Best Practices

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Many organizations continue to manage suppliers, contracts, and procurement processes manually or with outdated, clunky technology that is too complicated for efficient use.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

Statement of Work: Best Practices for Supplemental Staffing

Group of businesspeople over a table agreeing on a statement of work

There is no question that the world of work is changing. With artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and robotic process automation (RPA), to name a few, technologies are disrupting the industry in radical ways. When you factor in the retirement of Baby Boomers, the advancement of Millennials into management positions and the proliferation of globalization, the face of the workforce is profoundly different. In addition, over the past 40 years – more so over the past 20 – the concept of working at one company for a person’s entire career has become completely foreign. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who graduated from college any time after 2000 who is still with the same company they initially joined. It’s not your father’s – or dare I say, grandfather’s workforce anymore.

Perhaps the biggest change to the landscape of all is that over 41.5% of the workforce is represented by contingent workers, which brings its own set of challenges. This particular dynamic can have legal implications, making it more important than ever to begin those relationships with clearly defined expectations. With such a large portion of the workforce considered “non-employee” (which includes independent contractors, temp labor, freelance personnel and other gig economy workers), it is more critical than ever to carefully frame expectations.

Sarah Holliman, CEO, Cantaré Creative

This Month at SIG – May 2019

You know the saying…April showers bring May flowers, and May happens to be my favorite month of the year. With the flowers blooming, the humidity low (at least where I am in Mid-Atlantic US) and more hours of sunlight to enjoy, I can’t help but get excited for the start of May. If your April was full of showers (real or figurative), I hope you can seize the opportunity this month to make things bloom and reap the benefits of your hard work. Here are a few important things happening at SIG in May to give you a boost.

FUTURE OF SOURCING AWARDS NOMINATION DEADLINE IS MAY 15

Speaking of reaping the rewards of your work, have you considered submitting a nomination to win a Future of Sourcing Award? We are accepting nominations until May 15 to honor and celebrate individuals and organizations that show innovation, leadership and transformation in areas that are critical to the sourcing industry. The 2019 Awards will bring together some of the brightest minds in the industry to create a truly remarkable experience.  

Has your team made a successful impact toward moving our industry forward? Consider submitting a nomination to recognize their achievements with a Future of Sourcing Award! The team awards recognize companies who are fundamentally influencing the world of sourcing in new and innovative ways. There are also individual award categories to honor the personal accomplishments of sourcing professionals.

Heather Schleicher, Senior Marketing Director

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