Introducing Spend Matters Advisory (and the new Spend Matters Group)

This post was originally published on Spend Matters.

Spend Matters (and our parent organization, Azul Partners) has been quietly building up a cool business the past few years. The only thing increasing faster than our revenue and cross-site traffic — we’re currently up to nearly 100,000 unique visitors and over 300,000 visits per month across our four sites — at the moment is the quantity of research and number of research downloads we’ve been cranking out and our readers have been eagerly consuming. There are a number of things we want to do given our growth — our now twelve person team has been running a mile a proverbial minute in 2012 — but as any entrepreneurial organization knows, it’s what you chose not to do that matters as much as the new markets you enter and offerings/product lines you create. Despite the required triage on new ideas, 2012 will mark a year with our three most significant new product launches/introductions since embarking on our mission eight years ago (yes, it was 2004, a time when I had a lot less wisdom and a lot more hair).

The first of these new launches is really not a launch at all, but rather an evolution of a business with origins from before Spend Matters officially launched (stay tuned for the other two announcements before June). Today, we’re pleased to announce a new advisory arm designed to serve the constituents of our four sites and research organizations: Spend Matters Group. Spend Matters Group was previously a collaboration between me and a long-time colleague and friend, where we worked on a couple advisory deals (almost all tied to small time corporate development and M&A initiatives) each year.

In its new form, Spend Matters Group is taking an expanded role across the broader sites, serving as an advisory firm specializing in serving the needs of three key groups, all that we have a long track record of working with:

  • Procurement and supply chain practitioners + consultancies, to whom we provide two distinct offerings: 1) technology advisory and selection — (direct or on a channel basis) and 2) metals subject matter expertise to drive cost reduction and risk/commodity management — (direct or on a channel basis as well)
  • Solution provider marketing executives (focusing primarily on strategic marketing, product strategy and bespoke, private-label thought leadership)
  • Solution provider owners and corporate development executives (subject matter expertise-driven work in valuation, M&A and partnerships)

The Spend Matters Group operating model leverages the subject matter expertise and domain knowledge of the extended Spend Matters network and family of sites (Spend Matters, Spend Matters UK/Europe, MetalMiner and Healthcare Matters). This includes our extensive primary research, much of which is never published. Our advisors work exclusively in our core practice areas and we maintain an extended network of advisers representing an even broader set of highly specialized skill sets.

Richard Lee (who was previously leading our advisory efforts on a more targeted level) will serve as Managing Director of the firm. Richard has extensive experience on the finance and technical accounting side of the advisory equation, having previously served as M&A Director and Divisional Controller for Orbitz as well as a Senior Manager at Diamond Technology Partners’ transactions group. He holds three masters degrees but he’s most proud of his time at West Point — although he’s the first to admit his academic record did not set the world on fire (he preferred setting actual fires in the line of duty over a dozen deployments while on active duty before getting into finance and consulting, but that’s another chapter of his life entirely). Richard and I originally met over a decade ago through one of the founders of FreeMarkets immediately after we both moved to Chicago.

Richard and I will be overseeing a unique practice together. If you’re looking for a pyramid model or consultants to live on-site with you, Spend Matters Group is probably not the best fit (we both had extensive experience playing that game earlier in our careers, trust us). Our team brings targeted insight that we apply to solving specific challenges whether it takes a single day of expert time or a more involved study or engagement to get the right answer.

The weakness of our model is, you guessed it, a lack of leverage. Since we don’t have it — and we can’t clone members of our team — we strongly encourage those curious about our services to get in touch well in advance of any specific requirements or projects. This also goes for consultancies looking to leverage our particular expertise for their clients in procurement technology as well as metals cost reduction (we’ve long worked as expert “SME subs” in this manner, although, fair warning, because we rely on an expert “get in, get out” model, our day rates tend to be higher than those consultants who hire us on an expert basis). However, regardless of approach, channel (or not) or delivery model, the type of work a truly expert approach can enable is really all we care about. At the end of the procurement day, if we can’t get our hands dirty where we can both accelerate our learning and hands-on knowledge and most important, truly make a difference for our clients, then this is not a business we want to be in.

While it goes without saying — and everyone who has worked with us in any advisory capacity in the past already knows — all advisory and project-based engagements are done under strict NDA. The only thing that matters more to us than delivering subject matter expertise and making a difference is discretion. We’re also selective about the type of work we do and the people we do it for (however, the size of company and project is irrelevant). Our bottom line is that if our clients are not the type of folks we’d like to hang out at the pub or coffee shop with, we doubt the cultural fit will be there for us to make a difference.

If you’re curious to learn more about Spend Matters Group, get in touch: richard (at) spendmattersgroup (dot) com or Jason (at) spendmattersgroup (dot) com. We also encourage you to check out the Spend Matters Group website to learn more. And welcome, Richard, to the broader team!

And one final note…stay tuned for some exciting changes on Spend Matters and Spend Matters UK/Europe, as May will mark the biggest shift in the type of content we share and how we share it since we started the two blogs. The new model will put our blogging and research businesses into top gear and drive the closest cross-Atlantic collaboration the world has seen since the Reagan and Thatcher years. Well, maybe…

 

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