Category Archives: Supplier Information Management

Synching with State of Flux — Do the Oscillations Resonate?

It’s been a few years since SI checked in with State of Flux, so when the oscillations recently synched, it was time to see what this long-time leader in Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) has been up to. With it’s long history in helping clients actually manage supplier relationships, and 15 years doing global supplier research (having just completed its global benchmark survey for it’s 15th annual supplier management study which will be released later this year), it’s not only a grand-daddy of the space but one which gets wiser with age.

If you review the previous posts on State of Flux and their SupplierBase solution (which was, once upon a time, called Statess), you’ll see that State of Flux offers an extensive Supplier Relationship Management platform that, to various extents, offers capabilities in:

  • supplier & prospective supplier management (& onboarding)
  • supplier performance management / KPI tracking
  • supplier compliance management [intelligence]
  • supplier risk management
  • supplier contract management
  • supplier ESG management
  • supplier innovation (challenge) management
  • supplier reporting / snapshots
  • supplier relationship / plan management

We’re not going to repeat anything we covered before, especially in our posts on

… but we are going to highlight recent improvements or capabilities that were not highlighted before (which may or may not have been there in 2016).

We’re going to take the “modules” one by one, and cover them in the order above, starting with: supplier & prospective supplier management.

You can’t have SIM/SRM without supplier onboarding and basic supplier management, and in terms of the management, they have it down quite well. You can customize your profiles, track as little or as much as you want to on your suppliers (by supplier type), quickly pop-up an overview card or a status card (on how many outstanding actions, items, messages, meetings, KPI flags, risk flags, data updates, etc. you need to review and deal with), and dive into any area of tracked data in any of the categories we are going to cover below.

In terms of onboarding it’s good, but it’s one of the oldest parts of the platform and a bit slow, so, to that end, it is currently being updated end-to-end to take advantage of all recent stack and technology improvements, streamline the process, improve the response time, and enhance the UX.

Moving on to supplier performance management / KPI tracking, as per past coverage, they’ve always had this down pat and can support multi-level KPIS, roll-up and down divisions, departments, and teams as required in any split you want, normalize all metrics to a common scale for (dashboard) display and comparison automatically, and give you deep insight.

The only real weakness is that they don’t yet have an (Open)API or support integrations to any other enterprise systems where key performance data resides. (It is on the roadmap, but we don’t have an expected release date.) As such, you are limited to their import functionality, and will likely need to export all the data you need in CSV and manually (schedule) the imports, or having an API custom developed on demand (which they can do during system implementation) to any system you need integration to.

With respect to supplier compliance management, which they call Intelligence, they’ve always been good here, and have supported certification/compliance document tracking for years, but with their generic survey capability and extensive experience, upon setup, they can help you build / provide you with templates, for a whole host of compliance needs and requirements and go as broad and deep as you desire. They can also track certificates, insurance, product spec sheets, and any other documents that you require.

And then there’s supplier risk management which, like compliance, they’ve been good at for a while, and like compliance, not a lot of new capability (that will get your attention). Their platform takes a buyer-centric approach to risk — the buying organization defines what’s important to them from a performance/relationship perspective, what the risks are, the information that will help them assess that risk, builds the questionnaires and surveys they need the suppliers to answer, includes those in onboarding / innovation challenge / ESG / contracting initiatives, and then build metrics to assess them.

The only external risk data feed / risk score they can import out-of-the-box today is CreditSafe, which is retiring, but they have an integration with S&P Global Partnership forthcoming to replace it. Also, as per above, they don’t yet have an (Open)API to allow you to plug and play risk data feeds of your choice, but can custom integrate any you need upon system implementation. You have to send surveys or load well-formatted CSV files. Better integration/load capabilities are on the roadmap, but there is no committed date yet for general release, nor decision as to how complete a public API will be. So if you can’t send surveys, you will have to export the data into flat files and load them.

