There are a number of emerging strategies to tackle indirect spend more effectively. These include, as my colleague Pierre Mitchell likes to call it, “suitening” to support all source-to-settle processes for indirect. With the concept of suitening, it is important to think suite, rather than individual components, for transactional elements of the indirect solution. Integrated suites that combine requisitioning, catalog management, advanced search, contract management and basic inventory management and visibility have huge advantages to non-suites. Bolting on workarounds because our ERP (e.g., SAP SRM) provider only partially built their solution to begin with is not an excuse.
Another recommendation we have is buy from one vendor or integrate the broader picture (and components) from the start to address all key indirect areas. For example, while it is ideal to tackle T&E and catalog buying under the same initiative umbrella, even if you do so separately, at least integrate the efforts and processes to guide users within a single point of entry into buying, expense/budget management and reconciliation.
Finally, 2 additional strategies that we recommend from a “suitening” perspective involve fully considering end-to-end processes through settlement to address total cost as part of a solution (factoring into account supplier fees paid to card companies or intermediaries/vendors/networks) as well as breaking our rule to buy from a single provider and carving out analytics and sourcing (if you need to) and using more advanced specialized solutions in these areas.
Our second recommendation involves focusing on all stakeholder contexts (i.e., reasons to buy) that requires thinking through scenarios to enable the “perfect trip, or “perfect project” before placing the “perfect order.” Here, it is important to remember that demand management and influence before the buying process never fully goes away, but we must put ourselves in the shoes of the user – always – who is the one doing the searching and shopping. This requires empathy and context around actual stakeholder needs and experience and addressing all expected processes and contingencies before outlier requirements or incidents occur.
(Cross-posted @ Spend Matters)