Daily Archives: April 14, 2023

How Can Indirect Spend *NOT* Be Well Managed in 2023?

the doctor gets a lot of press releases. Some of them contain a lot of BS (which is good, he writes best when he’s on an angry rant), others contain a lot of “findings” that, if true (and the findings usually are for the right for the right subset of the market), are simultaneously scary and ridiculous. In this particular case, as the doctor writes this, he received a press release that said the research finds that 82%+ of procurement leaders say their indirect spend is not well managed, leaving substantial cost savings on the table.

The question is, how is that number so high? We’ve had source-to-pay suites for a decade (which were originally designed to source indirect products and services, create catalogs of those sourced selections, support purchase orders only for items in the catalogs, and ensure invoices matched the item prices in the catalog. And for those willing to do custom integration, it was possible to integrate a best of breed sourcing solution and a best of breed catalog management solution and a best of breed e-invoicing solution and achieve this in the late 2000s.

Now, in a mixed solution, there was no guarantee that the sourcing event would choose the best mix (since early solutions generally didn’t support optimization or advanced analytics), that the catalog would force the lowest cost (or even preferred) selection when there were multiple options, or that the invoice management could detect when shipping costs were too high or handling fees shouldn’t be there, but there was still management and any overruns were not substantial (at least compared to pre-solution overages in indirect; an organization could easily cut out 80% of the fat, which could be as high as 30% in some categories; so if the overage went from 30% to 6%, that was well managed — and solutions have only become better over time).

What’s even worse is when the expected reality is put into hard numbers. According to the press release “two-thirds of suppliers (68%) report increased demand for their offerings compared to the past year and nearly half (43%) are planning to increase prices in 2023“. Thanks to global inflation, prices are going up as demand does (which is still pent-up post-pandemic), and we know it, but knowing costs will be uncontrollable to an extent is a tough one.

Of course the press release says that the key to cutting cost is to implement (autonomous) technology that saves on day one, which you should know by now, but the question is why have so many companies not yet implemented basic S2P functionality, either as a suite or as BoB integrations, as such technology would have ensured indirect was well under control, and reduced a likely organizational overspend by (85% of 15% of 35% =) 5% (est. realization * avg. savings * avg. indirect spend) of total spend, which would go straight to the bottom line! No autonomous tech needed!

For those interested, the press release came from a third party PR firm and was based on Globality’s 2023 Research Insights for CFOs.