It's always interesting to check in on a company that you've known since before it was even a business plan. A couple of years back, I met Declan Kearney, Founder and CEO of Dublin-based SupplierForce, at a conference in Chicago. At the time, Declan had begun to think about a new venture, which I must admit, sounded like it had little chance of large-scale commercial success at the time. But sometimes bloggers are wrong -- very wrong. During that original conversation, Declan had sketched out a product that would manage supplier information outside of the ERP, sourcing and e-procurement process. What's left you ask? That's what I was thinking at the time. But he spelled out a vision of a tool very much like a supplier-type of CRM that, within a period of less than a few years, would be the go-to platform for many of Ireland's larger companies.
Declan's view also evolved overtime, looking remarkably similar to those of other companies building supplier information management cockpits such as Aravo, AECSoft, and CVM solutions. SupplierForce lets companies manage a range of supplier details -- company info such as contact details, revenues, etc; categorization (e.g., based upon a spend analysis type of hierarchy); registration documentation (often country based); legal and compliance information; operational and performance details; basic contract information; and high-level service and production information. It wraps the management of these features into a communications and workflow platform that through emails, auto-alerts, audit trails, activity logs and other tools allows companies to manage supplier information in as streamlined a way as possible.
I've had the chance to play around with the product recently and where it really shines is the management of supplier information on an overall basis. While sufficient as a rudimentary tool for performance, contract and even RFQ management -- it has an RFQ/sourcing capability built in -- it’s the overall centralized platform for monitoring, aggregating, analyzing and managing large amounts of supplier information that make it stand out. Customers using it for these purposes today include O2, Musgrave, JurysDoyle and a variety of healthcare related companies in Ireland.
One of the neater features of the product is the ability to segment one's supply base using an automated 2/2 quadrant derived from the classic sourcing matrix. It's a nifty little tool that aggregates information provided by internal stakeholders in a centralized manner -- without requiring an army of consultants to pour over spending details and qualitative interview notes. Other solution components and approaches which make Supplierforce standout -- especially with less sophisticated procurement organizations that have not already mapped out a supplier information management process -- is a four-phased approach designed to maximize the returns associated with better managing of supplier information starting with initial supplier item master cleansing and supplier health data checks (to insure accuracy of information) and stretching through to supplier performance management.
Stay tuned for further analysis of Supplierforce in the second post of this two-part series. - Jason Busch