Author Archives: Nick Heinzmann



Agiloft: Vendor Analysis, 2020 Update (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses, Tech Selection Tips

digital signatures

This installment of our Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis explores Agiloft’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis of its solution to help procurement organizations decide whether they should shortlist the vendor. It also offers a critique (pros/cons) of the user interface.

Most procurement organizations have only started to explore the full set of capabilities that integrated contract lifecycle management (CLM) capabilities can bring. Yet in most cases today — outside of procurement organizations deploying integrated suite-based contract management technologies, many of which offer limited capabilities relative to independent CLM vendors — CLM remains loosely coupled from overall procurement processes, including sourcing, supplier management, transactional buying, contract compliance and risk management.

Agiloft, one of dozens of independent CLM providers in the market today, offers a means of creating a synthetic process-driven and data-driven “hub” beyond providing core contract management capabilities alone. To do that, the vendor uses a unique term to describe its approach to putting contracts at the center of numerous business processes: contract and commerce lifecycle management (CCLM). And it’s not alone in its thinking. What Agiloft calls CCLM we at Spend Matters call commercial value management (CVM), a concept of contract management where granularly modelled contract obligations form the basis for managing enterprise-wide value creation via a centralized CLM system.

Admittedly, CCLM or CVM is at this time more conceptual than actionable strategy. But we feel that the most mature organizations are moving in this direction with their contract management practices, and, perhaps as a proof point, Agiloft’s most advanced competitors each have their own version of the CCLM/CVM vision that they are articulating with their own roadmaps.

Part 1 of our analysis provided a company background and detailed overview of the Agiloft solution, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Agiloft in the CLM area. Next up, this series will offer a look at Agiloft’s competitors, a company SWOT analysis, user selection guide, and more tech selection tips.

Agiloft: Vendor Analysis, 2020 Update (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview

The contract lifecycle management (CLM) market can have many inroads. Some vendors position themselves as fluent with the sales and CPQ world, basing their value props on enablement of frontline business users and acceleration of agreement execution. Others are buy-side specialists, prioritizing the ability to deeply model and track the quantities and conditions for manufacturing agreements to ensure continuity of supply. And still more are more legal specialists, built around the idea of empowering in-house counsel to become a trusted business partner and earn a “seat at the table.”

Agiloft, a contract lifecycle management vendor that has been operating since 1991, has never gone to market touting just a single set of use cases or a key department to enable. Instead, it has essentially turned this question around and asked, “What do you want us to be?”

This is because Agiloft, while used by more than 500 customers as a CLM system, is actually a no-code platform built upon a business process management framework that has been configured as a CLM application.

Said another way, Agiloft is like a LEGO set in which the code bricks have been assembled to deploy systems for CLM and asset management, among other use cases. This has allowed customers to collect, store and track any and all contract data and attachments that an organization might require, as well as design custom workflows that tie into other systems, making Agiloft both a CLM tool and a broader system for business process orchestration.

The potential for organizations looking to tap such powerful customization while obtaining core CLM capabilities are interesting, yet Agiloft, despite its age and consistently strong customer references, as illustrated its Value Leader ranking within our CLM SolutionMap, has never quite broken out as a well-known CLM pacesetter. Part of this has been a conservative approach to growth and investment — the vendor has historically focused its investment on product development, and it took on outside funding for the first time in 2020, nearly three decade after its founding.

But with a fresh round of external investment and a new CEO at the helm, is Agiloft positioned to break out of its no-code shell into a more widely acknowledged CLM pole position?

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis, which updates our 2017 review, provides facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations, suppliers and partners make informed decisions about Agiloft’s CLM and related capabilities. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview. The rest of this three-part research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, a look at Agiloft’s competitors, a company SWOT analysis and tech selection tips.

Icertis: Vendor Analysis, 2020 Update (Part 3) — Competitors and CLM Market Analysis

The third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Analysis provides a look at Icertis’s competitors and a market analysis of vendors in contract lifecycle management (CLM).

As contract management has become a hot topic in the B2B tech sphere, competition between CLM vendors has increased. Customers are looking for an expanding list of capabilities from their CLM solutions, to include not only core clause library and repository support but also automated contract data extraction and ongoing compliance management tools. 

