Author Archives: Jason Busch

About Jason Busch

Jason is the founder of Azul Partners and co-founder of Spend Matters. He spends most of his time contributing to building Spend Matters SolutionMap. But he divides the rest of his waking hours between research, writing, due diligence analysis, corporate finance advisory and mentoring dozens of firms and procurement organizations in the industry. Prior to Azul Partners, Jason got his on-the-job education in procurement technology working at FreeMarkets for five years in a variety of roles. Before that, he started his career in consulting and merchant banking. Jason holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Current investment disclosures: Azul Partners, Inc., Koble, Inc., Public Spend Forum, LLC, RJSL Group LLC, Sigaria Ltd., Spendata LLC, and Spend Matters Europe Ltd.

Procurement Business Drivers and Considerations For Digital and E-Signatures

Digital and electronic signatures can play a significant role in accelerating procurement and supplier management processes, reducing cycle times and eliminating latency across a range of activities. They can also help create value in other areas, from organizational and vendor compliance to saving money. This Spend Matters PRO series exploring e-signatures and digital signatures provides a foundation for procurement organizations to understand, evaluate and implement these solutions to enable a variety of use cases, including contract implementation and contract lifecycle management. In this research brief, we explore the business drivers for digital and electronic signature usage as well as selection considerations when evaluating potential solution providers.

An Introduction to Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs)


Group purchasing organizations (GPOs) are not a new idea. Agricultural cooperatives aggregated the buying power of farmers hundreds of years ago. That said, GPOs have evolved quite a bit, and the infusion of new digital capabilities is taking that evolution to an even higher level. This evolution also means that procurement organizations must go in “eyes wide open” to best utilize this important tool in the procurement tool belt.

Not all GPOs (or GPO models) are the same. Understanding the differences will make you a more educated, and thus likely more successful, buyer. Therefore, we’ve decided to delve a little deeper into this obscure sector of the procurement provider market and shed some light on how to best extract value from it.

This multipart Spend Matters PRO brief is designed to demystify GPOs and put procurement organizations on the same information playing field as the GPOs attempting to sign them up, expand their utilization of contracts and sell additional services. Within this series, we will explore GPOs by type, as there are several business models in play, and by industry segment, as GPOs are heavily embedded in certain markets and are little more than a supply option in others.

This first installment in our GPO coverage:

  • Defines what GPOs are (and are not)
  • Explains how GPOs operate
  • Explores GPO “spend coverage and fit”
  • Analyze the GPO market segments and how to engage them
  • Offers tips and tricks for engaging GPOs based on their own constraints/models
  • Provides both basic and advanced takeaways for procurement organizations that are thinking through GPOs as an alternative supply option
  • Offers a checklist of activities to consider when sourcing GPOs

The Smart PE Money Knows When to Pay Up: Avetta Gets New Ownership

To say private equity firms have been ogling over procurement technology and solution firms of late is an understatement. The floodgates have been unleashed. Case in point: PE firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe announced earlier Wednesday it will acquire a majority interest in Avetta, a supplier compliance and risk management firm, in a deal that likely broke multiple records (double meaning intended) in the procurement solutions market. (Another firm, TCV, will also acquire a minority stake.) The transaction is significant for the procurement technology space for a number of reasons. But perhaps most interesting, it highlights the differing approaches PE firms are taking to buying, operating and selling solution providers, as well as the kinds of business models that have become attractive (and lucrative) to these firms.

Icertis: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis

Icertis is one of a select number of contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions that can equally support the needs of both legal and procurement organizations. Its solution provides role-based dashboards and workbenches that enable diverse users across global organizations to interact with contracts, related information and documents not only within the context of core CLM but also within other processes such as source-to-pay (S2P), quote-to-cash and industry-specific workflows.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Icertis provides an objective SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to Icertis and offers provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies considering the vendor. Part 1 provided an in-depth look at Icertis as a technology provider and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses and a review of the product’s user experience.

Icertis: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

The contract lifecycle management (CLM) technology market is not one market. Rather, this technology comprises several subspecialties, each served by a diverse set of vendors with varying degrees of capability. Because of this, procurement, commercial, legal and other users have significant choice between broad-based suites and independent CLM vendors today.

Within this market, Icertis is one of the few providers delivering a robust enterprise-class CLM solution with significant depth across nearly all functional areas of CLM that Spend Matters tracks. Moreover, Icertis takes a truly platform-based approach rather offering just a set of fixed modules on a menu. It is also one of a handful of enterprise contract management solutions built on a modern technology stack, as well as one of the few that revolves entirely around the contract — even if its UI reminds us more of the end of the Obama era than Brexit.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Icertis’ product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should shortlist the vendor. It also offers a critique of the user interface. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Icertis in the P2P technology area. The final installment in this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Icertis: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview

As our Q4 2017 CLM SolutionMap highlights, the range and depth of functional capability between suite-based contract lifecycle management solutions and independent, top-performing CLM vendors is increasing, not decreasing. Icertis, one of the top-performing CLM providers in the analysis, is driving this change. It is less than 10 years old but already used in 40 languages within 90 countries, supporting more than 750,000 users and 2.5 million active contracts.

