Spend Management

In a world where everything seems to be moving to ‘digital’, many people may assume printing is going the way of the dodo. And yet, managed print programs and the costs associated with copiers, printers, and maintenance of these devices are still quite common - and even necessary - for many organizations. While this may be driven by specific industry needs or be the result of an organization’s comfort level with printing, managed print services (MPS) are evolving and continue to be an area of opportunity for procurement to review and help optimize.

Whether your organization is just now making the move to MPS, looking to consolidate your MPS supply base, or trying to better manage your current MPS supplier(s), there are two main cost drivers to focus on within the category: 1. obtaining the device and the associated financing model and 2. The cost per click (CPC) (or the maintenance/service component). [As a side note, the maintenance component goes by a variety of names (cost per page, cost per copy, service cost, maintenance cost, click rate, etc.) and may have slight variations depending on what is actually included in your service agreement. I will refer to all of the above examples as ‘CPC’ throughout this post for simplicity’s sake.]

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Services Procurement remains a point of significant pain to procurement departments as well as business managers due to the high volume of projects and the substantial number of vendor partners involved. There are typically multiple systems at play without a centralized repository for all elements of a project engagement. Catalog e-procurement solutions, ‘blanket purchase orders’, and A/P automation all offer limited visibility, governance, or compliance support. Procurement teams are often short-staffed and ill-equipped to manage all of the projects coming through the pipeline. This can result in all attention (not to mention compliance and savings) being focused on large projects while smaller/non-strategic projects go unmanaged or receive minimal oversight. This partial visibility extends to vendor performance as well as the benchmarking of project rates, milestones and deliverables, and even estimated project completion time. Project owners are often left to their own devices where they single-source with one vendor (bypassing the competitive bid process entirely), or selecting project vendors at high rates where staff augmentation work could be utilized at a much lower cost.

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I cannot guarantee whether you will be successful after a well-prepared negotiation, but I can 100 percent guarantee failure or finding yourself outsmarted and in a concessionary position if you choose not to do a thorough prep prior to a negotiation.” (p. 38)

 

Mastering High Stakes Negotiations: Both Sides of the Table by Mark M. Bilgin, Ph. D. (BookLocker.com, 2017) is true to its title in that it lays out all of the considerations associated with the most critical, highest dollar value negotiations conducted. In an odd way, however, even meeting that high bar is still selling the book short.

If you are a people watcher, or a student of human behavior, you will absolutely love this book. I was immediately drawn in by the author’s use of case studies, both his own and the ‘outside’ experiences of others to illustrate in colorful but honest fashion the incentives and pitfalls associated with negotiation prep. Negotiation is, at its simplest level, the use of leverage, exchange, and (somewhat) predictable human behavior to bring parties together for their perceived benefit. As a result, you can not be a master negotiator without being aware of and interested in what people say and do. That may come as a great relief to anyone that still thinks negotiation is about aggressively dominating ‘them’ to get what is best for yourself at any cost.

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Sourcing managers with a Microsoft enterprise agreement (EA) that is about to expire face an important decision and may have many questions. Should they renew their next EA along the same lines as they did three years ago? Expand it to embrace Microsoft’s new cloud-based services, including the Office 365 suite? Scale it back significantly to save money?

Fundamental changes in Microsoft’s product and licensing strategies mean drastic changes to its software assurance’s (SA) value. Your decision criteria will be very different from when you last evaluated your EA, and any related decision involves placing bets on your organization’s future deployment of Microsoft products.

Where should you place your bet?

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3D printing and its applications are evolving rapidly, although most manufacturing businesses are at least five years away from mainstream adoption of the technology. It has a long way to go before becoming a routine aspect of many production environments. Market leaders, however, are gradually embracing 3D printing to take advantage of the technology and stay ahead of the competition. The advantages are numerous – speed, lower cost, time and effort, cheaper manufacturing, ability to customize products, etc.

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Organizations that are not leveraging a managed service provider (MSP) and vendor management system (VMS) may be paying too much for contingent talent and are at risk of noncompliance with various labor and benefit laws. They are also likely to have challenges involving time to source quality talent.

