Plus or PRO Content

Payable Strategies for the Long Tail Suppliers — Stage 3: Addressing Operational Challenges Early [PRO]

In this Spend Matters PRO series, you have been tasked with a mandate from your CFO to find a way to offer early pay finance to ALL suppliers and create a “win/win” with your supply base. The previous two parts of the series looked at how to assess your current situation, the spend funnel and introduced several techniques.

In the third part of our series, we will look at some of the key operations issues that impact early pay finance offerings.

Today, many large businesses may be running several early pay finance techniques targeted at different supplier segments. Each of these techniques comes complete with their own set of technology and operational components, and can include virtual cards, marketplace auctions, third-party payable finance and dynamic discounting. Companies may be looking to expand programs regionally, or simplify their current offering, or have a mandate from the CFO to find a way to offer early pay finance to ALL suppliers.

For this series, here are the five stages for tackling your payables strategy:

Let’s jump into the details for Stage 3.

In the course of our discussions with treasurers, we found six operational areas that challenge the rollout of any type of early pay program.

Payable Strategies for the Long Tail Suppliers — Stage 2: Understanding Addressable Spend & Early Pay Options [PRO]

In this five-part Spend Matters PRO series, we will explore how businesses can approach paying suppliers early given the business’s current baseline and legacy situation. Today, we focus on understanding addressable spend and the various early pay options.

For this series, here are the five stages for tackling your payables strategy:

  • Stage 1 — Assessing Your Current Situation
  • Stage 2 — Understanding Addressable Spend & Early Pay Options
  • Stage 3 — Addressing Operational Challenges Early
  • Stage 4 — Selection Process and Key Issues to Address
  • Stage 5 — Getting to a Decision

Let’s jump into the details for Stage 2.

Payable Strategies for the Long Tail Suppliers — Stage 1: Assessing Your Current Situation [PRO]

Payables strategies

In this five-part Spend Matters PRO series, we will help companies address how to approach paying suppliers early given your current baseline and legacy situation. If you’ve been tasked with a mandate from your CFO to find a way to offer early pay finance to all (or a vast majority) of suppliers and create a “win/win” with your supply base, we’ve designed this series for you.

We also hope this will help with tech selection. It should allow companies in the market for solutions to coordinate internal departments like procurement, AP, shared service centers and treasury to plan for and assess different technology choices and ultimately determine the best option for the company and its supply base.

For this series, here are the five stages for tackling your payables strategy:

  • Stage 1 — Assessing Your Current Situation
  • Stage 2 — Understanding Addressable Spend & Early Pay Options
  • Stage 3 — Addressing Operational Challenges Early
  • Stage 4 — Selection Process and Key Issues to Address
  • Stage 5 — Getting to a Decision

Today, we’ll give a 2021 overview of early pay finance. And before we talk about where and how to begin, we’ll discuss the complexity around the company’s current baseline of technology, spend categories and legacy procurement contracts.

Robobai: Vendor Analysis (Part 2) — Product deep dive, SWOT, Robobai competitors, analyst summary [PRO]

Robobai competitors

Spend Matters’ two-part PRO Vendor Analysis will shed light on Robobai’s capabilities and competitors. Part 2 will provide a deep dive on solution features, a company SWOT and an analyst summary.

It’s not easy to KYS, or know your supplier. It’s more than a conversation, a historical transaction analysis, a few questionnaires or D&B financial risk assessment. Large organizations produce lots (and lots) of goods and services, employ thousands of people, operate in dozens or hundreds of locations. When you get down and dirty into the corner of the warehouses and basement offices that power that organization, that business doesn’t always deliver the same level of performance, security or legality you might expect from your one interaction between a buyer and a seller buying local consulting services from the consultants down the street.

In order to truly know your supplier, you need a broad internal view — from transactions, contracts, quality and service KPIs. You also need employee feedback on the relationship and a broad external view — from third-party risk assessors across the spectrum, detailed (and vetted) questionnaires, advanced risk and performance models, and supply chain insights (since you can have a squeaky clean supplier using a tier 2 supplier that is doing some shady activities in Asia and Africa (and paying off government officials to look the other way while it forces labor in unsafe factories).

