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.
Amy Fong, Principal - Procurement and Purchase to Pay Advisory, The Hackett Group
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.
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.
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.
Jane Zhang is the Co-Founder of ETCH Sourcing, a Canada based consultancy specializing in providing strategy and execution services in the sourcing, procurement and category management space. She loves people, solving problems, and has years of expertise working throughout the entire sourcing spectrum, from building and executing multi-million-dollar tactical strategies, to being entrusted with some of the most complex and strategic contractual negotiations on business-critical projects. Graduating from the Haskayne School of Business twice over with a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing and an MBA in Finance with a focus on Global Energy Management and Sustainability, she has returned to build and teach business contract negotiations with her Co-Founder as a part of giving back and elevating her alma mater.
Jane is passionate about education is a member for multiple boards, most notable is her role as Board Director and Chief Operating Officer of a non-profit designed to connect children aged 8-13 with industry learning and development through play.
Jane’s latest passion is to champion the role of sustainability in procurement and is celebrating the launch of ETCH’s sustainable procurement offering, which integrates the UN SDGs as a sustainability function into the procurement process from an end-to-end perspective.
Presenting at an industry event is an important step in any professional's career. It is also an excellent opportunity to promote, showcase and reward a team for a job well-done. But most importantly, it is a critical factor in keeping an industry relevant, competitive and strong. Every professional worth their salt should consider it their duty to share their successes and failures.
Of course, in order to present at an industry event, you must first submit a proposal in the form of a session abstract. Sourcing professionals are well versed in writing business cases and category strategies, and we have all read our fair share of good and bad proposals. However, when it comes to writing a speaking proposal, many sourcing professionals don’t give it the time or energy it deserves. These abstracts are often used as written to describe your session, and if the goal is to share your thought leadership, you will want to make sure your abstract gets your audience’s attention. Consider the following five tips to write a compelling proposal for your next industry event.
To write a good proposal, first define your objective for presenting to help drive the format and content. You may decide to present to showcase you or your team's achievements and thereby gain recognition. Or you may use the opportunity to establish yourself as a thought leader on a particular subject. Presenting in a room of peers or potential clients can also help you better understand the trends in your industry and the needs of your customers.
Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence
“It’s not just about cost savings--which was the traditional mindset of the Procurement function. It's about continually improving and re-evaluating how we’re buying to make sure we’re getting the best business outcomes.” - Neil Aronson, Head of Global Strategic Sourcing for Uber
Across all industries, margin and growth pressures are heating up. By 2021, 55 percent of technology procurement staff will require additional digital and analytical skills to enable their desired business outcomes (Gartner 2017). To succeed in this environment, CPOs must focus on closely aligning their team’s strategy and objectives with broader company goals. That requires changing the way their procurement and sourcing teams operate.
Changes of this nature call for a clear blueprint for transformation. And it starts with taking a closer look into current Procurement processes--and determining how success is being measured. A key insight: when organizations evolve alongside new technologies and market trends, so must the metrics needed to track performance.
Evolving Beyond Cost Savings to Accelerate Change
Historically, Procurement and Sourcing teams have been accountable for cost savings as the ultimate measure of success.
But as teams look to transform, they need to reshape their success metrics to chart a path forward. While anecdotal and periodic measurements are helpful, they are forgotten without a consistent stream of key performance indicators (KPIs) to indicate the overall direction of progress.
Stan Garber, President and Co-Founder at Scout RFP
The SIG Peer2Peer (P2P) program allows members to access benchmarking insights and best practices on topics specific to their needs. Using the Peer2Peer resource, members can leverage the experience of other industry professionals by posing questions to the greater SIG community on issues they are facing within their organization. Members use the forum to locate resources, source providers, seek advice on hot topics and share their lessons learned.
Below are the latest Peer2Peer inquiries. You or someone on your team may know the answer to one of the questions below. If you do, please take a moment to help a SIG member from the buy-side. You may need their help one day, too! To submit your own Peer2Peer inquiry, get in touch and we’ll pose your question to the SIG Community.
This buy-side member is re-writing their procurement policy and revamping their process for the requested addition/approval of a new supplier. They are seeking best practices for procurement policies, specifically covering the following topics:
What spend does/does not require a PO?
What are the consequences for procurement policy violations? For example: Committing company funds without a PO or contract.
How are violations to the procurement policy enforced?
What is the process for requesting a new supplier add? Who reviews/approves/denies this request?
When she’s not challenging the status quo and meeting her budget targets at the bank, Debbie helps to make her community a better place as the leader of the Huntington Women's Network Business Resource Group and as a volunteer with various Columbus charity organizations. A big believer in the power of personal connections, Debbie talks about her role at the bank, the importance of utilizing technology and her tips for building professional relationships that can pay off down the line. Debbie is well-known in the SIG community as a member of the SIG Thought Leadership Council, the SIG University Advisory Board and she leads the Steering Committee of the Risk Management Association’s Third Party Management Round Table.
Your keynote presentation at the Columbus CPO Meet and Eat was about tail spend management--why is this such a hot topic?
Huntington’s sourcing team, like many other companies, is lean. Identifying ways to direct low-dollar, high-transaction volume spend to a consistent, repeatable process through catalogs, spot-buys amongst preferred providers or non-catalog PO’s helps focus the team on more strategic projects while maintaining cost discipline in the tail.
Contracting is one of the most important parts of the sourcing process – this is one of the final steps in the process before (or in parallel with) implementation and it documents all terms and conditions agreed to by both parties throughout the sourcing engagement. While it is one of the most important steps in a sourcing engagement, it can also be one of the most painful with numerous rounds of revisions and reviewing legalese that can extend out a project timeline substantially at times. As a Sourcing professional, I’ve reviewed my share of contracts ranging from one page agreements to lengthy contracts with multiple attachments and exhibits. Each contracting experience is different, some have gone smoothly and are wrapped up in a few days’ time, while others took months to come to agreement on the final language. I will highlight a few recent experiences with contracting and some of the lessons learned that can be applied to others in similar situations.
Don’t skip the contract just because of a low spend figure.
On a recent project, my team was brought in to negotiate with a local hardware store that was used regularly for as needed supplies at a local manufacturing plant. Upon further investigation, we learned that the client had already negotiated a discount structure with this supplier earlier in the year, but there was no formal documentation because the annual spend with the supplier was below the threshold when contracts are required.