Are the lights coming back on? Is recruitment coming back on the agenda?

The professional recruitment world completely ground to a halt for much of March, April and May as the Covid pandemic took hold of the global economy.  The recruitment industry was decimated as a substantial proportion of recruiters were placed on furlough schemes and various major players announced drastic reductions in revenue.  Of course, we are still hearing about predictions of mass unemployment when the furlough schemes end, but we are pleased to say that we are just starting to see some positive signs in the market after such a difficult period.

Staffing industry analysts (SIA), the global advisor on Staffing and Workforce Solutions have just reported that “the pandemic continued to weigh heavily on recruitment activity at the end of the second quarter of 2020, with clients implementing recruitment freezes or cancelling hires until the outlook brightened.”

This analysis was based on the latest UK Report on Jobs by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and KPMG which reported that “permanent staff placements and temporary billings both fell at notably weaker rates than in April and May when the Covid-19 pandemic was at its most severe”

James Stewart, Vice Chair at KPMG, said, “Despite an inevitable further drop in hiring activity for permanent and temporary staff, it is encouraging to see they both fell at softer rates than seen in April and May. However, the air of uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic will linger – and rebuilding confidence in the UK jobs market will take time.”

One more interesting statistic for you SIA also report that “the number of job adverts posted across the UK increased 20% in the week ending 5 July compared to the previous week, this is the first positive increase in weeks according to the latest real-time statistics from Broadbean Technology, the network of job boards”.  

Now week to week statistics can be misleading, especially when you consider the baseline position that this information starts from, but as we head into the third quarter of the year it seems that things are gradually improving although it’s still clearly very early days. 

Another positive to be aware of is that there is some evidence that the procurement and supply chain world enjoys one of the more robust job markets supported by the theory that the profession becomes more important during the tough economic times – there was certainly evidence to support this in 2008-10.  So expect the procurement world to be ahead of many other professions.

For the vendors and consultancies in the procurement solutions sector, they are relying on their target clients realising the value of their solutions when the pressure is on for savings and efficiencies.   Hopefully, this faith is well-founded as some niche procurement tech firms have told us that existing clients are leaning on them more than ever and in some cases, they are actually ahead of this year’s sales targets – an amazing achievement in the circumstances!

If your company is fortunate enough to be in a strong position, it’s actually a great time to hire as those organisations who are still very nervous about the future aren’t hiring at present so there’s less competition for good people.  There’s also clear evidence that there is some outstanding talent on the job market including top performers who are concerned about job security and interim specialists seeking the perceived security of a full-time job on a permanent contract.

The problem for HR and Talent departments is that the responses to these adverts will be through the roof given the number of job seekers and someone has to sort through all those responses from people who aren’t suitable for the role in the hope that they can find a few strong candidates for interviews.

I’d say its quicker and easier to make successful hires through a specialist recruiter but I would say that because I am a specialist recruiter.  Thankfully our clients who are back in hiring mode agree.

Andrew Daley

Director – Procurement Technology Practice

Edbury Daley

+44 7711 715258

For more information and analysis on the Procurement and Spend Management job markets, you can access regular reports here.

Edbury Daley publish their latest Procurement Insider Report

Procurement Technology Recruitment Specialist Edbury Daley has just published the Spring 2020 version of their well-respected Procurement and Spend Management Insider Report. It is available for free download from their website (link below).   One of the authors, Andrew Daley told us:

“The world has become dominated by the Covid-19 outbreak with the business world changing in ways that many of us could never have imagined.

So rather than just providing commentary on what has happened in the procurement and procurement technology job markets over the previous six months as past editions, this report is slightly different.

Firstly, we focus on sharing some examples of how the procurement supply chain and spend management communities have stepped up to help deal with the crisis with valuable contributions from SAP Ariba, Rosslyn Data Technologies, HICX, C2FO, Risk Methods and Sievo. 

