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Supply and Demand Chain Executive has selected Source One's recent engagement with a mid-sized Food & Beverage Manufacturer as one of 2018's 100 most notable supply chain projects.

Announced annually, the SDCE 100 honors successful and innovative initiatives across a range of industries and supply chain functions. Over the years, Source One's cost reduction team have become a fixture of this list. 2018 marks their 11th appearance.

The award-winning client engagement leveraged Source One's spend analysis as a service platform, SpendConsultant. Designed by Source One's Procurement consultants, the rapid, low-cost tool provided the foundation for a comprehensive cost reduction and process improvement initiative. In just a few weeks, it generated a detailed overview of the client's historical spend patterns and identified areas for significant cost savings across numerous categories.

Source One's spend analysis and opportunity assessment platform is the first tool of its kind. Designed by Procurement professionals, for Procurement professionals, it includes a spend classification taxonomy, features, and interface tailored to the function's particular needs.

"Possessing historical spend data is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to Strategic Sourcing and Category Management initiatives," writes Spend Analysis Lead, Brian Seipel. "On its own, data doesn't get Procurement much closer to realizing its cost reduction goals. With SpendConsultant, we aim to bridge that gap by supplementing the tool with our years of subject matter expertise. It not only drills into our clients' purchasing history, but also uses the data to  provide actionable savings roadmaps."

The successful engagement culminated with a knowledge transfer that will serve the client well into the future. Thanks to SpendConsultant, the organization has new insights into its contracting, supplier management, and risk mitigation practices that should provide for more strategic, informed initiatives.
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ICYMIM: June 25, 2018

Source One's series for keeping up with the most recent highlights in procurement, strategic sourcing, and supply chain news week-to-week.  Check in with us every Monday to stay up to date with the latest supply management news.


Assessing the True Cost of Tail Spend
Reggie Peterson, LinkedIn Pulse, 6/20/2018
Peterson discusses the problems that can arise when tail spend, occurring when an employee goes outside the procurement process to acquire needed items and services, doesn't receive the necessary attention and management. Indirect spend covers all goods and services deemed not necessary for the production of core products sold to final customers. Tail spend is a subset of this and includes lower-value and non-recurring purchases. In today's world, businesses are required to manage and account for every dollar spent, oftentimes this leaves tail spend mismanaged. This, in turn, leading to a variety of issues that can be quite costly. Peterson discusses the topic in greater detail throughout Corcentric's whitepaper: Defeating Dark Purchasing.

Sydney Lazarus, Spend Matters, 6/25/2018
Lazarus sits down with Davis-Sramek, an Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management, to discuss the recently-averted UPS strike. The interview - conducted before Thursday's negotiations took a work stoppage off the table - sees Davis-Sramerk express doubts. Presciently, she remarks, "I think something will be solved before the end of July." Though UPS and The Teamsters have avoided the country's largest strike in decades, Davis-Sramerk emphasizes the importance of developing effective contingency plans. While UPS is well prepared with plans on top of plans, she seems doubtful that other organizations are similarly secure. 

Using Data-driven Analytics to Improve Project Outcomes
Nikhil Daddikar, Technology Advice, 6/14/2018
Data management is vital in the optimization process in many categories of business, regardless of the field. Looking at projects specifically, uncertainties and risks on the project need monitoring and controlling, functions that analytical techniques to produce accurate estimates and forecasts. In today's world, technology is constantly evolving. Data analytics technology is no exception, and with its aid, the project management process, in any business field, can reach its full potential. Nikil Daddikar of Celoxis Technologies highlights various benefits that data analytics technology can bring to the table. 


Companies' supply chain strategies must change and evolve with the times, as competition, consumer expectations and available technological resources remain fluid. The challenge facing leaders today is that these shifts in the professional environment are occurring more quickly than ever before. Therefore, the imperative to keep up has never been a more demanding part of managers' responsibilities.

Another element of difficulty associated with supply chain adjustment comes from the need to correctly predict next moves. Organizations that launch new strategies prematurely or pursue trends that don't provide value could stumble relative to their competitors. Therefore, logistics leaders must strike a careful balance between making progress and accurately reading the future.
Tech progress is more incremental than market forces such as competition and demand, which are prone to fluctuate. By keeping the arc of their tech adoption on track, companies can prepare themselves to quickly pursue strategic adjustments.

