PRO or Plus Content

Rosslyn Analytics: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background, Solution Overview, Selection Checklist [PRO]

In this three-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot, you'll see that Rosslyn Analytics is a granddaddy in the best-of-breed spend analytics space. With all of the acquisitions, re-brandings, mergers, re-platformings and further re-brandings, there are few standalone best-of-breed providers left in the space that have been around for over a decade.

Founded back in 2005 in London, (by Charlie Clark, who has moved on, and Hugh Cox), to bring visibility and insight into organizational spend to national and global enterprises, Rosslyn Analytics is one of those technologies. While not well known on this side of the pond, it was one of the first companies to bring QlikView into the cloud in 2012, one of the first to work with big consultancies (PwC in 2015) to offer cloud-based big-data analytics services, and one of the first companies to go public in 2014 on AIM, a sub-market of the LSE). They've won numerous awards since 2009, been recognized by Gartner and Forrester, and been a small but powerful company in the analytics space in the UK.

And while it's hard to say what the future could hold, it's not hard to say what the platform (which appears in Spend Matters’ SolutionMap for the first time in Spring/Q1 2020) can do and allow you to be the judge of whether it's right for your shortlist.

Billing itself as “The Technology Company that Speaks Business" (that can help your organization reduce the cost of attrition, increase customer satisfaction and improve profits), Rosslyn is all about data centralization, classification, analysis and interpretation. Building on the RAPid platform, Rosslyn not only offers a solution that can be used to automatically extract, cleanse, integrate and classify your organizational data for self-serve report and what-if analysis, but that can also be used to manage contracts, onboard and manage supplier (information), and track supplier performance. However, the core of the application is analytics, and that is what we will primarily focus on in this three-part Vendor Snapshot series.

Unlike many of the newer entrants that are throwing all their faith, and resources, into modern AI with multi-level neural networks, deep learning and other deep, computationally expensive, approaches, Rosslyn is cemented in tried-and-true, rule-based classification technology, classical statistics-based clustering and mining approaches, and ordered application of auto and manual classification that has been proven to be highly accurate and successful over a decade. It has also built large, known, supplier and entity data sets as part of a huge knowledge model it can use for correct classification the first time. It can integrate with IBM Watson and other leading technologies if the client organization desires, but outside of semantic data processing and content analysis, it's generally not necessary.

Having been around the block more than a few times, it knows that no suite of canned reports is ever good enough to bring true value to end clients (which include the likes of Coca-Cola Enterprises and Xerox Business Services), it goes beyond just providing a suite of editable reports and a classic do-it-yourself report generator and also provides interactive reporting dashboards that allow for what-if reporting based upon variable projections to changes in costs, market data, performance, etc. It turns information into actionable insight that can be used to make decisions in procurement, finance, contract negotiations and supplier performance management.

But is that enough to corner the analytics market? Probably not, but it should definitely get some attention, especially if Rosslyn backs up its product with the right marketing efforts in the U.S., where it has been operating since 2012. (Its current U.S. head office is in Chicago.) What else is attention worthy? That's what the remainder of this series will answer.

CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: Supply Risk — Mitigating and Recovering from the Grey Swan of COVID-19 [PRO]

supply risk

The mission of our “Coronavirus Response” series is to examine categories of relevant solutions and example providers that professionals in procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should investigate to reduce coronavirus supply risk.

We’re calling the pandemic a “grey swan” because pandemics are not unknown risks. If you look at the 2019 World Economic Forum Global Risk report, the “risk of infectious disease” came in last on the top 10 list in terms of impact and didn’t make the list in terms of probability. But, it’s on the list, as the report states:

Each month the World Health Organization (WHO) tracks 7,000 new signals of potential outbreaks, generating 300 follow-ups, 30 investigations and 10 full risk assessments. In June 2018 there were — for the first time ever — outbreaks of six of the eight categories of disease in the WHO’s “priority diseases” list. If any had spread widely, it would have had the potential to kill thousands and create major global disruption.