Secondly, and not forgetting the history of this publication, we report on the job market trends dating back to our last report in October 2019 and take this commentary up to the point where it became clear that Coronavirus was going to have a significant impact on Europe.

Finally, we report on what we are doing as a business for our clients and how our unique offering is still proving valuable and will continue to do so in the future.”

You can download the report here: The Procurement and Spend Management Insider, Spring 2020

What is Oracle offering the Procurement profession?

Oracle Open World was the first big technology conference of the new decade that caught my attention.

I’d heard rumours for a while that they were in the process of stepping up their capability and presence in the market.

Going back a couple of years they were regular contributors at eWorld but they weren’t at either event in 2019.

However, people in my network, mainly experienced sales people, mentioned that they had received approaches on Oracle’s behalf and for a while, people in the sector talked of them as the most likely company to buy Coupa.

That talk quieted down last year, probably due to the Coupa share price, but I thought it well worth attending the event at London’s ExCel conference centre to see where procurement (and supply chain) features on their agenda.

I think it’s important to state this event was very much covering the entire Oracle technology stack so it was never going to be all about procurement.

However, there were very few familiar faces from the procurement world at any of the lead sponsors’ stands, the likes of Deloitte, Accenture and IBM all of whom are regulars at the likes of Procurement Leaders, Ariba Live and Coupa Inspire.

And despite a large number of sponsors and partners spread across a very large area (I hit my step count for the day by 10.37am 😁) there was little evidence of anyone with a clear procurement or supply chain focus.

So I searched the event app to see what I could find.

Early in the day, there was a supply chain presentation led by a US based FD, which I thought was a strange choice. Unfortunately, it clashed with an opening keynote covering diversity in the workplace. Looking at the solution later on the stand (see enclosed pic) it is clearly focused on transport and planning.

However, during lunchtime there was the only dedicated procurement session I could find on the app. It featured Nina Junehead, Merchandising & Replenishment CIO of Swedish retailer ICA.

There wasn’t much time to dig into the capability of the solution in a 15 minute presentation, but the discussion around how ICA is going to manage its Supplier and SKU data going live on the Oracle data hub in the next few weeks was the most interesting element.

Obviously it’s difficult to judge the capability of the solution on so little evidence, but it didn’t feel like they are ready to go head to head with the likes of SAP Ariba, Coupa and Ivalua. It occurred to me that this could be an opportunity for some of the best of breed tools to target Oracle’s install base.

So I have to conclude that the amount of time dedicated to procurement at this event perhaps tells its own story about Oracle’s priorities.

Those priorities were in sharp focus when the CEO gave her opening keynote.

She talked about Oracles second-generation cloud being “like no other” with the emphasis on greater security. She told us how not even Oracle can see your data. She referred to an architecture driven by people who understand the criticality of customer data.

In an effort to reassure customers still operating in premise she told everyone that even Oracle is running public cloud and that the true digital enterprise benefits from using the vast quantity of data held privately and securely. Other comments that got my attention included:

>> AI and ML don’t just sit on the side, they’re implemented throughout the tech stack and being used in many ways.

>> Supply chain planning that once took weeks now takes an hour.

>> HR can analyse employee performance using it in their HCM solution.

>> Finance is operating with virtually no manual entries and all sorts of analytical tools.

She asked the audience “Are you truly in the cloud? Are you getting updates every 90 days, patched and upgraded without you touching all on the same code. Otherwise you are faux cloud.” A statement that felt like it was aimed at some of the competition.

She told us that they are investing $6bn dollars a year on R&D for its cloud solutions. Let’s hope some of that goes on procurement!

What happened in the Procurement Tech sector in 2019?

This article summarises the high profile job moves of the year, along with mergers and acquisitions and key developments in the sector. 

The following section is taken from our most recent Procurement and Spend Management Report, the Autumn 2019 edition.

The last few months have seen some significant moves in the UK spend management market, particularly in sales leadership. It’s been all change at Basware where Country Manager Louis Fernandes left the business in the summer whilst Stephen Cleminson, their UK Alliances Director, also moved on, joining Ivalua in a similar role covering the UK and Nordics.