Agility is key
Forbes Technology Council contributor John Clemons recently highlighted the importance of fast strategic pivots up and down the supply chain. Companies with manufacturing strategies that are highly digitized - and therefore transparent - are well positioned for success in this regard. Automation and connectivity combine to enable organizations to scale up and down intelligently, and sometimes make moves more quickly than highly manual businesses could manage.
Modern corporations such as Amazon have mastered this strategy thus far, using large amounts of data and interlocked global networks to deliver exactly the products and services needed to audiences anywhere in the world. Organizations with this kind of strong underlying architecture never get locked into long-term patterns because they are ready and able to pivot based on the latest waves of data.

Clemons added that organizations becoming increasingly sensitive to consumer needs will also become more sustainable. Pleasing shoppers involves more than putting products in front of them in record time. Audiences today want to know the businesses they deal with are operating in a responsible way compatible with social good. Luckily for harried logistics managers, one of the keys to making supply chains more sustainable is ensuring strong visibility at all levels. In the process of becoming more digital and agile, they're likely gaining this much-needed transparency.


A team of businesspeople discusses strategy around a table.Gradual tech upgrades could enable more frequent supply and demand pivots.
Legacy systems cause resistance
The benefits of more transparent and automated supply chains are so clear that some industry insiders are likely asking why more companies haven't made a commitment to more digitization. The problems that can hold businesses back vary. Accenture's recent survey explained legacy systems can prove problematic. When data is trapped in existing structures, it can be hard for teams to access the content quickly and flexibly. This is where solutions such as cloud computing show their logistics worth.

Leadership schisms may also be limiting organizations' efforts. When overall corporate decision-makers fail to see the worth in a new supply chain tech upgrade, there may be trouble getting the advanced system approved and implemented. Improved communication could represent the turning point at which a company finally embraces the latest logistics technology. That IT upgrade could then lead to more strategic shifts to stay relevant amid shifting norms.


The use of blockchain ledgers in supply chains around the world has become a hotly debated topic. Not only are experts divided on the best ways to use these solutions, agreement is hard to come by regarding when the technology will make its impact. At this early stage, it is even possible that the hype will amount to nothing, with a different type of data-transfer infrastructure rising up to take blockchain's place.

Watching each stage of development and potential use case is a prudent strategy today. Organizations should be ready to invest in new technology once they see a path to value, but not before then. Therefore, maintaining a wait-and-see attitude toward blockchain systems is reasonable as developers posit new and practical ways to harness the distributed ledgers.

Building blocks to progress
As Information Age recently explained, it's important for supply chain executives to remember they won't change their industry with blockchain ledgers alone. Companies will need fully developed networks of information storage solutions to ensure communications involve a comprehensive picture of operations. Enterprise resource planning may be the key building block in such a system. Rather than becoming a one-stop data keeping tool, a blockchain implementation will instead serve as a next-generation visibility enabler.

Information Age pointed to a recent experiment with blockchain integration as an example of the importance of ERP connectivity. Walmart created a proof-of-concept operation that would follow a mango from farming to warehousing. The main data source for the experiment was the ERP solution, with blockchain systems providing updates on the mango as it moved. This limited deployment demonstrated the power of the blockchain while also showing that it plays a complimentary rather than central role.

While the use of blockchain ledgers in the supply chain may still be at single-mango levels of experimentation, the demand for the solutions to be a success is palpable. Information Age added that pressure on companies to be forthcoming and accountable is a major factor in the push toward new technology. Consumers demand visibility about where goods have come from, every step of the way. The blockchain's comprehensive and theoretically tamper-proof records provide that insight.

Information flows between points in a network.New ways to track data are worth investigating.
All-digital supply chains coming on board
While tracking physical goods via blockchain ledgers remains a few technological leaps away, all-digital industries' supply chains could prove to be excellent testing grounds for the technology's potential. According to Supply Chain Digital, a recent deal between IBM and Mediaocean has created a blockchain-tracked supply chain for advertising publishing. The goods and services being exchanged in this model are online display ads, and the ledger can follow spending, even when intermediary organizations are involved.

