Not that long ago, the doctor gave you THE SIGN that you need a CPO which, directly put, was that your organizational spend was over 10 Million a year. No ifs, ands, or buts about it! Not long after, he found this article over on CXOtoday.com which pointed out that empowering business success was The Art of Mastering Spend Management. This article stated that companies should consider implementing a spend management strategy, regardless of their size and it made him happy (even though the article looks like it was written by a junior copy-editor* who just cut and paste standard spend management summary sentences from generic spend management publications as it was not very deep or specific) because CXOs need to hear this at a high level over and over and over again until they get it. (Note that the doctor doesn’t get happy often. Most articles just make him angry. Sometimes very angry, especially when the conscientious invoke their right to dare to be stupid and embrace artificial idiocy, but that’s a rant for another day.)
The article starts off by clearly stating that a spend management strategy plays a vital role in today’s economic reality as it enables companies to control costs, boost financial efficiency, and make informed decisions. It ensures resource optimization, agility, and long-term stability, enhancing competitiveness and adaptability in a rapidly changing business landscape.
This is most certainly true. And all one has to do to see that it is true, and it would have been so much better if the article said this, is remember the first formula they teach you in business school:
Profit = Revenue – Expense
Since Spend Management allows you to minimize expenses, this helps you maximize profit. And when you consider that
Margin = Sale Price – COGS and that
Margin % = (Sale Price – COGS) / Sale Price and that
Margin % for most industries <= 10%
This says that every $1 saved in expense generates at least as much profit as every $10 increase in sales. As a result, spend management is at least ten times as effective as sales or marketing and key to get a grip on early, even before you can afford the full time CPO. The CFO and COO should develop best practices for any decisions that result in spending, monitor the decisions, ensure corrections are made (and employees [re-]trained) when mistakes are made, and baselines generated for all recurring costs. Even though they might not realize the same level of success as an experienced and dedicated CPO, the baselines they generate and the knowledge they capture will be key when the CPO starts as the knowledge will allow them to dive in quickly and find near-term and mid-term opportunities for improvement (and cost reduction) and the benchmarks will allow them to not only prove it, but ensure that all bids received are competitive.
The only thing we want to note is that the important aspects of spend management, especially for smaller organizations, are:
- process (that implements the strategy), and
- governance (that ensures the process is followed and the strategy implemented)
Technology is not critical (or even necessary), and only technology that supports the process (and collects the appropriate data) should be implemented.
This is important to note because this article is sponsored by a particular vendor in an effort to promote a particular product (which is only good for T&E spend, not all organizational spend) and you don’t necessarily need that technology (or any other instance of that technology) to have a spend management strategy and do proper spend management, especially if you are a smaller organization. (However, larger organizations do need good T&E spend management, and spend analysis, because flowers should not be $5,000 unless it’s a greenhouse.)
* but what should one expect considering it was sponsored by SAP to promote SAP Concur (and routed through their PR Agency)?