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.


Beyond Spend Influence: Enabling Procurement’s Emerging Roles in Business Transformation (Part 8) — Beyond Continuous Improvement

This is the last of our multi-part Spend Matters PRO series on transformation, focusing not just on digital procurement transformation, but also a broader supply-aware transformation of the value chain and the business (i.e., spend management and supply management improve business management). In the previous installment, we covered:

  • How procurement can use an empathetic, but deliberate, design-centered approach to align with stakeholders and meet them where they are at their many “tables” (albeit virtually given the pandemic)
  • The importance of a well-articulated procurement mission and “brand” that coherently communicates and speaks to the business stakeholders, rather than just being a technocratic procurement strategy that simply executes a narrow value proposition.
  • Pathways for procurement to be a little more proactive and structured in its transformation approach.
  • How procurement can formally “guide” a best-practices spend/supply management process supported by technology that goes beyond tactical “guided buying” processes.

We also featured our procurement adaptation of Amazon’s flywheel (and Covey’s influence model for good measure) before laying out a five stage transformation model with embedded recommendations and emerging techniques and tools that can help on the transformation journey.

But, there is still a chapter to be written here, and it deals with the problem of “the final mile” that links the procurement strategy and transformation to the actual projects in the trenches. When there is poor linkage, here are some of the issues:

  • Individual projects are considered in isolation without looking at the bigger picture relative to strategy and to other projects
  • Steady state processes are increasingly rare in today’s increasingly volatile environment, but yet, change management is still difficult to estimate and execute
  • The use of ‘wave planning’ for prioritizing sourcing projects (i.e., plotting impact vs. effort) is a noble goal, but the technique is less widely adopted across processes, and the methodology for estimating the effort is usually fairly crude
  • Speaking of sourcing, too often, the sourcing “intake” process is fairly reactionary and tactical in nature when in fact the opportunities could be made more strategic and transformational if they were better anticipated and coordinated with other efforts
  • Too much picking of low hanging fruit projects (i.e., strip mining for savings) without building “transformational muscle” makes it harder to attempt picking the higher hanging fruit with more complex cross-functional (and cross-enterprise) projects

In this last installment, we’ll share a simple five-step transformation project evaluation and implementation process that can be used for digitally intensive projects (or not), strategic projects/programs (or incremental improvements), and for cross-project transformation roadmapping. It will utilize 15 dimensions that can be used to estimate a degree of difficulty for specific projects (e.g. to help plot that wave chart discussed earlier) or for the broader transformation.

Beyond Spend Influence: Enabling Procurement’s Emerging Roles in Business Transformation (Part 7) — Blueprinting the Transformation

In this multipart Spend Matters PRO series, we’ve outlined how procurement can move beyond traditional spend influence tactics to add more value to the business and thereby relevant procurement value as well.

In this installment, we will summarize and review the previous lessons that highlighted some of these engagement examples, and will then pull up a level to reflect on what these transformation examples have in common. And then we’ll preview a transformation framework that can provide some practical guidance.

Beyond Spend Influence: Enabling Procurement’s Emerging Roles in Business Transformation (Part 6) — Transforming the Supply Network

In the previous two installments of this Spend Matters PRO series, we explored how procurement can improve its influence within the broader supply chain by supporting product/service lifecycles and transcending mechanistic BOM-based sourcing workflows to also focus on revenue uplift, supplier innovation and “design for supply” use cases.

In this installment, we will finish our coverage of how procurement (with the help of its functional partners) can enable the product/service lifecycle and the end-to-end supply network. And then we’ll wrap up this series on some transformation lessons learned in turning episodic moments of procurement influence into a more systematic evolution of procurement value.

Part 1 of this series laid out the need for leadership in procurement to help bring about transformational change — and how to work with stakeholders. In Part 2, we discussed how progressive procurement organizations were improving their influence through coherent communication and alignment of procurement “services” to various stakeholders.

Part 3 dove into procurement improving its influence into indirect spending and how it can improve how the business gets more value from its spend and its “spend management” process (e.g., dovetailing into the business planning process).

Part 4 was an introduction to attention to supply management and direct procurement influence. For Part 5, we dug into what it takes to create strategic supply partners and also consider the technology vendors needed for extended supply networks.

Now let’s look more into procurement’s role in transforming supply networks.

Beyond Spend Influence: Enabling Procurement’s Emerging Roles in Business Transformation (Part 5) — Supply Chain / Direct Procurement Influence (Cont.)

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In the previous installment of this Spend Matters PRO series, we explored how procurement can improve its influence within the broader supply chain by supporting product/service lifecycles and transcending just basic BoM-based direct materials sourcing workflows. In that piece we explored how procurement can support sales and marketing processes to improve revenue uplift.

