Managing tail spend has been a major topic of discussion among sourcing professionals for at least the past two decades. In most companies, external spending has a Pareto-like distribution – the largest 20% of suppliers (by dollar volume) typically account for about 80% of the total external spend. Tail spend is generally defined as the 20% (or so) of the total external spend that is attributable to the smallest 80% of suppliers.
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“Tail spend” represents a significant cost for large enterprises. While comprising a relatively small portion of total cost, the drip-drop accumulation of spend by large numbers of small, non-strategic suppliers making ad hoc and one-time purchases adds up to represent a sizable sum. The issue is exacerbated by inefficient contract management, cumbersome payment processes and a lack of automation.