Author Archives: Guest Contributor



The hidden cost of the pandemic for technology buyers, and 3 tips to avoid paying inflated margins

hidden costs

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post and its insights from Ian Nethercot, MCIPS, Supply Chain Director at Probrand, a tech services provider.

Procurement practitioners are under constant pressure to maximize budgets and do more with less. All the while, every cost has to be accounted for and made transparent. Despite the best intentions, monitoring fair price levels on IT products is no easy feat, with several elements to consider at any one time — including fluctuating exchange rates, overseas delivery charges and new products arriving on the market.

And then there’s the social, economic and political factors — which include the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The global supply chain all but collapsed in 2020,While it’s true that whenever demand outstrips supply, you’re always going to see prices rise, what suppliers were asking of their customers during lockdown far exceeded the increase seen in the trade prices. It seems likely that there was more than one scenario where suppliers took advantage of the chaos to inflate their margins. 

Read more to find out some tips to protect your budget.

Has CIPS offered The Queen an honorary fellowship yet?

The Queen

Recently The Queen opened this session of the UK Parliament with the traditional speech outlining the forthcoming legislative agenda. It included these famous words … “Laws will simplify procurement in the public sector.”

A government Green Paper titled ‘Transforming Public Procurement’ was published, outlining suggested changes to the procurement laws. One major change which the government believes will “simplify” matters is giving buyers (contracting authorities) more apparent flexibility in terms of how they conduct procurement, replacing well-defined legal procedures with more general principles. In theory that gives buyers more freedom – but then that aim is undermined in the Green Paper, as if the rule-makers got cold feet at the prospect of unfettered procurement innovation. So the freedom is tempered by the need to follow guidance that will be issued by the Cabinet Office (the central department that takes the lead on UK government procurement). As Sanchez-Graells says in his excellent paper responding to the Green Paper, this could result in “regulatory substitution by means of the offloading of regulatory content from statute to guidance.”

To earn love from digital customers, follow this 5-step formula for digital transformation

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Howard Tiersky, author of "Winning Digital Customers: The Antidote to Irrelevance."

Today’s customer is digitally driven. So, if your brand is going to thrive, digital must be at the core of what you do. Add-ons and tweaks aren’t good enough. To earn and keep customer love, you’re going to have to make sure they can access your products and services quickly and seamlessly.

For most legacy companies, this requires total transformation. My new book, "Winning Digital Customers," lays out a five-step process to help you make the shift.

Investor perspective: Direct procurement technology has an identity crisis

direct procurement technology

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

The direct procurement technology segment is fascinating to us for one primary reason: The stakes are higher.

Nothing against saving dollars on office supplies, but is there anything more strategic than optimizing the spend and supply chain surrounding your core product or service?

We set out with this thesis in 2016, and five years in are sad to report: The market is not as robust as we thought.

Why is that?

3 steps that IT buyers can take now to mitigate supply chain challenges from the Suez Canal, Brexit and WFH

suez canal

The first quarter of 2021 marked one of the biggest global logistics crises of the last decade. Ongoing delays from the pandemic, the aftermath of Brexit and the unpredictable Suez Canal blockage have meant supply chains, especially in Europe, have continued to experience fluctuating lead times and limited stock — with IT buyers some of the worst affected. With product availability unlikely to improve until the second half of the year, here are some of the need-to-know movements that are influencing key IT product categories, and the steps buyers can take to mitigate and overcome any challenges.

Digitally upgrading procurement: How to build a business case for the transformation

digital business case

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Joël Collin-Demers, Consulting Principal at Pure Procurement.

There are a multitude of good reasons to modernize and digitize your company’s procurement function. However, the most important factor to ensure success is that your reasons resonate with the rest of your organization. Otherwise, you may very well find yourself in the company of a majority of organizations who have implemented modern procurement technologies but are not satisfied with the results.

Enter the business case.

Doing good is tough — As ‘The Good Place’ shows us

Good

Peter Smith writes about the challenges of good buying in a complex and inter-connected world, using a TV show analogy. These challenges relate not just to how consumers understand the effect of what they buy, and take into account their preferences when they assess options in terms of choosing products, services and suppliers, they are also relevant when we choose the organizations we want to work for. But as we see more competition for the brightest and best staff, the temptation will be for organizations to present themselves potentially in an unrealistically positive light.

That is why information and data are key in the world of corporate sustainability and purpose. We need to know as far as we can whether we are doing good or harm. We will always have to rely on the honesty of organizations to some extent, but there also must be checks and balances, independent validation, investor and government oversight and so on. Read his analogy here.

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?

liquidity

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.