And guess what was included in those eight categories: Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

And if you look at some of the nearest risk types on the risk map, you’ll find:

  • Fiscal crisis
  • Food crisis
  • Unemployment and underemployment
  • Failure of financial mechanism or institution
  • Failure of national governance
  • Critical information infrastructure breakdown

Do these sound familiar? The report also shows how many risks are highly interconnected, and there’s a thread that runs through most of them: supply chains. Supply chain folks’ ears perk up given how often the term “risk” is uttered these days, and unfortunately not in a good light (note the last three risks in the list above). And those supply chains are highly interconnected global flows of goods, humans and machines — and viruses that can jump along for the ride. When the information systems/silos and governing systems/silos fail, that’s when the swan kicks your butt (which is in character for a swan, actually).

When corporations and governments alike don’t learn from the past, then the pain of previous risk events fade, defenses drop, preparedness falters and supply chains lose their protections which is shown well here (courtesy of Resilinc):



(Click image to enlarge)

This situation is why today’s brief focuses on supply risk management, the first of our seven procurement-centric solution categories that we’re covering:

  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. (See this category’s recommended solutions for direct sourcing here.)
  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. Procure to Pay (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. (This category is discussed in-depth here.)
  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. (Its profile for this series is here.)
  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; and solutions for data management and analytics. (The first PRO brief from this category, about sourcing remote/online work, can be read here.)

Broader supply chain issues and solutions are also clearly in play, especially related to inventory visibility, inventory positioning, demand forecasting, capacity planning, logistics planning/execution, distribution/allocations, global trade management, product design, the internet of things (IoT) and so on.

But, even though the initial seven use-case categories and 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 as we get back up and running.

In this installment of our Coronavirus Response series, Spend Matters will explore supply risk management, which includes supplier risk management, but also the broader area of supply chain risk management (SCRM) that seeks to keep critical supply lines flowing. In the case of COVID-19, these supply lines include the critical components/materials (and supporting manufacturing and logistics networks) that:

  • get assembled into the ventilators that keep sick patients alive while this viral plague sweeps through
  • are used to manufacture the personal protective equipment (PPE) that critical health care workers need to protect themselves
  • support the pharmaceutical and medical device/supplies supply chains that create the products that diagnose and treat the disease with therapies and vaccines — as soon as possible!
  • build “pop-up” hospitals and everything in them needed to treat patients, who could flood in and overwhelm healthcare workers

Broader supply risk management also includes:

  • Understanding demand-side risk when demand falls off the table when 80% of populations are sheltering in place in the short term. The demand (or lack thereof) also ripples up the supply networks and service networks — especially to smaller suppliers.
  • Considering the supply risk of contingent workers who will be critical “flex capacity” to support the physical supply chains of foods, medicines, equipment, etc. We’re covering this more here and here).
  • Financial risk that occurs when suppliers, especially smaller one with thinner margins, are starved for cash as liquidity slows in a risk-averse market of cash-strapped buyers and cautious financial-services lenders.

Specialized supply risk management solutions and services providers can support the above requirements and help to answer a range of questions, such as:

  • What countries does my company do business in with suppliers at the tier one level? Tier two? Tier three? Which of these should I prioritize as truly critical?
  • Which suppliers are affected by COVID-19 within these regions? How badly are they affected? How can we find out quickly?
  • What are my products and revenues that will be affected? And what should I do about it? Do I have playbooks defined, and if so, how do I execute (and if not, how do I create them when this horror show has died down)?
  • How is my logistics network affected directly by COVID-19 (e.g., port/warehouse slowdowns and strikes) and how is it impacting my freight? What transportation lanes are impacted to see if my freight is impacted? Can delays or other risk factors be expected further down the inbound supply chain before it reaches my facilities? For example, West Coast ports were starving for container ship capacity because so many ships are idled in China in quarantine conditions. Now, as air freight capacity is impacted by massively reduced passenger flight volumes (and respective cargo capacity lying underneath), what are my expedited freight options?
  • Is there anything I can do if suppliers are individually high-risk? Will they be financially threatened because of COVID-19? How can I get visibility into their financial health, especially if they’re privately held?
  • Which of my affected suppliers are potentially unsustainable in their supply risk practices rather than just their traditional CSR practices?

