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RollStream is a new entrant to the emerging SIM-centric (Supplier Information Management – centric) subspace of Supply Chain Management that has taken a Web 2.0 inspired approach to its solution. At the core of its “Enterprise Community Management” solution is the belief that collaboration is the missing critical component in many of today’s supplier management solutions.
As a result, when it comes to ease of use and supplier on-boarding, it has developed one of the best, as well as one of the easiest to use, solutions for Supplier Information Management as many people today are familiar and comfortable with the Web 2.0 and social network like interfaces it has developed for supplier, partner, and contact profile management as well as for survey creation and information gathering. It’s scalability and ease of use has allowed one of its largest customers to on-board their roughly 13,000 suppliers and manage roughly 150,000 points of contact. The solution has assisted this customer in credentials capture, compliance, training and enablement, and new technology rollout.
But, as you know, SIM is only the first component of Enterprise Management, whether you call it Supplier Central (CVM Solutions), Extended Enterprise Management (Hiperos), or Enterprise Community Management. There’s also, depending upon your outlook, risk, performance, compliance, sustainability, diversity, dispute resolution, initiative management, and collaboration for innovation.
The RollStream solution addresses, in its own words, basic Supplier Information Management in the form of on-boarding and profile management, Dispute Resolution by way of on-line collaboration, Compliance and Risk Management by way of task-managed projects and web surveys, and Performance and Feedback Management by way of a workflow-based community dashboard and collaborative scorecarding process.
The Supplier Information Management component, which is what they started with, is mature, and as I said above, one of the best and easiest to use solutions that you’re going to find for SIM on the market today, used by a number of global Fortune 3000′s to manage supplier bases of over 10,000 suppliers and 100,000 contacts in a number of verticals. The collaboration components, with complete conversation and audit trails, simplify the online dispute resolution process and make it much friendlier than the alternatives.
The Performance and Feedback Management is good for simple surveys and on-line discussions, but don’t expect to be able to build any complex scorecards within the system at this point in time. If you have a solution that generates your scorecards as spreadsheets or PDFs, you can automate the retrieval and attachment of the scorecards within the platform and then create tasks around the discussion of the scorecards with the relevant individuals at each of your suppliers, which could be quite helpful, but you can’t yet build complex scorecards within the system or attach comments to individual sections. This should not be an issue for most companies in most verticals, but if you are very metric-focussed or use collaborative scorecarding and need to retrieve inputs as well as send them and integrate all of the scorecards into a common collaboration tool, you’ll need to evaluate the solution carefully.
This brings us to the last component — Compliance, Risk, and Sustainability Initiative Management. Their solution, which allows you to build as many virtual sub-communities as you want within the application, and then create as many task-managed projects around those communities as you want, is quite powerful in its simplicity when it comes to the management of these projects, but most projects will require data collection and the degree of data collection will determine its fit within your organization. If you primarily do indirect sourcing or simple commodity sourcing, the solution should be more than enough for your needs as most of the regulatory requirements can be captured in simple yes-no questions. But if you do direct manufacturing, where you have to deal with RoHS, REACH, and or WEEE, the simple survey-monkey style web-form survey capability isn’t going to cut it when you have to capture not only whether or not thousands of chemicals are present in your products, but to what extent they are present. Similarly, if you have adopted, or foresee the need to adopt, complex carbon measurement calculations which depend not only on if-then logic (which the forms support) but also complex built-in calculations, then you’ll find their solution is not ready for prime time.
So what’s the verdict? I think many companies will find that the solution meets their SIM-Centric Enterprise Community Management needs, especially when you consider that even the best solution will take at least a year to roll-out to thousands of suppliers and get them proficient on the solution. In that timeframe, you’ll see more capability added to the Performance Management and Compliance, Risk, and Sustainability Management components as RollStream continues to implement their solution roadmap.