In Part 1 of this series, we introduced the idea of design-centered procurement and how procurement needs to put is “users” (stakeholders) at the core of what it does. The heart of good design isn’t just about aesthetics, but about solving a problem — or lots of problems at once. Those problems are very situational, but there can be many common problems as well. The trick is to tease out the problems that are situational to the environment versus dispositional regarding the person experiencing the problem. Both are valid — you need to understand “where people are coming from.” I know this sounds like an eHarmony line, but the reason why Google/Alphabet is worth nearly half a trillion dollars in market capitalization is due in part because its search results are deeply compatible to your situation and relevant to the problem you’re trying to solve when you go searching (i.e., Google is a finding engine, not a searching engine). If you’ve noticed, your search results, especially on your smartphone, are increasingly freakishly relevant, because Google (and an ecosystem of other mega vendors) is constantly watching you and has a digital profile of you (i.e., who you are) that uses your behaviors (and your attributes) to predict what you want so that it can help you find the solution to your problem — and also serve you up to its advertisers. It all starts with you as the customer and your problem as the context. In the rest of this analysis, we’ll discuss how to do this.
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This week we present Torchlite as the WIP of the Week. The company, just out of the blocks in 2015, specializes in providing the full-range of digital marketing services through a unique “service provider” platform-based model. In many ways, the company acts like an outsourcer of digital marketing services for companies that are not in a position to execute digital marketing on their own — or do so at a very high cost with unsatisfactory results. In this brief, we provide an overview of Torchlite and its unique platform model and, as usual, offer our own commentary.
Procurement in the Middle East: 10 Observations on Regional Practices and Requirements (Part 2) [PRO]
As our Spend Matters PRO analysis of procurement in the Middle East continues, we turn our attention to five additional areas that warrant understanding, investigation and consideration by any procurement organization (or individual) wanting to prioritize specific efforts and programs, or simply come up to speed quickly on the regional culture of procurement and supply chain including where it has been and where it is going. The prioritization of procurement activities is becoming more important across the Middle East, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and other countries. And it will become even more important as Iran — not exactly the Middle East by definition, however — is increasingly welcomed back to the international community. Indeed, the move to market economies, even in countries with strong legacies of ruling families and state control, is accelerating with the support of government. This is playing a role in helping organizations build cases for investing in procurement. As one local CPO recently remarked in conversation, in the past, “if you were the first one in the market in a given sector, you did well, as there was no competition.” But this is changing, as “low cost” is now becoming a differentiator for organizations as competition and market economies take shape across the Middle East.
Procurement in the Middle East: 10 Observations on Regional Practices and Requirements (Part 1) [PRO]
For multinational organizations today — and for those expanding globally — creating the right procurement operating model, structure and culture for operations in the Middle East is critical. Using the right technologies is essential not only to leapfrog others but also to address specific business cultural nuances. As countries like the United Arab Emirates look to increasingly become global business and logistics hubs and the entire region looks to move past dependence on the energy sector in the coming decades, procurement will take on an increasingly strategic role (despite the fact far too many executives in the region continue to view procurement tactically). This multipart Spend Matters PRO analysis provides a primer on building and running an effective procurement organization in the Middle East and offers recommendations for procurement solution and services providers operating in or targeting the region. It is based, in part, on discussions with more than a dozen procurement executives and consultants based in the UAE. In the first installment of this series, we provide a snapshot of the state of procurement in the Middle East starting with a list of 10 observations. Further coverage will include a checklist for accelerating new or existing regional procurement programs and recommended solution vendors with on-the-ground presence (and customers) in the region.
In our first article, we noted that sometimes good RFP responses are hard to come by. We noted that there are a variety of reasons why this is the case and tried to give some insights on what makes a good RFP. Then, in Part 2 of this series, we defined some critical requirements of a good RFP in an effort to help you write better RFPs. In Part 3, we discussed how to understand and incorporate the supplier’s perspective into your RFP so that you can be a “prospective customer of choice” by presenting an “RFP of choice” that makes your business even more attractive to the prospective supplier. Finally, in Part 4, we highlighted some best practices to consider in creating one. To close out this series, we’ll examine how the best way to write a better RFP is to make the task easier via automation. That’s what a good software solution will do. Modern RFX solutions that support requests for information (RFIs), proposals (RFPs) and quotes (RFQs) bring with them a host of benefits and should be adopted if you aren't using them already. The only possible exception is when the RFX is for an RFX solution, in which case you may have to use a system (“free” supplier-funded solutions or a homegrown/spreadsheet tool) that doesn’t compete with the solutions you’re considering!
In our first article we noted that sometimes good RFP responses are hard to come by. We noted that there are a variety of reasons why this is the case, and tried to give some insights on what makes a good RFP. Then, in Part 2 of this series, we defined some critical requirements of a good RFP in an effort to help you write better RFPs. Before we move on to some best practices and benefits, we feel it’s important to consider the supplier’s perspective more formally. If you are going to be a “customer of choice,” you should present an “RFP of choice” that makes your business even more attractive to the prospective supplier. One of the best ways to signal that you are more than just a checkbook is to demonstrate leadership right from the onset.