But it is not just the underlying functional “mojo” among top-providers like Icertis causing the divergence for specialized CLM requirements. The most recent class of CLM providers that have graduated to best-of-breed status have designed their solutions to support an increasing range of contracting, collaboration and obligation management scenarios that support supplier agreements, sales contracts, leases, partnership agreements, employment agreements and other agreements between parties. And they are doing so with the simultaneous goals of increasing both efficiency and contracting effectiveness.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement and legal organizations make informed decisions about whether Icertis, as a standalone CLM solution, is a better fit than using a suite-based contract management provider. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Icertis. The remainder of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

E-Signatures and Digital Signatures in Procurement: Definitions and Considerations

digital signature

While the terms e-signature and digital signature are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Every digital signature is electronic, but not every electronic signature is digital. This may sound a bit confusing, but it's not with proper definitions. This three-part research series provides a foundation for procurement and supply chain practitioners to understand the benefits that digital signatures can bring to contracting and contract management, as well as interactions with internal stakeholders, suppliers and partners. This first part provides definitions, a general background on the topic and the benefits and drawbacks of these tools.

Oracle’s P2P Strengths and Weaknesses for Procurement Cloud

As we noted in an earlier research brief, Oracle has leapfrogged ahead of competitors in the cloud procurement area. Its latest offering took us by surprise and will no doubt surprise others, as well. But what are Oracle’s most apparent strengths and weaknesses within Procurement Cloud relative to Coupa, SAP Ariba and other top-performing providers?

This Spend Matters PRO analysis, based on our latest SolutionMap review of Oracle’s capability in Q1 2018 and the vendor's recent Modern Supply Chain Experience event, explores Oracle Procurement Cloud’s comparative strengths and weaknesses within the e-procurement and invoice-to-pay areas.

Spend Matters also recently published a Vendor Snapshot series on Oracle’s overall Procurement Cloud suite (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). The review provides an end-to-end perspective, including a listing of modules, competitive alternatives, suite strengths and weaknesses, best fit recommendations and a SWOT analysis.

A P2P Cloud Surprise: Oracle Leapfrogs Ahead in E-Procurement and Invoice-to-Pay

While it may surprise many procurement organizations, systems integrators and competitive vendors in the market today, Spend Matters’ Q1 2018 SolutionMap findings suggest that Oracle’s e-procurement capability is a top feature/capability contender alongside rivals SAP Ariba, Coupa, Ivalua and others. (Our latest SolutionMap is based on an analysis of 19 e-procurement vendors.) But where specifically has Oracle made investments to come up to par in this multifaceted and disciplined segment of procurement technology, and how does its capability stack up today?

In a series of two Spend Matters PRO research briefs, both based on SolutionMap analysis and time spent at Oracle’s 2018 Modern Supply Chain Experience event, we will explore Oracle’s latest e-procurement and invoice-to-pay capabilities. Today’s analysis provides an introduction to Oracle’s core capabilities in these areas and offers a perspective on where Oracle will likely surprise potential customers. The second analysis explores specific Oracle Cloud P2P strengths and weaknesses and provides comparative insight for those considering Oracle’s e-procurement and invoice-to-pay capabilities.

SynerTrade: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis

Better known in Europe than in North America, SynerTrade is ramping up its U.S. presence in 2018. We see a bright future for the provider on a global basis, provided it makes adequate sales, marketing and channel investments that call attention to what it is capable of enabling through its broad, cloud-based procurement platform.

SynerTrade is one of the few vendors capable of delivering a comprehensive, fully integrated and rapidly deployable source-to-pay suite that also provides organizations the ability to rapidly configure heavy internationalization and systems integration requirements. This makes it a particularly interesting shortlist candidate for procurement organizations with global requirements and complex systems environments. Although not without weaknesses, it is nevertheless unique in its approach and is likely to appeal to many organizations that today have no idea who it is, owing to its previous regional focus in Europe.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about SynerTrade’s source-to-pay capabilities. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider SynerTrade in the procurement and finance technology areas. Part 2 of this research brief covered product strengths and weaknesses, and this final installment offers competitor and SWOT analyses, as well as evaluation and selection considerations.

SynerTrade: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

Even though the procurement technology suite market is less than two decades old, we're still in an era where there are only a handful of end-to-end source-to-pay providers that are well established and reasonably mature. These providers are not equal by a long shot, each bringing different strengths and weaknesses. And there are some gaps that have not yet been filled (e.g., a “Nimble” buying persona suite).

SynerTrade, a procurement technology suite provider, is an example of a firm contributing to the breakneck pace of recent innovation in the source-to-pay suite market — and one that may yet fill the “Nimble” suite need. Providers in this formerly slow-moving technology market are now developing solutions more quickly than ever before, introducing and fully fleshing out new capabilities and technologies over quarters, not multiple years or decades.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores SynerTrade’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview, as well as a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering SynerTrade. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

All We Are “Saved” — Give Purchasing Consortia (Including GPOs) a Chance

Purchasing consortia and group purchasing organization (GPO) models have been accused of being fads in the past. But there are reasons they could more than go mainstream as a common procurement lever across industries, working outside of just healthcare environments, where they have thrived in the past. Spend Matters research suggests that there certainly are a number of underlying factors that make the consortia and GPO models more attractive than before (even if some suppliers, such as the airlines, will never play ball in working with these intermediaries). Indeed, several GPO and consortia providers not focused on one particular industry have a lot to offer to procurement organizations looking to better manage cost and quality for certain categories of spend.

In this Spend Matters Plus analysis, we will explore the reason behind the current and rising interest in these models and the benefits they can bring to procurement in such categories as IT spend (e.g., hardware, software, etc.), human resources (e.g., contingent staffing and MSP programs), office supplies, employee benefits (e.g., retirement/pension, pharmacy benefits, etc.), facilities and other professional and services categories (e.g., operations consulting, energy management, etc.), not to mention some areas of direct spend as well (e.g., metals). First up: exploring the different GPO benefits for both less mature and more mature procurement organizations.