Five Actions CPOs Should Take Now to Address an Economic Downturn

Panel of experts offers advice on taking control of spending and reducing costs in an uncertain economic environment


Burlington, MA — April 24, 2008 — A panel of financial and procurement experts that have worked and consulted with leading Fortune 1000 companies offered their advice to chief procurement officers on actions to take to weather, and even excel in, a potentially uncertain economic environment. The panel discussion was sponsored by Emptoris, a provider of enterprise supply and contract management software.

"Companies operate in an increasingly global and competitive market and are now faced with growing economic uncertainty," said Robert A. Rudzki, co-author of the book Straight to the Bottom Line and president of the management consultancy Greybeard Advisors LLC. "There are too many examples of companies that have tried the 'quick and dirty' approach to cost reduction, only to find that their wins were not sustainable over time. Top management needs to think strategically and work collectively to ensure meaningful, effective action."

Rudzki, an author of three leading business books and former chief procurement officer with several Fortune 500 companies, participated in a brainstorming session with leading financial, technology and procurement consultants to offer a list of immediate and intermediate steps that companies can take to gain greater control over spending and effectively reduce costs.

"In the last economic downturn in the early 2000s, many companies rushed to cut costs, but many of the cuts they made were not strategic and ended costing the company in the long run," said Donavon Favre, a professor supply chain strategies at North Carolina State University. "The decisions companies make today will impact how they are operating in a year or two years time, so the decisions need to be well thought out and with an eye toward the future. Those who get lean intelligently now will excel in the future."

Professor Favre is a contributing author to three supply management books and a world-renowned expert on sourcing. Favre previously founded and led the procurement outsourcing practice at Accenture, the global consulting firm, building the largest procurement outsourcing practice in the world.

"How can you control spending when you don't even know what you're spending? Most Fortune 1000 companies do not have a real-time view into their spending. The average CEO, CFO and CPO are typically looking at out-dated data. It's their dirty little secret," said Kirit Pandit, author of Spend Analysis: The Window into Strategic Sourcing, which has been described as "the definitive book on spend analysis." "Companies have long been shackled by the dispersed and disparate nature of their spend data. It's stuck in dozens of different systems and departments around the globe. However, today there are software tools and outsourced processes that can be used to give a current, consolidated view of spending, and it's really unacceptable in this environment not to be giving your company that view."

Emptoris has sponsored thought leadership events around the world over the past year, including a six country tour of Europe, sponsored in conjunction with Accenture, that have brought together senior executives at more than 200 leading companies to discuss best practices and current trends in supply and contract management. For its brainstorming panel on how to address the current economic uncertainty, Emptoris assembled six experts with backgrounds in finance, operations, procurement and technology and tasked them with developing five actions CPOs could take immediately to gain greater control over spending and cut costs without reducing operational effectiveness.

The group came up with the Five Actions CPOs Should Take Now to Prepare for an Economic Downturn.

The results were released by Avner Schneur, CEO of Emptoris, during a presentation at Emptoris Empower Europe, a supply management software user conference in Europe, and the culmination of a series of educational and thought leadership events held by Emptoris over the past year.

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