Category Archives: Supplier Information Management

CF Suite for your Consumer-Friendly Source-to-Contract Needs

Founded in 2004 to help public and private sector companies save money through reverse auctions, the Curtis Fitch Solution has expanded since then to offer a source-to-contract procurement solution, which includes extensive supplier onboarding evaluation, performance management, contract lifecycle management, and spend and performance management. Curtis Fitch offers the following capabilities in its solution.

Supplier Insight

CF Supplier Insights is their supplier registration, onboarding, information, and relationship management solution. It supports the creation and delivery of customized questionnaires, which can be associated with organizational categories anywhere in the 4-level hierarchy supported, so that suppliers are only asked to provide information that the organization needs for their qualification. You can track insurance and key certification requirements, with due dates for auto-reminders, to enable suppliers to self-serve. Supplier Insights offers task-oriented dashboards to help a buyer or evaluator focus in on what needs to be done.

The supplier management module presents supplier profiles in a clear and easy to view way, showing company details, registration audit, location, and contact information, etc.. You can quickly view an audit trail of any activity that the supplier is linked to in CF Suite, including access to onboarding questionnaires, insurance and certification documents, events they were involved in, quotes they provided, contracts that were awarded, categories they are associated with, and balanced scorecards.

When insurance and certifications are requested, so is the associated metadata like coverage, award date, expiry date, and insurer/granter. This information is monitored, and both the buyer and supplier are alerted when the expiration date is approaching. The system defines default metadata for all suppliers, but buyers can add their own fields as needed.

It’s easy to search for suppliers by name, status, workflow stage, and location, or simply scan through them by name. The buyer can choose to “hide” suppliers that have not completed the registration process and they will not be available for sourcing events or contracting.


CF eSourcing is their sourcing project management and RFx platform where a user can define event and RFx templates, create multi-round sourcing projects, evaluate the responses using weighted scoring and multi-party ratings, define awards, and track procurement spend against savings. Also, all of the metadata is available for scorecards, contracting, and event creation, so if a supplier doesn’t have the necessary coverage or certification, the supplier can be filtered out of the event, or the buyer can proactively ensure they are not invited.

Events can be created from scratch but are usually created from templates to support standardization across the business. An RFx template can define stakeholders, suppliers (or categories), and any sourcing information, including important documentation. In addition, a procurement workplan can be designed to reflect any sign off gates as necessary when supporting the appropriate public sector requirements some buying organizations must adhere to.

Building RFx templates is easy to do and there’s a variety of question styles available, depending on the response required from the vendor (i.e. free text, multichoice, file upload, financial etc.) RFx’s can be built by importing question sets, linking to supplier onboarding information, or via a template. The tool offers tender evaluation with auto-weighting and scoring functionality (based on values or pre-defined option selections). Their clients’ buyers can invite stakeholders to evaluate a tender and what the evaluator scores can be pre-defined. In addition, when it comes to RFQs for gathering the quotes, it supports total cost breakdowns and arbitrary formulas. Supplier submissions and quotes can be exported to Excel, including any supplier document.

The one potential limitation is that there is not a lot of built in analysis / side-by-side comparison for price analysis in Sourcing, as most buyers prefer to either do their analysis in Excel or use custom dashboards in analytics.

In addition, e-Sourcing events can be organized into projects that can not only group related sourcing events, and provide an overarching workflow, but can also be used to track actuals against the historical baseline and forecasted actuals for a realized savings calculation.


CF Suite also includes CF Auctions. There are four styles of auction available for running both forward and reverse auctions; English, Sequential, Dutch, and Japanese auctions, which can all be executed and managed in real time. Auctions are easy to define and very easy to monitor by the buying organization as they can see the current bid for each supplier and associated baseline and target information that is hidden from the suppliers, allowing them to track progress against not only starting bids, but goals and see a real-time evaluation of the benefit associated with a bid.

Suppliers get easy to use bidding views, and depending on the settings, suppliers will either see their current rank or distance from lowest bid and can easily update their submissions or ask questions. Buyers can respond to suppliers one-on-one or send messages to all suppliers during the auction.

In addition, if something goes wrong, buyers can manage the event in real time and pause it, extend it, change owners, change supplier reps, and so on to ensure a successful auction.

Contract Management

CF Contracts Contract management enables procurement to build high churn contracts with limited and / or no clause changes, for example, NDAs or Terms of Service. CF Contracts has a clause library, workflow for internal sign off, and integrated redline tracking. Procurement can negotiate with suppliers through the tool, and once a contract has been drafted in CF Suite, the platform can be used to track versions, see redlines, accept a version for signing, and manage the e-Signature process. If CF Suite was used for sourcing, then if a contract is awarded off the back of an event, the contract can be linked with the award information from the sourcing module.

Most of their clients focus on using contracts as a central contract repository database to improve visibility of key contract information, and to feed into reporting outputs to support the management of the contract pipeline, including contract spend and contract renewals.

The contract database includes a pool of common fields (i.e. contract title, start and end dates, contract values etc.) and their clients can create custom fields to ensure the contract records align with their business data. Buyers can create automated contract renewal alerts that can be shared with the contract manager, business stakeholders or the contract management team, as one would expect from a contract management module.