Now for supplier contract management. This is where you quickly notice one of the most significant enhancements to the platform since SI last covered it. While it still doesn’t do authoring or version tracking, and they do integrate with Zoho for that if you want it, they have implemented a full end-to-end contracting process model that consists of the following steps:

  • request – where it captures the contract type, the product/service category and template, and the necessary approval routing;
  • creation – where it captures all of the necessary metadata, and then the contract document and/or integrates with zoho for the creation of the contract document (and version tracking)
  • review – where it forces the appropriate people to review their portions, confirm review and okay and issue, and potentially sends the contract back to negotiation
  • final review – where key parties have to sign off before it is sent to the managers/owners for approval
  • supplier signature – which can be through DocuSign integration
  • buyer signature – which can be through DocuSign integration

The process is so good that an average mid-sized enterprise won’t need a Best-of-Breed (BoB) standalone CLM, and just a basic authoring solution, like Zoho, to get contracts under their control.

Tackling supplier ESG management, this is a relatively new module that allows an organization to track it’s ESG initiatives, the associated data, supplier assessments and reviews, associated challenges, and select data to support the supply base / supplier development plans (which we’ll discuss down the virtual page). It’s not meant to be an ESG Calculator, Scope 3 solution, or similar offering. The whole point of it is that it’s not just compliance or risk, but an area on its own that must be managed.

With regards to supplier innovation (challenge) management, this is one of their classic areas of functionality, as they were one of the first pure SRM platforms to include it as sometimes the only way for a supplier to be right for you is if they can come up with a better solution to your problem or product production through a challenge.

That being said, it’s not NPD/NPI, it’s not full project management, and it’s not even full innovation (but more challenge) management (as that may require CAD/CAM diagrams, extensive on-line design/visual collaboration, etc.), but it gets the job done, it’s easy to use, it’s streamlined, and it can be fit easily into overall supplier profiles and programs.

We’re not sure how much has changed in underlying reporting and dashboarding capability, but we can say it does look a lot cleaner and seems to load a lot faster than years ago. Also, not only are they highly configurable (as you would expect in a modern BoB solution, although there are limits on how much is self-serve vs. State of Flux configuration), but as they have learned and advanced through the years (through their consulting practice and fifteen years of research), their out-of-the-box configurations have improved by the year to the point where most organizations should get the majority of the metrics and insight they need with out-of-the-box configurations.

Finally, we’ll tackle the core of the platform the supplier relationship / plan management capability. This is where they’ve done the most work, or at least the most improvement, since SI covered the solution last. While it’s not to say that, regardless of what was and was not said above, they have not made improvements across the entire platform in the past six years, as they most certainly have, it is to say that only a few areas are really standing out as being considerably improved (and not just updated/progressed as expected).

What really stands out here is their integrated support for supplier-based strategic and joint business plans based on a full relationship profile and a 360-degree relationship assessment. The depth of detail that is captured around:

  • the relationship context
  • the relationship SWOT
  • strategy / development goals
  • 360-degree interaction
  • governance (with respects to roles and responsibilities on both sides)
  • risks
  • contracts
  • spend / category information (which must be loaded)
  • projects / action plans

is second-to-none. If this is the type of capability you are looking for with regards to strategic supplier management, this is the capability you really need a demo of, and not a third party overview. You need to see it to get the full depth of the capability and potential for your organization.

In addition, they have improved their meeting/calendar/communication management functionality and you can schedule all of your meetings inside the platform as well as manage all of your communications, including those through e-mail, so you maintain the complete interaction history with the supplier and its personnel.

In other words, it’s not only managing the supplier data, or the interaction, but all aspects of the relationship as well as the plans to improve that relationship. It’s rather unique in that way. It may not be best-in-class in specific functionality, and you may need to augment certain areas for risk, innovation/NPD/NPI, ESG, etc., but you have the central management platform and data store that you need to power your supplier-centric sourcing and procurement eco-system.

If this sounds like what you want in a strategic supplier relationship management platform, then the State of Flux SupplierBase solution should definitely be on your shortlist. Especially when they can offer full service around integration, best-practice consulting, training, and research findings to jump-start a program or shift an existing one into high gear.

Postscript: We’ve covered State of Flux, and their philosophy to leading SRM practices, quite a bit in the past. Here are some in-depth series from 2015 and 2016.

SupplHi – A Best of Breed Supplier Management Platform for Industrial MRO

In a recent article, we noted that It Does Not Matter Where You Start, You End with BoB in SXM, and if you in the business of industrial MRO, it’s likely that your BoB will be SupplHi.

