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Q&A on Digital Procurement’s Role in Sustainability, Ethics and Compliance [PRO]

As supply chains get increasingly externalized and globalized, the broad scope of operations is subject to equally broad regulatory oversight and supply risk. Meanwhile, as consumers increasingly demand transparency and ethical behavior by value chain brand owners, supply chain organizations at those brands (and also at their suppliers), are having to increasingly respond to these demands. Procurement organizations, for their part, are trying their best to support this externalization on all fronts, but they are so busy with strategic sourcing and P2P execution that even the “basics” of supplier qualification, certification and on-boarding are suffering — never mind having time for more strategic activities in supplier innovation, advanced risk management, digital transformation and other areas.

So, what’s the solution? Well, procurement must first practice what it preaches by tapping supply market innovation for itself, and this innovation is taking many forms. In an everything-as-a-service (XaaS) world, procurement must not only take a leadership role in robustly contracting for these diverse cloud services, but also:

— identifying how various providers beyond cloud applications can help procurement execute much more efficiently — at the cadence of the business.
— embedding the best digital supply market innovations into its own service delivery in order to expand its own influence and brand within the enterprise.
— enabling and empowering functional partners in GRC, IT, Finance, Legal, HR, Risk/Audit, etc. to enable their own service value (increasingly in a cross-functional GBS environment) and integrate the disparate services together much more coherently.

For example, consider the question: Who is responsible for establishing the single face to the supplier when we digitally on-board and manage them to not only transact with them in a compliant manner, but also ensure that they’re operating securely, ethically and transparently more broadly? It’s not just procurement, but rather a combination of procurement, IT, GRC and various centers-of-excellence that should be working tightly together. Unfortunately, misalignment is the norm, but not because of outright conflict or malfeasance, but because functional folks are too busy just trying to execute within their own silos. And they’ll never extricate themselves from that situation unless they have drastically new capabilities to deploy.

This is where procurement organizations need to make smart choices on how they apply digital strategies and tools/services to this area of sustainability, ethics and compliance.

I was recently catching up with an industry colleague of mine named Tomas Wiemer on the topic (he’s a former procurement transformation leader from Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent). He is very deep into this area and typical of leaders at European firms who are definitely in the vanguard here. Tomas is considering some career changes right now, primarily with some emerging tech players who can have a dramatic impact in the industry. Tomas reminds me a bit of a European version of Roy Anderson, who just joined Tradeshift (here’s part 3 of an interview that I did with him), and I think that Tomas will do similarly well when he lands somewhere. He’s doing some interim work for a client, and I agreed to let him interview me for my inputs, but given my role, I asked him for the questions in writing so that I could fully respond in kind and publish it to our subscribers. The questions are below:

How do you view topics as compliance and sustainability in the procurement digitalization landscape?
Do you foresee a convergence/harmonization of sustainability/compliance requirements toward suppliers thanks to the rise of S2P platforms/marketplaces?
What do you believe is the greatest added value of procurement digitalization / AI for compliance and sustainability?
What do you think are the key conditions/requirements to enable the emergence of sustainability/compliance topics in digital procurement?

What’s interesting is that this topic is very hot right now. My business partner Jason Busch just attended the recent EcoVadis conference in Paris, and the buzz (beyond the buzz from the sustainably grown coffee that was undoubtedly served there) was palpable. Part of the reason is that the topic is giving many procurement organizations new ways to engage the business and the suppliers alike in a way that drives much more meaningful value across the value chain beyond just price-centric cost savings. And it also engages a new generation of procurement professionals who want to have a meaningful impact on value chains rather than just being deal-makers and “firefighters.”

Anyway, the questions above are big ones, and require very thorough answers, so without further ado, let’s get to answering them ...

