A s more companies bring non-employee spend under management and realize the benefits of a vendor management solution in their home country, attention shifts to expanding the program and realizing those benefits throughout the global business.

I will be hosting a roundtable on this issue during IQNsiders, but I want to share some thoughts in advance of the event.

One question we hear constantly is, “Where do we begin?”

Often, the best first step is to identify what aspects of your domestic program are providing the biggest value, and then compile a list of questions to help identify stakeholders, supply-base, systems, and data. Are your main objectives controlling costs, implementing standardized business processes, tracking spend, or ensuring compliance? Setting global program objectives up front lets you focus attention on acquiring better planning information which translates to a smoother path to a successful global launch.

With global objectives in mind, you will want to answer a few other high-level questions to establish a good foundation for your global expansion:
– Do I know where my non-employee spend is located by region? How about by country?
– Are the services purchased locally, or are they contracted as off-shore?
– Are my global operations using a centralized set of corporate systems, or, am I using an amalgamation of local software to run my organization?
– Will I be bringing on new lines of business? If so, do I know which regions or countries operate under these lines of business?
– What is the regulatory environment and how can that impact my expansion?

Answering these questions creates a baseline of information used to determine level of difficulty, establish a methodology, and navigate complex local laws or customs as well as determining what, if any, business process modifications might be needed to effectively launch a global program.

For example, if my main program drivers are to establish a standardized business process for my contingent spend and ensure operational and financial compliance, I begin planning with a focus on these program objectives. Instead of simply asking, “Where is my global spend?” I ask, “Do I know my contingent spend by region? How about by country?” Knowing that 90% of my global spend is in Asia as opposed to Europe, changes my approach to planning. Similarly, having $2B of spend in Europe with 75% in the UK and 25% Poland will be addressed differently, than having 75% is Hungary and 25% in France. Additionally, rather than asking “How much contingent spend is in Europe?” I may ask, “What industries do I support via contingent spend in Europe?” If I know I have $250M in white collar administrative workers in France and $325M in manufacturing spend in Netherlands, I will be better prepared to identify stakeholders and business process modifications associated with those industries than if I began knowing only that Europe generates $575M in spend. These small examples illustrate how pre-planning with global program objectives in mind may greatly enhance a global expansion.

Although the sheer volume and complexity of questions may feel a little overwhelming, remember, you aren’t on this journey alone. IQNavigator has extensive experience launching our software globally (more than 40 countries and growing) and we are here to help. If you are interested in discussing best practices for launching programs globally, feel free to reach out to me at dkauffman@iqnavigator.com. Or, stop by and see me in Phoenix at IQNsiders.

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