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 “We take a buck, we shoot it full of steroids and we call it leverage.” -Gordon Gecko (Wall Street 2)

 

Leverage - a word that has such meaning it could be used to define itself. When it comes to negotiating, leverage is king. Whether you’re trying to negotiate a multimillion dollar contract or figuring out how to get an extra quart of strawberries included with your purchase at the local farmer’s market, people are always searching for it, and without it you have nothing. Having no ground to stand on when attempting to ask for a compromise from another party is not an ideal position.

 

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Each purchasing category, whether indirect or direct, has a unique set of parameters that can be optimized to take full advantage the savings opportunities in the market. The packaging category is no exception, offering major opportunities for cost savings beyond the basic volume leverage approach.

Packaging, which may be considered either a direct or indirect product depending on the use and company, can be particularly complex to take to market. Many organizations strive to find a supply base that can support the company’s needs while generating value. Taking into consideration the upfront investment of time and resources (without a guaranteed ROI), running a competitive bid process can be an intimidating endeavor for many companies. However, with the proper expertise, packaging is an area of spend with major cost reduction and value added opportunities.

 

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Design – a term that dates back to the 14th century - has become mainstream over the last decade. Design has done well operating on the fringes of organizations and people are now seeing the value that it can create and provide. It has emerged as an important tool to help people see and guide change. How far will it spread and what will be the extent of its impact on business? 

Let's start by taking a broad view of the word in order to understand it's origin and meaning.

 

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As I mentioned in Achieving World-Class Procurement Part 1, today’s increasingly competitive market landscape is driving organizations to reinvest in their procurement and strategic sourcing departments like never before. Beyond establishing centralized purchasing operations, best-in-class companies are elevating their procurement organizations by taking a deeper look at people, processes, technology, and metrics and optimizing them in ways that support enterprise-wide goals – through procurement transformation.  Transformation initiatives allow companies to gain more value from their procurement operations, moving from a reactionary model focused on reducing costs to a more proactive approach to managing spend that streamlines purchasing practices and enhances supplier relationships.

 

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Mobile devices are now part of the modern business uniform. Mobile phones created a culture of always available, but mobile devices enable constant connectivity. What telecom companies don’t want CPOs to know is that bundling voice, data, and devices with them is no longer the most effective way to manage telecoms spend.

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In today’s competitive market landscape, simply having a centralized procurement organization is only the first step to better managed supplier relationships and spend. Leading organizations are quickly realizing that procurement and sourcing groups can offer far more value than tactical support. World-class procurement groups aren’t focused on processing POs and fulfilling orders. Rather, they’re focused on supporting each business unit at a strategic level.

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Non-employee talent is getting more and more attention in the executive suite, as contractors, freelancers, and other knowledge-based contingent workers become increasingly important in achieving company goals. However, when management attempts to align its current contingent labor management program with corporate objectives, many companies find they are unable to answer the most basic questions about the effectiveness of their current practices.

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Fleet operations can absolutely be an overwhelming category to manage. Between deciding on the right vehicle manufacturer, understanding the ever-changing vehicle features, selecting the appropriate maintenance plans, managing fluctuating fuel costs, and more – the active time required is substantial. However, rather than looking at this category as a mountainous challenge, Fleet should be seen as a major cost saving opportunity.

There are multiple triggers for evaluating the fleet category from the top down beyond just due diligence:

  • Evaluating internal versus external management of the fleet.
  • Mergers and acquisitions will prompt the evaluation and consolidation of fleet operations.
  • A new company strategy may mandate the need for a new fleet policy.
  • Maybe the organization lacks a concrete fleet policy or management structure and has outgrown a passive management phase.

In all of these hypothetical situations, a few best practices can be used for an effective category evaluation that enables both cost savings and process optimization.

For any of the reasons listed above, the fleet evaluation/optimization process benefits from taking a two-pronged approach that includes both a comprehensive OEM evaluation and a Fleet Management Services (FMS) provider evaluation. If the fleet administration and management function is housed internally, this two-pronged approach still applies in terms of analyzing the internally managed program (reactive and preventative maintenance programs, acquisition and resale processes, etc.).

 

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As organizations continue to expand the use of contingent talent to supplement their full-time workforce, they are also seeking ways to optimize their contingent workforce programs to generate additional cost-savings. Historically, this was done through supplier rate rationalization, improvements in workflow and cycle time, and engaging a Managed Service Provider (MSP) and Vendor Management System (VMS) to drive efficiencies. While all of these measures generate cost-savings (particularly in first generation and early stage programs), more mature programs require the identification of other strategies like self-sourcing.