In this installment, we will continue our exploration of the rest of the overall value lifecycle from design all the way through to service and then finishing up with supporting the most important aspect: the transformation process itself.

Part 1 of this series laid out the need for leadership in procurement to help bring about transformational change — and how to work with stakeholders. In Part 2, we discussed how progressive procurement organizations were improving their influence through coherent communication and alignment of procurement “services” to various stakeholders.

Part 3 dove into procurement improving its influence into indirect spending and how it can improve how the business gets more value from its spend and its “spend management” process (e.g., dovetailing into the business planning process). Part 4 was an introduction to attention to supply management and direct procurement influence.

Let’s dig into what it takes to create strategic supply partners and also consider the technology vendors needed for extended supply networks.

Beyond Spend Influence: Enabling Procurement’s Emerging Roles in Business Transformation (Part 4) — Supply Chain / Direct Procurement (Introduction)

In the previous installment of this Spend Matters PRO series, we dove into procurement improving its influence into indirect spending and how it can improve how the business gets more value from its spend and its “spend management” process (e.g., dovetailing into the business planning process). In this installment, we’ll turn our attention to supply management and direct procurement influence.

You might think direct procurement shouldn’t have any misalignment with the broader supply chain, given that direct procurement is itself part of the supply chain. However, supply management is not always in sync with supply chain management.

Organizations that get it right through better procurement and supply chain alignment enjoy higher supply performance. We conducted some research on this topic a few years ago and showed the difference in supply performance between firms with this top quartile influence/alignment capability below:

Figure 1: Organizations that have top quartile direct procurement influence on supply chain management outperform their peers on numerous supply performance criteria



We’ll highlight some of these top capabilities and some of the strategies and supporting digital solutions that can help enable them.

Part 1 of this series laid out the need for leadership in procurement to help bring about transformational change — and how to work with stakeholders. In Part 2, we discussed how progressive procurement organizations were improving their influence through coherent communication and alignment of procurement “services” to various stakeholders.

This installment also has details about direct procurement vs. supply chain procurement, and we discuss some solution providers that can help.

Beyond Spend Influence: Enabling Procurement’s Emerging Roles in Business Transformation (Part 3) — Digitally Enabled Engagement, Outcomes, Demand and Spend

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In the first installment of this Spend Matters PRO series, we kicked off our analysis of how progressive organizations are influencing spend and stakeholders at a deeper level beyond traditional sourcing influence.

In Part 2, we discussed how progressive procurement organizations were improving their influence through coherent communication and alignment of procurement “services” to various stakeholders. This influence isn’t just seeking to drive stakeholders to procurement for procurement resources exclusively to create value that procurement gets credit for, but rather, to have procurement educate and enable stakeholders to make the best decisions that will deliver the outcomes most important to them.

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, said in an interview, “I don’t think we make money when we sell something, we make money when we help someone make a purchase decision.” In other words, Amazon is looking to be your trusted advisor and buying concierge to help you get the best deal (whether or not you actually do — especially with dynamic pricing!), which keeps you in the Amazon “walled garden” and elevates its brand/role beyond just being another online supplier to find stuff. By broadening its value and “brand permission,” it can then “help” you make these purchase decisions and others in your life. Just ask Alexa!

In this installment, we will dive into the details of how some procurement organizations are digitally enabling this engagement and elevating their brand in ways that meet stakeholder outcomes but also allows procurement to see and shape the demand that will drive spend, supply and needed source-to-pay resources.

The “quality” of spend influence isn’t about late-stage sourcing involvement, but rather, early engagement upstream at the moments of truth when spend is being planned by a few critical budget holders — or when suppliers are being sought by thousands of employees with a business need.

In either case, procurement must proactively find the stakeholders or help the stakeholders find procurement (or find the preferred suppliers and their products/services via “guided buying”). There isn’t just one “seat at the table” for procurement, because there is not just a single table to sit at (although the CEO’s executive team/committee is a good one!), but multiple tables where stakeholders sit.

Beyond Spend Influence: Enabling Procurement’s Emerging Roles in Business Transformation (Part 2) — Empathy, Alignment, Mission, Brand and Procurement Service Delivery

In the first installment of this Spend Matters PRO series, we kicked off our analysis of how progressive organizations are influencing spend and stakeholders at a deeper level beyond traditional sourcing influence. In this next edition, we’ll dive into some strategies for deeper and more meaningful engagement with stakeholders, and some examples from some progressive procurement organizations.

Beyond Spend Influence: Enabling Procurement’s Emerging Roles in Business Transformation

procurement

Anyone familiar with YouTube “influencers” knows that they’re not trying to engage you for your benefit, but for their own. They intend to monetize that influence for themselves and their corporate backers.