Icertis has maintained a top spot in the contract management market due to its deep support for both the essentials and its continuing expansion of what a CLM platform can do. Organizations evaluating potential vendors will find that Icertis is a strong fit for many cross-enterprise use cases and that the firm does not shy away from complexity where alternatives might falter. At the same time, several CLM vendors are beginning to compete with Icertis on its key vulnerabilities, and a surge of investment in contract analytics, either via acquisition or native development, has kicked off an AI arms race with multiple fronts. 

Part 3 also includes an objective SWOT analysis of the provider, tech selection tips and a summary analysis. 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 Icertis's solution strengths and weaknesses and a review of the product’s user experience.

Now, let’s take a deeper look at the company and Icertis’s competitors.

Icertis: Vendor Analysis, 2020 Update (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis update explores Icertis’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should shortlist the vendor.

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 all functional areas of CLM that Spend Matters tracks. Moreover, Icertis takes a truly platform-based approach, rather than offering just a set of fixed modules on a menu. It’s also built on a modern technology stack and continues to adopt some of the latest tools to drive new innovations, particularly in the competitive realm of CLM-based AI. With powerful functionality comes challenges, however, as SolutionMap customer references indicate, with UX/UI factors frequently cited as an area of ongoing improvement.

Part 1 of our analysis provided Icertis's 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 Analysis, 2020 Update (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview

contract

This three-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis provides an update to our previous review of Icertis, adding new assessments of core capabilities and introducing new functionality in the Icertis Contract Intelligence platform that's relevant to buy-side and enterprise CLM use cases.

The technology providers that define the contract lifecycle management (CLM) space are the ones that have continuously pushed the boundaries of what such solutions can do. No longer simply concerned with document storage, search and standardization, leading CLM systems have evolved their focuses to include capabilities such as granular obligation modeling, performance management and AI-assisted process automation.

Icertis, one of the top-performing CLM providers in Spend Matters’ CLM SolutionMap since our vendor rankings began, is at the forefront of this development.

The vendor has for several years demonstrated deep support for advanced CLM use cases, from obligation management to multi-tier subcontracting support, many of which have set the functional bar within our SolutionMap evaluation process.

And in the two years since we published our last Vendor Analysis on Icertis, the product’s innovation vision has only continued to grow. Most notably, Icertis has released several AI applications designed to bridge the gap between the contract analytics space and traditional CLM, as well as a set of unique business applications that overlay distinct business processes on top of the contract-based platform, including an RFX application that enables contract-centric sourcing.

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; competitors and a market analysis; a SWOT analysis and tech selection tips.

ContractPodAi: Vendor Analysis — CLM Solution Overview, Strengths/Weaknesses, Company SWOT, Tech Selection Tips

contracts CLM

This one-part ContractPodAi Vendor Analysis includes an overview of ContractPodAi’s solution for contract lifecycle management (CLM).

The overlap of markets for legal tech and broader CLM solutions market has created a unique subsector that serves legal functions first and foremost but extends their value prop across the entire enterprise.

ContractPodAi is one such vendor, claiming to be built “by and for lawyers” but also serving cross-enterprise use cases.

The comparatively young vendor, which launched its current product in 2015 and landed a $55 million funding round in 2019, offers a highly usable CLM solution that even extends into some more advanced use cases around obligation tracking.

And, as its name implies, it supports a concerted focus on applying artificial intelligence (AI) into its platform, using technologies from IBM Watson and Microsoft Azure as its backbone.

So how does this legal-first, AI-via-partnership approach stack up against CLM incumbents, particularly those taking a “grow your own” approach to AI model and capability development?

This one-part ContractPodAi Vendor Analysis also offers a perspective on what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a tech selection checklist for organizations that might consider the vendor.

LogicSource: Vendor Analysis — Background, Solution Overview, SWOT, Tech Selection Tips

Oracle

The convergence of technology and services is a trend that’s hard to ignore in the procurement solutions market. Rare is the successful implementation story these days where a vendor deploys its software, trains the user and disappears until contract renewal. Rather, supporting services, including not only implementation and user training but also value-add activities like process outsourcing or digital transformation consulting, are becoming integral to creating satisfied customers. In fact, that’s why our highly technical SolutionMap evaluation includes both feature/function assessments of platform capabilities and requirements for services capabilities/customer feedback.

Perhaps ahead of this curve was LogicSource, a tech-enabled procurement business process outsourcing firm out of Norwalk, Connecticut, that offers services for sourcing and contract management alongside specialized tools for spend analytics, spend/savings tracking and P2P management.