For the supply chain risk management (SCRM) scenarios and questions listed above, we’ll discuss the best-known specialists in the area: Riskmethods and Resilinc. But we’ll also touch on Resilience360, which has unique capabilities within the broader supply network vis a vis the logistics network. Sourcemap also has some supply network visualization and risk modeling/monitoring capabilities, but hasn’t been drawn into the healthcare supply chains like the others (although the CPG supply chain has also been affected — as any toilet paper shopper has discovered!). Elementum doesn’t have its own native SCRM solution (it partners with Resilinc), but it does offer a command center solution that it is now providing as a freemium “virtual war room” offering.

These specialized providers don’t have to be your only choice however. For example, we’ll cover what Sievo (a broader procurement analytics provider with roots in spend analytics) is doing with an evolving “mash-up” solution that provides a view into spending, the supply network, risk overlays, etc. Simfoni similarly has a COVID-19 risk assessment dashboard solution that it is offering for free. We’re not sure how long it’ll allow free usage, but the website page for the offering has a slick little Power BI dashboard that you can interact with that gives a flavor of its capabilities.

In terms of supplier risk management, we will cover this as we expand our coverage to broader supplier management later (and supplier/third-party management is clearly a foundational process to any procurement organization), but the one aspect that we will initiate coverage on now is supplier financial risk management. Although the credit bureaus and traditional supplier risk evaluators / content providers like D&B offer some insights into supplier financial risk that we’ll add to our coverage later, we’ll touch on two providers, Rapid Ratings and Credit Risk Monitor, who can help assess supplier financial health for critical suppliers. LexisNexis offers broader supplier risk management capabilities, but you can check out its free COVID-19 coverage from a legal perspective over at Law360.

As a side note, there are requirements here for performing the sourcing and commodity management activities required to rapidly identify new sources of supply, conducting complex sourcing events for materials, parts and components (which may be tied to broader bills of material), qualifying suppliers based on targeted requirements (e.g., for a specific line), and managing and tracking suppliers based on custom scorecarding. We cover this area (No. 2 of our list above) here, and we also explore the demand-side volatility scenarios/analytics here (No. 3 from the list above).

Let’s jump into how supply risk management can help.

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

ProcurePort: Vendor Introduction (Solution Overview, Strengths/Weaknesses, SWOT, Market Analysis) [PRO]

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on ProcurePort and its capabilities. The brief includes an overview of ProcurePort’s strategic sourcing offering, a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a selection requirements checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

ProcurePort offers a strategic sourcing solution that’s main focus is on configuring and managing RFX and auction processes. The vendor started out in 2011 as a reverse auction platform, later adding support for RFX creation and adjacent capabilities for contract and supplier information management (SIM). In 2018, ProcurePort acquired a separate P2P platform that it now sells under its brand, but the upstream and downstream solutions are separate products and not sold as a unified source-to-pay offering. (This analysis does not consider ProcurePort’s P2P product.)

The ProcurePort customer base includes both larger manufacturers and small companies (i.e., teams of two or three practitioners managing approximately $50 million in spend). Manufacturers in particular gravitate to ProcurePort for its ability to handle large item counts — ranging from 1,000 to 15,000 items in some cases — as well as its positioning as a competitively priced tool (single seats and bundles are priced significantly below those of S2P competitors like Coupa, Ivalua and Jaggaer).

In addition to its SaaS solution, ProcurePort also offers managed services for reverse auction management and spend analysis (e.g., spend classification).

Let’s take a deeper look at ProcurePort and its solution.

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List: April 2020 [Plus+]

Welcome to the April 2020 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.

In the last Hot List, we covered key events and developments that took place in February Among those were FY 2019 financial reports of three publicly traded online work/services platforms, various developments among a number of online work/services platforms and ongoing developments in financial services that cater to contingent workers and small businesses.

