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.

Leaving the panel, I ran into my dear friend Amy Fong, Principal in The Hackett Group’s Procurement Executive Advisory Program and Program Leader for the Purchase to Pay Advisory Program. We agreed that there was so much left to discuss that we must continue the conversation. When we returned to our respective offices, we crowdsourced this tail spend question to our LinkedIn and Twitter networks, and I’m proud to say the SIG community came through loud and clear.

Amy, who is a frequent presenter at our networking events, has more than 20 years’ experience in both industry and consulting with a focus on procurement, supply chain and organizational effectiveness, which makes her aptly suited to answer these complex questions about tail spend. She performs extensive primary research on the source to pay and operations space and has authored numerous publications. She buried into the research to break down what tail spend is – what it is not – and what you can do about it.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be releasing a series of articles to answer your questions about tail spend, which will undoubtedly lead to even more questions! We’ll start with the basics to help you understand what tail spend is and progress along the spectrum to help you manage it.

If you have questions about tail spend that you’d like to be answered, reach out to me at In the meantime, the SIG Resource Center has a wealth of information on tail spend, including whitepapers and Summit presentations, so you can familiarize yourself with tail spend and contribute to the conversation.


Read the entire Talking to Your Tail Spend series on our blog:

Dawn Tiura, President and CEO, SIG

Dawn Tiura is the CEO and President of SIG, SIG University and Future of Sourcing and has over 26 years' leadership experience, with the past 22 years focused on the sourcing and outsourcing industry. In 2007, Dawn joined SIG as CEO, but has been active in SIG as a speaker and trusted advisor since 1999, bringing the latest developments in sourcing and outsourcing to SIG members. Prior to joining SIG, Dawn held leadership positions as CEO of Denali Group and before that as a partner in a CPA firm. Dawn is actively involved on a number of boards promoting civic, health and children's issues in the Jacksonville, Florida area. Dawn is a licensed CPA and has a BA from the University of Michigan and an MS in taxation from Golden Gate University. Dawn brings to SIG a culture of brainstorming and internal innovation.