Daily Archives: February 10, 2011

Why You Should Optimize Your Supply Chain

Besides the host of reasons this blog has provided you with in the past, which include:

if the supply chain isn’t optimized, it might not be nimble enough to keep up. As per this recent McKinsey article on building the supply chain of the future, ““the competitor that’s best at managing the supply chain is probably going be the most successful competitor over time“. Furthermore, as supply chains are becoming more splintered, they are getting harder and harder to manage by the seat of one’s pants, which increases the management complexity. In many organizations, instead of increased agility, this actually leads to increased inefficiency as managers struggle to manage the complex splintered chains efficiently.

But if supply chain optimization is employed, the splintered chains can be quickly optimized. But more importantly, an organization can progress beyond managing splintered chains to managing supply chain segments, which is likely the ultimate key to supply chain success in the years ahead. Think about it … if the origin and destination of goods has to continually adapt due to changing low cost locales and emerging (consumer) markets, then the ultimate key to quick adaptation will be to just change the relevant segments of the (splintered) chains and not the whole chains. If the organization was sourcing from Thailand but switches to Vietnam, but is still shipping to the US, why should the whole supply chain change? Maybe it’s still the same ocean carrier, and all that changes is the port and the carrier that gets the goods to the port. And if the organization has general contracts with a number of different international carriers, it will be quick to run an optimization and build the modified change from available segments.

And that, in a nutshell, is why you need supply chain optimization.

Lavante – The Newest Contestent in the SIM Arena

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, Lavante is the latest provider of Supplier Information Management solutions in the Supply Management space (which includes Aravo, AECSoft (just acquired by SciQuest), CVM Solutions, Hiperos, and Rollstream, which have all been covered on SI). And while it arrived late, it comes ready for battle.

Since you all know by now what a good SIM solution should do (and if you don’t, reread the classic vendor SIM posts linked above), I’m not going to waste any time describing what it should do or spend a lot of time on the details. Instead, I’m going to mention all the standard stuff that the platform does and then focus on what makes Lavante different from the competition and why it should be included in your SIM vendor short list.

Like its competitors, Lavante allows you to collect detailed information on all of your suppliers, including detailed information on each contact. By default, this detailed information includes tax information, headquarters information remit-to information, business structure information, ERP (System) information, ownership information, certifications, services/materials information, risk management information, insurance information, bank information, and user defined summary information. A supplier has the option of entering all of the information on-line or downloading a template. Lavante can import your current supplier master (in a standard format such as XML) or provide a buyer with a (CSV) template to enter information for new suppliers. The information collected can be customized for every supplier, notifications on change can be configured at the element level, and approvals can be required before critical information is changed.

In addition to the standard browser interface, suppliers can also respond to e-mails or faxes (and even call a rep who will enter the information for them if they are still technologically illiterate). The supplier interface allows a supplier to log-in and manage 100% of their information, which minimizes buyer effort if suppliers take an active role in buyer interaction.

At any time, a buyer can get a list of all suppliers who have not provided requested information as well as suppliers who have registered and completed their profile. The buyer can also see which communication attempts have been tried or whether or not the supplier has not provided an e-mail or fax number.

The distinguishing characteristics of the platform are the following:

  • it was built on the cloud
    it was designed to be 100% multi-tenant and cloud compliant from day one
  • extremely configurable
    many early platforms only had the ability to send an alert when a change was made; later ones allowed for alerts to be configured to change type; Lavante’s platform allows each individual data element to be marked as notify/don’t notify on change
  • automatic validation of Tax ID
    Lavante does a real-time check of every TIN that is entered and a supplier is not allowed to register without a valid TIN that matches their name
  • multi-mode outreach
    whereas most providers assume browser or e-mail data provision, Lavante also accepts faxes and integrates OCR and provides supplier outreach services that will get suppliers onboard by e-mail, fax, or phone if necessary
  • a supplier portal that equals the buyer portal
    suppliers were an afterthought in many first generation SIM platforms and a supplier had to log in to a separate instance of the portal for each buying organization they dealt with; in Lavante’s platform, a supplier can manage their data for all buyers who use Lavante through a single log-in — information needs to only be entered once and common information is segregated from buyer specific information
  • very large supplier database
    Lavante, which started as a recovery audit vendor, has been around for 10 years and has amassed a database of over 2 Million vendors that its client do business with — as a result, it has current information on over 2 Million vendors in its database

Plus, Lavante can use this platform to streamline its recovery audits and save an organization up to 10X more than a recovery audit without access to detailed information would save. So when you add the initial savings that will come from 1099 reporting compliance with reduced SIM (when 20% to 40% of supply base information needs to change annually) resource requirements and more successful cost recovery audits, the solution pays for itself almost immediately. Plus, since it’s true multi-tenant cloud, Lavante can turn your organization on in less than an hour.