The motivation for clarifying this digital chain is similar to the forces driving blockchain in physical goods manufacturing, storage and transportation. Following spending back to its source, using clear and tamper-proof records, boosts accountability. People will theoretically learn who is serving them messages. In an era of complex and sometimes deceptive advertising practices, breakthroughs in transparency are a priority for organizations. If blockchain systems prove up to the task of illuminating all-digital supply chains, their entry into physical shipments could be relatively swift.

When clients approach Source One for cost reduction support, they're provided access to an arsenal of Procurement resources. Our collective decades of sourcing experience, library of proven cost reduction best practices, and proprietary technologies all enable clients to drive their Procurement function forward and make more informed business decisions.

Clients are often so impressed with our efforts to evolve their Procurement operations that our engagement evolves as well. Just recently, a leading North American Food Distribution Services Company sought our assistance. The organization had recently expanded as a result of numerous mergers and acquisitions. They approached Source One for support in managing over $300M in indirect spend. 

To kickoff the engagement, Source One conducted a thorough spend analysis with our opportunity assessment platform, SpendConsultant. After identifying significant cost savings opportunities, Source One supported the client as they realized savings in categories including MRO, HR, and Marketing.

What began as an individual cost reduction engagement soon matured to include over 60 individual sourcing projects. Check out the infographic below to learn more about this sourcing project evolved into a multi-faceted Procurement Transformation



As someone wise once said, success is like a cake – while the end result is sweet and rewarding, the process takes patience, precision, and hard work. In the context of strategic sourcing and cost reduction initiatives, the secret recipe to sweet success requires involves an important component: scorecarding.

But exactly what is scorecarding? Essentially, it’s a fancy word for bid evaluation – an organization assigns a “score” to a potential supplier’s proposal as a means to evaluate RFx responses. Furthermore, scores are not subjective – they are composed of qualitative and quantitative ingredients.

On the qualitative side, the ingredient list typically includes:

  • Supplier Account Management 
  • Supplier Quality of Service 
  • Supplier Value-added items

On the quantitative side, the ingredient list usually includes:

  • Baseline price
  • Supplier price
  • Supplier calculated savings

Some typical trusted tools used to measure these ingredients include a scoring matrix helping define an organization’s needs, a scale used to weigh and assign a score to said needs, and a spreadsheet service such as Excel for comparing scores and examining supplier competitiveness. Although some organizations may more heavily weigh quantitative to qualitative aspects in assigning RFx scores, both are equally pivotal in the scorecarding process and will play a role in helping an organization determine the supplier most compatible with their needs and ensuring their success.

Furthermore, just as teamwork can strengthen the process of baking a cake, so can teamwork strengthen the process of scorecarding. By listening to various opinions while scorecarding, this ensures a variety of viewpoints are considered and helps an organization make the best informed decision possible for everyone. Ultimately, scorecarding is an adaptable term with different approaches - but if important criterion are selected for qualitative analysis, pricing and service levels are weighed accordingly, and the recipe to scorecarding is followed carefully, this will easily lay the foundation for sweet strategic sourcing success.





June 22, 2018

Here's a look at where Source One's cost reduction experts have been featured this week!

New Whitepaper Series:
Source One's new five-piece whitepaper series collects insights and ideas from Supply Management's most celebrated thought leaders. These experts use their collective decades of experience to discuss the ever-popular topic of Procurement Transformation and and provide their advice. Avoiding empty buzzwords and moving the conversation forward, they offer highly valuable observations, suggestions, and actionable best practices for organizations at any maturity level.
Sourcing Strategies Group's Jim Baehr discusses the continuing strategic evolution of Supply Management. He suggests that. over the last few decades, the definition of Procurement Transformation has matured alongside the function itself. Baehr charts these changes, reflects on the department's current state, and predicts what Supply Management's next era might bring. 
Shortcomings in pursuit of a Procurement Transformations are, unfortunately, common within many organizations.  According to Joe Payne and Phil Ideson, issues with the department's mission, motivations, and mindset might be the culprit. Procurement needs to reflect and adjust the way it views itself and its role before it can truly transform its operations.
Some aspects of Procurement's operations may seem to require priority over others. When pursuing a Transformation, organizations tend to target areas that need the most improvement. Presumptuously, focusing on these areas will produce greater strategic value moving forward and effectively change the department. However, even the most incremental initiative cannot succeed without taking the department's various components- most notably, its people, processes, and technologies, into account. While one aspect will usually become a priority, each must be aligned in order to ensure lasting results. 
Developing an optimal Procurement function requires consistent effort. Conducting a successful Procurement Transformation is just the first step toward reaching Procurement's full potential. The complete process requires unceasing momentum, constant attention, and an innovative spirit. Tom Rogers (Vendor Centric), Michael Lamoureux (Sourcing Innovation), and Diego De la Garza (Source One) talk about what comes next for the ‘transformed’ Procurement team.



