Best Practices

Three Questions To Ask When Framing Technology Decisions in Procurement Functions

By asking three key questions, innovation, procurement and their organizations will be best-suited to choose the tools that best fit their business needs.

SIG University Certified Intelligent Automation Professional (CIAP) Program graduate Daryl Hammett discusses the three key questions organizations should ask when framing technology decisions in procurement functions to best suit their business needs.


While legacy resource planning systems are key to all global supply chains, they are also cumbersome, expensive and not designed to support the type of relational data businesses deal with to drive decisions.

Procurement organizations are thinking more often about innovating old processing systems. What areas have inherent risks in innovating? To what degree do we change? How do we manage it? Who do we get involved? A lot of attention is focused on getting the results from innovation and change, especially those associated with people. Most companies have implemented procedures to manage and grow innovation, but I believe one of the most under-analyzed risks in innovation, and one that could be the biggest threat going unaddressed today, is the risk of group think in implementing change in procurement teams.

As we look ahead to the rest of 2020, cutting-edge technologies will play an essential role in the innovation of procurement. New technology brings with it new responsibilities and it’s easy to become lost in the sea of digital tools available from blockchain to automation to application programming interfaces. It’s important to assess what these tools can actually bring to the organization. They are most effective when utilized with strategies closely aligned to the values and goals of the wider business. Focusing on a problem and selecting a tool that solves this problem will be vital to its success.

With this in mind, I believe there are three fundamental questions that should frame technology decisions in procurement functions.

Daryl Hammett, CSMP, CSP, C3PRMP, General Manager/Chief Operating Officer, ConnXus

Utilizing Soft Skills to Navigate Change Management

Kimberly Morelli discusses how essential components such as soft skills and change management can be.

SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program student Kimberly Morelli works at Driven Brands. She shares how essential components such as soft skills and change management can be and how she is implementing newly polished tools and best practices to tackle organizational challenges.

In the CSP program, students focus on the hard and soft skills of sourcing, including strategic sourcing and outsourcing methodologies, as well as best practices in negotiations.


My enrollment in the CSP Program from SIG University has proven to be timely and I am excited at the opportunity to have lessons that can be readily applied to our procurement organization. I also was heartened to find emphasis by SIG on positive supplier relationships versus an adversarial stance as used to be popular. The procurement team I am on has been in a state of transformation over the past few years, shifting from transactional buying to category management with a specific focus on increasing our sourcing processes. I found the CSP program to have laid a strong framework that is applicable to my organization, both in procurement and business areas.

Kimberly Morelli, Senior Category Manager

Why Secure Sourcing Starts with Automation

Automating supplier-related processes benefits businesses.

Growing economic uncertainty, geopolitical unrest, and emerging cyber threats mean that security and risk management are now critical boardroom priorities. If that weren’t enough, businesses today are not only accountable for the factors that impact them directly, but they’re also responsible for those that impact their suppliers.

Take the recent Quest Diagnostics data breach as an example. Despite Quest’s strong internal cybersecurity infrastructure, the sensitive information of 11.9 million patients was hacked through a third-party billing vendor with subpar security standards. The lesson is clear: a company is only as safe as its weakest vendor.  

Many organizations continue to manage suppliers, contracts, and procurement processes manually or with outdated, clunky technology that is too complicated for efficient use. These haphazard systems are, unfortunately, perfect harbors for risk, but there is tremendous opportunity here. According to a recent McKinsey & Company report, 56% of source-to-pay tasks could be “fully or largely automated using currently available technologies.”

While automation isn’t a cure-all, it does have the potential to drastically decrease overall risk. How? By reducing the “human factor” in supplier management and allowing sourcing employees to focus on more critical projects. In addition to putting risk mitigation at the forefront, automating supplier-related processes benefits businesses in these four key ways:

Chris Crane, Co-Founder, Product, Scout RFP, a Workday company

Talking to Your Tail Spend – Chapter 4: Frameworks to Manage and Find Savings

Find savings and learn how to build a strategic sourcing framework to help you manage tail spend.

This is the final chapter in our tail spend series and we’ve covered some significant ground to understand what tail spend is, why it happens, and the potential issues with ignoring it or managing it in the wrong way. In this final chapter, we'll explore the ways you can find savings in your tail and how to build a strategic sourcing framework to help you manage it going forward.

To get up to speed, you can read the entire Talking to Your Tail Spend series on our blog:

Amy Fong, Principal - Procurement and Purchase to Pay Advisory, The Hackett Group

Talking to Your Tail Spend – Chapter 3: The Potential Risks Lurking in your Tail Spend

Unmanaged tail spend results in significant risks to organizations.

We’ve released a series of articles to answer your questions about tail spend. We started by defining tail spend, discussed how to better work with stakeholders to manage it, and now we’re diving into the potential risks lurking in your tail spend and the problem with taking a scorched Earth approach. To get up to speed, read our prologue, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 on what this tail spend series will help you accomplish.

What is the risk exposure in my tail spend?

