PRO or Plus Content

Defining AP Automation Functional Requirements (Part 3): Invoice Mobility, Compliance, Analytics [PRO]

e-invoicing

AP automation capabilities vary dramatically between different software providers, and the capabilities a finance or procurement organization will require to support the automation of AP processes also vary materially, based not only on company size but a broad range of other factors. These include organizational complexity, invoice capturing requirements (e.g., paper, PDF, electronic, etc.), systems complexity, systems integration, industry, EDI integration/support, payment/financing capabilities, treasury integration/working capital management, geography and compliance requirements — to just name a few.

To understand how different providers stack up against these (and other) categories of requirements, the quarterly Invoice-to-Pay SolutionMap Insider report can provide significant insight. And to create a one-to-one map between business requirements for AP automation and vendor functionality capability, SolutionMap Accelerator can dramatically speed up the vendor shortlisting and selection process, even allowing companies to “skip the RFI” entirely.

This Spend Matters PRO series defines AP automation requirements from a functional perspective to put AP, finance and purchasing professionals in the driver’s seat when they evaluate the available supply market for AP automation to fit their needs (either on a standalone basis or as a specific component of broader invoice-to-pay, procure-to-pay or source-to-pay solutions). Click to see our SolutionMap rankings of vendors in each category.

Part 1 of this series investigated core invoicing requirements for AP automation and some of the criteria that Global 2000 and middle market organizations should consider when selecting solutions (i.e., invoicing set-up, paper scan/capture support and e-invoicing).

 In Part 2, we turned our attention to an additional set of AP automation functional requirements, including AP process, invoicing validations, workflow, collaboration and integration requirements.

Now, in Part 3, we turn our attention to a final set of AP automation topics: invoicing mobility, invoicing compliance and invoicing analytics.

Shortlist: Vendor Introduction — Analysis, SWOT, Selection Checklist [PRO]

This Spend Matters PRO research brief provides an introduction to Shortlist, which describes itself as an FMS (freelancer management system) or, alternatively, a software-as-a-service platform for businesses to engage, on-board, manage and pay independent/freelancers. Shortlist was covered in the Spend Matters SolutionMap for software solutions that enable businesses to manage their direct-sourced, independent contract workforce (where it was designated as a Solution Leader, the upper right quadrant for having high scores for capabilities and high customer scores, for all four buyer personas).

FMS solutions began to emerge about eight years ago, when the rise of the gig economy called attention to the lack of solutions designed to enable organizations to engage and manage their independent/freelance workers. Vendor management systems (VMS) solutions did not provide fit-for-purpose solutions; and many companies managed with spreadsheets, other kludged systems or nothing at all. In any case, it became increasingly clear that organizations of all sizes had neither adequate visibility into their independent/freelance workers nor the tools to manage and fully leverage that population of talent.

Over the past eight years, various solutions emerged to attempt to address these requirements. Today they now number on the order of 20 providers, depending on how the category is delimited, based in North America and elsewhere. These solutions have taken a variety of forms, often going beyond the classical definition of FMS[1]. Some arose in tandem with their proprietary, pre-populated online freelancer marketplaces (e.g., Upwork). Some were geared to enable mobile field contractors/gig workers (e.g., FieldNation, WorkMarket). Some, including Shortlist, began supporting small-scale service providers (like boutique creative agencies, small specialized consulting firms) in addition to individual independent/freelance workers.

In this Vendor Introduction, we will zero in on Shortlist and provide an overall understanding of the company and the solution. The brief includes a summary assessment of features and functions, a SWOT analysis as well as a selection checklist for companies that might be considering Shortlist. In this brief, we will abbreviate individual independent/contract/ freelance workers as ICWs and small-scale service providers as SSPs (collectively, we refer to them as “providers”).

