It’s been less than five months since we last checked in with Trade Extensions, who had traded up to a Fact Sheet User Interface and added a slew of new features, including improved RFI support, multi-dimensional rankings in e-Negotiation, Google Earth integration, new incumbent rules, and an OLAP foundation to reporting, including the implementation of a new n-way comparison report. Since, then, it would appear that Trade Extensions have been working around the clock to add a host of new features in auctions, reporting, award management, scenario creation and analysis, and feedback mechanisms. They are advancing the platform so fast that only a few companies in the space are currently keeping up with their rate of development. And while nothing added in the last few months is earth shattering, Trade Extensions has again taken usability to a whole new level, which is the key to adoption, use, and, ultimately, cost avoidance and reduction in your sourcing organization.
Probably the biggest improvement is the new wizard-based interface that defines different types of RFX and Auctions, including Quick Quote and Simple Auction, that simplify event creation. In the new wizards, the user only needs to define the critical information necessary to create the event and can, if the user so chooses, define everything necessary to set up straight-forward RFXs and Auctions, including lots, on a single screen. While the workflow-driven wizards provided in many of today’s platforms are good, if you just need a quick quote or are auctioning office supplies, you just need to set it and forget it. The platform’s newfound ability to handle simple events with ease while simultaneously allowing for the creation of the most complex events one can think of is quite powerful for an organization that wants a single tool to handle the whole gamut of sourcing events. Now a user can define how much information is required to define an event and enter just that, whether it be a few pieces of information or a few hundred pieces of information. In addition, the new bidder UI is slick, clean, and quite easy to use.
Trade Extensions, which supports the Fortune 1000, has added new multi-project reporting which allows for the creation of (roll-up / drill-down) reports across projects. The user can select any set of projects and any set of scenarios in those projects and create a roll-up or comparison report across those projects on any set of dimensions and facts that they choose, which can be organized in a user-defined row-column format. One of the things that Trade Extensions noticed was that a number of users, even when their new OLAP reporting was rolled out product-wide in January, were still downloading reports to Excel for the sole purpose of reformatting them into a preferred or dictated format. So they built this capability, including pivot table functionality, into the tool. Combined with the ability for a user to create fields defined on just about any formula (macro) the user can imagine, there is now no need for a user to have to export to Excel for analysis or report formatting. It’s a very impressive leap forward in reporting and goes well beyond the reporting capabilities of most of the on-line sourcing and procurement platforms that SI has seen.
Trade Extensions has created a new set of rules that allows a user to define a scenario that uses allocations from an existing scenario for any subset of the award that they want to fix. No longer does a user have to copy the scenario and define fixed award rules, which can quickly lead to unsolveable scenarios if the user has 20 rules and messes up one or two to create a conflict that results in an unsolveable scenario. Just point at an existing scenario where part of the award is acceptable, indicate that the award for items X and Y at locations A through M are acceptable, and the tool will fix those allocations and build a smaller model that will solve faster (instead of a bigger model with more constraints that solves slower).
Come back tomorrow for Part II which will address the rest of the cool new features in Trade Extensions’ new release.