PRO or Plus Content

Workforce Logiq’s acquisition of ENGAGE Talent: On the innovation path beyond MSP [PRO]

In October, Spend Matters reported on Workforce Logiq’s acquisition of the workforce data and analytics firm ENGAGE Talent. The acquisition of ENGAGE capped a big year for a company that, under the leadership of staffing industry outsider Jim Burke, has been innovating beyond the boundaries of the traditional — some would say commoditized — MSP model.

This Spend Matters PRO brief analyzes the acquisition of ENGAGE Talent as a key milestone in the execution of Workforce Logiq’s innovation and transformation strategy. Taking a closer look at ENGAGE Talent (and what it does) is important, but it is at least as important to put the acquisition in the broader context of where Workforce Logiq is heading. Consequently, much of the brief will focus on that context.

This brief should provide a useful update for contingent workforce and HR executives who are thinking about where to go next with their existing MSP/VMS vendors.

From Contract Lifecycles to Commercial Value (Part 1): Setting the Table for Digital Transformation (especially for procurement) [PRO]

Are you looking to find that perfect business area for digital transformation this holiday season?

Well, look no further than contract management.

We know what you’re thinking: Improve the efficiency of processing legal documents? That doesn’t sound very festive, or even high impact! However, contract lifecycle management (CLM) itself is being transformed toward a more strategic and business-focused commercial approach that puts revamped contract information (which itself is being transformed to contract intelligence/knowledge through AI) at the commercial core of nearly all business processes. And yes, blockchain is obviously very relevant here too, but that’s a story for another day.

At Spend Matters, we use the term “commercial value management (CVM)” to denote this type of “CLM on steroids.” The word “contracts” (legal documents) is purposefully replaced with the term “commercial” (commerce / business) and “lifecycle” (of the contract) is replaced with “value” to denote the maximization and protection of monetary value embedded within all process lifecycles (e.g., source-to-pay, order-to-cash/configure-price-quote, plan-to-report, forecast-to-fulfill).

So, this area has a little something for all departments across a business to see and manage: spend (procurement), financial assets/liabilities (finance), legal obligations (legal department), service/asset management (IT), revenues (sales/marketing/CEO), risk/compliance (GRC), service-levels (supply chain/ops), vendors/suppliers (procurement, VMOs, etc.), SOW-based services (including contingent workforce), and all-of-the-above (global business services).

Most importantly, it’s an area that you can actually start small and increasingly collaborate cross functionally and generate hard-dollar financial value (although there’s still plenty of organizational land mines here). It’s also an area where artificial intelligence is being developed and implemented aggressively because of the money that is at stake and because of how broken the current processes and systems are.

In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, we will discuss:

* Priorities of more than 450 CPOs where CLM/CVM has direct relevance
* Why CLM/CVM is a critical competency for procurement professionals to master within source-to-pay (S2P) for planning your work strategically, doing better deals, eliminating value leakage, managing suppliers, etc. It also works hand-in-glove with sourcing, category management, and supplier management (relationship management, performance management, risk management, and information management)!
* Why CLM/CVM is also a critical influence tool to better engage stakeholders who are both spend owners and functional partners with a vested interest here. In later posts, we will share some stakeholder/category specific playbooks that you can use.

In subsequent Spend Matters PRO articles, we also will provide a detailed capability maturity model (and supporting digital capabilities/functionality of leading solutions) that practitioners can use to help plan their capability development, and, yes, their digital transformation.

OK, let’s dive in …

5 tips on buying procurement technology (Part 3) — Find the right vendor for you [PRO]

In my Spend Matters PRO series on five tips to think about before you invest in procurement technology, we covered the need to identify the root cause for why you want to invest in procurement technology, as well as why you should learn how to walk before your run, which covers tips 2 and 3. In this, the final installment of the series, we will look at the last two recommendations.

