Daily Archives: March 31, 2010

Are We Throwing It All Away?

Someday you’ll be sorry
Someday when you’re free
Memories will remind you
Of what was meant to be
But late at night when you call for help
The only sound you’ll hear
Is the sound of your voice calling
Calling out for help

Just throwing it all away
Throwing it all away
And there’s nothing that I can say

With apologies to Phil Collins, that slightly modified verse just keeps playing over and over again in my head. This recent article in Industry Week on optimizing outsourcing relationships for today’s market realities has me shaking my head. Manufacturers signed contracts to outsource more than $10.4 billion worth of IT and business process services in the last six months of 2009. 10.4 Billion! That’s an awful lot of services being handed out and an awful lot of knowledge at risk of disappearing. Not that I have anything against augmenting your capabilities with those from best-in-class organizations, but the way most organizations approach outsourcing, where it’s just thrown over the wall and forgotten about until all knowledge of the service disappears from organizational memory, scares me.

And ever since I saw that ridiculous article that said we should outsource thinking, I’m on edge. We’re on the precipice of a new age, but if we’re not careful, it will be a very dark age in American history. Innovation got us here, and without innovation, which depends on thinking, we’ll fade away.

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Stay Hip with the Program with Hiperos

Last year, I told you how you could Get Hip with Hiperos, an “Extended Enterprise Management” platform that allows you to manage your risk, performance, compliance, sustainability, and supplier information through a single portal that they dubbed R3. Knowing that you can’t stay still in the quickly evolving supply chain space (and knowing that there were lots of point players with deeper solutions in each), they’ve been hard at work on R4 since that time. Last week, I had the chance to do a detailed review of R4, and am pleased to say that they did a great job and that a number of significant improvements in R4 greatly increases the value the solution offers.

In particular, five improvements in the Hiperos R4 platform commanded my attention:

  • In-Line Collaboration
    It’s a pretty simple idea, but the fact that you can associate a discussion thread with any element of the system is quite powerful. No longer do you have to search separate discussion forums or, even worse, try to track down out-of-system e-mails to find out what happened, or why part of a questionnaire is still blank, or why a template was modified.
  • New Workgroup Capability
    Hiperos recognized that true performance, compliance, and sustainability is collaborative, that single-directional Q&A is not collaboration, and built in a new discussion-based workgroup capability that lets buyers, suppliers, and other involved parties collaborate through a centralized, integrated environment.
  • The Program
    Since compliance, risk management, sustainability, and performance all revolve around programs designed to satisfy a regulatory initiative, emerging threat, or a green goal in the real world, in the Hiperos platform, it’s now abundantly clear that everything revolves around the program, which is very easy to define and manage. There are three ways to create a new program. Instantiate it from a template, load it from a properly structured Excel file, or define it from scratch in the tool — which will walk you through its creation step by step in a simple 7-step process. (Outline Detail, Organizational Units, Questions & Documenation Requirements, Dates, Individual Organizational Unit Reqirements, Measurements, and Reviewers.)
  • Out-of-the-Box Compliance Programs
    They have over 60 compliance templates built in, with heavy support for the finance (BITS, etc.) and health-care sectors (HIPAA, etc.).
  • Supplier Focus
    The supplier portal is almost as extensive as the buyer portal. Suppliers get their own set of dashboards, which they can do deep reporting dives into to find out where the measurements came from and how they were calculated, relationships, which they can manage, programs, which they can track, and communities. Truly enabling the supplier on your platform goes a long way towards supplier adoption. The only functionality suppliers don’t get is Supplier Information Management (SIM) and Application Administration (unless, of course, they buy the platform themselves).

The system also includes a number of other improvements, particular in the area of SIM (where you can capture a lot more information in out-of-the-box templates and define your own data elements to be tracked), reporting (where, in addition to dozens of reports in each area that you can use out of the box, you can also create your own reports using an improved wizard that walks you though a simple 6-step report definition process), and built-in KPI and SLA templates available for your use (there are over 6,000 that can be accessed system wide). Furthermore, the dashboards are more than just pretty gages, they also contain a quick summary of your action items (open evaluations, pending approvals, etc.); the relationships you are responsible for; and current risk assessments, in-process supplier profiles and compliance controls. And while other providers might still go deeper in specific areas (though none go deeper in all areas), the breath of integrated capabilities put them in a fairly exclusive club as I have only seen applications displaying a similar breadth and focus in enterprise management from Aravo, CVM Solutions, Rollstream, and, in the healthcare and agency management verticals, Vendormate and Decideware.

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