Spend Management

While some may believe that direct mail programs have gone out of style similar to print advertising, industry trends indicate quite the opposite. According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Statistical Fact Book, the spend associated with direct mail has been increasing over the past few years from approximately $44.3B in 2012 to $44.8B in 2013, and a decent leap to $46.0B in 2014 – and for good reason. The average response rate for a campaign targeting recurring customers was 3.4 percent for direct mail, compared to 0.12 percent with email. In addition, the average cost per lead for a campaign targeting new customers was $51.40 for direct mail; whereas email was $55.24, meaning that the cost to generate a qualified sales lead or order was about $4 less with direct mail than email.

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Strategic Sourcing and Category Management: Lessons Learned at IKEA by Magnus Carlsson (KoganPage, August 2015) is not a case study, although I didn’t need the note from the author in the introduction to know that. The author may have spent 25 years at IKEA, working in strategic sourcing, but this is less a story of one company and more the learnings gained by one professional over 2.5 decades in a competitive environment.

Like any other book I review or event I attend, my focus in reading this book was to cull out the important ideas: what are the few take aways that really stand out as unique? There are quite a few in this book, any of which will improve the maturity and results of your procurement organization. I think this book is fantastic – full of great new ideas and ways to implement them.

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Last week I shared six B2B buying processes being compared by Wake Forest University in North Carolina. You can learn more about their research here.

I looked at the processes, and can see where each of them would have a place in the right scenario. You would expect processes to be different by company or industry, but do you ever vary your process by category? Feel free to share you comments below or join the conversation on Twitter: @BuyersMeetPoint.

I think (E) Robinson, Faris, and Wind most closely resembles the standard strategic sourcing process that most organizations follow. A typical process usually 6-8 steps, starting with internal and historical data collection and leading to either supplier performance management or a hand-off to the internal stakeholders who will manage the relationship for the duration of the contract.

That being said, the other models match different (and maybe less typical but no less common in the grand scheme of things) procurement situations...

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Professors Michelle Steward and Jim Narus at Wake Forest University in North Carolina are learning about the B2B buying process. In particular, they are interested in the buying process that you find fits your current job. Please select one of the six models (below) that best fits your buying process. Feel free to note any differences or customized aspects if what you see does not match your job exactly. The collective findings from the study will be used for academic journal articles that are aimed at explaining how the buying process has changed over time. All participants will be sent a copy of the final paper. No names (personal nor company) will be used in the publication, only general findings will be reported.

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Over the past few years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been cracking down on unethical billing practices at major telecom carriers like Verizon and AT&T. This past October, Verizon paid as much as $64.2M in cash and phone credits to settle a class-action lawsuit for over-charging subscribers of their Family Plan[i].

The case against Verizon accused the telecommunications giant of charging Family Plan subscribers for “in-network” minutes that were supposed to be free, or charging customers with additional phones on the plan $0.45 per minute going over the allotted minute allowance (instead of the $0.25 that was charged to the primary phone on the plan).

The FTC also filed suit against AT&T for throttling data for unlimited data plan subscribers when they used over a specific amount of data during a billing cycle. They explained that AT&T failed to adequately inform customers who had signed up for the unlimited data plan that their speeds would be slowed if they used more than a certain amount of data. Even worse, “When customers canceled their contracts after being throttled, AT&T charged those customers early termination fees, which typically amount to hundreds of dollars,” the FTC said in a statement.[ii]

Telecom contracts aren’t designed to be easy to read and understand. As a result, customers frequently end up paying more than they should for their carrier’s services. While the cases of Verizon and AT&T are the result of dishonest billing practices, customers often fall victim to subpar contract terms and conditions, including overpaying or even paying for services they don’t actually need.

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Early in the course of a product design and manufacturing organization’s strategic sourcing project it is common to have a kickoff meeting that includes the engineering team. It is the opportunity for...
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It is very important for businesses to be able to react to changes in the marketplace within their supply chains. This is possible where: there is a desire to make changes; there are clear market signals; there is good information available within the supply chain; and when optimum amounts of inventory are held. (p. 22)

Inventory Management: Advanced Methods for Managing Inventory within Business Systems by Dr. Geoff Relph and Catherine Milner (Kogan Page, July 2015) is accurately described by the authors in their introduction as achieving a balance between the philosophical and the practical. In fact, despite the complexity or maturity of their approach (appropriate given the ‘Advanced Methods’ designation in the title) all of the Excel-based tools for modeling inventory requirements based on the book are available for download. It doesn’t get more practical than that.

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While people may talk about the procurement process, the procurement discipline actually encompasses a number of different processes. They include spend analysis, supplier relationship management, and...
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It’s been a good couple of weeks for research in procurement. Late last week, Proxima Group released their findings around how consumers perceive companies that find themselves entangled in supplier-related controversies. Then on Tuesday, Xchanging shared the first results from research they did with input from over 800 procurement decision-makers spread evently across the U.S., U.K., and mainland Europe.

While the complete research will be released one chapter at a time (starting with the New Role of Procurement), the high level findings suggest that the sources of procurement’s challenges aren’t what we previously thought.

