Author Archives: Chirag Shah, Simfoni

Big Savings in Small Spend — Tales from the Tail

In the world of strategic sourcing, realizing 5 to 8% savings is considered to be impressive. After all, these are the high-spend categories and are supposedly already well-managed and frequently revisited for improvement opportunities. In contrast, when our clients work with Simfoni on tail spend management or low-value spend engagements, we witness savings that can easily exceed 20% from time to time. This article explains how — with the right combination of subject matter expertise, leverage and technology — such savings are achievable.

In the world of tail spend, we typically pursue the following sourcing levers: Demand Challenge, Specification Alignment, Volume Leverage, Competitive Bidding, Alternate Solutions, Supply Chain Optimization.

I’ll explain each lever and illustrate how savings can be achieved in excess of 20%.

What Exactly Is in the Tail Spend?


At a headline level, I think most procurement folks are now familiar with the concept of tail spend: the low-value spend items that are non-core but still essential to the smooth operation of an organization. And of course, as the segment matures, even the tail itself comes under greater scrutiny or micro-segmentation with expressions such as tip of the tail, tail of the tail, mid-tail, tactical spends, spot buys, catalog buys, guided buying, “precision buying” (Simfoni’s own attempt to join the party!) and so on.

So what exactly are we talking about in terms of the items that fall under all these different expressions? In this article I’d like to offer a simple model that describes the types of spend that reside within the tail spend category, and propose the optimum technique for how best to address each one.