In yesterday’s post we introduced you to TradeCard, a supply chain management services and trade finance company that provides an end-to-end SaaS transaction management solution that connects over 4,000 buyer and supplier companies across the world with local support in over 50 countries. This solution, which implements end-to-end transaction management from the cutting of the Purchase Order to final settlement (including chargebacks) with support for financing, document management, 3rd party freight forwarders, and factory floor shipment packaging, is one of the most extensive SI has seen with respect to visibility into the three critical supply chain flows — financial, physical, and information.
We discussed the financial flow, which supports pre- and post- export financing, payment protection, invoice discounting, and settlement with their Procure-to-Pay solution; the physical flow, that is supported by their collaboration, Factory Xpress, and document management solutions; and the information flow, which is supported by the aforementioned solutions along with the TradeCard Advantage and Custom Objects Toolkit solution. Today we are going to dive into the physical flow and the solutions that support it.
We’ll start with the collaboration solution. Designed with forecasting and supply planning in mind, the solution allows for forecast and purchase order data to be pulled from your ERP / forecasting system / system of record of choice and pushed back when the production plan and/or purchase order is complete. Forecasting revolves around (rolling) supply plans, that can be completed from a material, supplier, forecast, inventory, (material) commitment, or demand view. Buyers and suppliers, who are given permission, can edit the forecast, and the revised forecast can be maintained along side the original forecast. The forecast can be at the product level, or the component material level, as the platform has equal support for component and 2nd tier raw material suppliers, who can also be given (read or edit) access if relevant or key. The system also allows the scheduled production runs to be collaboratively decided upon (and updates the projected inventory automatically). There are no built-in forecasting models at this time, but that may change in a future release. (In the interim, Tradecard can integrate any forecasting system that can provide data in a standard format such as EDI, XML, or CSV.)
The UI is similar to many web-based supply management platforms, and includes a “taskboard” that keeps track of all of the current tasks for the current user, which can be ordered by action type, transaction, or assignment date. With respect to transactions, which the suite is designed around, a user can query and track transactions by purchase order, invoices, payments, packing & shipping, financing, (goods) receipts, contracts, adjustments, events, and customs filings in addition to supply plans. Purchase orders are extremely detailed and can contain all of the information required by the supplier, freight forwarders, and any customs authorites (including order terms, parties, freight terms, destinations, items, components, additional terms, and required documents). This allows for the easy generation and submission of appropriate trade and customs documents (with over 10 import and export document formats supported out-of-the-box). The system maintains complete document history and allows an authorized buyer to query exactly who did what when. Events allow the buyer to track the transaction after the PO is issued and record actual production, shipments, receipt, distribution to warehouses, returns, chargebacks, and other relevant events.
Factory Xpress is the “shop floor” solution that is designed for the personnel who are actually packing and shipping the orders. The users can access, and (if they have permission) edit the packing plans, create and print packing slips and/or shipping labels, and even scan appropriately barcoded labels to indicate when an order has been packaged and shipped. In addition, orders for packing labels and materials can be sent directly to Avery Dennison, whom the solution was developed in conjunction with. The system supports bulk packing, multi-packing, and free-packing plans and can automatically regenerate packing plans based upon changes in order quantity, delivery location, carton sizes, or item mix. Once the shipment has been packed, packing manifests can automatically generated from the packing plan and purchase order.
One very neat feature of the platform is the “discrepancy preview” that a supplier can run before finalizing the invoice. When the discrepancy preview is run on a draft invoice, it compares invoice data to shipment/packing manifest data and PO data and reports all discrepencies in pricing, order quantities, factories, origins, destinations, and other comparable data and checks that all terms and/or documents have been completed. This allows the supplier to correct any data that can be corrected before the invoice is sent, minimizing the chance of the buyer rejecting it or sending it back for correction. It also allows the buyer to verify that the invoice they received is consistent with what they expected, or if its not, immediately determine what the discrepancy is and whether or not it was approved (due to a change in forecast or demand).
With respect to reporting, there are dozens of built in report types and the user can select the attributes and value ranges for each report, but TradeCard does not yet possess a generic report builder tool, although custom reports can be created by way of their Common Objects toolkit if required. However, complete export of all in XML and CSV format is supported and the buyer can use a third party data analysis and reporting tool to construct whatever report they want for more detailed analysis.
Finally, the TradeCard platform currently supports English, Traditional, and Simplified Chinese with Spanish coming later this year, and most implmentations, which includes integration to your ERP and forecasting systems, and onboarding of 80% of your relevant supply base, and user training, are accomplished in 90 days. It’s a solid solution and one worth looking into if you need to manage end-to-end transactions across the global supply chain.