Author Archives: Tom Finn



Old-Fashioned Heuristics: Common Sense Cause and Effect

Regarding the countless examples of reckless government spending we like to mock, I stopped caring a long time ago. Instead, I have turned my attention to the funding of studies designed to confirm things that we should have already known. If you have a sense of humor, there are numerous ridiculous examples where taxpayer money might have been invested more judiciously. Spending more than a billion to confirm that the use of seat belts saves lives comes to mind, as does funding a long-term study to determine whether obligatory handwashing might be a good idea in health care settings. Studying hospital behavior to determine if they might be playing self-serving games with the current reimbursement calculus also strikes a chord.

More on Healthcare’s Saline Bag “Shortage”

The saline bag “shortage” in healthcare has been going on for a few years. I’ve got some strong opinions on the matter, as I have had the pleasure of interviewing the assigned category managers at the nation’s largest healthcare GPOs, health system sourcing professionals and executives at Baxter, B.Braun and Hospira, the nation’s three largest manufacturers and suppliers of the product. It turns out that there are very few resin producers that make the type and grade used to manufacture saline bags. Not only did these producers cut production, but they’ve increased their pricing by more than 300% in the last year. Why?

Supplier Rationalization — Revisited

category management

Rationalizing a supply base is typically defined as picking the right suppliers and the right number of them, but in common practice, it has too often come to mean shrinking or consolidating a supply base in the name of securing more strategic relationships. We tend to forget that supplier rationalization can also mean increasing the number of suppliers used, routinely changing your mix of suppliers or expanding and then reducing the number and types of suppliers you select in support of changing organizational objectives, tests, hunches and the desire to accelerate the transfer of innovation.

The Latest Worst Kept Secret: Amazon’s Move into Pharmacy

“I think Amazon getting into the PBM business (pharmacy benefits management) is a bunch of B.S.,” said Vishnu Lekraj, an analyst with analyst firm Morningstar. “I don’t understand how a company that can ship goods to a consumer can take over every single industry.” According to state pharmaceutical boards, Amazon has received approval for wholesale pharmacy licenses in at least 12 states: Arizona, North Dakota, Nevada, Alabama, New Jersey, Michigan, Louisiana, Connecticut, Idaho, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Oregon, with applications pending in other states. In fact, some of the license types go beyond prescription drugs and include approvals for products and devices that fall under the durable medical products category, such as oxygen and other medical gasses.

Embedding Procurement Across the Enterprise

category management

Has procurement reached a point where it can be trusted with measuring its own performance? Notwithstanding the need for practical checks and balances, is your procurement organization looking through the lens of its own performance microscope or is it pacing the halls of finance, waiting for validation? As procurement becomes increasingly responsible for non-traditional areas of spend and building business cases supporting change, its organizational importance will continue to soar. But cost control is a shared responsibility. And unfortunately, sinking your teeth into the myriad complexities related to measuring a procurement department’s performance often yields more questions than answers.

Almost Famous: Ivalua Acquires Directworks

Confirming the spend management industry rumor mill, Ivalua today announced its acquisition of Directworks. The deal lends serious credence to Ivalua’s tag line — “One Suite. Infinite Possibilities” — as it has the potential to establish Ivalua as the market’s only native, end-to-end S2P solution.

In terms of indirect spend know-how, Ivalua is a thought leader and its software is top drawer. On the direct side, Directworks goes deep, delivering Ivalua an arsenal of hard-won intellectual property based on battle-tested experience.

Wanted in HRM and SCM: Modern Hiring Personas

interview

Following an interesting conversation I had with a notable human resources guru this past weekend, I reread a recent post of mine entitled “Millennials Will Transform Procurement — Not by War but Attrition.” I did so to check myself, as she took issue with some of what I considered to be the article’s safest assumptions. Amidst all of the optimism surrounding the impact of millennials on procurement, my friend questioned how seriously we should take such projections if significant improvements aren’t made to the way we recruit and develop talent.

Can the Latest Supplier Relationship Management Tools Deliver the Clinically Integrated Supply Chain?

On healthcare’s supply side, you’ll meet some of the most sophisticated procurement practitioners you’ll find across industry. On the buy side, talking specifically now about acute care providers, however, you have a group that has carried the reputation of “laggard” for as long as anyone has paid attention.

Take it From a Former Road Warrior: User Conferences Have Come of Age

Eved

Having spent more than 30 years in the software game, I thought I had reached my fill of trade shows and all of the related logistical nightmares. For years, user conferences were saddled with similar baggage (sheep in wolves’ clothing). But not anymore — at least not based on my experience of the last few years. Done well, user conferences bring customers and qualified prospects together in increasingly engaging formats. They have become staged, anticipated events, if not exclusive, peer-to-peer gatherings.  

A New Perspective for Procurement: Understanding RAP

risk

Although I can’t be sure if risk-aware procurement (RAP) can rightfully claim this year’s mantle for most popular new supply chain management (SCM) acronym, it should be a leading contender. Not that it’s about acronyms, or that building a procurement-led and more structured supplier relationship management (SRM) capability isn’t meaty enough on its own, but when you add in the sizzle of supplier risk management (SRM), well, let me put it this way: Chief procurement officers (CPOs) who “RAP” are embracing one of the more powerful hooks the profession has seen in more than a decade.

Amazon’s Healthcare Gambit May Be Taking Shape

It is being reported that Amazon is ramping up conversations with the pharmacy benefit mangers (PBMs). In fact, it’s being reported that Amazon may be already working with several in an attempt to get into various contract arrangements. And while analysts are pointing out that it will take Amazon a few years to get licensed in all 50 states, the banter surrounding Amazon’s potential move into pharmaceutical distribution is all too familiar. Some are characterizing Amazon as a potential partner, while others see them as a direct threat, while others express their skepticism, saying that they don’t think Amazon would choose to move into such a highly-regulated space.

Supply Chain Visibility (SCV): Market and Solution Provider Overview

customs bill

This Spend Matters PRO brief provides a high-level review of the supply chain visibility (SCV) solution market. SCV is an acronym often used to describe the inventory “track and trace” capability that shippers are rapidly implementing to help manage their logistics, even though SCV also has a broader context for inventory visibility across the supply chain (e.g., within the plant or at a supplier). Logistics providers are all doing so to meet a service level expectation that is coalescing around real-time, track and trace information flows. For example, whether it’s a Wal-Mart store awaiting a shipment or a consumer anticipating a package from Amazon, they both want to know delivery status — and they want that information at their fingertips. 

However, while consumers may only want to know “when,” the shippers want to know all of the surrounding details, including any and all performance and risk information that could support a better inventory management practice, capacity planning and transportation sourcing.

The carriers are also along for the ride (pardon the pun), not just because they’re obliged but also, because it will soon be in their business interest (from a load matching perspective). The more information they share (i.e., the more visible and transparent their hour-to-hour status is), the more likely it is their trucks will stay full — with the right kinds of loads, on preferred lanes.

Along with several shippers and other trade practitioners, we interviewed the following SCV solution providers:

  • FourKites
  • 10-4 Systems
  • project44
  • MacroPoint
Note: While there are many more SCV solution providers, and while they are typically distinguished by transport mode specialization or their target audience (shippers, carriers, LSPs), their ideas, techniques and raisons d’etre are all strikingly similar.