Author Archives: Guest Contributor

The duality in leading others: Trust optimism in trying times

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Daryl Hammett, Amazon Web Services’ Global Head of LM and Operations.

Duality continues to teach us that every aspect of life is created from a balanced interaction of competing forces. Yet these forces are not just antithetical; they are interdependent of one another. One such concept that we can identify with is also one of the most consequential in all of our lives: Happy and Sad.

What has become crystal clear to me during the Covid pandemic is that we should embrace and understand the challenges ahead of us, but also acknowledge the fundamental role that obstacles have in helping us grow.

Brexit — a challenge or an opportunity for CPOs?

Brexit EU CPOs

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Philip Woode, Principal at Efficio Consulting.

Britain leaving the EU brought about the biggest change in the UK’s trading relationships for decades. While Brexit appears to be the main factor for some disruptions, global supply chain problems resulting from the pandemic and the impact on trade in general from Covid are also being cited. Amidst the ongoing chaos caused by events in 2020, it has become apparent that rather than a single event, Brexit will see businesses face a series of smaller obstacles that are yet to be fully realized.

With so many moving parts, do you have the ability to change your strategy and react quickly? Supply chains were certainly stress-tested in the lead up to Brexit, and this uncovered procurement weaknesses and inefficiencies that were already in existence. Constant change requires a more joined-up business and the ability to adapt quickly. So, when faced with an unavoidable catalyst for change, like Brexit, does that change represent more of a challenge or an opportunity for the CPO? Efficio discusses.

Investor perspective: The rise of category spend solutions in enterprise procurement

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Jack Freeman, Principal at PeakSpan Capital who is a growth-stage software investor.

In a previous post titled “Investor perspective: The Rise of Verticalized Supply Chain in Large Enterprise SaaS,” we discussed the merits of focusing on a single end-customer vertical. While there were light references to category solutions like Yapta, we didn’t give nearly enough airtime to the rise of category spend solutions. Key difference being in the last post, the focus was more around deeper supply chain functionality for specific end-customers (hospitals, CPG, pharmaceuticals companies, etc. ) whereas here we are more concerned with serving any type of company but with a solution centered around a specific type of spend.

Legal is a nice concrete example. While increasingly, plenty of software platforms exist to serve law firms (as the buyer of the software), legal spend management as a category solution is more of a horizontal play given every Fortune 500 enterprise has legal spend to manage (so, serving corporate legal departments). Whether you are in pharmaceuticals, healthcare, manufacturing — everyone has legal bills! Further (and to the point of this post), legal spend is extraordinarily nuanced and is best left for a best-in-breed category spend solution to manage (versus horizontal procure-to-pay platforms that attempt to cover all spend).

The various flavors of category spend are not hard to uncover and rarely change (legal, travel, services, etc.). There are rare examples of “new” categories, but these typically take decades to mature. One such example of a “changing”/“evolving” spend category is “software” — given enterprises weren’t buying tons of software 10-20 years ago (but they sure are now!).

What role can procurement play in freeing up cash in the wake of Covid?


Companies in diverse industries, including manufacturing and retail, are bracing for a hit to their results amid halted production, supply issues and changed consumer behavior. Reduced revenues can impact a company’s overall financial situation and force them to rely on liquidity reserves, raise additional capital or reduce spending to make up for a shortfall. Adding to the challenge is uncertainty about how long the pandemic will last, which means that companies have to draw short-, medium- and long-term contingency plans. While the list of things for leaders to consider is endless, the procurement function is a good place to start.

Enno Arne Lueckel, VP of supplier information management experts scoutbee, asks Pamela Hackett, CEO of global operations consulting firm Proudfoot about how business leaders can increase their liquidity.

2021 and the war on supply chain talent: How tech can create a win-win

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Richard Lebovitz, President and CEO of LeanDNA, an analytics platform for factory inventory management.

Last year’s coronavirus disruption was quite a time for the supply chain. As if 2020’s supplier shortages, factory shutdowns, demand changes and excess inventory weren’t enough, new challenges affecting the workforce are emerging due to furloughs, remote work and more. The result is low productivity and morale, as well as high turnover. Couple this with an already aging workforce, and the industry has a problem in terms of talent.

Despite looming economic uncertainty, 41% of supply chain professionals are unlikely to stay with their current employer over the next few months in pursuit of better opportunities for career progression, according to a report by the recruitment agency DSJ Global.

Facing a potential talent exodus, industry leaders can leverage technology to boost productivity when operating with a smaller workforce. Empowering the team with tools that make their day-to-day easier and open them up to be more strategic also positively impacts morale, retention and employee happiness.

