SIG Speaks Blog

3 Document Automation Trends Reshaping the Outsourcing Industry

Document automation trends in outsourcing

Three major trends are reshaping the industry: a major rethinking of outsourcing vs. moving in-house, advanced handwriting recognition becoming mainstream and the increased need and reliance upon data science. This article explores these trends, as well as what they mean to enterprises and their service providers.

Rethinking the Benefits of Outsourcing

Just recently, HFS research published an article on the acceleration of insourcing operations that service providers currently provide. Why is this? One of the primary reasons is the renewed interest in automation. Also, it is the perspective that with automation, reliance upon manual labor is reduced, the outsourced version of which is still the primary business model of many service providers both large and small.

Historically, if an organization wanted to rid itself of low-value, but necessary tasks or processes, the best option was always to outsource these functions to a service provider that could provide the same capability at less cost through economies of scale. With automation, there is the promise of handing over the work to “bots” that can be deployed anywhere and whose costs are not sensitive to typical wage arbitration. A bot costs the same whether it is deployed onshore or in low-cost regions. HFS calls this “going straight to digital.”

Greg Council, Vice President of Marketing and Product Management

2020 Vision: Putting Sourcing at the Center of Visibility and Impact

Digital transformation increases data visibility.

Vision is a funny thing. Until relatively recently, humans were at the mercy of circumstance when it came to sight – if you had 2020 vision, you were lucky, but if not, you had no choice but to hope for the best. Then, glasses, telescopes and microscopes were invented. Then, flashlights. Suddenly, we could see very near and very far, and even in the dark. With the right tools, our world was transformed. 

Similarly, visibility in business is transforming with technology. In the past, we used notebooks and spreadsheets to transfer information. Today, we’ve seen customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and human capital management (HCM) software take off and transform the level of visibility within the business, allowing for unprecedented impact. Now, it’s Sourcing’s turn to transform and break free of spreadsheets and cumbersome legacy tools.

VSP Global Looks to Transform Sourcing

At VSP Global, the largest not-for-profit vision benefits provider in the United States, this sourcing transformation was a key priority. VSP serves over 77 million members by focusing on quality and affordability in eye care insurance, high-quality eyewear, ophthalmic technology and connected doctor-patient experiences.

To continue delivering the best results for their members, VSP Global set out to transform the way it approached the procurement process to drive better business outcomes, increasing stakeholder collaboration and visibility across the enterprise. The procurement team aligned on prioritizing four specific processes:

Stan Garber, President and Co-Founder at Scout RFP

SIG Speaks Weekly Briefing - October 7

Here's your weekly update on the latest thought leadership, networking events and training with SIG. 

A Report on Maverick Spend

The Hackett Group conducted a survey to gain insight into the strategic importance of maverick spend reduction, understand the adoption of specific procurement practices, and differentiate how top-performing organizations approach this topic.

This Month at SIG

It’s hard to believe that we are making the final turn into 2020. As you begin Q4, we have the resources you need to help you finish out the year strong.

Everest and SIG Join Forces

SIG and Everest Group have partnered to provide SIG members with free resources, insights and analysis to help capture greater value from contracts and provider relationships.

Future of Sourcing Articles

New AI systems represent new roles and skills for the people who work alongside them. Learn more about the term "human augmentation" and its role in implementation of AI in business.

With the pressure to identify the right talent (at the right time and the right price) increasing, companies need to have a more holistic view of the candidate journey. Are you harnessing your plethora of data for better hiring practices?

Hailey Corr, Content Manger

Don’t Go It Alone – Ways to Win a Software Audit

software audit

Let’s face it: Software audits are not fun.

I should know – I lived through a very painful and protracted software audit at my current company, Russell Investments, an audit that lasted over eight months from start to end. While the software provider (who I will not name) was completely within their contractual rights, I learned a lot from the experience and would like to share that experience with you – so you can learn from what we did right, and what we did wrong. For the purposes of this blog and my presentation at SIG’s Fall Global Executive Summit, I will call this software provider “Skynet,” but rest assured the real name of the company is one you would easily recognize.