While this month’s Hot List will focus on what happened in the historic month of March 2020, it will try to give readers a respite from the bombardment of COVID-19 news and mostly focus on what may be workforce “hot spots,” but not in the epidemiological sense. (For help with coronavirus-related workforce issues, read our coverage of go-to solutions for finding workers in a crisis and how businesses can cope in the near term and other phases of the crisis.)

Turning now to the workforce developments in March 2020 ...

Now through April 2020, a Spend Matters' special PRO Expert Survival Pack is available to procurement practitioners only* at up to 50% off. The discount applies to PRO subscription content from our analysts and other services. — Learn more

Read all of Spend Matters’ coronavirus coverage here.

CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: Fraud, P2P and Vendor Management Safeguards — Protecting cash and rapidly vetting suppliers in a crisis [PRO]

In this installment of our “Coronavirus Response” series, Spend Matters will explore fraud, P2P and vendor management safeguards. With the COVID-19 crisis creating new fires for procurement to put out and critical supply risks arising to address, fraud is an unfortunate reality that businesses need to remain on guard against — especially in times where bad actors mobilize to take advantage of distracted and newly remote operations. This PRO brief will focus on the first three solution providers that we’ll profile in this category: AppZen, ConnXus and APEX Analytix.

The mission of this 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.

Today’s brief focuses on the fifth of the seven solution categories that we’re covering:

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. (See this category’s recommended solutions for direct sourcing here.)
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. Procure to Pay (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. (This category is discussed in-depth here.)
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. (The first PRO brief from this category, about sourcing remote/online work, can be read here.)

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.

For fraud and vendor safeguards, the immediate need for companies in all sectors will include proactively detecting fraudulent behavior from all possible sources, whether it’s employees abusing normal corporate channels (e.g., stocking their own homes with toilet paper on the company dime) or cybercriminals posing as suppliers to reroute payments into personal bank accounts. At the same time, manufacturers may need to identify new sources of supply, leading them to rapidly onboard new suppliers. Yet without proper safeguards in place, a frantic selection could lead to longer-term problems, should the supplier have past issues with regulatory compliance or run an unsustainable operation.

The initial three solutions — from AppZen, ConnXus and APEX Analytix — all have capabilities in proactive fraud detection or supplier risk management, especially as it pertains to the validation of supplier information. We will likely add providers with similar and other strengths in fraud detection and vendor risk management at a later stage.

Each category-specific PRO piece in this series has 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 value.

Some providers are offering coronavirus-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.

Let’s jump into how fraud and vendor safeguard solutions can help.

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

CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: Sourcing and Commodity Management — Securing direct materials during the crisis and recovery phases [PRO]

In this installment of our “Coronavirus Response” series, Spend Matters will explore sourcing and commodity management, with a focus on direct materials. With COVID-19 impacting logistics and existing supply bases, in China (even though China seems to be recovering), the rest of Asia and Europe (thus far), there will be numerous emerging needs for companies across manufacturing. This PRO brief will focus on the first three solution providers that we’ll profile in this category: Allocation Network, Coupa and Jaggaer.

The mission of this 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.

Today’s brief focuses on the second of the seven solution categories that we’re covering:

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. Procure to Pay (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. (This category is discussed in-depth here.)
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. (The first PRO brief from this category, about sourcing remote/online work, can be read here.)

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.

For sourcing and commodity management, the emerging needs for companies across manufacturing will include rapidly identifying new sources of supply, conducting complex sourcing events for materials, parts and components (which may be tied to broader bills of material), qualifying suppliers based on targeted requirements (e.g., for a specific line), and managing and tracking suppliers based on custom scorecarding.

After the pause button is lifted on production — in cases where one is put into place — these needs will become especially acute during the recovery phase in specific regions (which may be different from the recovery phase in other geographies).

The initial three solutions — from Allocation Network, Coupa and Jaggaer — all have capabilities in advanced sourcing for direct materials and/or strong support for scenario modeling and optimization. We will likely add providers with similar and other strengths in sourcing and commodity management at a later stage.

