SIG Speaks Blog

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

SIG Speaks Weekly Briefing - October 21

Here's your weekly update on the latest thought leadership, networking events and training with SIG. 

Benchmark & Optimize Your Spend Strategy

Gain exclusive access to a chapter highlight from Coupa’s annual benchmark report, where they look at 3 KPIs across the source-to-contract process to gauge your organization’s progress and optimize your spend strategy.

Artificial Intelligence and Its Impact On Procurement and Supply Chain

Read how GEP is breaking down some of the essential AI concepts and showcasing the game-changing applications that they believe are most relevant in procurement and the supply chain.

Hailey Corr, Content Manger

Aligning Risk Management Tools to Protect Customer Data

SIG University's Certified Third Party Risk Management Professional Program helps protect against company data breaches

SIG University Certified Third Party Risk Management Professional (C3PRMP) Program graduate Cindy Lingerfelt works at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida. She shares what she’s learned about third-party risk management and how her small team plans to build a stronger risk culture.

In the C3PRMP program, students focus on best and emerging practices to identify, assess, manage and control third-party risk throughout the lifecycle of relationships, and learn how to align risk fundamentals and frameworks with risk culture to develop the essential tools and controls for effective governance.


I work for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida on the Procurement team. My sub-team, Supplier Management, is small and we wear many hats. We were the first in our organization to implement some standardization for how critical suppliers were managed by developing a segmentation questionnaire to tier our suppliers and worked with business owners to get all Tier 1 suppliers on performance scorecards. Our role was to provide standard formatted scorecards with a library of the most common KPIs, stationary, QBR templates and more. 

Due to an incident with a supplier, the board made a directive that supplier risk should have a more explicit focus. A new team called Enterprise Risk Management was formed within Corporate Affairs/Internal Audit to address supplier risk and closely partner with Procurement on new suppliers and manage risk with our current supplier base.

Cindy Lingerfelt, C3PRMP, Sourcing Specialist, Florida Blue

SIG Speaks Weekly Briefing - October 14

Here's your weekly update on the latest thought leadership, networking events and training with SIG. 

The Global Executive Summit begins today!

We are in warm and sunny Carlsbad, California waiting for you to join us for the SIG Global Executive Summit taking place this week.

Can’t make it this fall? Join us in Orlando!

We're hosting a new kind of conference next spring. Secure your spot in Orlando for the SIG Procurement Technology Summit from April 20-22. This event will ignite your mind and impact the world!

The Innovation Hall

SIG is excited to present an Innovation Hall at the Fall 2019 Summit. The Innovation Hall introduces attendees to the latest tools, technologies and solutions available for sourcing professionals in one place. Plus – attendees can request meetings directly with sponsors to see their industry-leading solutions up close!

Hailey Corr, Content Manger

3 Document Automation Trends Reshaping the Outsourcing Industry

Document automation trends in outsourcing

Three major trends are reshaping the industry: a major rethinking of outsourcing vs. moving in-house, advanced handwriting recognition becoming mainstream and the increased need and reliance upon data science. This article explores these trends, as well as what they mean to enterprises and their service providers.

Rethinking the Benefits of Outsourcing

Just recently, HFS research published an article on the acceleration of insourcing operations that service providers currently provide. Why is this? One of the primary reasons is the renewed interest in automation. Also, it is the perspective that with automation, reliance upon manual labor is reduced, the outsourced version of which is still the primary business model of many service providers both large and small.

Historically, if an organization wanted to rid itself of low-value, but necessary tasks or processes, the best option was always to outsource these functions to a service provider that could provide the same capability at less cost through economies of scale. With automation, there is the promise of handing over the work to “bots” that can be deployed anywhere and whose costs are not sensitive to typical wage arbitration. A bot costs the same whether it is deployed onshore or in low-cost regions. HFS calls this “going straight to digital.”

Greg Council, Vice President of Marketing and Product Management

2020 Vision: Putting Sourcing at the Center of Visibility and Impact

Digital transformation increases data visibility.

Vision is a funny thing. Until relatively recently, humans were at the mercy of circumstance when it came to sight – if you had 2020 vision, you were lucky, but if not, you had no choice but to hope for the best. Then, glasses, telescopes and microscopes were invented. Then, flashlights. Suddenly, we could see very near and very far, and even in the dark. With the right tools, our world was transformed. 

Similarly, visibility in business is transforming with technology. In the past, we used notebooks and spreadsheets to transfer information. Today, we’ve seen customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and human capital management (HCM) software take off and transform the level of visibility within the business, allowing for unprecedented impact. Now, it’s Sourcing’s turn to transform and break free of spreadsheets and cumbersome legacy tools.

VSP Global Looks to Transform Sourcing

At VSP Global, the largest not-for-profit vision benefits provider in the United States, this sourcing transformation was a key priority. VSP serves over 77 million members by focusing on quality and affordability in eye care insurance, high-quality eyewear, ophthalmic technology and connected doctor-patient experiences.

