Beeline Customer Summit: Putting Services Procurement in Context (Dispatch 1)

I got in late last night to Orlando for the Beeline Customer Conference (with visions of Disney and Disney credit card charges fresh in my head from a recent family trip to Orlando, all I can say is it's good this trip is for work, versus contributing to Mickey's coffers). This morning, I'm speaking at Beeline's Customer Conference. Together with SIG's Dawn Evans, we're giving a joint keynote and "interrogate the experts" session focused on providing a general state of the procurement industry. Even though Beeline's audience comes almost entirely from a contingent and services procurement background, our talk is covering direct, indirect and services sourcing trends (hopefully proving contingent spend is not the center of the buy side universe -- even though many in the contingent and services procurement worlds no doubt think it is!)

I'm starting off my part of the talk with an explanation of how direct, indirect and services spend differ on a fundamental basis. It's arguably foundational stuff, but it's important, especially as it comes to realizing what we're doing right (and wrong) in tackling broader services procurement opportunities in particular. Any program that takes best practices from direct spend (metals, plastics, electronics, energy, etc.) and applies them to indirect is bound to come up short unless there are some serious translation and modifications that go along with the migration. And the more procurement efforts are focused on implemented cost reduction (as opposed to vendor management, supplier performance management, contract management, transactional buying, etc.), the greater the disparity between the two areas.

I'll explore the nuances that I'll feature in my talk in a follow-up post later this week or next. More interesting to me is the stuff I'm not presenting (since I've been knee-deep in pulling my material together and thinking about it). Dawn is leading off her part by exploring trends that SIG views as important as we charge ahead in procurement in 2012. Among her suggestions, Dawn offers the idea that "being involved up front in planning for contingent workforces, especially with the expected increase in outsourcing and use of contingent labor," will become increasingly important. Dawn will also suggest, "procurement and sourcing will have greater involvement in outsourcing strategies," developing and executing programs both "within and outside of procurement."

Stay tuned as our coverage of Beeline's customer event kicks off. I'll be featuring as many dispatches as I can pull together this week, including updates on Beeline's overall product suite, strategy and direction.

- Jason Busch

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