Supplier Scorecards

CF Scorecards is their compliance, risk, and performance management solution that collates ongoing supplier risk management information into a central location. CF Suite uses all of this data to create a 360 degree supplier scorecard for managing risk, performance and development on an ongoing basis.

The great thing about scorecards is that you can select the questionnaires and third-party data you want to include, define the weightings, define the stakeholders who will be scoring the responses that can’t be auto-scored, and get a truly custom 360-degree scorecard on risk, compliance, and/or performance. You can attach associated documents, contracts, supplier onboarding questionnaires, third party assessments, and audits as desired to back up the scorecard, which provides a solid foundation for supplier performance, risk, and compliance management and development plan creation.

Data Analytics

Powered by Qlik, CF Analytics provides out-of-the-box dashboards and reports to help analyze spend, manage contract pipelines and lifecycles, track supplier onboarding workflow and status, and manage ongoing supplier risk . Client organizations can also create their own dashboards and reports as required, or Curtis Fitch can create additional dashboards and reports for the client on implementation. Curtis Fitch has API integrations available as standard for those clients that wish to analyse data in their preferred business tool, like Power BI, or Tableau.

The out-of-the-box dashboards and reports are well designed and take full advantage of the Qlik tool. The process management, contract/supplier status dashboard, and performance management dashboards are especially well thought out and designed. For example, the project management dashboard will show you the status of each sourcing project by stage and task, how many tasks are coming due and overdue, the total value of projects in each stage, and so on. Other process-oriented dashboards for contracts and supplier management are equally well done. For example, the contract management dashboard allows you to filter in by supplier category, or contract grouping and see upcoming milestones in the next 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days as well as overdue milestones.

The spend dashboards include all the standard dashboards you’d expect in a suite, and they are very easy to use with built-in filtering capability to quickly drill down to the precise spend you are interested in. The only down-side is they are OLAP based, and updates are daily. However, they are considering adding support for one or more BoB spend analysis platforms for those that want more advanced analytics capability.


It’s clear that the Curtis Fitch platform is a mature, well thought out, fleshed out platform for source to contract for indirect and direct services in both the public and private sector and a great solution not only for the global FTSE 100 companies they support, but the mid-market and enterprise market. It’s also very likely to be adopted, a key factor for success, because, as we pointed out in our headline, it’s very consumer friendly. While the UI design might look a bit dated (just like the design of Sourcing Innovation), it was designed that way because it’s extremely usable and, thus, very consumer friendly.

Curtis Fitch have an active roadmap, following development best practices, alongside scoping workshops, where they partner with their clients to ensure new features and benefits are based on user requirements. Many modern applications with flashy UIs, modern hieroglyphs, and text-based conversational interfaces might look cool, but at the end of the day sourcing professionals want to get the job done and don’t want to be blinded by vast swathes of functionality when looking for a specific feature. Procurement professionals want a well-designed, intuitive, guided workflow, a ‘3-clicks and I’m there’ style application that will get the job done efficiently and effectively. This is what CF Suite offers.


While there are some limitations in award analysis (as most users prefer to do that in Excel) and analytics (as it’s built on QlikSense), and not a lot of functionality that is truly unique if you compare it to functionality in the market overall, it is one of the broadest and deepest mid-market+ suites out there and can provide a lot of value to a lot of organizations. In addition, Curtis Fitch also offers consulting and managed auction/RFX services which can be very helpful to an understaffed organization as they can get some staff augmentation / event support while also having full visibility into the process and the ability to take over fully when they are ready. If you’re looking for a tightly integrated, highly useable, easily adopted Source-to-Contract platform with more contract and supplier management ability than you might expect, include CF Suite in the RFP. It’s certainly worth an investigation.

The Sourcing Innovation Source-to-Pay+ Mega Map!

Now slightly less useless than every other logo map that clogs your feeds!

1. Every vendor verified to still be operating as of 4 days ago!
Compare that to the maps that often have vendors / solutions that haven’t been in business / operating as a standalone entity in months on the day of release! (Or “best-of” lists that sometimes have vendors that haven’t existed in 4 years! the doctor has seen both — this year!)

2. Every vendor logo is clickable!
the doctor doesn’t know about you, but he finds it incredibly useless when all you get is a strange symbol with no explanation or a font so small that you would need an electron microscope to read it. So, to fix that, every logo is clickable so you can go to the site and at least figure out who the vendor is.

3. Every vendor is mapped to the closest standard category/categories!
Furthermore, every category has the standard definitions used by Sourcing Innovation and Spend Matters!
the doctor can’t make sense of random categories like “specialists” or “collaborative” or “innovative“, despises when maps follow this new age analyst/consultancy award trend and give you labels you just can’t use, and gets red in the face when two very distinct categories (like e-Sourcing and Marketplaces or Expenses and AP are merged into one). Now, the doctor will also readily admit that this means that not all vendors in a category are necessarily comparable on an apples-to-apples basis, but that was never the case anyway as most solutions in a category break down into subcategories and, for example, in Supplier Management (SXM) alone, you have a CORNED QUIP mash of solutions that could be focused on just a small subset of the (at least) ten different (primary) capabilities. (See the link on the sidebar that takes you to a post that indexes 90+ Supplier Management vendors across 10 key capabilities.)

