The Revolution of Purchasing: Part I

Three years ago, SI published a guest post on The Evolution of Purchasing from Lisa Nyce of Source One Management Services, a provider of sourcing consultancy and category management services that has been in the game for a very long time compared to many of the niche consultancies out there.

In this post, she noted that purchasing has become more strategy-oriented, rather than transactional, but needed better tools to to their jobs. Specifically, if these Procurement pros wanted success, they needed to adopt:

  • Spend Analysis Software,
  • Cost Savings Tracking,
  • Supplier Report Cards, and
  • Stronger Legal Controls.

And they do for strategic sourcing success because:

  • you can’t wring savings from a category with no savings potential
  • savings aren’t real until they materialize
  • a supplier isn’t better until you have hard data to backup your claim
  • a lack of compliance can wipe out all of the negotiated value with one product seizure, fine, or consumer boycott

But when you think about it, while this is an evolution of the function into strategic procurement, it’s not the revolution we need for widespread success. Why?

In Procurement, most of the Spend Under Management is NOT Managed Spend.

For a decade or so, we’ve been hearing that one of the keys to Procurement success is getting more of that organizational spend under management because not only can the organization not save on spend that Procurement doesn’t manage, but Procurement can only wring so much in savings out of a limited spend bucket. And this is true. But merely dumping more spend on a Procurement organization not ready to handle it doesn’t generate savings.

There is a common fallacy that spend in the system is spend under management. It’s not. Just because the spend goes through the e-Pro/P2P/I2P system, that doesn’t mean it’s managed. It just means it’s tracked and available for analysis. That’s a great first start, but that’s all it is, a start. All spend has to be strategically allocated and appropriately sourced to really claim spend under management. And, more importantly, the spend strategy and decision has to be enforced. Negotiation a contract with Supplier X for 10% below current prices is useless if everyone keeps buying from Supplier Y. Deciding to go three bids and a buy is useless if the buy is from the highest price / lowest book value supplier just because the buyer knows they’ll deliver. Directing a user to a catalog with preferred items is not spend under management if the user can just punch-out to Amazon and buy from an overpriced third party because they want a non-standard product.

The Revolution of Purchasing will only happing when all Spend Under Management is truly Managed Spend.