Founded in 2009, LogicSource has its roots in the retail world, where the provider first focused on enabling direct and commercial print procurement. Today it has expanded its coverage to a slew of indirect spend categories, picking up BPO and tech-first clients like Rite Aid, GSK, The Hartford, Lululemon and Dish along the way.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis offers an overview of LogicSource, including quick facts about the provider. The brief also includes an introduction to LogicSource’s OneMarket solutions for spend analysis, savings tracking and P2P; an overall SWOT analysis comparing it to other procurement services providers; and a selection checklist for companies that may consider the provider.

Let’s take a look at LogicSource.

Teampay: Vendor Analysis — Solution Overview, Strengths/Weaknesses, Opportunities/Threats, Tech Selection Tips

This year, remote work went from a reluctant experiment in the corporate world to an economic necessity. But the coronavirus pandemic-induced shift from the office to working from home was about more than shedding commutes and embracing video chat — it brought processes home too. Employees who relied on office-based tools and organizational infrastructure to work found themselves isolated and more dependent on technology than ever before.

Teampay, the subject of this one-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Analysis, sees this as a rapid acceleration of current trends rather than a jarring disruption.

In the view of this New York City-based provider, spend management is slowly becoming more decentralized, thanks to more tech-savvy end users and the shift of purchasing behavior to increasingly services-based offerings (think martech software, concierge tablets and print/marketing as services).

This vision of purchasing de-emphasizes the role of a central procurement department in, for lack of a better descriptor, most tail spend, instead empowering employees to make their own buys — within certain designated limits — and even pay for them with automatically generated virtual cards.

In Teampay terms, this is distributed spend management, and it’s the future of buying. But how does the Teampay vision work in practice, and how does it stack up against more traditional P2P vendors?

Let’s take a look.

Symfact: Vendor Analysis — Solution Overview, Strengths/Weaknesses, Company SWOT, Tech Selection Tips

Contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions are a “hot” market, and part of the reason for recent interest is because of their applicability to a wide range of enterprise use cases. Unlike other technology areas that touch procurement, CLM sells to multiple business stakeholders, often at the same time. There are some CLM vendors with particular strengths on the buy-side, sure, but there also are plenty of others that spring from sell-side use cases, or still more that support legal organizations first and foremost.

Symfact, a CLM vendor founded in 2002, provides an example of just such a “flavoring” of contract management solutions toward a unique business use case — governance, risk management and compliance (GRC). The Switzerland-based vendor, with a U.S. office in Chicago, offers a well-tested CLM solution that also links to other GRC-related apps (e.g., legal entity management, third-party risk management). This of course extends well to procurement, as suppliers also are third parties that need to be managed for many risks, which makes Symfact an interesting potential partner for buy-side CLM beyond its legal/GRC roots.

This one-part Vendor Analysis includes an overview of Symfact’s CLM solution, a perspective on what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a SWOT analysis and a tech selection checklist for organizations that might consider the vendor.

SirionLabs raises $44 million, signals its arrival at the CLM winners podium

procurement

SirionLabs just announced it has raised $44 million in a Series C round that brings cumulative fundraising to $66 million for the contract lifecycle management firm with 400+ personnel. This is a major funding round and vote of confidence for SirionLabs as it moves into the leading positions top CLM market players, which includes providers such as:

  • Icertis, the current unicorn in the CLM pack. Both Icertis and SirionLabs are based in the U.S. with large development teams in India.
  • DocuSign, the ubiquitous e-signature vendor that has moved up the value stack by acquiring sell-side-centric CLM player SpringCM and also acquiring AI-pioneer Seal Software (a very smart move).
  • Apttus, now owned by Thoma Bravo, just announced its acquisition of Conga to help it penetrate the huge Conga customer base (another smart move albeit with some CLM application overlap in the portfolio).
  • Agiloft, an innovative CLM and services management application provider built upon a no-code platform that brings usable RPA and AI “in a box” alongside the apps.

We’ve been covering SirionLabs (and all of these players) for a long time. In its six-year history SirionLabs started out as a niche tool for managing strategic third-party relationships (and the contracts that sit underneath). It’s the detailed modeling of those complex services contracts that SirionLabs has mastered. You can see this in the webinar that we participated in with Unilever where Unilever has used SirionLabs to handle complex services contracts with literally tens of thousands of contractual measurements.