In early October news emerged that Basware had appointed Justin Sadler-Smith, previously of IBM Emptoris and most recently UK Sales Director at SAP Ariba, as their new Country Manager. SAP moved swiftly to cover Justin with the internal appointment of Fieldglass UK Sales Director Stephan Beeusaert to cover both Ariba and Fieldglass, which is consistent with their plan to integrate the two businesses alongside Concur into the “Intelligent Spend Group” as announced at Ariba Live in Barcelona back in June.

Outside of the UK, Basware has also lost two respected senior leaders in their overseas businesses with US General Manager Eric Wilson joining GEP in July and Senior VP Ilari Nurmi leaving their European team, and the sector in general, when he joined DevOps business Eficode in August as CEO.

The other big news in the UK is that Ivalua recruited former Tradeshift Sales Director Ian Thompson to lead the growth of their business across the UK and Nordics. They’ve also added Stephen Carter, formerly of Basware.

Jaggaer made a key appointment to lead their eInvoicing compliance capability across Europe when they hired Ken Clarke from Open Text. They now appear to have fully integrated their acquisition of BravoSolutions (first announced in November 2017) into the business judging by their recent activity in Europe.

Simon Thompson, a respected member of the sales team at Ivalua and previously Proactis, has joined SAP Ariba in another move which, as those previously mentioned demonstrate, the software vendors almost always favour hiring people from competitors in the sector who understand how to articulate the value proposition to procurement and finance leaders. More on that later as we look at the key areas of demand in the market.

On the corporate front, Coupa’s impressive growth continued as they announced record quarterly revenues of $95.1 million, up 54% year-over-year.

Rob Bernshteyn, chairman and chief executive officer at Coupa told investors: “These results demonstrate our continued momentum in delivering measurable and repeatable value to our customers. By extending our leadership standing in Business Spend Management (BSM), we feel well-positioned on our path to $1 billion in revenue.”

However, Ivalua can claim to be the fastest-growing privately held company in the market following its move to “unicorn” status (defined as start-ups reaching $1 billion in valuation) after it attracted $60m in funding from a new PE investor in May.

The majority shareholding still sits with the management and founder/CEO David Khuat-Duy, who was quoted at the time of the investment as follows: “This additional capital will allow us to deliver ever more value to our customers and secure future growth.” He also said the investment will fuel product innovation, global business growth and, possibly, strategic acquisitions.

Back to Jaggaer. In mid-October the always excellent Spend Matters reported the appointment of a new CEO as follows: “Jaggaer today announced that it has a new CEO, effective immediately and that it created the new position of chief operations officer. Jim Bureau becomes the CEO after being Jaggaer’s executive vice president. The new COO for the North Carolina-based spend management software provider will be Vic Chynoweth, the current CFO, Jaggaer said.”

Bureau will succeed Robert Bonavito as chief executive. Bonavito will be available as an adviser to the board, Chairman Euan Menzies said in a press release. Menzies said Bureau was vital to Jaggaer’s sales and marketing efforts, as well as “formulating a company culture that supports our current and future goals.”

“During the next several months, Jim, Vic and I will be working together with the rest of the leadership team, to redefine our vision and strategy to capitalize on the exciting opportunities ahead,” Menzies said.

Elsewhere AI-based finance solution provider AppZen, now a regular presence at Procurement (and Shared Services) events like eWorld and SAP Ariba Live, announced $50 million of PE funding from investors who were “impressed by their ability to analyze 100% of spend and its use of artificial intelligence.” We expect to see more of them in the UK market in 2020. 

Back in May this year, we reported the following developments in our Spring 2019 edition of the Insider report.

Coupa continued their growth by acquisition in October last year when they bought Aquiire, who are described as ‘the Leader in Real-Time Supplier Catalog Search’. This was followed up recently when they announced their intention to acquire contract lifecycle management (CLM) leader Exari in mid-April.