20 Tips to Maximize Private Equity, Investment and Strategic Buyer Outcomes (Part 1: Preparing Wisely) [PRO]

In recent years, we’ve spent thousands of hours working with private equity groups, CEOs and boards to evaluate acquisition targets — and with sellers to optimize exit scenarios and outcomes in the procurement solution market. In each M&A advisory or SolutionMap due diligence benchmark engagement, there has not been a single study in which we have not learned something new as a team. While from a seller perspective specific tactics can change over time based on conditions in the capital markets, the overall economy and other externalities (e.g., the current “dry powder” excess), there are well over 20 universal tips that we’ve identified that can apply in nearly all scenarios.*

So we decided to write this Spend Matters Nexus brief to share our top 20 lessons learned from the perspective of sellers’ to maximize their private equity, investment and strategic buyer outcomes (based on working “the other side” of the transaction). Today, we start with an initial five tips to prepare wisely (ideally) before a process begins. In the second installment, we’ll continue to share the next five tips for preparing wisely as the actual process approaches (i.e., “pre-process” tips). Then in Parts 3 and 4, we will jump to the actual deal process itself, offering tips for stewarding the effort and driving to an optimal outcome.

Jason Busch serves as 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).

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 7) — Competitive and Summary Analysis [PRO]

contingent workforce

So how does Ivalua — previously the Rodney Dangerfield of e-procurement for getting no respect, but now is no laughing matter to its competitors — stack up to the market? In this seven-part PRO overview, Spend Matters has covered Ivalua’s history, internal capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. But to see how it fits into the marketplace, first we have to understand who it is up against. Namely:

* Full Source-to-Pay Suites, including SAP Ariba, Coupa, GEP, Jaggaer, Zycus, Corcentric/Determine, Synertrade, and even Oracle and a few others (e.g,. Wax Digital)
* Full P2P Suites, including Basware, BuyerQuest, Oracle, Vroozi and others
* End-to-End and Best-of-Breed “upstream” Sourcing and Strategic Procurement Technology (SPT) Offerings, including Allocation Network, Bonfire, EC Sourcing, Keelvar, MarketDojo, Scanmarket, * ScoutRFP and more
* e-Invoicing and e-Payment Specialists, including Proactis, Taulia, Tipalti, Transcepta, Tradeshift, Tungsten and others
* Supplier and Master Data Management (MDM) Providers, including Apex Analytix, Aravo, ConnXus, HICX, Procurence, Tealbook and others that don’t slot neatly into the supply management area within SPT.

We'll start by providing a more detailed overview of Ivalua's biggest competitors, namely SAP Ariba, Coupa, GEP and Jaggaer, before covering the rest of the S2P providers that it may encounter in potential deals.

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 6) — Commentary & SWOT [PRO]

As we noted in Part 1 of this seven-part Spend Matters PRO series, Ivalua is no longer the Rodney Dangerfield of procurement suites, and we no longer need to apologize to the late comic. Since we last assessed Ivalua in-depth in 2016, the provider has achieved a lot of respect from the analyst community, the investment community (with a “unicorn” valuation exceeding $1 billion in their last funding last round), and most importantly, the customer community as evidenced by Ivalua’s 98% customer retention rate — even though Ivalua’s customer satisfaction scores have slipped slightly in its last SolutionMap rankings.

However, the firm’s larger peers still often seem quick to dismiss this “newcomer” to the S2P arena, even though Ivalua was founded in 2000! As a perceived newcomer in the North American marketplace, with a smaller customer count, less revenue and less perceived history, it still is often not even known, or well known, to some practitioners that we’ve run across who’ve not research the market deeply. This is despite the fact they Ivalua has:
* almost as large of a global presence (with offices across the Americas, EMEA and APAC)
* a track record of supporting a global customer base
* a valuation that smaller S2P players might sell their workforce into indentured servitude for
* a platform that is simultaneously so broad and so deep that it's becoming difficult for many of their peers to compete on out-of-the-box functionality, especially in the direct materials/sourcing space, in larger clients with extensive requirement lists.

