Category Archives: Technology

Visibility is Key to Managing Suppliers

For the first part of this week, we have been talking about the significant overlap between sourcing and supplier management and the necessary platform elements needed to support both. Key elements included performance, relationship, and risk management, because all are necessary for sourcing and supplier success.

Spend Matters recently ran a 3-part series on a sub-set of the issue, based on a recent interview with Ecovadis, that talked about how Visibility is Key to Managing CSR Risks in Indirect Spend (Part I, Part II, and Part III). But visibility is needed for more than just addressing risks in indirect spend. It’s also needed for addressing risks in direct spend.

Direct spend has all the same risks, they just aren’t one step removed through an intermediary. And you have to trace all of the products down to the raw materials to identify not only in your supply base, but your supplier’s supply base, their supplier’s supply base, and their supplier’s down to the mine, the farm, or the harvester.

But it’s not just the suppliers you need visibility into, it’s the environment that surrounds them. After all, a natural disaster can cut them off. An economic downturn can render them bankrupt if the currency they do business in (and keep the majority of their cash on hand in) crashes. A geo-political uprising can cut them off at the border. A port strike can cut off their primary shipping routes. And so on. You need a full 360-degree view around the supplier to ensure success.

But how do you get that? You can’t watch everything everywhere, and when you consider the extent of the global supply chain, you almost have to.

That’s why it’s key to have a platform that can integrate with 3rd party sources as you will need to integrate dozens, if not hundreds, of data sources to keep on top of all of the data you need to populate the models to evaluate and track the risks.

And that’s why two of the key elements we look for in a platform are integration and dynamic data model extensibility. You never have enough data. Without the right data, you don’t have the visibility, and that’s key to success. Or at least to preventing major unexpected disruptions.

Digging Into Significant Sourcing Supplier Management Synchronization Part II

Earlier this week we started to describe the second most significant change to the upcoming Q2 Release of the Spend Matters Solution Map, and that is the introduction of a new common sourcing – supplier management section because you can’t do sourcing without suppliers and you don’t manage suppliers without the ultimate goal of doing business with them

This new section contains the following common sub-categories:

  • Enhanced Information Management for discovery and onboarding
  • Performance Management for tracking performance
  • Relationship Management for managing the relationship
  • Risk Management for keeping tabs on, and managing, the risk
  • Enhanced Portal for information management and collaboration

Our first post explained why these sub-categories were relevant. In our last post we covered the first three sub-categories. Today we’re going to start discussing what’s important to consider in the remaining two categories.

So what are the key capabilities we’re looking for in the risk management and enhanced portal sub-categories?

Risk Management

  • Assessment because if you can’t assess a risk, you can’t properly identify the magnitude of the risk and the need to monitor it
  • Mitigation Planning because credible risks need to be planned for and mitigated
  • Model Definition to allow you to quantify both the likelihood of the risk and the expected cost should the risk materialize
  • Monitoring & Identification to allow for the events that could (potentially) materialize to be monitored for and detected
  • Regulatory Compliance to quantify the extent to which the platform can track compliance requirements and a supplier’s ability to conform to them
  • Supplier Risk Management to model overall supplier risk based on assessment, models, external monitoring, third party data, compliance, and performance

Supplier Portal

  • Information Management to allow a supplier to maintain, or at least comment on, their data (and data related to them)
  • Performance Management to allow a supplier to respond to their performance review’s and conduct 360-degree reviews on the buyer
  • Relationship Management to allow the supplier to raise issues, respond to issues, and collaborate on corrective action plans
  • Collaboration to allow full interaction and feedback

These are also all key capabilities for sourcing and for successful supplier management.

Digging Into Significant Sourcing Supplier Management Synchronization Part I

In our last post we started to describe the second most significant change to the upcoming Q2 Release of the Spend Matters Solution Map, and that is the introduction of a new common sourcing – supplier management section because you can’t do sourcing without suppliers and you don’t manage suppliers without the ultimate goal of doing business with them

This new section contains the following common sub-categories:

  • Enhanced Information Management for discovery and on-boarding
  • Performance Management for tracking performance
  • Relationship Management for managing the relationship
  • Risk Management for keeping tabs on, and managing, the risk
  • Enhanced Portal for information management and collaboration

And our last post explained why these sub-categories were relevant. Today we’re going to start discussing what’s important to consider in each of these categories.

