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.


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

FM Global Resilience Index

North America is a curious market for direct materials-centric procurement software. While many manufacturers currently use indirect materials- and services-centric applications (e.g., procure-to-pay, vendor management systems), few manufacturers have specialized direct materials-centric procurement tools as a part of their solution belt. And to note the elephant in the room, many manufacturing procurement organizations are still not even aware of what these solutions can do.

The exception to this is in Europe (especially Germany and Austria) where direct materials procurement software is generally well adopted, even among middle-market companies. Within this market segment, Allocation is one of a handful of leaders, with tailored capabilities for sourcing and supplier management — and it is expanding globally.

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

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

When you start a vacuum cleaner, a number of things happen. First, the air pump creates a partial vacuum in the appliance. This results in air rapidly rushing in from the outside, through the attached hose or nozzle, pulling in dust, dirt and small debris with it. But the effects don't end there. The rapid movement of air from immediately outside the vacuum creates another partial vacuum that needs to be filled by the surrounding air, and this causes nearby particulates to also move and change position. And, thanks to the butterfly effect, this can have larger repercussions than one expects, creating unintended consequences. If pollen, mold or certain other once stationary particulates get into the air, people can sneeze, suffer allergic reactions or even get deathly ill.

What does this have to do with sourcing? When big firms buy smaller e-sourcing tools, vacuuming up the major standalone software companies in given niche, this creates a void — and kicks up a dust cloud, of sorts. From a manufacturing-centric sourcing perspective, this last year or so saw the acquisitions of Directworks (by Ivalua) and Pool4Tool (by Jaggaer). These acquisitions — not to mention Jaggaer’s prior acquisition of BravoSolution — took two specialist players in direct materials procurement and supplier management out of the best-of-breed market in North America, creating a new void. The result? The door was opened for new best-of-breed players from Europe to enter, and one of these players is Allocation.

But will Allocation benefit from the vacuum effect? It certainly has the pedigree. Founded in 1998, Allocation has been building its platform for two decades. Today it has one of the broadest and deepest platforms for direct supplier management and direct material sourcing on the market today. With a strong customer base in discrete manufacturing, Allocation can walk into just about any automotive, aerospace, CPG or other manufacturing-based procurement organization and talk the talk, backing up its knowledge with a set of specialized capabilities.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Allocation’s e-sourcing and supplier management solutions. Part 1 of our analysis offers a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Allocation. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

How AI Forces Procurement to Change the Concept of Contract Management: A Q&A with Seal Software CEO Ulf Zetterberg

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Artificial intelligence (AI) may be the holy grail of procurement software capabilities, but few vendors have begun to distinguish the plain chalice of useful functionality from the jewel-encrusted goblet of empty marketing promises. This is especially true when it comes to contract management software, which claims numerous possible applications of AI yet few real-life case studies. To learn more about how the contract management software market has evolved in this context, we sat down with Ulf Zetterberg, founder and CEO of Seal Software, a provider of contract discovery, extraction and analytics solutions, to discuss how procurement organizations can tell if AI capabilities are the real deal, as well as how regulatory challenges from GDPR and increased M&A are changing the very concept of CLM.

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

data analytics

APEX Analytix is far more than just a recovery audit and spend analysis software provider. It’s also a specialist in supplier management. This third and final installment of our Vendor Snapshot covering APEX Analytix’s supplier management solution provides a SWOT analysis of the company along with a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also offers recommended shortlist candidates that can serve as alternative vendors to APEX, complete with solution selection guidance. Finally, this research brief provides summary analysis and recommendations for organizations considering APEX for supplier management. 

For background on APEX, we encourage you to review Part 1 of the series, which provided an in-depth look at APEX and its supplier management solution, and Part 2, which gave a detailed analysis of product strengths and weaknesses, as well as a review of the its user experience.

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

spend analytics

Better known for its broader portfolio of recovery audit, overpayment and self-audit software, APEX Analytix also offers a specialized supplier management solution. APEX provides unique, out-of-the-box capabilities that support core supplier information management (SIM), validation and financial controls, as well as working capital optimization solutions. In addition, its supplier management solution delivers the broader configurability, workflow, rules, analytics, supplier portal and associated capabilities one would expect from supplier management software.