Speaking of the corporate realm, the ability to influence others isn’t exactly a new concept. In fact, you can go back 85 years to read Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” There, you will learn more about “Fundamental techniques and handling people,” “six ways to make people like you,” “12 ways to win people to your way of thinking” and “how to change people without giving offense or arousing resentment.” In short, you can learn how to manipulate people to sell them something and get what you want.

Let’s now translate this to procurement organizations that are looking to influence stakeholders in order to influence their spend.

The procurement mission can indeed be noble in terms of helping the organization spend less wastefully to free up cash to invest in the enterprise mission. However, from the stakeholder view, what they often hear is “Hi, I’m from corporate procurement and I’m here to help you reduce your spend so that I can claim savings to justify my existence … and then have your budget reduced by corporate finance.”

Do you think the stakeholders like being influenced like this? They end up viewing procurement something like this Dilbert cartoon.

Although the situation is obviously not as bad as a dinosaur leading procurement, it does highlight the disconnect and misalignment that can lead to stakeholders not inviting procurement to the proverbial table. Of course, procurement can get mandated into the process via policy, but those policies are usually fairly toothless, and when procurement does get involved, it is often at the tail end of the process when most negotiating leverage is long gone. This is why the metric of spend under management (SUM) is more about the quantity of late-stage involvement than the quality of early and deep involvement/influence (for more on this topic see our PRO article Procurement KPIs Series (Part 4) — Deep Diving into ‘Spend Under Management’).

This earlier involvement does lead to higher savings in the short term, but you can’t “save yourself to zero,” and procurement’s influence in more strategic business settings where key decisions are made is a work in progress — based on 450 CPOs surveyed last year ...



Improving the situation requires more than sitting at the end of a sourcing process with a catcher's mitt waiting for the stakeholders to come, and having a value proposition that’s more than just transient cost/spend reductions, but something more transformational.

It requires transformative leadership, and that leadership has many elements to it: mission/vision, strategy, empathy, affinity, inclusion, empowerment, enablement, brand, respect, competence (to deliver value), trust, guidance, transformation, collaboration, clarity, coordination/orchestration, protection, agility, intelligence and even inspiration.

These are some of the contexts and the levers of real influence.

In this multi-part Spend Matters PRO series, we’ll explore these elements, how technology can enable them and a case study of a procurement organization that’s pulling these levers likely better than any other organization on the planet.

Making Sense of Supply Risk Management Solutions (Part 4) — Supplier Financial Risk Monitoring Services

In previous installments of this Spend Matters PRO series, we outlined the overall segments of the supply risk management market and then began diving into the supply chain risk management segment and the overall supplier risk management area with a focus on risk management within a supplier management context that sits within the broader area source-to-pay (S2P).

For most procurement leaders though, supplier risk management can be a daunting problem to tackle if looked at truly holistically and strategically — especially when those leaders are not always measured on supply risk. In fact, in a research study that we did a few years ago with over 200 procurement professionals, we found that 53% of them weren’t even measured explicitly on reducing supply risk.

That said, no CPO wants to be caught out if a critical supplier goes bankrupt, and this is why a higher percentage of firms will perform a subset of supplier risk — supplier financial risk monitoring for critical suppliers. In fact, CAPS Research came out with a metric in April citing that 72% of surveyed firms (which tend to be large enterprises) are currently using third-party tools to monitor the financial health of their suppliers. The knowledge of which suppliers are struggling also helps illuminate other supplier performance areas that are likely being impacted: innovation, risk reduction, etc. It’s not just a supplier “death watch.”

These tools (which are really more data services than tools) are the ones that we’ll now delve into. And the timing couldn’t be more critical given what’s happening with the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact that it’s having on so many suppliers right now — especially smaller / private suppliers that don’t have strong capital reserves to weather the prolonged crisis that looks to be hanging around for at least another 12 months.

The market for supplier financial risk monitoring is especially challenging because it’s complex, poorly regulated and not well understood — and this leads procurement leaders to make suboptimal choices (improper scoping, generic sourcing strategies, using “safe”-but-expensive incumbents, etc.) — leaving them underprotected and/or overpaying (sometimes over six figures annually!).

We’ll spend the rest of this installment time helping readers understand this market a little better and how to approach it more deliberately and effectively. We’ll also analyze some of the pros and cons of using various providers’ strategies and specific providers such as Bureau Van Dijk, CreditRiskMonitor, Cortera, Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax, Experian, FICO, RapidRatings and others.

Procurement KPIs Series (Part 4) — Deep Diving into ‘Spend Under Management’

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One of the goals of a business is to have as much spend (with a capital “S” for all expenditures: CapEx, OpEx and COGS) under management as possible. And that goal should be extended out to supplier spend, where procurement wants to have as much supplier spend influence as possible. That way you know what you’re spending on suppliers (and the pricing component of that, of course), what you’re getting from those suppliers (i.e., supplier performance), and how well you’re spending in terms of applying best practices and tools/intelligence to the process (e.g., proactively guiding stakeholders and minimizing maverick spend).

