Procurement Research Content

Is Direct Materials Procurement a Separate Technology Market in North America? (Part 1: Introducing a Decision Framework)

Germany, Austria and some adjacent markets have something North America doesn’t — a distinct technology market for direct materials procurement. In Europe, Pool4Tool (now Jaggaer Direct), Allocation Network, SynerTrade, SupplyOn and a range of other solution providers succeeded in creating a distinctive European direct materials procurement solutions market that exists outside the generic source-to-pay realm.

But in North America, as these providers — also joined by Ivalua and SAP Ariba, and specialists like SourceDay and Supply Dynamics, as well as the offspring of the original MFG.com, LiveSource — attempt to reach customers, I question if all of these providers are selling to individual buyers rather than a clear market segment in which procurement organizations know they need a specialized solution set.

For the sake of argument, let’s define the “bounds” of direct materials procurement solutions as encompassing any or all of the following technology areas:

Avetta, Browz to Merge: History and the Growth of Community-Oriented, Network Models (Part 2) [PRO]

Industry insiders might argue that the growth of Avetta, Browz, ISNetworld and other industry supplier compliance and credentialing solutions like VendorMate (now part of GHX), GRMS and Hellios should never have been allowed to reach escape velocity owing to the first mover advantage that Achilles had on this market overall. But playing armchair supplier credentialing, pre-validation and certification vendor quarterback is nowhere near as useful an exercise as explaining the history of this market and how it became the largest procurement solutions sector that most buyers know little if anything about — yet is of critical strategic (and growing) importance.

So join us as we provide a history lesson about how this market came about and the value levers it created for buyers and suppliers. This investigation includes exploring how the sector in which Avetta competes can serve as a complement to other supplier management and risk management areas too (which we’ll tackle in more detail in the next research brief in this series).

If you’re just coming up on this market and the merger of Browz and Avetta, read the first research brief in this series (Avetta, Browz to Merge: Facts, Solution and Market Overview), which explored the core details and numbers behind the two companies coming together under the Avetta name.

CSR Update: Corporate Social Responsibility Can Lead Customers to Spend More, Study Says

BuyerQuest

Consumers are hungry for more information of all kinds when it comes to corporate social responsibility practices, and many are willing to pay more to companies that can provide it, according to a report in the Manufacturing and Service Operations Management Journal. The study, "Supply Chain Visibility and Social Responsibility: Investigating Consumers’ Behaviors and Motives," identified a strong preference among at least 70% of consumers for advertisements with more precise information about corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities compared to ones with vague information if the price did not change.

Interview with Malcolm Harrison, CIPS New CEO (Part 3 — Will artificial intelligence wipe out procurement?)

CIPS’ leader Malcolm Harrison says the professional organization is concerned for the future of procurement workers as “more work is ‘outsourced’ to technology.” Harrison, speaking in an interview with Spend Matters UK’s veteran procurement expert Peter Smith, was asked if artificial intelligence (AI) will wipe out procurement. “My view is there will always be events that happen that haven’t happened before — we will still need people to make those judgements based on new facts and situations,” Harrison says in this third and final installment. “But one of my concerns is this: How do we ensure we develop judgement skills in the profession?”

How to Interpret SolutionMap Procurement Provider Technology Rankings

When you first lay eyes on a SolutionMap Ranking you’ll notice the ‘Reading the Ranking Chart’ box on the right hand side stating a key — but there’s more to interpreting SolutionMap. Let’s explore the different elements of which you should be aware, from bubble size and color to quadrants.

Why Purchase Price Variance (PPV) Should Be Banished From Procurement Measurements and KPIs [Plus+]

One of the biggest challenges to overall program impact and improvement in all but the most advanced procurement organizations are the raw elements that many procurement organizations measure themselves against: key performance indicators (KPIs). Of these, purchase price variance (PPV) is particularly obnoxious in all but certain cases. PPV measures the difference in price paid for multiple purchases for the same SKU, part or service. It is typically employed in standard costing environment in an ERP system for SKU-based items where actual PO prices are tracked compared to the existing standard cost.

