Author Archives: Pierre Mitchell



About Pierre Mitchell

Pierre leads Spend Matters procurement research activities and has broader solution development responsibilities for intellectual property creation and firm strategy as Managing Director of Azul Partners. This includes spearheading efforts to build new types of interactive and social communities of interest within the procurement profession including overseeing the evolution of spendmattersnet.com, Spend Matters PRO, MetalMiner, and other digital assets within Azul Partner’s umbrella. Pierre has 25 years of procurement and supply chain industry and consulting experience, and is a recognized procurement expert specializing in supply processes, practices, metrics, and enabling tools and services. He is a regular contributor to business publications, a frequent presenter at industry events around the world, and counts himself fortunate to have served and interacted with so many CPOs and future CPOs. Prior to his positions in research and advisory, he led numerous operations and systems transformations at Fortune 500 organizations. Industry positions include manufacturing project manager at The Timberland Company, materials manager at Krupp Companies and engineer at EG&G Torque Systems. He holds an engineering degree from Southern Methodist University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. In the early 2000's, Pierre was the first supply chain practitioner to become a procurement "industry analyst" as the VP of supply management research at AMR Research (now part of the Gartner Group) where he provided trusted counsel to procurement executives, business leadership, IT, and the solution providers who serve them. Most recently, he was the head of procurement research and adjunct business advisor at The Hackett Group, where he helped expand Hackett's procurement benchmarks and research studies while growing the Procurement Executive Advisory Program into a gold standard membership-based procurement advisory service in the market today.


CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: Supply Risk — Mitigating and Recovering from the Grey Swan of COVID-19

supply risk

The mission of our “Coronavirus Response” series is to examine categories of relevant solutions and example providers that professionals in procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should investigate to reduce coronavirus supply risk.

We’re calling the pandemic a “grey swan” because pandemics are not unknown risks. If you look at the 2019 World Economic Forum Global Risk report, the “risk of infectious disease” came in last on the top 10 list in terms of impact and didn’t make the list in terms of probability. But, it’s on the list, as the report states:

Each month the World Health Organization (WHO) tracks 7,000 new signals of potential outbreaks, generating 300 follow-ups, 30 investigations and 10 full risk assessments. In June 2018 there were — for the first time ever — outbreaks of six of the eight categories of disease in the WHO’s “priority diseases” list. If any had spread widely, it would have had the potential to kill thousands and create major global disruption.


And guess what was included in those eight categories: Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

And if you look at some of the nearest risk types on the risk map, you’ll find:

  • Fiscal crisis
  • Food crisis
  • Unemployment and underemployment
  • Failure of financial mechanism or institution
  • Failure of national governance
  • Critical information infrastructure breakdown

Do these sound familiar? The report also shows how many risks are highly interconnected, and there’s a thread that runs through most of them: supply chains. Supply chain folks’ ears perk up given how often the term “risk” is uttered these days, and unfortunately not in a good light (note the last three risks in the list above). And those supply chains are highly interconnected global flows of goods, humans and machines — and viruses that can jump along for the ride. When the information systems/silos and governing systems/silos fail, that’s when the swan kicks your butt (which is in character for a swan, actually).

When corporations and governments alike don’t learn from the past, then the pain of previous risk events fade, defenses drop, preparedness falters and supply chains lose their protections which is shown well here (courtesy of Resilinc):



(Click image to enlarge)

This situation is why today’s brief focuses on supply risk management, the first of our seven procurement-centric solution categories that we’re covering:

