Plus or PRO Content

So You Want to Build a P2P Marketplace? An Introduction to Unique B2B Technology, Platform and Application Requirements [PRO]

Procure-to-pay (P2P) solutions do not just have to take the form of “vanilla” cloud/SaaS applications. Increasingly, organizations are becoming aware of the power of B2B marketplace models and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) models, which can enable greater flexibility to configure P2P capabilities for a combination of internal and third-party users — and in certain cases, to leverage the buying, distribution, payment / financing (in the case of banks), and supply chain assets of the marketplace sponsor to create entirely new business models through the use of technology.

In many ways, this is the realization of the vision of the original B2B marketplaces from two decades ago (e.g., Commerce One MarketSite, i2 TradeMatrix, Ariba/Tradex, Atlas Commerce, etc.), but with technology that can support the complex requirements involved in many-to-many and multi-tier collaboration models, as well as integration approaches that go beyond standard API calls.

This is B2B nirvana for procurement and supply chain geeks like us who have lived through multiple cycles of marketplace enthusiasm (madness?). The fact that a number of vendors exist today that can service these models effectively is testament to just how far technology has come in recent years. This includes not only the usual P2P best-of-breed subjects supporting these models (e.g., Basware, Coupa, Ivalua, SAP, Tradeshift, etc.) but also names you might not be familiar with as well.

This Spend Matters PRO brief provides an introduction to the types of platform and functional capabilities necessary for organizations considering building a marketplace model or leveraging an existing PaaS application ecosystem to go outside the box of standard P2P process models and operating models for internal use only.

Leveraging Spend Matters’ experience in managing the technology selection processes for marketplace initiatives and our SolutionMap vendor RFI requirements, our analysis introduces a range of platform and application requirements that companies should consider when evaluating solutions that can power the requirements of marketplace models for B2B relationships beyond the standard requirements expected of P2P solutions.

These include core platform components, data schema, data management, workflow, personalization, supplier portal, supplier information management, analytics, globalization and related requirements.

20 Tips to Maximize Private Equity, Investment and Strategic Buyer Outcomes (Part 8: Knowing Your Weaknesses)  [PRO]

In this Spend Matters Nexus brief, we’ll look at our next-to-last tip for sellers to optimize the outcomes of an exit process/liquidity event when selling to private equity or strategic buyers. Tip 19, know your weaknesses, may sound simple, but it is an area where blindspots are more common than 360-degree vision.

Our tip today centers on the notion that for sellers, it is helpful to not only be able to articulate areas for improvement in such things as product (mix, capability, etc.), team, geographic presence, etc. But it is also important to display the right level of self- and market-awareness in what you would like to do about it. That is, if given the resources to execute.

If you are just getting introduced to this series, start with the earlier tips. (see Part 1 , Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7).

Jason Busch is the Managing Director of Spend Matters Nexus, a membership, research and advisory organization serving technology acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and CEOs in the procurement and finance solutions marketplace (including contract management, B2B marketplaces/connectivity, indirect procurement, services procurement, direct procurement, commodity management, payment, trade financing, GRC/third-party management and related adjacent sectors).

Online Platform RigUp Raises $300 Million: Maybe Not Just Another Unicorn? [PRO]

Online marketplaces for connecting workers and businesses have been around since the early-to-mid 2000s. But it has only been in the past eight years that larger organizations have begun to take notice of them (more, perhaps, as curiosities than as full-fledged, digitally enabled suppliers of workers and services). The reality is that few, if any, of the top 5,000 private employers in the world have established compliant, online marketplace sourcing channels that would account for more than 1 or 2% of their contingent workforce spend. Whether or not this is changing in any significant way is open to debate.

However, something does seem to be happening, if not on the large-enterprise demand-side, then on the supply-side, where, over the past year or so, significant capital has been flowing into some business-focused (versus consumer-focused) online marketplaces. That includes Austin-based RigUp, which recently announced a $300 million series D round. With a $60 million Series C round in January 2019 and four earlier financing rounds since its launch in 2014, RigUp’s financing now totals $423.8 million. According to the Wall Street Journal, the most recent “financing brings the valuation of the startup aimed at energy contractors to $1.9 billion.”

