The BME Purchasing and Logistics Symposium in Berlin – the 49th of its kind – brought some critical issues to the fore. Most pertinently, as organisations continue to seek to develop processes to gain a better overview of their expenditure, the role of rigorous spend analytics becomes ever more important.
Having attended a number of such events over the years, it is refreshing that, rather than speculating as to what providers will be able to do when business leaders awake to the benefits of analytics, more recent events have been able to explore how we can now provide the best visibility of savings opportunities.
A common refrain heard in reference to indirect purchasing is, “we can’t manage what we can’t see”, and consequently the importance of spend transparency was a key takeaway from this year’s event. There was general agreement in the room, however, that while savings are good, competitive advantage is better, and therefore leveraging supply chain synergies and opportunities, such as through business partnering, is the engine to generate value and boost success.
As with all facets of life, organisation is closely related to success. Not only was this widely discussed with reference to spend analytics – whereby great emphasis was placed on category management – but it also acted as a prevalent theme surrounding wider purchasing. Confirming Tungsten’s long-held conviction, harmonisation of the procurement functions is instrumental in leveraging company growth and competitive advantage. This is particularly true with larger organisations that must develop global processes to gain a better overview of spend, with the backing of senior management but also by working with local teams on the ground.
Finally, the conference touched upon third-party compliance, and the importance of knowing your customer. For example, it was noted that if you allow criminals to trade on your network, you can be liable for the VAT due on their invoices. The importance of this therefore rules out ‘social network’ e-Invoicing and procurement. In conversations with Tungsten, delegates from DAX 30 companies mulling AP automation expressed scepticism towards the open network approach of some of our competitors, on security grounds.
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