Recent Podcasts:
Recruiting and Retaining Millennials in Procurement
Andrew Jones discusses a frequent topic in today's professional sphere - millennial talent. Jones notes that the stereotypes surrounding this generation are both cliched and demonstrably untrue. Though they're often depicted as lazy, entitled, and disloyal, notes that many young professional disprove these notions each day. Jones calls for a cross-generational knowledge transfer to ensure both Procurement veterans and new hires can evolve professionally. Listen to the conversation today. 

Naseem Malik of MRA Global Sourcing talks about his recent contribution to Procurement Transformations: Industry Perspectives. Labeling talent as Procurement's most valuable resource, he notes that holding the proper group of procurement professionals enables company-wide evolution and improves brand strength. He urges organizations to rethink their approach to both attracting and retaining new hires. Interested in reading more? Check out Part 3 of Procurement Transformation: Industry Perspectives. 



The medical device supply chain requires careful oversight and management. If implantable devices are not transported in a secure and timely manner, patients could end up suffering. Some of the same methods being considered for other kinds of logistics could make an impact in the health care field. From the internet of things to blockchain systems and beyond, the technologies in development today may literally save lives as they ensure medical devices reach their final destinations safely.

Considering the high stakes, it's unsurprising that some companies have taken it upon themselves to disrupt the medical device manufacturing and shipment sector. Whether these attempts succeed or fail, they are worth watching. Each potential development brings the industry a little closer to its inevitable future.

UPS debuts attempt at disruption
Healthcare Dive recently profiled UPS's new tool set specifically aimed at implantable medical device users and related companies. The parcel shipment company is interested in getting more deeply involved in health care, in general, and has been working on a network of stocking centers since 2015 which will comply with relevant regulations and help hospitals restock their implantable device reserves quickly and effectively.

The idea is that the 36 stock locations will be close enough for hospitals to rush-order the implants they need for surgeries within four hours. Whether enabling regular operations to go ahead smoothly or empowering doctors to get emergency procedures done quickly and efficiently, these warehousing solutions may change the way hospitals operate.

Of course, for the new logistics network to transform the way medical devices are used, hospitals will have to sign on to use it. According to Healthcare Dive, this has been the sticking point so far. UPS' David O'Leary noted the adoption rate for the project is not yet high enough to declare it a success. He believes the potential advantages will bring hospitals and manufacturers around to using the new system.

With inventory being stored at intermediary locations and ready for deployment in four hours, hospital inventory requirements could fall, as could the amount of emergency orders manufacturers have to fulfill themselves. UPS believes these potential advantages will win companies over and convince them to embrace the new system.


A team of doctors perfoms an operation.Getting medical devices in a timely manner is a process that could be disrupted.
Where does technology fit in?
Considering the high profile of the medical supply chain, it's natural to look for use cases where the most hyped tech tools could make an impact. Today, that means blockchain ledgers. These distributed data tracking systems have become an inevitable point of discussion when looking into potential future deployments. Their touted benefits - tamper-proof and widely visible records - are potentially appealing for health device makers and users.

Frost & Sullivan researchers told Healthcare Informatics the future could bring a connection between blockchain tracking and the unique identification numbers given to medical devices. The fact that recent years have required manufacturers to include identifiers on their products for easy tracking shows the potential to employ blockchain ledgers. In cases such as emergency recalls, having a clear record of transactions and movements may prove life-saving.

Between new logistics options and potential tracking transformations, the next few years could bring major change to medical device management.



The conversation surrounding Artificial Intelligence and its potential applications is among the most intense within today's organizations. At once fearful and hopeful, it's a conversation that's ignited passionate debate for over half a century. Even after all that time, it seems we've still got more questions than answers, more speculation than certainty.

