Earlier this week, in reference to an article on the SCRC site on The Supply Chain IT Investment Enigma and Hackett group recommendations, I asked what is the right portfolio view of the Supply Chain IT Investment. Given the laundry list of Supply Chain Technologies — DM, PLM, PP, APS, SCEM, SRM, WMS — that one has to consider; the dizzying array of hardware, software, infrastructure, and support options; and the difficulty in capturing and computing cost metrics and comparing them to industry averages, it’s a good question.
One vendor trying to make sense of the situation is Apptio. A Technology Business Management vendor with a background in system management and automation with capabilities in IT Services Transformation, Infrastructure Optimization, Application Rationalization, Cloud Business Management, Data Center Consolidation, and IT Financial Transparency, this week they released a new IT Service Performance Solution with supplier/vendor relationship management (SRM/VRM) capabilities. Building on their deep expertise of IT systems of record, application stacks, hardware platforms, and on-site and off-site infrastructure solutions, they have created a unique service performance management (SPM) solution that is customized to the unique needs of IT.
Designed to give an organization a holistic view of internal and external suppliers, and apply supply chain best practices to IT, the purpose-built vendor relationship management solution, which can import data from over 40 major systems-of-record (SAP, Oracle, JD Edwards, Peoplesoft, Ariba, etc.) out-of-the-box, allows an organization to define and manage vendors and contracts, understand spend by vendor and category, monitor and benchmark performance against pre-defined and custom KPIs, and hold vendors accountable to performance. In addition, due to their ability to also integrate with multiple major accounting systems out of the box, spend can be tracked against contracts at a category level by unit of time and IT managers can see how spend is trending relative to projections.
The Apptio VRM solution supports the full IT supply chain from IT planning and vendor identification, to Bill of IT creation, service costing, service performance, and IT benchmarking and allows IT sourcing personnel to effectively manage negotiations, contracts, costs, relationships, performance, and spending over the life-cycle of the relationship. In addition, a custom scorecard can be created for each vendor which can not only track custom metrics and KPIs, but also overall customer satisfaction.
Purpose built for IT, the solution allows the IT relationship managers to define a custom dashboard that displays, for each vendor, the current financial, quality, performance, and satisfaction ratings (which can be defined against pre-defined or custom KPIs) and whether the vendor scores good (green), satisfactory (yellow), or below contract requirements (red) on each rating — allowing problem vendors to be quickly identified. The user can then drill into the vendor and see the basic supplier info, contact info, contracts, debits/credits, and scorecard details summarized for each vendor (and whether each contract, balance, and scorecard is good, satisfactory, or below contractual requirements).
In addition, the top-n vendor and contract summaries allow the IT sourcing managers to quickly see which vendors and contracts are consuming the most spend and how these particular vendors and contracts are trending over time. In addition, the IT sourcing manager can just as quickly get breakdowns by internal vs. external spend, contract type, and vendor relationship. Given that most of the leakage will occur in the biggest contracts, this is a useful capability for IT sourcing managers. Especially since the metrics can be defined against activity based costing (ABC), which is not a feature common among many service or performance management platforms.
And while it’s true that most of the analytics can be easily computed with a good spend analysis tool that allows for the definition custom metrics in the hands of a spend analysis pro, if data needs to be pulled from mutliple systems, the reality is that performance will only be analyzed against most contracts one or two times a year, and by then it might be too late to insure real savings (as the organization is not likely going to get 1 Million in support overpayments back). Plus, most spend analysis tools or platforms are not going to be integrated with a benchmark database that allow an organization to quickly identify what the usual service/software/hardware costs are for its usage levels and save an average of 20% to 30% in its negotiations. (In fact, some beta testers saved 50% on some hardware, software and/or support categories due to a better understanding of usage, industry standard pricing, and past performance and the ability to do what-if analysis in conjunction with activity-based costing.) While it will be a while before we know ROI of the solution for an average organization, I agree that it is likely that an average organization with significant IT spend will begin to see payback within 90 days and that a 20% savings on major contracts will be common the first time around as only those organizations that have, or bring in, IT sourcing expertise tend to get best pricing in the IT category. It’s definitely worth a look for those organizations with a large IT spend as there are very few solutions out there that understand the unique nature of IT categories.