PRO Content

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.

SirionLabs: Vendor Analysis, 2021 Update (Part 1) — Background & CLM Solution Overview [PRO]

SirionLabs solution

SirionLabs is a contract lifecycle management (CLM) vendor with solutions at the forefront of the contract management space. While originally positioned as a supplier performance […]

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insiders’ Hot List: February 2021 [PRO]

Welcome to the February 2021 edition of Spend Matters Insiders’ Hot List, a monthly look at the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) space. For those new to this Spend Matters PRO column, each edition covers the month’s important or interesting technology and innovation developments in the CW/S space.

In February, coronavirus infections in the US dropped significantly, people are getting vaccinated, but we’d all like to see production, distribution and points of service working like a well-oiled supply chain.

Heading into 2021, the CW/S industry continues to advance with technology being a significant impetus. In fact, it seems that pandemic conditions have been a boon to many CW/S technology solution providers. One news items explores if LinkedIn will go head-to-head with Fiverr and Upwork

Also, as the economic recovery hopefully continues to accelerate, businesses will be figuring out how to manage their total employee and non-employee workforces and the mix of third-party services. And that will impact how technology will be used and what will be required of solution providers.

So let’s see what else was going on this month.

Supplyframe DirectSource: Vendor Analysis (Part 2) — Deep dives on NPI, DirectSource; SWOT; Supplyframe competitors [PRO]

Supplyframe competitors

Supplyframe is a very interesting provider that positions itself as a full-suite supply chain and source-to-pay solution in the high-tech electronics industry. It is one of the few providers to provide both buy-side and sell-side solutions — and do so in a way that allows it to mine, and provide, relative intelligence to each side. Plus, it is able to build a proprietary RiskRank on this data that provides more accurate risk insights to the electronic components in its database than any other risk provider on the planet (provided you know what the RiskRank means and how to use it).

This Spend Matter PRO Vendor Analysis provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations determine if Supplyframe’s NPI and DirectSource solutions is the right fit for their needs. It offers a detailed product walkthrough and analyst perspectives on Supplyframe competitors like LevaData and more than a dozen other alternative providers to consider in an evaluation alongside it. For more information on Supplyframe, be sure to read Part 1’s Supplyframe background, strengths/weaknesses and tech selection tips.

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

Supplyframe solution

Supplyframe is a provider that resists easy classification. It overlaps several areas in the traditional source-to-pay process, yet it is also a large "niche" player that positions itself as a full-suite supply chain and S2P solution for the high-tech electronics industry.

This is because Supplyframe serves not only manufacturers but also suppliers and their distributors. By doing so, it knows which companies have desired inventory, where it is and when to serve it up to buyers in need — creating a unique supply chain solution and an industry-focused direct materials sourcing solution. Plus, it's a design solution.

How does Supplyframe accomplish all of this?

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis provides facts and expert insights to help procurement organizations determine if Supplyframe’s DirectSource solution is the right fit for their needs. It offers context on what Supplyframe is, the customers it serves and an overview of its solutions, along with a comparative assessment of strengths and weaknesses that organizations should consider.

E-procurement as a strategic weapon — With BuyerQuest acquisition, ODP preps for war in omnichannel B2B [PRO]

ODP BuyerQuest acquisition

This Spend Matters PRO analysis looks at the deeper implications of Thursday’s news that the e-procurement specialist BuyerQuest was acquired by The ODP Corporation.

When many people think about e-procurement, especially for indirect procurement that is nonstrategic, it doesn’t seem very exciting. However, procurement can actually be a secret weapon — not just for improving back-office efficiency and driving down purchase-cost savings, but also a way for procurement to increase its value to the business, including supporting revenue uplift.

One perfect example here is the curious case of The ODP Corporation, previously known as Office Depot Inc.

ODP for years has recognized, and felt, the threat of digital disruption in the form of Amazon and other online retail taking business away from its on-premise retail operations. It made the pivot to B2B years ago, and its B2B business has been overtaking its B2C business, and the firm has set itself up as a B2B holding company to offer more than just B2B office supplies, but also IT (via its Compucom unit), and other horizontal business services and vertical solutions.

And it wants to stave off Staples’ recent bid (third time’s the charm?) and try to slough off the physical retail space that’s an albatross around its neck, especially in the times of a pandemic. (See related links below if you want to see our old coverage of the last edition of the Staples/ODP saga).

