Back to last week’s QOTW – more useful comments on Spend Analysis

After I'd written last Friday's round up of the comments we received on our question of the week about spend analysis, a couple of interesting further comments came in.  They're given in full on the original post but I thought they were worth summarising here.

Luke Spikes of the eponymous Spikes Cavell said

"....it is not uncommon for us to deliver ‘spend & contract visibility’ in the form of the data and online tools to be asked by the head of procurement ‘so what do we do now then’ (NB – we work exclusively in the public sector). To provide a ‘way pointer’ for the procurement manager seeking inspiration we’ve developed what we refer to as the 10 Point Plan refer http://www.spikescavell.co.uk/products/analysis/10pointplan.aspx for a description).... To the more experienced practitioner it will doubtless smack of grandmothers & eggs but in our workshops and seminars when the 10 Point Plan is introduced it ALWAYS results in significant uplift in surreptitious note taking, no matter how experienced or senior the audience"!

Simon Dadswell from Proactis provided a very full and useful review of the issues, starting with some of the issues with analytics; including

  • Disparate data: data is scattered across multiple, disconnected systems (ERP, AP, systems, purchasing cards etc.), territories and sites.eProcurement
  • Inaccurate data: Spend data is often recorded inconsistently with errors and duplicates.
  • Incorrect naming: The use of terminology varies between business units and there is an inconsistency in naming practices for suppliers, products and services.
  • Limited analytics: There is not enough meaningful information held in the General Ledger and cost centres to drive procurement decisions etc.

He then highlighted some ways to address these issues;

Don’t dig too deep or turn the analysis into a never-delivering consultancy exercise; keep it short and sweet. Limit the scope if necessary. The review should include a discussion and review of existing data (noting its limitations to be addressed at a later date), uncovering key facts and detail surrounding:

  • Process (supplier management, sourcing, ordering, invoicing and on-going contract management)
  • Supply base, spend details and transaction volumes

So two more useful responses; and I'm looking forward to this week's QOTW round up on Friday!

First Voice

  1. Brian Daniels:

    This is an excellent question and one we are presented with by many of our customers. There have been some excellent responses already and even though I’m late to the party I thought I would chime in with my experiences. There are a wide variety of opportunity analyses that can be conducted directly within a good spend analysis tool. We find many of our customers and partners following a similar path time and time again with an overarching theme of “start with the basics and generate quick wins”.

    1. Identify Leverage With Existing Suppliers
    As part of our spend program we commonly include supplier linkage data (parent/child) which identifies corporate families. This is as basic as it gets – gaining an understanding of which suppliers are owned by the same parent entity. In many cases existing agreements can be consolidated and renegotiated with the parent entity.

    2. Supplier Rationalization
    This is a straightforward analysis commonly using the Pareto principle (80/20) that highlights how many suppliers comprise 80% of the spend for each category. Using this type of analysis we can quickly identify the categories where there are too many suppliers comprising the bulk of the spend. These categories are then flagged for “further detailed analysis”. My personal preference is to take the Pareto principle a couple of steps further and conduct a 70/20/10 analysis – showing how many suppliers comprise 70% of the spend and how many suppliers comprise the bottom 20% and the bottom 10% (although the breakout can be anything). This yields enhanced visibility into the number of suppliers that make up 70% (or 80%) of the spend along with the number in the bottom 20% and the bottom 10% of each category. The additional 20/10 buckets allow us to see how many small suppliers we are managing for each category – additional consolidation opportunities.

    3. Preferred Supplier Spend
    Many organizations have some sort of preferred supplier list either managed in a procurement system or sitting in a spreadsheet on someone’s computer. Including this information in the spend analysis application will provide immediate visibility into two areas; 1) categories where preferred suppliers are in place but not in use and 2) categories where no preferred supplier exists, thus highlighting a potential sourcing opportunity.

    4. Spend by Buying Channel
    One of the benefits of spend analysis is that it helps to identify process inefficiencies. The buying channel, or source system, identifies where each transaction originated. Companies with procurement systems in place can quickly identify business units/individuals that are circumventing existing processes. Driving spends towards approved buying channels will improve overall controls, yield better compliance, improve data quality, lead to faster sourcing cycles, provide term discount opportunities and reduce A/P costs associated with check requests. Sure, many of these or not tangible savings, but substantial benefits nonetheless.

    5. Purchase Price Variance
    “Are we buying the same items across our locations and paying different prices”? We are finding this to be one of the first areas our customers look – and they generally find some immediate wins. By including line item level information (with associated parts/items if applicable) will quickly enable you to zero in on these opportunities.

    6. Sourcing Compliance
    This type of analysis begins to move away from the basic spend analysis towards sourcing execution management. At this stage we have used the spend analysis application to identify sourcing and/or savings opportunities and sourcing initiatives have been completed – i.e. we have sourced a category and a new contract is in place. While there are numerous areas associated with compliance, we can start with the basics. Including our contract award information in our spend application will unlock the ability to manage and measure our performance across each initiative and ultimately track savings.

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