Interesting BPM Acquisition in Europe

  • June 3, 2014
  • Scott

I was quite surprised by the news late last night from Safira and KPMG:  they’re joining forces as KPMG acquires Safira as an autonomous subsidiary.

LISBON, June 2 – KPMG Portugal SGPS, S.A, announced today the signing for the acquisition of SAFIRA Consultadoria em Informática, S.A. (“SAFIRA”), a leading provider of business process management technology services, as well as the appointment of the 3 SAFIRA shareholders as KPMG Partners in Portugal, after the completion of the transaction scheduled for July, 2014.  SAFIRA focuses on building innovative enterprise systems leveraging, in particular, IBM BPM and ODM (Business Process management and Operational Decision Management) software for large multi-nationals around the world.

In 2013, SAFIRA reached a turnover of €10.9 million and this year expects to surpass €14 million, 80% from international business.

What makes it interesting, perhaps, is that Safira fills a real hole in KPMG’s offering – the ability to deliver the code not just the consulting in the BPM space.  The founders of Safira have become friends over the last few years as we’ve shared stories and experiences across the pond, and even done a little bit of work together – this sounds like a great outcome for the Safira shareholders.  Based on the press release, it looks like the other goal is to fund further growth as the hiring targets were quite aggressive.

So, if the question is, “is BPM dead?”, I guess KPMG would say no – they’re doubling down on BPM.  The KPMG statement is here.

We’ve seen some of these acquisitions in the rules space – big services firms buying specialist firms – but we haven’t seen a lot of these types of acquisitions in the BPM space.  First of many? or one-of-a-kind?

Looking forward to seeing analysis from other industry watchers like Neil Ward-Dutton…




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  • Alberto Manuel

    Hi Scott . I feel happy for the acquisition . Portugal as a country is many times listed as one of the best places to test new ideas to entering in the markets, like a company laboratory to test new ideas due to the size of the sample and access to resources to make the trial. IT companies have a very long tradition in being innovative , like the world wide renowned Crytical software that provides solutions to NASA and NATO. The flip side is that the country does not have scale and as such companies do not have a change to grow and need to expand to international markets. If they succeed, it’s a matter of finding the right exit strategy or continuing growing through acquisitions, but again, once there is no acquired experience on the field as also the global financial institutions to bake such approach, the former path is the one that is mostly followed. Nevertheless, this is the evidence that Portugal as a country it have very forward thinking on BPM, but unfortunately the size of the market forces to disperse around the world dissolving the seize of such opportunity that could be leveraged.

    • Alberto – yes, I noticed they cited 80% international business? (meaning outside Portugal presumably). Given the economic turmoil I’m guessing that taking on work in EU and other places was a necessity to grow the business for Safira? This isn’t all bad for Portugal after all – they bring home the money they make and hire more people locally – who will also learn BPM etc.

      An analogy – in Austin, we have half of our team at BP3. And Austin is one of the epicenters of BPM talent in the US (partly because of Lombardi and IBM, but also Kapow, and a couple of consulting companies like BP3, and IT shops for big corporations that use BPM).

      But most of our (BP3’s) business is outside of Austin. More than 80% is outside of Austin. So, in a sense we’re “exporting” and dispersing our talent over a wide geography and economy rather than just reinvesting in Austin. But when companies in Austin are ready and can leverage the help, we’ll be there with the BPM expertise.

      I’m curious – given that you live in Portugal, any insights on the deal, KPMG, or Safira, or impact on local BPM practices?