  1. Supply risk management solutions that include supply chain risk, CSR risk, supplier financial risk, etc.
  2. Sourcing and commodity management, including advanced sourcing, direct sourcing, automated supplier discovery, and commodity management to help dynamically plan and source. (See this category’s recommended solutions for direct sourcing here.)
  3. Advanced procurement analytics to enable direct procurement and/or to perform “spend planning” when demand drops out or spikes. (Its profile for this series is here.)
  4. Procure to Pay (P2P) that emphasizes working capital, dynamic discounting, payment control and related finance priorities to help inject cash into the P2P process — especially for many cash-starved suppliers. (This category is discussed in-depth here.)
  5. Fraud, P2P and vendor management safeguards when new suppliers need to be set up quickly, and also when lowlife fraudsters try to use the pandemic as a way to steal money and IP. (Its profile for this series is here.)
  6. Providers with deep contract analytics that can analyze a contract portfolio for affected contracts from suppliers (and customers) for not just force majeure clauses, but other related clauses that tie to the multiple risks popping up at once in the pandemic.
  7. Contingent Workforce and Services solutions that are able to, at a minimum, help rapidly ramp up on-demand workers to deal with massive resource shortfalls. We are looking at four categories of solutions: for sourcing remote/online work; solutions for sourcing and managing contract workers at geo-specific capabilities; solutions to “direct source” and manage contract workers; and solutions for data management and analytics. (The first PRO brief from this category, about sourcing remote/online work, can be read here.)

Broader supply chain issues and solutions are also clearly in play, especially related to inventory visibility, inventory positioning, demand forecasting, capacity planning, logistics planning/execution, distribution/allocations, global trade management, product design, the internet of things (IoT) and so on.

But, even though the initial seven use-case categories and solutions are only addressing a subset of the issues, the ability to respond intelligently in the short term can also help set organizations up for the future as we get back up and running.

In this installment of our Coronavirus Response series, Spend Matters will explore supply risk management, which includes supplier risk management, but also the broader area of supply chain risk management (SCRM) that seeks to keep critical supply lines flowing. In the case of COVID-19, these supply lines include the critical components/materials (and supporting manufacturing and logistics networks) that:

  • get assembled into the ventilators that keep sick patients alive while this viral plague sweeps through
  • are used to manufacture the personal protective equipment (PPE) that critical health care workers need to protect themselves
  • support the pharmaceutical and medical device/supplies supply chains that create the products that diagnose and treat the disease with therapies and vaccines — as soon as possible!
  • build “pop-up” hospitals and everything in them needed to treat patients, who could flood in and overwhelm healthcare workers

Broader supply risk management also includes:

  • Understanding demand-side risk when demand falls off the table when 80% of populations are sheltering in place in the short term. The demand (or lack thereof) also ripples up the supply networks and service networks — especially to smaller suppliers.
  • Considering the supply risk of contingent workers who will be critical “flex capacity” to support the physical supply chains of foods, medicines, equipment, etc. We’re covering this more here and here).
  • Financial risk that occurs when suppliers, especially smaller one with thinner margins, are starved for cash as liquidity slows in a risk-averse market of cash-strapped buyers and cautious financial-services lenders.

Specialized supply risk management solutions and services providers can support the above requirements and help to answer a range of questions, such as:

  • What countries does my company do business in with suppliers at the tier one level? Tier two? Tier three? Which of these should I prioritize as truly critical?
  • Which suppliers are affected by COVID-19 within these regions? How badly are they affected? How can we find out quickly?
  • What are my products and revenues that will be affected? And what should I do about it? Do I have playbooks defined, and if so, how do I execute (and if not, how do I create them when this horror show has died down)?
  • How is my logistics network affected directly by COVID-19 (e.g., port/warehouse slowdowns and strikes) and how is it impacting my freight? What transportation lanes are impacted to see if my freight is impacted? Can delays or other risk factors be expected further down the inbound supply chain before it reaches my facilities? For example, West Coast ports were starving for container ship capacity because so many ships are idled in China in quarantine conditions. Now, as air freight capacity is impacted by massively reduced passenger flight volumes (and respective cargo capacity lying underneath), what are my expedited freight options?
  • Is there anything I can do if suppliers are individually high-risk? Will they be financially threatened because of COVID-19? How can I get visibility into their financial health, especially if they’re privately held?
  • Which of my affected suppliers are potentially unsustainable in their supply risk practices rather than just their traditional CSR practices?

