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.


Extending Procurement Information Architecture to Provider Ecosystems (Part 2)

Let’s recap where we ended up with conclusion of the first installment in this series. A range of application vendors are trying to build out native platforms or sit on top of others flexibly. For example, Coupa hedges its bets by building on top of AWS, but also partnering with IBM (on SmartCloud) and showing up on SuiteApp.com. Providers are also trying to develop healthy B2B ecosystems that are creating B2B activity and, as a result, “liquidity.” There’s no way to better monetize that liquidity than from B2B e-commerce networks for source-to-pay (S2P) on the buy side and both attract-to-order and order-to-cash on the sell side. All this talk of liquidity reminds us of a different time and place in the procurement and supply chain world: the “marketplace era” from the late 1990s and early 2000s. This time, however, there are many technology differences that will make the vision of liquidity a reality faster than many will imagine. But not without a key application rub that should be top of mind for all procurement and IT organizations.

Sycamore Partners to Acquire Staples: What is the Broader Strategy Here?

Private equity firm Sycamore Partners announced Wednesday that it would acquire office supply company Staples for $6.9 billion, though rumors of the deal had been swirling for a week. The acquisition comes after the Federal Trade Commission quashed a Staples-Office Depot merger on antitrust grounds a year ago, which Spend Matters covered extensively.

Extending Procurement Information Architecture to Provider Ecosystems (Part 1)

In our previous series on procurement services provision and information architectures (here, here, here, here, here, here and here) we discussed the importance of thoughtfully designing various architecture elements such as MDM, analytics, workflow, portal infrastructure, etc. to re-frame overall information capabilities beyond the traditional provider-led “module-menu” approach. Simply put, the idea is to loosely couple these capabilities so that they can be iteratively improved (and switched out as needed) while they squeeze more value out of the fragmented information topologies that litter the enterprise landscape. The coupling of these capabilities can – and should – create situations where the sum of a set of assets greatly exceeds their individual contribution elements.

Procurement is within Supply Chain, but is the Supply Chain within Procurement?

Procurement helps a firm feed the supply chain. And it may even call itself “supply chain.” But does it really live the supply chain? In other words, does it embody the principles and practices of supply chain excellence within its own services “business”?

To answer this question, we must define supply chain excellence, which consists of three major elements: Customer focus to understand and shape demand; supply performance that meets customer needs and business needs; and transformation that (re)designs the value chains (and supporting resources) that produce the products and services that satisfy the customer and meet key performance requirements.

Obviously, procurement must support this. If purchasing must become supply management, as Walter Kraljic so famously wrote, then it’s not about just episodic sourcing but rather “supplying” the customer-satisfying value chain holistically. Supply management thus becomes about building the extended supply network that is positioned to fulfill customer needs. In other words, supply management is customer facing.

Designing a Spend Category Taxonomy Properly is Harder Than You Think (Part 2: Go Deep)

category management

We recently had a client ask us if we could offer specific guidelines or methodologies for creating a spend category taxonomy within the automotive and industrial markets. The question resulted in a discussion among a number of us with industry experience. And since we didn’t have any research already published on the topic, we thought we’d invest the time to document our findings. In this second installment of a two-part Spend Matters Plus research series, Chief Research Officer Pierre Mitchell explores how granular procurement should go in creating a spend taxonomy and concludes with practical tips for implementing a program.

5 Quick and Crazy Ideas About What Amazon’s Acquisition of Whole Foods Means for the Intersection of B2B and B2C

amazon

We, like a lot of folks, said “whoa” this morning when reading about Amazon’s announcement that it was buying Whole Foods. It stopped us in our tracks, which is not a surprise. For if we were to dissect our personal household spending, Whole Foods would certainly top our lists, like many other families who can afford it, no doubt. But what’s curious from our vantage point is not what Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods — if approved by shareholders and if it passes regulatory hurdles — means for our own credit card bills. Rather, we’re keen to see what it means for Amazon Business and the intersection of business and consumer buying.

Designing a Spend Category Taxonomy Properly is Harder Than You Think (Part 1: Do This, Not That)

category management

We had a question from a client of ours about whether there were any guidelines or an overall methodology to coming up with a spend category taxonomy. It’s a simple question, but there isn’t a simple answer. So, we thought we’d offer some insights to help guide your efforts. But before we say what to do, there’s a quick recommendation on what not to do. In this first of a two-part Spend Matters Plus series, Chief Research Officer Pierre Mitchell explores how to think about creating a spend category taxonomy, pitfalls of incorrect approaches, and how to embrace an approach that cuts across categories and spend types.