With 14 acquisitions in total now, it will be interesting to see how Coupa integrates all this different technology into a unified platform.

The other big news from the past few months was that the proposed acquisition of Basware by Tradeshift, which first came to light in November 2018, was officially terminated at the end of February with this announcement: “Tradeshift has recently informed Basware that it will be unable to proceed given conditions in the capital markets.”

Despite the negotiation of a ‘standstill agreement’ between the two companies until November 2019, several people have speculated to us that they think this deal could still be revived. For now, both parties will press ahead with their growth plans independently.

The other notable deal in the sector, which was also announced in February, was the acquisition of Determine (formally Iasta, B-pack etc.) by procurement and financial process automation solutions provider, Corcentric.

Following some disappointing results last year, Determine was widely known to be ‘in play’ with speculation across the market focusing on who would buy the business rather than whether they would be bought. With a relatively small presence in Europe, it will be interesting to see what their plans are for growth in the region.

There are more details and analysis on all these deals from the excellent Spend Matters website.

Here’s another summary of what happened earlier in the year from our Spring 2019 report.

In terms of high profile moves, these have been relatively few and far between in the last couple of quarters. Dean Pathak, formerly of SAP Ariba, has joined fast-growing finance automation business Rimilia as Chief Revenue Officer joining CEO and former SAP Head of Cloud, Kevin Kimber.

Ragnar Lorentzen, formerly of the Procurement Leaders organisation, has joined supplier master data specialist HICX Solutions.

Lance Younger, high profile former Partner of Deloitte’s digital procurement practice left in January to join Inverto, a subsidiary of The Boston Consulting Group.

Dan Quinn, formerly the leader of the Bravo Solutions Emirates business Tejari, left the company following the Jaggaer acquisition last year. He has recently joined Tradeshift to lead their business in the region.

Another former senior leader of BravoSolutions is Hannele Palge-Rossi who recently joined Risk Methods as their Nordic Region Executive. Hannele was previously leader of BravoSolutions’ Nordics operation. Now Jaggaer, of course, moved to strengthen their local team by appointing Hannu Tikkanen, formerly of Basware in Finland, as their Nordics Sales Director.

At the middle management and experienced SMEs level, several key players continue to be active in the hiring market, particularly SAP Ariba building on their growth with more recruitment into sales, delivery and implementation teams across EMEA. Ivalua remain active in the UK in particular, as were Tradeshift in the latter part of 2018.

Smaller best of breed organisations are typically seeking to strengthen their sales capability but competition for proven performers with knowledge of technology value propositions for procurement is intense with several attractive roles open in the sector at the time of writing. 



Edbury Daley launches new recruitment research

Specialist spend management recruitment consultancy Edbury Daley has launched some new research into why companies are finding it difficult to attract the talent they need in the procurement technology world, a market which has some acute skills shortages.

Our whole message to the market is built around being able to solve this specific problem for our clients in the procurement technology world. It’s also a subject that is clearly a problem for many organisations.

So with your help, we want to research the subject in more detail to help everyone better understand the issues.

Please take no more than two minutes to answer our questions and be in with the chance to win a £200 Amazon voucher.

Here’s a link to the survey

Coupa Inspire EMEA 2019 London – Some thoughts

The Coupa EMEA roadshow rolled into London on Tuesday 5th November starting with a day dedicated to partners and existing customers. I arrived for the evening drinks session and enjoyed catching up with some familiar faces from the various consultancy partners who are regulars on the procurement technology events circuit.  It seems like we’ve seen a lot of each other in recent weeks with events like eWorld, Amazon’s ABX and SAP Ariba’s ValueX the week before this one.

The main event really got started on Wednesday and saw a big increase in numbers with around 1,500 delegates made up of Coupa employees, partners, customers, prospects and industry press.