Unlike its white collar, online freelancer, global marketplace cousins, Upwork and Fiverr (which completed their IPOs in October 2018 and June 2019, respectively), RigUp has been focused on mostly blue collar workers deployed on the ground in the U.S. energy sector. At of the close of trading on Oct. 25, Upwork (which is more or less the same size as RigUp in terms of gross services volume) had a market value of $1.64 billion.

In this Spend Matters PRO brief, we will take a look at RigUp, and we'll examine where it fits into the broader landscape of digital platforms for work and services platforms. We will also discuss reasons why RigUp might be a different type of animal and how that might affect the thinking of procurement practitioners pondering the viability of online work/services platforms as sourcing options.

20 Questions for E-invoicing and Procurement Network and Platform Selection (Part 2) [Plus+]

supplier network

Editor's note: This Spend Matters Plus brief is a refresh of our 2013 series on supplier network selection, which originally ran on Spend Matters PRO.

In the first installment of this series, OB10/Tungsten, Ariba/SAP, and GXS: 20 Questions On Supplier Network Selection, we gave some context around the right organizational questions that procurement, accounts payable (A/P), finance and supply chain organizations should ask before getting to a supplier network selection RFP/RFI. We also offered up the first five of our 20-question list, which we’ll complete today.

But before we get started, it’s important to note that this list isn’t just relevant for an initial selection for new connectivity tools and on-ramps, but also for evaluating an ongoing strategy – and selecting the right set of providers to work with in the future. In nearly all cases, it will be multiple network or platform providers rather than a single one.

We begin our list by addressing this question of single/multiple providers directly and how to structure an arrangement with a preferred on-ramp, vendor, or working with multiple providers on the same level:

Coupa’s ‘Below the Enterprise Level’ Secret Sauce (Part 1: Dissecting What Makes It Attractive for SMB and Middle Market Procurement) [PRO]

digital

The use of procurement technology in the middle market is heating up. For the purposes of this analysis, we define the middle market as companies between $250 million to $2 billion in revenue. Under that threshold are true SMBs. And above that range are enterprise customers, at least by Spend Matters’ definition.

Granted, this is not a perfect segmentation as the level of needs (and sophistication) in the middle market can vary dramatically by geography, industry and company, all of which can lead to very different technology buying requirements. Some middle firms may end up looking exactly like enterprise-level (Global 2000) customers, whereas others may more closely approximate SMB buyers.

Regardless, within the somewhat flexible bounds of the middle market definition, Coupa, among others, is clearly gaining traction based on a rare combination of ingredients that create a particularly attractive suite within this market segment. These features are also attractive to SMBs too. Coupa has provided information to Spend Matters that its mid-market segment is companies from $250 million to $1 billion in annual revenue and their corporate segment is under $250 million in annual revenue.

This Spend Matters PRO research brief dissects some of the elements that we think contribute to Coupa’s particular attractiveness in this sector (Hint: Very few of these elements are focused on the classic “feature/function” arms race between vendors). In a subsequent brief, we’ll attempt to quantify the importance of the middle market to Coupa in recent wins. And we will explore how some of these elements also apply to other vendors that are succeeding in the middle market as well (with mini case studies featuring Amazon Business, Negotiatus, Procurify, Scout, Tealbook and Tipalti).

Beeline update: VMS veteran makes strides on partner network, UI, services procurement, direct sourcing [PRO]

After about a year since our last meeting with Beeline, Spend Matters recently had the opportunity to be briefed by its team on developments related to the comprehensive Beeline global VMS solution. One thing is for sure: Beeline is not resting on its laurels. Now celebrating its 20th year in business, the company is growing and responding to market changes.

In this PRO review, we present what we learned in the briefing, which covered a number of areas:

* Business overall
* Partner ecosystem (including key new partnerships)
* UI upgrade
* Candidate evaluation experience (including new evaluation partnership)
* Services procurement (including independent contractor solution, compliance and complex sourcing)
* Direct sourcing (including a direct sourcing platform partnership)

This brief will conclude with our thoughts on the recent briefing.

20 Tips to Maximize Private Equity, Investment and Strategic Buyer Outcomes (Part 7: De-Risk Deals for Buyers, Do Fund/Buyer Homework, Allow Access During Due Diligence) [PRO]

In this Spend Matters Nexus brief, we’ll look at Tips 16, 17 and 18 (out of 20) for maximizing both the exit process and outcome (from a seller perspective) when engaging private equity or strategic buyers from an M&A perspective. Today, we turn our attention to three areas: how to “de-risk” a transaction for investors (including everything from foundational de-risking approaches to more advanced models), how/why to do your fund/strategic buyer homework to bring the optimal set of suitors/buyers into a process, and affording the optimal level of access/diligence to buyers and their transaction advisers. So far in this Nexus series, we covered the initial tips to prepare for the process itself (see Part 1 , Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6).