To recap, the five tips are.
1. Identify business objectives ✅
2. Don’t try to do everything at once ✅
3. Focus on the basics first ✅
4. Select a solution and vendor that meets your requirements 5. Review and redesign processes, and perhaps even your organization, as part of the preparation and implementation

So, by now, you have identified the business objectives to why you need and want to invest in new procurement technology. You have also prioritized these objectives and planned out how to approach the implementation. Now the next step is to find the right solution(s) and implement them. So how do you do that? By having completed these first steps it becomes easier. But you still need to make sure that you find the right supplier that meets your requirements and make sure you are not led astray by vendor marketing. After that, you need to make sure the solution gets implemented properly.

A new species: Specialist providers of contingent workforce rate benchmarking/analytics [PRO]

Specialist providers of contingent workforce rate benchmarking/analytics services have emerged over the past several years. Based on our market scan, we have identified three such standalone, vendor-neutral providers — PeopleTicker, Brightfield Talent Data Exchange (TDX) and HCM Strategies. All three will be profiled at a high level in this Spend Matters PRO brief. A secondary goal of this brief is to begin to explore a broader, systematic research approach to understanding and comparing different rate benchmarking and analytics capabilities.

The estimation, or benchmarking, of contingent workforce “market” labor rates by job category is certainly not new, and rate benchmarking is widely used — or made available as a service — in practically every part of the contingent workforce supply chain (e.g., staffing suppliers, MSPs, VMS solutions, et al). But rate benchmarking data sources and methodologies have remained somewhat in the shadows for years.

Rate benchmarking produced within — and as just a part of — those contingent workforce supply chain providers has not made it easy to assess what lies behind the many different benchmarking approaches that are in use today. However, the emergence of third-party, vendor-neutral rate benchmarking and analytics service/solution specialists may help in doing so.

To compound the problem, there is currently no established framework that would allow for a comparison of different providers’ rate benchmarking approaches and allied capabilities (e.g., self-service, scenario-building and other capabilities). And, as “advanced analytics” (based on techniques such as data/text mining, machine learning, pattern matching, semantic analysis, simulations, etc.) provide a new foundation for rate benchmarking, the differentiation of approaches becomes more important over time.

Now, let’s take a look at PeopleTicker, Brightfield Talent Data Exchange (TDX) and HCM Strategies and then make some high-level observations about the group.

5 tips on buying procurement technology (Part 2) — Learn to walk before you run [PRO]

In my Spend Matters PRO series on five tips to think about before you invest in procurement technology, we covered the need to identify the root cause for why you want to invest in procurement technology. In this installment, we will look at the next two recommendations.

To recap the five tips are:

1. Identify business objectives
2. Don’t try to do everything at once
3. Focus on the basics first
4. Select a solution and vendor that meets your requirements
5. Review and redesign processes, and perhaps even your organization, as part of the preparation and implementation

In today’s complex, confusing market it is important to identify your business’ key needs, as discussed in the previous post. However, you also need to decide in which order to invest in and implement your new solution across departments or functions. This is obviously less of an issue if you are investing in a single solution or module. But, even in this case, it might make sense to start small, with a single business unit or country, if the change in process or way of doing business is significant.

It’s also important to make sure the basics are addressed before looking at some of the more advanced features that vendors like to market.

You might be thinking: “But I haven’t even invested in anything yet?!?”

Well, if you don’t consider these points before you do invest, you are more than likely to over-invest, both in the number of modules in the near term but likely also in the number of licenses (or allowed spend, whatever metric the vendor prices their solutions in). So let’s look at this in more detail.

ConnXus brings its ‘Smart’ approach to supplier discovery with new SmartSearch product [PRO]

supplier network

The supplier relationship experts at ConnXus on Wednesday announced the launch of SmartSearch, a new supplier discovery capability based on business intelligence that enables granular search across category, geographic and diversity criteria for millions of validated global vendor records.

SmartSearch takes advantage of ConnXus’ database of 22 million global suppliers to help buying organizations quickly identify potential suppliers that fit not only basic sourcing requirements but also various additional criteria, including diversity status and risk. It also bolsters the navigability of myConnXion, ConnXus’ open-ended supplier network, allowing ConnXus users to access richly maintained supplier profiles of current and potential partners as part of supplier discovery.

