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The Truth About Auto-Mapping

Spend analysis vendors don't want to talk about it, but automatic mapping always requires manual corrections and enhancements. There are lots of reasons why, but the simplest reason is that the way you use a vendor is not necessarily the way that another company uses them. For example:

Should CDW be mapped to:
  • IT Hardware,
  • IT Software, or
  • IT Services?
Should Shell Oil be mapped to:
  • Direct/Raw Materials,
  • Logistics/Fuel, or
  • T&E/gasoline?

Another reason is that automatic mapping makes lots of mistakes. "95% accurate" sounds terrific until you realize that it means 1 in 20 mappings are wrong.

That's why you'll find full-service spend analysis vendors always quoting the same "4 to 6 weeks" to produce a spend cube. If automatic mapping were the panacea some try to pretend it is, then they'd be able to produce your cube in minutes, and your cost should be minimal. Neither is the case. They have to roll up their sleeves and fix all the errors, and then map all the items that the automaton didn't. Ironically, most of the advantage that the automation creates accrues to the vendor, since it reduces the effort required to build a cube and therefore inflates margins.

Spendata gives you full access to both our automated tools and our manual mapping tools. Both are easy to use. After automation is finished, you have many options, including refining the mapping yourself, or contracting with Spendata Services or a third party to do so. Or, you can map just those portions of the cube that appear to offer sourcing opportunities, and skip the rest. What is the point, after all, of mapping vendors with tiny spend that you don't intend to source?

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