Plus or PRO Content

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insiders’ Hot List: December 2020 [PRO]

Welcome to the December 2020 edition of Spend Matters Insiders’ Hot List, a monthly look at the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) space. 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 November 2020. These included the arrival of a new VMS solution, ProcureWise, two direct sourcing/MSP partnerships (WillHire and Yoh, Shortlist and NextSource), Mailchimp’s new freelancer community, the launch of a diversity-based freelancer marketplace, Ebuynee, and more. 

Turning to November, what was for many a complicated and stressful month, we observed an industry that was very much alive and well (despite being bruised up a bit). In November, the industry continued to recover and some sub-markets grew quickly. The staffing industry continued its steady climb from its cave-in this March (on 11/15, the ASA Staffing Index was just 9% under the index value one year earlier). And online freelancer platforms seemed to continue to benefit from COVID-19 tailwinds (or are they structural shifts?). The app-based gig economy also continued its robust expansion. We also discovered at least one new company that impressed us. So, all in all, not bad!

ProcureWise: Vendor Analysis — Solution Overview, Roadmap, Competitors & Market, Customer Feedback, Commentary [PRO]

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis provides an overview of ProcureWise and its extended workforce solution.

In the past few years, a number of new extended workforce solutions have emerged to challenge incumbent VMS providers and/or look to penetrate lower, underserved mid-market tiers. We refer to them as “extended workforce solutions,” rather than VMS, because the long-standing term, VMS, carries a connotation of being anchored to temporary staffing. That said, today, both new solution providers and evolved VMS providers address a broader set of extended workforce channels.

ProcureWise is the newest kid on the block, having officially launched its solution in early October (the solution was previously running in beta). The company itself was founded by the founder and CEO of CEIPAL, a staffing agency recruitment and HRMS software business launched in 2011. CEIPAL reports that it serves over 1,400 client companies.

Like others in its category, ProcureWise’s extended workforce solution, which is built on a state-of-the-art, API-open technology platform, addresses enterprise requirements to source and manage staffing and non-staffing contingent workers as well as SOW-services. It provides direct sourcing capabilities, and it is aimed at “total talent” scenarios. The solution appears to leverage some CEIPAL technology platform components for at least direct sourcing, where AI enables talent sourcing — a unique, special twist to this solution.

This Vendor Analysis provides a high-level analyst perspective on ProcureWise, including a business snapshot; overview of platform, solution and supporting services; competitive market overview; and key analyst takeaways.

Beyond Spend Influence: Enabling Procurement’s Emerging Roles in Business Transformation (Part 7) — Blueprinting the Transformation [PRO]

In this multipart Spend Matters PRO series, we’ve outlined how procurement can move beyond traditional spend influence tactics to add more value to the business and thereby relevant procurement value as well.

In this installment, we will summarize and review the previous lessons that highlighted some of these engagement examples, and will then pull up a level to reflect on what these transformation examples have in common. And then we’ll preview a transformation framework that can provide some practical guidance.

Malbek: Vendor Analysis — Solution Overview for Contract Management, Roadmap, Customer Feedback, Competitors, Analyst Insights [PRO]

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis provides an overview of Malbek and its solution for contract management.

They say hindsight is 20/20, but rarely in the competitive world of software development do people get a chance at a do-over. Malbek, a 4-year-old contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution, may just be the exception. Many of the New Jersey-based vendor’s current and founding employees are alumni of prior CLM vendors, and these CLM veterans have brought to Malbek a set of insights about how to “reimagine” their space.

The resulting solution is not one that aims to blow up CLM as we know it and upend the typical features. In the view of Malbek, the foundational aspects around contract modeling, portfolio management, authoring workflows and the like are all relatively sound. Rather, the aspects of CLM that Malbek wanted to reimagine was the approach to deployment, integrations, system upgrades and end user configurability. And while that may sound less “sexy” than cutting edge, AI-based features — which, for what it’s worth, Malbek also supports in many areas — these emphases give Malbek a compelling case for being able to address key pain points for CLM prospects, especially in the middle and enterprise market segments.

The brief explores the concept behind Malbek; the platform, application and supporting services the vendor delivers; a verified customer reference analysis; and a competitive market analysis, complete with key analyst takeaways.

Veriscape’s Symphonia: Vendor Analysis — Solution Overview, Roadmap, Customer Feedback, Symphonia Competitors, Analyst Insights  [PRO]

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis will give an overview of Veriscape's Symphonia e-procurement capabilities, and we’ll also consider how ERP systems and e-procurement solutions have evolved.

