Throw a Spend Management Tea Party!

Even though my grandmother, now nearing 90 and a former Democratic party activist, considers me a card carrying member of the vast right wing conspiracy, I unfortunately was too busy working yesterday to attend one of the tax day tea party protests like the kind covered on CNN. I would have loved to send her a picture of her grandson in a protest march (not of the kind she would have supported generations ago). Alas, it was not in the cards. But the concept gave me an idea. Why not hold virtual -- or actual for that matter -- Spend Management tea parties inside companies? With the ubiquitous angst that seems to flow through many corporate HVAC systems these days, we all need some positive relief. So consider a tea party. Perhaps on Friday afternoon before everyone goes home to ponder the company's health over the weekend.

Rather than tossing tea overboard, drink some -- with biscuits of course (buy them at Costco) -- and toss around what's working, what isn't and what can. Consider it a nifty little internal marketing pep rally to draw attention to wasted or unnecessary spending -- and the power of procurement to reduce costs. How should you go about it? To get people excited to attend, show, for example, the amount your company is most likely wasting or has lost (either hard dollars or estimated) from being over-invoiced from suppliers and then translate that to how many jobs it could save or the EBIDTA impact. Or quantify the benefits (using Hackett or other benchmarks) of other types of initiatives that you're not pursuing today or are only doing so in a partial manner (e.g., P2P, e-sourcing, spend analysis, contract management, supply risk management, etc.) Regardless of what you call attention to, the key is to rally the troops around the cause and to get them to come. The significance of the Boston Tea Party was its call to action at a time of high anxiety, frustration and fear (sound familiar). When you get people talking, engaged, and believing that their opinions matter, enthusiastic participation in programs that reduce waste and costs will be far more effective.

So what are you waiting for? It's time to hold a Spend Management tea party!

Jason Busch

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