Welcoming Thomas Finn to a New Spend Matters Role as Sourcing & Supplier Management Research Director

It wouldn’t be quite accurate to welcome Tom Finn to Spend Matters, given that he has been principal editor of our sister site Healthcare Matters since 2011. But we are excited to announce that Tom is moving into a new analyst role at Azul Partners, the parent company of Spend Matters. He will cover sourcing, contracting and supplier management across industries, including healthcare. And yes, Tom will remain at the helm of Healthcare Matters.

Professional Background

Tom started out at Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN) Technologies in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was “one of the reluctantly tolerated salespeople” before moving up to vice president of sales in the systems and technologies division. Then, in 1994, “the internet broke loose,” as Tom put it.

“It wasn’t much of a stretch for me to chase after a software analytics opportunity that had plans to use the internet for distribution,” he explained. Tom was a founding executive at CombineNet (acquired by SciQuest, now Jaggaer, in 2013).

“To make a long story short,” Tom said, “I became the sales and marketing arms of CombineNet. And while we were unable to persuade the market’s largest players to buy us and take us mainstream, we did manage to convince dozens of the largest and most supply chain-sophisticated companies in the world to use our software, providing me an bird’s eye view of how things could actually work. In fact, they not only used it to drive the convergence of their procurement and supply chain management practice, but still use the same techniques today to source their most difficult and strategic categories of spend.”

Tom is a self-described “reluctant expert in the myriad applications of optimization,” from strategic sourcing to supply chain management. “I am generally credited with ‘inventing’ the language that is still used to convey the differences and benefits of sourcing optimization, as I wrote all the copy,” Tom said. “I always wrote all the copy, which is how I was introduced to Jason.”

Jason Busch, founder of Spend Matters, asked Tom to start Healthcare Matters in 2011. “I cover matters of supply chain management, including procurement automation, sourcing/contracting and the integration of population health and outcomes data for the purpose of enabling the clinically integrated supply chain,” Tom said. “And because healthcare policy and healthcare’s group purchasing organizations (GPOs) continue to be powerful if not overriding influences, I spend time covering their ongoing impact.”

Golf Matters

This is Jekyll Island, which is not the same as Sea Island, but the two are merely nine miles apart as the fish swims. Source: AdobeStock/brian_w45

Tom lives in Sea Island, which is not the island pictured above. This “drinking village with a golf problem” is also home to Davis Love III, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson and a number of other professional golfers.

“I live here because I enjoy competitive golf,” Tom explained. “The practice facilities, teachers and courses are truly world-class. For a golfer in the U.S., this is a top destination. The place is gorgeous, with marshes, ocean, rivers, lakes, birds, gators and 150-year-old oaks with Spanish moss draping their branches ... it's like Forrest Gump's home everywhere you look down here, except there are golf courses, too. So it is no accident that amateur and professional golfers alike chose to live here.”

On the Evolution of Procurement Technology

Jason asked Tom for his thoughts on the evolution of procurement technology, what excites him and where we’re heading. Here is what Tom had to say:

“In my view, the c-suite ‘procurement reality’ has been very much zero-sum driven, so it has been less about leadership ‘earning’ its seat and more about the natural reluctance of those willing to share their leg room. That said, with an interminable focus (in my view) on transaction automation and other tactics designed to improve efficiencies, I do not believe that procurement leadership has done itself any favors.

“At the state of the art, sourcing, contracting/compliance and supplier performance management are strategic, competitively transformative processes that should be practiced with a continuous improvement mindset. The executives who get it and live it are now ascending among their peers at noteworthy pace, as their experiences and knowledge are far more rounded, battle-tested and reliable.”

Everyone at Spend Matters is thrilled to have Tom join as an analyst. Let’s extend him a hearty welcome!

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