Each category-specific PRO piece in this series has 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 value.

Some providers are offering coronavirus-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.

Let’s jump into how sourcing and commodity management can help.

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

CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: Contingent Workforce and Services Solutions — How to find the right workers, services in a crisis [PRO]

In this installment of our “Coronavirus Response” series, Spend Matters will focus on contingent workforce and services issues now that it’s not business as usual. In the COVID-19 crisis, the level of uncertainty in worker availability drives an increased need for workforce agility and, perhaps, new trade-offs between time, cost and risk. This may be a time when relying only on existing sourcing channels and suppliers will come up short.

External platforms or networks for remote and online workforce/services can be used to find and engage freelancers and small service providers across the globe who can perform activities totally online. Work can be managed, accepted and paid for online. In its basic form it can be up and running in a number of minutes with a credit card.

These new kinds of technology-based CW/S solutions from providers like Upwork, Fiverr and Topcoder may yield important benefits over and beyond what might be provided by a VMS. This is not to say a VMS solution is an unimportant contributor in the current crisis. On the contrary, it is critical.

The overall 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 seventh 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. (This category is discussed in-depth here.)
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.

For workforce management, organizations should rely on their VMS solutions to manage the sourcing and management of temporary staffing suppliers and workers as well as SOW/services, as existing suppliers will be important sources of flexible workers (for example, to fill gaps in administrative or customer-facing jobs when regular workers must take a PTO day or just don’t show up). Perhaps organizations could use their trusted staffing suppliers as employers of record and payrollers to allow specific laid-off workers to return to work on a temporary basis. These are substantial channels of supply that should be maintained/sustained. A VMS can help with that.

Organizations should also collaborate with their VMS providers to find or optimize applications of solution capabilities unique to the crisis environment. For example, exploiting supplier management capabilities and increasing frequency of monitoring could be important, as staffing and SOW supplier capacities and performance may change quickly in a crisis environment.

Indeed, organizations that are not using a VMS today should perhaps be thinking about it, if they anticipate using more contingent workforce or having a more unpredictable contingent workforce requirements going forward. Spend Matters’ SolutionMap rankings cover enterprise solutions for Temp Staffing (and Contracted Services/SOW) and can provide an accelerated research path for zeroing in on appropriate solutions (e.g., VMS solutions that can be put in gear rapidly and so on).

In this Coronavirus Response series, the CW/S category has four types of solutions that need to be explored:

1. External platforms/networks for remote or online workforce/services (such as Upwork and many others) can be used to find and engage freelancers and small service providers across the globe who can perform activities totally online. For example, if an organization required a data analyst with R skills to analyze a large date set tomorrow. Work can be managed, accepted and paid for online. In its basic form it can be up and running in a number of minutes with a credit card.
2. External platforms/networks for geo-specific, locational workforce/services (such as Field Nation and others) can be used to deploy mobile technology-enabled field contractors on demand across wide geographies (individually or a groups). For example, if a company’s employee field technician must care for a family member and can no longer leave the house to make onsite repairs in a particular geographical area, contract field technicians can be engaged through such a platform. Workers can be sourced and work product accepted and paid for online.
3. Direct Sourcing solutions for workforce/specialized, small service providers (SSPs) such as (ShortList and others) can be used to directly engage a company’s contract workers such as consultants already in use, alumni or directly sourced fresh. For example, alumni with crucial knowledge/skills may be built up in reserve in a private talent pool, ready to activate at any time (this is something that healthcare systems are doing with retired personnel). The SaaS solution enables much of the Source-to-Invoice cycle for workers and service providers and is typically integrated with a company’s invoice/payments system. These solutions are typically subscription fee-based.
4. Data Management/Analytics solutions for workforce/services (such as Brightfield TDX and others) can be used to optimize contingent/extended workforce costs through market rate benchmarking, existing workforce configuration and market/trends analysis. If an organization will need to substitute contingent workers for a particular segment of its full-time employed workers (or simply augment them) a Data/Analytics can help to establish accurate contingent workforce rate benchmarking to ensure market prices are being paid. These solutions can be subscription or unit fee-based.

