Author Archives: Pierre Mitchell



About Pierre Mitchell

Pierre leads Spend Matters procurement research activities and has broader solution development responsibilities for intellectual property creation and firm strategy as Managing Director of Azul Partners. This includes spearheading efforts to build new types of interactive and social communities of interest within the procurement profession including overseeing the evolution of spendmattersnet.com, Spend Matters PRO, MetalMiner, and other digital assets within Azul Partner’s umbrella. Pierre has 25 years of procurement and supply chain industry and consulting experience, and is a recognized procurement expert specializing in supply processes, practices, metrics, and enabling tools and services. He is a regular contributor to business publications, a frequent presenter at industry events around the world, and counts himself fortunate to have served and interacted with so many CPOs and future CPOs. Prior to his positions in research and advisory, he led numerous operations and systems transformations at Fortune 500 organizations. Industry positions include manufacturing project manager at The Timberland Company, materials manager at Krupp Companies and engineer at EG&G Torque Systems. He holds an engineering degree from Southern Methodist University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. In the early 2000's, Pierre was the first supply chain practitioner to become a procurement "industry analyst" as the VP of supply management research at AMR Research (now part of the Gartner Group) where he provided trusted counsel to procurement executives, business leadership, IT, and the solution providers who serve them. Most recently, he was the head of procurement research and adjunct business advisor at The Hackett Group, where he helped expand Hackett's procurement benchmarks and research studies while growing the Procurement Executive Advisory Program into a gold standard membership-based procurement advisory service in the market today.


Beyond Supplier Risk Management: How Procurement Can Take a Leadership Role in Enterprise Risk Management

risk

There is no shortage of news about supply risk in today’s volatile operating market:

 

  • The 12-month LIBOR rate has gone from 2% to over 3% in 2018, and suppliers are beginning to feel a capital squeeze as buyers further stretch their DPO to hoard cash (beyond stock buybacks of course).
  • Brexit continues to loom as a bugbear regarding UK/EU trade. More broadly, geopolitical risk continues to escalate in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Central America and the South China Sea.
  • S. trade policy still swings wildly at the press of a POTUS tweet, and so do commodity prices and volatility in general. The VIX index has spiked up 65% in the last 60 days alone.
  • Natural disasters driven by climate change are becoming commonplace and calamitous.
  • Competitive risks are sprouting up as digital disruption is creeping into almost every industry sector — and as monopolies “becomes features rather than bugs” with ongoing market consolidation. In response, compliance regimes like GDPR continue to crop up although enforcement is highly variable by region and country.
  • Cyber risk continues to be the most omnipresent risk that organizations are experiencing cross-industry while everyone is flocking to the cloud in record numbers.


So, enterprise risk management should be alive and well. And, logically, supply chain and procurement executives need to be increasingly prepared to work with their internal business partners to reduce this risk and defend the proverbial gates to keep the risks at bay.

Unfortunately, the castle walls are often not well-guarded because the sentries are not getting paid to do so. Procurement organizations in particular suffer from a misalignment between missing incentives for reducing supply risk and zealous Finance-driven incentives for increasing supply reward in the form of narrow purchase cost savings. Regarding the latter, nearly all groups get measured on purchase cost reductions, but only 41% get formal credit for saving money during the sourcing process when there is no initial cost baseline. However, only 8% of procurement organizations get such "hard credit" for reducing supply risk.

Part of the challenge here is that from an enterprise risk management (ERM) standpoint, there is a broader disconnect between evaluating enterprise risk overall versus extending those risk factors in a cohesive manner out to the supply chain and also out to the supply base (via spend categories and then to individual suppliers) where contracts are signed that hopefully help mitigate most supplier risks. There are four “translations” here where alignment gets lost, and to make matters worse, the risk types being managed are highly fragmented, if addressed at all — especially when various stakeholders are in the same boat as procurement regarding not getting credit (and commensurate resources/investment) regarding supply risk. Risk management gets viewed as a glorified insurance policy and set of “check the box” regulatory compliance mandates rather than a sound approach to bringing risk into the value equation (i.e., protecting the value streams of importance through the value chain).

So, the question becomes how can procurement help solve this when so much seems outside its control? And why even pursue it when there are other things to focus on like hitting savings targets?

The answer lies in deftly “connecting the dots” between enterprise risk and supply risk so that various stakeholders like GRC, internal audit, external auditors, divisional presidents, etc. can not only extend their reach into the extended supply chain, but can also be tapped to help bring some corporate power (and resources) to bear and help drive some changes internally and with your suppliers.

