Procurement

Equivalent Revenue: “Added Value” By Another Name

Traditionally, one of the inherently daunting challenges in Procurement and Sourcing is to quantify and report on cost savings, cost avoidance and/or cost reductions, which can be collectively referred to as "added value."  One very effective way that I have been able to successfully communicate added value and metrics to many C-suite members is by positioning it in a different way. I have found that by using the terminology and calculation for “Equivalent Revenue,” it is generally better received. Since it is a much more common business term and quantification, the C-suite can relate to it and it can be directly measured against the company’s overall revenue. As such, it is more widely accepted than trying to describe such value as only cost reductions or savings. 

Perhaps most importantly, it is really as simple as taking the actual quantified “added value” and dividing that figure by the company’s overall net profit. A quick example: If the total aggregate added value amount is agreed to be $10 million, and the company’s overall net profit margin is 8%, the Equivalent Revenue needed to generate the same amount of that net profit would be $10 million divided by 8%, which equals $125M.  By representing the figures in this light, C-suite members can readily identify and appreciate how much time, effort and expense would be needed to generate the same amount of sales revenue, and therefore clearly recognize the importance of an efficient and effective Procurement and Sourcing organization. 

Dave Gallaer, Head of Procurement and Sourcing, NatWest Markets/Royal Bank of Scotland Securities, Inc.

The Law of Diminishing Returns

Of the many laws that affect the international outsourcing space, one of the most important must be that of diminishing returns. At its heart outsourcing is about efficiency – a provider can only offer a decent value proposition, and turn a profit, if it can achieve a desired output more efficiently than can a would-be buyer of its services – and yet there’s only so much money in the hypothetical pot to invest in driving efficiencies: as a very basic example, if one can spend $x to achieve 10% savings, by the fifth investment of $x the savings made are only around 60% of what was achieved with the first tranche. The returns diminish. After a while, it becomes less and less worthwhile to invest $x in that project, when the same amount put into another deal can yield significantly more.

Finding the right balance between investment and returns (and knowing where is the line beyond which further investment will yield returns too paltry to justify) is vital in any business, but especially one as efficiency-based as outsourcing, where relationships have historically often featured buyers demanding constant and consistent efficiency gains and savings – and, moreover, where the necessary investments in technology and people can be gigantic. Hence the desire on the part of providers to share the value gained by any given investment across as many clients as possible – and the complications resulting from buy-side demands for bespoke work and customisation without a simultaneous understanding of why this of necessity means higher costs, which need to be passed on somewhere, somehow…

Jamie Liddell, Editor, Outsource

Is the Role of the CPO Changing?

As February started, an important conversation got underway: SIG was back in the City of London with a highly engaged group of procurement professionals to explore the latest trends and topics that are shaping their world.

The role of the CPO has come a long way over the last 20 years and change is exponential; happening across the what, how and who of procurement

  • What: organizations are buying new products and services (everything "As A Service," digital and digital-enablers, RPA and other automation tools and services)
  • How: new tools and techniques are being deployed in procurement both because these new products and services need to be acquired in new ways and to drive productivity and effectiveness through analytics and better insight
  • Who: a growing millennial workforce and digital workforce presents new opportunities and challenges for operational management of services 

A recent study from IBM shows that the highest priorities for the CPO are to contribute to revenue growth, to drive innovation across the supply chain and to protect the enterprise brand. Cost is mentioned nowhere, but more because it goes without saying and not because it is no longer a priority.

So, the CPO and their teams are making a strategic contribution to the organization but still find themselves a step removed from the centers of power as they report in through another function and are rarely represented on the board. In a period of exponential change is this procurement’s opportunity to rise to the challenge and enable safe, profitable, innovative growth to earn their place on the top floor? 

Eleanor Winn, Managing Director, SIG EMEA

The "Dollar Store" Phenomenon - Does it Exist in Procurement?

With kids back in school, many parents like me are reflecting on what has become an annual ritual of buying necessary school supplies and of course an equivalent amount of not-so-necessary 'things' to decorate or accessorize school lockers, shelves, backpacks, clothing, etc. So while the leading retailers like Staples...Office Depot...Walmart...Target and other cash in on this period with attractive deals, our friendly neighborhood 'fiVeBELoW' comes in very handy for all those non essentials. Don't get me wrong, sometimes compulsive bargain hunters (once a buyer always – a buyer) like me can also find deals for the back-to-school essentials and a number of other things at 'fiVeBELoW.' I often wonder if there exists a similar pattern in enterprise spending...meaning, does a similar phenomenon (the anything and everything at places like fiVeBELoW – for cheap or let us call it really low dollar spend buys) exist in enterprise buying, especially when we are talking about indirect spend. Throughout my Procurement career, I have come across companies with annual indirect spend ranging between a couple of million dollars up to and in excess of 15-20 billion (though they are very few). Spend items/services...what in old days used to be called 'petty' cash kind of spending...exist everywhere (the $$ amount may vary from a few thousand to a double digit millions), essentially exhibiting with one or more of the features as below.

Rajiv Gupta, Head of Procurement Services, Americas, Infosys

Procurement for Banking: Adjusting to the New Norm

After a period of immense volatility, the banking sector appears to be reaching some level of normalcy. The financial crisis of 2008 was the trigger for drastic changes in the way the industry manages spend. As revenue streams froze and the spending behaviors of banks become front-page news, procurement was invariably thrust into the spotlight as a means of preserving the reputation and profitability of these organizations. Procurement teams operating in the banking environment face a challenging landscape when it comes to controlling spend. A great deal of change is needed, both structurally and culturally before banks can truly take control of their spend. However, procurement technology, if used effectively, can be a vital catalyst for these required changes.

