SI understands that it’s last few posts have probably caused a lot*1 of soul-searching and panic among practitioners and fear and loathing among vendors, so today it’s going to address the panic and fear (but not necessarily the loathing*2).
The short answer is: probably not.
The full answer takes quite a bit of preamble to explain.
First of all, many organizations carry the misconception, often reinforced by traditional analysts and big-X consulting companies, that the only way to find considerable savings, avoid unnecessary cost, and add value is through strategic sourcing. This is only one of many methodologies, and underlying technologies, that Supply Management can use to save money, control cost, and add value. It’s a powerful methodology, but just methodology.
True sustainable savings, cost avoidance, and value generation come from Strategic Supply Management. Supply Management encompasses Sourcing, Procurement, Logistics, Contract (Lifecycle) Management, Supplier Relationship Management, Sustainability Management, and other strategic activities that manage costs and generate value. Thus, strategic sourcing is only activity at the disposal of a Strategic Supply Management organization — and for an organization beginning its sourcing journey, it’s not always the best one.*3
If the organization does not have it’s e-Procurement under control, sometimes the best place to start is with a strategic Procurement process backed by a leading e-Procurement solution (with e-Invoicing and m-way match). Why? Because, as per AMR’s (now Gartner’s) classic series on Reaching Sourcing Excellence, 30 cents, or more, of every dollar of negotiated savings never materializes. If the organization is only capturing 60% of negotiated savings, then what’s the point of using an advanced solution to identify a 5% savings if only 3% of the savings is going to be captured? It would get the same year-over-year improvement if it did a simple e-Auction, identified a 3.33% savings, and captured 90% of it. This is where a great Procurement process, and solution, comes into play — specifically, one that makes it easy for buyers to find contracts, place timely orders (and avoid expedited shipments), see the impact of going off-contract (and be visually guilted into making the cost-effective decision unless there is a strong reason to do otherwise), and use the system (versus avoiding it). With this type of a solution, there will be no off-contract spend because a buyer wasn’t aware of a contract, wasn’t aware there was a more cost-effective product, wasn’t able to figure out how to use the system, etc. There won’t be overspend due to duplicate invoice payments, overpayments due to off-contract rates, or over-payments due to undelivered merchandise with a good m-way match e-Invoicing component. And so on.
However, simply capturing the majority of savings identified in a sourcing event does not guarantee that the organization is capturing all of the savings available to it or controlling spend. For example, the savings quoted is simply the best price that the supplier feels that it can offer today – but that may not be the best price the supplier could offer if it was more efficient. The supplier might not be lean, might be quoting off of an inefficient design (that it could improve through a joint-design initiative), or might have an outdated quality control process leading to a higher rate of defects then is necessary. That’s why great supplier relationship, powered by a leading SRM platform (that, by definition, also captures SPM and SIM data) can also provide great value.
*1 some to say the least
*2 first generation e-Negotiation platform providers are going to loathe SI, but there’s nothing to be done about that — it was their choice to stand still while their peers continued to innovate
*3 bet you never thought that the doctor, the leading advocate of SSDO since this blog went online in 2006, would say that, eh?