The importance of data visibility: interview with Sam Clive, Head of Product Strategy and Solution Engineering at Rosslyn
If you want to change how you monitor supply chain performance, you need first to be able to see it.
For every organization, there’s a supply chain that is critical to the business’s success. To make your business more secure, it’s in your interest to monitor supply chain performance, and not just with an eye on a single area that might be underperforming, but on the whole of the supply in your chain. To get those insights, you need visibility, and to get that visibility you need data.
To give us some first-hand insight into these issues, we talked to Sam Clive, Head of Product Strategy and Solution Engineering at Rosslyn, long-standing spend and procurement analytics experts. Sam speaks daily with the key people on the front line about their projects, what they are trying to achieve in procurement and the problems and risks they are facing, which usually, in his experience, come down to lack of visibility.
Why are firms struggling with visibility right now?
“We work in a globalized world. Your supply chain is no longer the people around the corner, or businesses in your country — you're relying on businesses from across the world. So, when crises like the global pandemic happen, there's no two ways about it, you are going to be affected.”
What are the challenges you are hearing from your customers?
“Procurement teams tell us that they are leaned upon as a single source of truth, for data and information from across different business units. But they struggle to access that critical information in a consolidated way -- so visibility and accessibility are still the biggest challenges.”
Is that where technology comes in?
“One of our customers is in the passenger transportation industry. When Covid-19 struck, it could have devastated their business, but they wanted to ensure the SMEs they were working with were still going to be there after the pandemic. They adjusted payment terms to be as favorable as possible for SMEs and did the opposite with some of their biggest suppliers. Visibility enabled them to understand who might get into the most trouble, and who might be a candidate for offsetting the risk – and it worked.”
What kind of visibility does the CPO need right now?
“Procurement is becoming a melting pot of data and information coming from many sources, internal and external. It’s the CPO’s job to make sure it doesn't become overwhelming for the end users. That means giving them the right tools to make sense of it, so they can react quickly when they need to, like our transportation client. Data is here to stay, and we need better ways to utilize it.”
So, what consideration should the CPO be giving to technology?
“It must be easy to use. A lot of business software is cumbersome and frustrating. You want a platform that provides a view for all user types across the procurement team.”
… and what challenges can the CPO expect to encounter?
“One of the biggest challenges we come across is that businesses just don't know what's happening in other parts of the business or in other locations. Once you begin to bring all of that together you start to get the insights you need. Whether that’s into payment terms, on-time payments, low-value invoicing amounts, invoice rationalization to reduce the amount of invoices, how much of your spend is outside of contract or PO. All of these are opportunities you can use to really understand and improve your supply chain.
“It's a continuous problem, and it needs continuous innovation. For every half a dozen projects you work on this year, a new crisis or a new piece of regulation will mean you’ve got half a dozen more to work on next year. But having visibility through technology, created by industry experts, will make it much less of a challenge.”
This interview was originally published in Spend Matters.