As we noted in late 2016, “if we add up the differentiated combination of its architecture/platform, industry enablement, functional/modular capability (across the source-to-pay continuum), analytics and ‘overlay’ process support capabilities, the sum of the Ivalua package stands out from all others in a true ‘deadpan’ way — albeit with no laughing involved.”

When you augment this with leading direct sourcing support (with the re-platforming of its DirectWorks acquisition), improved workflow management, UI improvements, one-search, improved (direct) catalog management and bot-assisted guided buying, you get a platform that's a force to be reckoned with.

In short, Ivalua deserves much more regard from its peers than it has received to date, as it's well positioned to make a big dent in the global marketplace that will be hard not to take notice of. That said, some parts of the application suite can be improved (as we discussed in Part 5), there is a lot of unexpected capability under the hood around bill of material management (in a centralized module that allows for deep what-if scenario analysis), asset and tooling management, program and project management, third-party data integration and scorecard creation, accruals, and global tax compliance management. Plus, the cost breakdown analytics, NPI (new product introduction), corrective action capability, extended supplier profile management, and the ability to pull data into and push data out of the environment on a daily (or even hourly) basis is deeper than one might expect, especially with the large number of pre-configured interfaces out-of-the-box and the ability to acquire more through the add-on store.

And while Ivalua is still not perfect (but to be honest, no provider is), as it's still missing a few capabilities that we feel are becoming core with S2P (and even its updated UI is not industry-leading), we still believe that anyone who invests the time to get to know the solution on a product level will come away very impressed if they have the same technology-and-capability-centric proclivities as the Spend Matters team (even if it's not the right "fit" for the organization at the end of the day).

So, without further adieu, in this penultimate installment of our updated Spend Matters snapshot on Ivalua, we provide you with an objective SWOT analysis of the company, and a selection shortlist to help companies decide whether Ivalua should be in their crosshairs, whether they have their sights set on a platform, suite or modular capability.

Tomorrow, in Part 7 we’ll finish up with a competitive market segmentation, a comparative analysis and some final thoughts. We also include recommended short-list candidates as alternative vendors and offer some provider selection guidance.

Proactis in Play: Arbitrage and Analysis [PRO]

Two weeks ago, Morningstar reported that Proactis had “received a takeover approach from an unnamed U.S. investor, together with a number (of) expressions of interest,” and that its bankers would review the offers. For those not familiar with the UK-based Proactis, the procurement solutions provider has deep spend management roots on both sides of the Atlantic spanning the private and public sectors, owing to numerous acquisitions made over the years, including, most recently, Esize in 2018.

This Spend Matters PRO and Nexus analysis provides a cursory overview of Proactis’ assets based on past coverage and analyzes the current situation and opportunities for the firm and potential acquirers — as well as different segments of acquirers that may be interested beyond financial buyers alone.

Defining AP Automation Functional Requirements (Part 2): AP Process, Workflow, Collaboration and Systems (Validations, Approval Processes, Integrations) [PRO]

AP automation capabilities vary dramatically between different software providers, and the capabilities that a finance or procurement organization will require to support the automation of AP processes also vary materially, based not only on company size but a broad range of other factors. These include organizational complexity, invoice capturing requirements (e.g., paper, PDF, electronic, etc.), systems complexity, systems integration, industry, EDI integration/support, payment/financing capabilities, treasury integration/working capital management, geography and compliance requirements — to just name a few.

To understand how different providers stack up against these (and other) categories of requirements, the quarterly Invoice-to-Pay SolutionMap Insider report can provide significant insight. And to create a one-to-one map between business requirements for AP automation and vendor functionality capability, SolutionMap Accelerator can dramatically speed up the vendor shortlisting and selection process, even allowing companies to “skip the RFI” entirely.