For Procurement professionals, the landscape of artificially intelligent technologies can look particularly overwhelming. While it's clear these technologies can provide for more efficient operations throughout the sourcing process, maturity levels vary wildly. Procurement can already count on mature text analytics tool study contracts and other relevant documents. More robust decision management tools have even facilitated more strategic sourcing and contracting decisions. The truly remarkable, sought-after technologies, however, are still in their infancy. Expect some years to pass before Procurement can truly take advantage of robotic process automation of deep learning platforms.

Years of development means even more years of sweating and speculating. Count on many of these discussions to land on one question in particular: Will I be replaced?

It's a natural concern. Generations worth of science fiction tales have conditioned us to run in fear from robotic encroachment. While certain tactical processes are easily automated, truly strategic Procurement pros have little to fear. Experts predict emerging tools will enhance human capital rather than supplanting it. We can already see this happening in the spend analysis, sourcing, and contracting processes.

Let's take a closer look at how AI is empowering Procurement and where it might go from here.

Spend Analysis
At even its most basic, AI makes it faster, easier, and more efficient to cleanse, normalize, and classify historical spend data. Taking these time-consuming, tactical processes off Procurement's plate frees up time for the department to carry out more value-adding functions. Procurement should take care, however, not to forgo these processes altogether. While more advanced solutions might soon recognize spelling errors, duplicates, and other tell-tale signs of dirty data, most existing tools will ultimately exacerbate an inefficient department's troubles.

AI's true capacity to evolve the spend analysis process lies in opportunity and compliance analysis. After all, heaps of spend data alone won't do Procurement much good - even if it is well organized. Opportunity assessment tools can dig into spend data, assess the market, and ultimately help dictate sourcing strategy. Highlighting opportunities for cost reduction, they make it simple for Procurement to draw actionable conclusions from their historical spend. Compliance assessments, too, will turn data's raw information into valuable insight. Pointing out off contract spend and other inefficiencies, they'll enable Procurement to improve vendor performance and better manage its purchases.

Sourcing
As AI continues to evolve and power eSourcing platforms, it'll take a more active role in developing sourcing documents, conducting sourcing events, and analyzing responses. Again, this will mean fewer tactical tasks for living Procurement professionals and more opportunity to drive company strategy and enhance the business.

Machine learning and natural language processing are already mature enough that AI can assembles RFx documents based on specific requirements and even respond to queries from suppliers. Once a sourcing event is underway, Procurement can trust their solution to rate and rank responses based on the criteria they've presented. Though a hands-off approach to these processes is not recommended, it's clear that Procurement can trust quite a bit to its machines. For the foreseeable future, AI in the sourcing process will perform best in combination with the human element. By pairing their soft skills with AI's speed and efficiency, Procurement professionals can consistently carry out effective events and build long-term strategic partnerships.

Contracting and Contract Management
Here's another area where even the simplest tools can make a huge difference for Procurement. Pointing out upcoming deadlines or renewal dates might sound like a simple function. These alerts, however, can easily stop Procurement from paying for services it doesn't need, getting saddled with a late fee, or locking itself into a relationship that's no longer valuable. Procurement might have spotted these deadlines on their own, but that would've entailed manually pouring over documents. With its head out of the filing cabinet, Procurement can focus on directly engaging with the supply base  and developing competitive advantages.

AI can also analyze Procurement's contracts against actual supplier performance. Identifying concerns before they lead to lost savings can help Procurement retain the upper-hand in negotiations and ultimately insist on better compliance moving forward. AI's assessments can also unveil hidden risk factors in existing contracts. Armed with this knowledge, Procurement will confidently refine its contracting processes and make more strategic, informed decisions throughout the sourcing process.

Source One's Procurement Technology advisers know that navigating the market for new solutions is a challenge for even the savviest professionals. Add implementation and everything that entails, and things can really get out of hand. That's why we offer our end-to-end advisory services. We'll help your organization select and implement the tools that'll best serve your organization's unique needs and business objectives. Reach out today.




Andrew Jones opens this week's episode of the Source One Podcast with a Washington Post headline that ought to sound familiar. "Grow Up Crybabies," it reads, "You're America's Luckiest Generation." Surprisingly, the screed wasn't published last week, last month, or even last decade. The article is 25 years old.

