Friday Hire: Welcoming Thomas Kase to the Spend Matters Team

Today we formally announce a new member of the Spend Matters team, Thomas Kase. Thomas will be working closely with me on our technology research, especially Compass and Perspective reports. He brings particular expertise in the sourcing, supplier/vendor management and supplier diversity areas, but will also dig into services procurement (I'll probably loop him in on the P2P side over time as well). I've long needed some additional firepower here, especially considering the rate at which we've ramped our research programs. Thomas is just the guy for the job, given his combination of technical and applied expertise. His curmudgeonly "glass is half empty" perspective toward potential solutions and implementations is also a great counter to my general optimism when considering technology.

Thomas came to us from AECsoft, which was acquired by SciQuest. Previously, he spent a number of years at Procuri before they were snapped up by Ariba. In different roles at these organizations, Thomas certainly created his share of value for clients -- he had some, shall we say, "character building" and unique sourcing experiences. I asked him to share a few of these examples and here's some of what he came back with:

FTL/LTL event crash -- Thomas observed a large retail grocery company with around 1,200 stores that tried their hand at running a reverse auction logistics event covering numerous lanes and large quantities of trucking companies, many of which were found by scavenging the yellow pages sections in the areas covered. Not only were the suppliers inexperienced, but the company still insisted on running the event as originally envisioned -- the results were a string of large logistics events with numerous lanes and load characteristics where many of the participants barely knew how to use a computer. You can guess what happened in the end...

Catalysts for Chavez -- Thomas trained the buyers at a large refinery in the Caribbean that processes a significant portion of Venezuela's crude oil -- sour, heavy oil rich in sulfur, which in turn requires significant amounts of catalyst to refine. The catalysts are mission critical and unfortunately comprise precious materials normally used by jewelers, such as platinum, vanadium, and palladium.

E-Sourcing subterfuge -- When a German business unit of a Fortune 10 company adopted an e-sourcing platform, one of the buyers did his worst to trip up the transition and 'prove' that e-sourcing doesn't work. His approach was to stuff his events with exorbitant amounts of information -- one event held 1GB of mainly AutoCAD drawings. Suffice to say that suppliers were not amused and the event was nearly impossible to manage.

500 lbs. of spot market rock lobsters -- Casinos use a lot of lobsters, and the need comes up on short notice -- in this case using standing RFQs for set quantities of lobsters and other perishables are run by a pre-qualified group of 40-50 suppliers on a weekly or daily basis to identify and act on-spot opportunities. Thomas got his claws into the process and found that that this process actually proved itself more effective than aggregating annual spend and establishing volume contracts to award off.

Event configuration ignorance/machismo(ma?) -- In a South American business unit of a Fortune 25 company, a stubborn buyer decided that events could be run any which way she wanted to and while ignoring advice to the contrary, built an RFQ with so many bid points (combination of number of suppliers, biddable items, price factors etc.) that the event continually froze and took so long to load that timeouts were always exceeded. She refused to clone the event into several smaller, more manageable events and forced us to run the event.

In short, Thomas has watched it all from a sourcing standpoint. He's also the only six foot tall native Swede you'll probably meet who probably knows more about supplier diversity than those from minority backgrounds who run such programs for companies (ironic, isn't it). In short, we're thrilled to have him as part of the team -- and we hope to get some more sourcing war stories out of him in the coming weeks.

Jason Busch

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