Supplier Information Management, also known as SIM (but which has almost nothing to do with your Subscriber Identity Module card in your cell phone), is not new. The early leader in this space, Aravo, which boasted the likes of GE and CISCO as clients, was formed in 2000 and followed not only by a slew of companies trying to be best of breed in SIM (including AECSoft, now owned by SciQuest, Hiperos, and Lavante, to name a few) but by a slew of suite vendors that began to implement enhanced SIM into their platforms (including Ariba, Iasta, and Zycus).
And most of the basic features are now commodity. Try to find a vendor that sells SIM that doesn’t track all headquarter location, financial, core product, service, insurance, and third party risk information associated with a tier 1 supplier. Most of the good vendors also track third party credentials, compliance information against all relevant laws and directives, internal performance metrics and third party ratings, and even integration with third party supplier directories and databases.
And the uses are well known.
- Where are the bulk of my suppliers located?
- What is the financial health (risk score) of my top 100 suppliers?
- Are any of my products out of compliance with regulations in one or more countries?
- Do all of my suppliers have their relevant insurance certificates up to date?
- Who are my riskiest suppliers?
- Have all of my suppliers verified their primary contacts in the last six months?
And the more mature companies, to try and maintain an edge, maintain their customer base, and expand into new companies and additional verticals have started to integrate additional, and related, functionality. Aravo evolved into a full Supplier Lifecycle Management solution that balanced compliance, performance, and risk management. Hiperos is focussing on Third Party Management and on Compliance and Risk Management in particular. For example, their compliance management solutions include code of conduct, diversity management, insurance attestation, social accountability, and sustainability. Lavante is focussing on on-boarding and integrating SIM with audit recovery services.
When all is said and done, SIM seems like a mature space that is old news in Supply Management. And betting on it probably musters the image of an old gambler clutching dice in one hand and his last dollar in the other mumbling “baby needs a new pair of shoes“. But is it a bet you would lose?