Secure Download the PDF!  (or, use HTTP) [HTML]
(5.3M; Note that the Free Adobe Reader might choke on it; Preview on Mac or a Pro PDF application on Windows will work just fine)

ADAPTONE: A Dynamic Adaptable Provider Tool Of Network Enablement: Supplier Management for Utilities, Construction, O&G and other Complex Industry Management

While the doctor has never covered AdaptOne on Sourcing Innovation, he did cover them in their early days over on Spend Matters back in 2018 in a 3-Part Vendor Analysis he co-authored (and yes, his credit was lost on this one too with the Spend Matters site migration) with The Prophet (Part I, Part II, and Part III, ContentHub subscription required).

As noted in 2018, AdaptOne is is a heavily customizable SIM solution where every implementation is different, customized to the precise needs of the customer. This makes it different from its peers, which generally sell “modules” that are easily bounded and definable. Furthermore, AdaptOne’s configuration is heavily centred on supplier registration, on-boarding as well as data collection and maintenance workflows, and can support as many validations as required. This is because AdaptOne leverages a business process management (BPM) development and deployment orientation as well as having a strong business consulting capability that includes the ability to work with a customer to design the perfect registration and on-boarding workflows, no matter how complicated and sophisticated, and implement the right overall “solution” on top of it.

At the time we noted that its strengths were:

  • extreme customizability
  • deep support for compliance and diversity
  • scorecards
  • onboarding
  • back-office capabilities

And it’s weaknesses were

  • No front-end BPM
  • Limited DIY scorecard capability
  • Performance Management is primarily survey
  • No DIY API

So what’s new? In a nutshell, nothing. And. Everything. Sorry, but you’ll have to read on.

The strengths are the same, and you can now add:

  • quick configurability and implementation in their core verticals that they have a lot of experience in and know well, no matter how customized your needs are (in under 3 months they can model, and implement, multiple workflows that would make the heads spin on the Big X Consultancy implementation teams if you suggested they had less than a year)
  • deep knowledge of compliance, health and safety, and insurance requirements that they can help you check, track, and report on (esp. in North America)
  • integration to (financial) risk data providers

And it’s weaknesses are the same, not because they don’t have the answer, but because their capabilities are so complex, you need (expert) training to understand what they’ve built (or they would have to build an advanced no-code process builder and automation platform on par with Tonkean to make it usable by the average person; and a small company can only specialize in one kind of powerful platform, so they chose to specialize in deep supplier management capabilities that didn’t exist when they started)


  • there’s no front-end BPM configuration for the average user because literally everything in the platform is configurable
  • they’ve chosen to hide the scorecard builder as scorecards are highly configurable on what they can capture, the formulas that can score them, the multi-user weightings you can build, the data you can pull in (through a custom integration) vs. survey response, etc. you can restrict sections, time at regular intervals, scale, etc. etc. etc.
  • unless you have systems that you can integrate with to pull in performance data, supplier performance has to be survey or data entry, and they don’t have an open API builder due to the ease with which a user could mess up an integration with the extent of data they can pull in and the extent to which the process can be controlled
  • as everything is configurable, it’s hard to build an API usable by an average developer that takes standard data into standard fields with standard processes without building a full no-code process builder as those are customized by client (which means you have to develop at a level of abstraction that is beyond the comfort level of most configurators)

So what is AdaptOne? In short, it’s a supplier onboarding / information management / compliance / performance management platform that can be highly customized for complex project industries like utilities/energy, construction, and oil & gas that can be customized to the exact customer organization needs, which can be quite complex when the organization has to ensure that the supplier:

  • is a valid entity that can operate in the jurisdiction(s) (of relevance)
  • adheres to the necessary health & safety standards
  • has the necessary certifications
  • has the necessary insurance
  • has the appropriate capabilities
  • provides certified products
  • can provide the appropriate information for ESG reporting
  • has verifiable diversity / minority claims
  • accepts and agrees to the organization’s terms & conditions
  • … and provides this information for every location where it is needed

And that last requirement is the kicker. If you’re doing business with a supplier in multiple jurisdictions (which, FYI, can be province/state-level in some countries), you will have different requirements with respect to the acts in force that you need to adhere to, and most platforms just collect, and associate, this information at the supplier level. And that results in either the platform just tracking the lowest common denominator of information or suppliers self-selecting out of being a service provider when asked to provide an onslaught of documentation not relevant to them (when they only want to serve the buyer in one, localized, jurisdiction). This, of course, leads to less competition, higher costs, and lower service levels for the buyer.

The onboarding part of the application is not only highly configurable, but highly flexible to allow for not just customization by buyer and supplier (based on industry, geographic area, and products/services they intend to provide), but by supplier role — as the buyer can configure multiple roles on behalf of the supplier that can be used to limit which rep (or third party acting on the supplier behalf) has access to which part(s) of the profile that they can fill in (or submit updates to), can see exactly what information was provided or changed (and just that information), and can define different roles within their organization to review, approve, and (possibly) lock it down.

As with all good Procurement applications, it maintains a complete, unalterable, filterable audit log that tracks all actions by all parties, whether or not a submission, or a change, was accepted, so you can maintain the records you need to demonstrate your organization is making best effort to verify that all suppliers are compliant with all of the regulations the organization is subject to.

