Supplier Relationship Management is quickly becoming the “hot topic” among progressive Procurement organizations that want to advance on their supply management journey, and materializing as a slew of checkboxes that are appearing on product selection and evaluation checklists. But Supplier Relationship Management, while a hot topic among buyers, and a hot topic among marketers, is not a hot topic among developers. While many suite suppliers have supplier management solutions, the reality is that the majority of these fall into the classic Supplier Information Management or the slightly more modern Supplier Performance Management buckets.
The reason that SRM is a “hot topic” but not a common offering is that to truly support the relationship “R” in SRM, the software has to go beyond simply tracking information, performance metrics, and action plans. It has to track, measure, and manage feedback — from the organization and the supplier, monitor measures that track the evolution of the relationship — and not just performance, and allow for the collaborative creation of action plans to improve the relationship.
While many platforms will track all relevant supplier information — such as locations, contacts, products; and all performance metrics — such as on time delivery, defect rate, and target cost performance; few will go beyond that. Only true best of breed SRM platforms will address the relationship aspect. One of these, and possibly the newest entrant to the SRM arena, is ClientLoyalty.
ClientLoyalty was founded with the desire to bring true relationship management to companies that realized that in order to get the most value for their money, and the best performance from their suppliers, they needed to actively measure, manage, and improve the relationship. Therefore, they built a tool that allows an organization to track, measure, and manage performance, experience, risk, and reputation and integrate this more holistic 360-degree view into a single relationship strength indicator using net promoter scores.
The net promoter score is a customer loyalty metric developed by Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company, ad Satmetrix Systems, and introduced by Reichheld in a HBR article in 2003. Calculated as the difference between positive responses and negative scores, the net promoter score is positive if the overall experience is generally positive and negative if the overall experience is generally negative. If the relationship is improving, then the net promoter score will improve over time and if the relationship is degrading, then the net promoter score will degrade over time.
The ClientLoyalty NPS Loyalty metric is the (possibly weighted) average of performance, experience, risk, and reputation. Performance is calculated using a net promoter score over hard performance metrics calculated and tracked by the organization and hard performance metrics submitted by the supplier. These metrics will generally differ as both parties will generally have different definitions and calculation parameters. For example, the buyer might define on time delivery as the truck in the yard at 8 am and the supplier might define on time delivery as the driver reporting a delivery on the same date. Because of this, the buyer might have an on time delivery rating on the supplier of 80% and the supplier might have an on time delivery rating for the buyer of 98%. In this situation, the supplier would have a negative NPS due to the buyer’s lower appraisal of the situation – and this discrepancy highlights an issue. In addition, the platform comes with over 90 built in KPI definitions that the organization can use to get started, and more appear with every release.
The platform also supports extensive document management capability. Users can upload and tag critical documents in a central storage system for easy search, reference, and tracking. Contracts can be specially tagged as contracts and additional metadata and tags defined for contract status tracking and monitoring. Attachments can be correlated as well.
It’s a rather unique offering as it appears to be the only one with true, 360-degree, NPS scores and a home-grown sentiment analysis algorithm that can monitor social media sources and news sites to identify relevant comments and stories and extract the sentiment from the sites and stories and integrate it into a consistent score and one of the first platforms built from the ground up with full data import and export capability through CSV, XML, and APIs and extensible document capability.
But, like any new platform, it does have its weaknesses. There is no out of the box support for major procurement and ERP platforms; no ability for automated meta-data identification and extraction; and no innovation management. An action plan is a corrective action plan, not an innovation management solution.
However, especially given the relative dearth of true SRM providers compared to SIM providers and Sourcing/Procurement suites, ClientLoyalty is still one to watch and one to likely put on the shortlist, especially in North America.