A response to the rigid ERP systems to support the indirect purchasing function in the 1990s was the development of e-procurement solutions, which initially functioned more as a product catalog management solution. They had a buying front-end (e-store) to create a purchase requisition coupled with an approval process.

As we well know, these solutions have evolved significantly in order to meet more complex business requirements. But just because e-procurement solutions have evolved technologically and functionally does not imply that all organizations have evolved (matured) at the same rate.

We still see many organizations that focus on the challenges from 20 years ago, and not necessarily with high technology or great functionality, but only rely on an improved shopping front-end (e-store) for usability purposes (vs ERPs), and a content management solution that can handle the consolidation of all indirect product catalogs, some services (template-based) and the integration with punch-out catalogs (third-party websites).

This still is a huge market opportunity, and companies like Veriscape that began 20 years ago have managed to keep winning customers with this vision.

This review is about Veriscape’s latest product release, Symphonia. We will look at its platform and services, give a brief description of its solution functionalities and examine its roadmap. It also will include a verified customer reference analysis, a look at Veriscape’s competitors/market analysis, and some key analyst takeaways.

Ignite Procurement: Vendor Analysis (Part 2) — Detailed Look at Modules, SWOT, Ignite competitors, Commentary [PRO]

With the rise of Ignite Procurement, it seems like the Nordics are making a play to be one of the major hot spots in the increasingly global spend analysis marketplace. Finland gave us Sievo, Sweden gave us Effso Spendency, Denmark gave us Scanmarket (which started as an e-sourcing provider and which recently built a full-featured spend analytics module with AI classification that can be bought standalone, even though its analytics solution works best as part of the suite), and now Norway is giving us Ignite Procurement.

Which is best?

That depends on your needs, and to help you find out, in this Part 2 of Spend Matters’ PRO deep dive, we will dig deeper into Ignite's modules, provide a SWOT assessment, discuss Ignite Procurement’s competitors and offer a market analysis to help you make your decision.

Ignite Procurement: Vendor Analysis (Part 1) — Solution Overview, Strengths/Weaknesses, Tech Selection Tips [PRO]

Ignite Procurement is an analytics start-up that we’ll examine in a two-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis, and it’s part of our deep dives on various analytics vendors this year.

Analytics is becoming more necessary for procurement organizations to get a handle on their spend. More and more organizations are realizing this, but few organizations have the experienced data analysts or scientists or the maturity to use a sophisticated analysis tool.

Hence the recent boom in analytics (and AI) start-ups to help the average organization — which may not even have a modern sourcing or procurement platform — get started on their analytical journey.

Ignite Procurement is one of the most recent start-ups to enter the analytics fray. While quite new, with the first version of its solution launching a mere two years ago, it's already making a significant mark in its home turf in Norway and providing value to its existing customer base that collectively manages billions in spend through the tool. Plus, it’s already doing quite well in the Spend Analytics’ Nimble category in Spend Matters’ SolutionMap for such a new market entrant.

In Part 1 of this Vendor Analysis, we will provide a company background, a brief overview the Ignite Procurement solution, key strengths and weaknesses, and tech selection tips. In Part 2, we’ll provide a detailed look at its modules, a company SWOT assessment, a look at Ignite Procurement’s competitors and the market landscape, and some final thoughts.

Digital B2B platforms for work/services: Are we at a COVID-19 inflection point? [PRO]

COVID-19 has impacted businesses in many fundamental ways. Perhaps most visibly, it has brought about what seems to be a structural shift from predominantly office-based work to significantly more remote work. Many large companies are shutting down entire offices, having made the decision to move to a much more remote workforce model.

Now there seems to be some evidence that COVID-19 has had a notable and positive impact on at least some B2B online work/services platforms that enable businesses and freelancers to engage and transact with one another online. These engagements and transactions can occur without spatial limitations (no meeting in offices necessary, access to a potentially worldwide talent pool).

Though not central in our focus, B2C platforms like Instacart, Grubhub and others have also gotten a boost from the surge in online ordering of everything from meals to consumer goods.

The growth of transactions across these platforms and a new law in California may add to the potential momentum.

This Spend Matters PRO brief examines if COVID-19 may be leading to an inflection point for the B2B work/services platform economy. It looks at developments over the past months, including those at the two publicly traded online freelancer platforms, Fiverr and Upwork. The brief concludes with our own views of where things stand today and what enterprise executives should expect and do.

MineralTree: Vendor Analysis — Solution Overview, Strengths/Weaknesses, Tech Selection Tips, Commentary [PRO]

Eliminating paper-based financial processes is the main benefit for payment automation solutions in the SME market. It is an important and growing area of opportunity that is generating efficiencies and savings for companies. MineralTree is a solution provider that is helping mid-market companies have greater control, visibility and certainty in their accounts payable process while generating AP process efficiencies and savings.

