirements unique. You’ve fully considered which internal stakeholders besides procurement need to be included in the process of supplier onboarding and management. And you’ve mapped specific initiatives to onboarding requirements. But now it’s time to define specific supplier onboarding workflows, fully linking design with action.

Supplier Diversity Meets Supply Management: A Roadmap for Success (Part 2) [Plus +]

For outcomes, whether you get preferred delivery, higher quality, better post-sales support, more favorable warranties or better pricing based on prompt payments as a result of getting diverse suppliers paid faster than the norm, it is important to consider the need to engage the broader finance organization (e.g., AP) and even other functions to implement a program successfully. And try to broaden your vision and go outside the standard procurement playbook in the process.

Procurement is from Mars and Finance is from Jupiter: How to Align Planets [Plus +]

finance

Mars might be the god of war and mighty in its own right – ready to battle any time with a combative supplier or recalcitrant internal stakeholder. But Jupiter is the king of gods: large, distant, cold, foreboding. (There is no Venus here...that's a Plus brief — nay, multipart series — for another day on working with Marketing). These gods might seem similar, and in the business world, Procurement and Finance should in theory be highly aligned and focused on cost management, risk mitigation, quantitative analysis, and other areas. For example:

  • Enterprise risk management requirements (e.g., fraud, regulatory compliance, etc.) should extend seamlessly into the supply base.
  • Working capital should be optimized alongside cost reduction and compliance.
  • The Source-to-Settle process should have an embedded P2P process that aligns purchasing and AP to each other and to broader spend category requirements.
There are many things that keep the two groups from singing Kumbaya. In this Spend Matters Plus brief, we list five important ones and give practitioners some suggestions on how to align and conquer (no lightning bolts or Holst necessary).