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Xchanging Shares Plummet on Half-Year Report – Questions About Future of Procurement Business [PRO]

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The half-year results for Xchanging released yesterday were intensely disappointing to shareholders, who saw the value of their shares fall by 20% instantly, to a new 3-year low of £0.97. That is still above the bad days when founder David Andrews resigned, in 2011, after major profit warnings, and the shares fell to £0.50, but the current price is close to half what it was as recently as last autumn. We typically view Xchanging as a procurement outsourcing business, yet the results highlight 2 points. First, the procurement outsourcing and software element only accounts for some 6.5% of total revenue – £13 million out of £200 million. Yet it also casts a very long shadow, in that the poor results are being almost totally laid at the door of the procurement business. Before looking at the specific procurement issues, just run through the headlines. Gross revenue was £240.2 million in the half year, down from £282 million compared with a year earlier. Net income was £199 million against £205 last time. Operating profit was £20.4 million against last year’s £20.0 million, but statutory operating profit was down from £24.2 million to a loss of £41 million after the write-offs, discussed below. In terms of the divisions, the business process outsourcing (BPO) arm lifted adjusted operating profit 8.8% to £28.4m, with the technology segment 52% stronger at £4.1m. Procurement, which contributes just 6.5% of net revenue, saw some growth in the software business but a weak performance in the traditional outsourcing business, combined with underperformance in one of the new “tail-end spend management” contracts. “Net revenue was £13.0 million (HY 2014: £15.9 million), and the adjusted operating loss was £6.8 million (HY 2014: £1.7 million loss). This was after allocating central overheads of £1.8 million (HY 2014: £1.9 million),” the company said in its half-year report. “

Show me the Money! Ask the Expert Webinar This Friday! [Plus +]

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On Friday, May 15, Spend Matters Chief Research Officer Pierre Mitchell will lead an Ask the Expert webinar on the alignment – or lack thereof – between finance and procurement. The webinar is based of provisional results from a study Spend Matters and the Institute for Supply Management conducted on the relationship between finance and procurement in a company. You wont want to miss this! Plus and PRO members are welcome to sign up for this webinar.

Maverick Spend Analysis, How to Plug the Leaks – 50 Shades of Pay: Shade 13 [Plus +]


In the last 2 editions of our 50 Shades of Pay series, we tackled how to turn the hands of time forward to “spend planning” rather than forensic spend analysis. Yet, before we get even more forward-thinking and strategic, we’re going to explore a few shades in the realm of the present, namely, making sure that hard-fought savings are getting realized. So, one of the ways that spend analysis can be used here is to tie the spending data to contract data for the purposes of maverick spending analysis. Let’s also put in the language of cost. In procurement, cost is still king, and costs can certainly increase in many ways.

Syriza Wins in Greece – Is it the Beginning of the End for the Euro? [Plus +]


The victory of left-wing party Syriza in this week's Greek elections could have far-reaching implications well beyond Greece itself, and at the extreme, could be the beginning of the end for the Euro. It is important, therefore, that anyone involved in procurement and supply chain activities where currencies have some relevance does, at the very least, keep an eye on events and thinks about the implications of the various possible outcomes following the Greek election. However, we should also note that many observers have been predicting the breakup of the Eurozone for at least 3 years now. So nothing is certain.

Getting the Most From Consulting Firms and Engagements – The Evolution of the Operations, Procurement and Sourcing Consulting Market (Part 4) [PRO]

Today we wrap up our "Evolution of the Operations, Procurement and Sourcing Consulting Market" PRO series, written by Jason Busch, founder and managing director, and Pierre Mitchell, chief research officer. In this installment, Jason and Pierre share the best strategies to get the most from consulting firms in the current climate of the procurement and operations areas. They share a number of best practices they have observed by “smart” consumers of consulting services.