Software audits never happen at a convenient time. Our situation started in late November 2018, near the end of our fiscal year. Our various business groups were scrambling to get their purchase orders approved and issued by year end. Any remaining budget dollars were being used to get a head start on the next fiscal year.

Skynet sent a letter to our CFO saying that we had been “selected” to receive a software license review. The word “audit” was never used in the letter. Audits are highly profitable for software companies – companies can operate within their contractual rights, as audits have a high ROI. Why? Because most clients do not have a firm grasp on the number of software licenses purchased or deployed (either on-prem or in the cloud). 

Brett Miller, Director, Russell Investments

How a Tainted Supply Chain Spelled Disaster for the e-Cig Industry

e-cigarette supply chain

America’s love affair with e-cigarettes evaporated quickly as millions of users were recently confronted with unnerving news—their vapes could actually contain toxic chemicals powerful enough to be deadly.

With 12 confirmed deaths and more than 800 people sick with a mysterious lung illness, tainted THC-infused vape products appear to be the culprit. Unchecked systemic risk combined with a complex supply chain has jolted the e-cig business.

The CDC issued words of caution on September 27, “Anyone who uses an e-cigarette or vaping product should not buy these products off the street.” The sentiment is clear—consumers need to avoid e-cigs from potentially shadowy manufacturers and distributors fed by an unregulated supply chain.

Duty to the Consumer

E-cig manufacturers have a responsibility to pinpoint precisely what in their products is harmful, just as distributers must be confident they are only carrying reputable items that are sourced through a responsible supply chain. Many vaping products have been found to contain illegal synthetic marijuana, even when consumers believed they were buying THC-free products such as CBD pods.

In an industry as young and unregulated as e-cigs, it’s not surprising an unknown health consequence was lurking on the horizon. Consumers had no idea what ingredients or manufacturers to be wary of because no one yet knew there was a concrete hazard.

Liz Mantovani, CSP, CSMP, C3PRMP, Director of Operations, SIG

This Month at SIG – October 2019

October Events at Sourcing Industry Group

It’s hard to believe that we are making the final turn into 2020. It has been a wild year, with Tweet storms swinging the markets, the impacts of tariffs on supply chains and more companies than ever in the headlines for data breaches, but it has also been an exciting year. Gartner predicts that AI projects will double over the next year and IDC forecasts that global digital transformation spend will reach $1.18 trillion, a 17.9% increase over 2018.

These advancements have allowed procurement to grow from a back-office purchasing function to a strategic business partner, consulting on technology spend and adoption, supplier innovation, and increasingly, third-party risk management. With those themes in mind, we begin Q4 with the resources to help you finish out the year strong.

Fall Global Executive Summit

The SIG team is in overdrive to bring you a revamped Global Executive Summit that has a laser focus on innovation. Breakout sessions include digital transformation roadmaps, supplier relationship management and risk mitigation strategies, and the strategic sourcing success stories that will encourage and inspire you. We also have a lineup of keynote speakers who are senior practitioners and thought leaders:

Stacy Mendoza, Digital Marketing Manager

Talking to Your Tail Spend: The Prologue

Talking to Your Tail Spend: The Prologue

During a panel I hosted at Coupa Inspire on the role of the CPOs as “spendsetters,” the conversation evolved, as they often do, to the topic of third-party risk management. We quickly got around to discussing “tail spend” and the amount of inherent risk in the tail since it is fairly typical to not have done any true sourcing of this spend. Even more concerning, we don’t know who our third or even fourth parties are with any degree of background, let alone the risk exposure. An audience member during the Q&A asked a great question: If you could ask your tail spend three questions, what would they be?

This struck me funny and felt like we were putting a human face on something that is typically so intangible and unknown, almost like being face-to-face with a distant relative who you always speak about in whispers (admit it, we all have one). This made me feel like it was time to get personal and ask all the things that I had thought and whispered about, but never had the guts to ask... and this was my chance.

When I asked my panelists to comment, they did not hesitate.

“Who are you?”

