That’s right — there is no such thing as Savings-as-a-Service and any organization promising to deliver it (with the exception of the big provider recently value at 1B) is making a promise they likely won’t keep. The majority of organizations that jump on this new acronym with grandiose claims of SaaS delivery will not meet up to expectations, and many will not deliver any savings at all.
That doesn’t mean that you will not see reductions in spend, because many of the offerings proclaiming SaaS will lead to reductions in unit price, but this isn’t savings. Paying less than you were spending is not saving. If you were paying more than market average, and you reduce the cost to market average, you are simply realizing a cost reduction you could have realized any time you wanted simply by shifting the spend to a GPO, (an) Amazon (or e-Bay) (reseller), or an e-Catalog provider with punch-out integrations to all the big marketplaces. That “savings” was yours for the taking any time you wanted. And, moreover, once you make the switch, and start paying market average, if you simply stay with that provider, you will never see the “savings” again.
“Savings” is what you realize when you reduce spend below market average or extract value beyond what you typically get at the price point you are paying. Thus, to deliver savings you must deliver a customer a viable option to obtain a product or service they need below market average or to obtain more value (add) when they pay market average. And, thus, to deliver savings as a service you must do this repeatedly on a regular basis.
This is NOT something you can do if all you offer is a catalog. All a catalog allows you to do is determine the market average (range) for a product or service and identify those products that meet the price (range) and document which are of the best quality or the best fit for your organization. This is a valuable “service”, and every organization should be using one for their commodity product and service tail spend, but this is not “savings as a service”. Savings comes from analysis, engagement, negotiation, and relationship management.
If you want a better than market price or value-add features and services, you have to engage a potential supplier, negotiate for delivery (based on guaranteed volume, dollars, or value-delivery — such as co-marketing, lean training, or volume-based raw material purchasing at a better rate on their behalf), and manage the relationship. Thus, obtaining savings is also more than just sending out an RFQ and accepting the lowest bid (because if quality or reliability decreases and you have more returns and stock outs, you are actually paying more), so providers that just offer RFQ/e-Auction technology don’t deliver “Savings as a Service” either. They deliver a platform that you can use as part of a strategic sourcing process to negotiate savings, but as you can see, there’s a lot more to delivering savings than just providing a platform.
And we’ll address this in Part II.