Furthermore, they can also integrate with your ERP or other system of record and keep all data in sync, as well as maintain a record of the last sync and immediately notify you if the data may be out of synch with the supplier (due to an unreviewed submission) or the ERP.

The supplier profiles are among the deepest of any SXM provider out there. The only profiles that go deeper out of the box are those from Supplhi, which is another specialist SXM vendor for direct/MRO procurement (and requires equally deep profiles for their A&D, Manufacturing, and CPG clients).

And management during onboarding, (mandatory) annual compliance updates, and random updates submitted during the year (when the supplier wants to support the buyer in more jurisdictions and decides to submit the necessary information proactively, or changes their insurance, or obtains a new certification, etc.) is incredibly easy as they can build as many review and approval queues as necessary, which can operate in sequence or parallel, and be visible to (just) those who need it. No searching for a supplier, or searching by supplier state, it’s all automated for onboarding, update, and information management efficiency. It will even alert you to set up required scorecards or necessary ([semi-]annual) reviews.

Search is, of course, fully functional and is across all fields and can be filtered to any subset of interest, allowing you to quickly find any supplier, or group, of interest.

Furthermore, AdaptOne recognizes that this data is needed for mandatory reporting requirements and makes it super easy to export all of the data, or any subset, to Excel for easy import to your organization’s reporting templates. They also provide standard out-of-the-box dashboards for summarizing different supplier states, process times, diversity, diversity spend (if you integrate with your spend analytics application), insurance levels, compliant suppliers, etc. and can quickly build any dashboards and reports your organization needs during configuration.

Scorecards can be configured to capture whatever is desired, with respect to any supplier subset, review team, scoring, and weighting system, on whatever basis is desired. This is vague, but that’s because they are not limited in the platform. You can have separate scorecards for Health & Safety, Performance, Product Quality, Contractor Services, etc. or combine them into a master scorecard with separate sections filled out by separate individuals. And you can even have Subcontractor Scorecards, which can rollup to a single services scorecard, if you are using a services organization that subcontracts subsets of services (such as telcos and cable providers that will subcontract installations or energy utilities that will subcontract connection/disconnection/plant construction/commissioning services). This is not something you see often (if at all).

End-user configuration is limited to what the user generally needs to do (their basic profile, communication preferences, language and currency settings, etc.) as part of their focus on simplicity and customization by role or function (as many of these organizations are not tech companies and don’t have time to learn yet another software stack), but they can extend that for buyer organizations that are above average in terms of technical sophistication (but have found that most of their clients prefer a simple application where their users can’t mess with the processes and settings they want enforced).

However, their administration control panel, limited to their consultants or trained buyer admins, is exceedingly powerful and can configure roles and groups down to field level permissions if needed, and, once users are assigned to roles and groups, the default permissions can be overridden to the extent required. All widgets / dashboards in the application can be customized, jobs can be scheduled based on highly specific activation criteria, and all application configurations can be inspected. As needed, select admin functions are made available to the buyer, such as manual pushes/synchs to the ERP, login key generation, integration configurations (if keys, licenses, etc. need to be reset). etc.

With respect to integrations, they can integrate with your risk management data or ESG data provider, your ERP (and have integrated with the majority of standard ERPs used by their target industries), and even your I2P/AP system (and your suppliers can log into one supplier portal and immediately answer 90% of their common inquiries without ever having to call you which are typically, in order: 1. when am I getting paid 2. did you approve the invoice 3. did you get the invoice 4. did you get the document 5. did you get the quote … etc.).

The AdaptOne Matrix

All AdaptOne‘s customers also have access to the AdaptOneMATRIX supplier database that they can use for supplier discovery. With over 10 million suppliers, the database is very comprehensive and provides customers with an extensive selection of suppliers to fulfill the majority of their sourcing requirements. Search can be very detailed and results refined by company name, keyword(s), status, vendor code, target supplier groups, and certifications, among other search criteria.

The results returned will have a complete high level supplier profile that will consist of name, location, company overview, contact, website, diversity and compliance certifications, and area(s) of primary offering(s).

The platform was built over time to encapsulate the almost two decades of experience they have in supporting their mid-size (read national / small multi-national) customers in complex industries with complex supplier management requirements and make it as easy as possible for the average person involved in the process to do their job. And they have achieved that goal with distinction. the doctor would say that AdaptOne is definitely a top 3 global platform for mid-size companies in Utilities, Construction, and O&G and should definitely be on the shortlist of any of these organizations on the market for a modern supplier management solution.

Is Your Strategic Operational Sourcing Not Succinct Enough? Maybe You Need A DeepStream To Tackle That SOS Problem.

DeepStream is a Source-to-Contract (S2C) platform that was founded in 2016 in London, England to empower midsized organizations with affordable, modern, streamlined, but still sufficiently deep source-to-contract capability that would empower their customers to be more efficient, get more spend under management (and savings, or at least cost avoidance in today’s inflationary economy), and award with confidence.