First up in the morning was an excellent opening speech from CEO Rob Bernshteyn. He’s clearly comfortable on the big stage and his passion for the business is obvious to anyone.  A lot of people in the procurement technology sector talk about Coupa being acquired by a bigger organisation, and maybe one day they will, but in my opinion it’s hard to see him letting go of the reins any time soon. He talked about their 10 years of progress, “but this is only the beginning” and I think he’ll be in charge for a while yet. They seem bullish about their future, confident of strong financial performance and delivering further shareholder value, so are surely in no rush to sell.

The key takeaways from his session were:

  • The massive growth in spend through the Coupa platform in the last 12 months.
  • His vision for the Coupa community (see pics of some of his deck below) including collaboration using anonymised data across the customer base to provide outstanding spend analytics-driven insights.
  • Showcasing some great stories from pioneering Coupa customers – the “spend setters” as Coupa likes to call them.
  • Several examples of how the growing ecosystem of add on solutions (see the pic of sponsor/partners organisations below) are offering customers even greater value.

He also made a point of stressing that Coupa integrates with all the major ERP systems in the market, correcting what he clearly feels is a misconception.

He was followed on stage by the keynote speaker Rachel Botsman who gave a fascinating talk focusing on Trust.

Early in her presentation, Rachel asked the audience to chose to clap for one brand that you trust the most out of Uber, Facebook and Amazon.  No one clapped for Facebook and Amazon won despite decent support for Uber. She then made the point that we trust Amazon to get our shopping to us quickly, but do you trust them to pay their taxes? This opened up the subject of the context of trust. Next was the question “who do you trust the least out of Putin, Trump or Johnson”.  I found that very difficult to make a choice!

Rachel went on to talk about how she met the founders of Air BNB when they were still selling breakfast cereal to make ends meet as part of her research for a book. Unfortunately, she failed to convince her husband to invest in them, and appears to have mentioned it to him a few times since!!

Of course, she recognised that her husband raised the very valid point that people would be reluctant to trust strangers to rent rooms in their houses, but clearly she thought they had the recipe to overcome this risk and of course has since been proved right.

Her points around trust and its relationship to risk were fascinating and she did a great job of drawing some parallels with the world of spend management. In summary, her message was, if you want to get people to make changes, to move from the known to the unknown, you need to reduce the level of trust required to enable them to make them jump into a new way of doing things and to do that you have to reduce the perceived risk of doing so. Sounds obvious in principle and it’s hard to do it justice here, but it was a very enjoyable 45 minutes. I’d recommend that if you get the chance to see Rachel talk then take it.  Here’s her TED stuff.

After the break, there were the usual talks from consultants (KPMG & Accenture were first up) on their work with customers to adopt Coupa. I must admit I missed these as I’ve sat through several similar sessions in recent years. So I spent my time talking to various contacts from the partners, sponsors and delegates. As usual, it was fascinating for me to observe the dynamics of the exhibition hall, watching the incestuous world of the procurement consultants who all seemed to have worked with one another at some stage, usually at one of the big five.

The afternoon sessions gave customers and prospects the chance to attend sessions giving them in-depth details of various aspects of the Coupa platform and generally seemed well attended.

Unfortunately, I have other commitments on Thursday so can’t attend the final day but as I write this on the train back to Manchester I can reflect on a very enjoyable, informative 36 hours in London. It’s clear to me that Coupa are continually striving for excellence as evidenced by a commitment to a $55m investment in R&D next year. With the likes of SAP Ariba, Ivalua and Jaggaer all intent on achieving their own ambitious growth plans, the procurement profession is surely set to benefit from the competition which is driving innovation, better adoption and providing some great career opportunities for people in  the sector.

Surely it’s time for procurement to embrace the opportunities presented by all this great tech, develop its people with digital skills and start to deliver the next level of value to their stakeholders.

Here are a few more slides from the day.

Edbury Daley publishes its latest Procurement & Spend Management Insider Report

Specialist Procurement Technology and Spend Management recruiter Edbury Daley have just launched their latest Insider report, known for its insight into the big moves and trends in relevant job markets along with developments in the procurement profession.

