In Part I we noted that, despite the fact that SIM (Supplier Information Management) was old news and a mature Supply Management solution offering (as the early leaders in this space were formed as early as 2000), it may still have a few tricks up its sleeves and the acquisition of the right technology platform might just get the acquirer a shiny new pair of shoes that are as coveted as Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers. (Of course, the acquisition of the wrong technology might get the acquirer a pink slip.)
We also noted in Part I that HICX, which stands for Harmonize, Integrate, Control, and eXchange, a relatively new SIM offering on the market (even though it has been in development since 2004), 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 as it brings with it a new bag of tricks. How does it do this?
Let’s start with the five major areas of SIM covered in Part I:
The HICX platform not only allows the entire process to be automated, but allows the workflow to be customized to each supplier according to the supplier type (sub-contractor, one-off vendor, product, service, importer, government agency, etc.), the region the supplier is in, the business unit(s) the supplier deals with, the products or services the supplier offers, the languages the supplier uses, and the data that is required for performance, compliance, or other initiatives that involve the supplier. The customized process insures that the supplier is only asked for data that is needed, and that the supplier can designate the appropriate personnel to provide that data. The portal can be configured to include a significant number of data checks to not only make sure that the data is of the right type (numeric, alpha-numeric, attachment, etc.) but that the data provided makes sense (is in range, is from a pre-defined set of answers, etc.) — which prevents a lot of typos (which can result in bad scorecards and unnecessary alerts in an exception management setup, which the platform also supports). In addition, known supplier data can be pre-populated for review, and can even come from supplier directories (including the D&B directory). It’s very easy for the user doing the onboarding to customize this process as that user can customize the process by simply selecting the supplier type, region, business unit, products, services, languages, etc. of relevance to each supplier and the system does the rest. The user then has the option to add or remove additional requirements for individual suppliers, and override any and all defaults (that they have the authority to override as per the fine-grained permissions and securities models).
- Master Data Management
Not only does the MDM solution provide you with numerous “out-of-the-box” data models, standards, and validations that you can customize as needed, but it recognizes that MDM systems have to integrate with downstream ERP/MRP systems, upstream sourcing and procurement systems, and even overarching BI, Spend Analysis, and Reporting systems that cross and connect the streams. (Supply Management streams are not dematerializers — sometimes it is beneficial if the streams cross.) As a result, it has out-of-the-box integrations with a number of upstream, downstream, and mid-stream systems and can push, pull, and sync data as required according to any number of user-defined rules. Plus, it allows certain aspects of master data, including bank master data, to be handled separately (and stored in separate, heavily encrypted, and highly secure data sources).
- Performance Management
The performance management component, as expected, allows the user to build scorecards around business goals and use whatever information is required, whether it is supplier provided, internal or third-party and whether it comes from the SIM solution, upstream solutions, downstream solutions, or cross-stream solutions. It also supports a very dynamic and flexible scoring mechanism that can support whatever formulae the user feels is necessary to construct an adequate scorecard.
- Compliance Management
The compliance module allows the user to create and manage compliance initiatives across one or more suppliers for one or more projects. This can be as simple as collecting raw material data to insure that the products your suppliers are manufacturing do not contain any restricted substances under RoHS or other directives, or as complex as collecting all data relating to sustainability initiatives to directly and indirectly support your organization-wide Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative.
- Integrated Supplier Portal
As per our coverage of the on-boarding solution, the portal is streamlined so that the supplier is only asked for data that is needed, all aspects of the portal provide the supplier with a consistent experience, and the supplier can designate the appropriate personnel to provide and maintain the data that is needed on a data type, product, or initiative basis.
But this is not all that the HICX solution has to offer. Come back for Part III.