That’s why it’s good to see a provider try to take an integrated view of the problem and build an analytics-powered platform that consolidates the internal view — supplier information, performance, contracts and transactions — with the external view — surveys, third-party risk and intelligence feeds — and expertly built models to help an organization get a fuller view of what’s going on, and what should result in development efforts or investigations.

Part 1 covered Robobai’s solution overview, strengths/weaknesses, tech selection tips.

Let’s dive deeper into Robobai’s competitors and capabilities that the Australian firm has down-under to serve Australasia and North America.

Robobai: Vendor Analysis (Part 1) — Solution overview, strengths/weaknesses, tech selection tips [PRO]

Robobai solution

Robobai, a relatively new entrant to the source-to-contract arena, realized the best way to do supplier risk, or know-your-supplier (KYS), is to build an analytics-backed supplier management platform that could track and analyze spend, performance, commitments (contracts) and risk. So the Australian firm built an analytics-backed KYS platform that could also support the creation and calculation of customized risk models using organizational data, survey responses and integrated third-party feeds (with easy API integration).

In addition, one of the co-founders is an old pro in applied analytics in big corporates, where he was a data analyst and category manager. He saw firsthand that most team members couldn’t efficiently classify data with the majority of first- and second-generation platforms and realized that AI was needed — but not the AI where you could only fix a mistake after the monthly data warehouse update.

So Robobai decided to build a multi-level staged AI auto-class model where a buyer administrator could “correct maps” and relaunch the classification process in real time. It lets you not only re-classify the identified transactions but improve the client-specific classifier(s) to prevent future mis-maps.

It’s a better approach than most of their AI-only peers that are fully AI-autoclass and can’t fix until the monthly refresh, that rely on limited post-classification mappings that result in rule proliferation, or that use temporary mappings that disappear and have to be recreated if the AI autoclass isn’t appropriately re-trained.

Robobai’s out-of-the-box KYS is quite powerful too. It has pre-built risk models that look for adverse media and sanctions, modern slavery, financial risk, and cyber and data problems. It works on pre-built surveys and, if licensed, pre-integrated data feeds from almost 20 risk providers. The out-of-the-box risk insights into your supply base are quite extensive, especially for Australian clients where the majority of the supply base is already measured in the Robobai platform.

Outside of a mega-suite vendor, it’s one of the best platforms for analytics/contract (metadata/execution) management/risk-backed supplier information and performance we’ve seen with respect to a completeness of vision and breadth of capability. Robobai is definitely worth taking a look at now that it is in Australia and the US, with the EU in its sights.

This two-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis will shed light on Robobai’s solution and capabilities. Part 1 will give a company overview, a broad look at its solution, detailed product strengths/weakness, and tips for tech selection. Part 2 will provide a deep dive on solution features, a company SWOT, a look at Robobai competitors and an analyst summary.

Airbase: Vendor Analysis — Solution overview for spend management, roadmap, customer feedback, Airbase competitors, analyst insights [PRO]

Airbase solution

There’s no company that doesn’t benefit from exerting better control over external spending. Yet if you looked at the procurement technology market, one might be forgiven for assuming that small and medium-size enterprises (SME) don’t suffer from this issue enough to merit their own class of spend management solutions.

Airbase, a San Francisco-based vendor that offers AP automation, corporate card and expense reimbursement solutions primarily for businesses with 100 to 1,000 employees, illustrates what an SME-focused spend management solution should look like. Rather than slim down the enterprise-grade approach to purchasing and invoice management, Airbase starts from the perspective of end purchasers — everyday stakeholders — to help make purchasing easy while giving controllers and accountants the visibility they need to keep spending compliant.

For its more than 200 customers, Airbase is often the first step from multiple, fragmented systems into a single source of truth. But how does this approach compare with more traditional procurement players, and how strongly can Airbase fare as it looks to “fly” upstream into larger finance and procurement organizations?

