Cost Savings

Drive Savings with Contract Negotiation Best Practices

Best practices in contract negotiations

SIG University Certified Sourcing Professional (CSP) program student Jessica Maki works at Driven Brands. She shares what she’s learned about contract negotiation and how she is implementing newly learned best practices and techniques to score bigger wins and drive more savings for her company.

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.


Negotiation planning plays a big part in the procurement industry. Procurement is always looking for the best price, best supplier performance and cost savings for the organization. In SIG University’s Certified Sourcing Professional program, I learned several key factors when it comes to negotiating with suppliers including preparation, best practices, and what to do versus what not to do. Throughout my experience as a procurement specialist, I’ve learned to apply these important techniques during the negotiation process, and it has helped me become a more confident negotiator. 

Jessica Maki, Procurement Analyst, Driven Brands

How to Reduce Value Leakage in Complex Contracts

According to reports authored by the International Association of Contract and Commercial Management, the Aberdeen Group, and the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals, the average contract loses approximately 17% to 40% of its value from the time of execution through to close-out. Value leakage can range from things like low adoption rates, non-value-added change orders, lack of innovation, poor governance, etc. This blog post will help contract professionals understand how customer-supplier relationships lose value and three best practices to preserve value.

Move Beyond Deal Points

Typically, negotiators think in terms of “getting the best deal”, meaning, financial and legal Terms that are favorable to the negotiator’s organization. Here is the problem: if businesspeople accept this premise, they are negotiating short-term “deals” in a complex, long-term business environment.

Focusing on the “deal” often leads to losing focus on the larger business goal(s) that a customer-supplier relationship seeks to address. For example, an overemphasis on “getting the best deal” often results in failing to fully document costly aspects of the work in the Statement of Work, failing to include adequate inspection, testing and cure processes, and failing to document and control common risk events.

Furthermore, focusing on the “deal” also precludes the inclusion of innovation in the delivery of goods and services. Buying emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, cloud computing, or cognitive automation is the new norm, yet only 21% of respondents in Deloitte’s 2016 Global Outsourcing Survey reported that innovation was a key part of their contracts.

Jeanette Nyden and Lawrence Kane

SIG Speaks to Jane Zhang, Co-Founder of ETCH Sourcing

sustainable procurement

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. 

Heather Schleicher, Senior Marketing Director

May I vent? Let's change how we talk about procurement.

An image of four arrows pointed downwards and one illuminated arrow pointing upwards.

Shopping, buyers, shopping carts, savings, back office, JUST STOP DUMBING US DOWN!

As many of you know, my passion is to help elevate the sourcing industry to receive the attention, seat, respect (and yes, pay) that it deserves. So why do sourcing professionals keep self-sabotaging by using the term BUYER to describe ourselves? The only time this is a sexy title is perhaps if you are the buyer of fashion who attends runway shows and hobnobs with designers. Buying is what I do when I “shop,” like for groceries. We as sourcing professionals are NOT shopping.

So onto my next pet peeve, why do we have cute little icons that look like grocery carts to check out within our tools? Yes, it makes it seem like an easy process when pushing it out to our internal customers, but it connotes “shopping,” which, as we have just discussed, we are not doing. We are selecting items from a carefully sourced category after a lot of thoughtful processes have taken place. Why can’t we use an icon that better showcases the importance of this role?

Dawn Tiura, President and CEO, SIG

Brazil, Latin America’s Comeback Kid of the Digital Age?

Situated in the southernmost part of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, nestled among green rolling hills, coffee plantations and dairy farms is the small town of Santa Rita do Sapucaí. A cursory glance shows Santa Rita as a charming town full of farms and churches but in reality, this picturesque little city has so much more to offer. In recent years, it has become known as “Vale da Eletrônica” or Electronics Valley because it is home to the highly respected technical school, Escola Técnica de Eletrônica Francisco Moreira da Costa and is also known as a hub for technological applications, from carpool and table service apps to toothbrushes with sensors that connect to children’s games. And Santa Rita isn’t the only city in Brazil ramping up their efforts.  

Plagued by years of upheaval economically, Brazil is making a comeback and relying on the IT sector to help make their triumphant return. A $200 million joint investment with chipmaker Qualcomm, was welcomed in March by the federal government to build a semiconductor factory in the state of São Paulo where other major tech companies such as Samsung and Lenovo already have operations. Their hope for the investment is that this will be the first step for Brazil in becoming a noteworthy player in the manufacturing of high density semiconductors that are used in 4G and in the future, 5G devices, as well as IoT applications. The investment from Qualcomm is expected to bring in about 1,200 new jobs which only makes a tiny dent in solving Brazil’s unemployment rates—at 11% there is still a long way to go, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Brittany Miller, Marketing Analyst, SIG

Getting Started with RPA

The Hackett Group, in conjunction with Symphony Ventures, recently published a whitepaper regarding Robotics Process Automation (RPA). (You may recall that Symphony Ventures conducted an excellent RPA proof of concept at the SIG 2017 Spring Summit with American Honda.) In this whitepaper, the authors provide a blueprint for selecting sourcing opportunities appropriate for RPA. Any sourcing professional worth their salt, should be considering RPA as a viable strategy after reading this statement, "Individual tasks of such processes may be fully automated with RPA, eliminating 100% of labor and up to 90% of cost. The total efficiency improvement achievable through holistic transformation using RPA across end-to-end transactional process can add up to 50% to 75% of baseline cost."

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

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. 

Guest Blogger, 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 sharing economy changing the procurement landscape?

The digital era is creating new paradigms as it relates to commercial relationships between business and individuals. It's not a new concept, but it is getting stronger each day and changing the way people contract services and products. The sharing economy is a system in which its users share and exchange goods and services through digital platforms.

Uber and Airbnb are some of the most popular examples that are revolutionizing the market, with their respective target markets in the transportation and accommodation industry. Could this new business model also change how organizations contract services and products? Could the new sharing economy open up opportunities for organizations to achieve their constant search for cost optimization?

The benefits that emerging businesses in this space can bring include the provision of cost-effective services and products with reduced lead times. Additionally, these technological applications help to identify available resources in a certain geographic proximity that meets the needs of a company. Another benefit is to directly contract services eliminating the brokerage relationships characteristic of the truckload and 3PL Industry. The Uber model could change and replace traditional freight brokers. Right now there are some companies preparing to support this new business model which gives small truckers the opportunity to offer their spare capacity and resources.

Ana Sofia Gomez, Senior Associate, GEP

Business Outcomes for Procuring Value Beyond Cost Savings

"Price is what you pay. Value is what you get." - Warren Buffett So you think you've seen it all in sourcing and procurement? Have you tried to weed out real value beyond cost savings? Just because you are saving money doesn't mean you've driven value for your organization. It might seem to be amorphous and unaccountable, but the "value" of a deal or contract is definable by the stakeholders in your organization. Find out what they want, and you find what drives "value" in your company. When you know what someone wants, you can negotiate based on that. Maybe "value" is measured in time. Maybe it's measured in contract commitments. Maybe your supplier needs goods or services you have, that can be applied in barter or through profit sharing. Procurement has matured into more than just negotiating the best contract for the best price. The creativity and innovation that can spur both value and savings comes from doing deals that exceed the simple exchange of dollars for services. Here are a few things to consider when putting together a deal: Deal summary – create an overview of the deal:

  • Where did it start, how did it evolve?
  • Who is the customer (if there even is one)?
  • What is the desired outcome?

Intangibles to consider:

Celia De Benedetti