Category Archives: Market Intelligence

Relevant Content is Still a Major Cornerstone of Any Compliance Effort

Not long ago we asked if you, or Ecovadis, could solve the compliance challenge before it cost your organizations tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. The biggest reasons for lack of compliance are still lack of knowledge, policy, visibility, analysis, and procurement technology and the fixes are still knowledge, policy, and appropriate technology.

One of those technologies is a Procurement Marketplace that can steer (or force) buyers to buy the right products from the right (and approved) suppliers (which can be an integrated catalog management solution that takes advantage of your supplier master, community intelligence provided by the vendor, and integrated risk information from third parties).

Another of these technologies is still supply chain visibility technology that lets a company monitor what is going on in the supply chain and evaluate a potential supply base before making a decision.

A third technology, and one we should not forget about, is import/export/trade management software that helps the organization identify the regulations it must comply with, collect the necessary information, produce the required documents, make sure the documents get to the proper authorities complete and on-time, and track all of the associated certifications and insurance certificates that go with the products and the supply base.

A good trade solution will address, at a minimum, import/export requirements, ECCN (Export Control Classification Number), custom security programs, FTA/FTZ/SEZ (Free Trade Agreements/Free Trade Zones/Special Economic Zones), country of origin, DPS (denied party screening), entry visibility, and HS (Harmonized System) codes / HTS (Harmonized Tariff Schedule) codes — and keep up with the never ending onslaught of tariff changes and temporary product bans that are result of the trade war. Essentially it will help a company determine all of the export requirements, all of the import requirements, produce the necessary documentation, and track its product from country of origin to the destination country.

In order for this solution to work, it needs a lot of content. Namely:

  • import/export regulations for all of the countries being sourced from, sourced through, and shipped to
  • US ECCN database
  • requirements for programs such as C-TPAT, PIP, and AEO
  • Free Trade Agreements between all of the relevant countries
  • database of all FTZs / SEZs in the relevant countries
  • HS schedules for all of the relevant countries and mappings
    and/or mappings to from country specific schedules
  • Denied parties lists for the relevant countries
  • Direct feeds to updated denied product lists for real-time updates
  • Direct feeds to updated tariffs for real-time updates
  • Early warning of products under consideration for bans/tariffs and real time flagging

Don’t overlook these last three. They are new and many of the traditional solutions on the market won’t have the capability. When a single ban or tariff spike can lay ruin to your best laid plans, be prepared.

The Platform is Becoming Ever More Important …

In Monday’s post, we quoted an except from Magnus’ interview on Spend Matters where he noted how important it is to start with the most important capabilities / modules and build out towards a full S2P suite (because he knows as well as the doctor does that a big bang approach typically results in a big explosive bang that usually takes your money and credibility with it). If you examine this closely, you see that you need to select not only the right starting solution, but a starting solution that can grow.

This requires a platform approach from the get-go. It doesn’t need to underlie the starting modules, it doesn’t need to underlie the ending modules, it just needs to underlie the suite you want to put together. It can be part of an application you already have or a third party application you buy later. But it has to exist.

The simple fact of the matter is that you can’t put together an integrated solution that supports an integrated source-to-pay workflow if you don’t have a platform to build it on. And you can’t patch it together just using endpoint integrations using whatever APIs — that’s just enabling you to push data from one point into another … or pull it from one point to another. That’s not an integrated solution, which requires an integrated workflow, just data integration. And while that is a start, it’s not enough. Especially when there is no one-size fits all category strategy and source to contract or procure to pay workflow for even the smallest of organizations with the simplest of needs.

So before you select any solution, the first thing you have to make sure is that it is built on, or works with, a true platform … otherwise, you may find as you undertake your S2P journey that a component you selected early does not fit the bill and you have to repeat steps … which is something you really can’t afford to do.

Just When We Thought M&A Had Peaked … WorkDay Tries for the Win with Scout!

Now, while I thoroughly agree with the acquisition, as I quoted in Spend Matters’ initial coverage … because it does make perfect sense for Workday and for Scout … I have to admit that the valuation is incredible and the multiple almost non-sensical at first, second, and even tenth glance.