What are they buying? Banks are essentially service organizations. The vast majority of their spend passes the professional service category (roughly 40%) in the form of management consultants and other temporary workers. Information technology and facilities management make up the next largest spend categories accounting for roughly 20% of total spend each. Spend on services is traditionally more difficult to analyze, understand and control than spend on goods, and this presents a challenge for a service heavy industry like banking. However, by leveraging procurement technologies, leading banks are addressing these areas with great success.

Diptarup Chakraborti, Vice President, Global Marketing, Zycus

Beyond Buying: Automating the Transactional to Become Strategic

Dawn Tiura, SIG CEO and President recently spoke on an expert panel at Coupa Inspire, and shared her thoughts with candor and authority. Coupa interviewed Dawn shortly after the event and published a blog sharing her responses which we are publishing with Coupa's permission. The original can also be found on the Coupa website.

Thanks to Coupa for the blog interview below: One of our favorite parts of Coupa Inspire are the expert panels. There's nothing we love more than getting smart people together to talk shop. If you missed Inspire, you can read excerpts of the analyst panel and the CIO panel on our blog. Today we're talking with Dawn Tiura as a follow up to the analyst panel. Dawn is CEO of Sourcing Industry Group (SIG) and has been observing the industry for 25 years from her vantage point as a CPA turned sourcing consultant. There's no one smarter on the topic of where sourcing is heading, so when she remarked during the panel that in her opinion, the term buyer should be eradicated, that piqued our curiosity. So, we got her on the phone to learn more.

Coupa: You had some provocative things to say during our panel discussion. One was that you wished the 'buyer' title would go away. We were hoping you could expand on that.

Dawn: I sure could! To me, buyer is such a demeaning title. The only time somebody is excited to say, "I'm a buyer" is if they're in the fashion industry, because that's cool and exciting and sexy.

Coupa: You're a tastemaker.

Sarah Holliman, Chief Marketing Officer, SIG

Refining the Oil & Gas Industry with Procurement Automation

Oil and Gas firms had a rough ride in 2014; the oil price dropped to below $50 USD a barrel, salary freezes were implemented and thousands of staff members were laid off. As the purse strings of oil and gas producers tighten, the importance of controlling costs and managing spend become ever more apparent. In order to succeed in the changing oil and gas environment, firms need to first understand how to get more from the money they spend (enter procurement). Listed below are a number of the key areas that oil and gas firms are likely to focus on over the coming 12 months. Also outlined is the critical role that procurement functions can play in helping their organization to achieve success in these areas.

Diptarup Chakraborti, Vice President, Global Marketing, Zycus

Amazon....the Next B2B Network?

Amazon. The name alone makes you think of something big. So it makes sense that they might have something grandiose on the horizon.

With that in mind, I want to start a conversation about whether Amazon might be the next Ariba or Coupa. I heard a rumor that 10 or so Ariba people have gone to Amazon with the intention of making it the next and biggest B2B network in the world. Think about it, we all know how to use Amazon, they have a network that is massive, they have distribution and delivery capabilities, so why couldn't they host additional suppliers and be the purchasing platform for businesses? Amazon has the money, they know how to fill demand, they are nimble, they are constantly innovating...what is to stop them?! They could fairly easily add a feature that limits our searching to approved items with our company's contracted pricing (that it knows to show when we log on with our company credentials) and then check us out with a credit card or even link directly to our accounts payable systems.

Amazon is wildly successful, has a surplus of cash and has set the standard for online purchasing and customer service...so why not go a step further and move from the B2C to the B2B world? I was in the San Francisco Bay Area recently to speak at Coupa Inspire. I love being in the Bay Area surrounded by brilliant people with amazing thoughts and aspirations. After living there for 30 years, I should not be surprised by the number of new companies, ideas and appetite for innovation, however I always am. While there, I spent an evening with my oldest son and his girlfriend, both typical millennials working in Silicon Valley. We started "what iffing" and (since my son has grown up with me as a mom talking supply chain and sourcing and spent time working for Coupa) we convinced ourselves that this is distinctly possible. So was it the wine...or are you drinking the Kool-Aid and see the possibilities here too??

Dawn Tiura, President & CEO Dawn

Set Your Procurement Process to "Automatic"

How many settings does a washing machine need...or for that matter, a camera? It seems that the more settings there are, the higher the price. Of course this seems right, doesn't it? If you're emptying your pockets (or even your bank account) to get the latest and greatest device, whatever it is, you want to be sure it can do absolutely everything. You want it to handle your bed linens as well as your silk shirts (the washing machine, that is, not the camera). Most washing machines CAN do all of that, but wouldn't it be nice if you could just set them to automatic? In my household we used to have a washing machine with a dial labeled "A to J." We always put it on "E" which we decided stood for "Everything." But would we pay as much for a device that only had one button? Perhaps a big friendly button that had "Wash" written on it? Almost certainly not.

Paul Blake, Senior Manager, Technology Product Marketing, GEP

Procurement's New Year's Resolutions for 2015: More Saving, More Doing (But Not More Budget)

Since the New Year has arrived, it's time now for the annual onslaught of Procurement Prognostications for 2015. Of course a year from now, what actually transpires may bear little resemblance to what was predicted – and who really goes back and reconciles results with resolutions anyway? But at least in this case, an educated guess can be made as to what procurement leaders will actually be focused on in 2015, based on their responses to a recent joint survey conducted by Zycus and The Hackett Group of over 200 procurement leaders and practitioners.

Richard Waugh, Vice President, Corporate Development, Zycus Inc

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