The Services and Indirect Category

A Critical Look at Category Management (Part 4) [Plus+]

Editor's note: This Spend Matters Plus brief is a refresh of our 2013 series on category management, which originally ran on Spend Matters PRO. 

In the last few weeks we’ve looked at some of the drawbacks related to what we might call “traditional” category management (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). However, we should stress that they’re all aspects of the process that can be overcome by appropriate thought and management effort. The lack of stakeholder involvement we’ve sometimes seen — the overly procurement-centric approach — can be addressed by ensuring that the right engagement takes place. The risk of over-standardisation of approach can be mitigated by being aware of that issue and ensuring it doesn’t happen. But today’s discussion will consider an alternative approach that perhaps challenges more fundamentally the conventional steps in the category management process.

A Critical Look at Category Management (Part 2) [Plus+]

category management

Editor's note: This Spend Matters Plus brief is a refresh of our 2013 series on category management, which originally ran on Spend Matters PRO. 

As we wrote in Part 1 of this series, category management (“CatMan”) has been perhaps the most powerful sourcing tool in the procurement armoury for some years. But 20 years on from the beginnings of its widespread adoption in the general procurement world (it has earlier origins in retail), we think it s a good time to review the state of CatMan and ask some fundamental questions. Is it still relevant? Has it outlived its usefulness? Does it need radical updating? Or is it still fit for purpose?

The Game of Professional Services: Procurement vs. Providers [Plus+]

Editor's note: This Spend Matters Plus brief is a refresh of our 2012 series on buying professional services, which originally ran on Spend Matters PRO. 

Procurement executives are often their own worst enemy in this context. Too often they measure their success purely on some hourly or daily rates achieved from the professional services provider. So the negotiating goal becomes a simple one. Your list price for a lawyer with around three years post-qualification experience is $300 an hour – we want a rate of $200 an hour. Or last year we paid £2000 a day for a managing consultant — how much discount will you give me this year?

Why the Staffing and Contingent Marketplace is Failing Procurement [Plus+]

In our prior analysis of the services procurement market, we looked at the evidence showing how the staffing marketplace is failing procurement organizations. Today, we turn our attention to the “why” and the factors holding organizations back from gaining more value from their services procurement spend. This value includes greater savings, of course, but also reduced risk, increased compliance, improved talent management and recovered time to focus on innovation, continuous improvement and business outcomes.

We are not purporting any grand conspiracy of sorts here. Rather, the fundamental challenge with services procurement and the staffing industry centers on a supplier-led industry dynamic that has been able to break free from the bounds of how procurement manages all other spend areas, directing the buy-side rather than having to adjust its own sell-side driven business to maturing procurement expectations and requirements.

In this Spend Matters Plus analysis, a refresh of our 2014 series, we consider the “why” of the problem and go beyond the standard “fox watching the henhouse” issues with the traditional MSP/staffing market. Finally, to conclude this series, we will offer a prescription for changing the market from the inside out with procurement-led initiatives.

The Evidence: How the Staffing and Contingent Market is Failing Procurement [Plus+]

There’s an incumbent ecosystem in the services procurement universe that has made a business out of delivering the bare minimum to keep customers satisfied and maintain the status quo. No, we’re not referring to the “tools” providers but rather the sad fact is that within the more capable vendor management system (VMS) tool sets today, much of the more advanced capability in these solutions goes untapped or is only partially used.

Who is to blame? It’s easy to shoot the messenger (i.e., staffing firms and the incumbent MSPs). But the blame rests with numerous other parties, as well, including consultancies, outsourcing firms, staffing researchers and, perhaps most serious of all, procurement itself.

In this two-part Spend Matters Plus analysis, a refresh of our original 2014 series, we highlight the contributing factors to how and why the staffing and contingent market is failing procurement, concluding with a prescription to start addressing the challenge. In Part 1, we present the evidence of how the staffing and contingent market is failing procurement.

Holding Managed Services Providers (MSPs) Accountable to a BPO-Based Standard (Part 2) [Plus+]

In the first post in this series, we explored the changing managed services provider (MSP) ecosystem and suggested what we believe will be a new battle between business process outsourcing (BPO) firms and traditional, often contingent-focused MSPs for the management and program oversight of broader services procurement initiatives for organizations looking for an outsourced services procurement option.

In our view, the more effective BPOs we track are making substantial investments in senior client-facing resources that become effective members of the company procurement team. These individuals often focus on opportunities to drive results that extend far beyond basic sourcing or compliance opportunities. In contrast, MSPs often bring limited subject matter expertise outside of contingent labor or basic SOW-type procurement initiatives.

How to Attack Marketing Spend (Part 3) [Plus+]

Torchlite

Our first takeaway: focus on media value. Media is often the largest spend in the marketing budget, and the real challenge is to not look at how to reduce the price point of media buys, but how to develop methodologies to measure the value of media specific to the strategic requirements of the brand and business. As we’ll soon explore in more detail, technology and analytics beyond generic spend analysis is key to understanding media value.

How to Attack Marketing Spend (Part 1) [Plus+]

Torchlite

Like MRO, packaging and logistics, the marketing category straddles the boundary between direct and indirect spend. And we all know (or so marketing folks claim) that it has a substantial impact on sales — allegedly, at least. The direct commercial impact is notoriously difficult to assess, although the new breed of analytics-driven spend analysis tools targeted specifically at marketing spend (e.g., cross-channel, competitive insights, etc.) and campaign performance can help. But put these in the agency parking lot for a minute. We’ll get into them later in this analysis and series.

For now, let’s focus on the marketing category as one among many — what makes it unique, what makes it similar and what are important trends.

Legal Sourcing and Billing: Category Sourcing, Maturity Models and Services Procurement Linkages (Part 1) [Plus+]

UpCounsel

Around 2005, while working for Procuri, one of the authors of this article was involved in a large legal services e-sourcing project (with reverse auction at the end) for a Fortune 10 firm that spanned law firms across the U.S. At that time, we included a substantial amount of spend segmentation into the event. From my experience and research, we were one of the first to engage in a procurement legal sourcing effort of this magnitude.

Upwork Skills Index: What Do the Fastest-Growing Freelancer Skills Mean to a Procurement Analyst?

Coworks

Upwork, a leading online freelancer marketplace and enterprise freelancer management solution business, released its second quarterly Skills Index report this week. The first report, Q2 Skills Index, was published in July. Each report identifies the 20 fastest-growing skills among U.S.-based Upwork freelancers in given quarters year-over-year. We run down the latest Top 20 here, also unleashing our "inner statistician" by suggesting how to best hone the report findings — and why procurement should care.

Sponsored Article

3 Must-Do Steps to Move Beyond Cost Savings

Spend Matters welcomes this sponsored article from Chuck Baren, Vice President of Professional Services, Americas, at SAP Fieldglass.

The days are gone when an external workforce management and services procurement program’s success was measured simply by the previous year’s cost reductions. The new table stakes are a tightly integrated procurement environment in which spend across categories and platforms can be used in real time to identify and rapidly adjust to market trends — all within the cloud.

Model and Manage Total Costs – 10 Services Procurement Secrets (No. 3)

Modeling and managing total cost is an important best practice for procurement organizations expanding their services procurement efforts. In the direct supply chain, cost management is religion. From modeling the total cost of individual parts or components – including raw materials, labor, value-added elements, etc. – to factoring in inventory carrying costs and general working capital, total cost is the direct procurement king. But in services procurement, we typically only build limited visibility into total cost both from the buyer and the provider (cost breakdown) perspective.