Enhanced Information Management
There are three main categories of functionality we are looking for:

  • Discovery and the ability to find suppliers beyond the platform
  • On-boarding Support and the ability to get new suppliers quickly into the platform
  • Supply Base Profiling and the ability to create holistic supplier profiles

Performance Management

  • KPIs and the ability to define and manage them
  • Preferred & Blacklisted Suppliers and the ability to define and manage them appropriately

Relationship Management

  • Issue Management and the ability to define, track, and manage issues
  • Plan Management and the ability to define, track, manage, and resolve plans to manage and resolve issues

These are all key capabilities for sourcing and for successful supplier management. Tomorrow we’ll review the last two joint categories.

Significant Sourcing Supplier Management Synchronization

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been laying the foundations for the significant changes coming in the upcoming Q2 release of Spend Matters Solution Map, with the new common-foundations and the Sourcing, Supplier Management, and Analytics Maps designed by yours truly, the doctor of Sourcing Innovation.

While the biggest change was the introduction of a new common platform section, which evaluates solutions based on the underlying platform (which is becoming more and more important now that more players are offering “suites” and the longevity of a platform without a good platform is limited), the next biggest change is the introduction of a new common section that overlaps sourcing and supplier management because you can’t do sourcing without suppliers and you don’t manage suppliers without the ultimate goal of doing business with them. (And while this is not yet common to e-Procurement, it may soon be a common requirement for any catalog providers as more and more such providers offer enhanced supplier management and interaction.)

So what are the common elements that one needs to consider?

  • Enhanced Information Management for discovery and onboarding
  • Performance Management for tracking performance
  • Relationship Management for managing the relationship
  • Risk Management for keeping tabs on, and managing, the risk
  • Enhanced Portal for information management and collaboration

And why are these important cross application elements?

  • Suppliers are the life-blood of your organization, but they don’t consistently perform over time and new suppliers are sometimes vital. That’s why discovery and on-boarding are so vital.
  • The key to good performance from your suppliers is monitoring and managing that performance.
  • The key to correcting performance and preventing problems in the first place is often the result of good relationship management.
  • The key to preventing unexpected supplier-based disruptions (which affect a significant number of supplier chains every year) is to keep a tab on risks and prepare for the significant ones with mitigation plans ready to go.
  • They key to keeping information up to date is to let the supplier help you with a portal that is built to do so (and that they want to use).

So what should you look for? While we won’t dive into every detail (but you will be able to with a custom Solution Map if you want to (just contact Spend Matters to find out more), we will highlight some of the more important details ( so you can know that when we evaluate a vendor’s technology, we truly evaluate the technology from the point of view of a technology analyst, not an industry analyst (see our recent post on Industry Analysts vs Technology Analysts) and this is absolutely critical if you want to select the right technology.

Digging into the S2P Tech Foundations

In our post yesterday in what makes a good foundation for S2P Tech, we noted that if you wanted to have any hope of “future-proofing” your platform, then it was critical that you acquired a platform with the following four capabilities.

  • Configurable Workflow preferably with RPA support
  • Open / Extensible API that supports integration into and out of your platform
  • Dynamically Extensible Data Model that can be extended by the customer
  • Globalization Support for language, currency, data location, and more!

And we gave some preliminary reasons, but today we’re going to dig into some of the issues that really concern us.

  • Changing Governmental Regulations as governments introduce e-commerce, they are introducing e-invoicing requirements that can change your P2P flow (like requiring invoices to be sent through government servers or payments sent through government servers) and as governments introduce more regulatory compliance, the ability to report the complete origin story of a product, to the source of each raw material, is going to require more cross-platform and cross-enterprise data collection
  • Data Bifurcation as more and more platforms proliferate across the supply chain, the data will continue to proliferate as well … and without the ability to connect all the platforms, the data will exist in separate islands
  • Increasing Supply Chain Segmentation across more and more companies across more and more companies across more and more global users
  • Platform Obfuscation because the platform can’t keep up

These issues are the main drivers for the foundational platform requirements we outlined yesterday. Without

  • Configurable Workflow
    the platform won’t keep up with changing government regulations as it won’t be able to adapt the process
  • Open/Extensible API
    the platform won’t be able to manage the data bifurcation or prevent platform obfuscation as it won’t be able to adapt as required to manage the data tracking or integrate with new modules as they come online
  • Dynamically Extensible Data Model
    as future data requirements dictated by future regulations and future applications can’t be predicted in advance
  • Globalization Support
    as your next supplier could be in a different country, on a different continent, with a workforce whose primary language is one you haven’t dealt with yet … and that could be tomorrow!

Now, these aren’t the only issues we’re worried about, but they are big ones and they are guaranteed to materialize — soon (and before your contract comes up for renewal) — which is why we’re really concerned about them, and about insuring you get the right platform for the long term.