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis provides an overview of Airbase and its solution for non-payroll spend management. It also explores the concept behind Airbase; the platform, application and supporting services the vendor delivers; a verified customer reference analysis; and a competitive market analysis, complete with key analyst takeaways.

Making sense of the world of B2B payments and procurement technology: AP automation components (Landscape Overview) [PRO]

AP automation payments

From an industry analyst perspective, AP automation is a fascinating market. It’s not like other areas of enterprise technology (e-procurement, sourcing, contract management, vendor management systems, customer relationship management, etc.) that typically debut in the Fortune 500 or Global 2000 before making their way into the middle market and smaller businesses. No, the rise of AP automation has largely been a bottoms-up journey. It is one that started with the middle market and small business users and vendors specializing in selling into these markets.

Today, AP automation technologies differ materially based on the breadth and depth of use cases (e.g., invoicing processing requirements — basic vs. advanced), company size, industry and technology systems environment, among other variables. It is challenging to compare head-to-head AvidXChange to Basware to Medius to Tipalti, for example, as we might with e-procurement providers for a particular software selection requirement — they all specialize in specific use cases and have carved out different niches that make them great (or not-so-great) depending on customer priorities!

This Spend Matters PRO series began with a look at the legacy world of B2B payments and how the incumbent/new universes have interplay with each other. Now we can turn our attention to segmenting and defining the modern non-bank world of B2B payments as it relates to procurement and finance technologies.

For the series, we’ll look at this sector’s four categories of providers:

  • Accounts payable automation providers
  • Procure-to-pay (and source-to-pay) providers address AP automation use cases along with deeper support for e-invoicing, ordering functionality and varying degrees of payment capability.
  • Dedicated payment solutions combine technology and services to automate or digitize B2B payments and/or deploy payment infrastructure.
  • Working capital solutions leverage data and bank relationships to enable early payments and optimize working capital.

This PRO landscape overview begins by providing a succinct introduction to AP automation (overall) and highlights our Fall 2020 SolutionMap vendor ranking/scoring (including providing an example of how Basware and Medius perform in our subscriber-only SolutionMap Insider ratings). Finally, it provides insight into the B2B payment capabilities offered by AP automation providers.

A post-merger technology integration handbook: To maintain or not to maintain? [PRO]

After an M&A event, technology integration provides a significant opportunity to create the proverbial 1+1=3 product and solution synergies that the transactions are often founded on. Yet all too often, integration planning (and execution) comes up short. Part of the problem is that while vendors may sometimes say solutions are truly integrated to customers and prospects after a period of time, there are no standard definitions as to what integration actually means.

In a previous Spend Matters PRO series covering this topic, we attempted to remedy this by defining five specific stages of post-merger technology integration, especially from a technology-buyer perspective, given the relative ease with which a buyer could be confused or accidentally misled.

See:

Today, we continue our analysis with a research brief of particular note for technology vendors — especially technology and product leaders — who are going through or considering bringing different technology stacks together, especially where there is product overlap. We explore the different options available for bringing disparate technologies together, and the importance of making often-challenging decisions as quickly as possible.

Let’s begin.

Five scenarios for VMS 2025: Scenario 3 — Extended workforce rising [PRO]

Extended workforce platform

This is Scenario 3 of the Spend Matters PRO series in which we consider different scenarios for VMS in 2025. These scenarios represent exploratory thinking (not predictions) on our part. And they are not necessarily meant to be mutually exclusive. In any case, they are intended to be tools to assist contingent workforce and services procurement managers in their thinking about the future.

The first scenario, named “The Status Quo,” explored a world in which VMS continues to evolve and flourish (alongside other enterprise software solutions, such as human capital management, or HCM) as a distinct, specialized enterprise solution for sourcing of temps and, potentially, other forms of contingent workforce.

This second scenario, named “Procurement Rules,” explored a world in which procure-to-pay (P2P) — or even source-to-pay (S2P) — technology suites integrate or subsume the capabilities of VMS (or vice-versa?). A trendline to this scenario has already emerged. SAP Ariba and Coupa each have embarked on such a path through acquisition, and other procurement solutions could follow, whether by acquisition/integration or as extensions of their own platform.