DeepStream was founded by practitioners with experience, built with the guidance of expert consultants and industry leaders and beta customers, and overseen by former implementation consultants with a lot of experience implementing the S2C Mega-Suites (and who know all the issues customers have in implementing, integrating, and maintaining those systems as well as all the reasons they aren’t always the best solution for the mid-market) who are continually developing and improving the system over time.

While DeepStream is designed to very customizeable and very general purpose (and works great for indirect/finished goods and services in general), because it is impossible to be everything to everyone (even though the Big Suites will claim they are), especially from a consulting/guidance perspective, they are highly focussed on the industries their founders are experts in and related industries. Specifically, they are focussed heavily on Energy & Renewable Energy (and O&G), Utilities, MRO, Site/Port Operations, and Consultancies that support these sectors (be they public, private, or quasi — such as public funded, privately managed). (These are the sectors in which they have the process expertise to help you set up your category templates to streamline your sourcing efforts … more on this later.)

The platform started as a core sourcing platform (RFX and Auction), and evolved to support Supplier Information Management, Contract Management (primarily Governance in Sourcing Innovation Terminology), and now offers a public Supplier Network of almost 10,000 suppliers that grows daily (and significantly with every new client. This may sound small compared to the suite supplier networks that claim millions of suppliers, but you need to remember three things: 1] many of these mega-suite networks reach their number by simply importing every government business registry globally, and nowhere near that many suppliers are active in their customer base; 2] DeepStream are focussed on a particular set of sectors which don’t have a super large supply base, and all of their suppliers have been verified as active and being interacted with; and 3] DeepStream expects your ERP/MRP/P2P/AP to be the supplier master and advocates customers only import active suppliers).


Sourcing revolves around a templated event structure, which can be setup by a Full User, the DeepStream services team, or both. (On implementation they will work with you to setup one template per category, as that is their recommended best practice. They have found that trying to cover multiple categories with one template misses the nuances of the individual categories and requires too much customization for every event, and having multiple per category with only slight differences by product/service makes management and upkeep too much work.) These event templates don’t just capture the RFI/P/Q requests, but all stages, including, but not limited to NDA, Onboarding, Prequalification (which can be separate from the RFI to avoid repeated RFIs), RFI, Initial Bid Collection, e-Auction, etc. etc. etc.

When an event is instantiated from a template, which requires only some basic information (name and dates), it will have a pre-populated summary, stages, details, a default evaluation matrix, a team, a starting set of suppliers, and possibly an e-Auction. The buyer can quickly access each event section of each stage and customize as needed. The application supports all standard HTML form functionality for data collection, makes it super easy to build sections, subsections, and questions for data collection, just as easy to build grids for bidding (that can collect all cost elements associated with a product or service, including complex rate cards), even easier to upload bids from a spreadsheet and, if desired, even cut-and-paste spreadsheet/Excel based bids (because it’s not just the favourite tool of a Procurement organization that doesn’t have modern tech, but the favourite tool of Supplier Reps as well). In addition, once instantiated, the event structure is not locked, the request owner or super user can modify it as needed (if more time needs to be added to a stage due to technical or communication issue, if another stage needs to be added because the responses are not differentiated or competitive enough or more requirements are added, and so forth).

Reverse Auctions have a very simple and clean UX and were designed to be easy to grasp, and use, by both buyers and supplier bidders. There is also integrated chat for real-time communication if needed. Buyers see the current total lot cost and suppliers see the current lowest bids, or their rank, in a public or blind manner, and can keep bidding until the time is up or they’ve given their best and final bid.

Evaluation is done using a grid structure on each relevant event section, where sections can be added or removed, by one or more evaluators, who can see all of the bids and responses side by side, including either full details or just summary, filtering down to just what they need to make an evaluation (and eventual award if the event is completely price-based). In a summary evaluation, they can click into the full response history or bid details (especially if the product was broken down into multiple cost components) and if it’s a multi-evaluator event, drill in to see the individual evaluator scores. There’s no graphical representation for bids just yet, but they have added BAFO (Best And Final Offer) capability to clearly designate final bids as well as automatically computing the deltas in bid responses in both percentage (%) and dollar ($) value, which are highlighted in the comparison view. Additional enhanced valuation functionality is planned for future releases.

One very unique feature of the platform is built-in support for collaborators. Most platforms make it easy to add other organizational users, but not so easy to add consultants who are helping on specific categories or projects. In the DeepStream platform, you can define collaborator organizations and users within these organizations and then, on an event, or stage [“page”], basis grant collaborators access at whatever level of access they need (read, comment, evaluate, write, etc.). This means that the platform is also great for niche consultancies as they can add their client as a collaborator and give key stakeholders visibility while managing everything on the customer’s behalf. (And, of course, it’s super easy to add organizational users to each page and grant them the precise level of access they need.)

A second very unique feature is their document management capability. Most RFX platforms just allow upload, with simple version tracking, and that’s it. The DeepStream platform understands there is a workflow around document management, especially where contracts and detailed specifications must be agreed to, and has a detailed set of process-centric statuses that can be associated with each document uploaded (for information only, upload requested, upload deviation, accept, etc. — modifiable by the client if desired) so both sides clearly understand where the document is in a request or negotiation cycle, as well as the ability to tag in-platform messaging to a document, which not only allows for audit trails to be queried at the document level but allows for in-platform discussions around documents to be captured and not only centralizes document communications (which get lost in email) but simplifies acceptance and approvals (of contract-related documents).