As we began outlining in the previous installment of this Spend Matters Plus series, better RFX management and, in particular, better modeling and cost analysis are just the beginning of the value good procurement platforms and processes can bring to marketing. The next level of value is in what procurement, and marketing, can do with the data collected not only from the RFX but also from deliverables and metrics throughout the creation and implementation of the campaign the agencies are engaged to support. With the unprecedented spend detail that a good procurement platform can capture, a good analytics and business intelligence platform will provide marketing with visibility into actual costs and comparisons with benchmarks, analytics by spend type, project type and agency, and cross-correlation with sales for insight into value-generating spend. Letting the light shine in through marketing-specific spend analytics capability represents a huge opportunity. But this is nearly uncharted territory for far too many organizations. The first place to start is investing in the time and effort to capture sufficient detail in all transactions so that you can create meaningful reports and trends. Join us as we conclude this series, outlining how to tap into the intelligence, visibility and value-add training that could ultimately help procurement get marketing spend under management this year.
RFXs are expensive to run on either side of the fence, for marketing and for agencies. Granted, the bulk of this expense comes in the form of soft costs. But the undertaking is considerable and carefully vetted among agencies. Spend Matters has learned that some agencies estimate their total cost, when all hard costs and revenue losses – from assigning talent to proposals instead of projects – are factored in, to be around $200,000 per RFP, on average. This point is important to emphasize: agencies are quite picky about the clients and projects they bid on. So if the RFP does not grab their attention quickly, it will be dismissed, and so will your organization. Thus, if you can convey to marketing that your vast experience with services RFPs can help marketing get a better response rate, and better responses, it is more likely to be receptive to your words. So how do you go deep on RFX support messaging? In this installment of our Spend Matters Plus series, we outline seven focus areas that will help procurement practitioners guide marketing through the RFX processes.
Offering Agency Management Support: How to Get Marketing Spend Under Management in 2016 (Part 4) [Plus +]
Marketing is all about generating demand for the organization’s products. Thus, value to marketing is any activity that has the potential to increase demand. The primary activity marketing undertakes to increase demand is advertising. This activity is primarily accomplished through contracting agencies with the creative talent (the “magicians”) that marketing believes has what it takes to produce the magic that will increase demand with the fresh and innovative campaigns and messages these creative types will generate. Thus, a big part of marketing is agency management. Often the greatest value that procurement can bring marketing, at least in marketing’s view, is any process, methodology, technology or resource pool to help marketing better manage its agency relationships. If marketing already thinks those relationships are good, procurement can still help foster more successful agency relationships. How will procurement accomplish this? In this installment of our six-part Spend Matters Plus series, we take procurement practitioners through how to clarify and pitch the value message of certain management processes for marketing, ultimately helping marketing close the loop between what was created and what was delivered.
How best to connect with the marketing team? As a procurement professional, you probably hear this over and over again from bloggers, analysts, consultants and even vendors who stress that a new initiative will not be successful without executive support, and engaging with marketing is no different. Even if you talk the talk and walk the walk (as we analyzed in the first part of this series), and come bearing great suggestions to address marketing’s value drivers and increase the overall return from the marketing spend (our point in Part 2) — even if you can use this newfound knowledge to get marketing to lower the drawbridge and invite you into the foyer, it doesn’t mean the wizards of wondrous words are going to take you seriously or invite you back to dine in the great hall. One has to remember that marketing has a right to be cautious, and maybe even distrustful, of your new value-generation messaging because the last time procurement came knocking, it was to cut costs, which is not necessarily beneficial to marketing. Thus, it’s only reasonable that they would want some c-suite assurance that this time it’s different. So how do you get the right executive support? That’s what we’ll tackle in our third installment of this Spend Matters Plus series.
In the first installment of this Plus series, we discussed how, despite the fact that we have known for almost a decade that the marketing category contains significant value that can be unlocked with good procurement practices and processes, in most organizations, marketing is still a “sacred-cow” category that is out of procurement’s reach. In these organizations, marketing still insists that it cannot be constrained by procurement logic in its quest for the best agency magic and that it’s not how much you spend but how much business value you generate. And while this is mostly true, it’s not entirely true. It’s about spending wisely so that every additional dollar of spend generates additional, measurable value for the brand. Marketing’s entire purpose — increasing sales and brand value — cannot be done without spending hard dollars, and, generally, success will correlate with how much is spent. As a result, the goal is to always increase, not decrease, the available marketing budget. This is one category where it’s not about savings but about value delivered. As a result, the money needs to be spent on agencies that produce campaigns that generate results, and on third parties that provide the products and services that support the campaigns (print, digital media, etc.). However, one cannot even begin to contemplate who the right parties are until one understands the value drivers that need to be considered and addressed. So how to make logic + magic = profits? First, in this installment, we will discuss the four biggest value drivers to marketing — understanding those will be key to gaining their trust and getting their spend under management.
Much like packaging, logistics and maintenance, repair and operations (MRO), the marketing spend category straddles the boundary between direct and indirect. And we all know that it has a substantial impact on sales and revenue — allegedly, at least. The reality is that, while every marketing dollar spent can have a huge impact if spent appropriately, the direct commercial impact is notoriously difficult to assess, and the value per dollar spent even more difficult to quantity. However, organizations can no longer afford to ignore this “sacred spend cow” category, as every dollar spent needs to count in an inflationary market. Marketing needs procurement to squeeze every penny of value out of agency spend to not just lower total costs but also maximize revenue uplift and brand enhancement. However, this won’t happen as long as a moat separates procurement from marketing. Thus, in this series, we have distilled the approaches and practices we’ve seen adopted by leading practitioners and present a step-by-step plan to help procurement gain marketing’s ear, trust and support in helping marketing manage its spend for maximum performance. In this first installment, we break down why you need to walk the walk, talk the talk, get educated and “live the marketing life” — all of which should help loosen marketing’s drawbridge and ease it down across that moat.