Last week we asked if SIM was old news or a shiny new pair of shoes. We noted that SIM (Supplier Information Management) was a mature and stable technology with a large number of solution providers not only providing the tools and best practices to manage supplier life-cycles, but to manage risk, compliance, receivables and even spend repositories for spend management. It’s almost a commodity in the Supply Management space, and, thus, an acquisition thereof is not likely to get baby that new pair of shoes anytime soon. Unless, of course, the solution has some new tricks not found in most current solutions.
What tricks? Tricks that provide added value to your organization. What might these tricks look like? As per our last post on the issue, if the SIM product not only allowed a user to define, and redefine, data models as necessary but define, and redefine, workflows as necessary to allow an organization to not only accommodate new product demands but adapt to new technologies and new business requirements as they arise, then this would qualify as new tricks as many classic SIM products have rather fixed data models and inflexible workflows. It’s not the only new trick that would have value, but it is a new trick. And it’s a new trick that HICX Solutions brings to the table with their SIM solution. More on this later.
HICX, which stands for Harmonize, Integrate, Control, and eXchange, is a relatively new SIM offering (even though it has been in development since 2004) that not only addresses the classic SIM sweet-spots, but also hits a few new ones that can bring significant value to your organization if properly implemented and utilized. But let’s back up a bit.
In addition to classic SIM, the HICX SIM platform addresses each of the following areas, which, with the exception of MDM, are all addressed by most current SIM platforms:
- OnboardingHICX is not the first SIM provider to have a comprehensive on-boarding solution, and won’t be the last, but they are one of the few that recognizes the absolute criticality of a good on-boarding process as effective SIM is 100% dependent on good, complete supplier data — which is dependent on the supplier providing that data to you on a timely basis. This is, of course, dependent on getting the supplier on-board not only with your efforts but the systems you use to collect the data. As a result, effective on-boarding is key.
- Master Data ManagementWhile many SIM solutions manage data, most can’t serve as your MDM (Master Data Management) repository. However, the HICX solution can. This is important since most Supply Management solutions outside of the ERP space do not have MDM capabilities. But MDM is the key to good supplier and supply management initiatives as every initiative — analysis, modelling, payments, reporting — requires good data. And since the ERP is usually so tightly locked down, and such a mess, you rarely get the good data you need out of it.
- Performance ManagementThe whole point of collecting good information is to help the organization effectively manage the supply base and improve both organization and supplier performance. As such, this was the first major piece of functionality offered by SIM providers and one of the staples that should be offered by every SIM provider.
- Compliance ManagementA critical part of performance management is compliance management. It doesn’t matter if your supplier can produce the product 10% cheaper if they do so using a chemical that is banned under RoHS and your product would be confiscated if you tried to import it. Compliance is critical. Compliance with regulations and directives. Compliance with agreed to processes. Compliance with ethics. So you definitely need good compliance management capabilities.
- Integrated Supplier PortalThe best way to get the data is directly from the supplier, and the supplier is only going to buy-in if the portal is easy to use and integrated. If the supplier has to go to a separate page for each request, with a different login, workflow and UI, the supplier is going to start boycotting your tools and your initiatives faster than the hammer drops.
Moreover, in a few of these areas, and MDM in particular, the HICX solution adds a few tricks of its own. What tricks? Come back for Part II.