Jones' point is clear. The criticism faced by millennial professionals is nothing new. For at least these last two and a half decades, young Americans have faced censure for their perceived laziness, entitlement, and lack of loyalty. These stereotypes, Jones suggests, aren't just tired. They're disproved by young supply chain professionals every day. What's more, many of these so called negative qualities don't seem so bad at all.

"What's wrong," Jones asks, "with an employee insisting on consistent feedback or otherwise challenging the status quo?" Jones considers it imperative for companies to look inward before casting judgement on their young recruits and hires. "If desire for feedback looks like entitlement, what does it say about you and your organization?

As a Procurement recruiter, Jones has observed the generational divide from the both the employer and employee's perspectives. While he acknowledges that emerging professionals have a lot to learn, he insists that the learning process should be mutual.

Listen to the full conversation today. Don't forget to subscribe to the Source One Podcast for more supply chain insights every week.
Sensitive supply chains embrace better sensors

Perishable goods, items that are prone to counterfeiting, valuable commodities, items historically linked to human rights violations - all of these are great potential use cases for improved tracking and visibility technologies. Real-time information on goods in transit has been one of the transformational additions to the supply chain in recent years. Organizations of all kinds are making effective use of rich new flows of information, and high-priority sectors are gaining particular value from rich data.

The introduction of new sensors, database technologies, analytics algorithms and other tech tools has led to changing priorities. Today's supply chain leaders are dealing with more input and faster intelligence updates than they've ever had access to before. What they do with this content may separate difference-making logistics departments from those that are merely getting by.

Pharmaceuticals, other complex products more visible than ever
Material handling & Logistics contributor Dagny Dukach recently pointed to ways in which advanced sensors can make a difference in risk management and planning within the supply chain. A pharmaceutical company that manufactures temperature-sensitive products was recently able to monitor how warm the items were becoming, even during transit from manufacturing facilities in Europe to distributors in North America. The sensors reported a container's temperature controls were set incorrectly, and employees managed to fix the error before the goods spoiled, preserving the shipment.

Dukach noted the pharma industry is among the sectors with the most complicated supply chains. Electronic products also take a long time to get to market, with many potential stops on the way from raw materials to the final consumers. These long supply chains demand high levels of visibility but are the hardest to gain insight into. Issues moving goods from one country to another may lead to serious delays, and the longer a shipment disappears from executives' view, the less certain corporate projections become.

The use of internet of things devices, which intelligently relay data back to their users, can transform operations in these opaque industries. Dukach called for these automatic transmitters to replace manual scanning wherever possible. As goods move between different partners, cross borders and travel for months on end, simple scanning will likely fail to create an adequate portrait of an item's progress.

Data flows in from locations around a city.The IoT is a supply chain leader's latest tool.
Secondary improvements enabled by IoT
EBN contributor Rob Stevens took a deeper dive into the ways the electronics supply chain can better itself through an infusion of data from automatic sensors. When tracking information is available quickly, companies can respond in the case of mishaps. The removal of uncertainty from logistics is a major benefit, lessening worker downtime and enabling problem correction as soon as issues are detected.

Better data visibility can even improve the way partner organizations relate to one another. When businesses reduce ambiguity about shipment speed, condition and location, there are fewer arguments or recriminations between companies. The cause and effects of delays and other issues are clearer and all parties can move forward more quickly. Organizations can also use visibility information to respond preemptively to supply shortages or demand spikes. Proactive action by the supply chain can remove the need for consumer complains and lessen dissatisfaction.

Mergers and acquisitions are increasingly becoming part of  many organizations’ corporate strategies   I found myself considering the motivating business reasons for an acquisition due to the recent acquisition of my company, Source One Management Services—a leading Procurement Services provider, by Corcentric—a top provider of automation solutions for Procurement and Finance.  Although between 70%-90% of acquisitions fail, according to Harvard Business Review, many companies take the risk for the almost immediate access to so many important business elements: new markets, proprietary technology, grade-A talent, superior products, enhanced brand value, etc. Many acquisitions that start out with great intentions fail to become the powerhouse success story they envisioned, often due to missteps and a failure to plan. However, looking for the best opportunity for both parties to succeed and grow together is more successful than when one party focuses on the “what’s in it for me” mentality. In my opinion, acquisitions should be about mutual maximization NOT singular exploitation.

