A Christmas Case Study – Spend Matters Top Papers

In the run up to Christmas and my passing over the Spend Matters UK/Europe reins, we’ve been featuring some of the briefing papers we’ve written over the past eight years. We’ll leave those published in 2018 – we will run thought those again in the first week of January to get you back into work mode and thinking about serious matters again.

Our final paper before Christmas is very appropriate. My close colleague for the past five years, Nancy Clinton, and I wrote this - it was great fun to do. But we really have to thank Garry Mansell, then CEO of Trade Extensions, who agreed to sponsor the paper. Some of his colleagues didn’t quite get the joke initially, but once positive comments started coming in from readers, all was well! You can still access the whole paper here: White Christmas Paper , and Trade Extensions is now of course part of the mighty Coupa empire.

Anyway, here we go, from 2014, as Santa gets to grips with complex sourcing software …


Spend Matters Europe Editor, Nancy Clinton, and I were honoured to be asked by Trade Extensions to interview a very special customer and write a case study about the firm’s work with him. So after a quite literally magical flight, we sat down with him to learn all about the particular distribution problem he was facing this year. We learnt how the Trade Extensions optimisation / market informed sourcing (choose your own terminology) system helped him and his business meet quite incredible seasonal demand, by engaging a wide range of distribution sub-contractors. That was done in an optimised manner, despite the great complexity of the problem that had to be solved.

You might have worked out by now what we’re talking about, but here’s the picture I took of our interviewee - the Chief Procurement Officer - and his assistants getting ready for our session.

And here is a short extract from the finished Case Study.

“A stable network is vital for any distribution operation but when you are the oldest, largest and most successful global distribution operation in the world and your stable network goes down (with reindeer flu) the financial and reputational damages could be irrecoverable.

This is the situation SLEIGH (Santa’s Logistical Enterprise Innovative Gift Handling) faced this winter when all nine reindeer, including Rudolph himself, contracted reindeer flu. It left the organisation on the brink of a distribution catastrophe as the team solely responsible for driving the Christmas delivery vehicle thousands of miles delivering millions of presents on Christmas Eve were unlikely to recover in time for Christmas.

SLEIGH Chief Procurement Officer, Father Christmas, had to seek rapid and expert guidance. Legendary supplier relationship management over the years means the world’s most famous CPO is known to almost every supplier and end user across the globe – albeit by different names. However, whether it's Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas or Père Noël in Europe, Viejo Pascuero in Chile or Hoteiosho in Japan the response is the same when he's in trouble.

And when Trade Extensions, a world-class sourcing and optimisation solution provider, heard of his plight they were quick to respond. SLEIGH is responsible for the stringent on-time delivery of approximately 526,000,000 individually packaged parcels to all good girls and boys across the world, mainly in one night. The presents have to be wrapped, addressed, loaded then distributed within the space of 24 hours across hundreds of states and territories in the world. Traditionally this mammoth logistical task could be achieved by only one guaranteed method – pure magic”.

Read it here

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