This methodology is great for the financial accounting function. The PPV can be calculated easily by the system by accumulating the PPV until the new standard is calculated (and those variances posted to the appropriate general ledger account). A favorable PPV (i.e., price is less than the standard) is also known as a purchase price reduction (PPR). This all seems straightforward for the accounting department, but it’s not a great way to judge procurement performance, at least not on its own. Why?

There are numerous reasons why PPV can be such a misleading figure. In this two-part Spend Matters Plus series, we explain why PPV is a KPI that procurement organizations should stop measuring internal and individual performance against.

Chasing After Procurement Excellence: Findings from A.T. Kearney’s Latest Report

Deloitte Global CPO Survey 2016

World-class procurement organizations see a comparatively threefold higher return on their supply management assets, according to A.T. Kearney’s 2017 Assessment of Excellence in Procurement. The firm has been conducting these assessments every three years or so since 1992, and this is its ninth assessment. A.T. Kearney divides companies into four groups based on their ability to manage external spend: Leaders (7%); Aspirants (11%); The Pack (55%); and Strugglers (27%). The “Leaders” are twice as likely to invest in supplier innovation, risk management and digital technologies like blockchain or automation.

What Sets World-Class Procurement Organizations Apart? Use of Digital Technology for One

There are many things that set world-class procurement organizations apart from their average-performing peers. It may be working closely with suppliers to drive innovation and manage risks, or perhaps it’s collaborating with senior management on strategic initiatives. According to a new report from The Hackett Group, world-class procurement organizations also have 29% fewer full-time workers on average, and they rack up 22% lower labor costs. But how is it that these organizations can achieve more with fewer full-time employees? One indispensable factor is digital technology, the report says.

Business Process Management for Procurement: A Spectrum of Choices [Plus+]

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.

A 21-Question Health Check to Score Your Procurement Scorecard (Part 1) [Plus+]

supplier scorecard

As the old business adage goes, “what gets measured gets done.” This is certainly true in procurement. If you want to do the right things for yourself and your stakeholders, you need to measure the right things and do it efficiently. You also need to ensure that you are measuring what your stakeholders want and what you are in fact delivering. It’s a foundational competency. For example, in a past Hackett Group procurement key issues study, “value contribution visibility” ranked third (after sourcing and category management) in terms of procurement key capabilities that were viewed to be major or critical, with 76% of firms having picked this. It even outperformed “SRM programs,” which got the fourth slot. In other words, the competency for value contribution measurement was higher than an area of actual value creation! (In the 2017 version of this report, "measuring value beyond savings" is a big part of Priority #1 — improving the stakeholder experience.) In this research brief, I’ll discuss how you can assess the quality of your procurement scorecard and how to improve it. To do so, I’ll assume that you have some type of procurement scorecard already, and that maybe you’ve even already adopted some smart principles to it. But, I’m going to go deep on this one and ask you a set of 21 questions about your scorecard. This first installment covers the first five.

Category Management Survey and Report: Groundbreaking Results and Webinar Next Week

category management

Consultancy Future Purchasing completed late last year the largest category management survey of its kind ever attempted (as far as we know). With more than 300 respondents from a range of sectors and countries, the results provide much fascinating material to help understand just what differentiates the best exponents of “CatMan” from the pack. And if you have any interest in the topic, as a category manager or a procurement leader looking to improve performance, or indeed as a less mature organization in the field, we are confident you will get something useful out of our upcoming webinar next Tuesday, March 14, at 11 a.m. EST.

The State of Sustainable Procurement: Latest EcoVadis/HEC Barometer is Released

EcoVadis released its seventh and latest Sustainable Procurement Barometer on Tuesday, a joint study with HEC on supply chain sustainability that was first carried out over a decade ago. These studies measured sustainable procurement practices in global procurement organizations and aimed to provide a landscape view, including “sector and geographical differences, industry strengths, improvement areas [and] new frontiers for innovation.” In short, companies worldwide are now investing in sustainability practices across the supply chain, and sustainable procurement has become vital for revenue and costs, risk mitigation, brand reputation, and innovation and growth.