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In reading A Circular Economy Handbook for Business and Supply Chains: Repair, remake, redesign, rethink by Catherine Weetman, I was reminded the importance of people taking completely different approaches to a topic. In the case of the Circular Economy Handbook, I was caught completely off guard by her deep and pervasive focus on the environment, renewable resources, and social value.

CircularEconomyThere will always be a recycling component to any discussion of circular economies because they embrace a move away from ‘linear’ production and resource utilization models where goods have a limited useful life and become waste once they reach the end of it. For example, Weetman’s study of the amount of water required to feed a rapidly growing population (1 litre per calorie), raises the stakes for anyone who is only looking a circular model for cost reasons.

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This is the transcript from a recent interview with Donal Daly, CEO of Altify. To listen to the podcast on BMP Radio, click here.

Kelly: Hello, and thank you for joining us today. This is Kelly Barner, Editor at Buyers Meeting Point. Today I would like to welcome Donal Daly. Donal is the founder and CEO of Altify, a provider of enterprise sales methodology for enterprise database sales organizations. He is also the author of the Amazon #1 best seller "Account Planning in Salesforce" and the recently released "Tomorrow Today: How AI Impacts How We Work, Live, and Think.
 
Altify recently opened the response period for the 2017 Business Performance Benchmark Study and Buyers Meeting Point is one of a carefully chosen group of partners working to encourage participation, as well as learning from the study's results. The study, which is now open through December 21st, will examine revenue considerations, top priorities, and the metrics that we can use to gauge progress. All participants will receive a copy of the report, including results, analysis, and insights. It only takes 10 minutes to share your opinion, and I will make sure to share a participation link on today's Blog Talk Radio episode page. So, Donal, first of all, thank you so much for joining me today.
 
Donal: Hi Kelly. Nice to be here. Thanks for having me.

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“Buyers have a privileged position within companies and are exposed to innovative ideas from suppliers often developing their own sense of curiosity. Although not all buyers have realized it yet, they are expected to contribute to the innovation process.” (p. 25)

 

Confessions of a Professional Buyer: The Secrets About Selling & Purchasing Services, by Hubert Lachance, is something like a survival guide for suppliers dealing with procurement – and vice versa. Lachance has over a decade’s worth of experience managing indirect spend for a multi-national CPG company, and he applies that experience to help all buyers and sellers work together more productively.

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With the first (annual?) Procurement Revolution under our belts, Phil Ideson and I have spent the last few days looking back on everything that was shared, asked, and exchanged.

By all measures, the Procurement Revolution was an unmitigated success. Over the course of 5 days, 40 Revolutionaries delivered 5 live webinars and over 50 unique pieces of audio, video, and written content. We were able to cover a wide range of topics, including competitive advantage, globalization, autonomous cars, and digital commerce. Each piece was created as something fresh and new – shared just because it could be rather than because it was commissioned or promotional. The resulting Twitter discussion, using the hashtag #ProcureRev, created over 1.7 MILLION impressions.

 

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As a procurement professional, I am frequently tasked with conducting a spend analysis on behalf of current and potential clients, but for those outside of the industry, this may be an unfamiliar exercise. In this post, I will attempt to provide a crash course on spend analysis, answering some of the most commonly asked questions about the topic: What is a spend analysis? Why should I do one? And finally, how do I do it?

A spend analysis is a very broad term that refers to… you guessed it! Analyzing the spend of an organization with the objective of understanding where money is being spent and where there may be opportunity for cost savings or process efficiencies. Spend analyses are conducted by procurement professionals in an attempt to get a comprehensive view of all of an organization’s expenditures and they are frequently the starting point for beginning the strategic sourcing process. There are a number of benefits to conducting a spend analysis, but the most important is transparency. A spend analysis provides a holistic view of all spend (indirect and/or direct) in a given time period, typically during a fiscal or calendar year. By doing this, you are able to gain visibility into where spend is being allocated, who the top suppliers are, how many suppliers you use for certain services, and areas of opportunity. For decentralized organizations, a spend analysis may reveal potential service redundancies across departments/brands and provide insights into areas of consolidation across supply bases. Along the same lines, a spend analysis provides organizations with the information needed to increase spend control by showing where and how spend/budgets are being allocated. Although there are many reasons why an organization would conduct a spend analysis, the benefits are consistent.

 

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