This Spend Matters PRO series defines AP automation requirements from a functional perspective to put AP, finance and purchasing professionals in the driver’s seat when they evaluate the market for AP automation to fit their needs — either on a stand-alone basis or as a specific component of broader invoice-to-pay, procure-to-pay or source-to-pay solutions. (Check the links to our SolutionMap ranking of providers in each category.)

Part 1 of this series investigated core invoicing requirements for AP automation and some of the criteria that Global 2000 and middle market organizations should consider when selecting solutions (i.e., invoicing set-up, paper scan/capture support and e-invoicing). Today we turn our attention to an additional set of AP automation functional requirements, including AP process, invoicing validations, workflow, collaboration and integration requirements.

Commercial Value Management (Part 3): Critical Commercial Use Cases to Align Extended CLM with the Enterprise [PRO]

change of control clauses

In our last installment of this CVM series, we highlighted a graphical framework to depict how commercial value management is about extending CLM into a more commercially enabling role in all enterprise areas where contracts (and value promises) are stored.

In this next installment of this series, we’ll highlight these areas and how to unlock some of that value for the benefit of the firm — and procurement.

Let’s briefly look at some of these areas to see how extending contract management to broader CVM approach is a practical way for procurement to get aligned with other areas (and with itself).

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 5) — Product Weaknesses [PRO]

global trade

If you've already read Part 1 of our updated vendor snapshot on Ivalua (which includes a detailed company and solution overview), then you know that you're either going to be attracted to the depth, breadth and configurability of the solution — or perhaps overwhelmed by it if you're new to the advanced sourcing and procurement game. But, even with its prowess in deep configurability, Ivalua's solution is not without its weaknesses. In this Part 5 of our seven-part vendor snapshot, we are going to dive deep into Ivalua's product weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help a procurement organization decide whether they should shortlist the vendor. And an organization that is putting Ivalua head-to-head with a provider like Coupa should compare and contrast what we say here versus what we say in Part 2 of our Coupa vendor snapshot because near-equal scores in Spend Matters Solution Map does not imply near equal capability in all areas, and definitely not in the areas that might matter to your organization the most. Ivalua's weaknesses are similar to our last review a couple of years ago, but a few weaknesses have been addressed since last time (and while not as deep, but still exist against either suite-peers or best-of-breed), and the re-platforming of DirectWorks in particular has gone a long way to address specialized support around direct sourcing.

Ivalua: Vendor Snapshot (Part 4) — Product Strengths [PRO]

Global Risk Management Solutions

Anything Ivalua still lacks in global brand and market awareness along with sales/marketing infrastructure and prowess, it makes up for by delivering a source-to-pay platform designed to emphasize functional depth, suite-based capabilities and industry-specific enablement scenarios in the private and public sector. Ivalua delivers a no-compromise set of capabilities and an underlying platform that is most likely to appeal to procurement and IT organizations that want greater flexibility in executing a procurement technology architecture and strategy than what is offered by the majority of suite-based solutions on the market today. Ivalua is generally at the front of the pack in Spend Matters’ “configurator” persona of just about every SolutionMap we look at for our 2019 Q2 results — and the lead dog if the pack includes only the suite vendors.

If you've already read Part 1 of our updated, seven-part vendor snapshot on Ivalua (which includes a detailed company and solution overview), then you know that you're either going to be attracted to the depth, breadth and configurability of the solution — or perhaps overwhelmed by it if you're new to the advanced sourcing and procurement game. With the massive flexibility that comes with massive configurability, there is also a non-trivial degree of configuration settings to pay attention to. (See Part 2 for an upstream solution overview and Part 3 for details on the downstream capabilities.)

In this Part 4 edition of the vendor snapshot, we are going to dive deep into Ivalua's product strengths, providing facts and expert analysis to help a procurement organization decide whether they should shortlist the vendor. Of course, it’s best to read the SolutionMap analysis for all the providers in question. For example, an organization that is putting Ivalua head-to-head with Coupa should compare and contrast what we say here versus what we say in Part 2 of our Coupa vendor snapshot because near-equal scores in SolutionMap do not imply near equal capability in all areas, and definitely not in the areas that might matter to your organization the most.

