Commercial Value Management (Part 2): Using Next-Generation Contract Systems to Integrate Operations, Financials, Risk and Technology
Let’s start this piece with a question: How are high-flying SaaS providers measured?
Answer: Growth (hopefully profitable) through repeatable subscription-based revenue.
And what are those subscriptions? Contracts.
The enterprise value of these companies, like others, is based on the promise of future cash flows that are increasingly built upon a portfolio of contracts. Want to maximize enterprise value (like the CEO)? Better get good at managing contracts! This is not in the way that your legal department might think of contracts, but rather in a business sense that maximizes commercial value within those contracts that will add up to enterprise value.
Put another way: If chief procurement officers want to move from “chief spend officers” to “chief value officers,” they’re going to need better strategies and tools to do value management.
“Value management” is the highest level of procurement’s evolution in a framework that I developed in my previous life leading procurement research at The Hackett Group.
The problem is that while there are great tools for spend management, when you start going broader into demand (and multi-tier supply) and deeper into financial value flow beyond single-tier cash disbursements to suppliers, the technology requirements aren’t yet well supported by existing tools and vendors.
In Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO series on commercial value management (CVM), we highlighted the fact that contract management systems are morphing from legal documents focused on transferring risk onto your trading partners, and toward systems that model all B2B commercial (and even non-commercial) promises with trading partners, regulators and even just internal stakeholders. The financially related “promises” or “commitments” are really obligations/rights that can be viewed as liabilities/assets. And these aren’t just ledger entries to close the books for regulators, but rather living, breathing promises made up and down the supply chain to deliver value to customers — at a lowest total cost of course!
Unfortunately, this chain of value doesn’t exactly flow across the fragmented landscape of systems out there. It’s hard enough to see contracted revenue & cost/spend flows in the direct materials supply chain where only a few advanced firms can stitch together some semblance of integrated business planning that brings in multi-tier supply-aware cost modeling and contracting (e.g., buy-sell arrangements for volatile commodities). Now, consider the services supply chain and an XaaS world where omni-channel value chains need to merge products and services.
For example, think about the mind-numbing complexity of field services operations where customer warranties (contracts) and service levels (contracts) need to be translated to supply fulfillment that can include leased equipment (w/ contracts), outsourced transportation services (and contracts), third-party contractors (directly contracted or via a service provider with its own contract), and even outsourcing providers (with BIG complex contracts) who might run the whole shebang for you. These contracts, sub-contracts, MSAs, SOWs, POs (a contract), etc. all have information in them related to direct committed revenue and costs/spend, but also hints at potential spend and business risk depending on what’s in (or not in) those contracts.
But, if you’re a CFO trying to manage your spending (“Spend” with a big “S” and not just supplier spend with a small “s”) and see both types of spending in terms of:
* Tying spend to revenue to understand profitability
* Seeing and shaping spend and resource commitments before they occur
* Cash flow implications of that spend
* Category and supplier views to maximize value from supplier spending
* Spend volatility based on price risk, volume risk, competitive risk and other supply risk factors like geo-political risk (e.g., trade wars) and regulatory risk (e.g. data privacy)
* Projects that drive this spending (e.g., in project-intensive industries)
* Drivers of this spend that are hidden (e.g., IT/telecom contracts of all forms)
* Legal spend (internal and external) to manage all of these contracts!
The problem is that you don’t have a single system to see all this. You have a G/L to close the books and maybe a planning-and-budgeting application rather than the “financial control tower” (go ahead and trademark that — it’s available) that you’d love to have something like an EVA/ROIC-type model that drives all the way down to the atomic contracts and execution systems. And if you’re good, you have a CPO with a single spend database and contract repository.
But, let’s face it, even for those firms with this, the contract is still usually a document artifact to refer to and not a dynamic system with complex pricing modeling and linkages to dozens of execution systems in the field that are REALLY governing the commercial aspects of operations. All you likely have in your contract repository is a field called “contract value.” And even in the simplest case, and even with the most modern S2P application suite, you’re likely matching supplier invoices to POs with payment terms that aren’t likely staying synched with the original contract.
So, contract data and associated CLM systems must transcend their legal artifact role and even move beyond the level of contract clause libraries and associate basic clause metadata. They need to go much deeper into the business realm (and not just the legal department realm) and be able to model and manage commercial data much more deeply. Doing this requires improved systems that manage what we call commercial value management — which is about commercial lifecycle management rather than contract lifecycle management. “Spend Management” is great, but spend is what you pay, and value is what you get. So you need to be really clear on who gets how much of what, under what conditions, and what happens if they don’t!
We spent a fair amount of time in our last PRO series installment that dove into the specific elements of CVM. In this second SpendMatters PRO series installment, we’ll dive primarily into the buy-side aspects of this topic and discuss how procurement organizations — and procurement’s functional peers in finance, IT, legal, GRC, SCM, sales and HR (and any related CoE combinations) — can use contracts as commercial data hubs to better support not just basic buy-side CLM within a source-to-pay context, but also how to use it to better connect procurement with these internal partners to help them manage spend/suppliers in their functions individually and also collectively with each other — and out to external stakeholders.
We’ll also highlight a few areas where CVM support emanating from a next-gen CLM platform can likely disrupt a few existing niche markets within and outside of the procurement realm.