With SmartSearch, ConnXus is continuing to break further outside of its initial niche in the supplier diversity space, using its strengths in supplier master data management to power supplier discovery and sourcing efforts. This comes at a critical time for the Mason, Ohio-based vendor, which is defining its long-term vision alongside competitors Tealbook, Mastercard and others as they all attempt to define just what a next-generation supplier network looks like.

This SpendMatters PRO brief will look at ConnXus’ background and growing product footprint, like myConnXion that launched about a year ago; will provide an overview of SmartSearch; and will offer key takeaways about how this is an incremental release but an important one. SmartSearch is a key addition of usability for clients to get to all of the valuable supplier data available through ConnXus.

Medius buying Wax Digital: Customer recommendations after the deal [PRO]

M&A can sometimes be a threat to customer value. Even in the best situations, acquisitions can introduce uncertainty for customers in terms of pricing, support and related areas. And in the worst, M&A can put actual and implied contractual terms and supplier obligations (if not expectations) at risk come renewal time — and even threaten the underlying reasons for why a technology was selected in the first place. For customers, skepticism in vendor M&A is always better than the alternative. But we look at the combination of Medius and Wax Digital from a slightly different lens, as the combination under the backing of a growth-oriented private equity owner joins together two organizations that could, for a variety of reasons, bring benefits to customers with less potential for downside risk than many M&A transactions.

Regardless, the informed customer — the one that has every intent on getting the most out of their technology supplier after it is acquired or merged with another entity — will always invest the time to understand a combination from an objective lens, how it may benefit them above and beyond the current commercial relationship that is in place and their true BATNA (best alternative to negotiated agreement) for all current and potential engagement elements. Such insight, even if a transaction like Medius-Wax appears to benefit them on the surface, will always pay dividends, and will put procurement and finance buyers in the driver’s seat to make the best decisions for them.

This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides recommendations for customers of Wax Digital and Medius. If you are new to our coverage of the transaction, we recommend starting first with our free site coverage: here and here. Spend Matters Nexus subscribers (those within the M&A ecosystem including sponsors, CEOs, boards and corporate development leaders) can also read our deeper analysis of the combination here:

* Part 1: Company Backgrounds, Product Strengths/Weaknesses, Deal Rationale
* Part 2: Wax strengths, customers, integration considerations
* Part 3: Strategy and competitive landscape analysis for AP automation and invoice-to-pay.
* Part 4: Strategy and competitive landscape analysis for procurement and ERP vendors

We encourage all subscribers to reach out to us to understand how this and other transactions may impact where they sit in the market.

Disclosure: Azul Partners served as an adviser to Marlin Equity in the Wax-Medius transaction.

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List: December 2019 [Plus+]

Welcome to the December 2019 edition of Spend Matters Insider’s Hot List, a monthly look at the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) space that’s available to our PLUS and PRO subscribers. For those new to the Hot List, each edition covers the prior month’s important or interesting technology and innovation developments in the CW/S space.

As we head into December and the holiday season, we look back on the developments in November: Small service providers now ‘Open for Business’ on LinkedIn; Is the job board Indeed going gig?; Fiverr grows topline, not bottom; crowdsource testing; and news about financial services for freelancers.

5 tips: So, why do you want to invest in procurement technology? (Part 1) [PRO]

The procurement technology market has grown increasingly complex over the last several years, with specialist providers competing with broader suites. In my first post for Spend Matters, over on the UK/Europe, site I provided five recommendations to consider before investing in procurement technology

Companies need to make sure to find the right solution and vendor for them and make sure to get the best value out of the investment.

These recommendations are:

* Identify business objectives
* Don’t try to do everything at once
* Focus on the basics first
* Select a solution and vendor that meets your requirements
* Review and redesign processes, and perhaps even your organization, as part of preparation and implementation

In the coming weeks I will dive into these in more detail for this Spend Matters PRO series.

