Show You The Money, Part II (Supply Chain Cost Avoidance Basics)

Yesterday we talked about the fact that the best way to save money is to avoid spending it in the first place and introduced you to the 4 F’s of Cost Reduction: Failure, Facility, Focus, and Finance. Today we are going to discuss focus and finance and point out the specific solutions and methodologies you can use to meet your goals of increased cost avoidance.

Focus
This refers to your market focus and how you address the market. More specifically, it refers to your marketing and sales costs. Don’t just let marketing outsource a campaign – there’s no guarantee the agency they select are going to get anywhere near the best prices for print and media production. If you need to bring an agency to help with your message – do so – it’s often a great idea, especially if they understand your target audience. But make sure they’re service costs are decoupled from the print and media production costs you can control and often save big on. Also, if your sales people don’t have the right message, or don’t attack the right audience, they will be wasting a lot of the companies money. It may sound like it’s their problem, and not yours, but the reality is that if they do not make their sales numbers, then your company’s demand will not hit its forecasts. This means that you will not be ordering as much as you thought, and if you cut a great deal that came with a big rebate once you ordered one million units, and you only order 900,000, you don’t get your rebate, you don’t hit your savings number, and all of a sudden it looks like its your fault. So make sure you have systems in place that allow sales to collaborate with engineering, marketing, and procurement and truly understand what they have to sell, what it can do for the customer, and who they should be targeting in their efforts. Also, if they sell more than they expected, they need to be able to inform you quickly so you can adjust your orders to meet a demand surge.

Finance
They say money talks and money walks. But they often fail to tell you that it’s easily the most expensive asset you have. You have to collect it, disburse it, protected it, pay taxes on it, and, more often than not, finance it. And that last one can really cost you a lot of money – even when you are not actually financing it yourself. The fact of the matter is this: if anyone, anywhere in your supply chain has to borrow a lot of money to meet the demands placed on them, they are probably paying a large financing charge, which is being rolled up into their price, which is inflating your price. Therefore, it is vitally important that you understand your supply chain, especially your tier one suppliers, and do what you can to mitigate financing whenever you can. If paying up front will mitigate the need for your selected supplier to take out a loan that costs them 5%, then they will be able to reduce your price by 5%. Unless you have an investment that will absolutely guarantee over 5% return, and that’s unlikely given the unstable nature of investments, then simply paying early can avoid 5% of otherwise non-avoidable costs.

Disbursing your money can also cost you a lot of money, especially if you have people who aren’t buying on contract and using the absolute best price that you spent a lot of time and effort negotiating and securing. Make sure you have a good contract and compliance management system in place to allow you to track your contracted costs, track purchases against those contracts, prevent, or at least alert you to maverick spend (sometimes it might be necessary, in order to prevent a disruption), and insure that suppliers are billing you what they agreed to.

To summarize, you can also save money by avoiding spend in the first place, and you do that with the right strategies supported by the right technologies and methodologies. Therefore, in addition to the nine technologies and methodologies I outlined in Show Me the Money!, make sure you also have the following technologies and methodologies in place to help you avoid spending that cash in the first place!

And now you also understand why I (will) also (keep) talk(ing) about companies like:

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