In order to learn more about what the acquisition could mean for both Source One and Corcentric, I sat down with our President and Chief Operating Officer, Matt Clark, to get his take on acquisitions.

Kaitlyn Krigbaum: Matt – you’ve been through an acquisition before, and I’m sure you have some notable key takeaways or lessons learned from previous integration processes that you’ve applied to this current acquisition. From your perspective, what is the most important consideration when approaching an acquisition; cultural alignment, operational alignment, strategic alignment, etc.?

Matt Clark: The number one lesson learned is that cultural alignment is THE success factor in a merger or acquisition; it’s the reason acquisitions succeed or fail. Too often, companies scout the profile of the company they’re looking to acquire, and say ‘this is what I need’, but pay no attention to where cultural alignment does or does not exist, either at the top-level or elsewhere in the organization.

Another element that drives success, or the lack thereof, is the motivation to acquire. Is the main driver financial or strategic? In my career with Corcentric, every acquisition has been a strategic choice with a bi-directional benefit for both companies. Typically, there’s some semblance of scale, but one company or the other is lacking in resources, or the technology, or both, and our goal in acquiring the organization in consideration is to strengthen both. I like to look at it as an equation where 1+1=3; we are stronger together than alone. In this instance, our decision to acquire Source One Management Services was to take a company that has done great things and give it scalability and a platform.

Kaitlyn Krigbaum: Achieving harmony and realizing synergies between two organizations isn’t always an easy task. Is it difficult to blend two organizations together, considering the potential unique cultural nuances? 

Matt Clark: Acquisitions are a little like an arranged marriage; some end up being very happy together, some don’t quite work out, and some take a lot of work, but end up happier in the end. There’s a dating process in interviewing and onboarding candidates, and even then it’s sometimes not the right fit. In an acquisition, you skip that whole process altogether, so you’re likely to have fallout; it’s just something to prepare for. Ultimately though, it’s getting people to talk and to continue building a stronger culture, together.

Kaitlyn Krigbaum: In many instances, an acquisition causes this intense period of uncertainty and “corporate xenophobia”, if you will, in accepting new people and processes that seem foreign or outside of one’s comfort zone. This leads to a two-part question:
  1. Why do you think some people are so afraid or resistant to change in some instances, and:
  2. How have you addressed this to get people excited and on-board with the acquisition fairly quickly?

Matt Clark: Part of it is anticipating the response on both sides of the equation – existing people have concerns thinking perhaps they have become obsolete, or that the acquisition will result in significant shifting in their role. The people employed within the acquired company often fear the immediacy and unpredictability of the change, and quite frankly, a lot of people they may know have had scars from acquisitions. Some acquisitions come with immediate layoffs or changes in culture, and the response is often ‘this isn’t what I signed up for’. Ultimately, people’s first reaction is unavoidable, but it can be anticipated.

The solution, or way to address the resistance, is to be transparent; communicate as much as possible and as clearly as you can. Due to confidentiality reasons, the acquisition can’t always be disclosed right away. There’s a sort of necessary secrecy early on, but then as soon as it’s official, there needs to be immediate transparency. In the instance where we can’t retain 100% of the employees, it’s critical to acknowledge the hurt and the hard truths to move forward together, letting the intentions be known early on. Open lines of communication are critical so people can prepare.

Oftentimes, the reflex reaction is the acquisition company thinks they’ll be the ones to be cut. When making an acquisition, talk to people and understand their skillsets. Be genuine─good, bad, or indifferent. Not everyone will stay, and that’s OK.

Kaitlyn Krigbaum: How do you determine if someone is still a good fit or not?  

Matt Clark: I stand by the notion that the culture of any organization is defined by the worst behavior leadership allows to take place. Give me somebody that’s culturally aligned with a baseline skillset and I’ll figure out how to make that person successful.

This acquisition has elevated both Corcentric and Source One to offer an end-to-end, full suite of solutions to enable customers to transform how they purchase, pay, and get paid. The most exciting element is that we can now do so as part of a larger, even stronger team.