For the supply chain risk management (SCRM) scenarios and questions listed above, we’ll discuss the best-known specialists in the area: Riskmethods and Resilinc. But we’ll also touch on Resilience360, which has unique capabilities within the broader supply network vis a vis the logistics network. Sourcemap also has some supply network visualization and risk modeling/monitoring capabilities, but hasn’t been drawn into the healthcare supply chains like the others (although the CPG supply chain has also been affected — as any toilet paper shopper has discovered!). Elementum doesn’t have its own native SCRM solution (it partners with Resilinc), but it does offer a command center solution that it is now providing as a freemium “virtual war room” offering.

These specialized providers don’t have to be your only choice however. For example, we’ll cover what Sievo (a broader procurement analytics provider with roots in spend analytics) is doing with an evolving “mash-up” solution that provides a view into spending, the supply network, risk overlays, etc. Simfoni similarly has a COVID-19 risk assessment dashboard solution that it is offering for free. We’re not sure how long it’ll allow free usage, but the website page for the offering has a slick little Power BI dashboard that you can interact with that gives a flavor of its capabilities.

In terms of supplier risk management, we will cover this as we expand our coverage to broader supplier management later (and supplier/third-party management is clearly a foundational process to any procurement organization), but the one aspect that we will initiate coverage on now is supplier financial risk management. Although the credit bureaus and traditional supplier risk evaluators / content providers like D&B offer some insights into supplier financial risk that we’ll add to our coverage later, we’ll touch on two providers, Rapid Ratings and Credit Risk Monitor, who can help assess supplier financial health for critical suppliers. LexisNexis offers broader supplier risk management capabilities, but you can check out its free COVID-19 coverage from a legal perspective over at Law360.

As a side note, there are requirements here for performing the sourcing and commodity management activities required to rapidly identify new sources of supply, conducting complex sourcing events for materials, parts and components (which may be tied to broader bills of material), qualifying suppliers based on targeted requirements (e.g., for a specific line), and managing and tracking suppliers based on custom scorecarding. We cover this area (No. 2 of our list above) here, and we also explore the demand-side volatility scenarios/analytics here (No. 3 from the list above).

Let’s jump into how supply risk management can help.

Through April 2020, a special PRO Expert Survival Pack is available to procurement practitioners only* at up to 50% off — Learn more

From ‘Ariba Live’ to SAP Ariba not-so-live: A dispatch in the coronavirus era

SAP Ariba launched the 19th annual version of its Ariba Live event today, but this year was a virtual event since the physical Las Vegas event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Las Vegas has plenty of microbes anyway, but not of this sort, and SAP Ariba was obviously right in canceling — like SIG, Basware and many other procurement conferences.

The first Ariba Live session was from Chris Haydon, who is “President of Procurement Solution Area,” which in German SAP speak means that he’s the senior product/strategy executive. Commercial operations have been folded into broader SAP, and there are many coordination/integration touchpoints across the SAP ecosystem too numerous to highlight, but Spend Matters’ PRO subscribers can get into the gory details here.

Transforming from Contract Management to Commercial Value Management (Part 2): Putting Contracts at the Core of Source-to-Pay

supplier network

In the first installment of this series, we discussed how contract management was morphing from a document-centric risk transfer legal vehicle to a broader commercial value management (CVM) competency that helps businesses:

* Perform spend planning rather than spent analysis
* Gain earlier and deeper visibility into financial obligations rather than just using the general ledger
* Operationalizing risk management rather than just one-off (or high-level) efforts
* Integrating upstream strategic sourcing to downstream P2P (of course)
* Explicitly tying sourcing and contracts into supplier management

In this installment, we will dive a little deeper into how next-generation contract management helps facilitate the flow of value (and prevent “value leakage”) within the source-to-pay process, but also the broader swaths of enterprise processes where controlling the contracts means controlling the spend — and how finance and procurement groups can use this to their advantage.

