AECSoft — Another Supplier Diversity Vendor Branches Out (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this post, I provide some basic details on the AECSoft solution set as well as offering up a few thoughts on where I thought AECSoft had differentiated capabilities in the market. In today's analysis, I'd like to continue to explore the areas where AECSoft has some unique approaches that companies might find useful -- in the diversity sourcing and supplier management efforts and beyond.

AECSoft is quick to tout their automated supplier management capability that integrates web, email, fax and datafeeds quickly, allowing companies to not only manage by exception, but to manage the collection and validation of supplier information in a largely automated process even when suppliers must resort to offline approaches to communicating information (or to gather signatures, credentials or certifications). This approach has helped AECSoft customers to achieve a high level of adoption across their customer base in both behind-the-firewall and SaaS-based implementations. While some of the nuances to data collection differ, the closest vendor AECSoft reminds me of in their data collection and management approach is Aravo.

But clever ways of collecting information will only go so far in helping companies insure that information is accurate. I’ll spare you the trademarked buzzwords that AECSoft uses to describe its data validation and enrichment process, but needless to say, it incorporates both automated validation components (e.g., matching algorithms to improve accuracy) and off-line analysis carried out by data analysts that focus their efforts on validation. Where AECSoft shines in this regard is insuring completeness and accuracy in fields that go beyond standard validation and enrichment (e.g., corporate details and parent/child linkages).

For example, AECSoft can append and improve information such as MBE, WBE, DBE, SBE, SD8 / 8(a), HubZone and other diversity information which it maintains and validates as part of its core services (i.e., it is not data that is simply re-licensed without regard to accuracy). In defense of other providers in the market, they too will claim their own proprietary process to capture and validate diversity information, though AECsoft certainly appears to have its own take on how best to achieve rapid and accurate information.

Even though AECSoft’s sourcing capabilities are rather unremarkable relative to some of the more established players in the market such as Emptoris, Ariba, BravoSolution and Iasta, they should compare favorably with what the ERP providers have on offer today. In addition, sourcing users who work with the rest of the AECSoft suite can take advantage of a more thorough, automated and comprehensive way to capture and validate supplier information as part of the RFP/RFQ process.

In summary, AECSoft is a vendor that should be on the radar for all companies considering supplier information management and supplier diversity solutions. While some companies will no doubt treat them as competition to an Aravo or similar vendors to make a deal more competitive, others will find their approach to data management as well as the content enrichment services they can provide convincing enough to overcome the fact that they’re not as well known as other providers in the market. As to the other solution areas that AECSoft covers, it is our recommendation that customers currently using AECSoft in the areas of supplier information management and supplier diversity consider their offerings in the context of what else is available in the market, weighing the often highly competitive price points we know AECSoft is keen to offer against the functional advantages of the feature-rich leaders.

- Jason Busch

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