Daily Archives: March 2, 2010

United Airlines Sourcing Soars to New Collaborative Heights …

While the ground crews break guitars1 and break guitars2 and break guitars3 to the dismay of Dave Carroll, Taylor and Hitler. That’s right, song three launches today! (See the Countdown Timer.)  The first two songs have already garnered over 9 Million hits.)

The January 2010 issue of Inside Supply Management chronicled Grace Puma’s efforts to transform Procurement at United Airlines. Through the implementation of a standard sourcing process company-wide, that used category management teams, and alignment with strategic suppliers, through collaborative relationship development, Procurement at United Airlines has been able to obtain “better knowledge around the subcomponents of the cost” and determine what a particular item “should cost”. Wow! I guess that’s why they couldn’t afford to to fix Dave’s guitar! It’s one thing to develop “Clean Sheet” models, hold Supplier Summits, and help suppliers better understand their costs, as per this ISM article on soaring to new collaborative heights that, frankly, isn’t worth the energy to light the pixels on my MacBook Pro, but another thing entirely to actually save money and improve quality, which I guess they didn’t do as I see zero mention of any hard numbers (or real success) in the article. Maybe they should get this guy to motivate their Procurement organization!

Share This on Linked In

RollStream: Steamrolling Your Compliance Problems into Submission

Just before the last summer solstice, I introduced you to Rollstream, a provider of a new SIM-centric Enterprise Community Management platform you can roll out to your community. Since then, they’ve been hard at work extending the capabilities of their Enterprise Community Management platform to be more useful and solve new problems.

Specifically, after listening to their customers, they decided to tackle the recurring problems of dispute management and compliance management, the latter of which is becoming a big issue with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act that came into effect on January 15. (That’s right, if you’re importing consumer goods you have to worry about the 10+2 security filing and CPSIA because violations of either can result in six figure plus fines. That’s right, a single violation of either can result in fines in excess of $100,000!)

Building on their new workspace capability that was launched last fall, which is conceptually similar to Salesforce Chatter, Microsoft Sharepoint, and business-focussed social networks like Linked-In (but implemented in a manner more conducive to their unique ECM platform), these new applications allow these often difficult and time-consuming problems to be solved simply and efficiently in a collaborative on-line environment where all parties can participate.

The workspaces capability, which builds on their base platform that allows you to manage suppliers and partners, their profiles, and associated data, attempts to bring together the best capabilities of modern social networking sites to allow you to hold, manage, and keep track of online conversations that, without the platform, would need to happen offline. It incorporates forum capabilities that allow for conversations, multimedia — which allows you to include audio and video for training purposes, survey capabilities, task and project driven event calendars, file management capabilities, and activity state tracking capabilities. It enhances the supplier on-boarding experience as your supplier can feel like it’s part of the initiative and interact with your global team on-line, 24 hours a day.

Based on this new workspace capability, Rollstream has built it’s new dispute resolution management solution, which will hit general release in a month or two. Based on the repeated observation from their customers that there are millions to be saved if shortages, damages, and mis-shipments can be identified immediately on delivery and resolutions reached before an overpayment is made, Rollstream has developed a collaborative environment where a warehouse worker can raise an issue as soon as it’s noticed and kick-start a resolution process before a payment is made. While it won’t solve all overpayment issues (since off-contract pricing — especially in “best price” contracts, prohibited substitutions, and downright fraud can be difficult to detect at time of delivery), a number of their customers expect to save a few Million a year simply by preventing overpayments for short, damaged, or incorrect shipments. The solution is built around a configurable dashboard that allows you to automatically sort and prioritize issues according to your rules (which can be based on status, merchandise disposition, issue date, and / or value and other attributes) which can be searched on any attribute. All affected parties can query, see, and comment on issues until an owner or administrator determines that the issue is resolved. It’s quite simple in implementation, but getting an open dialogue on the issue started as soon as possible is a powerful tool in the quest for a successful resolution.

The new compliance solution, which will be released next quarter, is based on their new Certificate Exchange Network which solves the major problem with most current compliance solutions. In most SIM platforms, a buyer ensures compliance by having their supplier upload their compliance certificate. This sounds fine until you realize that large CPG suppliers have thousands of customers that need compliance certificates for dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of SKUs. With a buyer-focussed solution, a supplier needs a team of data entry clerks who do nothing all day but upload copies of compliance certificates until they start the process all over again when the compliance certificates are renewed. To try and solve this problem, some larger CPG suppliers have created their own compliance certificate portals that their customers can log into to search for compliance certificates on their own, but since CPG suppliers are not software companies, this solution usually isn’t any better. Customers don’t always know the right SKU or search term, the supplier’s compliance team is not automatically notified when a certificate expires, and poor processes often result in compliance certificates not getting included in a timely fashion. Customers waste time, don’t find anything, and still have to contact the supplier team to help them find, or, in many cases, upload the certificate. And since not all suppliers have this portal, the customer still has to maintain their solution, download the certificate from the supplier, and include it in their own portal to track status, receive expiry notifications, and generate accurate reports.

In the Rollstream solution, it’s a certificate exchange network and a buyer can simultaneously see, and search, all certificates from all suppliers it does business with (who only have to set a flag to give a buyer access) and a supplier has single-point access to all buyers it does business with (to which it can push updates or check the existence of any compliance certificates a buyer might need to import the product into a country). Like the dispute resolution management solution, it’s a very simple solution built on profiles and dashboards that is easily searchable at the global, supplier, and item level across all company, product, and component fields. But sometimes, that’s what’s needed.

Share This on Linked In