Contract Governance

The system allows the storage and management of contracts — which are currently defined as a collection of documents and bids accepted by both sides that are included in an award. The user can define the start and end dates, milestones, review periods and notifications and the platform will notify the appropriate parties when a milestone is do (so the appropriate individual can login and execute that milestone when it is completed, which may include notes or documentation), when a mandatory review has been completed (along with appropriate documentation and possibly future milestone steps if a corrective action is needed), or when a renewal/termination date is coming up on a contract. They don’t have integrated e-signature yet, but it is coming. Nor can they output everything to one single amalgamated PDF, but they haven’t found that to be necessary when most of the documents in the system are stored as DOCX or PDF, and it’s much easier for a user to find and extract just the information they need (original contract, delivery schedule, pricing, spec sheet, etc.) when a contract is stored as a “package” of documents and related system artifacts.

Supplier Management

The foundation of Supplier Management in the platform is the Network where all uploaded suppliers have a common, basic profile, that consists of basic organizational identifies (name, business ids, primary location[s], primary contact[s], etc.), the UNSPSC codes that the organization provides, and the locations they can provide those goods and services to. This makes supplier discovery within their primary industries practical for their rapidly growing customer base.

On top of this, a user can add their own qualification profiles to collect, and maintain, the information they need on the supplier, and these are kept private. When they do this, or when they select network suppliers as their suppliers, they show up in their “My Supplier” view where they can be selected for starting (pre-approved) supplier lists for every sourcing event template that the organization believes they are suitable for.

Finally, each organization has their own “Activity” tab in the supplier view that shows all associated Pre-Qualification questionnaires, Sourcing/RFX events and Contracts with their related status. One click will take the user into the associated document or event.

Dashboard and Reporting

When a user logs in, they see their activity dashboard that summarizes their requests, contracts, notifications, pre-qualification/onboardings, and a few report highlights (mainly negotiated savings and request completion status). It’s kept simple and streamlined so a user can get right to what they need to do when they log in, especially since they are integrating other communication channels besides email for notifications so users only have to log in to do something, not to get a status update.

Reporting right now is very basic, and very process/cycle time centric (which should not be surprising as they do not do spend analysis, preferring to instead integrate with the organization’s current platform, and if the organization does not have one, help the customer find and integrate with an appropriate partner organization for spend analysis). The reporting is really focussed around:

  • Team Productivity: how many requests made, completed, etc., by category, and average cycle time(s)
  • Supplier Engagement: requests received, responded to, awarded, etc. and associated rates and durations

With regards to saving, it’s focussed around:

  • Total Negotiated Savings: that summarizes the total negotiated savings based on the current PPU/RPH, the award rates, and the total number of units/hours requested
  • Total Negotiated Savings from Auction: that summarizes the savings from auctions, as well as savings statistics on an auction basis

Other Features

Standard Drive functionality where the organization can store all of the document templates it needs for its various supplier (pre)qualification and sourcing events.

Easy Query Audit Trails: When you bring up an Event in DeepStream, you can see a history of every action that was taken at every step by every participant (buyer, collaborator, supplier rep, etc.), filter, and export at any time.

Great Help Library:
DeepStream has a very extensive help library that is organized by role and process, to help an average user find the help they are looking for based on where they are in their sourcing process. It also has a built in advanced search function (powered by a custom in-house AI-backed search algorithm trained ONLY on all of the help documentation they have available) that can quickly find the right section of the right document with a reasonably detailed search request. This AI also powers their integrated chat/online help function that can handle full natural language questions and guides the user to right help quickly and easily (if the help exists). Since their help library covers every function on their platform, as well as best practice sourcing processes, the help bot is able to direct a user to the guidance they need and complete a help request roughly 80% of the time.

The DeepStream platform, including all help documentation, is fully translated into English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Easy Integrations:
Out of the box ERPs include IFS and Dynamics, which are the two most common in the mid-market in their target industries, but they can (and have) integrated with other ERPs and P2P/AP systems. They’ve also integrated with supplier qualification and certification systems (like Avetta) and you can expect more integrations as time goes on. They built on to allow them to integrate with any platform they need to quickly, easily, and in a standard fashion.

Easy Account Management:
In the DeepStream system, it’s really easy to define collaborator organizations, user accounts, notifications, and system preferences (around currency, notification, etc.). Remember, one of the main goals was efficiency, so the idea is that organizations and users can configure event templates precisely to their needs so it’s super easy for buyers to kick off and complete sourcing events.

Terminology Customization:
DeepStream understands that one of the biggest hurdle to adoption is trying to force an organization to switch to terminology they are not used to. Thus, in their system, the super use can define the language used in all system elements at each step of the event template. For example, some jurisdictions in the world might use bid envelope terminology, others might use bid package, the private sector just wants RFP, and so on. All of this terminology is customizable as needed.

Coming Soon!