In September, MineralTree closed a $50 million Series D investment round with Great Hill Partners, .406 Ventures and Eight Roads Ventures. And it is expanding its SME market share through its recent acquisitions of Inspyrus and Regal Software.

The focus of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis is to offer a candid take on MineralTree and its capabilities. The review includes a look at its solution set, a perspective on what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, and a selection requirements checklist for organizations that might consider the vendor.

Beyond Spend Influence: Enabling Procurement’s Emerging Roles in Business Transformation (Part 6) — Transforming the Supply Network [PRO]

In the previous two installments of this Spend Matters PRO series, we explored how procurement can improve its influence within the broader supply chain by supporting product/service lifecycles and transcending mechanistic BOM-based sourcing workflows to also focus on revenue uplift, supplier innovation and “design for supply” use cases.

In this installment, we will finish our coverage of how procurement (with the help of its functional partners) can enable the product/service lifecycle and the end-to-end supply network. And then we’ll wrap up this series on some transformation lessons learned in turning episodic moments of procurement influence into a more systematic evolution of procurement value.

Part 1 of this series laid out the need for leadership in procurement to help bring about transformational change — and how to work with stakeholders. In Part 2, we discussed how progressive procurement organizations were improving their influence through coherent communication and alignment of procurement “services” to various stakeholders.

Part 3 dove into procurement improving its influence into indirect spending and how it can improve how the business gets more value from its spend and its “spend management” process (e.g., dovetailing into the business planning process).

Part 4 was an introduction to attention to supply management and direct procurement influence. For Part 5, we dug into what it takes to create strategic supply partners and also consider the technology vendors needed for extended supply networks.

Now let’s look more into procurement’s role in transforming supply networks.

Parley Pro: Vendor Analysis — CLM Solution Overview, Strengths/Weaknesses, Company SWOT, Tech Selection Tips [PRO]

Parley Pro, a contract lifecycle management provider that’s the subject of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis, aims to move CLM beyond the category’s current concept.

Historically, many CLM vendors have focused on maintaining a repository of agreements for customers to help them better manage post-signature lifecycle events. Indeed, centralized storage and renewal management formed the main value proposition that most early CLM vendors competed on, with standardized authoring as an added benefit.

Parley Pro wants to change that.

The Los Altos, California-based vendor represents an emerging class of CLM solutions that aim to streamline and improve the upfront creation and negotiation process.

That’s not to say Parley Pro skimps on the traditional CLM requirements: It checks all of the expected boxes across repository setup, searching, template management, post-signature tracking (e.g., renewals) and reporting.

But where the vendor differentiates — and wins in competitive scenarios — is on its ability to optimize digital or online negotiation workflows, both internally and with the counterparty.

This one-part Vendor Analysis includes an overview of Parley Pro’s CLM solution, a perspective on what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a tech selection checklist for organizations that might consider the vendor.

AnyData, making spend analytics accessible by anyone! (Or, ‘The mid-market analytics quandary’) [PRO]

Analytics is front and center in the minds of every executive and practice leader these days, especially since the need for efficiency and insight is again approaching a peak as businesses of all sizes struggle with the additional pressures brought on directly and indirectly by the global coronavirus pandemic.

However, many organizations are still hesitant to pull the trigger on a new solution, and this is the case for a number of reasons:

  • Most analytics solutions still come with a significant price tag (which is impossible to justify without confidence in a quick ROI).
  • Implementation time and data-integration time are still often measured in months, adding uncertainty to the ROI calculation.
  • The upkeep is also concerning — How easy is it for the organization to refresh data and keep the system up to date?
  • And, most importantly, there is the ease of use — the vast majority of systems in the past with "analytics" capabilities have failed to deliver in this respect. (Either the built-in reports were not useful, or the report builder was too complex to allow inquiries to be answered in a reasonable amount of time.)

And the situation is exemplified in the true mid-market where:

  • Budgets are much more constrained.
  • Resources are fewer, and there are no dedicated analysts.
  • There's no budget or time for intense training.
  • Decisions need to be made fast — as survival depends on it.

In other words, a solution for the masses (small and mid-market) must be easy to use, easy to update and relatively easy to implement and initialize.

And this is just something that an average buyer/part-time analyst cannot do — and something AI can't solve either.

AnyData, a provider that has spent years building a powerful analytics platform on a rapid development stack, has taken all of the mid-market needs to heart and purpose-built one of the first solutions for the average, budding sourcing/procurement buyer and analyst that achieves all of the right goals. How so?