So let’s take a step back. One of the rules that investors follow is the rule of 40, which means that, in 5 years, the company revenue should be 5X what it is today. It might be a bit less, but if growth stays steady, revenue should at least be 3.5 to 4X what it is today, and that’s enough to justify a 7X investment as the investor should be able to “sell the company up the chain” to a bigger investor at 3X what they invest today. And if the deal is just right, maybe a 8X to 10X if there is a lot of cross-company application synergy with another company in the portfolio and they can quickly market and sell to a larger customer base than either company could on its own, but that’s about it. (And of course, assuming the revenue is focussed entirely on license/subscription fees and not services.)

But, as far as can be fathomed, Workday payed a 20X+ multiple for Scout, and that, on the surface, is usually beyond absurd. Even at aggressive growth, it will take Workday at least a decade to make their investment back if we follow the rule of 40. And a lot can change in the market in ten years. But it’s more than just an application and another market for Workday. It’s a strategic acquisition that will give Workday much more than a key component missing in its B2B wheelhouse. Why?

Whatever the reason the acquisition team came up with internally, Workday has to contend with the fact that not only was it’s suite lacking in S2P, and significantly lacking in upstream capability, but that in order to move upstream in the ERP world, and contend with the likes of Oracle and SAP (and fend off any efforts of SAP and Oracle to poach Workday’s customers as the customers grew and matured), Workday needed a good S2P offering, tightly integrated with their Finance and HR applications, and Workday needed one fast. Scout, with which they already have a few integrations with, fits the bill and has a track record, like Workday, of rapid development. It is Workday’s best shot at building and integration an 80% S2C solution for the mid-market quickly.

Also, Workday also has to contend with the fact that some of its earlier interfaces, while more modern than many of Oracle’s and SAP’s older interfaces, are not as modern as some of its newer applications and even some of its newer applications could use a facelift. And Scout has the interface customers like.

Finally, if the mid-market is moving towards a combined Procurement/Finance suite, Workday is going to need to have a true cloud-native S2P platform integrated sooner rather than later. (It’s not a party that Workday, with its ambitious growth plans, wants to miss.)

So while a deal like this would usually be absurd and one that any investment firm should run from as fast as they can, this was a very strategic acquisition investment for Workday and the sooner they got started on the S2P path, the better their chances of actually becoming a serious player both in the ERP market and the S2P market before it’s too late to make a difference.

(This is just a high level analysis. If you really want to understand all of the nuts and bolts behind a deal such as this, I recommend checking out the prophet‘s 4-part deep analysis over on Spend Matters Nexus [membership required]: Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV. In addition, the prophet and the maverick teamed up for a customer recommendation piece over on Pro [membership required]. Note that the prophet‘s views may not entirely correspond with the doctor‘s.)

However, the end result is that they’ve just taken the M&A mania up a notch, and now firms that don’t have a solid grip on the models, but want in on the action, will be making mad men bids and all hell is sure to break loose. So buckle up, the ride’s about to get rough!

Magnus Bergfors joins Spend Matters Today …

And here’s a key excerpt from the ex-Gartner analyst as to why and the importance Solution Map (co-designed by the doctor) plays in solution section (and key insights into why Magnus joined Spend Matters):

Q: How do procurement departments go about doing a tech selection and deciding which vendor among so many to spend their business’ money on? From your perspective, what role does SolutionMap play in that process?

A: Businesses need to review (and probably redesign) the way you work as part of the implementation. I saw a quote from someone that said something like, “If you digitalize a crappy process you get a crappy digital process” … and this is really true.

Unfortunately the vendor marketing here doesn’t help. The big vendors are (for obvious reasons) pushing their whole suites, and very few organizations have the resources and change management capabilities to implement a full suite at once.

So going back to your question: Identify the key areas, start there and implement carefully. Build on this success to expand the program. Even if the end goal is a full S2P suite, it needs to be implemented step by step and continuously adjusted and improved.

As for what solution, this is where SolutionMap comes in: The ability to focus in on the specific module you need and look at it from a persona perspective is incredibly powerful. Other analyst ratings don’t get into that level of detail and often includes parameters that have little to do with the actual functionality.