DocuSign buys Seal Software: Why the CLM Market and Digital Platform Market May Never be the Same (Solution Overview and AI Competitive Analysis)

Spend Matters reported last week that DocuSign, which offers its eponymous e-signature product and a CLM solution (formerly SpringCM), had entered a $188 million all-cash agreement to purchase AI and contract analytics specialist Seal Software. The transaction brings Seal’s capabilities for enterprise-wide contract discovery and analysis firmly into the wheelhouse of a growing CLM presence for DocuSign (beyond digital signatures), as well as raises the competitive bar for CLM specialists, suite providers of many forms and even for “digital platforms.”

But what exactly is DocuSign’s current positioning in the CLM market, and what does acquiring Seal Software bring to the provider’s platform — the “DocuSign Agreement Cloud”?

This Spend Matters PRO brief provides an overview of DocuSign’s current set of capabilities and applicability to the buy-side CLM market, as well as a reprise of Seal Software’s core functionality and offerings. It also includes a comparative rundown of where both specialist CLM vendors and S2P suites are in their own AI development journeys, along with our projection for how DocuSign’s CLM strategy will play out in the broader CLM space and potentially as a disruptive offering in the amorphous digital platform market.

To cut to the chase: The CLM market and digital platform market may never be the same.

DocuSign-Seal Software transaction analysis (Part 1): Looking at DocuSign’s CLM assets (DocuSign, SpringCM, Seal)

Spend Matters recently predicted that DocuSign, the electronic signature specialist, would buy the AI-assisted contract analytics firm Seal Software (another reason that subscribers to our PRO research are ahead of the market). As the prediction noted in January, “we can’t help but think that DocuSign will be actively looking for inorganic growth options in 2020, and Seal Software might be an obvious choice given its previous $15 million investment. DocuSign will also likely need to focus its attention to the buy-side to bring some parity to its SpringCM pickup.” And so the prediction came true. Perhaps faster than we might have guessed (although the transaction will not close until later this year).

In the coming weeks, Spend Matters Nexus will publish a series of briefs covering the transaction and what it means from a corporate strategy standpoint for DocuSign in regards to targeting CLM. Our approach will include exploring remaining gaps in buy-side CLM for DocuSign.

But let’s start today by focusing on DocuSign’s inventory of assets and what Seal brings to the table, specifically alongside SpringCM.

We’ll also tackle what Seal’s AI provides to DocuSign, and offer some initial analysis about the fallout for the competitive landscape in this brave new CLM-meets-AI-meets-“platform” world (spanning a range of providers like Icertis, Agiloft, Coupa, SAP Ariba, Conga, LegalSifter, Kira, Luminance, LawGeex, Zycus, etc.). An aside in this regard: Other buy-side providers who used Seal will now be likely looking elsewhere for CLM support for counterparty document shredding, analytics and repository creation (Seal’s partners include PwC, KPMG, E&Y, Deloitte, IBM, Coupa, SAP Ariba and many others).

Let’s dive in.

If you are new to CLM market, we recommend starting with the following research briefs:

* Seal Software: Vendor Snapshot — Part 1: Background and Solution Overview
* Part 2: Product Strengths and Weaknesses
* Part 3: Commentary and Summary Analysis
* For SolutionMap Insider subscribers, see the CLM Scoring Summary that shows where vendors rank and details their capabilities, including both pure play providers (e.g., Icertis, Agiloft, SirionLabs) and the S2P suite vendors. We’ll be adding Conga in our spring SolutionMap release in March — and then add Apttus and hopefully DocuSign (SpringCM) in the fall release. The public can see the SolutionMap CLM vendor rankings by persona here for free.
* Commercial Value Management: Making Contracts the Commercial Core of Enterprise Value (Part 1) [PRO]
* CVM (Part 2): Using Next-Generation Contract Systems to Integrate Operations, Financials, Risk and Technology [PRO]
* CVM (Part 3): Critical Commercial Use Cases to Align Extended CLM with the Enterprise [PRO]
* 2020 Predictions for Contract Management: Where the CLM Market Is Going This Year and This Decade [PRO]
* Free content: 2020 Predicaments in Contract Management: Poor Adoption, CLM Market Fragmentation and Limited Imagination
* Free content: Artificial Intelligence in Contract Management (4-part series)