Risk is an increasingly important consideration in procurement and we’re right to think about the impact of risk hidden in our unmanaged spend. The tricky thing about risk is that it can differ across companies, even within the same industry. Supplier financial risk is important to most, but what about brand risk, geopolitical risk in the supply chain, and the risk of payment fraud? Depending on the spend category, IP risk or labor practice risk may also be a consideration.

The starting point, once again, is the spend analysis, with the category manager charged with determining the highest risks for their category. If a category isn’t actively managed, it can be assigned to a risk team for a basic analysis. Given that the average company only actively monitors about a quarter of suppliers for risk, there’s a lot of unwatched suppliers even outside the long tail. Risk assessments are typically driven by supplier spend or a triggering high-risk factor.

Amy Fong, Principal - Procurement and Purchase to Pay Advisory, The Hackett Group

SWOT Analysis: A Procurement Best Practice

SWOT Analysis graph

A Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) student rediscovers the benefit of SWOT analysis, a tried and true procurement best practice. In the CSP program, students focus on the hard and soft skills of sourcing, including strategic sourcing and outsourcing methodologies, as well as best practices in negotiations. 


It is common for many procurement professionals to lose sight of the basics and fall into a pattern of just following along with the habits they’ve built through the years. During SIG University’s Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program, I was able to take a step back and evaluate some best practices that seem to have fallen off in my procurement department.

Within my organization, as with many, there is a never-ending sense of urgency when internal stakeholders come to us with sourcing or contracting needs that they would like completed yesterday. By actively embracing SWOT analysis, procurement would be able to better serve its stakeholders. This analysis would provide better oversight of issues as they arise and increase the potential of solving business issues with enhanced results.

Sammi Kiesel, Strategic Sourcing Advisor

Talking to Your Tail Spend: Chapter 2 – 4 Tips to Work with Internal Stakeholders

Advice on how to work with internal stakeholders to manage tail spend

We’re releasing a series of articles to answer your questions about tail spend, starting with the basics so you understand what tail spend is and we’ll progress along the spectrum to help you manage it. To get up to speed, read our prologue and Chapter 1 on what this tail spend series will help you accomplish. In this chapter, we'll explore how to better communicate with stakeholders to get tail spend under control.


“Who purchased you and why?”

This is perhaps the most intriguing question and the right place to start when looking at tail spend. A spend analysis is often the first step in building a procurement capability, and if used on an ongoing basis, it can help to understand what spend consolidation efforts leave out. To accurately capture the full picture, analysis should pull in data from multiple sources, such as purchasing/payment systems, purchasing card data, travel and expense systems, and often multiple ERP systems, even petty cash if local branches still use it.  

Fortunately, there are many helpful tools on the market that range from free-for-use apps to complex software platforms enabled with artificial intelligence (AI). Nearly all of these will help with generating what we call a “spend cube,” which is an analysis, at the line-item level, of global spend. This can include:  

Amy Fong, Principal - Procurement and Purchase to Pay Advisory, The Hackett Group

Who is Spend Matters, what is SolutionMap — and how can SIG members benefit?

SIG and SpendMatters Partnership

As part of Spend Matters' recently announced partnership with SIG, we’re excited to share exactly what Spend Matters brings to the table (deep insights into procurement software) and why that matters Spend Matters 12 SolutionMap Categoriesfor SIG members.

Spend Matters reaches a global audience of procurement professionals and provides coverage of procurement software and services vendors across the source-to-pay spectrum and other areas, like contingent workforce and AP automation. You can find many of the key players in the Spend Matters Almanac, a directory of 500+ vendors and consultants in procurement.

Through SolutionMap, anyone doing a procurement technology selection can explore 12 categories to get a snapshot of those markets for absolutely no cost. Players are ranked in areas like Source-to-Pay (S2P), E-Procurement, Contract Lifecycle Management, Sourcing, Supplier Management and more.

SolutionMap helps procurement organizations save time in their technology RFP processes by relying on the Spend Matters analyst team, who have already assessed capabilities at a granular level, validating them through live demos. Because technology is developed and updated so quickly these days, SolutionMap is updated quarterly.

Carina Kuhl, Chief Marketing Officer, Managing Director, Spend Matters

Talking to Your Tail Spend: Chapter 1 – Why don't you call me by my real name?

In this blog post, tail spend is defined as unmanaged spend.

We’re releasing a series of articles to answer your questions about tail spend, starting with the basics to help you understand what tail spend is and progress along the spectrum to help you manage it. To get up to speed, read our prologue on what this tail spend series will help you accomplish


The term “tail spend” has become a common term in procurement-speak because in our minds we like to visualize all of our spend fitting on a nice curve with suppliers on the X-axis and spend per supplier on the Y-axis, something like in Figure 1 below. The suppliers with the lowest spend are plotted to the right and we think of that as the tail. A shorter tail implies we’ve done a better job of consolidating our spend among fewer suppliers. Since supplier consolidation with the goal of cost savings was the raison d’etre of early sourcing groups, the shape of this curve feels like an indicator of success.

Typical Spend Curve with a Long Tail

Amy Fong, Principal - Procurement and Purchase to Pay Advisory, The Hackett Group

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

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