Sustainability, Environmental Stewardship and CSR: The CPO’s Outside-In Agenda (Part 2B) [PRO]

sustainable supply chain

In our last article in this Spend Matters PRO series, we focused on several pressing issues that are shaping procurement from the outside in, yet chief procurement officers are primarily still concerned with issues set by an inside-out agenda — that is, cost-cutting and supply assurance targets mandated by upper management. However, our PESTLE analysis of factors shaping the modern CPO agenda identified broad outside-in trends that an organization needs to consider if it wants to truly tap and manage the opportunities (and risks) offered by external supply markets. (Read the CPO’s Conundrum: Parts 1A and 1B.)

Nowhere is this more readily apparent than with the topic of sustainability and environmental stewardship, the focus of today’s brief. The environment is an inseparable component of any business. It forms the platform layer off which all goods and services are produced, and cannot be ignored. And the difference between effective and sustainable management and ineffective and unsustainable management, as pointed out in yesterday’s article, is shocking. Not only would investments in environmental sustainability focussed companies over the past two decades doubled an average rate of return, but millennials will pay a (small) premium for sustainably (and ethically) sourced products and you are ensuring that you will have raw material supply for years (and decades to come).

The CPO’s Conundrum (Part 1B): How Outside-In Issues are Shaping the Course of Procurement [PRO]

As we noted in yesterday’s Spend Matters PRO article, if you were to ask a roomful of CPOs what was their top concern was, for this year or even the coming decade, chances are the majority would lead with cost management and supply assurance. And while this makes sense, supply assurance and cost reduction are just two of a host of broader issues that are being pushed to the front of mind for today’s CPOs. So we are dedicating a series to the broad scope of issues that the modern CPO must face, starting with an overview of how they break out in the common PESTLE framework. Yesterday we addressed the “PES” — Political, Economic and Social — and today we will address the “TLE” — Technological, Legal and Environmental.

The CPO’s Conundrum (Part 1A): How Outside-In Issues Are Shaping the Course of Procurement [PRO]

If you were to ask a roomful of CPOs what was their top concern was, for this year or even the coming decade, chances are the majority would lead with cost management and supply assurance.

This makes sense. Within the hierarchy of procurement value, providing the right goods and services at the right time and place, preferably at the right (or better) price, constitute a foundation without which organizations cannot function.

Because of this requirement to secure and manage supply markets, procurement’s value proposition to the business is ultimately defined by its ability to access and derive value from markets. This means procurement value, then, is driven heavily from an outside-in perspective. That value starts with assurance of supply, just as top-line growth and brand development are foundational to sales and marketing.

The problem, however, is that supply assurance and cost reduction are just two of a host of broader issues that are being pushed to the front of mind for today’s CPOs. Because the CPO must manage multiple changing supply markets, and because those supply markets are affected by numerous external forces over which the CPO — let alone the business or even some governments — has no ability to influence, the CPO’s agenda is in reality much broader than assuring supply and reducing costs.

This brings us to what we call the CPO’s conundrum: Procurement organizations are primarily measured by the C-suite on supply assurance and cost control, but the agenda that the outside world is setting for the CPO is far bigger than just that. How, then, can procurement leaders meet the agendas recognized and prioritized by management while also addressing the equally (or perhaps more) important agendas of the changing, external supply world?

This Spend Matters PRO series examines the roots and resulting challenges of the CPO’s conundrum. In this brief, the introduction to this series, we discuss the current items on the CPO agenda, as well as the outside-in forces that are most notably butting their way in.

In subsequent installments, we will analyze overarching issues on the new CPO agenda individually, including corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability, digital business strategy, political and economic instability, and regulatory risk.

Are Organizations Using More of the Independent Workforce? [PRO]

talent management

Several years into the gig economy hype cycle, much has happened and many questions remain unanswered (the least of which is: “What are we talking about?”). A handful of survey-based studies — using different population definitions, methodologies and time intervals, — have focused on the population of people in the U.S. engaging in some kind of full- or part-time alternative work arrangement, temp work, freelancing and/or independent contract work. The result, not surprisingly, has been widely varying estimates of population size and rate of change.