This post on Scenario 3, “Extended workforce platform rising,” explores a world in which the established VMS procurement-oriented solution model* gives way to an extended workforce solution model. That extended workforce model, among other things, addresses an organization’s needs to manage its extended workforce (all forms of non-employee workforce engaged indirectly under contract through suppliers/providers of services or directly as individual contractors).

* By solution model, we mean a kind of “solution architecture” based on the problems (needs) that organizations/people have now. Solution models, which are therefore generally accepted as “what is needed” in the market and increasingly intertwined with industry assumptions and practices, are also persistent, though gradually evolving over what may be many years. An example of two solution models could be flip phones vs. smartphones.

Compleat: Vendor Analysis — P2P solution overview, roadmap, Compleat competitors, customer feedback, tech selection tips, strength/weakness [PRO]

Compleat solution

The technology space for solutions that automate purchasing processes like P2P is becoming more and more interesting. P2P suite vendors often get the news coverage, but many others have their own market niches. They have found value in their approach, and that is the case with Compleat.

It is a Nimble offering according to our SolutionMap’s P2P standards, but it also offers functionalities like creating purchase orders, ordering purchases on sites such as Amazon Business (without losing control of spending), and receiving and digitizing invoices to approve them and leave them ready for payment. Although these types of solutions do not match up with the extension of functionalities that large suites do, there is a market where their value is appreciated — in the middle market populated by small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs).

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis will focus on an overview of Compleat's P2P solution (iCompleat), its platform and services, solution functions, company roadmap, customer feedback, Compleat’s competitors, tech selection tips, and product strengths/weaknesses from our analyst.

SirionLabs: Vendor Analysis, 2021 Update (Part 3) — Company SWOT, SirionLabs’ competitors, tech selection tips, analyst conclusion [PRO]

SirionLabs competitors

Last spring amid the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, SirionLabs announced it had completed a $44 million Series C round, an event that Spend Matters said signaled the vendor’s arrival at the CLM winners podium. Of course, from our perspective it had already been there for a bit, as Sirion has consistently placed in our Value Leader quadrant of the CLM SolutionMap since we launched our vendor rankings — a finding now shared by other analyst firms evaluating the CLM space.

But where exactly does Sirion differentiate from the competition, and which organizations will find the CLM vendor an ideal fit relative to a growing number of competitors for authoring and negotiation, contract analytics and end-to-end CLM?

The third and final installment of this PRO Vendor Analysis, 2021 Update looks at SirionLabs’ competitors and provides an objective SWOT analysis of the provider. Part 3 also includes provider selection guidance, recommendations for companies that can best take advantage of Sirion’s capabilities, and a summary analysis. Part 1 examined SirionLabs’ background and offered a detailed solution overview and a company profile. Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of SirionLabs’ solution strengths and weaknesses as well as a review of the user experience.

SirionLabs: Vendor Analysis, 2021 Update (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses [PRO]

SirionLabs strengths weaknesses

Part 2 of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis provides a detailed assessment of SirionLabs’ strengths and weaknesses of its solution for contract lifecycle management (CLM) and supply management.

In many ways, the easiest method for differentiating CLM solutions comes down to two questions: How deeply does a system model the commercial aspects of legal language, and to what extent can the system facilitate the analysis, certification and management of that resulting contract data?

Some vendors go deep on the modeling of contractual information, allowing that commercial knowledge to drive risk and performance management with counterparties. Other — often newer — vendors take a different approach, optimizing the workflows of CLM such as contract authoring and negotiation as the path to fast system ROI.

SirionLabs is a helpful example in illustrating the first group of CLM vendors. Because its roots are in managing services agreements and the ultimate outcomes of agreements, its approach to modeling and managing contractual information embraces complexity — and as a result, it delivers insights about relationships that are uniquely valuable to customers.

Part 1 examined SirionLabs’ background and offered a detailed solution overview. Part 3 will cover Sirion’s competitors, a company SWOT analysis and tech selection tips.

Now, let’s learn more about its solution strengths and weaknesses.