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Last edited 24 Dec 2021
In private businesses, the actions associated with controllable spend may be based on the instructions of an influential person associated with budgetary decision making responsibilities. This may be the chief executive or chief procurement officer. Controllable spend measures can also be proposed by the finance team within the organisation.
Controllable spend measures may be directed at short-term or one-off measures. This may be tied to reductions in funding allocated for what might be deemed non-essential items including travel, bonuses, professional development fees and materials and so on.
They may also be dictated by changes in company policy regarding business efficiency and utility usage. This might for example mean adjusting temperature levels in buildings or instituting stricter measures around turning lights off in unoccupied parts of the facility - or at the end of the working day.
In private businesses, addressing controllable spend may present challenges. This is sometimes due to organisational silos created by sourcing responsibilities that are spread across multiple departments. In these instances, it may be difficult to share data between departments, in particular if different technical systems have been used or if information has been compiled in a non-standard manner.
It is important to develop a cohesive procurement process across the entire organisation. The should use the same technical platform and terminology to define procurement processes and identify potential controllable spend areas. The end result should help produce a benchmark to introduce consistent controllable spend measures throughout the organisation.
When associated with public entities (such as local government), controllable spend may refer to procurement activities outside long-term contractual arrangements. In some instances it may also refer to spend that is required but can be modified.
These adjustments may present an opportunity for procurement departments to add value and reduce costs, but they sometimes fall under parameters that have been dictated by central government restrictions. Controllable spend may be seen as a viable area for reductions when economic conditions - such as a financial downturn - prompt the Government to require public entities to make budgetary adjustments.
One specific type of controllable spend for public entities is a measure defined under Department Expenditure Limits (DEL). DELs are controllable spends for departments relating to budgets that are usually set for three years in advance in a spending review.
 Similar terms
Controllable spend is not the same as spend control (which is sometimes referred to as spend management or expense management). This generic term describes how procurement and finance teams can evaluate expenses and effectively incorporate them into forecasts and budgets.
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