Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Help! My Bus With The Right People On It Is Sinking In The Blue Ocean

Sorry to mix business self-help metaphors but I cannot stand empty slogans and war cries! It is a real chafe.

For example, many companies now espouse a “spend management” platform. Like so many hackneyed terms in business, spend management is now overhyped by those companies that are trying to use it as a sword but their services prove to be a meat cleaver instead. Let’s be clear; spend management is more than just cost reduction. Spend management is a philosophy, a practice, a discipline, and ongoing best practices management. And CFOs beware; there is a lot of “sizzle” but no “steak” with many of these service providers and consultants that purport to adhere to spend management principles. Spend management should be the manner in which companies control and optimize the money they spend. So, while cost reduction is the immediate impact, spend management presumes an ongoing discipline and internal practices to control and optimize the spend environment.

Well then, Chris, how can I seek out true spend management companies you might ask? I am glad you asked. Characteristics to be mindful of when considering utilizing a vendor to provide spend management services include: proven data-driven results; the breadth of expertise within that spend area; the makeup of the project team to ensure they bring relevant acumen to the table that is of value to your company; technology solutions--technology solutions--technology solutions; a client list that speaks to your specific industry and spend criteria; white papers, and a consultative and partnering mentality that they bring to each and every project. Experience has shown that such characteristics would indicate that the vendor is capable of not only cost cutting but also implementing far-ranging spend management practices.

The number of indirect spend areas that are in the crosshairs of the vigilant CFO is growing (energy, waste management, logistics, telecom, office supply, accounts payable, printing, cost segregation, etc.), so would the real cream please rise to the top?!!

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