In this PRO brief, we focus on how external platforms/networks for remote or online workforce/services — which are not yet widely adopted by larger enterprises — may be leveraged to open up new pathways to needed labor/talent and services and to enable workforce flexibility and agility. All of which will be important in navigating the current crisis as its stages unfold.

This issue, like each category-specific PRO piece in this series, will be discussed in three sections:

1. Problems and Use Cases. In this section, 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. In this section, we’ll outline how various solutions can help solve the problems and list what value they can add to your business.
3. Example Providers. In this last section, we’ll highlight the solution providers that can address the problems and deliver some value.

OK, let's dive into workforce solutions that can help.

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

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

CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: Advanced Procurement Analytics — find the risks hiding in your data, prioritize and take action [PRO]

In our response to the coronavirus outbreak, this Spend Matters PRO “Coronavirus Response” series is continuing its mission 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.

Today’s brief focuses on solutions for advanced procurement analytics — the third category shown below in the seven solution categories that we’re covering:

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. (Read about the direct sourcing solutions here.)
3. Advanced procurement analytics to enable direct procurement and/or to perform “spend planning” when demand drops out or spikes.
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. (This category is discussed in-depth here.)
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. (The first PRO brief from this category, about sourcing remote/online work, can be read here.)

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 start our coverage of advanced procurement analytics and three solutions from LevaData, Sievo and Suplari with particular strengths in direct material and commodity analysis — because shortages of direct materials and components will have the most immediate effect on your supply chain.

We do acknowledge that long-term unavailability of certain direct materials and components will in turn produce unavailability in indirect products down the line, but stage one of any crisis response must be to keep critical production lines running and focus on direct. Similarly, if an unavailability of supply looks to be permanent, you will need to do some supply chain redesign, and we’ll cover that use case in an upcoming sourcing and commodity management piece in this series.

We also will be covering other analytics and will likely launch new categories — like indirect spend planning in the context of integrated business planning, financial planning & budgeting, insourcing/outsourcing decision support, and so on.

The initial three vendors we are profiling here are all unique in the spend analytics space and all have deep capabilities in the analysis of direct material and commodity spend. If any other practitioners, providers or consultants would like to contribute to this coverage, please let us know about solutions that are helpful related to advanced procurement analytics useful within the current COVID-19 crisis.

If your organization doesn't have an advanced sourcing and procurement analytics platform, one of these three platforms could be the most fit-for-purpose, off-the-shelf platforms to help your direct material/commodity-heavy organization analyze its way through the COVID-19 crisis.

Each category-specific PRO piece in this series will have three sections:

* 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.
* Solution Rationale and Value. We’ll outline how various solutions can help solve the problems and the specific questions that they’ll help answer.
* 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 advanced procurement analytics.

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

Currencycloud: Vendor Introduction (Background and Solution Overview) [PRO]

Supplier compliance

The era of decoupled procure-to-pay processes and technology — including B2B payments — within finance are coming to an end. But integration is not just happening within the four walls of an organization (e.g., API-based integration between SAP and Kyriba or Oracle and Basware). It’s happening between bank and non-bank providers and their customers, and customer systems. Specifically, areas such as supply chain finance, foreign exchange (FX), cross-border payments, invoicing and related solutions are increasingly moving from independent applications to ones that are integrated into bank and non-bank partner technology environments.

FX and cross-border payments are two prime examples. Most cross-border payments occur primarily through a correspondent banking network. Yet sending payments through the network can be a costly proposition for fintechs, challenger banks, FX brokers and others that must use banks.

Typically, if you want to send money via such a network, a bank has to keep money on deposit at a Nostro account at a correspondent bank in that foreign country. The funds in the account are used to settle the payment, which is directed by a message sent over the SWIFT network. If the bank does not have a Nostro account directly, it must go through correspondent banks.

This model works. But it is antiquated and inefficient, often resulting in high costs and slow payments. There are a number of technology firms that are providing the infrastructure to upend this process, including Currencycloud.

