SAS, Dun & Bradstreet help track spending

Aiming to help large enterprises track billions of dollars in annual spending on goods and services, data warehousing vendor SAS and business information compiler Dun & Bradstreet are teaming to offer analytical applications they claim can help users eliminate waste and leverage their buying power for better deals.

SAS and Dun & Bradstreet this week began shipping an integrated enterprise procurement package that can draw and analyse information from enterprise resource planning and e-commerce modules, then help companies track their expenditures by the type of product or the vendor, company officials said.

The new, still-unnamed procurement package doesn't actually make transactions, unlike pure online procurement applications, according to Larry Barth, vice president for supplier evaluation and management services at Dun & Bradstreet. But it can help answer questions such as whether the user has too many different vendors for an item, or whether all of its branch offices together buy enough PCs to qualify for a bulk discount, he said.

Users could save 5 percent to 10 percent of what they spend on goods and services, between negotiating better prices and cutting down on administrative overhead, Barth claimed.

The current trend of decentralising big enterprises and letting each site or division do its own purchasing puts them at the mercy of suppliers because they have no overall purchasing strategy, Barth said.

Some companies end up with literally hundreds of vendors for the same product, though they only need a few to ensure competitiveness and a steady supply, he added.

The SAS/Dun & Bradstreet procurement package works in three steps, according to Christine Kelly, global program manager for procurement at SAS.

First, SAS's data-transformation applications extract the relevant information about purchases and vendors from the user's existing financial, asset management, or e-commerce applications and warehouse it, Kelly said.

Next, the data is standardised and "cleansed" by matching it to Dun & Bradstreet's massive database of vendors and products (as listed in the United Nations Standard Products and Services Classification, which many corporate purchasing card providers use), Kelly said.

Then SAS analyses the data for useful patterns, using standard online analytical processing, she added.

Targets for the new venture are companies with more than $300 million per year in revenue that do a lot of purchasing at multiple sites, Kelly said.

While the most obvious use is for procuring non-production supplies such as pens or machine lube, it could also be used in supply-chain contexts to analyse the purchase of raw materials or merchandise, or even to track the use of temp workers and other services, she said.

Prices for the new procurement package vary according to the size and scope, but would probably start around $1 million, Kelly added.

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More about: Bradstreet, Dun & Bradstreet, SAS, United Nations
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