But, how can e-procurement help?

ODP, of course, has to use e-procurement itself to improve cost savings and efficiency, and it also has to integrate its B2B sell-side systems to various customer e-procurement systems (over 100 of them, to be exact).

But, why would ODP buy a nifty little e-procurement vendor (with some broader procure-to-pay capabilities) like BuyerQuest when it could continue pursuing the status quo?

And how could ODP lure Prentis Wilson, the B2B veteran who put Amazon Business on the map and left it to run, basically a digital-only version of retail discount warehouses?

The reason is threefold: opportunity, strategy and digital.

And it’s more than just something like Koch buying Infor — it’s actually more interesting and disruptive if you dive down into it. We’ve always used scenarios to get clients thinking — like, “What if Amazon bought Coupa (or plug in your favorite S2P vendor here)”?

Well, it’s potentially more than a hypothetical here, given what just happened!

In this PRO analysis, we’ll get into why this is such an important strategic move and we’ll address these issues:

  • Framing ODP’s strategy
  • Where Amazon Business fits in all of this (comparison)
  • What the transaction means for ODP and possible strategic thrusts
  • What the transaction means for BuyerQuest customers & prospects

If you want to come up to speed on BuyerQuest and how it compares in the procurement technology market, we recommend starting here:

Negotiatus: Vendor Analysis — P2P/payment solution overview, roadmap, Negotiatus’ competitors, tech selection tips, strength/weakness [PRO]

Negotiatus solution

In procure-to-pay solutions (e-procurement, invoice-to-pay, AP automation), we see different ways to incorporate content (goods and services) to be purchased — and different methods to support the function of processing payments. The P2P provider Negotiatus has interesting solutions for these two topics.

For example, Negotiatus' solution can incorporate external content from any website or marketplace through a URL address, something that enterprises of all sizes could find valuable to fight maverick spend.

To address payments, Negotiatus has a rare way to support them — by consolidating a buyer's invoices and paying them on its behalf, creating operational efficiencies.

In this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis, we will give an overview of Negotiatus' P2P solution, platform and services, a vision of its roadmap, a competitive market analysis of Negotiatus' competitors, and some key analyst takeaways on its strengths and weaknesses.

Complex services are complicated — What’s procurement to do? (Part 2) Vendors and first steps [PRO]

complex services

Part 1 of this two-part Spend Matters PRO series provided a simple definition of complex services: essentially, all of those services procurement categories that are outside of contingent workforce/temp staffing (i.e., those which do not have well-established process and technology models that are basically the same across industries and organizations). Part 1 also discussed potential misconceptions about these services and the potential for sourcing and managing them within a source-to-pay (S2P) framework.

The manifold, varying and time-dependent characteristics (i.e., the "complexity") of services can make the systematic procurement of different services more or less complicated and challenging — but not insusceptible to organization and management. After all, humans routinely master complex challenges (e.g., making heart valve replacements routine, etc.) with analysis, engineering and technology. By extension, the most “complex” services can be managed consistently, even if the underlying basis of systematic management is actually highly complicated.

That said, the sourcing and management of services as a procurement discipline is in its infancy. And so is the technology.

Part 2 will further discuss how organizations could approach procurement of these services realistically, based on the potential benefits of tackling certain services categories with effective processes and technology solutions. Part 2 also will examine the state of complex services technology vendors/solutions at this time.

Note: Spend Matters and SIG have launched a buy-side survey to learn more about how organizations use technology today to source and manage complex services; buy-side practitioners can take the survey here and obtain the study findings when complete.

Defining and digitizing direct procurement (Part 1) — Direct materials sourcing [PRO]

direct materials sourcing

The introduction to this Spend Matters PRO series focused on digitizing direct materials procurement and broke the overall landscape down into four main areas. This follow-up installment focuses primarily on eight key digital capabilities for direct materials sourcing.

Although the “upstream” portion of the S2P transcends sourcing and includes supplier relationship management, the focus of this series is highlighting additional digital capabilities beyond those found in more generic S2P solutions.

Making sense of the world of B2B payments and procurement technology: Backdrop, market segmentation and vendor mapping [PRO]

B2B payments vendors

A couple of years ago, I fought a small battle with the management team of Spend Matters’ parent company (Azul Partners) about making the investment to cover what was then a nascent market for B2B payments as a solution extension to categories that we cover in SolutionMap: Procure-to-Pay, Invoice-to-Pay and AP Automation solutions. I was not alone, among my colleagues, in making the case to cover B2B payments, both as a drill-down of SolutionMap within AP Automation and Invoice-to-Pay, but also as a stand-alone area on Spend Matters.