As per our intro, they are constantly developing and a few features coming soon include:

  • Enhanced evaluation functionality with more auto-computed differentials/savings potentials and advanced ranking/weighting capability based on calculations;
  • Integrated e-Signature powered by Verify — which will be available at all stages of supplier interaction, as you may require an NDA to be signed before you can even invite a supplier for a bid
  • Microsoft teams and Slack for communications and reminders (which is in beta now)
  • More Language Support: the entire platform, including the entire help library, can be internationalized to a new language within three weeks; languages are being added based on customer prioritization

Coming Later

  • More Out-of-the-Box Supplier Certification/Qualification/Risk Integrations: to help buyers certify and qualify new suppliers for their operations without leaving the DeepStream platform
  • Category Template Library: they have a number they can set you up with if you don’t have any; right now they help you get your current (Excel) templates and processes templated
  • Supplier [onboarding] Questionnaires: there are best practice templates out there for IT/Cyber Security, Personal Data Protection, Health & Safety, regulations like the GSCA, etc. and no need for each organization to create their own from scratch; right now they will share what they have on request [enhanced onboarding is one of their newest capabilities and, as such, is still under active development]

In conclusion, DeepStream is a great sourcing platform for mid-markets who need to modernize and get efficient fast, especially in the Energy & Renewable Energy (and O&G), Utilities, MRO, and Site/Port Operation sectors (be they public, private, or quasi — such as public funded, privately managed). As the platform is true multi-tenant SaaS, it’s more or less a flick-of-the-software switch to instantiate a new instance, typically only a day or two to configure an out-of-the-box implementation, only a few days to a week for a non-out-of-the-box integration, only a few hours to pull in the active suppliers once the ERP/P2P/AP is integrated, and only a few weeks to get an organization’s category processes templated. Most customers are fully up and running within a few weeks (and a month at most), and some customers have even kicked off initial events (on a small set of suppliers pulled in through one of the out-of-the-box ERP integrations) within 24 hours (while the while the remainder of the active suppliers for near-term events were being onboarded and the remainder of the category templates built out for future events). If you’re a mid-market looking for modern sourcing tech, and especially if you are a mid-market in one of the target sectors, you should definitely consider putting DeepStream on your shortlist and checking them out.

Close the Supplier Loop with LUPR

Suppliers are key to sourcing and procurement success because you depend on your suppliers for the products you sell, the services you provide, and the materials you need for your daily operations. Thus, Supplier Management is key to sourcing and procurement success, but most companies don’t even have up to date information on their suppliers.

In order to achieve the value you expect from your suppliers, you need to

  • properly onboard and vet them
  • manage their information
  • monitor their performance
  • record related issues
  • manage the relationship
  • store contracts
  • track the savings goals
  • track the realized savings
  • and so on

And, more importantly, your supplier account managers need to work with the supplier representatives in each of these tasks, which need to be streamlined for both parties.

The founders of LUPR, each with two decades (plus) of Procurement project experience, realized this and created a supplier management platform that could tackle these issues, and it did so on top of Salesforce, which makes it an easy buy for any organization already using Salesforce as the platform has already been vetted by IT, Risk, Sales, and Finance. It also makes it easy for staff to learn the platform, as they are already used to the basics of Salesforce, and they have staff who can help out.

Before we get into the specifics (modules) of the solution, one thing to note is that because it’s built on Salesforce, it has:

  • high levels of configurability
  • security down to the field level in an object (record)
  • automation
  • familiar reporting and analytics capability
  • easy integration with other Salesforce AppExchange apps

The platform has the following primary modules:

  • supplier registration portal (for self-serve onboarding)
  • supplier information management module
  • risk assessment module
  • issue reporting and performance tracking
  • supplier corrective action resolution (SCAR) control
  • savings tracking and pipeline management
  • reporting and analytics

Supplier Registration Portal
The supplier portal is a very user-friendly web-based portal where a supplier can go and register itself as wanting to do business with the buying organization as well as provide all of the information requested by the buying organization. When it comes to onboarding, it should be noted that the only available out-of-the-box integrations (subscriptions required) for supplier validation are Experian, CreditSafe, Equifax and RapidRatings for business identifiers, financial information, and/or credit scores. Additional, custom, integrations are possible, but if you have other validation data being pulled into your ERP (such as SAP and Oracle which they integrate with), you can pull the validated data in from your ERP rather than collecting it from a supplier (and having to validate it manually).

Supplier Information Management
Upon login, the user is taken to their dashboard, which can be custom configured, and usually overviews their approved supplier list (by product and service), their top supplier spend (by supplier), outstanding tasks (including approvals for onboarding, information updates, etc.), suppliers by relationship tiers (as it supports multiple tiers, which can be custom configured, but are defaulted to critical, strategic, transactional, and leverage, which matches many consulting 2*2 breakdowns), today’s events, NCRs by type, NCR and KPI trends, etc.

Supplier profiles are typical of what you would expect and you can define and track all standard corporate data (including registration numbers), contacts, banking information, risk scores (through an API or collected from surveys), ESG data (from AppExchange partners, including Ecovadis and CSRHub, or pulled in from surveys), and spend (with an ERP or P2P integration). You can also store certificates and track associated metadata, see the supplier’s Z-score, its KPI scores (and drill into scorecards), see any associated nonconformance occurrences, open activities, surveys, and create supplier level initiatives (around overall savings targets, organizational alignment, performance measurements, etc.).