Director Andrew Daley said “In the latest edition of our highly acclaimed Insider publication, we report on some high profile moves in the procurement technology sector. There’s also news from the European market, an update on recent results of the software vendors and the latest mergers and acquisitions.”

We take a look at the senior end of the procurement job market, where the opportunities have been and give senior professionals valuable insight into the demand for their skills.  We analyse the latest job market data from KPMG and both leading recruitment professional bodies APSCo and REC to assess what’s happening in the UK’s professional job market in the current climate of Brexit related uncertainty.

We also look at how the trends compare to what we see in the procurement and spend management professions to keep you up to date with what your career development options look like. And with over 450 responses, we publish the results from our recent research, as business leaders tell us their biggest challenges with their existing teams and the problems they face when hiring.

ABX Impresses in London

The Amazon Business Exchange (ABX) Event, a new conference on the procurement rota, took place on 9th October with the Victoria House Basement in Holborn full to capacity with 500 delegates.

The main sponsors were SAP Ariba, Coupa (who are both partnering with Amazon Business), Barclaycard, Accenture and YPO which gave it a slightly different feel to the likes of eWorld and Procurement Leaders, a sense emphasised by what was quite a different audience to many of the events we attend.

Whilst there were a few familiar faces, there was definitely an international feel to the audience which was predominantly mid and senior-level procurement professionals.  Representatives from the other solution vendors and consultancies were conspicuous by their absence.

This was the first ABX event in Europe with people tuning in via live streaming. Todd Heimes, Director of Amazon Business for Europe, opened proceedings with a few interesting thoughts about their view of the procurement world and how Amazon intends to have a major impact on it.

The pictures of his various slides that we have published here give some great insight into the data he was able to share with the audience.  Amongst the headlines were:

  • 89% of procurement leaders say that 50% of their processes can be automated
  • 94% of procurement leaders have implemented a 3rd party marketplace
  • By 2025 70% of all savings will be driven by data analytics.  He made the very pertinent point that there is a talent shortage centred around data (maybe he read one of our Insider reports!)
  • Only 34% of digital transformation projects are judged to be a clear success with more than 50% classified as a clear failure.

  • More than half the FTSE 100 are already Amazon for Business customers

He talked about the gap that exists between procurement leaders’ plans and the businesses expectations. Amazon intends to fill that gap and who would back against them given the success of the business overall?

Following Todd on stage were a couple of notable Amazon for Business clients Dietmar Harteveld Head of SCM for EMEA at Siemens and Bouygues Construction Global CPO Eric Bouret.

Both talked impressively about their journey with Amazon for business, their savings, process improvements and positive feedback from the business.

Two areas of capability really got my attention and are worth considering for CPOs.  Firstly Amazon’s system of progressive discounts over time which don’t require bulk purchases or supplier negotiation if you are a Business Prime customer.  The second was built in Spend Analytics, something that procurement professionals need to start using more of.

Next up was David Price, MD of lead sponsor Barclaycard Commercial Payments talking about how they might work with Amazon.  Todd asked David about how Barclaycard is making a difference to supply chains in an era of Brexit uncertainty and increased regulation.

He talked about the importance of “injecting liquidity into the supply chain” in areas of vulnerability and pointed to two key elements of the Barclaycard solution that could make a real difference in future. Firstly built in analytics (data again!!) to support their customers’ payment strategies and a similar capability for suppliers which could have a multitude of benefits for companies needing to manage their cash flow more efficiently.  For example, faster payments to the supplier community has given them a significant value add in the Barclaycard service and moved the dynamics of the relationship towards the supplier community away from the previously dominant buyer.

There were some good breakout sessions for the procurement delegates to enjoy after lunch which made for a successful event overall.  We expect to see much more of Amazon in the business community now, particularly given their alliances with such high profile organisations, and given the global success of the Amazon consumer business, we think it’s reasonable to suggest that this is bad news for other marketplace businesses.