Retail. White Paper. Driving Strategic Sourcing Effectively with Supply Market Intelligence

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1 Retail White Paper Driving Strategic Sourcing Effectively with Supply Market Intelligence

2 About the Author Devaraj Chithur Devaraj is part of the Supply Chain group within Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and a business process services (BPS) solution architect in presales and solutions. Prior to this role, he was Director, Global Procurement and held leadership positions in delivery functions across global sourcing, procurement, and planning and across supply chain processes in various capacities for over twenty nine years. He holds an MBA, a master s in Biological Sciences, a diploma in Foreign Trade, and is a Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM). He has guided several Six Sigma projects and is a cited author in industry publications.

3 It is important for Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) and category managers to focus on developing a category strategy for optimized procurement results. Research that collates and analyzes data, and provides targeted reports can support this strategy formulation. One valuable area for such research is supply market intelligence (SMI). Supply market intelligence is key to strategic sourcing. Clear and actionable reporting of supply market analysis is essential for developing robust category strategies and achieving year on year savings on high value spend categories. To enable this, companies require a significant investment of resources with adequate domain expertise. With access to high quality supply market intelligence (SMI), organizations can overcome both the challenges of supply chain disruptions as well as achieving savings every year, with up-to-date supply market visibility. Organizations can partner with supply market intelligence service providers who offer IT tools to help gather SMI at an optimal cost. Market analysts can leverage technology and tools to enable organizations to gather market intelligence that can provide insights into core aspects of demand and supply trends, commodity pricing structures, global capacity, and government and regulatory changes that impact global sourcing. This understanding can help transform an organization s supply chain for improved business results.

4 Contents 1. Introduction 5 2. What is Supply Market Intelligence? 5 Role of SMI in category management 5 What are the sources of SMI? 6 When do companies need SMI? 7 3. Challenges in collecting Supply Market Intelligence 8 4. Partnering with SMI providers to meet the challenges 9 Sourcing supply market intelligence from providers 9 Critical levers for effective SMI Conclusion 11

5 1. Introduction Organizations are focusing on consolidating their vendor base while simultaneously negotiating cost reductions with suppliers. While companies are increasingly facing the challenge of supply disruptions, Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) and procurement specialists are expected to achieve savings year on year. Large organizations harmonize and consolidate procurement processes and technology across business units, and group companies to overcome these challenges and achieve savings from category sourcing projects. The information challenges faced by procurement specialists are enormous. Collection and analysis of superior market data is difficult and time consuming. As a result, there is a lack of market-linked, updated benchmarks on prices. Sourcing intelligence is typically people dependent, and therefore, organizations lack guidance on how and where to source categories. As organizations increasingly seek to build sourcing strategies that target cost savings and competitive advantage, they must overcome the major challenge of obtaining better quality data for supply market intelligence. 2. What is Supply Market Intelligence? Supply Market Intelligence (SMI) is the process of collecting and analyzing data on supplier markets for developing category strategies in the procurement function. The process involves gathering, recording, and analysis of data and information about various stakeholders in the value chain that includes customers, competitors, and the market at large. This helps organizations take better procurement decisions. Thus, supply market analysis acts as an integral part of any effective market intelligence program. Role of SMI in category management Effective category management elevates the procurement process from a tactical to a strategic level, where procurement is aligned with the goals of an organization. For successful category management, it is important for successful category management, it is important for businesses to understand the landscape of their supply markets by identifying potential suppliers and assessing potential risks to the market or category. With increasing globalization and emerging digital technologies, businesses are struggling to differentiate themselves. Companies are able to collect all forms of market data on their own and conduct preliminary analytics. However, despite significant investments in this area, they are unable to benefit from these efforts. Organizations need the capability to derive actionable intelligence from all this information. Supply market intelligence is a wellestablished approach to reduce supply risk and gain competitive market advantage. It begins with the collection and analysis of supply market data to make better business decisions. Market and Industry Analysis of each category and its raw materials Category Analysis including production process of downstream and upstream industries Price Analysis of each category and price projections across the value chain Figure 1 A typical supply market intelligence roadmap 5

6 What are the sources of SMI? Market intelligence is generally inherent in the knowledge acquired by experienced category managers and strategic procurement specialists. There is great value in sharing detailed knowledge of competitors, suppliers, customers, products, supply market situations, mergers, acquisitions, research and the like across an organization. SMI has to be mined from a number of sources such as: Experience of business unit leaders and category managers Consultants and research providers Industry associations Suppliers websites Trade journals and periodicals Company annual reports and 10-Ks Online literature A typical SMI report should include: Market share for leading suppliers, including historical shares Market forecasts (five-year and two-year projections) Regional and country level breakdowns Industry based rollups (vertical offering) Price trends and benchmarks Commodity cost driver analyses Quantitative financial analysis of prospective suppliers Qualitative analysis such as capacity utilization, economic impact, and impact of currency fluctuations A SWOT analysis based on internal and external risk factors 6

