Daily Archives: January 20, 2012

Managing Indirect Spend: An In-Depth Review, Part I.2

In Part I.1 we began our review of Managing Indirect Spend, a new book by Joe Payne and William (Bill) Dorn of Source One that is the culmination of everything they have learned while doing nothing but Strategic Sourcing, primarily on Indirect Spend, since 1992 — before it was cool. And as SI noted in its last post, clocking in at 422 pages, this book is an incredible handbook for anyone who wants to get a handle on indirect spend, which has increased in organizations across the board since outsourcing and right-sizing rose to fame in the 1990s. (And if you think otherwise, download SI’s free eBook white-paper on Spend Visibility: An Implementation Guide, dive into your spend, and see just how much of it is indirect.)

Today we’re going to continue our review of Part One — The Process, and dive into the last three parts of Bill and Joe’s excellent adventure into the strategic sourcing process and discuss:

  • Scorecarding
  • Negotiations
  • Contracting

A Balanced Scorecard is a strategic performance management tool that tracks supplier performance against a set of metrics in order to provide a well-rounded picture of the supplier that can be used to monitor and control performance. While most organizations introduce balanced scorecards after a supplier has been selected, scorecards should also be used when determining which suppliers to invite to the table, and everything — pricing, capabilities, past performance, market intelligence, supplier responsiveness, and employee perception — should be built into the scorecard to help insure the most appropriate supplier is selected.

The chapter also makes some great points that are often overlooked:

  • Scorecarding can be a teambuilding activity
    The entire cross-functional team can contribute to the process.
  • Scorecarding fosters buy-in to the awarded supplier.
    As everyone knows that the supplier was selected only after all data and all viewpoints were carefully considered and organizational needs fully balanced.
  • Scorecarding can deliver market insights not otherwise obtainable.
    Especially when supplier references are checked as part of the process.
  • Insights only come when a full history of the relationship is obtained
    Suppliers only give you references they believe will be glowing and cast them in the best light. Thus, it is vital to ask the references what supplier interactions were like from day one, what issues were encountered, and how (effectively) they were resolved. How long before the customer reached its current level of satisfaction?
  • A lot of questions will need to be asked!
    The authors provide a starting list of sixteen on page ninety-seven, and depending on the category and its nature, this might just be the ice-breakers.

Eventually, every process results in negotiations, which are covered extensively in Chapter 6. The authors also make some great points in this chapter that cannot be forgotten:

  • Suppliers have the advantage — ALWAYS!
    Whereas a sourcing team spends 5% of its time, or less, sourcing a specific product or service, especially in an indirect spend category, the [lead] supplier negotiator is 100% focussed on selling that category of products or services every single day. They know everything about it, and the market waters around it, while the sourcing team is struggling just to tread water in the unfamiliar territory.
  • A proper negotiation strategy minimizes the chance a supplier will add extra margin in a first round bid.
    If the negotiation strategy pervades the entire process, and presents a business case to the supplier that your business is something they can’t afford to lose because they will profit immensely by gaining it, the supplier will be much more aggressive with its bidding up-front.
  • It’s Not Getting to Yes, It’s Getting to No!
    If the supplier never says no, then the sourcing team never came close to getting the supplier’s best offer.

The chapter also had some great techniques a buying team can use to improve pricing, as well as some very important things that a sourcing team should never do, which include:

  • no negotiating after a reverse auction
  • no negotiating in contracting
  • no setting artificial targets

and if it’s not clear why, then you should definitely read this chapter.

The last, and final part, of the basic process is contracting — getting it in writing. A contract should balance the need for legal protection with common sense. It should be concise and only address the relevant risks and identified resolutions. It should not be a generic — one size fits all — boilerplate MSA that is 100 pages in length where only 10 pages are really relevant. All that does is add time (for unnecessary review), cost (of the overpriced lawyers), and loss (while savings opportunities go unclaimed) to the process. With the exception of a few basic definitions, the only clauses that should be there besides negotiated terms and resolutions are a balanced force majeure clause, a right to audit clause, and, possibly, a right to first refusal clause. While the supplier should have the right to be late without penalty if an act of nature prevents it from business as usual, the buyer should have the right to seek alternate sources of supplier or terminate the contract if the supplier cannot recover in a certain amount of time and, especially in the case of software (maintenance) contracts, should NOT be required to make payments when the supplier is unable to perform. The right to audit should be for the life of the contract, the audit should be allowed to go all the way back to the start of the contract (even if four and a half years into a five year contract), and the buyer should have the right to recover all monies owed from overcharges, even if they were made four years ago.

The chapter also did a great job of explaining why:

  • legal should be brought in even before the RFP/Q to prevent issues from arising later on,
  • most favoured nations clauses, which symbolize much of what is wrong with government agencies, do nothing but bite you, and everyone else, in the @ss, and
  • continuous innovation clauses all but guarantee that there will be no innovation for the lifetime of the contract.

There’s some great advice in these pages — and more to come in Part I.3 which will discuss how to truly achieve continuous innovation, how to get stakeholder buy-in, and what not to do if the goal is success. Continue to stay tuned!