In this installment of Spend Matters PRO, we’ll dive into some best practices for gaining this multi-pronged alignment and also how to align supply risk management within various points of the source-to-pay (S2P) process itself. And, of course, if you want to see how various providers handle supply risk, whether S2P suite providers, or more specialized supplier management providers, then definitely check out our SolutionMaps in these respective areas here and here.

‘More people in the tools, lower risk, faster processing, better results’ — Roy Anderson sums up procurement’s future (Part 3)

“Use your suppliers to get the work done more efficiently, effectively and start to manage the overall supplier base like an orchestra leader,” procurement veteran Roy Anderson says, laughing at the image — but not the lesson. “That orchestra leader can’t play every instrument and certainly isn’t going to sing every song, but has to be able to have the structure and the reporting and the analytics to be able to manage it more effectively.

“That’s the future. A virtual procurement operation living on a marketplace of capabilities is the future of procurement.”

In Part 3 of Anderson’s conversation about his career and digital changes in the industry, he talks about being at Tradeshift (“where ideas win”),  how “every CPO has a bandwidth problem” and the promise of AI.

Anderson, who became Tradeshift’s CPO and digital transformation officer in September, sat down with another procurement veteran, Pierre Mitchell of Spend Matters, to share some laughs and lessons about how the industry adapted to technology over the last 40 years.

The following is the last of a three-part series of their conversation, which has been edited for clarity. Part 1 ran Monday, and Part 2 ran Wednesday.

‘I Think Demand Management Is the Bigger Play,’ Roy Anderson Touts Visibility into Spend, Risks of Not Buying In (Part 2)

“I saved you all $5 million,” procurement veteran Roy Anderson tried to tell one CFO he worked for. “To this day, he’s never totally believed that.”

In Part 2 of Anderson’s conversation about his career and digital changes in the industry, he talks about change management, demand management and how he did convince another CFO that Anderson’s team had saved him $150 million.

Anderson, now at Tradeshift, sat down with another procurement veteran, Pierre Mitchell of Spend Matters, to share some laughs and lessons about how the industry has adapted to technology over the last 40 years.

The following is the second of three-part series of their conversation, which has been edited for clarity. Part 1 ran Monday, and Part 3 will run Friday.

‘I Have Plenty of Stories’ — Roy Anderson Details Procurement’s Digital Roots and Its Future

Procurement veteran Roy Anderson understands the current digital revolution that holds so much promise, and some pain, for businesses because he’s been a leader of it for over 30 years. From Raytheon in the 1980s to building procurement software from scratch to today’s AI buzz, he has a story for every step of the way:

“Moving to a printed requisition was what [stakeholders] thought was automation.”

“Simplify the process. ... Eliminate the excess and then automate the mundane. … It’s still valid today, on how to do business.”

“As I did strategic sourcing, I found problems. I have plenty of stories around problems you find. ... Your current suppliers know bad things have occurred, but they always want to stay quiet.”

Anderson, now with Tradeshift, sat down with another procurement veteran, Pierre Mitchell of Spend Matters, to share some laughs and lessons about how the industry adapted to digital changes over the last 40 years. The following is the first of three-part series of their conversation, which has been edited for clarity. Part 2 will run Wednesday, and Part 3 on Friday.

Amazon Business Prime Updated: Analysis and Procurement Recommendations (October 2018 Update)

AnyData Solutions

Earlier today, Amazon announced a host of enhancements to its Amazon Business Prime offering. To help procurement organizations understand the implications of these added capabilities, this Spend Matters PRO research brief provides an overview and analysis of the new solution components and offers recommendations to procurement organizations already using or considering Amazon Business.

The emphasis of this PRO analysis centers on the spend visibility/analytics, e-procurement (guided buying) and working capital/payment capabilities of the October 2018 Amazon Business release. While some of these areas are likely to be less interesting for organizations that already use a third-party e-procurement solution that integrates with Amazon Business (either via punch-out or API), Amazon’s enhanced invoicing, working capital and payment components can be applied to all potential users.

But perhaps most important, these enhancement offer some signals of how Amazon may continue to build out the capabilities of its Prime business solution. Let’s delve in.