Business Process Management for Procurement: A Spectrum of Choices

category management

BPM stands for business process management. If the business process is procurement (i.e., a collection of processes), then the concept is about managing procurement processes — including process design/definition, performance management (e.g., process outputs/KPIs, monitoring) and resource management. Of course, in the IT world, BPM has its own body of knowledge regarding the topic, focused mostly on “process workflow/integration on steroids.” This is the “system of process/interaction/engagement” that may sit on top of multiple systems of record (e.g., ERP, source-to-pay suites).

In this Spend Matters Plus article, we define BPM components and offer practical ways for applying BPM to procurement, keeping the topic on a business level and issuing both warnings and best practice tips for companies deploying or considering BPM technology adoption within the function. But how can you approach this topic without your eyes glazing over? Wikipedia does a good job explaining the concept, but we will try to define an evolution that procurement organizations can use to start doing IT-enabled BPM in a simple way, and then get more sophisticated.

Merging Jaggaer and Pool4Tool: Strategy Analysis and Questions Customers Should Ask

Jaggaer announced Monday it would merge with Pool4Tool. The combination raises a number of questions, primarily from a strategy perspective, beyond just providing expanded distribution to a niche provider and the validation of a new technology segment (manufacturing-centric procurement solutions) in North America. Rather, it raises the broader notion of whether a mutual fund-type holding company structure — regardless of capitalization structure — can help the fortunes of each “member” (and customers) beyond a certain point.

There's no question the two firms are better together than apart. Both “members” can immediately cross-sell and gain certain scale advantages. They can do this because of customer goodwill and the ability to get in the door and deliver. No doubt the professionalism that a private equity-held software firm brings, along with professional services know-how and reach to drive sales and implementations, will be key contributors to initial momentum as well. Jaggaer brings these two areas to Pool4Tool — and then some. But this only goes so far.

Longer term, real technology integration models, including a supplier network and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) strategy, need to be spelled out. While our colleague Tom Finn appreciated Jaggaer and Pool4Tool’s honesty around the topic of integration, strategically, to maximize customer (and likely shareholder) value, our esteemed colleague may not be right. Which brings us to the strategic technology questions Jaggaer and Pool4Tool should be asking as well as those which customers and prospective should zero in on as well.

Freeing Yourself From the Chains of the DPO Stretch: An Empirical and Experiential Analysis

Before on Spend Matters, I highlighted an analysis where, in 12 of 14 manufacturing industries I analyzed, I found negative correlations between Days Payable Outstanding (DPO) and enterprise performance (e.g., debt you may incur to raise cash to invest in high payback initiatives such as B2B trade financing where early payment discounts and/or supply chain finance programs are established). In this Spend Matters Plus article, I’ll dive into the industry details and also provide some additional insights based on some research that we conducted with the Institute for Supply Management (ISM).

Commodity Management: Drilling into the Supply Chain and the Technology Landscape

My colleague Jason Busch and I have written earlier about how, with the exception of a few top procurement organizations, procurement is failing to deploy the right sets of strategies, tools and tactics to bridge commodity management, sourcing and broader procurement activity.

In this Spend Matters Plus article, I want to dive into some of the details around commodity management and its relation to the broader supply chain, as well as the different solution approaches being used to tackle it. In a value-chain mega chart in the article (which basically follows a design > source > plan [supply] > deliver [inbound] process flow from left to right), I’ve outlined the various processes (brown rectangles) and some supporting solution types (blue ovals) for commodity management.

A Guidebook to the Rise of Industry-Specific Procurement Technologies: Related Markets, the Why and the Where

By Spend Matters estimates, over 80% of dollars spent on procurement technology in recent years has been for standard source-to-pay products (e.g., spend analytics, sourcing, contract management, supplier management, e-procurement and invoice-to-pay) that were not specifically designed or configured — prior to deployments — to support industry-specific requirements. Granted, there have been some notable deviations to the rule (which make up the 20%), such as healthcare-centric solutions, certain areas of public sector, supplier compliance in regulated industries, supporting specific collaboration requirements, manufacturing requirements and so forth. But these have been exceptions rather than the norm.

Something new is afoot, however. There are a number of signposts which point to the pending rise of industry-specific solutions more generally for procurement technology — i.e., those solutions which are either designed from the start or come pre-configured to meet the specific needs of a given market.

This Spend Matters PRO research series provides a guidebook for organizations that are interested in this change, the drivers behind it, and some trends and examples that we’re seeing in the field. It explores when industry specific procurement technologies are likely most appropriate (or not), what technologies are likely to be affected, lessons from related markets (e.g., finance/treasury, supply chain, supplier and third-party management) and provides a summary and analysis of recent news from Jaggaer, Ivalua and SAP Ariba detailing their emerging approaches to verticalization. It also provides recommendations to procurement organizations, solution providers and consultancies that are looking to take advantage of this shift (or not get left behind by it).