For the full story, check out Technology analyst Magnus Bergfors joins Spend Matters’ team from Gartner.

CSR, Procurement and North America: Creating a Market

In our previous article, we asked if you could solve the modern compliance challenge, and, more specifically if you could do it with Ecovadis. This is because compliance has morphed over the past few years from insuring you weren’t doing any illegal trading and simply satisfying the tax man (and import/export compliance is essentially just respecting the legality of the country you are trading with and satisfying its tax man) to having to comply and deal with a lot of regulations around financial reporting and global trade to having to respect the environment (pretty much everywhere but the US, with the exception of California) to having to take corporate social responsibility for the organization’s entire supply chain and ensure there is no violation of worker’s rights, child labour, or human trafficking — or face the consequences that can not only include bad press (at internet speed) and large fines but, in some countries, criminal charges against the officers of the corporation.

We also noted that solving the compliance challenge was tough because you needed environmental data, sustainability data, social compliance data, and even third party audits on your suppliers, and sources of this data (outside of internal surveys that were unverifiable without site audits) were few and far between. The few players with even remotely recognizable names that exist are in Europe, and Ecovadis is the largest. As a result, it likely has the best shot at championing a market in North America, especially with its increasing partner footprint, supplier database (with over 55K assessed companies), and global reach (as they cover suppliers across 155 countries).

But Ecovadis is not a household brand in North America. To become one, it really must drive material commercial traction outside of the EU and, most important, prove that the market for CSR ratings and compliance in North America is as central to supplier management as other supplier management initiatives (e.g., risk, EHS, etc.) to truly “go global”.

The case for an Ecovadis model is sound. Most major procurement departments at US F500s and larger mid-size companies are still focussed on cost-cutting. And using Ecovadis to get the sustainability data the organization needs is roughly 20% of the cost of trying to do it in house.

Further:

  • Organizations that are embarking upon more strategic category management want deep supplier information before selecting potential strategic suppliers and the response rate to Ecovadis-initiated assessments is 90%
  • The average organization will struggle with a 70% response rate in such initiatives, especially when you consider the average supplier turn-over (as identified in a recent QIMA survey) is 27%
  • Once a supplier is in the Ecovadis network, the chances that their overall CSR rating will improve on their next (annual) assessment is 64%
  • For an average company, unless they initiate a supplier development program and work with the supplier, the chances the supplier will otherwise improve on their own is, as we all know, closer to 6.4% than 64%

Less money. Better results. You’d think it would be an instant buy, but it’s not. So why. Is it because it’s European?

Not necessarily — Jaggaer One+ and Jaggaer One Direct from Jaggaer, which is one of the S2P juggernauts, has good NA penetration, and those solutions (formerly BravoSolution and Pool4Tool) are European.

So that’s not it.

Is it because the space is new or unproven? Can’t be. Ecovadis has been around for 12 years and Sedex Global for 18. Plus, there are a number of other players in the space. Is it because the solution is not user friendly? No — it’s delivered via a simple SaaS platform and they even have public quotes from F500s to that effect. So what’s the problem?

North American companies.

First of all, with apologies to Spike Lee, many will “only do the right thing” when they are forced, and then only to the extent necessary (although this may be changing).

Second, they’d rather profit today than save tomorrow (even if the long term savings would be multiples of the short term profit gains). This means that for them to invest in a solution, they want to see a large, immediate, sometimes unreasonable ROI.

Third, they tend to only act when they’re scared (e.g., losing budget if they have extra).

This means that, unless something changes, for Ecovadis to create a true market in North America with a similar reasonable TAM for say, the compliance management side of supplier / contractor management, it will need to lead with evangelism and, perhaps, more.

All things are possible. But as Vincent Ngo speculated decades ago, it takes a superhero to change the mind of the corporate culture. Can Ecovadis be that superhero?

For the sake of procurement and a better world, we hope that they’ll do it — or someone else.

For more information on Ecovadis, check out Spend Matters’ recent post on Catching Up on a Provider to Know (which also includes links to a deep 3-Part Vendor snap-shot co-written by the doctor and the maverick).