SupplHi is one of the broadest, and deepest, solutions we’ve seen for Industrial MRO (and Direct in general, but the fact that they have 90% of the supply base in certain MRO categories makes them extremely suited for that categories, as well as the fact that they have the deepest out-of-the-box categorization for MRO which includes 2,600 categories across 250 families in 45 groups of supply [request download] makes them extremely well suited to MRO), covering (at least) baseline functionality across (at least) 7 of the 10 core areas and information tracking in 2 more (Quality and Performance), a claim that only a select few vendors can make in Direct and, as far as we know, none can make in MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Operation) [for both equipment and services).

SupplHi can be summed out as the Closed Loop Supplier Management Hub for your Industrial MRO Supply Base, which not only allows you to centralize all of the data (if not manage it natively) to support all of the supplier related activities, but also gain visibility through multiple levels of the supply chain while evaluating potential (Tier 1) suppliers for risk, compliance, and performance.

If you tried to read that, you’ll realize that’s a mouthful and tightly packed with impressive claims, so let’s talk about how SupplHi supports the Industrial MRO/Classic Direct lifecycle, and then quickly overview the main features.

  • Discovery: a network of over 100K suppliers that is growing daily focused on Industrial MRO
  • Onboarding: a plethora of features and apps to make it easy to onboard suppliers
  • Evaluation: in addition to collecting information on products AND capabilities, collect and store public/shared information on risk, sustainability, certifications, perform due diligence, etc.
  • Monitoring : track all relevant quality, compliance, sustainability, risk, and performance data
  • Management/Development : performance evaluation, sustainability monitoring (including Scope 3), non-conformity management, and development campaigns
  • OffBoarding : status marking, performance evaluations, (de)qualification, etc.

… and if a supplier corrects an issue (lack of certification), adds a capability (factory upgrade), address a major risk, etc., then the cycle can begin again with (re-)onboarding. It’s truly closed loop — and the (pre-defined) master data management capability is among the most extensive data models we’ve ever seen.

The SupplHi site markets a large number of capabilities (which it calls apps, of which there appear to be 25+, in addition to integration services, ad-hoc services, etc.), but six key capabilities that make SupplHi stand out are:

  • DEEP EXTENSIBLE PROFILE: it’s MDM capability allows it to track any and all data you need to track on the supplier, including products, capabilities, certifications, sustainability ratings, quality (metrics), performance metrics, sub-tier supplier linkages, etc.
  • DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT: all product specs, certifications, (insurance) certificates, contracts, assessments, etc.
  • CERTIFICATION AND BANK ACCOUNT VALIDATION: in the platform, no reliance on a buyer NOT fat-fingering a critical piece of info.
  • MULTI-TIER VISIBILITY: few platforms have this, but due to their deep knowledge of the Industrial MRO space and extensible Master Data Management approach that allows suppliers to identify their suppliers, they can map, and visualize, a typical supply chain to the source suppliers even during the Scouting/Discovery phase
  • SUPPLIER CAPABILITY TRACKING: it can track the types of engineer specialties, the machinery available, international codes/standards supported, sub-tier suppliers by category (down to level 3 in the category tree), policies, energy efficiency, and other data required for a proper assessment of an equipment and/or services Industrial MRO supplier
  • ACTION MANAGEMENT: simple information requests, quality issues, development projects (as part of a campaign), etc. all fall under actions that the platform can manage

In other words, as we said before, it’s broad, it’s deep, it has direct capabilities that only a few competitors posses, and it’s built-in category framework and extensive supplier network make it unparalleled in Industrial MRO.

You don’t have to just take our word for it. You can also see:

It Doesn’t Matter Where You Start, You End with BoB in SXM!

In a recent article, we asked in the battle of Suite vs. BoB (Best-of-Breed), which do you choose, and ended up with the answer of neither, but potentially both, because, as indicated in our article we asked in our post on Where’s the Procurement Management Platform, you need a true platform (that enables the creation of a true source-to-pay plus ecosystem for the various workflows and processes that need to be managed).

