Experts rank the best SaaS procurement and management platforms

A look at the first SPMP industry report

Joel Windels | JUL 10, 2023

5 min read

Research is the cornerstone of any buying process. Gathering data, watching product demonstrations and reading reviews all form a crucial part of purchasing software. In more established markets, reports from analyst firms like Gartner, Forrester, IDC and 451 Research carry a lot of weight.

These papers guide potential buyers through an overview of a particular product category, helping the reader identify the benefits and themes to be aware of, often concluding with some form of ranking to distinguish between the different offerings available.

The SaaS procurement and management space is booming, growing faster than almost any other technology sector. Change is rapid and solutions are emerging and expanding all the time. Differentiating between different vendors amid this flux is especially challenging, which is why Lionfish has published its first Tech Advisors Report for Evaluating SaaS Procurement and Management Platforms.

Lionfish is formed by more than 30 ex-Gartner VPs, principals and research analysts, including many of the most credible and reputable names in the industry. This is the first time a major research firm has published such a detailed overview of the SaaS purchasing category and compared competing solutions directly.

Market definition for SaaS procurement and management platforms (SPMP)

While the market remains nascent and growing, the report outlines definitions that help buyers identify different types of solutions. It isolates SaaS procurement platforms (Welii, Spendflow, Cloudedge, Zluri), which focus primarily on the purchasing of software, from SaaS management platforms (G2 Track, Productiv, BetterCloud, Zylo), which offer products designed to help manage usage, process and inventory of SaaS. None of these eight solutions meet the criteria for the report as they are not full SPMPs.

SaaS procurement and management platforms (SPMPs) include functionality from both categories. Customers use these platforms to solve for a number of use cases:

  • SaaS contract negotiation – tools and services that help customers get more leverage in purchasing SaaS
  • SaaS spend management – features that map the wider spend landscape and help users understand and manage their SaaS budget
  • SaaS purchasing – the workflows that help facilitate approvals and embedded purchasing processes
  • SaaS management – monitoring the usage and implementation of SaaS.
  • SaaS selection – using data intelligence to compare and benchmark solutions/pricing

SaaS Procurement Management Platforms

Ranking the SaaS procurement and management platforms

Assessing any technology is a complex and arduous process. The Lionfish research makes use of a thorough set of indicators to help readers better understand the process of comparing each solution. It rates the four products across four vectors – market prominence, market velocity, product functionality and customer satisfaction.

Market velocity is a benchmark for momentum, and includes employee growth, revenue growth, regional expansion, brand development and product innovation. Vertice scores highest for velocity, while Vendr is lowest – in part due to recent scale-backs, cuts to headcount and other deceleration factors.

Market prominence is based on funding volumes, number of customers, brand awareness, reputation and employee count. The largest in this category is Vendr, while the smallest is Sastrify.

The most important to buyers, however, will be the product functionality and customer satisfaction assessments.

These are the elements that specifically detail the strengths and weaknesses of competing products. Functionality ratings are based on five criteria: spend management, usage analytics and application discovery, procurement process, integrations, and data intelligence.

Customer satisfaction is calculated through analyzing the outcomes (and delivered ROI), service excellence, and data insights. Vertice is rated above every other solution for both product functionality and customer satisfaction.

Full vendor profiles with detailed information on each solution, along with insights on customer service, discounting process, business model and more are available in the full Lionfish report. The paper is available to read, for free, here.

Guidance for buyers of SPMPs

As this marketplace matures, analysis like this research from Lionfish Tech Advisors will become increasingly important.

In addition to charting the capabilities of each vendor, broader observations of the sector are also pertinent for those considering an investment. Crucially, Lionfish identifies that “organizations that fail to attain centralized visibility and management will overspend on SaaS by at least 25% due to incorrect and unnecessary entitlements and not rationalizing overlapping tools and instances”.

"Organizations that fail to attain centralized visibility and management will overspend on SaaS by at least 25% due to incorrect and unnecessary entitlements and not rationalizing overlapping tools and instances"

It also reveals that over half of the organizations using multiple SaaS applications will centralize management using an SPMP by 2028, an increase from less than 15% in 2022.

Ultimately, selecting a SPMP will rest on the value proposition of the technology. In a climate of growing scrutiny on spend, solutions in this space will likely continue to grow as finance leaders seek a more sophisticated approach to SaaS and cloud spend. Improved visibility, better understanding of utilization and better optimization of spend are all fundamental drivers in increasing adoption of SPMP tools.

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