Author Archives: Tom Finn

About Tom Finn

Tom is a serial entrepreneur and reluctant expert in the myriad applications of optimization to strategic sourcing and supply chain management –especially in healthcare, where the first collaborative sourcing projects ever attempted were successfully executed under his direction. He has been the first business executive hired by technology innovators from MIT, the University of Cambridge and CMU, so getting high-brow intellectuals and early commercial adopters on the same page is a battle-tested communication skill that Tom has had ample opportunity to hone over a 30-year career. Tom earned his undergraduate degree at Allegheny College and went on to the University of Taipei to continue his study of Mandarin. He has a knack for connecting dots that others don’t see and a readily obvious ability to communicate the possibilities.

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


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


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


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.

Back in Coastal Georgia with the Evacuation Blues Again

Hurricane Matthew and Irma. Two evacuations in one year have proven more than enough for me (and I’m hearing there may be yet another one on the way). In both cases I lost more than a week of my life. Whether holed-up with friends hooked on reality TV or moving between cheap motels with my ill-mannered pets, it doesn’t make much difference: it’s a totally depressing scene that has moved me to action. I ain’t going nowhere next time, no how.

Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) — Low-Hanging Fruit


I’ll never forget the reaction of my sales manager when I brought him news of my first significant piece of business. “Congratulations, Tom, but you need to know that the real sales process begins after you get the P.O.!” The review and preparation of contracts central to any business relationship involves a myriad of complexities that rely on legal expertise and oversight. All of those meetings, followed by the work to author “the agreement,” require detailed and sophisticated legal understanding of the applicable laws. Is this still the case? For one-off, special arrangements, there’s no question about it. But for the vast majority of supplier contracts, the effort has been reduced to an increasingly obvious and unnecessary waste of time.

Ubering After Dark — in Wisconsin

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines heavy drinking as 15 or more drinks for men and eight or more for women on a weekly basis. On average, 18% of American adults fall into this category, but the percentage is over 25% in Wisconsin. Some experts will tell you that the Germanic and Scandinavian ancestries of Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota have something to do with it. And others will say that it’s the dreary weather.