A recent guest post from a vendor-employed guest contributor over on Spend Matters said to Calculate Your True Savings Using Predictive Analytics. While the doctor agrees predictive analytics can often give you a good data point as to projected savings, the reality is that it’s not always as accurate as you would like to believe and typically does not capture your best savings opportunities.
Why? Before we discuss the guest post, which did have some good points, we have to note that most predictive analytics algorithms work on trending and statistics on historical or market data, and while this can be highly accurate (95%+) the majority of the time (95%+), because market data is only historical and typically does not include data points on new (not yet introduced or announced innovations), detailed cost breakdowns on consumer / market prices, or operational insights into hidden inefficiencies whose correction can do more than shaving a few points off the top.
Going back to the post, the author states that if you use a Savings Regression Analysis (SRA) model based on multivariate regression of past-realized savings for a given subcategory to compute the savings potential under current market conditions, the target computed will be realistic, achievable, and likely mirror what you will do (despite the savings targets you set).
And this statistically based model will work if it is the same buyer (group) employing the same strategy on the same market base under similar conditions, but what could happen if a new buyer comes in that totally redefines the demand and the market strategy, or the market conditions have suddenly changed from supply shortage to supply surplus, or new production technologies could revolutionize production and trim overhead 20%? In this situation, this type of model will be significantly off.
Now, anything you can do to better predict savings is a positive, because, as the author points out, this allows for
- better cash flow management (as you will better know your costs)
- time to market optimization (as you will know the best time to source if you have leeway)
- goal setting (as you won’t be trying to achieve the impossible)
- performance management (as you can track against a realistic goal)
But while predictive analytics give a good data point, the best data point is when you use your market intelligence to build good should cost models, use optimization to minimize transportation and incidental storage and sales (and even taxation) costs (when sourcing globally), and use six sigma analysis to see if there is any opportunity to take cost out of a supplier’s overhead production cost. Going into this level of detail may indicate that while the product cost is likely to increase 1% this year (and explains why the predictive software says only 2% savings should be expected after heavy negotiations), an extensive analysis could show that a transportation network redesign could shave 3% and lean process improvements at your supplier could shave 2%, meaning that a cost reduction of up to 7% could be achieved with the right footwork (which is something the predictive model will never tell you). So use the predictive algorithms to establish a baseline, but never, ever stop there.