Daily Archives: September 24, 2009

If You Truly Want Intelligent Decisions, Get a Real Data Analysis Tool

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And before we go any further, Excel DOES NOT Count!

Backing up, a recent article over on SupplyManagement.com on intelligent decisions notes that BP has set up a market intelligence team to make faster and better decisions and that, to date, it has helped them to save 20M while avoiding unnecessary expenditures of an additional 690M. And I have to admit that’s eye-catching. But just setting up a team isn’t going to get you that level of savings. You’re going to have to train them and give them the tools and resources they need. While one of those resources will be access to market data feeds and analysis channels, another will be a real data analysis tool.

The reality is that your team won’t be able to amalgamate and normalize all of the data sources, identify trends, and develop appropriate predictive models if they don’t have the right tool for the job. This is a significant analysis and modelling exercise, one that spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel are not equipped to handle. Just like a carpenter needs a hammer and a nail to attach two boards, an analyst needs the right software tool to properly combine and trend two distinct data feeds. Don’t forget that.

Service Leaders Speak: Bernard Gunther of Lexington Analytics on “Reducing Bypass Spend”

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Today’s guest post is from Bernard Gunther of Lexington Analytics, a leading provider of spend analytics services for global procurement organizations.

Savvy sourcing managers are finding ways to uncover new savings despite spending freezes and heavy workloads. Just because the economy is suffering and budgets are frozen, it doesn’t mean you have a pass when it comes to demonstrating your value to the organization. In fact, it’s the perfect opportunity to show your stuff. You just have to be smarter and more creative about it.

One sourcing pro managed to reduce bypass spending and save over $100,000 a year by investing a couple of days of her time. You can bet this didn’t go unnoticed, especially during this economy.

Any sourcing manager looking to deliver value to the organization can do the same thing. Here’s how.

We’ll make three assumptions:

  1. You have some sort of spend analysis system*. You should be able to do this analysis whether you have a first-generation style data warehouse, use a third party to analyze your spending, or have a modern spend analysis tool. You just need basic spending information.
  2. You have done a deal with a selected vendor where you are now getting better pricing and quality for the same services than you were previously. You may have done this deal with a paper RFP or a very sophisticated optimization engine. You just need to know the pricing for the new deal.
  3. Some users in your organization are not buying from your preferred vendor. If you are covering a range of categories and have 100% compliance to all your deals, congratulations! This is a very rare accomplishment. Most organizations have some level of bypass or maverick spending.

If you have a good information system, the following should get done in a few days over a few weeks. If it takes you longer to get this done, you may look at your information systems. There is a great deal that can be done to make this faster and easier.

Here’s the process and some illustrative results:

  1. Pick a category where you have a preferred vendor with favorable pricing.
  2. Find the past year’s spending for this category. For illustration, let’s assume the category spending is $3 million.
  3. Estimate the opportunity. Let’s assume you have 70% compliance with your program. This means that there is a bypass rate of 30% (or $900,000). When you sourced this category, your preferred vendor saved you 15% on your rates. 15% savings on $900,000 is $135,000 — money worth going after. In addition, your incumbent could increase their business by over 40% — something that any vendor would be happy to do. If the opportunity is large enough, continue.
  4. Get the spending by vendor. Find the largest bypass vendor. Let’s assume this vendor represents one third of the bypass or $300,000 of spending. If you could move this bypass spending to your preferred vendors, you would save 15% of $300,000 or $45,000.
  5. Verify the opportunity. Obtain a few invoices for this bypass vendor. In the ideal world, you would be able to get a detailed file with all the specifications, quantities and pricing for this bypass vendor to make this analysis quick and comprehensive. But you don’t need to live in this world of perfect information to get results. Price out the invoices using your preferred vendor. If your pricing grid doesn’t cover the items in question, talk to your preferred vendor and see if they sell the items and can give you firm pricing. You may need to call this bypass vendor to understand the specifications and ensure you have an apples-to-apples comparison. At the end of the day, one of the vendors will have a lower price. If your preferred vendor is lower, you have the information to go to the business unit. If your preferred vendor is higher priced than this bypass vendor, you should use this information to get the preferred vendor to lower their price, generating savings on the rest of your spending.
  6. Estimate the savings for the largest business unit. Use your spending information to calculate savings for this business unit. Let’s assume this business unit represents half of the bypass spending with this vendor. This means shifting the spending would save $22,500 for this one business unit.
  7. Talk to the people in the business unit who used the other vendor. Find out why they use the bypass vendor and ask what it would take to use the preferred vendor in the future. Ask them if this extra money would be useful. (If they aren’t concerned about the money, perhaps the budget pressures aren’t as serious as you thought. Keep a log of “wasted spending”. When the next round of budget pressure comes around, you can haul out the list.)
  8. Reduce the bypass. Develop a plan to eliminate this bypass in the future. If this business unit regularly buys from the bypass vendor, this is straightforward. If you have tight and centralized ordering, work through the system. If this is an episodic purchase done by many units, you may need to let more people know about this preferred vendor and the savings opportunity.

If you did this once a month, you’d save $22,500 x 12, or around one quarter of a million dollars every year — easy money for a few days of work a month. And you still have 90% of your time left to do what you normally do.

So what’s stopping you?

Thanks, Bernard.