‘Just Coupa It’: By Buying Aquiire, Coupa Targets Google-like Search and the End of Punch-Outs

Coupa announced its latest acquisition Monday with its purchase of Aquiire, a provider of e-procurement and procure-to-pay software. The deal brings to Coupa’s business spend management suite — which now includes support for e-procurement, P2P, source-to-pay, travel and expense management, and services procurement — many of the latest features for front-end shopping and catalog management, particularly several patents related to real-time search and third-party-hosted catalog integration capabilities. Viewed as part of Coupa’s larger strategy, however, Aquiire is just one piece of a larger puzzle that Coupa has been trying to assemble for the last decade.

The purchase of Cincinnati, Ohio-based Aquiire, along with Coupa’s own innovations in the guided buying area and the company’s 2017 acquisition of Simeno, forms the basis of a shift away from one-to-one, proprietary “punch-out”-based B2B e-commerce models and toward a streamlined, almost touchless approach to finding and buying goods and services. This entails far more than creating a friendly user experience that’s “Amazon-like.” Coupa wants to go one step further, making the search for a corporate purchase as easy as answering a question with Google: one question (sometimes auto-suggested) into the box, numerous answers delivered within the next screen, in real time, prioritized by relevance, price and desired procurement controls.

Coupa’s goal is to make B2B purchasing as easy and reflexive as everyday information retrieval on the broader web. Said another way, when you need to know something, you Google it; when you need to buy something at work, you would Coupa it. Obviously, Coupa is not going to become a verb anytime soon on the scale of Google. The key is to provide a B2B buyer-relevant search that is tuned to the “persona” of the individual buyer to quickly get him or her the needed goods and services from the preferred supply sources and buying channels.

This Spend Matters PRO research brief explores the feasibility of the “Google-like” search concept, as well as how Coupa’s acquisition of Aquiire enables it. It also touches on how Coupa’s approach to front-end shopping enablement compares with the broader e-procurement market, as well as what this means for competitors.

An Introduction to Sourcing Business Intelligence (Part 2): The Leap from Sourcing Analytics to Supply Intelligence

data analytics

In Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO research series, we defined and explored the concept of sourcing business intelligence (BI), an emerging focus area for an increasing number of procurement organizations. Sourcing BI is not a “tool” like a spend analysis application module or a general purpose BI tool — like the visualization tools Qlik, Tableau or Sisense. Rather it is an enabling approach to sourcing, supplier management, total cost modeling/should cost analysis and related initiatives like clean sheeting that focus on the ability to incorporate increasingly rich external market, commodity, category and supplier intelligence with existing internal data sets, process flows and activities to enhance savings, compliance and organizational resilience.

Much of this activity is occurring within category management where managers are trying to move from historical descriptive analytics to “outside-in” predictive/prescriptive analytics that yield true intelligence rather than just subscribing to tribal best-practices sharing and generic data-as-a-service (DaaS) offerings in the marketplace.

In Part 2 of exploring sourcing business intelligence, we first will set some context about how to make the leap from sourcing analytics to broader supply intelligence. “Supply management” is bigger than “sourcing management” — and similarly — “intelligence” is bigger than “analytics.” By understanding this evolution, it helps us set up a deeper discussion into how artificial intelligence relates to analytics — with an immediate focus on sourcing, but a longer-term focus on broader spend/supply.

An Introduction to Sourcing Business Intelligence (Part 1): Definition and Driving Forces

The problem with the term “sourcing business intelligence” is that it can have vastly different interpretations. Yet sourcing BI is a concept that we’re increasingly hearing mention of with our procurement practitioner and consulting firm clients, albeit with different names attached to it.

Not to be confused with spend analytics, the concept of Sourcing BI could prove as important to the digital procurement organization of the future as category management did in the past decade — or perhaps even more invaluable. This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides an introduction to the concept of sourcing BI, starting first with a definition and an overview of the trends that are driving it.

Apttus Acquired by Thoma Bravo: Can a One-Time Sell-Side ‘Unicorn’ Become a Viable Pony for Buy-Side CLM?

Apttus announced recently that it would be acquired by private equity firm Thoma Bravo. Calling itself a leader  in the “middle office,” Apttus offers a platform primarily focused in the area of configure, price, quote (CPQ), but it also supports enterprise contract lifecycle management (CLM).

The terms of the acquisition were undisclosed, but given the majority stake being acquired, the deal is likely worth many hundreds of millions of dollars, given that Apttus had roughly $200 million in revenue for calendar year 2017 and had also accumulated more than $400 million in investments to date.