As a result, we indicated you could start where you wanted, provided:

  • you could conceivably manage it (if you don’t have any reasonably modern e-Procurement applications, expecting you can dive into more than a couple, learn them, and incorporate them in your daily processes in a short-time frame is completely unrealistic, so you shouldn’t buy from a suite vendor unless you can activate modules over time as you are ready for them)
  • the vendor offers, and publicly publishes, a complete Open API that, at a minimum, can be used to import and export all data the platform supports and should support the execution of core functions (so that you can script in a related module a date/time-based import/refresh process, re-execution of a core function/calculation, and retrieval of updated results)
  • the vendor offers the necessary quick-start services (you need to be able to get going quickly — if it requires a 3 to 6 month onboarding process, you’re dead in the water before you begin from both a first year ROI and adoption perspective)

But where do you end up? It depends. On what:

  • the module (Spend Analysis, Sourcing, Contract Management, Supplier Management, e-Procurement, e-Invoicing/AP, etc.)
  • the organization’s biggest need for workflow/process management
  • the organization’s biggest savings/cost avoidance/value creation opportunities

And for some modules, like e-Procurement, standard sourcing (no optimization/automation), AP (accounts payable), it’s quite hard to make the case for one over the other for an average organization (as it’s not how many features, functions, bells, and whistles, but which of those will actually add value to the organization acquiring the solution).

But for others, it’s crystal clear. And the clearest case is Supplier Management. Why? As per our recent article in our Source-to-Pay+ Series, Supplier Management is a CORNED QUIP Mash, and there’s no way that a suite, which is typically only average across-the-board, is going to be deep enough for the key functionalities needed by an organization (and the majority only address SIM reasonably well, with limited SRM-related capabilities). In fact, you’re not even going to find a single BoB provider that provides leading functionality in more than a few areas of what supplier management can encompass (especially if an organization needs quality, enablement/innovation, orchestration, or other specific direct or service support requirements, etc.). (So do you think you’re finding a suite that does everything? Not a chance!)

So you can start with a suite (that serves as a foundation for comprehensive SIM), or even a module from a BoB provider (that likely provides baseline Supplier Information Management as a Sourcing/CLM/Analytics add-on), but if you are serious about improving supplier performance (quality, compliance, cost of service), you will eventually progress to one (or, for extensive, different, Supplier Management needs, multiple) BoB solutions.

The 39 Steps … err … The 39 Clues … err … The 39 Part Series to Help You Figure Out Where to Start with Source-to-Pay

Figuring out where to start is not easy, and often never where the majority of vendors or consultants say you should start. They’ll have great reasons for their recommendations, which will typically be true, but they will be the subset of reasons that most benefits them (as it will sell their solution), and not necessarily the subset of reasons that most benefits you now. While you will likely need every module there is in the long run, you can often only start with one or two, and you need to focus on what’s the greatest ROI now to prove the investment and help you acquire funds to get more capability later, when you are ready for it. But figuring out how much you can handle, what the greatest needs are, and the necessary starting points aren’t easy, and that’s why SI dove into this topic, with arguments and explanations and module overviews, both broader and deeper than any analyst firm or blogger has done before. Enjoy!

Introductory Posts:
Part 1: Where Do You Start?
Part 2: Where Should You Start?
Part 3: You Start with …
Part 4: e-Procurement, and Here’s Why.

Part 5: Defining an e-Procurement Baseline
Part 6: There are Barriers to Selecting an e-Procurement Solution (and they are not what you think)
Part 7: Over 70 e-Procurement Companies to Check Out

Interlude 1
Part 8: What Comes Next?

Spend Analysis
Part 9: Time for Spend Analysis
Part 10: What Do You Need for A Spend Analysis Baseline, I
Part 11: What Do You Need for A Spend Analysis Baseline, II
Part 12: Over 40 Spend Analysis Vendors to Check Out

Interlude 2
Part 13: But I Can’t Touch the Sacred Cows!
(including Over 20 SaaS, 10 Legal, and 5 Marketing Spend Management / Analysis Companies to Check Out)
Part 14: Do Not Stop At Spend Analysis!