The metric of spend under management (SUM) is actually determined by a set of indicators that we’ll explore in this latest Spend Matters installment of our series on KPIs that all procurement leaders should know. In the first two parts of this KPI series, we highlighted some of the foundational measurements for procurement pros and the problems of traditional procurement key performance indicators in terms of how they can be incomplete, misleading and even damaging to a value chain transformation. We also delved into the “keys” that unlock the value of spend and supply management.

For spend under management, we’ll explore the true spirit of how this metric is used, what role technology plays and how to get a balanced scorecard for different segments of supply base management.

Making Sense of Supply Risk Management Solutions (Part 3) — A Look at 8 Supplier Management Providers

“Supplier management,” often called “supplier lifecycle management,” is an area that procurement practitioners struggle with because of its complexity (as is the intersecting area of supply risk management that we’re covering in this series). Supplier management generally breaks out into two main areas:

  • Extracting value from supplier relationships. This includes supplier performance management (SPM), supplier relationship management (SRM), and supplier quality management (SQM)
  • Protecting that value through supplier risk management (and ancillary supplier compliance management) that we’re drilling into in this series

Note that supplier information management (SIM) is also part of supplier management and manages the core information that supports risk and reward from above — and the information/intelligence requirements for supplier risk management are immense. For more on this definitional stuff that practitioners will find useful as well, see our PRO article here, and from a technology market/provider standpoint, we analyze these supplier management solutions in our SolutionMap vendor rankings and benchmark database.

Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO series gave an overview of supply risk management solution market, the issues for enterprise risk and the types of solution providers available. Part 2 began our look at nearly 50 providers in this space by comparing four vendors in a key area — supply chain risk management (SCRM).

In this Part 3 of the series, we’ll examine a group of the top-performing supplier management providers, including both “suite” vendors competing in the source-to-pay (S2P) market as well as best-of-breed specialists. Both have a key role to play in the broader supply risk management market. This Spend Matters PRO analysis provides insight into this group of vendors, which we describe as supplier risk management providers. It is the third-part of our series exploring the broader supply risk landscape (which goes beyond supplier risk).

This brief provides an overview of where and how providers like Allocation Network, APEX Analytix, Coupa, HICX, Ivalua, Jaggaer, Procurence and State of Flux “fit” alongside other types of vendors targeting supply risk management. It describes specific solution capabilities they offer and provides examples of common risk use cases.

This PRO analysis also includes a capabilities ratings matrix for supplier risk management of those eight providers, based on the latest SolutionMap dataset from 2020. The vendor ratings matrix compares 10 capabilities, including supply risk, enterprise risk, risk assessments, mitigation planning and regulatory compliance.

While these eight providers are not a substitute for supply chain risk management specialists such as Resilinc, riskmethods and Resilience360 (which we rated on 18 capabilities rather than 10), they provide deeper and essential functionality from a core supplier and entity-level management perspective.

Finally, we should note that while the top-performing providers mentioned above do not represent an exhaustive list of all supplier management providers with capability to support supplier risk management, it is a strong sample as a starting point for those exploring capabilities in this area. Each has something unique to offer — and opportunities to address.

Let’s dive in!

Making Sense of the Supply Risk Management Solution Landscape (Part 2) — Comparing 4 Supply Chain Risk Management Vendors

In Spend Matters’ previous installment of this PRO series, we highlighted the fact that just as there is not a single type of enterprise risk, there is not a single, defined market for procurement and supply chain risk solutions that address these risk elements. We segmented the supply risk market into eight areas that integrated upward into the enterprise risk management (ERM) and the governance, risk and compliance (GRC) space, while also drilling down into some key risk types, spend types, risk processes (e.g., monitoring vs. structural mitigation), and areas like fraud monitoring and contract risk management.

In the remainder of this series, we will explain these different segments and introduce nearly 50 (yes, fifty) providers that help solve various aspects of the supply risk problem. We’ll also offer some advice on how to mix and match these solution providers depending on your objectives and your constraints.

In Part 2, we start by diving right into what is arguably the most important sub-sector within this market — supply chain risk management.

This sector includes providers such as Resilinc, Resilience360 (a DHL spinoff) and riskmethods. Spend Matters PRO will publish individual vendor reviews of these three providers (as well as Prewave) later this summer. But for now, we offer quick introductions to these providers and a ratings matrix to show how they compare — and which of them offer differentiated capabilities.

The vendor ratings matrix compares 18 capabilities, like supply risk, enterprise risk, data sources, category modeling, and visualization. (PRO subscribers can click this post to see the detailed scoring.)