Should You Listen to Spend Tips From Office Supply Vendors?

Over on Supply Excellence, Justin Fogarty recently offered a handful of spend tips from Joni Anderson, who serves as Director of Electronic Commerce for OfficeMax. But should companies listen to tips from office supply vendors in the first place? I'll leave that up to you, but I've found over the years that such providers are notorious for finding nefarious ways of taking advantage of their customers and then quickly backtracking on overbilling, poor performance and related supplier management issues as soon as they know they're being watched, whether they're e-enabled or not. Still, Anderson's tips do include some useful suggestions, including that "eProcurement of office supplies can save companies over 10% in the first year, making it one of the proverbial low hanging fruit categories." In her words, reaching this level of savings -- which only a minority of companies achieve -- requires full automation of the P2P process, product standardization, a close working relationship with suppliers, detailed spend visibility, and a way to mandate and manage compliance. To this list I'd also add the importance of item-level invoice monitoring and contract visibility to insure that you're not getting overbilled and that SKU numbers do not change out of the blue (or out of the negotiated catalog, for that matter).

- Jason Busch

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