But trying to answer questions about the independent workforce population may be missing the point. A more relevant and important set of questions for procurement and HR practitioners in organizations may be: Have organizations been sourcing and engaging more workers in non-traditional work arrangements? Why or why not? And so on. To get at some of these questions, we have surveyed a panel of executives of contingent workforce technology solution and service providers and analyzed the results.

Procurement Technology and Solutions M&A Outlook: 10 Predictions for 2019 (Part 4) [PRO]

Today, I’ll share a critical 10th prediction (arguably the most important of all) of our M&A predictions series. Please allow me to indulge my last prediction in a folksy, CliffsNotes way to get both the seasoned experts on sector deals — of which we can count on just a few fingers — and everyone else on the same page as to what’s really happening.

In the third installment, I shared three additional predictions exploring how the procurement technology landscape is shifting as we enter 2019. The most recent prognostications centered on the rising intersection of procurement technology with payment and financing as a consolidation driver, more sellers engaging in proactive processes and unorthodox groups of strategic buyers emerging from left field on some deals.

These predictions build on the second installment of our M&A predictions for 2019, during which I explored an expanding focus on services procurement (assets), the increasing interest in strategic procurement technologies (SPT) and the scarcity of e-procurement and procure-to-pay targets left in the market.

And in the first installment in the series, I analyzed the deals that have happened already in 2018, as well as our first three of 10 prognostications for next year. First, private equity firms will play an increased role in the sector. Second, valuations will be all over the map. And third, peripheral players will respond to the “Amazon effect."

Happy holidays everyone and happy deal hunting in 2019! Let’s get into the final prediction.

Procurement Technology and Solutions M&A Outlook: 10 Predictions for 2019 (Part 3) [PRO]

In the second installment of our M&A predictions for 2019, I explored an expanding focus on services procurement (assets), the increasing acquisition interest in strategic procurement technologies among buyers, and the scarcity of e-procurement and procure-to-pay targets left in the market. This builds on the first installment in the series, in which I explored the deals that have happened already in 2018, as well as our first three of 10 prognostications for next year. First, private equity firms will play an increased role in the sector. Second, valuations will be all over the map. And third, peripheral players will respond to the “Amazon” effect.

Today we turn our attention to three additional predictions. Everyone who knows me in this space knows that my greatest weakness is to wax on — not usually eloquently. So I’ll try to go straight to the point with the next predictions in the 2019 procurement technology and solutions M&A lineup.

So You Want to Build a B2B Marketplace: 8 Business Scenarios & Case Examples (Part 1) [PRO]

global trade

Just what is a B2B marketplace?

Ask someone like the “gray hairs” on the Spend Matters team who were advisers to first generation industry-based exchanges during the .com era (1999-2001) and they’d likely tell you it was a great theoretical concept to bring buyers and suppliers together in support of procurement and supply chain processes and/or transactional document exchange — albeit one that failed in execution just about every time. But ask someone who is younger and they might point to Amazon Business as an archetype of a B2B marketplace model today. Both would be right, of course.

But what is important for our purposes is that B2B marketplaces are back.

At its fall 2018 analyst day, the technology provider Tradeshift noted that 30% of its 2018 (revenue) bookings have come from “private marketplace” deals (i.e., not selling applications such as invoice-to-pay or e-procurement alone but buy-side and sell-side marketplace enablement).

But just what is a marketplace today — beyond pointing to Amazon Business as one example — and why do they matter? And most important, why would you, as a procurement organization or distribution/business intermediary, want to build one?

This Spend Matters PRO series provides insight into these and other questions. Part 1 of this series begins by segmenting the market into (and defining) eight business scenarios that the groups can enable to go beyond standard procure-to-pay or storefront/e-commerce enablement, which include both “private” and “public” marketplace models. These include Digital Trading Company (“buy/sell” models), Extended Bill of Material Orchestration, Group Purchasing Organization (GPO) and Distributor “Value Add.”

