VSP’s procurement department is using a new software system to increase its influence over employee spending, its chief procurement officer says.

VSP Global, a provider of access to eye care and eyewear—including VSP Vision Care, the only national not-for-profit vision benefits company—has “exponentially” increased its savings over the last two years with a new technology system for managing procurement projects, chief procurement officer Greg Tennyson says.

We’ve been able to grow my department’s sphere of influence, bringing more spend through our oversight, leveraging technology without adding to our headcount.
Greg Tennyson, chief procurement officer
VSP Global

When Tennyson joined VSP a few years ago to head up procurement, he quickly focused on two cost-cutting tasks: Getting a good view of what VSP’s employees were buying and how they were buying it. And finding a better way to manage the procurement of products, materials and corporate travel needed to operate a multi-line of business organization.

Greg Tennyson, chief procurement officer,
VSP Global

Tennyson, a procurement veteran who had spent years at Oracle Corp. and Salesforce.com Inc., took a multi-part approach that started with enlisting the support of company personnel. “Early on at VSP, I reached out to the chief marketing officer to help make employees aware of the changes we need to make,” he recalls.

One result of that overture was an internal campaign to change spending behavior. The campaign’s slogan—“Spend it like it’s yours”—encouraged staff to take a critical eye to what they purchase and from which suppliers. Helping to motivate compliance is a new company mascot, a fuzzy creature named “Moula” that accompanies the slogan in various images. For special occasions, the mascot appears in animated, life-size form thanks to an employee in a Moula costume.

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“It has helped tremendously,” Tennyson says.

But his new procurement strategy relies on more than just a slogan and a popular mascot. It also needed a better system of sourcing suppliers and managing procurement contracts.

VSP, which is based in Rancho Cordova, Calif., and has more than 6,000 employees worldwide, deployed two years ago Scout RFP, a cloud-based procurement software system. Tennyson’s procurement department uses it to manage the process from organizing and prioritizing employee procurement requests to choosing and vetting suppliers, processing requests for proposals and managing bidding. It also uses information in the Scout RFP system to review procurement projects and collaborate with suppliers on how to get more value out of procurement contracts.

Compared with the system it replaced, Scout RFP is faster and easier to use, Tennyson says. That has resulted in far more procurement being controlled by his department and allocated to approved suppliers and within spending budgets, without having to expand his 24-person department. “We’ve been able to grow my department’s sphere of influence, bringing more spend through our oversight, leveraging technology without adding to our headcount,” he says.

The system lets him measure the amount of spending processed through his department by spending categories, he adds. 70% of corporate travel spending, for example, is now done through the company’s procurement system, up from less than 30% before it deployed Scout RFP, Tennyson says.

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Scout RFP integrates with VSP’s procurement software from Coupa Software Inc.; the Coupa software provides the online shopping cart for processing purchase orders and payment transactions. It also integrates with VSP’s back-end SAP business operations software for updating inventory and financial records, Tennyson says.

He adds that Scout integrates well with the other technology systems, and provides a user interface that his department staff was able to quickly learn. “We’ve increased our savings exponentially—by an order of magnitude of three to five times—by using Scout,” Tennyson says.

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