tail spend

SIG Speaks Weekly Briefing - December 9

Here's your weekly update on the latest thought leadership, networking events and training with SIG.

Here's your weekly update on the latest thought leadership, networking events and training with SIG. 

Spend Matters has released Q4 Services Procurement Vendor rankings

In 2.5 years since the first release, procurement professionals have referenced Spend Matters’ SolutionMap procurement technology benchmark rankings over 112,000 times, with the Accelerator toolkit gaining rapid traction to inform procurement technology selections:

“We didn’t have enough process and technology knowledge to identify our requirements for a P2P transformation. We wanted to include enough leading practice into our phase 1 assessment, recommendation and business case…You really helped us narrow the population.” — Senior Director, Supply Market Insight

Read all about the Q4 launch here or view the free procurement tech benchmark rankings here.

Stacy Mendoza, Digital Marketing Manager

Talking to Your Tail Spend – Chapter 4: Frameworks to Manage and Find Savings

Find savings and learn how to build a strategic sourcing framework to help you manage tail spend.

This is the final chapter in our tail spend series and we’ve covered some significant ground to understand what tail spend is, why it happens, and the potential issues with ignoring it or managing it in the wrong way. In this final chapter, we'll explore the ways you can find savings in your tail and how to build a strategic sourcing framework to help you manage it going forward.

To get up to speed, you can read the entire Talking to Your Tail Spend series on our blog:

Amy Fong, Principal - Procurement and Purchase to Pay Advisory, The Hackett Group

Talking to Your Tail Spend – Chapter 3: The Potential Risks Lurking in your Tail Spend

Unmanaged tail spend results in significant risks to organizations.

We’ve released a series of articles to answer your questions about tail spend. We started by defining tail spend, discussed how to better work with stakeholders to manage it, and now we’re diving into the potential risks lurking in your tail spend and the problem with taking a scorched Earth approach. To get up to speed, read our prologue, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 on what this tail spend series will help you accomplish.

What is the risk exposure in my tail spend?

Risk is an increasingly important consideration in procurement and we’re right to think about the impact of risk hidden in our unmanaged spend. The tricky thing about risk is that it can differ across companies, even within the same industry. Supplier financial risk is important to most, but what about brand risk, geopolitical risk in the supply chain, and the risk of payment fraud? Depending on the spend category, IP risk or labor practice risk may also be a consideration.

The starting point, once again, is the spend analysis, with the category manager charged with determining the highest risks for their category. If a category isn’t actively managed, it can be assigned to a risk team for a basic analysis. Given that the average company only actively monitors about a quarter of suppliers for risk, there’s a lot of unwatched suppliers even outside the long tail. Risk assessments are typically driven by supplier spend or a triggering high-risk factor.

Amy Fong, Principal - Procurement and Purchase to Pay Advisory, The Hackett Group

Talking to Your Tail Spend: Chapter 2 – 4 Tips to Work with Internal Stakeholders

Advice on how to work with internal stakeholders to manage tail spend

We’re releasing a series of articles to answer your questions about tail spend, starting with the basics so you understand what tail spend is and we’ll progress along the spectrum to help you manage it. To get up to speed, read our prologue and Chapter 1 on what this tail spend series will help you accomplish. In this chapter, we'll explore how to better communicate with stakeholders to get tail spend under control.


“Who purchased you and why?”

This is perhaps the most intriguing question and the right place to start when looking at tail spend. A spend analysis is often the first step in building a procurement capability, and if used on an ongoing basis, it can help to understand what spend consolidation efforts leave out. To accurately capture the full picture, analysis should pull in data from multiple sources, such as purchasing/payment systems, purchasing card data, travel and expense systems, and often multiple ERP systems, even petty cash if local branches still use it.  

Fortunately, there are many helpful tools on the market that range from free-for-use apps to complex software platforms enabled with artificial intelligence (AI). Nearly all of these will help with generating what we call a “spend cube,” which is an analysis, at the line-item level, of global spend. This can include:  

Amy Fong, Principal - Procurement and Purchase to Pay Advisory, The Hackett Group

Talking to Your Tail Spend: Chapter 1 – Why don't you call me by my real name?