Procurement Consulting Analysis: A review of The Shelby Group

P2P implementation

The Shelby Group is a U.S.-based specialist source-to-pay solution and technology consultancy (think “spend management,” if you prefer that term) that is best known for its proven expertise in implementing and optimizing Coupa. Located primarily in the Chicago area, the firm serves clients globally, but with an emphasis in North America. Shelby also partners with Ivalua, SAP Ariba, Oracle, Sirion Labs and others.

That said, the Coupa ecosystem is clearly Shelby’s sweet spot, or perhaps “suite spot” is a better term! The firm also has developed some of its own unique digital capabilities that we’ll discuss in this analysis. Shelby has served the market for almost 20 years and has been very happy to “stay in its lane” as a specialist (and has some large well-known consultancies on its customer roster).

This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides background on The Shelby Group, including insights on its customer segments, geographies and emerging digital capabilities. But, primarily, this PRO analysis highlights the voice and experience of Shelby’s clients. We also offer data-driven recommendations and analysis for organizations considering Shelby as a systems implementation and consulting partner.

This report is based on extensive primary research by the Spend Matters team and from our SolutionMap’s customer reference process, where real-life customers share their vendor experiences and help us rank vendors. Spend Matters surveyed a range of Shelby clients in 2019, collecting qualitative and quantitative insights from organizations that had gone through implementations, change management, transformation and related initiatives as part of procurement technology deployments. The Shelby Group also provided facts and figures about its practice directly to Spend Matters, and we’ve added some “color” to the analysis, given that we’ve seen Shelby’s work in the trenches for well over a decade.

2020 Procurement Predicaments and Predictions — Gaps and a Mega Prediction (Series Wrap-Up Part 3)

In this last installment of Spend Matters’ 2020 predictions wrap-up series, we’ll dive into some additional predicament areas where there are substantive gaps to address within the digital procurement market. We’ll also explore a “mega prediction” related to digital platforms (not applications) and how this digital land grab will have an impact on picking an optimal digital platform strategy for procurement. Click here for Part 1 and Part 2 of the wrap-up series.

2020 Procurement Predicaments and Predictions — The Big Picture (Series Wrap-Up Part 2)

In Part 1 of this finale for our 2020 “Predicaments and Predictions” series, we summarized the problems and our outlook for various procurement areas, such as: Sourcing, Supplier Management, Contract Lifecycle Management, Procure-to-Pay, Contingent Workforce/Services Procurement, and Analytics.

In this installment, we’ll address a broader and overarching predicament that affects all of these areas, namely:

How can procurement organizations meet short-term S2P automation needs (via current-generation S2P apps), but support broader enterprise digital transformation requirements that are better suited to next-generation digital platforms (and underlying platform elements) that progressive CIOs and chief digital officers are beginning to adopt?

Remember that while developing our 2020 predictions, we had a guiding principle that our predictions would be grounded in practitioner predicaments that needed solving, which in turn would generally drive the solution/service provider market (unless there was no money to be made in that area — which we’ll touch on later).