7 When do companies need SMI? Typically, category managers and procurement experts carry out supply market analysis for the purchase of goods and services that are of high value, are difficult to procure, have limited suppliers, or are critical for business continuity. A broad framework of supply market analysis in the form of a supply positioning model from an SMI perspective is depicted in Figure 2. High Supply Market Intelligence (SMI) Difficult to secure supply Low Spend Difficult to secure supply High Spend Easy to secure supply Low Spend Easy to secure supply High Spend Low Low Spend value of goods & services High Figure 2: Supply positioning model This analysis may not be necessary for low value goods and services or those that can be procured from many sources and are easy to secure. High quality SMI will have a significant impact with respect to purchase of goods and services when the spend value is high, and these products are difficult to purchase due to complex technology, or limited suppliers. There may also be goods and services which may not be of high spend value, but are critical to the ongoing business. Any supply disruptions could lead to production disruption, and hence, loss result in to the company. In both these situations, extensive supply market analysis is extremely important. Requests for SMI may occur in the following situations: During the annual budgeting process When category managers seek a new source for a specific category or are required to source a new product or service For internal business requirements that require analysis of spend data, production levels, customer spending trends, market pricing, and competitor actions To mitigate supplier financial risks and ensure continuity by assessing major suppliers, related risk information, and their specific risk monitoring assessments To mitigate the effects of price inflation and currency fluctuations 7

8 The procurement challenge: CPOs of large organizations face the challenge of ensuring cost savings year on year. This approach to strategic sourcing has a major limitation. In most companies, the sourcing process usually takes place in a vacuum, with no detailed supply market assessment. Hence, the most important sub process is generating Supply Market Intelligence. If this sub process is well executed, organizations can achieve sustainable cost savings every year. 3. Challenges in collecting Supply Market Intelligence CPOs, procurement specialists and category managers will agree that it is a challenge to collect high quality, valuable supply market information across a supply chain network, as it involves subscribing to costly industry journals or pushing category managers to spend huge amounts of time on gathering knowledge from a large number of sources. In short, it results in procurement personnel spending huge amounts of time on gathering knowledge. Today, large volumes of information are available online. But it is not easy to find valuable and relevant information for instance, competitor intelligence and cost trends for a particular category are difficult to acquire. SMI is a specialized task that needs in-depth an understanding of the internal procurement processes and requirements, cost modeling, cost analysis, the upstream and downstream supply chain in the industry, the nature of supply constraints, as well as the suppliers for each product or service. All this needs to be accompanied by secondary research that is both wide and deep. In addition to this, organizations need ongoing updates to their data and information to keep a finger on the pulse of supply markets. As with most specialized tasks it is either difficult or expensive to gather the information for this exercise. Typical approaches used by companies to obtain market knowledge either involve big investments in document management services, including subscriptions to expensive industry journals, or result in procurement personnel spending huge amounts of time on gathering the knowledge. It needs to be emphasized that it is not an easy task to keep track of information and derive pertinent intelligence for the business. The major challenges for organizations in this area are: Huge volumes of data are available for mining intelligence from various sources. Online literature is the largest source of information, but the authenticity and validity of all online sources cannot be guaranteed. Scraping online sources might raise IP issues in certain cases. While generic information may be acquired freely from the public domain, specific and validated information often requires a specialist intelligence provider, and such services may not be affordable for all companies. Professionals capable of carrying out the research and analysis necessary for SMI are not easy to train, hire or retain. 8

9 4. Partnering with SMI providers to meet the challenges In view of the above challenges, third party sourcing of supply market intelligence services is a viable option to reduce costs and increase effectiveness. Organizations can look at partnering with outsourcing companies to achieve scale, control costs, automate processes, and bring efficiencies to the supply market insights. Service providers can also be engaged, service providers can be engaged to perform a deep dive analysis of a targeted group of suppliers based on a geographic location or a country. Considering the amount of primary and secondary research data, as well as the analysis that goes into it, category managers may not be able to spare resources or may not find the expertise in-house to conduct such research. Given the importance of such an initiative and the need to manage it in a cost effective and efficient manner, organizations can engage with partners or service providers to support them. Market intelligence service providers have comprehensive knowledge of the different geographic markets in which they operate. They possess inherent knowledge due to their sustained market presence and monitoring, and their category market specialists bring in the requisite expertise. By supplementing ground intelligence with formal research, category experts proactively monitor markets, and look for cost drivers and demand variation indicators. They also study important changes such as new market entrants, emerging technologies, innovations, geopolitical risks, regulatory changes, as well as mergers and acquisition activity. Partnering with specialized service providers can provide the following benefits for organizations: Supplement internal bandwidth and capability of supply market knowledge Help with right-shoring of sourcing and procurement activities Deliver high impact knowledge processing at a competitive cost, and optimize the cost of collecting market data while maintaining its quality Leverage experience and expertise of service providers in multiple functional areas of SMI, like program management, process documentation, review, design and operating effectiveness Draw upon technology tools and techniques to achieve faster and better quality inputs, which enable development of more efficient categories Adopt global best practices to ensure quality and year on year savings Focus on sourcing decisions, rather than spending effort on collecting supply market data Sourcing supply market intelligence from providers While sourcing SMI from service providers, we recommend a phased approach: In the first phase, organizations can leverage their partnerships to gain better intelligence on high spend goods and services (both direct and indirect materials). This helps to evaluate potential and existing suppliers or to look at categories that are low value spends but are difficult to secure. In the second phase, appropriate technological tools can be deployed to persistently monitor global suppliers across multiple risk categories. 9

