Earlier this week, Scout RFP, the San Francisco-based provider of cloud-based strategic sourcing tools, made a couple of significant announcements to its community — first, that 2018 was yet another banner year in terms of customer and corporate growth, and second, that Scout has secured $33 million in funding to support further growth in 2019. Ardent Partners’ analyst team took an advanced briefing with members from Scout. Ardent’s Founder and Chief Research Officer, Andrew Bartolini, and Ardent’s Senior Research Analyst and Editor of CPO Rising, Matthew York, joined Scout’s Vice President of Marketing, Grant Shirk, plus Senior Director and Head of Marketing, Michaela Dempsey, and Senior Manager of Demand Generation, Amanda Cook.
It was a Very Good Year…
Grant kicked off the briefing by informing us that the company had experienced another solid year of growth, having more than doubled revenue growth in 2018 from 2017 and adding more than 100 new customers and more than 90,000 direct and indirect users to the Scout platform.
“Helping companies build a sourcing pipeline is core to our mission at Scout,” he said. But it’s not just that. Scout seeks to help enterprise customers break down silos, dispel with tribal processes and environments, and arrive at a “single source of truth across the enterprise.” As a result, Grant said that Scout, which was founded in 2014, has not only established a foothold in the sourcing and procurement industry, it has also seen adoption rates rise among larger global business brands. By year’s end, Scout counted more than 170 brands among its customers, with more than 119,000 customers across 117 countries managing more than $20 billion in enterprise spend.
Birds of a Feather…
According to Grant, Scout has noticed some commonalities among its growing customer base. “Companies that have between 5,000 and 15,000 employees, that have made it through first surge of growth, and are looking for ways to either sustain their growth or be more efficient in how they grow are starting to look towards the next iteration of technology for sourcing and procurement to help their teams thrive.”
Culturally, he continued, there are companies that have change agents within them that have been challenging the status quo to enhance the way they conduct business. They have lived through prior failed technology implementations and are looking for the next market disruption. Grant also sees a shift towards how Scout’s customers engage with suppliers more closely and be more transparent.
Michaela jumped in and noted that the consumerization of business technology, driven by younger workers entering the workforce, has also been driving digital transformation among these companies. Modern and accessible applications can help to maintain or improve job satisfaction, particularly among younger workers that are used to using new and robust digital tools in their personal lives.
Grant noted another commonality among their recent wins: these companies all needed help transforming their processes and operations. They had tools that did not work after taking nine months to implement. As Grant said, Scout’s customers wanted a business solution that’s easier to use, highly adoptable, and can draw a quick return on investment (ROI).
Juiced for Continued Success
The second piece of news that the Scout team shared with us was its recent acquisition of $33 million in Series C funding from its investment partners, led by Scale Venture Partners, along with Menlo, Workda Ventures, NewView Capital, and Google Ventures. According to Grant and Michaela, Scout sought this funding “to accelerate the growth of sales and marketing, accelerate platform innovation, and expand Scout’s presence in key verticals.”
Pursuant to its continued success, Grant said that Scout tries to deliver on three guiding principles for its customers, as well as their suppliers: high adoption of its solutions, rapid time-to-value for quick ROI, and an overall enjoyable user experience. This covers Scout’s entire cloud-based sourcing and supplier engagement platform — from intake to pipeline and savings tracking, to sourcing and auctions, to contracts, and finally to approvals and supplier performance. And as Grant noted, end users can manage supplier risk throughout this process.
Grant also discussed Scout Contracts, Scout’s own cloud-based contract management tool that enables Scout users to create, edit, store, and track their contracts with established suppliers within the Scout platform. Scout Contracts centralizes all contract-related documents in one location where users, particularly sourcing teams, can link them to new/existing supplier relationships post-sourcing event and create a single source of truth for all stakeholders. Users can view contract status, set contract renewal/expiration alerts, and request eSignatures from supplier via DocuSign’s integration, or execute the contract using Scout’s in-house eSignature tool. Users can even link contract data to supplier performance and close the loop with them on the platform.
The addition of supplier forms to the Scout platform, said Grant, ought to provide a more streamlined, consistent, and collaborative supplier vetting process that results in faster approvals, greater compliance, and reduced risk emanating from a company’s supplier base. With new Supplier Forms, users can quickly view supplier status and get a sense of their performance and risk exposure. And finally, Scout has created an API that allows Scout users to connect with in-house ERPs and vendor master databases in order to access and update existing supplier profiles, and link sourcing, contract, and supplier performance data for a unified view into supplier information, activities, milestones, SLAs, performance, and risk.
In the year ahead, Grant said that Scout will takes its best shot sourcing optimization by addressing customer direct sourcing needs. The Scout team, he said, has believed that for too long sourcing optimization has been a PhD-level tool for PhD-level users. They wanted to expand the reach of optimization to a whole other class of users. Rather than take on packaging and logistics scenarios, Scout Sourcing Optimization will take a lighter approach at the more practical things that users want and enables them to generate ROI quicker.
Beyond sourcing optimization, Scout RFP will look to help enterprises and users simplify their sourcing processes and pipelines without sacrificing adoption or over simplifying their workflows. Lastly, Scout looks to go to market with a Supplier Relationship Management tool that will aim to tackle “the bigger problem of helping modern sourcing teams measure risk, assess supplier value, and drive continual improvement in the supply chain.”
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Tagged in: Contract Lifecycle Management, People, Performance, Process, Solution Providers, Sourcing, Technology