Tradeshift: Vendor Snapshot Update (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

FM Global Resilience Index

Besides the likes of “mega” players like Amazon Business, is there a market for marketplaces? When Tradeshift embarked on its journey to create a platform between organizations in 2010, it had to believe such a need would eventually become mainstream, otherwise its vision and reality would fail to intersect. Fortunately for those that backed Tradeshift’s initial hypothesis, less than a decade since launching, more companies — not just early adopters — are becoming aware of what a platform concept can deliver beyond business applications.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot Update adds to last year’s Tradeshift strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement and finance organizations decide whether they should consider the provider from both an applications and marketplace/platform perspective. Look for updates on global support, the AI-assistant Ada, analytics, channel/systems integration partner networks, and customer value.

Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview centered on Tradeshift’s business applications, as well as a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering the provider. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

An inside look: Premier Inc. acquires Medpricer, a purchased services procurement solution [PRO]

healthcare

Let’s take a closer look at the Premier Inc. acquisition of Medpricer announced recently. For this Spend Matters PRO brief, we talked with leaders of both firms to get further insight into the acquisition and what it means. We also offer some reasons why this development is significant for procurement practitioners. Premier Inc., a $1.2 billion diversified healthcare improvement company, has acquired Medpricer, an innovative solution provider focused on the management of the enormous and largely unmanaged “purchased services” category of spend within hospitals and healthcare systems.

Premier bought Medpricer for $35 million and expects the acquisition to be modestly accretive in 2020. The company has stated that Medpricer will continue to operate as an independent unit and brand, and will remain GPO neutral, while augmenting Premier’s own technology and analytics capabilities. Medpricer’s CEO will continue to lead the business as part of Premier’s Supply Chain Services segment.

Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Premier describes itself as “a leading healthcare improvement company, uniting an alliance of more than 4,000 U.S. hospitals and health systems and approximately 175,000 other providers and organizations to transform healthcare.” The company leverages integrated data and analytics, collaboratives, supply chain solutions, and consulting and other services to promote "better care and outcomes at a lower cost.” It also collaborates with members “to co-develop long-term innovations that reinvent and improve the way care is delivered to patients nationwide.”

“Medpricer’s spend management platform,” the company has noted, “uses artificial intelligence to validate, compare and onboard purchased services suppliers; track and measure spend by category, supplier and facility; benchmark contracts terms to ensure competitive rates; set and manage specific savings targets; and manage contract compliance.” It was also noted that purchased services — which “often fall outside the scope of national group purchasing contracts” — are estimated to “account for up to 30% of a typical healthcare provider’s non-labor expenses, and represent a total addressable acute care market of approximately $160 billion.”

Premier told Spend Matters that “Medpricer is an important component of its evolving cost management strategy and is an integral next step in our continuing expansion toward a fully integrated purchased services platform.” Premier also noted that it has the “ability to fund and materially accelerate the development of Medpricer’s offerings.”

Spend Matters recently posed some questions to Premier. We received written answers and also had an opportunity to talk with Premier’s Senior Vice President of Supply Chain, David Hargraves, and Medpricer’s President and CEO, Chris Gormley.

Sourcing and Engaging the Independent/Freelance Workforce — An Emerging Ecosystem? (Part 4) [PRO]

IQNavigator

In Part 4 of this five-part Spend Matters PRO series on the emerging independent contract worker (ICW) digital ecosystem, we will examine “worker-facing services.” These are services designed and offered to independent workers by providers, many of which may not have existed five years ago.

Part 1 of this series discussed the size, growth and constitution of the ICW population in the U.S. (it cuts across many types of work/workers: freelance creatives to construction workers, Uber drivers to truck drivers, etc.). Part 2 of the series examined the extent to which a digital ecosystem has been forming to provide enterprises with the required capabilities to source, manage and maximize the value of this ICW population. In Part 3, we described (and represented graphically) the different components of the emerging digital ecosystem today (see the ecosystem graphic below).

Part 4 looks at the extent to which a part of the ICW digital ecosystem is forming to provide ICWs (and incorporated microbusinesses) with the access to the opportunity pathways and the support/services (the worker-facing services) that they require to function as viable “operators.” It provides an overview of the service and service provider landscape and concludes with some comments leading into Part 5.