It’s this ability to model complex service levels and obligations (and the associated risks, opportunities and downstream “value leakage”) with a best practices knowledge base that is embedded into its system content and analytics (much of it with robust native machine-learning capabilities). This is why we’ve counseled SirionLabs to go all guns blazing into CLM, because in an everything-as-a-service (XaaS) world that is increasingly digitized, externalized and complex, the contract gets elevated from a one-size-fits all risk transference document owned by the legal department to an ultimate commercial system of record for business value — especially in B2B (this is also far more than a siloed sell-side CPQ systems that configure customer-facing proposals/quotes).

We call this new prospect for contracts and business value “Commercial Value Management” and it’s an underlying competency that underpins all enterprise business applications that manage processes or services that deliver business value — hopefully all of them!

SirionLabs has attained “Value Leader” status in our CLM SolutionMap for a while, with good reason: It has leading solution capabilities and it gets good marks from its customers. Some of the other industry analyst firms are only now starting to wake up to SirionLab’s capabilities. Our SolutionMap has hundreds of requirements in it and reflects our deep assessment and also pure voice-of-the-customer assessments, which is a differentiated methodology relative to the “magic wave scape matrices” out there. In fact, we’re in the midst of evaluating SirionLabs right now for our upcoming Fall 2020 SolutionMap release, and they’ve made huge strides in usability and AI, while furthering the embedding of deep knowledge and best practices into the platform.

So, how will the CLM battle play out with some of the players above? And what does this mean from an M&A and investment perspective? We’ll address this now in the rest of this Spend Matters PRO brief, and we offer some related PRO articles below.

Analysis of Apttus-Conga deal — Background, transaction analysis and a bit of armchair speculation

Mergers and Acquisition News in procurement industry

Apttus made waves in the CLM market this week with an announcement of its intent to acquire Conga, merging the two firms under the Conga brand to create a hefty player for “configure, price, quote” (CPQ) software, CLM and document management with roughly $400 million in revenue. The deal is perhaps not the transaction one would expect of either player. Both vendors have considerable product overlap, bringing together a set of sell-side CLM capabilities and deep historical hooks into the Salesforce ecosystem.

Still, there is some rationale for the deal. As you peel the onion on customers, the CLM market and where future deals could arise, you can see the potential logic behind Apttus owner Thoma Bravo’s move. At its core, the deal is about quickly producing scale, as the combined firm counts well north of 11,000 customers. It also brings a significant toolbox of CLM adjacent tools (e.g., CPQ, BPM/workflow management) into one ecosystem, which in turn creates a competitive alternative to the other elephant in the CLM room (especially from a customer count standpoint), DocuSign, which with its acquisitions of SpringCM and Seal Software has built its own contract management ecosystem enabled by its ubiquitous e-signature product.

So just what exactly do Apttus and Conga offer customers today, and what are the key takeaways for the CLM market? Spend Matters has not yet been briefed on the “new Conga” product merger plans and firm strategy, but we do have deep background into Conga, given its recent participation in the Spring/Q1 2020 CLM SolutionMap, and a few ideas about how the transaction could play out for another strategic buyer down the road.

Let’s explore these now ...

Coupa buys ConnXus: Product Background and Deal Rationale

Coupa announced Monday it has acquired ConnXus, an Ohio-based provider of supplier relationship management and diversity solutions, for an undisclosed sum.

The deal continues Coupa’s ongoing R&D investment augmented by its corporate development streak. Over the past 18 months the San Mateo, California-based S2P provider has acquired five firms, including another in the SRM space, Hiperos (now unified into the Coupa platform as Coupa Risk assess). But while the Hiperos purchase expanded Coupa’s third-party risk management capabilities, ConnXus brings an entirely different set of supplier management functionality. This includes deep expertise and data related to supplier diversity initiatives — for which ConnXus is best known — as well as several related offerings, such as an automated supplier master data cleansing service.

So what does ConnXus bring that’s new to Coupa, and why does the acquisition make sense in the context of an already strong-performing supplier relationship management and risk solution? This Spend Matters PRO brief reviews the SXM offerings of both ConnXus and Coupa, exploring the deal rationale from a product perspective. It also explores what the deal means for current customers and prospects. A separate brief from Spend Matter Nexus will cover the acquisition from an investment perspective.