Daily Archives: November 12, 2008

Perform-IS BizNet

About the same time the maniacs were back in Massacheusetts, scarfing down Boston Cream Pies, I got a call from BizNet asking if I’d be interested in reviewing their SPM solution, which is one of the leading SRM solutions used in the Oil & Gas industry.

My first thought was to send the maniacs, since they were doing such a good job in their Summer Road Tour, but the conversation (over a cell phone; which can be skipped by clicking here), which did not go well, went something like this:

Yakko Yakko’s Yummy Yuletide Eggnogs … you shiver, we deliver!
the doctor Yakko, it’s the doctor. How’s the road trip going!
Yakko Great. We’ve learned a lot this summer. Just a few days ago at Vinimaya we learned all about the power of B2B 3.0 Content Management …
the doctor So you’re in the North East …
Yakko Yep. Just outside of Boston at the moment …
the doctor Great! Put me on speakerphone.
Sourcing Maniacs, your mission, if you choose to accept it …
you have to be dramatic to keep their attention sometimes
is to review BizNet’s PerforMIS solution and let me know how good it is for SPM, particularly in the Oil & Gas sector where they appear to be market leaders, at least on a market-share basis.
Dot Supplier Performance Management?
the doctor That’s right, Dot.
Wakko I like managing suppliers!
Yakko Sounds like we’re interested. Where are they?
the doctor Belfast.
Yakko No problem. That’s just one state over!
the doctor Not Belfast, Maine, Belfast, Ireland. It’s just a short flight from Boston …
Yakko Sorry, doc. No can do.
the doctor Why not?
Yakko See, there’s this little thing called the No-Fly List
the doctor What did you do now, Yakko?
Yakko It’s not so much as what I did, but what Wakko did …
Wakko How was I supposed to know I wasn’t allowed to dress up as a marine when flying on Halloween
the doctor Well, as long as you don’t impersonate one …
Yakko You don’t understand, doctor. He had real knives, real guns, real bullets … the costume was so authentic the screech let out by metal detector shattered nearby windows …
the doctor Oh. You could charter a boat.
Dot That would take three weeks!
the doctor You could do a European tour!
Wakko Been there. Done that. And I’m not sure they’ll let me back into Switzerland …
the doctor Wakko, I don’t want to hear it. I can’t understand how you could possibly get banned from Switzerland, but I know I don’t want to hear it. So it’s a no-go?
Yakko Not this time, doc.
Background Voice Your pie, sir.
Yakko Gotta go!

So, I decided to get on the phone, and the web, and review the solution myself. Here’s what I found out.

BizNet has been in business for 11 years, and has been focussing on the Oil & Gas sector for the last 8 years. Starting out as a custom developer and integrator, they found that a significant need at many of their client companies was Supplier Performance Management, so a few years ago they set out to build a solution. After releasing an early version of the platform, their suspicions as to the dire need for supplier performance management solutions was confirmed and from that day on they decided to focus almost exclusively on data (through their capit@l product) and Supplier Performance Management.

Their solution is built to enable their version of the “SPM Loop” which is actually a double-helix that starts and ends with supplier engagement in a continuous cycle. Thus, in addition to being able to define and track user-defined KPIs in a very flexible fashion, a user can also create and manage corrective action plans; produce standard, ad-hoc, and customized reports that are meaningful to them and their supplier; and capture performance data on-line from the web.

The KPI builder is quite powerful. A wizard-based formula-builder, it allows you to build any KPI you want using all standard arithmatic operators (+, -, *, /, root, exp, etc.) and any numeric data fields that the system is tracking. KPIs are reported using the now-standard green-yellow-red traffic light signals (or, green-amber-red if you’re across the pond) in basic reports, and can also be displayed in a geographical KPI map with mouse-over pop-ups of rolled up scores by supplier, product line, or date range.

The product can be hosted on-site or used as a SaaS product, which is the way it was designed to be deployed by default, and the BizNet team, with their combined decades of experience working with enterprise systems in the Oil & Gas industry, can link it into your ERP and AP systems so that data can be pulled in automatically, sometimes “out of the box” if you’re using a standard ERP such as SAP or JD Edwards. They’re currently looking at ways to pull financial data in from external entities, such as D&B, to augment the overall supplier picture that the system creates, as this helps you with risk management, and they support standard XML formats for data interchange.

The system is scorecard-based, as you would expect; supports automated e-mail task and new report availability reminders; supports customizable workflows with multi-level approvals to insure that scorecards are created, reviewed, and monitored; supports extensive reporting capabilities; and supports an extensive scorecard hierarchy. You can break a scorecard down by division, location, etc. to as many levels as you want, by supplier, and then rollup at each level to calculate overall performance by city, province, country, and globally, for example. And you can use its dynamic filters to determine which suppliers fall into user-defined ranges — such as very poor, poor, satisfactory, good, and excellent — overall or by KPI category — such as quality, logistics, innovation, etc.

One of the more unique features of the tool that caught my attention was the Supplier Risk Management Component which allows you to define risks, probabilities, and impacts and then map risks on an impact vs. probability basis by supplier. You can then use dynamic filters to determine, across the board, the risks in each category. This will help you in risk planning, since you should be starting with the high probability and high impact risks first and working your way down.

The tool was definitely built to support an industry with complex SPM needs, and since no O&G specific language or processes were hardcoded into the tool (and just about everything is configurable or customizable), it should also serve similar industries quite well. In fact, BizNet have indicated that they’ve started to see some uptake in the Health Care Sector, which also have to carefully manage supplier performance to manage risk, and expect that they will be doing more deployments in that sector as well as time goes on.

So, if you’re in the market for an SPM tool, and you have complex requirements, I’d recommend checking BizNet out. As one of the few companies that just does SPM, and not SPM as an afterthought to sourcing or procurement, they have quite a robust solution. It might be overkill for some commodity-based industries that just have to track quality or traceability, but with risk-levels rising across the board, I doubt that there will be many companies that won’t be interested in using such a tool to its full potential.