Products and Services
One unique capability of the LUPR platform is that they support extensive product and service definitions, which are associated with the corresponding suppliers, as well as the corresponding organizational standard product or service, and you can drill into each individual supplier product/service from both the supplier profile and the standard product/service, which can be organized by category (or category hierarchy with additional system hierarchy). It’s also easy to search for products and services by keywords (and then filter into particular categories or suppliers if desired).

The built-in out-of-the-box support is very extensive, and allows buyers to analyze total spend, define organizational needs, analyze markets, engage stakeholders, create strategies, and manage performance by product as well as manage performance by suppliers (discussed below). The assessments can be quite deep and look at the business aspect, supply market flexibility, savings estimation, and ease & speed of implementation. Furthermore, any relevant stakeholders can be engaged in the analysis as needed.

Issue Reporting and Performance Tracking / KPI Scorecards
Performance tracking in the platform revolves around KPI scorecards which can be very extensive, depending on how much data the organization tracks and integrates into the platform. The platform comes with a number of scorecard templates (and a large number of pre-defined measures in the KPI library), but LUPR can build custom scorecards to evaluate a supplier on any dimensions that are relevant to your business. (Also, all of the templates can be updated as you see fit, measures added and removed and weights updated to suit organizational preferences.) (They’ve done quite a few over the years and can implement extensive, custom scorecards relatively quickly.) Contract compliance, (On Time) Delivery, Quality, ESG, realized savings, etc. can all be tracked (by default) at the supplier level if the data is available, and you can get KPI scorecards by supplier, category, supplier-category, or a subset of the supply base (restricted to a region).

Nonconformance / Supplier Corrective Action Resolution
The system comes with built in templates to capture nonconformances (related to contracts, delivery, quality, invoices, etc.) that can be filled out by any system user and then turned into a supplier corrective action workflow by a supplier (account) manager that will accept and complete the information, share the nonconformance report with the supplier through the supplier community, get additional information back, propose a corrective action, capture supplier acceptance (or rejection, and then restart the process), track progress, and when the issue is resolved, close it out. LUPR has a detailed dashboard to help the Procurement team track nonconformances for fast resolution.

Savings Tracking and Initiative/Pipeline Management
The entry point is the initiative dashboard which is a Kanban type project management dashboard that summarizes projects in each stage (idea, evaluation, validation, execution, finalization, and realization) as well as the total dollar value of all projects in each stage. If the user prefers, she can flip to a tabular view that can be filtered by stage, owner, spend category, SOP category, and other relevant dimensions. Upon drilling into an active initiative, the user can see all of the associated data as well as what has been realized to date in the realization phase.

A new initiative can be created by simply defining a small amount of project data (name, owner, bracketing dates, business unit, etc.), the spend category, and one or more actions that will need to be performed. Actions just need a name, type, associated category, and one or more suppliers or products you are tracking the action against, each of which is associated with a start date, end date, tracking frequency (one time, monthly, quarterly, etc.), and accounting categorization (capex, opex, etc.).

Reporting and Analytics
Most reporting in the system is summarized in dashboards (from which you can drill into the individual reports behind the widget).

Provided the system is integrated with your ERP or spend analysis system, or someone enters the monthly spend or (data necessary to calculate the) savings realized against each initiative, one of the key reports is the savings dashboard that summarizes the initiatives, total anticipated savings, savings targets for the year, target run rate savings by month, targets by owner, targets by status, targets vs actioned, and so on to allow a supplier and/or category manager to get a firm grip on how initiatives are going, where they may not be going as well as projected, and where supplier management may be needed.

Another key report is the category dashboard which tracks on-time delivery, NCRs not resolved within 30 days (or the number of days defined by the organization), average NCR resolution time (by supplier) invoicing errors, spend, identified savings by quarter, and other key metrics filterable by category.

LUPR comes with out-of-the-box reports and dashboards which can be further configured for you upon implementation, or you can build your own.

The system also maintains complete, unalterable, audit trails on every data element in the system which can be queried and reported upon at any time in the reporting module.

Global Search & Chatter
It’s worth pointing out that the platform also supports global search, and will show all results by type (supplier, product/service, projects, reports, dashboards, events, etc.).

It also has built in slack-like communication where the user can communicate with other users, supplier users, or custom groups of users.

As the platform is built on Salesforce, everything can be customized, and, most importantly, users can be given access rights down to an individual data element if needed. Most of the administration takes place in the object-manager, which allows the user to select any LUPR system object for customization, as appropriate. Within an object, the user can edit the data elements, the allowed value ranges, the display criteria and layout, the access rights, etc.

So if you’re on the market for a Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) solution, and especially if you are a mid-size organization looking for an SRM solution, that’s quick to buy, quicker still to implement (if you already have Salesforce), and a great complement to a modern Sourcing and Procurement solution (as their API can be used to build integrations that pull data in from your ERP/AP [and they already have integrations with SAP and Oracle] and push up-to-date supplier data to your sourcing platform), LUPR is a platform you should check out. As with the new generation of solutions aimed primarily at SME organizations, it starts at a very affordable price point and as it was designed by Procurement consultants with over two decades of experience, you know they will help you configure it to support the supplier management projects and reporting your organization needs.