Five Scenarios for VMS 2025: Scenario 1 — Status Quo [PRO]

In this multi-part Spend Matters PRO series, we explore the future of VMS, not because we consider ourselves futurists, but because we think — as stated by my colleague Jason Busch in the introduction to the series — it is “critical for procurement organizations as they have the power to define how these technologies serve them rather than the other way around.”

The introduction laid out the thesis for the series — that the future of the VMS (the long-dominant technology solution model for managing contingent workforce) has become uncertain. Second, it pegged what a VMS is (or was) in terms of the Spend Matters SolutionMap categories saying:

As part of Spend Matters SolutionMaps for contingent workforce and services (CW/S) enterprise technology, we think of VMS as the solution for managing temporary staffing suppliers and workers. That is, within the Temp Staffing map — rather than Contract Services/Statement of Work or the Independent Contract Workforce maps.*

* Some providers of VMS solutions have, to some extent, expanded their platforms to address services/SOW and independent workforce. Hence, the major VMS providers’ solutions address more than just temp staffing. And those could be thought of as broader, but still specialized, solutions for sourcing and managing contingent or external workforce.

The introduction also mapped out five potential scenarios for the future of VMS by 2025: * The status quo, a largely independent VMS ecosystem, continues and new technologies, like artificial intelligence, lead to a better overall VMS experience and even “MSP bot-type” services.
* Integrated VMS and procure-to-pay technology suites gain momentum.
* Managed services providers (MSPs) rule the day as offerings evolve and increasingly leverage software as a competitive advantage (a market that could include new entrants as well).
* Talent management and human capital strike back — people are not widgets, and the VMS must operate in an increasingly dual HR-and-procurement universe in which value and outcomes become as important as price and timesheets.
* Temporary staffing (and hence the VMS) loses its influence as the core technology “anchor” that companies “buy first” when tackling services procurement.


In this part of the series, we look at “Scenario 1 — The Status Quo” in which VMS continues to evolve and flourish as a distinct, specialized enterprise solution (alongside e-procurement and human capital management) for sourcing of temps and, potentially, other forms of contingent workforce and also managing the spend and risk that comes with them.

Note: A scenario is not so much a prediction of a future state as it is the building of one possible future state, carried out with a mix of reasoning and imagination. Ultimately, scenarios are tools that assist planners and executives to think about the future.

Commercial Value Management (Part 2): Using Next-Generation Contract Systems to Integrate Operations, Financials, Risk and Technology [PRO]

Let’s start this piece with a question: How are high-flying SaaS providers measured?

Answer: Growth (hopefully profitable) through repeatable subscription-based revenue.

And what are those subscriptions? Contracts.

The enterprise value of these companies, like others, is based on the promise of future cash flows that are increasingly built upon a portfolio of contracts. Want to maximize enterprise value (like the CEO)? Better get good at managing contracts! This is not in the way that your legal department might think of contracts, but rather in a business sense that maximizes commercial value within those contracts that will add up to enterprise value.

Put another way: If chief procurement officers want to move from “chief spend officers” to “chief value officers,” they’re going to need better strategies and tools to do value management.

“Value management” is the highest level of procurement’s evolution in a framework that I developed in my previous life leading procurement research at The Hackett Group.

The problem is that while there are great tools for spend management, when you start going broader into demand (and multi-tier supply) and deeper into financial value flow beyond single-tier cash disbursements to suppliers, the technology requirements aren’t yet well supported by existing tools and vendors.

In Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO series on commercial value management (CVM), we highlighted the fact that contract management systems are morphing from legal documents focused on transferring risk onto your trading partners, and toward systems that model all B2B commercial (and even non-commercial) promises with trading partners, regulators and even just internal stakeholders. The financially related “promises” or “commitments” are really obligations/rights that can be viewed as liabilities/assets. And these aren’t just ledger entries to close the books for regulators, but rather living, breathing promises made up and down the supply chain to deliver value to customers — at a lowest total cost of course!

