The Key to Cost Reduction? Capture the Flag! Part II

As per our previous post, Procurement is in vogue. But, as we bluntly stated, only because organizations need cost reductions and/or greater profit, and Procurement is currently seen as the ultimate path to profit. As a result, Procurement technology providers, GPOs, and consultancies — particularly those consultancies with a track record — are getting a lot of interest, and in the cases of some technology players in particular, a lot of money.

And the money is deserved if those providers deliver the ROI they promise. But the ROI only materializes in the right circumstance when the solution is properly applied, but this is the kicker. Right circumstance, proper application. And this is easier said then done. Because the proper application of the solution needs to be applied from the start of the, strategically chosen, sourcing project to the final procurement of the final product or service deliverable.

Because, as we indicated in our last post, sourcing only singles out the savings opportunities, which should be negotiated and put into a contract, it doesn’t realize them. That’s the job of Procurement.

But Procurement can’t do it’s job without good, clean, relatively complete, data. But that’s something it rarely has. Procurement usually has bad, incomplete, scattered data which is often more misleading than not having data at all and going on a whim.

Typical POs consist of just buyer SKUs, typical invoices contain either (different) supplier SKUs or short descriptions, what gets entered into the AP system is usually a buyer’s shorthand for this, and then when it comes time to m-way analysis or spend analysis, it’s almost impossible. The data is bad, incomplete, and, simply put, dirty.

And, as a result, m-way matches fail, over-billings don’t get detected, overspend happens, and the strategically negotiated savings don’t get realized. Plus, as more and more data gets mis-classified, opportunities for spend consolidation don’t get identified since the true spend on a product, category, or supplier is never known.

But over-billings and lack of spend consolidation or strategic sourcing opportunities is just the beginning. The bad data can lead to poor procurement decisions when the wrong data is in the catalog (and an off-contract item is chosen when such a purchase should have been prevented), when not enough data leads to the selection of poor service providers who deliver inferior services, and when insufficient specifications result in large project, and thus cost, overruns.

There’s a reason why many organizations are still losing 0.30 to 0.40 on every dollar of negotiated savings, and it’s not (just) bad Procurement, it’s (bad) Procurement data. So if you want to capture the flag, you need to get your data in order.

But how do you do that? We’ll tackle this topic tomorrow.