Supplier Management
Part 15: Supplier Management is a CORNED QUIP Mash
Part 16: Supplier Management A-Side
Part 17: Supplier Management B-Side
Part 18: Supplier Management C-Side
Part 19: Supplier Management D-Side
Part 20: Over 90 Supplier Management Companies to Check Out

Contract Management
Part 21: Time for Contract Management
Part 22: Contract Management is a NAG: Let’s Start with Negotiation
Part 23: Contract Management is a NAG: Let’s Continue with [Contract]Analytics
Part 24: Contract Management is a NAG: Let’s End with [Contract] Governance
Part 25: Over 80 Contract Management Vendors to Check Out

Part 26: Time for e-Sourcing
Part 27: Breaking Down the ORA of Sourcing Starting With RFX
Part 28: Breaking Down the ORA of Sourcing Continuing with e-Auctions
Part 29: Breaking Down the ORA of Sourcing Ending with [Strategic Sourcing Decision] Optimization
Part 30: Over 75 e-Sourcing Vendors to Check Out!

Invoice-to-Pay (I2P):
Part 31: Time for Invoice-to-Pay
Part 32: Breaking Down the Invoice-to-Pay Core
Part 33: Over 75 Invoice-to-Pay Companies to Check Out

Part 34: How Do I Orchestrate Everything?
Part 35: Do I Intake, Manage, or Orchestrate?
Part 36: Over 20 Intake, [Procurement] [Project] Management, and/or Orchestration Companies to Check Out
Part 37: Investigating Intake By Diving In to the Details
Part 38: Prettying Up the Project with Procurement Project Management
Part 39: Deobfuscating the Orchestration and Fitting it All Together

Source-to-Pay+ is Extensive (P20) … And Supplier Management Very Extensive … So Here Are Over 100 Supplier Management Companies to Check Out!

And now the post you’ve all been waiting for! A partial, starting, list of over 100 supplier management companies that may (or may not) meet some, or many, of the core baseline capabilities we outlined in the last four parts of this series (Part 16, Part 17, Part 18 and Part 19) as we discussed the A, B, C, and D sides of Supplier Management today (with more sides emerging, as we still haven’t discussed ESG and Diversity, to name a couple of topics, as those providers are mainly data providers today, which you integrate into your SIM, SCM, SUM, or SRM solution today).

As with our lists of e-Procurement Companies (in Part 7), Spend Analysis Companies (in Part 12), and Sacred Cow Companies that do, or support, customized “spend” analysis on Marketing, Legal, and SaaS (in Part 13), we must again give our disclaimer that this list is in no-way complete (as no analyst is aware of every company), is only valid as of the date of posting (as companies sometimes go out of business and acquisitions happen all of the time in our space), and does NOT include any companies that just (or primarily) do ESG data collection (or carbon calculators), diversity data enrichment, or other emerging areas of supplier management not in the ten (10) areas we’ve covered so far (for which there are actual solutions that do more than just supplier record data enrichment) in our expository on the CORNED QUIP mash of Supplier Management.

Furthermore, as we’ve said before, not all vendors are equal, and we’d venture to say NONE of the following are equal. The companies below are of all sizes (very small to very large, relative to vendor sizes in our space), cover the baseline differently (in terms of percentage of features offered, the various degrees of depth in the feature implementations, and differing levels of customization for a vertical), offer different additional features, have different types of service offerings (backed up by different expertise), focus on different company sizes, and focus on different technology ecosystems (such as plugging into other platforms/ecosystems, serving as the core platform for certain functions or data, offering a plug-and-play module for a larger ecosystem, focussing on the dominant technology ecosystem(s) in one or more verticals), etc.

Do your research, and reach out to an expert for help if you need it in compiling a starting short list of relevant, comparable, vendors for your organization and its specific needs. For many of these vendors, good starting points can again be found in the Sourcing Innovation archives, Spend Matters Pro, and Gartner Cool Vendor write-ups if any of these sources has a write-up on the vendor.

