Daily Archives: August 23, 2007

A Kick-Ass Direct Sourcing Solution for Manufacturers: Part II

In yesterday’s post, I indicated that I would introduce you to a solution for direct sourcing that was distinct from your standard sourcing suite and which was designed to manage your PLM-based sourcing needs from day one – and that is what I am going to do.

Believe it or not, the solution I’m referring to is the new solution being offered by Co-exprise, a company that has been around since 1995, managed over 175B in customer spend since their inception, and which is probably still best known for its Co-exprise MarketPlace.

For the past few years, Co-exprise has been working hard to create what they hope will be an entirely new type of PLM-based direct sourcing solution for complex manufacturers – be they aerospace, automotive, defense, heavy machinery, high-tech, medical device, or diversified manufacturing – that directly attacks the trials and tribulations faced daily by the sourcing team who have to source assemblies of ever-increasing complexity while being crunched by continually decreasing product life-cycles. And the solution they have devised is un-like any I have ever seen.

In the situation where you have a lot of complexity to deal with, where you are sourcing complex assemblies of thousands of parts, where you have hundreds (or thousands) of design specification documents in dozens (or hundreds) of formats to deal with, and where you need to collaborate in real time with your engineering team and your supplier’s engineering team, it’s the best solution I’ve seen for the type of direct-sourcing problem they are solving.

The solution, which integrates RFx, auctions, project management, collaboration, PIM, PLM integration, dashboards, and tree-based navigation, also includes enhanced security, contextual-awareness, supplier qualification, and enhanced meta-data capabilities. The application understands over 1500 disparate file formats produced by CAD, CAM, and PLM software solutions and can automatically extract relevant meta-data and apply custom compression techniques (based on wavelet theory and fast fourier transforms) that achieve 50% to 99% compression ratios and allow for faster document transmission, which is very secure as the files are encrypted using 512 bit AE2 compression and access can be restricted at a very fine grained level – and to a specific individual or IP if needed.

The solution is project-based, and everything in the system is an object. This might not sound important, but this allows everything to be cloned, which means that any project, or portion thereof, can be copied and used as a template for a future project. Furthermore, collaboration works on any object in the system – a context can be created on any file, item, sub-assembly, assembly, or project – and a focussed discussion, logged and accessible at any time, can take place. These discussions are then integrated with the task management functionality and can be tracked accordingly. The RFx solution is more than adequate, the auction capability allows for real-time bidding at a latency of only 50 ms, and basic contract management capability is being built as you read this.

It doesn’t have spend analysis yet (though they have stated that they are working on a new type of spend analysis solution more appropriate to direct sourcing then your standard spend analysis solution, which intrigues me even though they are not yet ready to release details – especially since I want to know how they plan to one-up BIQ), there’s no optimization, and no (third-party) e-procurement integration, but as discussed in yesterday’s post, spend analysis is usually a separate project in these types of direct sourcing projects, complex decision optimization is usually not required (or viable where you usually need a strategic relationship), and since everything in the system can be exported, it wouldn’t be hard to do a batch-based XML or CVS linkage to your current e-Procurement or e-Payment system, so it’s weaknesses are not significant for the problem it is addressing.

As I noted yesterday, there are other solutions out there, like the UGS solution, and you should look at any solution that appears to be relevant before making your selection, but, even though you probably haven’t heard of it, if you’re a manufacturer sourcing complex assemblies, I would not leave the new co-exprise solution off of the short-list when doing your evaluations.

I will be continuing discussions with the co-exprise leadership team (who have 200 years of combined experience in manufacturing and supply chain) and should have more to say in the future, but would like to note that they do plan to update their web-site and materials in the near future and this will help to shed some light on the uniqueness of their product. But in the meantime, if you’re a manufacturer in the market for a direct sourcing solution, give them a call or drop them an e-mail and they’ll be more than happy to give you a demo.