But those who weren’t initially taken with the idea asked the fundamental question: Why?

Why would procurement and AP leaders care about B2B payments in relation to their primary technology decisions? It’s a fair question.

It is clear from a range of M&A activity (e.g., the payments/treasury management services (TMS)/P2P/AP mash-up of Coupa/BELLIN last year) as well as converged solution featuring a combination of internally developed solutions alongside integrated third-party capability (e.g., Coupa Pay, Tipalti), not to mention pure-play solutions (e.g., AvidXchange), that B2B payments are converging with the world of procurement and AP technology.

This Spend Matters PRO series segments and explores the various providers in the non-bank B2B payments market into four distinct market segments while exploring the overlap (think Venn diagram) between the groupings and individual providers. But to get everyone started on the same level, we’ll begin by providing some context and history of B2B payments overall. Still, if you’re from procurement or AP and your relatively new to world of B2B payments (or brand-new), we recommend starting here:

But where do B2B payment technology vendors (and their procurement and AP counterparts) fit into this world today?

Let’s begin ...

The 5 Levels of M&A Technology Integration: Stage 5 Replatforming [PRO]


Stage 5 integration is the ultimate step in M&A software integration. Few technology companies end up achieving Stage 5 integration following an acquisition or set of acquisitions. It’s actually more common in the case of a tech firm taking an internal legacy platform and rebuilding capability onto a new one. This is something hundreds of technology firms had to do in the case of transitioning enterprise technology (i.e., software installed behind the firewall and often heavily customized) to cloud-based models. SAP Ariba, Jaggaer, Oracle, Medius, Basware and dozens of other providers did precisely this over the past two decades (some more recently than others).

In this Spend Matters PRO series, we are defining, introducing and exploring the five levels of M&A technology integration that vendors must go through when bringing together different modules and platforms. We should note, however, that bringing together different applications and technology stacks is not a requirement of any acquisition. But anytime a technology provider wants to market and achieve customer synergies through a transaction outside of “cross-sell/up-sell,” the degree of integration planned, its timing and ultimate realization should be a priority for investors and customers alike.

Today, we explore the fifth and final level of integration that occurs in a post-merger situation or when vendors replatform old technology onto a new stack while still having to maintain existing solution capability on the legacy platform. From a vendor perspective, we define how to do it and provide examples of this type of integration. And from a user perspective, we suggest tips and tricks for technology buyers to discern this level of integration compared with others.

If you’re new to this series and want to learn the five levels of integration, start with this introduction. In the previous installments, we cover Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3 and Stage 4 integration levels in detail.

What the Jason Alexander hoodie ad teaches us about the past and future of spend analytics capabilities [PRO]

jason alexander

One of our favorite Super Bowl advertisements this year was the Jason Alexander “hoodie” — a totally hilarious plug for Tide. Any true “Seinfeld” fan knows that you’re usually laughing at George Costanza, not with him, but somehow you feel sorry for the guy, at least part of the time, which is precisely why this commercial is so effective. While you want to see George get what he deserves most of the time, it just feels wrong to dishonor the short man or beat him up after a certain point, which is why the Super Bowl ad is such a work of genius — it doesn’t stop.

George is a bit like spend analytics in the broader source-to-pay world, at least some of the time. It’s a bit of a sideshow, even if it shouldn’t be. And sometimes, at least in the worst of cases, we have to laugh at it, not with it — like when it tells us we’re buying mice, not furry lab mice! But just like the hoodie, if we can laugh at it or at least acknowledge its flaws in terms of where analytics’ value generation typically comes up short, we will end up respecting the potential for it even more in the end.

Now, we’re not saying that a typical procurement organization cannot get value out of a spend analytics solution. Many provide material value to their clients, at least power users, and have for some time. Most users, in fact, do extract value for their investment in these tools. But like a Jason Alexander hoodie, until you just come to accept the technology for what it is, you might find yourself disrespecting what you’ve actually bought.

Said more directly, you’re likely to not get (nearly) as much value out of your analytics solution as you should, and not getting this value will cost you more than you realize — maybe even multiples of what you are paying for a solution that is supposed to identify, and help you prevent, overspending.

Here’s why.