For each of the eight areas, we provide a summary description of the marketplace concept, technologies (off-the-shelf) that can enable it, selected vendor shortlists, best-fit industries that it can support and best-fit spend categories (if applicable).

Later installments in the series will provider deeper insight into the following issues: what you’ll need to build one, technology vendors to consider capable of providing marketplace technology/infrastructure (based on Spend Matters’ SolutionMap benchmark data), and whether a marketplace, for procurement organizations, is a substitute for traditional cloud-based source-to-pay applications.

Spend Matters is involved in technology strategy and RFI projects for organizations building — or evaluating building — marketplaces using “off-the-shelf” technologies. Contact us to learn more.

An Introduction to Sourcing Business Intelligence (Part 1): Definition and Driving Forces [PRO]

The problem with the term “sourcing business intelligence” is that it can have vastly different interpretations. Yet sourcing BI is a concept that we’re increasingly hearing mention of with our procurement practitioner and consulting firm clients, albeit with different names attached to it.

Not to be confused with spend analytics, the concept of Sourcing BI could prove as important to the digital procurement organization of the future as category management did in the past decade — or perhaps even more invaluable. This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides an introduction to the concept of sourcing BI, starting first with a definition and an overview of the trends that are driving it.

Six Best Practices for Procuring Marketing Services [Plus +]

marketing spend

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. 

My personal involvement with procurement functions trying to get to grips with the marketing spend category goes back some 25 years, and I had some successes and failures in my time as a CPO in several large organisations. It’s a category where procurement has been slow to increase influence, but according to figures from the World Federation of Advertisers, we have gradually reached a position where the procurement function is estimated to have between 50%–80% spend coverage in the category (depending on the geographic maturity, with firms in Europe at the top of the scale and South America at the bottom).

This is starting to feel like a coming of age for marketing services procurement, with some very impressive people in senior category roles speaking and a general air that clear best practice is emerging. There are still tensions between procurement and marketing staff in some organisations, but relationships seem to be improving and a sense of where and how procurement can contribute is certainly developing.

In this Spend Matters Plus article, we’ve pulled together some key learnings to come up with six best practice suggestions for CPOs or marketing services procurement leads to consider. We’ll have three around strategic category and sourcing issues today, and three focusing more on engagement strategy and people in Part 2.

Tail Spend Management in the Trenches: Lessons Learned and Questions Answered [PRO]

purchasing

Spend Matters recently hosted a webcast exploring how Owens & Minor revamped its tail spend management strategy using Simfoni, a procurement solutions provider with specialized capabilities in this area. This Spend Matters PRO brief shares the detailed learnings — including segmentation approach, KPIs and ROI elements — and Q&A conducted during the session to aid procurement organizations in their own efforts to tame the tail.

(For those who want a full download of the webcast, which features Owens & Minor-specific data and screenshots of Simfoni’s tail spend system, check out the on-demand replay.)

Premier: Healthcare GPO Provider Summary — Introduction, Summary Analysis, SWOT and Customer Engagement Tips [PRO]

healthcare

Through a combination of organic growth industry consolidation, three group purchasing organization (GPO) providers have come to dominate the healthcare market. These providers — Vizient, Premier and HealthTrust — control nearly 75% of spend in the healthcare GPO market.

Despite this level of consolidation, the three competitors have, in certain cases, targeted different markets and introduced unique offerings. This Spend Matters PRO research brief provides an overview of Premier, including a general introduction, key points analysis, SWOT framework and customer tips for getting the most out of engagement.

For background on the GPO market, check out our two earlier briefs, An Introduction to Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) and Group Purchasing Organizations: Supplier Perspectives and the Evolving GPO Landscape. For general context, perspective and analysis of the healthcare GPO market in particular, see our recent three-part series: Part 1 (Background, History and Introduction), Part 2 (GPO criticisms and market consolidation/bifurcation) and Part 3 (Key Takeaways, Emerging Paradigm Shifts and Customer Recommendations).