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Late last week, Proxima Group revealed the initial findings of research they commissioned into how consumers – American consumers specifically, feel about companies that find themselves on the wrong end of a supplier scandal.

According to the release, “The study of typical American consumers, commissioned by sourcing and procurement specialist Proxima, reveals that 74% of respondents stated they would be unlikely to buy products or services from a company involved in controversial supplier practices. Furthermore, nearly 66% would stop giving such a company their business even if that company was the most convenient and cheapest option.”

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The big idea behind this book is that the way a company configures its operations to deliver this brand experience to customers – while delivering viable financial performance – is an opportunity for significant competitive advantage and marketplace disruption.” (p. 2)

Business Operations Models: Becoming a Disruptive Competitor by Alan Braithwaite and Martin Christopher (Leading Procurement Strategy, Humanitarian Logistics) is a book that sort of sums it all up on its own with the ‘big idea’ quote above. Changing the configuration of an operation to get a different result is a straightforward enough idea. Why, then, do you need to read beyond page 2? The answer to that question lies in the many case studies and visuals in the book. Needing to reconfigure your operating model for competitive advantage might be an easy concept to accept, but the execution is likely to be difficult.

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This week’s webinar notes are from a March 31st event sponsored by SAP/Ariba and presented by Andrew Bartolini of Ardent Partners. I assume it will be made available on demand on Ariba’s Resource Page – you can click Show Search Options and Search by Type to focus on webinar replays.

This is Ardent Partners’ 10th annual CPO Rising research and report. This year’s participant group included 318 CPOs (and similarly positioned procurement leaders) in the survey and a group of 26 who were interviewed for additional information and context.

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We’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket.” Choosing to dual source a category means using two (or more) suppliers to provide identical copies of a product or service. Many companies choose to dual source a product to maintain quality levels of service to their customers and mitigate potential supply chain issues.

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This week’s webinar notes are from a March 9th webinar hosted by IACCM and presented by IACCM Resourcing CEO Susanne Birch. Before I share any of my notes from the event, I have a confession to make. It may not seem related, but bear with me.

I despise pink rollerblades.

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This week’s webinar notes are from a March 5th webinar hosted by Gartner. Douglas Laney, a Gartner Research VP, who made the presentation, was a strictly no-nonsense guy. He opened the webinar by introducing himself as not being either a tech/tools or Magic Quadrant guy.

That combination definitely benefitted the audience, as the following presentation on analytics, data, and information, was application or function agnostic and offered real insight for any team in an organization attempting to harness the power of data for competitive advantage. Not all companies display the same attitude towards information and its potential perhaps because, as Laney pointed out, information is not yet a balance sheet asset.

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“The whole is more than the sum of its parts.” – Aristotle

We believe we have good data… but is it complete?

I’ve had many conversations with Travel and Procurement managers about how much addressable travel spend the company has. This is a critical number as it validates a company’s volume, and dictates the sourcing strategy and execution. In most cases, I’m immediately presented with the Travel Management Company’s report of phone and online bookings. While this data is helpful and telling, there is an average of another 55% of travel spend that is not being accounted for in those data sources*.

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It’s no secret that when a company is looking to solicit bids for a project, opening up a Request for Proposal (RFP) offers a simplified, standardized, and centralized means to compare diverse bidders. A well-crafted RFP separates the best-fit from the less qualified. A poorly executed request, on the other hand, will shut out even the most qualified providers before they have a chance to shine.

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This week’s webinar notes are from a December 10th webinar hosted by Directworks. The event will be available on demand in case you were unable to attend – we’ll add the link here once it becomes available.

The event took on an ambitious list of topics in quick dive rapid succession. In addition to Greg Anderson and Michael Cross of Directworks, the speakers included Spend Matters’ Pierre Mitchell, Steve Rogers of Havi Global Solutions, and – oh yes – yours truly.

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When we were preparing for last week’s annual Thanksgiving post (which you can read here), we pulled all of the titles and authors that included me in their launches this year. I actually managed to review 18 books this year (although I still have two to go before the clock runs down).

As always, there are a few that really stand out as being worthy of a professional’s extremely scarce reading time. I’m going to make a wild assumption that most of you don’t have time to read 20 books on top of your other responsibilities just to get your creative juices flowing.

If you, like me, have been ‘awful good’ this year, here are a few titles that you might want Santa to slip into your stocking.

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“To succeed in business is more complex than it used to be - it is no longer economically desirable to control all the components of your customer value proposition.” (p. 6)

 

Strategic Procurement by Caroline Booth (Kogan Page, November 2014) is a second edition, updated from its original release in 2010. Before I even get into the book’s content, I think it is worth reflecting upon the pace at which the procurement profession is changing. In the four years since Booth first released this book, there have indeed been significant changes in economies and business dynamics, requiring equally significant adjustments in procurement. In the preface, Booth calls out her increased focus on risk and the improved position of procurement, as well as enough changes in M&A involvement to add a whole chapter on it.

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