In terms of practitioner requirements, the following predicaments/pain points continue to plague most procurement organizations:

* Gaining timely and accurate insights into spending, contracts, costs, suppliers and markets
* Engaging stakeholders early and deeply to help them get more value from their spend and suppliers — and adopting their best practices and tools
* Demonstrating procurement value beyond purchased cost reductions on a continual process (i.e., the impossibility of “saving yourself to zero”) — and beyond the usual sourcing processes that help drive them
* Helping protect the enterprise from supply risks in the value chain
* Aligning with functional stakeholders like Finance, IT, HR, Sales/Marketing, Legal, GRC, and other groups to not just help them manage their spend, but also support their broader initiatives and also align with them on capabilities (and tools) beyond the buy-side involving contract management, working capital, budgeting, risk management, Lean/Six Sigma, innovation, “variabilization” (e.g., using a contingent workforce and service providers), etc. And these programs might also sit in a Center of Excellence and/or Shared Services organization.

Obviously, the first three items are squarely in the wheelhouse of S2P applications, but as the net widens toward supporting broader enterprise requirements, procurement organizations are less digitally savvy. So, we’ll highlight how those emerging requirements are creating gaps, how organizations are responding, and where the market is moving.

2020 Procurement Predicaments and Predictions — Part 1 (Series Wrap-Up)

As the first month in 2020 is drawing to a close, the holiday season is a distant memory and sleeves are being rolled up in earnest. As such, we’ll wrap up the Spend Matters analysts’ 2020 procurement predictions series for PRO subscribers as we look forward to this new year and new decade. We’ll first do a quick recap of our predictions in six procurement technology areas:

* Sourcing, by analyst Magnus Bergfors
* Supplier Management (SXM), by Magnus Bergfors
* Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM), by analyst Nick Heinzmann
* P2P (Procure to Pay), by analyst Xavier Olivera
* Services Procurement, by analyst Andrew Karpie
* Procurement Analytics, by analysts Michael Lamoureux and Pierre Mitchell, the series editor

For a discussion of problems in each of these areas, see the analysts’ non-subscription posts about the predicaments per category.

In this PRO brief, we’ll address some of the foundational platform elements and broader market shifts that are happening regarding areas such as low-code/no-code platforms, open source, AI, bots, mega-vendor ecosystems, microservices, analytics and other areas. These digital capabilities aren’t just happening in a vacuum, but rather, responding to:

* buyer needs for increased agility, innovation and market options to move at the pace of broader digital business transformation, but also more focused procurement needs for better analytics, supplier engagement, commercial excellence, category intelligence, etc.
* supply market changes as M&A and an influx of private equity is chasing new opportunities — especially related to AI and specific areas that are still decidedly problematic, such as services procurement, tail spend management (and guided buying), category-specific functionality, master data management and other areas.

So, in keeping with our series, let’s dive into the forecast scenarios where we think the market will respond to these buyer needs/predicaments.

2020 Predicaments and Predictions in Procurement Analytics: What’s Likely, What’s Revolutionary

It shouldn’t be a big shock to learn that procurement analytics is a big deal right now. After procurement organizations have built some basic spend cubes (or “spent cubes”) and dashboards, they’re looking for deeper predictive insights into spend, contracts, suppliers, costs, process improvements, supply risk and other areas. In fact, analytics was by far the most cited technology area expected to have a business impact within the next two years by CPOs surveyed in the recent 2019 Deloitte Global CPO Survey.

The biggest area of interest within analytics have been:

* Self-service analytics/visualization for business stakeholders and procurement staff
* Predictive analytics for power users (e.g., for price/cost/volume forecasting)
* Performance analytics and dashboards (e.g., supplier scorecarding, category dashboards, etc.)
* Support for digital initiatives such as AI/machine learning (which is usually about focused predictive analytics problems), RPA (that either requires some analysis within a process or conversely is about helping to automate the analytic workflows), or big data analytics (e.g., using IoT sensor data from the supply chain)

The Predicaments
However, while analytics are hot, the implementation barriers can be stone cold killers:

