Daily Archives: November 14, 2013

It’s an e-Frenzy Out There! Can You Make Sense Of It All?

It’s an e-Frenzy out there! e-Sourcing. e-RFX. e-Procurement. e-Payment. e-Negotiation. e-Procure-to-Pay. e-Invoicing. e-Auction. e-Contract. etc.

The Supply Management solution space is filled with e-Solutions. And, as you might have guessed, they are not all the same. They solve different problems. Some solutions are sub-solutions of other solutions. Some focus purely on the sourcing side of the equation where the products and services are identified and contracted. Some focus purely on the procurement side, where requisitions are placed, purchase orders are placed, products are received, and invoices are processed. Some play on both sides of the sourcing and procurement pond, but only address a few functions from each side.

To help you understand what solution you really need, Sourcing Innovation is hosting a webinar on Making Sense of e- in Sourcing and Procurement: What Solution Do You Really Need?. This webinar, sponsored by the Next Level Purchasing Association (NLPA), taking place next Wednesday, November 20th at 8:30 am PST / 11:30 am EST / 4:30 pm GMT, is for NLPA members only, but basic membership is free. Space is limited, so (if necessary, join the NLPA and) sign up now.

In this webinar on Making Sense of e- in Sourcing and Procurement: What Solution Do You Really Need?, we will clearly define the sourcing and procurement cycle, indicate where each technology falls, outline what each technology does, and indicate the conditions that need to exist for each solution to potentially be appropriate. We will describe the e-Sourcing journey and provide the user with a starting set of questions that they can ask to determine what technologies they need to focus on as they look to acquire new sourcing and procurement technologies to support them in their Supply Management Journey.

Vinimaya: Taking Their Procurement Marketplace Global, Part III

In Part I we noted that since we last covered Vinimaya, the B2B Search Engine that was the the next wave in product catalogue management with their ability to do real-time federated search across all of your supplier databases, catalogues, and punch-outs through a single consumer-like search and shop interface, they have continued building out their base platform, adding (more extensive) auditing capability, workflow-based catalog management, quick-quote (RFX) capability, e-Forms, deep analytics capability, mobile capabilities, and social integration on top of a base platform that supported content management, federated search, powerful connectivity options, personalization and customization, globalization, and an easy to use shopping cart. Then, in Part II, we focused in on their vTransport and their new quick-order and e-Forms functionality, known as vQuote. Today we’re going to dive a little deeper into five of the new capabilities added since our last major review, starting with vQuote.

vQuote was specifically designed for the time when multiple bids is the right, or only, option but the situation does not warrant a full-scale sourcing event. For example, unless the organization is bundling the printer cartridge spend with the printers (which is generally NOT a good idea, by the way, since most printer manufacturers make their money off of ink that costs more than blood), running a full sourcing event to award next year’s printer cartridge buy is not worth the effort. Also, many small projects in the public sector, such as network support services at a small local government office, have to go to bid, but aren’t worth full scale sourcing events either. In this case, a quick quote — often to known suppliers already in the system, is typically the way to go. The Vinimaya vQuote solution was designed to make this process as quick, easy, and painless as possible — whether the request for quote was going to existing suppliers in the system or to new suppliers.

Since it was designed specifically for those categories of buys that fit between spot-buy from a catalog and full-fledged sourcing event, Vinimaya was able to streamline the solution significantly. Creating a quote request is as easy as giving a quote a name, specifying line items, selecting suppliers, and providing a due date – which can all be done on a single screen. If the line items are services, a SOW can be attached and quickly sent off. The buyer can see the status of the quote requests on a summary screen, review each quote as it is returned, compare them side-by-side in a summary report, and select a winner just by marking a quote, or line item from a quote, as awarded. It’s as quick and simple as a quoting solution can get and meet the needs of the quoting category they designed for.

vRank is the ability for a senior buyer or contract manager to ensure that contract items always appear first in the search results, that items from preferred suppliers always appear before items from non-preferred suppliers, and that prohibited items never appear. Basically, the administrator has the ability to assign each item that appears in a search result a rank between 1 (do not include) and 4 (show first), where 3 is (show ahead of other items) and 2 is (normal rank). It’s pretty simple, and it works based on the simple fact that almost half of all people who use search functionality click on the first link that is returned. (Recent Google statistics indicate that a whopping 47% of searchers click on the first search result.) The ranks can be applied to individual items or suppliers, with item ranks overriding supplier ranks). In addition, these ranks can be defined in real-time on every search and will take effect immediately on all future searches. This allows an administrator to define priorities as needed based upon what users are actually searching for and buying, saving a lot of up-front configuration to define ranks for products that might not even be searched for!

vCatalog updates the capability Vinimaya has always had to manage local catalogs in a manner that pushes all of the work back on the supplier. With vCatalog, a supplier that is not technical enough to, or that does not want to, maintain a punch-out or other on-line catalog can upload their entire catalog to the buyer through a web portal. The catalog file is completely validated, and any errors are pushed back to the supplier, with specific details on the error, for correction before it is allowed to be pushed to production.

vAudit is what allows a buying organization to take advantage of vendor managed catalogs with confidence. It continuously monitors products and pricing from punch-out, vCatalog, and web-db suppliers to make sure that prices are compliant with contracted prices or original quotes. As soon as a price is detected that is above the contracted price, the appropriate buyer representative is alerted to the issue. The system can be configured in three different ways:

  1. block a purchase for a product over the contract amount
  2. allow the checkout to proceed, but don’t send the PO to the supplier until the price is corrected
    (and alert an administrator to contact the supplier to get the price fixed)
  3. allow the checkout to proceed at the current price, but tag the item for proactive cost recovery

With the vAudit solution, it’s quick and painless to retrieve a report of all items bought above contract or quoted price in a given timeframe, and just as simple to break it down by supplier to allow the AP department to go after suppliers for money owed.

vAnalytics is Vinimaya’s new reporting engine that was designed to provide Procurement Directors with an understanding of what people were buying and how they were selecting the items they were buying. With the understanding that the purchase process cannot be optimized without a good understanding of shopper behaviour, Vinimaya built a platform that allowed a Procurement Director to understand not only the the top purchases, the top suppliers, and the top buyers, but also the top search terms, the items they led to, the failed search terms, and the actions the buyer took on a failed search.

vAnalytics, which includes a report builder, has all of the standard reporting package features you would expect in a Procurement reporting system and allows reports to be created by supplier, buyer, item, and even checkout process. Common report types include unique users, spend by supplier, line items by supplier, utilization by search time, and out of compliance check-outs (if they are permitted). Since these reports are against real-time data (and not cached in an OLAP system), some can take a few minutes to run, but those restricted to a single-user or supplier will typically be quite responsive. And, of course, all data in the entire Vinimaya platform is exportable.

Vinimaya has also made advancements in mobile and social, but these enhancements will be the subject of a future post on the Vinimaya Global Procurement Marketplace.