Skip to content
Spot Quotes in SAP
6 min read

A Comprehensive Guide to Spend Cubes

As procurement professionals, your next question always comes down to gaining deeper insights into your company's spending, to make better decisions, manage maverick spend and ultimately achieve greater cost savings. For this reason, tools like the spend cube are crucial to gaining that competitive edge. With a spend cube guide, teams can cut their data into three dimensions, the suppliers that you buy from, the business units in your company and the product's categories to give you a better perspective of your company's budget.

In this article, we'll explore the intricacies of spend cubes, drawing insights from an enlightening interview with Susan Long, an esteemed figure in the realm of data mastery and classification.

Understanding the Spend Cube

A spend cube serves as a dynamic platform, allowing organizations to analyze spending patterns across various dimensions such as suppliers, categories, time periods, and locations. The cube structure facilitates a comprehensive view of procurement data, empowering professionals to make informed decisions and optimize strategic planning.

ConvergentIS Spend Cubes

The multidimensional spend cube is designed to address three fundamental inquiries:

  • The "Who?" - answering questions such as the business unit, plant, function, project requestor or the cost centre analysis which specifies the demand source from your organization
  • The "What?" - what is the unit of measure or the category analysis 
  • The "Where?".- The parent supplier, supplier or subsidiary

The utilization of a spend cube proves to be an indispensable asset for procurement teams aiming to scrutinize and dissect historical spending data. This tool, showcasing data in a multidimensional cube, empowers stakeholders or departments to delve into subcategories of purchases, conduct comparisons across diverse suppliers, and glean insights into organizational trends. The visual manifestation of this three-dimensional cube not only facilitates a clearer understanding but also streamlines the identification of patterns and anomalies that might be challenging to discern through alternative methods. In essence, the application of spend cubes emerges as a formidable resource for any business aspiring to enhance its cost management processes, concurrently acquiring valuable insights into its spending patterns.

Dimensions of a Spend Cube

As expert Susan Long emphasizes in an interview on the Never-Ending Climb podcast, spend cubes incorporate crucial dimensions that categorize and organize spending data:

1. Supplier Dimension

  • Categorizes spending based on different suppliers or vendors.

  • Enables assessment of supplier performance, negotiation of better deals, and fostering stronger partnerships.

2. Category Dimension

  • Organizes spending into various product or service categories.

  • Identifies areas for consolidation, cost reduction, and innovation within specific segments.

3. Time Dimension

  • Allows analysis of spending over different time periods (monthly, quarterly, annually).

  • Facilitates identification of seasonal trends, demand fluctuations, and opportunities for strategic sourcing.

4. Geographical Dimension

  • Provides insights into spending across different locations or regions.
  • Tailors procurement strategies based on regional variations in pricing, regulations, and market dynamics.

Key Advantages of Spend Cubes

When the head of procurement comprehensively grasps the diverse spend categories, coupled with a well-structured team and adequate resources, the company stands to reap significant benefits. The Spend Cube proves to be especially beneficial for entities like waste management, facilitating collaboration with suppliers responsible for additional purchases necessary for daily operations.

For the procurement manager overseeing specific item categories, a thorough assessment of spending within the class and the total number of suppliers precedes the formulation of a sorting strategy. It becomes imperative for professionals to discern the leverage within the spend category, enabling the acquisition of pertinent information and engagement in supplier Requests for Information. The Spend Cube further aids professionals in achieving clarity regarding overall demand profiles and Requests for Proposals. Additionally, the tool facilitates the necessary supplier reclassification processes.

Understanding Spend Cube Analysis

For businesses committed to ongoing enhancement, the investment of time and dedication to measure and analyze performance is crucial. This commitment allows for a comprehensive understanding of current practices, empowering teams to enhance efficiency in spending management for optimal outcomes.

Spend analysis emerges as the pivotal tool for monitoring and elevating various operations, including strategic sourcing and overall procurement process efficiency. Its impact extends to influencing the value creation within the business and plays a pivotal role in optimizing the supply chain, thereby enhancing the business's competitiveness and profitability.