Unfortunately, this chain of value doesn’t exactly flow across the fragmented landscape of systems out there. It’s hard enough to see contracted revenue & cost/spend flows in the direct materials supply chain where only a few advanced firms can stitch together some semblance of integrated business planning that brings in multi-tier supply-aware cost modeling and contracting (e.g., buy-sell arrangements for volatile commodities). Now, consider the services supply chain and an XaaS world where omni-channel value chains need to merge products and services.

For example, think about the mind-numbing complexity of field services operations where customer warranties (contracts) and service levels (contracts) need to be translated to supply fulfillment that can include leased equipment (w/ contracts), outsourced transportation services (and contracts), third-party contractors (directly contracted or via a service provider with its own contract), and even outsourcing providers (with BIG complex contracts) who might run the whole shebang for you. These contracts, sub-contracts, MSAs, SOWs, POs (a contract), etc. all have information in them related to direct committed revenue and costs/spend, but also hints at potential spend and business risk depending on what’s in (or not in) those contracts.

But, if you’re a CFO trying to manage your spending (“Spend” with a big “S” and not just supplier spend with a small “s”) and see both types of spending in terms of: * Tying spend to revenue to understand profitability
* Seeing and shaping spend and resource commitments before they occur
* Cash flow implications of that spend
* Category and supplier views to maximize value from supplier spending
* Spend volatility based on price risk, volume risk, competitive risk and other supply risk factors like geo-political risk (e.g., trade wars) and regulatory risk (e.g. data privacy)
* Projects that drive this spending (e.g., in project-intensive industries)
* Drivers of this spend that are hidden (e.g., IT/telecom contracts of all forms)
* Legal spend (internal and external) to manage all of these contracts!

The problem is that you don’t have a single system to see all this. You have a G/L to close the books and maybe a planning-and-budgeting application rather than the “financial control tower” (go ahead and trademark that — it’s available) that you’d love to have something like an EVA/ROIC-type model that drives all the way down to the atomic contracts and execution systems. And if you’re good, you have a CPO with a single spend database and contract repository.

But, let’s face it, even for those firms with this, the contract is still usually a document artifact to refer to and not a dynamic system with complex pricing modeling and linkages to dozens of execution systems in the field that are REALLY governing the commercial aspects of operations. All you likely have in your contract repository is a field called “contract value.” And even in the simplest case, and even with the most modern S2P application suite, you’re likely matching supplier invoices to POs with payment terms that aren’t likely staying synched with the original contract.

So, contract data and associated CLM systems must transcend their legal artifact role and even move beyond the level of contract clause libraries and associate basic clause metadata. They need to go much deeper into the business realm (and not just the legal department realm) and be able to model and manage commercial data much more deeply. Doing this requires improved systems that manage what we call commercial value management — which is about commercial lifecycle management rather than contract lifecycle management. “Spend Management” is great, but spend is what you pay, and value is what you get. So you need to be really clear on who gets how much of what, under what conditions, and what happens if they don’t!

We spent a fair amount of time in our last PRO series installment that dove into the specific elements of CVM. In this second SpendMatters PRO series installment, we’ll dive primarily into the buy-side aspects of this topic and discuss how procurement organizations — and procurement’s functional peers in finance, IT, legal, GRC, SCM, sales and HR (and any related CoE combinations) — can use contracts as commercial data hubs to better support not just basic buy-side CLM within a source-to-pay context, but also how to use it to better connect procurement with these internal partners to help them manage spend/suppliers in their functions individually and also collectively with each other — and out to external stakeholders.

We’ll also highlight a few areas where CVM support emanating from a next-gen CLM platform can likely disrupt a few existing niche markets within and outside of the procurement realm.