* Poor data quality. 40% of CPOs cited the inability to generate insights and analytics because an even greater number (60%) cited poor master data quality, standardization, and governance.
* The master data quality problem is very familiar to practitioners who run any type of analytics that have to do with suppliers, items and contracts — i.e., most of them!
* Some ERP suites and procurement suites have fragmented master data within their product lines, and nearly all these solutions don’t have master data that can be used as part of an MDM-type solution (e.g., having a supplier master that can serve a true SIM solution from an MDM standpoint rather than just creating another vendor master file to add to the heap).
* Generating forward-looking insights based on external data and intelligence rather than just simple spend forensics — especially category-specific insights that are typically built from scratch.
* The struggle to create analytics that go beyond off-the-shelf operational reports from the various modules/tools in the market.
* Dashboards that are attractive, but can be visually overwhelming and not help you prioritize where the key opportunities are.
* IT organizations that may be pushing legacy data warehouses and BI tools that don’t allow more democratized analytics to be developed with an increasingly digitally savvy generation of business users and tools (that might also need to get adopted by an older generation of procurement practitioners). Data visualization and predictive analytics were the top two digital skills prioritized for procurement technology training over the next year.

In the rest of this Spend Matters PRO brief, we’ll dive into the current and future state of the procurement analytics area, and make some predictions about what we expect to see in 2020 from a market standpoint, but also a more detailed technical standpoint.

How to Make Your Procurement Organization like Amazon — Use the Flywheel!

Many smart readers will be familiar with the Amazon flywheel. It is a graphical representation of Amazon’s business model that you can read about on this blogpost here.

The model from that post is shown below:



Source: http://www.samseely.com/blog/2016/5/2/the-amazon-flywheel-part-1

The graphic generally shows the self-reinforcing cycles of how Amazon’s focus on customer experience and product selection help drive demand — which in turn attract sellers while also then letting Amazon gain economies of scale (and also “economies of scope” when it jumps into adjacent markets) to then self-fund (i.e., re-invest all the profits) the offering of lower pricing AND the development of even better customer experiences … which then repeats the cycle continuously.

This graphical model is an oversimplification because there other things at play here:
* disintermediation in the supply chain to capture value
* building/buying capabilities to jump into adjacent markets
* driving not just experience and eyeballs, but also monopolistic power in categories
* acquisitions to accelerate category dominance
* subscription-based bundling and related incentives (“free” shipping with Amazon Prime)
* playing 3D chess by playing different roles — e-tailer, wholesaler, marketplace, platform — and then using that power with upstream suppliers
* speed to value and focused/driven/intense organizational culture on mission and results

I’m sure you could add more to the list above. That said, procurement and supply chain professionals understand many of these drivers when they look at supplier power and category strategy — especially when one of those suppliers may be Amazon (e.g., AWS)!

Many procurement organizations often have a difficult time expressing their organizational value-add to other stakeholders, or they end up focusing too narrowly just on cost savings. They need to be able to communicate higher impact value creation and also create some “branding” surrounding their spend/supply management services. So, they should consider adopting the Amazon flywheel to their organizations, and there are actually three ways in which they can do this:

* Apply the Amazon flywheel to the broader organization and then dovetail in how procurement helps to support the business flywheel. Most organizations want to be like Amazon in some respects, so this can help reinforce that.
* Apply the flywheel to the procurement organization as a spend/supply management “business” in its own right and then tweak the Amazon flywheel model to create a self-funding procurement flywheel.
* Apply the flywheel to sourcing, category management and supplier management as you engage suppliers.

In other words, change “growth” to “profitable growth” and then change “sellers” to “suppliers” and you get the general idea.

In the rest of this Spend Matters PRO research brief, we’ll share our adaptation of the Amazon flywheel to a “procurement flywheel” that procurement organizations (and to the digital solution/service providers who help support them) can adopt for themselves and their stakeholders.

For any qualified practitioners interested in this PRO content, please feel free to reach out to us and we can make it available to you if you’re looking for support in your digital transformation.