Spend Cube Analysis serves as a potent tool designed to aggregate and assess a company's spending data, offering valuable insights that have the potential to significantly improve overall performance and bolster the company's profitability.

Tips for Implementation

There are several practical considerations for organizations, especially those transitioning from manual processes to more advanced spend management systems:

  • Start Basic

Starting with a foundational approach is crucial, particularly for those currently reliant on Excel spreadsheets. To initiate this process, it is advisable to adopt a gradual strategy. Start by categorizing suppliers at a fundamental level, allowing for a preliminary assessment of overall spending patterns. This step-by-step progression ensures a smoother transition and provides a solid groundwork for more advanced procurement practices.

  • Classification Importance

Recognizing the significance of classification is paramount in procurement. As elucidated by Susan Long, classification entails the creation of a taxonomy or category tree to systematically categorize spending. This serves as the cornerstone for in-depth analysis, encompassing critical aspects such as price comparisons, supplier relationships, and enhancements to existing processes. By acknowledging the pivotal role of classification, organizations can lay a robust foundation for informed decision-making and strategic advancements in their procurement methodologies.

  • Quality of Data

Evaluating the quality of data is imperative when delving into the intricacies of classification. The extent and precision of the data wield considerable influence over the depth of classification achieved. A focus on high-quality data not only ensures accuracy but also facilitates the establishment of a more nuanced and multi-level taxonomy. This emphasis on data quality becomes instrumental in fostering a comprehensive understanding of spending patterns and, consequently, in making well-informed decisions within the procurement framework.

  • Taxonomy Simplicity

Highlighting the importance of Taxonomy Simplicity, Susan Long advocates for a pragmatic approach in crafting classification structures. Despite the existence of intricate taxonomies like UNSPSC, the recommendation is to maintain simplicity, relatability, and user-friendliness. Susan advises steering clear of unnecessary complexity and the use of acronyms, fostering a broader and more accessible understanding. By prioritizing simplicity in taxonomy, organizations can ensure that their classification systems are comprehensible, encouraging widespread adoption and facilitating a smoother integration into procurement practices.

Maintaining Momentum

Implementing spend cubes is not a one-time endeavor; it requires ongoing maintenance and attention. Some challenges organizations face include obtaining funding, reactive rather than proactive management, and neglecting data maintenance.

The "Data Coat" concept reinforces the importance of consistent, organized, and accurate data, leading to trustworthy outcomes. Regular reviews, akin to maintaining a clean house, ensure that organizations can spot anomalies and keep their data reliable.

The concept of a "Data Coat" serves as a metaphorical garment that encapsulates the principles of maintaining consistent, organized, and accurate data within an organization's framework. Much like a coat provides protection and structure, the Data Coat emphasizes the role of meticulous data management in fostering trustworthy outcomes. This metaphor extends to the notion that, just as one would regularly review and tidy a coat to ensure its functionality, organizations must conduct regular reviews of their data to spot anomalies and discrepancies.

In essence, the Data Coat represents a commitment to upholding data integrity, ensuring that information remains structured, reliable, and aligned with the organization's objectives. By adopting a proactive approach to data management, akin to maintaining a well-organized living space, organizations can bolster their ability to identify irregularities promptly, thus fortifying the trustworthiness of their data. The metaphorical Data Coat, therefore, becomes a symbol of the organization's dedication to maintaining a robust and dependable data infrastructure.

Get Started With Spend Cubes Today

Spend cubes represent a powerful tool in the arsenal of procurement professionals, offering a comprehensive view of spending data. Susan Long's expertise provides valuable insights for organizations at different stages of their procurement journey. By embracing the multidimensional approach of spend cubes and considering practical implementation tips, businesses can enhance decision-making, optimize supplier relationships, and drive cost-saving initiatives.

Have you began to implement spend cubes in your procurement processes? To see if this project is worthy of your attention, consider downloading the business case workbook and seeing how your goals line up.


Screen Shot 2024-02-29 at 2.13.11 PM