Jason Busch is the Managing Director of Spend Matters Nexus, a membership, research and advisory organization serving technology acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and CEOs in the procurement and finance solutions marketplace (including contract management, B2B marketplaces/connectivity, indirect procurement, services procurement, direct procurement, commodity management, payment, trade financing, GRC/third-party management and related adjacent sectors).

Bullhorn Acquires Erecruit — Is It Relevant to Contingent Workforce Managers? [PRO]

Bullhorn, a leading provider of comprehensive software for staffing/recruiting agencies, recently announced its acquisition of its rival Erecruit. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but the combined companies (each of which have acquired key competitors over the past several years) now serve about 11,000 staffing supplier customers, primarily in the U.S. and Europe. Note: Bullhorn has reported that 95% of its customers are temp staffing agencies vs. 5% placement agencies and executive search services; and we assume there was a similar ratio for Erecruit.

Bullhorn’s acquisition of Erecruit is in itself a significant event within the staffing industry. But it also led Spend Matters to ask some questions:

* Do contingent workforce managers take an interest in what is going on upstream in their supply chains? That is, beyond standard performance metrics (cost, speed, quality) which treat staffing suppliers mostly as black boxes that produce certain commodity outputs (submittals, candidates, quality hires, et al.).
* Do practitioners consider which technology providers that their staffing suppliers are using, how much they are investing in technology and digital transformation, or how they are innovating for the benefit of its business clients and workers?
* Finally, do those investments in technology, digital transformation and innovation put those suppliers in a better position to provide talent and service to a demand-side organization? These seem like important questions with either a one-word answers (i.e., “no”) or multi-word answers (with potentially many viewpoints and long discussions that cannot take place within the boundaries of this brief).

Accordingly, in this brief, we are not going to delve into those questions as such, but rather focus on Bullhorn’s acquisition of Erecruit (what’s the context, what’s in it, what lies ahead). Then, contingent workforce managers can form their own thoughts about how important upstream supply chain (and specifically, technology) changes are and how much attention and consideration they merit.

So let's look at this deal and how these two entities (once direct competitors, now a single business) stack up ...

20 Tips to Maximize Private Equity, Investment and Strategic Buyer Outcomes (Part 6: Acquisition Strategy and the ‘End Game’) [PRO]

In this Spend Matters Nexus series, we’ll go over Tips 14 and 15 as we continue to explore the ways for sellers to maximize private equity, investment and strategic buyer outcomes in the procurement solutions market and others. Now, let’s turn our attention to two areas: the importance of fleshing out an acquisition strategy and roadmap — and “knowing the end game” in terms of likely future buyers after the next phase of the company’s growth. In our exploration, we share the best practices and not-so-best practices that we have observed across the hundreds of transactions we have been involved in.

So far in this Nexus series, we’ve covered the initial 13 of 20 tips (see Part 1 , Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5). Let’s check out Tips 14 and 15 now.

Jason Busch is the Managing Director of Spend Matters Nexus, a membership, research and advisory organization serving technology acquirers (private equity, corporate development, etc.) and CEOs in the procurement and finance solutions marketplace (including contract management, B2B marketplaces/connectivity, indirect procurement, services procurement, direct procurement, commodity management, payment, trade financing, GRC/third-party management and related adjacent sectors).

Procurence Vendor Introduction (Part 2: Strengths/Weaknesses, SWOT, Selection Checklist and Market Overview) [PRO]

In Part 1 of this two-part Spend Matters PRO series, we introduced you to Procurence — a relatively new entrant to the global direct material supplier management space, based out of Warsaw, Poland. It’s a recent entrant to our SolutionMap ranking of vendors, where its scores make it a customer leader in the SRM category. While still a small player, its solution already has a lot of the breadth of more established players like Jaggaer Direct (Pool4Tool), Ivalua (Directworks) and Allocation Network. Procurence’s utilization has been growing tenfold year-over-year by its buy-side user base of over 10,000 users and supply-side user base of over 30,000 users. Whether it has everything your organization needs, however, will come down to your mix of direct vs indirect, and how similar your needs are to its existing client base, which it has been developing its Meercat solution with for the past seven years.