10 In the third phase, advanced activities such as performing searches on an existing or new strategic supplier or vendor can be taken up. This may involve searching across large volumes of data to get comprehensive and relevant market information. The data may include business information from both paid and unpaid sources. All of the above activities enable companies to forecast and manage supplier risks, reduce supply disruptions and ensure supply continuity, help in preventing possible lawsuits, and safeguard the company s reputation, besides achieving cost savings. Critcal levers for effective SMI An effective approach is to use selective market intelligence services that facilitate end-to-end procurement services. This results in standardization across several business units, reduced cost of operations, and increased savings on procurement of goods or services. A) Market intelligence: Service providers can work with internal stakeholders to identify the scope and business requirements of both direct and indirect categories. The internal buying pattern of the targeted categories and subcategories are analyzed and compared to industry and internal benchmarks. The strategic sourcing buyers and category managers have access to SMI, and actively monitor market trends across various categories by leveraging Category Intelligence (CI) tools. CI tools help firms centralize best practices and market intelligence pertaining to various categories in order to formulate category strategies. The tools use a repository of category and sourcing data. Application of such tools and techniques can help increase overall category management savings and improve productivity through fast, accurate research. An illustrative representation of such a tool s content and reports is shown in Figure 3. Content Category Market news, analysis & reports Validated & researched supplier list Commodity price indices Centralized Sourcing best practices RFX repository Reports TYPICAL COST BREAK DOWN Raw Material Price Trend Figure 3: Illustration of CI tools 10

11 Service providers typically offer a wide range of strategies and solutions that are highly adjusted to different types of categories, spend value, as well as regions. In addition to this, they can assist firms with decisions such as determining the type of sourcing event. Such an arrangement can bring improved visibility through reporting and predictable delivery through service level commitments on turnaround time and quality. As a result, businesses can ensure seamless alignment between strategy goals and execution. B) End-to-end sourcing and procurement services: A strong end-to-end, source-to-contract and procure-to-pay methodology includes supply market analysis, category strategy development, global sourcing, requisition management, RFX management, negotiations, contract and purchase order management, and supplier performance management. This end-to-end service should be supported by software applications that make the process flow seamless. Supply market analysis is a critical sub process, which drives high savings as well as operational procurement excellence. 5. Conclusion High quality supply market information can help procurement professionals closely monitor their key suppliers and utilize market intelligence to manage supply chain risks more effectively. It is essential for CPOs to gather insights into industries, sectors, market niches, clusters and suppliers. Knowing what suppliers, competitors and customers are expecting helps stakeholders devise appropriate strategies to achieve sustainable savings. The fastest and the most cost effective route to enable this is to partner with service providers who can provide supply market intelligence in an easily accessible manner using technology and tools along with customized reporting. Information is the best weapon a CPO can wield, and whether the target is quality assurance or cost saving, engaging specialized resources can procure the right information at the right time and the right cost. 11

12 About TCS BPS With over two decades of consulting and IT support experience with global retailers, TCS helps retailers improve business processes and cash flows to drive top and bottom line growth. Seven of the top 10 U.S. and six of the top 10 U.K. retailers partner with us on business transformation programs aimed at re-imagining and growing the business. Leading retailers leverage the TCS Point of Sale (POS) and mobile POS solutions as well as our merchandizing solution suite, OptumeraTM, that amalgamate our strong business acumen, domain knowledge, and technology competency. Our Innovation Labs harness technology trends such as digital technologies to incubate and develop innovative solutions for retailers. Backed by a strong asset base and an information hub that offers daily insights on the industry, retailers, and their competitors, we deliver industry relevant consulting, solutions, and IT services and support Contact For more information about TCS consulting services, contact Subscribe to TCS White Papers TCS.com RSS: Feedburner: About Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Tata Consultancy Services is an IT services, consulting and business solutions organization that delivers real results to global business, ensuring a level of certainty no other firm can match. TCS offers a consulting-led, integrated portfolio of IT and IT-enabled infrastructure, engineering and TM assurance services. This is delivered through its unique Global Network Delivery Model, recognized as the benchmark of excellence in software development. A part of the Tata Group, India s largest industrial conglomerate, TCS has a global footprint and is listed on the National Stock Exchange and Bombay Stock Exchange in India. For more information, visit us at IT Services Business Solutions Consulting All content / information present here is the exclusive property of Tata Consultancy Services Limited (TCS). The content / information contained here is correct at the time of publishing. No material from here may be copied, modified, reproduced, republished, uploaded, transmitted, posted or distributed in any form without prior written permission from TCS. Unauthorized use of the content / information appearing here may violate copyright, trademark and other applicable laws, and could result in criminal or civil penalties. Copyright 2014 Tata Consultancy Services Limited TCS Design Services I M I 05 I 14

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