“Why do you even exist?”

“How can I make you go away?”

“How did you even come to be in the first place?”

“I don’t even know you!”

The entire audience became engaged in a lively conversation. I told the person who asked the question (and I hope to find this person one day and thank him, in case you know the man in the second row, with glasses I believe, stage left, please tell him to reach out to me), that this conversation was not over. There was so much left uncovered.

Dawn Tiura, President and CEO, SIG

SIG Speaks Weekly Briefing - September 23

Here's your weekly update on the latest thought leadership, networking events and training with SIG. 

Benchmark & Optimize Your Spend Strategy

Gain exclusive access to a chapter highlight from Coupa’s annual benchmark report, where they look at 3 KPIs across the source-to-contract process to gauge your organization’s progress and optimize your spend strategy.

7 Sourcing Business Models for Sourcing Effectiveness

This article outlines seven sourcing business models that organizations should consider to improve their sourcing effectiveness and get the best results from supplier relationships.

SIG University

LAST CHANCE! There's still time to register for the upcoming semester of SIG University before the tuition increases in 2020. 

Lock in the lowest tuition rates for the certification programs that are entirely online to fit your busy lifestyle.

Future of Sourcing Articles

This October, the Future of Sourcing Awards will celebrate seasoned veterans whose thought leadership and innovative work in the sourcing field have made a transformative difference over the course of their career. Read about Sourcing Star Finalist Canda S. Rozier who was one of the first female CPOs in the industry and a true trailblazer.

Hailey Corr, Content Manger

7 Sourcing Business Models to Improve Sourcing Effectiveness

Sourcing Business Models

Very few companies operate today without external support from third parties. Whether they are providing services, such as catering or cleaning, or specific parts necessary to manufacture products, most companies rely on outside suppliers in some capacity. For years, many organizations treated suppliers like nameless, paper-based transactions, designed to get the best price and little else. Over the past decade or more, much research has been done that supports a fundamentally different approach, one that embraces the idea that more can be gained from suppliers if the agreements are collaborative and based on output or outcomes – if they are seen as “relationships” and not “transactions.”

This article outlines seven sourcing business models that organizations should consider to improve their sourcing effectiveness and get the best results from supplier relationships.

Key Concepts to Improve Sourcing Effectiveness

Nobel prize winner Dr. Oliver Williamson laid some of the groundwork for the business models with 10 key lessons that contribute to more effective sourcing agreements.

1. Look at sourcing as a continuum, not a final destination
2. Develop contracts that create mutual advantage
3. Identify all costs, including transaction costs and their impact on risk and price
4. Understand that the greater the bilateral dependencies, the greater the need for preserving continuity
5. Use a contract as a flexible framework, not a legal weapon
6. Develop safeguards to prevent defection
7. Minimize transaction costs with shared visions and predicted alignments
8. Be credible – your contracting “style” matters (read: don’t strong arm your suppliers)
9. Build trust – leaving money on the table will come back to you in spades
10. Keep it simple

Mary Zampino, Vice President - Content, Research and Analytics

SIG Speaks Weekly Briefing - September 16

Here's your weekly update on the latest thought leadership, networking events and training with SIG. 

Artificial Intelligence and Its Impact On Procurement and Supply Chain

Read how GEP is breaking down some of the essential AI concepts and showcasing the game-changing applications that they believe are most relevant in procurement and the supply chain.

Learn Essential Capabilities for Modern Procurement and Finance

Most procurement and finance organizations struggle with data quality and visibility. Even the most sophisticated teams still find themselves stuck in a reactive mode. This eBook explores some of the technology trends and business practices that are helping to define a new, strategic role for procurement.

SIG University

SIG University is actively enrolling now for classes starting on September 30th. This is the last semester to attend before tuition increases in 2020. Students from companies like Symetra, TD Securities, Lincoln Financial Group, Microsoft, Bank of the West, Adobe, Florida Blue, Travelers, MUFG Union Bank, IBM and many more have been certified. Download the Curriculum Guide!

Hailey Corr, Content Manger

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