Daily Archives: February 16, 2007

MFG: A Community in the Making

After completing my whirlwind tours of Boston and North Dallas (more to come), I started my virtual whirlwind tour of Atlanta (since I couldn’t find three consecutive dates that coincided with the availability of everyone I wanted to meet with), and the first call on that tour was Mitch Free of MFG.com. For you loyal SpendMatters readers, you’ll probably recognize the name from Jason’s post Going Global With a Unique Leader back in September where Jason noted that even though he had some questions about whether MFG.com should serve as a stand-alone direct materials sourcing application for organizations, he had no doubt that the model is creating tremendous value and is resonating in the manufacturing world by taking supplier search capabilities to the next level, offering a true “parts marketplace” approach that is free to buyers.

Well, I have the same questions as Jason, but after diving in to understand what MFG.com really was about, I arrive at the same conclusions – it has tremendous value and should be part of the toolkit of every engineer and procurement professional at any company that needs custom manufactured parts and products. And it’s not just because of the large supplier base (after all, a number of marketplaces, such as Sorcity, have that), the free built-in sourcing tool (after all, why not WhyAbe) the fact that you don’t just get suppliers who make that type of parts but vetted suppliers (located in real-time) who have made similar parts (in similar price brackets), or the fact that you can access ratings for each supplier with respect to their prior performance with other buyers … it’s because MFG.com is taking marketplaces to the next level – the Collaborative Community.

First of all, with MFG.com’s real-time supplier matching capability, based on detailed part specifications, you can find prospective suppliers during the design stages through an RFI. Once you’ve found the right supplier, you can collaborate with them on the design, and as Apriori has taught us, the best way to get an affordable part is to design it affordably. Secondly, you can use their platform as an on-line collaboration enabler and use it to communicate revisions as well as begin and end the sourcing process. Thirdly, MFG.com, even though it’s been around for a while and has a large global presence (especially in China), is just getting started. Although I can’t say much yet, expect MFG.com to start introducing some new community features over the next year or so that should provide the sourcing community with an offering that would finally give the B2B community the power that the B2C community has enjoyed for years with offerings like eBay and Craigslist (but these applications will be finely tuned to the needs of the manufacturing B2B community).

So instead of taking the sourcing interstate to your next destination, pull off onto good old Route 66, make a pit stop on MFG.com, and stay a while. You might find that the old model is new again and that the best value you can get for your time and money is right there waiting to be discovered. Don’t just drive by – take it for a test drive. Otherwise, you’ll miss a treasure just waiting to be discovered.