Putting the spotlight on supplier diversity conversations


Kevin Frechette, CEO and co-Founder of Fairmarkit, puts the spotlight on supplier diversity conversations. "Last year, diversity and inclusion rightfully rose to the forefront of conversations across the US. In the corporate world, we saw a lot of performative activism, from empty commitments on social media to obligatory statements in the press, but we also encountered real opportunities for change. In the procurement world, teams across medium-size to large companies put a stake in the ground, committing to increased spend toward diverse suppliers ... yet, when I get on the phone and dig into these companies, I see a lot of 'checking the box' exercises instead of real change that actually drives more purchases to the diverse supplier community." He looks at three actions companies are using to judge success in their supplier diversity initiatives. 

Procurement, private equity and the pandemic

private equity

Alejandro Alvarez, Partner: Operations Performance at Ayming UK, offers four impacts and effects of the events of 2020 on the private equity value-creation process.

"In our experience, when working with private equity firms and their portfolio businesses, robust VCPs that address multiple areas of the business to deliver sustainable improvements are the foundation for success. But what happens when, across the world, several facts and underlying assumptions that were taken into consideration to build VCPs drastically change within a matter of weeks? It is all relative, and indeed the answer depends on many different parameters, such as the business sector, capability to adapt and innovate, and supply chain resilience, among others. We could all come up with a long list of impacts and effects that 2020 will have on the PE value-creation process, in different ways and depths for every business, but I'd like to highlight four."

Rising to the occasion: Procurement’s moment to shine and deliver value

deliver value

It used to be that procurement was all about cost savings and driving efficiencies. While those two mandates are undoubtedly still top objectives today, the highly complex, uncertain and dynamic world in which we now operate is calling on teams to drive even more value at the highest levels. Jim Bureau, CEO of source-to-pay specialists Jaggaer, explains the other ways in which procurement can add value, strategically guide the business and meet the needs of society.

Diversity and inclusion are rising to the top of corporate agendas, making procurement initiatives that drive supplier diversity, ethics and human equity even higher priority. Climate change is still a very urgent issue, putting organizations under pressure to create environmentally friendly supply chains from end to end. Ingenuity is at a premium as organizations seek ways to stand out from competitors, making procurement’s influence and relationships with suppliers critical for product, packaging and transport innovation.

UK government gets vaccine procurement right — What can we learn?


Spend Matters welcomes this post from Peter Smith, procurement expert and author. 

The UK government has taken a lot of flack over the past year in terms of its Covid pandemic-related procurement. However, in one spend area, the UK appears to have outperformed most countries, including the member states of the European Union. That is in the acquisition of Covid vaccines, perhaps the most important procurement of all in this past year.

Figures from earlier this month showed that some 15% of the UK population had been vaccinated at a time when the figure stood at 3.6% for Spain, 3.1% for Germany and just 2.4% for France. So what did the UK get right, and what can we learn that might be applicable in other procurement situations? It looks like the UK really understood the nature of value and how that related to this specific procurement. Peter Smith explains why this is a vital point for all procurement, but one that is too often forgotten.

If you’re not digitally transforming, you’re dying. (6 reasons to go digital now)

procurement software

Let’s say your organization is already using digital for marketing and e-commerce, but you are not truly “digitally driven.” Maybe you provide customers with a good app — but it’s really just an add-on. You’re not aggressively creating products and experiences that take full advantage of the potential of digital. You can’t honestly say you’re digital at the core. If this describes you, is it truly necessary to change?

Most likely yes. Here are just a few reasons why.

Why collaboration will be key to a successful IT procurement strategy in 2021


The relationship between IT buyers and procurement teams can often be a strained one. When IT buyers simply want to get the right technology deployed as quickly as possible, procurement protocols are often viewed as frustrating barriers — despite being absolutely necessary for any organization that wants to protect budgets and achieve value. During 2020, when the global pandemic caused havoc across supply chains, we saw these stresses heightened to new levels. If organizations are going to both roll out innovative solutions and achieve value during these challenging times, procurement teams and IT buyers will need to work together and adopt a collaborative approach.

Procurement in the Pandemic — The goods/services debate takes a new turn

supply chain

Is supply chain swallowing up procurement? And if the pandemic has thrust supply chain management and risk mitigation into the limelight, what happens to the procurement folks? Peter Smith examines an industry discussion on whether this expanded universe of supply chain management, often with new dynamic leadership, is “swallowing up the somewhat independent procurement function. Rather than actively driving the supply side of the business, the (procurement) function may again be relegated into a subservient support role.”