Daily Archives: February 11, 2014

B2BConnex – Connecting Companies the World Over Part I

Since we first introduced you to B2BConnex, a solution for e-Document Management that was designed to automate the end-to-end purchasing process, they’ve been working hard to extend their platform and serve the global operations of their customer base. Even though, as we noted in our first post, their solution was targeted at small and mid-size manufacturing organizations that are still mired in the ERP and need better solutions for their purchasing function, B2BConnex has recently acquired some larger mid-sized companies with global operations and a global supply base. As a result, B2BConnex has been steadily expanding their solution capability and footprint to meet the needs of these larger clients.

As per our post on e-Document Management for Small & Mid-Size Manufacturers, they started out as an e-Document Management solution, implemented as a simple web-based portal solution that integrated with the back-end ERP and/or MRP system, that allowed purchasing and logistics personnel to efficiently manage RFQs, Purchase Orders, Kanban Orders, Shipment Notices, Payment Inquiries, and Invoices and sales to efficiently handle inbound RFQs, sales orders, and inbound shipment inquiries. On top of this, as per our post on automate the end-to-end purchasing process, they built m-way matching and reporting capabilities (and can tell you whether or not the invoice matches the purchase order and / or the goods receipt), scorecard capability, and customer branding capability as well as streamlined Excel integration and a shopping cart that runs on a customer catalog.

Since then they have been hard at work adding more and/or improved document types (including requisitions, specifications, surveys, etc.), scorecard corrective action reporting (SCAR), the ability to have multiple configurations of the software for different geographies/countries/divisions/departments/plants, an improved shopping cart solution, more integration options out-of-the-box, more usability features (such as the ability for a supplier to flip a PO, or line items, into an invoice or ASN and a buyer to flip an invoice, or line items, into a goods receipt), and more customization capability (which allows the entire look-and-feel to be custom skinned, including layout options, by the customer). In today’s post we will talk about the streamlining that B2BConnex has implemented since we last covered their application, the enhanced reporting, and the configuration capability. In tomorrow’s post, we will discuss their improved catalog and shopping cart capability, their B2B Direct solution, and the associated services that B2BConnex offers.

All of the relevant fields of the documents can be edited in-line in the application. For example, once a purchase order has been created, the supplier can request changes online to pricing, quantities, delivery date or other data which are updated in your ERP system once approved . All changes are tracked and a full audit trail is maintained, as well as any or all comments attached to the purchase order. The same holds for the shipment notice, which can be created by a supplier with access to the supplier portal. The shipment notice can be created from a single purchase order or from open line items from multiple orders. Similarly, Corrective Action Requests can be created manually and can reference invoices, shipment notices, or goods receipts and be associated with the requisite line items.

The UI has been streamlined so that when a user logs in, they can quickly view a list of all documents that have been assigned to them and how many of those documents require (immediate) attention. This allows the user — be it a buyer, logistics manager, or supplier — to focus their attention on those items that require immediate attention and prioritize their workday.

In addition, document creation has been streamlined so that a user only has to enter minimal meta-data information, as each document can have as many attachments as is required to create the specification, RFQ, or scorecard. In addition, all documents can be created from Excel sheets, and templates can be exported from the application.

Custom reports can be built on any data in the system, and the reporting capability allows the user to quickly retrieve only those documents that have been recently reviewed, changed, accepted, negotiated, approved, satisfied, etc. and restricted to a supplier, buyer, etc. based on the audit-trails and meta-data maintained by the system. Built-in reports, all of which are configurable, include performance summary, response time, negation detail, time to approval, received unapproved, delivery, price data, first pass yield, open document line, and transit days report — all designed to measure the performance of purchasing.

The configuration capability is quite extensive. The administrator can configure look and feel, fields displayed for view or update, status codes, currencies, languages, scheduling, expediting, user accounts, account policies, logging, file I/O, EDI, portal options, individual geography/department configurations, ERP integration (including users, data field mappings, etc.), partners, partner profiles, items, and catalogues, and other data items of relevance. The solution can be customized to fit the process of the buying organization and the workflow of the applications the personnel are used to.

Come back tomorrow for a review of additional capabilities added by B2BConnex since our last posts as well as a discussion of the services they offer.