This Spend Matters Vendor Introduction looks at Currencycloud’s capabilities as a cross-border payments provider, offering an overall introduction and summary, along with insight into how it handles foreign exchange transactions across specific use cases. Banks, non-banks and AP/P2P vendors building out global payment capabilities that are looking to OEM solutions in this area will find this analysis most relevant.

AppZen: Vendor Introduction — Strengths/Weaknesses, Company SWOT, Competitors, Selection Checklist [PRO]

The term “audit” usually implies a reactive activity. When something goes wrong, a business conducts an audit to find out what happened, then corrects its procedures to prevent the error from recurring. This approach is, of course, not ideal. Rather than spend time and energy retroactively correcting a problem, taking a proactive, preventative approach to auditing would be more efficient as this would allow businesses to stamp out potential risks before they became problems.

The idea that a business should proactively address risks may seem obvious, but for many accounts payable organizations this is easier said than done. The major barrier to doing so is one of prioritization. A Fortune 500 enterprise may process billions of transactions a year, many of which represent normal, expected spending. But a handful should raise flags — for potential instances of overpayment, duplicate payment or even fraud. The challenge of proactive auditing is not one of developing a proper mindset but of determining how best to find the needle in the expense and invoice haystack. AppZen is like a super magnet for those needles. Founded in 2010, AppZen is an expense and accounts payable auditing platform that uses AI to help businesses identify spending risks before they make payments. Its roster of more than 1,500 customers — including many of the top brands in industries from banking to media and pharma — use the solution to spot non-compliant employee expenses, duplicate charges and other anomalies (e.g., consistent overcharging from a supplier).

This Spend Matters Vendor Introduction provides an overview of AppZen’s solution set. It includes a perspective on what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis, a look at competitors (or lack thereof) and a selection requirements checklist for organizations that might consider the vendor.

Also, we will post a profile of AppZen for our Coronavirus Response series, which highlights go-to vendors to help mitigate the business risks and aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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

CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: Allocation Network — industrial sourcing and supplier management for COVID-19 [PRO]

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, this Spend Matters PRO series examines selected technology providers that procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should explore to reduce and mitigate COVID-19 supply risk — and to recover faster on the upswing. The introduction to this series grouped the technology providers that we will cover into five specialty areas, with one vendor shown here as an example:

* Supply risk management (e.g., riskmethods)
* Sourcing and commodity management, including advanced sourcing, direct sourcing and commodity management to help dynamically plan and source (e.g., Allocation)
* Advanced procurement analytics to enable direct procurement and/or to perform “spend planning” when demand drops out or spikes (e.g., Sievo)
* P2P that emphasizes working capital, dynamic discounting, payment control and related finance priorities (e.g., Basware)
* Fraud, P2P and Vendor Management Safeguards (e.g., APEX Analytix)

Today, we profile the third essential COVID-19 procurement technology vendor: Allocation Network (Allocation). It is also one of the most capable solutions for procurement in the diversified manufacturing domain, based on our Q4 2019 SolutionMap ratings for Sourcing and Supplier Management. Allocation provides a direct-materials-centric platform that “grew up” in the automotive industry — arguably the hardest and most demanding for supplier identification, sourcing, first article testing and ongoing quality.

With COVID-19 impacting existing supply bases, especially in China, the rest of Asia and Europe (thus far), there will be numerous emerging needs for companies across manufacturing. These include: rapidly identifying new sources of supply, conducting complex sourcing events for materials, parts and components (which may be tied to broader bills of material), qualifying suppliers based on targeted requirements (e.g., for a specific line), and managing and tracking suppliers based on custom scorecarding.

After the pause button is lifted on production — in cases where one is put into place — these needs will become especially acute during the recovery phase in specific regions (which may be different from the recovery phase in other geographies). For European and North American manufacturers, Allocation is one of only a select few vendors who could become their “go-to” sourcing and supplier management specialist in the wake of COVID-19.

This PRO brief explains why.

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