While Part 1 of this brief provided some background on Procurence and a high-level overview of its offering, Part 2 will provide a breakdown of what is good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis and a short selection requirements checklist that outlines the typical company for which Procurence might be a good fit.

Procurence Vendor Introduction (Part 1: Background and SRM Solution Overview) [PRO]

direct materials sourcing

Supplier management is one of the most misunderstood terms in the procurement solution space, especially since the exact scope of processes supported by such systems varies by analyst, vendor and customer interpretation. In order to clarify, or at least differentiate, many vendors have begun slicing and dicing the SXM solution space to offer the likes of:

* Supplier Discovery Management: that help an organization identify potential new suppliers that can help it meet its products, services, diversity and/or sustainability requirements
* Supplier Information Management: that can help a supplier track all of the information it collects on a supplier, including locations, employees, products, services, certifications and certificates
* Supplier Performance Management: that can track not only supplier information but also relevant performance data on quality, reliability, delivery, invoice accuracy and sustainability
* Supplier Relationship Management: that includes not only performance data but also functionalities to manage the relationship, such as capabilities for supplier development, collaboration and innovation management
* Supplier Network Management: that can support supplier discovery but are primarily designed to support transactions (through e-document and e-payment exchange) with suppliers on the network
* Supplier Quality Management: that includes specialized capabilities to support direct materials procurement, including the management of non-conformance cost of poor supplier quality, and general quality management
* Supplier Risk Management: that includes the capability to gather multiple sources of risk data (financial, environmental, regulatory, geographic, etc.) and provide an overall risk profile

Very few vendors do more than half of this, at best, so when evaluating a supplier management software vendor, it's important to understand what fraction of this they do and whether that fraction is relevant to your business.

We'll take, for example, supplier quality management — this goes well beyond supplier performance management because it's not just tracking defect rates, uptime / reliability statistics, etc. but managing the quality process from the beginning of production to delivery of the product to the consumer. Ensuring the materials that are being sourced are of the appropriate standards and tested on receipt, that the appropriate production process is followed, that the machines are regularly tested, that the outputs are spot tested, securely packaged, and delivered to spec. Such a system should support ISO (International Standard Organization), ASQ (American Society for Quality) processes, Six Sigma, 8D Reports (based on Eight Disciplines methodology), and/or QDX (Quality Data eXchange). Very few solutions come close to this, even if they are designed for supporting direct procurement.

And while Procurence may not do all of this, it is one of the few supplier management solutions on the market that tackles quality management in addition to information, performance and risk, as well as aspects of relationship management.

Procurence was founded in 2009 in Warsaw, Poland, to provide tools to help buyers achieve transparency in their supply base, decrease supply risk, and streamline internal supplier management and communication processes.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Procurence and its supplier management capabilities. (Non-supplier management specific capabilities are excluded.) Part 1 includes a short company overview and a detailed look at Procurence’s offering. Part 2 will provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis, a short selection requirements checklist that outlines the typical company for which Procurence might be a good fit, and some market implications and takeaways.

Oracle Procurement Cloud Update — The Sleeping Giant is Waking Up [PRO]

Spend Matters attended Oracle’s recent OpenWorld conference to see the latest developments in its cloud ecosystem, especially within Oracle Procurement. Oracle continues to make progress in its strategy of transforming from a technology and products company to one of cloud services. It was a decision that has taken time to develop, but without a doubt this vision is beginning to crystallize as a unified solution within the Oracle Cloud (aka Oracle Fusion) technology platform.

In this Spend Matters PRO article, we will discuss:

* Oracle’s overall cloud strategy and its relevance to procurement
* Latest Oracle procurement product updates and plans
* Analysis of Oracle’s methodical progress in a dynamic market, and what it can teach SAP Ariba (and vice versa)
* Opportunities and emerging progress in platforms and “business networks”

Application-wise, Oracle is a slow and steady provider of cloud-based procurement applications, with a strength in P2P (as evidenced in its performance in our most current P2P SolutionMap ranking). And it’s making progress in its strategic procurement application areas — especially in contract management, where its solution is surprisingly strong relative to non-best-of-breed CLM players. But the game in the market is shifting beyond applications toward open platforms and ecosystems.

Can Oracle seize the opportunity? We’ll discuss...