In this blog post, tail spend is defined as unmanaged spend.

We’re releasing a series of articles to answer your questions about tail spend, starting with the basics to help you understand what tail spend is and progress along the spectrum to help you manage it. To get up to speed, read our prologue on what this tail spend series will help you accomplish


The term “tail spend” has become a common term in procurement-speak because in our minds we like to visualize all of our spend fitting on a nice curve with suppliers on the X-axis and spend per supplier on the Y-axis, something like in Figure 1 below. The suppliers with the lowest spend are plotted to the right and we think of that as the tail. A shorter tail implies we’ve done a better job of consolidating our spend among fewer suppliers. Since supplier consolidation with the goal of cost savings was the raison d’etre of early sourcing groups, the shape of this curve feels like an indicator of success.

Typical Spend Curve with a Long Tail

Amy Fong, Principal - Procurement and Purchase to Pay Advisory, The Hackett Group

Talking to Your Tail Spend: The Prologue

Talking to Your Tail Spend: The Prologue

During a panel I hosted at Coupa Inspire on the role of the CPOs as “spendsetters,” the conversation evolved, as they often do, to the topic of third-party risk management. We quickly got around to discussing “tail spend” and the amount of inherent risk in the tail since it is fairly typical to not have done any true sourcing of this spend. Even more concerning, we don’t know who our third or even fourth parties are with any degree of background, let alone the risk exposure. An audience member during the Q&A asked a great question: If you could ask your tail spend three questions, what would they be?

This struck me funny and felt like we were putting a human face on something that is typically so intangible and unknown, almost like being face-to-face with a distant relative who you always speak about in whispers (admit it, we all have one). This made me feel like it was time to get personal and ask all the things that I had thought and whispered about, but never had the guts to ask... and this was my chance.

When I asked my panelists to comment, they did not hesitate.

“Who are you?”

“Why do you even exist?”

“How can I make you go away?”

“How did you even come to be in the first place?”

“I don’t even know you!”

The entire audience became engaged in a lively conversation. I told the person who asked the question (and I hope to find this person one day and thank him, in case you know the man in the second row, with glasses I believe, stage left, please tell him to reach out to me), that this conversation was not over. There was so much left uncovered.

Dawn Tiura, President and CEO, SIG

This Month at SIG – August 2019

Multiple light bulbs on a blue background.

This month, SIG announces the finalists for the Future of Sourcing Awards, you’ve got one more shot to earn a sourcing, supply chain or risk management certification in 2019, and SIG CEO and President Dawn Tiura needs your help with a tail spend question.


Future of Sourcing Awards Finalists

The finalists for the second annual Future of Sourcing Awards were announced Thursday, August 1. To see who advanced as a finalist in eight team categories and two individual categories, check out Future of Sourcing on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, or visit the Future of Sourcing Awards website

Stacy Mendoza, Digital Marketing Manager

SIG Speaks to Debbie Manos-McHenry, Chief Sourcing Officer, Huntington National Bank

An image of gold stars on a grey surface.

When she’s not challenging the status quo and meeting her budget targets at the bank, Debbie helps to make her community a better place as the leader of the Huntington Women's Network Business Resource Group and as a volunteer with various Columbus charity organizations. A big believer in the power of personal connections, Debbie talks about her role at the bank, the importance of utilizing technology and her tips for building professional relationships that can pay off down the line. Debbie is well-known in the SIG community as a member of the SIG Thought Leadership Council, the SIG University Advisory Board and she leads the Steering Committee of the Risk Management Association’s Third Party Management Round Table.

Your keynote presentation at the Columbus CPO Meet and Eat was about tail spend management--why is this such a hot topic?

Huntington’s sourcing team, like many other companies, is lean. Identifying ways to direct low-dollar, high-transaction volume spend to a consistent, repeatable process through catalogs, spot-buys amongst preferred providers or non-catalog PO’s helps focus the team on more strategic projects while maintaining cost discipline in the tail.

Stacy Mendoza, Digital Marketing Specialist