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

GEP vs. SAP Ariba: Supplier Management Head-to-Head Technology Evaluation and Comparison

A decade ago, supplier management solutions had not even established themselves as an independent category of procurement software. At the time, Aravo was fighting for credibility as the only focused solution in the space. But today, supplier management is more than established — it is one the core components of both procurement suites and specialist solutions, many of which tend to excel in specific functional areas.

Within the supplier management software market, GEP and SAP Ariba go head-to-head as two suite providers with functional capabilities at or above the benchmark for the Q2 2018 Supplier Management SolutionMap. While nearly all potential GEP and SAP Ariba customers will evaluate supplier management in the context of a suite selection — GEP is even adamant that it does not sell “modules” — supplier management is an important factor in an increasing number of source-to-pay suite selections. But how do the two companies stack up against each other in a head-to-head bout?

Join us in this unfiltered SolutionMap results analysis from our Q2 2018 dataset, along with the commentary of the Spend Matters analyst team. These “Head-to-Head” columns share the insights of each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider Subscribers, providing unique comparative cuts of SolutionMap benchmark data along with the trademark quips that Spend Matters was better known for in its early years. So buckle your seat belt, prepare for some real data and expect a few sparks to fly as we pit GEP and SAP Ariba against each other in the supplier management software evaluation ring.

Not yet an Insider member? Here’s a preview: In the majority of supplier management categories — which include master data management (MDM), supplier information management (SIM), supplier portal, supplier initiative management, technology, configurability and services — SAP Ariba comes out on top (sometimes convincingly so). But GEP shines in specific areas that could tip the scales in cases when a broader suite, managed services or BPO selection is involved.

Overall, the results suggest that the right solution will vary based on different initiative and organizational requirements — and how much “heavy lifting” procurement or AP organizations want to take on to enable supplier management versus working with a partner. There’s no debate that supplier management solutions will reward procurement organizations that tailor provider selection to their specific needs and even specific supplier management initiative requirements.

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

If you were to pick a single procurement software category that is remaking itself from the inside out thanks to technology, the recovery audit market would be it. And one provider at the vanguard of this transformation is APEX Analytix. APEX Analytix, a Spend Matters Provider to Watch since 2015, is perhaps best known for its core accounts payables (AP) recovery audit business. But it is a broad-based procurement technology provider in its own right, offering a range of overpayment prevention and self-audit software, supplier information management and supplier portal solutions.

In this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series, we will focus our analysis of APEX Analytix on its supplier management solution, which will be featured for the first time in the Q3 2018 Supplier Management SolutionMap. APEX Analytix’s solution, which is best-in-class when it comes to certain areas of financial information management and validations, deserves to be considered on a standalone basis.

This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides an overview of APEX Analytix, focusing on its supplier management solution capabilities. It provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement and finance organizations make informed decisions about whether they should explore APEX Analytix on a stand-alone basis in this area. 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 APEX Analytix. The remaining parts of this research brief will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

LexisNexis Entity Insight: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

LexisNexis Entity Insight (LNEI) is a modern, “self-service” supplier management solution that the global data/market intelligence giant built to satisfy increasingly surging market demand for all things supplier risk management. Designed as a cost-effective, off-the-shelf solution, LNEI helps procurement, finance and supply chain organizations manage risk across their own supply networks, regardless of how nested or complex.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores LNEI’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 LNEI. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Simfoni vs. SpendHQ: Spend Analysis Head-to-Head Technology Evaluation and Comparison

Simfoni and SpendHQ have both common and different DNA, particularly in how they originally built and delivered their spend analysis software.

Simfoni initially designed its spend analysis tool to enable the success of other consultancies delivering procurement and spend analytics. Similarly, SpendHQ was born out of Insight Sourcing Group, a consultancy itself.

Although in a matter of years Simfoni has evolved dramatically, it has remained true to its roots, delivering a spend analysis tool that serves both consultants working with end users and procurement organizations directly. And while ISG at first used SpendHQ as both an internal tool and as a leave-behind for procurement organizations, today SpendHQ operates as a standalone company, with a growth rate that is outpacing the market, making it one of the two largest — if not the largest — standalone spend analysis software providers.