To continue delivering the best results for their members, VSP Global set out to transform the way it approached the procurement process to drive better business outcomes, increasing stakeholder collaboration and visibility across the enterprise. The procurement team aligned on prioritizing four specific processes:

Stan Garber, President and Co-Founder at Scout RFP

SIG Speaks Weekly Briefing - October 7

Here's your weekly update on the latest thought leadership, networking events and training with SIG. 

A Report on Maverick Spend

The Hackett Group conducted a survey to gain insight into the strategic importance of maverick spend reduction, understand the adoption of specific procurement practices, and differentiate how top-performing organizations approach this topic.

This Month at SIG

It’s hard to believe that we are making the final turn into 2020. As you begin Q4, we have the resources you need to help you finish out the year strong.

Everest and SIG Join Forces

SIG and Everest Group have partnered to provide SIG members with free resources, insights and analysis to help capture greater value from contracts and provider relationships.

Future of Sourcing Articles

New AI systems represent new roles and skills for the people who work alongside them. Learn more about the term "human augmentation" and its role in implementation of AI in business.

With the pressure to identify the right talent (at the right time and the right price) increasing, companies need to have a more holistic view of the candidate journey. Are you harnessing your plethora of data for better hiring practices?

Hailey Corr, Content Manger

Don’t Go It Alone – Ways to Win a Software Audit

software audit

Let’s face it: Software audits are not fun.

I should know – I lived through a very painful and protracted software audit at my current company, Russell Investments, an audit that lasted over eight months from start to end. While the software provider (who I will not name) was completely within their contractual rights, I learned a lot from the experience and would like to share that experience with you – so you can learn from what we did right, and what we did wrong. For the purposes of this blog and my presentation at SIG’s Fall Global Executive Summit, I will call this software provider “Skynet,” but rest assured the real name of the company is one you would easily recognize.

Software audits never happen at a convenient time. Our situation started in late November 2018, near the end of our fiscal year. Our various business groups were scrambling to get their purchase orders approved and issued by year end. Any remaining budget dollars were being used to get a head start on the next fiscal year.

Skynet sent a letter to our CFO saying that we had been “selected” to receive a software license review. The word “audit” was never used in the letter. Audits are highly profitable for software companies – companies can operate within their contractual rights, as audits have a high ROI. Why? Because most clients do not have a firm grasp on the number of software licenses purchased or deployed (either on-prem or in the cloud). 

Brett Miller, Director, Russell Investments

How a Tainted Supply Chain Spelled Disaster for the e-Cig Industry

e-cigarette supply chain

America’s love affair with e-cigarettes evaporated quickly as millions of users were recently confronted with unnerving news—their vapes could actually contain toxic chemicals powerful enough to be deadly.

With 12 confirmed deaths and more than 800 people sick with a mysterious lung illness, tainted THC-infused vape products appear to be the culprit. Unchecked systemic risk combined with a complex supply chain has jolted the e-cig business.

The CDC issued words of caution on September 27, “Anyone who uses an e-cigarette or vaping product should not buy these products off the street.” The sentiment is clear—consumers need to avoid e-cigs from potentially shadowy manufacturers and distributors fed by an unregulated supply chain.

Duty to the Consumer

E-cig manufacturers have a responsibility to pinpoint precisely what in their products is harmful, just as distributers must be confident they are only carrying reputable items that are sourced through a responsible supply chain. Many vaping products have been found to contain illegal synthetic marijuana, even when consumers believed they were buying THC-free products such as CBD pods.

In an industry as young and unregulated as e-cigs, it’s not surprising an unknown health consequence was lurking on the horizon. Consumers had no idea what ingredients or manufacturers to be wary of because no one yet knew there was a concrete hazard.

Liz Mantovani, CSP, CSMP, C3PRMP, Director of Operations, SIG

This Month at SIG – October 2019

October Events at Sourcing Industry Group

It’s hard to believe that we are making the final turn into 2020. It has been a wild year, with Tweet storms swinging the markets, the impacts of tariffs on supply chains and more companies than ever in the headlines for data breaches, but it has also been an exciting year. Gartner predicts that AI projects will double over the next year and IDC forecasts that global digital transformation spend will reach $1.18 trillion, a 17.9% increase over 2018.

These advancements have allowed procurement to grow from a back-office purchasing function to a strategic business partner, consulting on technology spend and adoption, supplier innovation, and increasingly, third-party risk management. With those themes in mind, we begin Q4 with the resources to help you finish out the year strong.

Fall Global Executive Summit

The SIG team is in overdrive to bring you a revamped Global Executive Summit that has a laser focus on innovation. Breakout sessions include digital transformation roadmaps, supplier relationship management and risk mitigation strategies, and the strategic sourcing success stories that will encourage and inspire you. We also have a lineup of keynote speakers who are senior practitioners and thought leaders:

Stacy Mendoza, Digital Marketing Manager

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