Pushing the “easy button” on self-service sourcing – Q&A with Salesforce and Oracle’s former CPO

GregTennyson.jpgGreg Tennyson is the CPO of VSP Global, where he leads transformative change. He is the former VP and CPO (source-to-settle and expense-to-settle) at Salesforce and Oracle.

In part 3 of the conversation with ScoutRFP, Greg talks tech and “self-service sourcing” in the final segment on changing sourcing behaviours.

With the success of selling sourcing internally at VSP, what are your next two key initiatives?

GT: There are two in the pipeline that I’m personally excited about.

The first is in our direct-outreach campaigns to the supply base to bring greater value to the business, outside of savings. Our goal is to differentiate our strategic suppliers from transactional suppliers and then work with them to build a true partnership. Once you gain true investment from your key suppliers, then you can work together to drive innovation for the business.

One of the ways we plan to elevate our supplier relationships is by hosting a strategic supplier summit where senior leadership will collaborate on how to add value, while helping us continue to grow at the required pace. When sourcing develops an innovative process or technology with a supplier it’s really a win-win; it makes the supplier more desirable as a business partner and bolsters sourcing to a strategic position within the organisation.

Our second key initiative is about partnering to create self-service sourcing. How do we, as a sourcing team, teach the business to fish? Much like the focus in the past has been direct-to-pay and making the requisition process self-service, we want to extend that on to sourcing events.

We’re going to educate the line of business on VSP’s supplier contracts and how to push those supplier terms to a place where they are not just simply taking supplier paper and requesting sourcing to review it. It’s educating them on our tools and at the same time putting sourcing in more of a consultancy role as opposed to executing on tactical initiatives. This initiative is about collaboration, it’s about educating and empowering the line of business with the tools to create a self-service experience.

Where does technology fit in with the process?

GT: There are different philosophies around technology: having a fully integrated suite of products vs. point solutions. I’ve operated in both worlds.

At Oracle, everything was Oracle, wall-to-wall. And for good reason – selling Oracle means you have to be your own best reference, so it was natural. But that limits you in adopting best-of-breed solutions. And, of course, with best-of-breed, there will always be integration points or APIs (Application Protocol Interface) that you will need to figure out. So, each philosophy presents its own inherent challenge.

My current philosophy is best-of-breed and that includes cloud solutions that truly deliver on the value that they promise. We consider the sourcing tool that we use across the business as one of our best-of-breed solutions.

That being said, it is never just about technology; it has to be people, process, technology and the value the business is gaining. All four have to work hand in hand in order to have successful outcomes.

How do you leverage technology to drive value?

GT: It has to have an easy button. What I mean by that is it has to be simple. To drive adoption of not only technology, but also a new process or initiative, it has to be easy, right? You can’t over-bake it, people won’t accept change if it’s cumbersome.

So, part of the initiative is making sure you partner with the right technology suite in order to deliver simply. In doing so, you remove an obstacle to driving change and ultimately to value. Once you have an easy solution, the right people, with the right competency and the right process to support it will flow from there. So too will value.


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