HQ (Country)
Achilles 757 United Kingdom N I
Advanced 2769 United Kingdom R U I P
apexanalytix 411 North Carolina, USA D U I
Aravo 117 California, USA C R U I P
Arcus (Trade Interchange) 27 United Kingdom C I P
Avetta 833 Utah, USA C R N I
Axiscope 13 France C R Q U I
Basware 1575 Finland N I
Bedrock 78 Florida, USA R I
Beroe 660 North Carolina, USA O D U I
Brooklyn Solutions 24 United Kingdom C R U I
Canopy 14 United Kingdom C R U I
Claritum 7 United Kingdom I P
CMX1 75 California, USA C R Q I P
Corcentric 601 New Jersey, USA R I
Coupa 3687 California, USA R N U I
Delta eSourcing 206 United Kingdom I
Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) 5569 Florida, USA C U I
eBidToPay ?? Germany R Q I
Ecovadis 1418 France C U I
eCratum 12 Germany N I
ECSourcing (Simfoni) 11 New York, USA C R I
Everstream Analytics 183 California, USA O U I
FullStep 130 Spain U I P
GateKeeper 101 United Kingdom C U I
GEP 4803 New Jersey, USA R I P
GHX 1394 Colorado, USA C N I
Globality 178 C R D I
GraphiteConnect 62 Utah, USA R E U I
GRMS 29 California, USA U I
Hellios Information 74 United Kingdom N I
HICX 117 United Kingdom C R I
Ignite Procurement 65 Norway R U I P
Informatica 5992 California, USA I
IntegrityNext 61 Germany C R U I
Intenda 109 South Africa I
Interos 254 Virginia, USA C O D U I
Ion Wave 22 Missouri, USA R I
IS Networld 1007 Texas, USA C N I
ISPnext 59 Netherlands U I
Ivalua 900 California, USA C R U I P
Jaggaer 1313 North Carolina, USA R N U I
K2 Sourcing 10 Wisconsin, USA I
Khareed 5 Pakistan I P
Kodiak Hub 40 Sweden R U I P
LeanLinking 33 Denmark R U I P
LexisNexis 10348 New York, USA U I
LGX Corp ?? North Carolina, USA I
LiveSource (Blume Global) 8 Georgia, USA R E Q I P
LUPR 5 New Jersey, USA R U I P
Market Dojo 34 United Kingdom R I
MarketPlanet 72 Poland R I P
Matchory 12 Germany D I
MCO (My Compliance Office) 188 New York, USA C U I
Medius (Wax Digital) 568 Sweden R I
Mercell 462 Norway R I P
MeRLIN (Rheinbrucke) 172 Germany R I
Meshworks 18 Ohio, USA R Q I
MFG 468 Georgia, USA D I
Newtron 54 Germany R N Q U I
Oalia 24 France I
Oboloo 6 United Kingdom C I P
Onventis 147 Germany R N D I P
Open Windows Software 29 Australia C R I P
OpusCapita 474 Finland N I
PratisPro ?? Turkey I P
Proactis 566 United Kingdom R N I
ProcessUnity 143 Massachusetts, USA R U I
Procurence 9 Poland C R E Q U I
ProcurePort 8 Indiana, USA R I
ProcureWare ?? Washington, USA R I
Prokuria 8 Romania I P
Promena 18 Turkey R D I
Prospeum 6 Germany I P
QAD Allocation ?? California, USA C R Q I P
QMSC 15 Texas, USA Q I
Raindrop 29 California, USA R I
Resilinc 299 California, USA O U I
Ready Contracts 243 Australia R I P
RizePoint 62 Utah, USA C Q I
SAP Ariba 3009 California, USA R N D U I P
ScoutRFP 44 California, USA I P
SourceDogg 31 Ireland R I
Sourcing Force 4 Ontario, Canada C R I P
Sphera (riskmethods) 125 Germany U I
ScanMarket (Unit4) 61 Denmark C R U I P
Scoutbee 102 Germany D U I
SourceMap 95 New York, USA O R E U I
Suppeco 10 United Kingdom R I P
Supplhi 12 Italy C O R D U I 92 Illinois, USA O R D I
SupplierSoft ?? California, USA C R Q U I P
SupplyOn 239 Germany C R E Q U I P
Supply Risk Solutions 5 California, USA O U I
Synertrade 185 Germany R U I P
State of Flux 62 United Kingdom R E U I P
Tealbook 143 Ontario, Canada O D I
Trade Interchange 27 United Kingdom I P
Transparency-One 23 Massachusetts, USA C O N U I P
Trust Your Supplier 15 North Carolina, USA C U I
Vendorful 15 New York, USA C R U I P
Vizibl 49 United Kingdom R E I
VORTAL 195 Portugal R I
Zumen 66 California, USA R I P
Zycus 1540 New Jersey, USA R N U I P

Continue to Part 21 where we continue our review of Source-to-Pay.