Simfoni and SpendHQ have rarely encountered each other in the market to date, given Simfoni’s global focus and SpendHQ’s North America-centric orientation. Still, since both beat the average functional benchmark score in the Spend Matters Q2 2018 Spend and Procurement Analytics SolutionMap, we thought a comparison was in order. Because a collision course is inevitable at some point.

Join us in this unfiltered SolutionMap results analysis from our Q2 2018 dataset, along with the commentary of the Spend Matters analyst team. These Head-to-Head columns share the insights of each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider Subscribers<, providing comparative cuts of SolutionMap benchmark data along with the trademark quips that Spend Matters was better known for in its early years. So buckle your seat belt, prepare for some real data and expect a few sparks to fly as we pit Simfoni and SpendHQ against each other in the spend analysis software evaluation ring.

Not yet an Insider member? Here’s a preview: In certain spend analysis categories — which include data layer, process support, technology, configurability and services — Simfoni convincingly comes out on top. But in others, it’s darn close, and in at least one area, SpendHQ delivers an unquestionably superior score.

Building the Business Case for Managing Suppliers With Technology: 7 ROI Levers (Part 2 — Supply Risk Management)

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Thus far in this series we have examined six levers procurement organizations can pull, both at the front-end of the supplier lifecycle and those in the active phase of supplier management, to build a business case for managing suppliers with technology. In the case of the former, we focused on business case components for supplier search and discovery, supplier onboarding, and supplier enablement. In the latter, we examined contract compliance and enforcement, compliance and credentialing, and supplier performance management.

All of these areas can form core components of a supplier management business case. But on a standalone basis, thousands of global companies have already invested in data sources, specialized software or a combination of the two to monitor at least certain elements of supplier risk outside of these other supplier management areas. Indeed, of the seven levers organizations can pull in building a business case for managing suppliers through technology, supplier risk management — and broader supply risk management — is the one that is often most put to use.

In today’s installment, we zero in on the seventh supplier management business case lever, introducing business case and enabling technology considerations for supplier risk management. We discuss select solution components within this area, as well as high-level ROI considerations. Later in the series, we will provide more detailed ROI model inputs and ranges procurement teams can use in building a business case in each of these areas.

Spend Matters PRO clients can also contact their client services representative for an interactive Excel-based ROI model that can serve as the basis for building supplier management business cases.

Delivering AI-Powered Solutions to Contingent Labor Challenges: A Q&A with ZeroChaos CEO Jim Burke

webinar

The contingent labor market is both a large and increasingly critical component of businesses’ growth strategies. Yet the procurement software tools and services providers that enable organizations to find, engage and manage external workers have changed little over the past decade, creating an opening for pioneering companies to disrupt the space. This opportunity is front of mind for Jim Burke, who took up in June the role of CEO at ZeroChaos. To learn more about his outlook and where he plans to lead ZeroChaos, we sat down for a quick Q&A covering his first impressions of the sector, where he plans to uncover new value for clients and how artificial intelligence will be an essential capability for his company going forward.

Building the Business Case for Managing Suppliers With Technology: 7 ROI Levers (Part 1 — Active Supplier Management)

category management

The return on investment (ROI) for supplier management does not have to be nebulous. With limited effort, procurement organizations can build a compelling business case for supplier management either as a component of broader source-to-pay implementations or on a standalone basis, as well as to develop specific KPIs to measure overall program savings and ongoing cost avoidance.

In the first two installments of this series, we introduce the primary ROI levers of supplier management technology initiatives. Our introduction to the topic explored the three levers at the front-end of the supplier lifecycle that can form the foundation of a business case. Today we continue our exploration of the seven primary ROI levers, with an emphasis on those in the “active” phase of supplier management efforts. These include contract compliance and enforcement, compliance and credentialing, and performance and risk management. Later in the series, we will provide more detailed ROI model inputs and ranges procurement teams can use in building a business case in each of these areas.

When you’ve got your supplier management business case ready, check out the latest Spend Matters Supplier Management SolutionMap to see how supplier management solutions such as Aravo, ConnXus, Determine, GEP, HICX, Ivalua, Jaggaer, SAP Ariba, State of Flux, SynerTrade and Zycus stack up in each of the areas we pinpoint as savings levers.

Spend Matters PRO practitioner clients can also contact their client services representative for an interactive Excel-based ROI model which can serve as one of the basis for building supplier management business cases.