Back in 2015, Apttus was riding high and hoped to go public in 2016. Unfortunately, Salesforce, upon whose platform Apttus was built, bought Apttus’ smaller competitor, SteelBrick, in December 2015. Salesforce, in its never-ending quest for growth, wanted to directly enter the CPQ space and perhaps hoped to prevent a new mega competitor from spawning (even though Salesforce Ventures was an investor in Apttus — and in SteelBrick).  

Regardless, the move was clearly a body blow to Apttus. The firm put on a brave face and even managed to garner late stage investors rushing to hopefully get in on a big IPO, but soon things began to change. Growth slowed, layoffs ensued and longtime CEO Kirk Krappe quietly left this summer.

All of these types of changes are difficult in their own right, but when investors want returns out of their large investments, company working conditions often deteriorate, and many of the best employees leave, which leads management to cut back in certain areas that once seemed so promising — including an area such as source-to-pay.

Which brings us to why we’re writing about Apttus here on the buy side of the world.

Apttus does have CLM capabilities, and the CLM solution actually seems decent. It has all of the major elements in terms of clause libraries, templates, playbooks/wizards, redlining, MS-Word integration, “intelligent” clause search and so on. But its CLM product almost seems to play a supporting role in Apttus’ core focus on the sell-side CPQ suite. We have backed this up through numerous discussions with active and alumni Apttus CLM customers, partners and prospective customers.

Based on our discussions with the stakeholders mentioned above, the product is sound, but it’s not quite on par with high end players like Icertis and Exari. And it doesn’t feature broader process functionality found in source-to-pay suites, some of whom actually have CLM modules that can be used for sell-side contracts, too.

The remainder of this Spend Matters PRO research brief explores Apttus’ buy-side CLM solution in terms of its strengths and weaknesses and provides additional context about how buy-side CLM is positioned in the Apttus portfolio. If you are a corporate practitioner and interested in discussing buy-side (or enterprise-wide) CLM, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Are Your Procurement KPIs Balanced or Obsolete?

As our Spend Matters Plus analysis of procurement key performance indicators (KPIs) continues, we will turn our attention to additional metrics by which you can measure procurement performance including supply base development and spend under management. We will also examine how to discover if organizational procurement KPIs are off balance, favoring one area over another or the strategic over the tactical, or if they’re just right.

This analysis builds on a prior chapter of this research brief that provides an introduction to procurement KPIs. While intended for everyone in procurement from buyers to chief procurement officers, this series is particularly suited for individuals and organizations looking to put in place the right measurement foundation to change how procurement is viewed by the business from a function that only reduces input prices and “keeps the production line running,” to one that brings new areas of value, from supply chain risk reduction to creativity and innovation.

Foundational Procurement KPIs Every CPO, Supply Manager and Buyer Needs To Know

This research brief is intended as an aspirational piece for more transactional-focused procurement team members who are aiming to add value to procurement and the business beyond mere efficiency improvements and price reduction efforts. It is not a compendium of financial metrics to convince your CFO about the value of procurement – you have to develop your business case tied to your needs and strategy for that. (Though, do reach out to us because we’ve done quite a bit of research in this area as well if you’re interested.) Rather, it is our hope that this series will leave you with a laundry list of prioritized ideas and open your mind to the qualitative side of the business – and the ways in which you can begin to measure procurement contribution and key performance indicators (KPIs) to quantify the return of the various activities you’re up to.

In the first installment of our introduction to KPIs and related considerations, we will examine why KPIs matter and how to use them and discuss basic procurement metrics, the role of innovation in setting measurement variables and how certain KPI approaches can mislead.

Program Management: The Missing Link in Procurement Technology Modules and Suites (Part 10: E-Procurement Components, Continued)

In this series, we have been discussing the glue that binds together different areas of procurement workflow: the overall program management of both individual tasks and collective activities across the source-to-pay continuum, along with the technology components that support this end-to-end perspective. As a whole, this Spend Matters PRO series provides deep insight into what effective program management technology capabilities encapsulate from a design, platform and functional perspective.

We started this series by exploring design principles on which effective program management technology is based across the source-to-pay continuum. We then provided insights into the building blocks of effective program management technology components including best-of-breed project management, performance management, program compliance, program collaboration and other areas. We then highlighted specific examples of category management requirements and supplier management requirements before our series wrap-up with e-procurement and broader P2P.

In our last article (Part 9 — E-Procurement Components), we defined the P2P program counterparts to the sourcing-centric programs and began a deep dive into the platform components required to support the programs covered in our last entry. In this final installment on P2P, we conclude the platform components required to support modern procurement programs.