Once upon a time
not so long ago …
SI ran The 39 Steps … err … The 39 Clues … err … The 39 Part Series to Help You Figure Out Where to Start with Source-to-Pay and helped you understand what each of the six core technologies in Source-to-Pay do, how to evaluate them, and the order of implementation necessary to maximize short-term results (which is the only thing the CFO cutting the check for the systems cares about). Not that it should be hard, given that, as the doctor explained, if your organization is a mid market, the answer to Per Year, How Much Should You Outlay for Source to Pay? 120K! (because Yes Mid-Markets, 120K is More Than Enough for Source-to-Pay!). That’s cheap, and if you can’t get a 10X ROI on that, the doctor would be surprised. (Yes, you’ll need some integrations and some services, and that will double or triple the price and you may only see a 5X or 7X ROI, but still.)
But the reality is, especially in today’s turbulent times (where me and my wine is not enough), even full Source-to-Pay is not enough. Risks abound, and even if your Supplier Management Platform has an Uncertainty (Risk) module, there’s more than supplier risk to worry about. There’s third party, supply chain, logistics, geographic, natural disaster, and many other risks that Supplier Risk Management, which we prefer to call Supplier Uncertainty Management (due to the lack of depth, action management, support for mitigation planning, etc. we prefer NOT to call these Risk modules), applications in Source-to-Pay typically don’t address.
Then we have Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Environmental & Social Governance (ESG), and Carbon / Scope 1,2,3. Today, a non-responsible company that buys from suppliers who are particularly environmentally unfriendly, don’t treat their workers well, or, even worse, use forced or slave labour is the one that gets the consumer backlash, and possibly the civil AND criminal liability (with certain jurisdictions introducing laws making the last company down the chain responsible). A company that just hoards profit and doesn’t make an effort to give back is frowned upon. And a company that stays on dirty power when there is an alternative, wastefully uses fresh water, or unnecessarily consumes non-recyclable resources in its day to day operations is just being dumb. Moreover, when you consider that Carbon Tracking is Important — But a Calculator or a Credit is Not A Solution! but What You’re Really Concerned About is YOUR e-Liability, that it’s not just about tracking, but reducing where possible, and that there are real baselines given that it’s impossible to mine, process, produce, ship, or consume without emitting carbon, it’s not easy to figure out what you need.
When you are buying direct, you have to consider the supply chain as well as the implications of a change in the supply base. The ink on the contract is when the fun truly begins. The product has to arrive on time, on budget, damage free, at the right location. This requires logistics coordination, and if the contract will change the supply base configuration, this is something that should be considered up front. So logistics/network analysis is creeping into Sourcing.
Then there is the issue of T&E — what happens when it’s put on the card, because its too small to bother with a Procurement effort (it never is, although it’s not always worth the time of a Procurement Pro, and that’s why you need an appropriate T&E/Tail Spend system to make sure the end buyer gets it right) or someone is trying to bury something that they know is not truly needed, off contract, or shouldn’t be expensed.
Plus, at the end of the day, you have to pay … and most Source-to-Pay end at the OK-to-Pay. What do you do when it’s time to pay?
As such, it’s time to start another multi-part series to help you, dear reader, understand the extended Procurement landscape and what you should be looking for in such systems. We’re not going to attempt to tell you what to implement first, as that will depend upon what your biggest need is, which will usually depend on what the biggest risks are to the organization at the current time — unidentified spend, risk of supply, breaks in the supply network, forthcoming legislation, global payments, and so on. We’re just going to take an area and explore it, for as many articles as it takes. More to come. Much More.