50 Shades of Pay – Shade 12 (Part 1): Financial Planning & Analysis Support [Plus +]

In most procurement organizations, spend analysis is in place to support corporate procurement groups performing top-down sourcing and category management. Larger and more progressive organizations may also have a “customer management” process for aligning to internal budget-owning stakeholders to make sure they are gaining value from their supplier spending – and also getting the eye from procurement. In earlier installments of the series, we discussed how to provide spend information to support these processes. Unfortunately, FP&A is a process that is mired down in preparing budgets rather than the more strategic role that it should occupy.

Why the Staffing and Contingent Marketplace is Failing Procurement [PRO]

We recently started our analysis of the services procurement market by looking at the evidence showing how the staffing marketplace is failing procurement organizations. Today, we turn our attention to the “why” and the various sets of factors that are holding back organizations from gaining more value from their services procurement spend. This value includes greater savings, of course, but also reduced risk, increased compliance, better talent management and time to focus on innovation, continuous improvement and business outcomes. In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, Jason Busch, founder and managing director, goes 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.

50 Shades of Pay – Shade 11: Strategic Spend Planning [Plus +]

In the previous 10 installments of this series, we’ve discussed how (and why) to build a foundational capability to analyze spending history and then identify a myriad of opportunities to improve not just sourcing outcomes, but also opportunities to improve processes, master data, policies, etc. These are opportunities for procurement as well as the spend owners themselves. What this transformation means is that we begin to focus on future spending in order to best shape it and gain more value. Rather than just looking in the proverbial rearview mirror to see black smoke, we begin to look forward with our passengers and discuss where we need to go and what type of vehicle and fuel is needed for the journey.

P2P and ERP Integration: Thinking Through Data Quality and Overall Key Success Factors [PRO]

With apologies to Meghan Trainor, it’s not all about the bass, at least not when it comes to P2P success and integration. Rather, it’s all about data quality. Successfully integrating P2P solutions into back-end ERP systems (and other applications) is not just a question of file formats and structures. Nor is it just about aligning objectives between stakeholders through the workshop model we advocated for earlier in the first installment of this research brief. In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, Lead P2P Analyst Xavier Olivera tells us how to think through all the key data quality issues in implementations and also provides his list of overall key success factors for P2P and ERP integration.

The Comparative Immaturity of Services Procurement – Is the Tech and Services Ecosystem Coming Up Short? [PRO]

In the next 2 weeks, Spend Matters will release a survey report examining differences between how companies manage services procurement and supply chain efforts (with a focus on contingent labor) relative to indirect and direct materials. We are looking at the study, which is based on a sample size of 144, as the first major effort that has been made toward covering the services procurement market the way in which it needs to be covered, compared to the silo-based approach that we (and others) have taken in the past. In this Spend Matters PRO research brief, Jason Busch, founder and managing director, offers a preview of some areas of our research findings and begins to point the finger at the existing solution provider ecosystem for coming up short in delivering comparable procurement solutions to direct and indirect spend.

Sharing Insight and Making Connections: Coverage from the Procurement Leaders Forum in Singapore [Plus +]

We continue our coverage of the Procurement Leaders Forum event in Singapore, which I attended at the end of October. In Part 1, I shared information on the awards given out at the event and other tidbits like how growth optimism is strong in Asia. Here in Part 2, I summarize some of what the speakers shared during the event.

Highlights and Award Announcements from the Procurement Leaders Forum in Singapore [Plus +]

In this two-part Spend Matters Plus analysis, I will share my impressions and takeaways from the two-day 4th Procurement Leaders Forum event in Singapore held the last week of October. Compared to Procurement Leaders (PL) events in the US (perhaps anywhere in the world), the variety of nationalities gathered at the event last week was quite staggering – a mini-UN of sorts, except far more productive. ProcureCon also holds an annual Singapore event. But, subjectively speaking, I think PL has managed to gather a higher caliber audience – both events are worth attending (and several attendees were familiar faces from the ProcureCon event. In many ways, Singapore is a small place), but they do have a different style. If you want to talk with procurement CPOs from India, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, etc., as well as expat CPOs from the Middle East, Australia, the UK, the US, Germany, France and more, this was a good place to do so – quite an effective use of time.