There are a lot of companies out there spinning supply risk management services as software solutions to the problem. I got an email earlier today from just such a provider (who happens to have significant software capabilities in other areas, but the link in the mail was to a specific supply risk service). Given this confusion, who out there can you really turn to from a risk management perspective to create automated software driven processes? When it comes to tying together spend analysis, supplier performance, financial data and related information to constantly monitor and create supplier risk profiles, there are a few players who can do it, at least partially, through spend analysis tools taking into consideration additional module usage, including Ariba, BravoSolution, and Emptoris (though I might add, not all solutions are created equal). I participated in a webinar with Ariba last week and actually learned about their supply risk management software dashboard for the first time (they included a screen shot and it appeared largely performance management driven).
Emptoris and Bravo both appear to have similar dashboard-level capabilities and indicators for performance related areas from what I've observed of their solutions as well (some might argue they're deeper in some areas of performance management than Ariba, but I'll save that for a deep dive look later this year). And there are countless other vendors that offer spend visibility, performance management and supplier information capabilities -- all of which form part of the risk management solution equation. But in my travels, I've found that D&B is probably the only provider that has actually got an easy-to-turn-on SaaS-based predictive analytics solution that focuses specifically on forecasting the financial health and viability of suppliers. I swear, if more people knew about it and tried the DNBi tool, they'd be sold on it, potentially even only as an interim tool to get them past the current waive of supplier bankruptcies that are sure to hit given the state of the economy. It's not perfect, but there's nothing else like it in the market. I was able to try out the system myself in the past couple of weeks and found that it has come a long way since the Open Ratings years.
Outside of D&B, niche providers such as VendorMate are doing some pretty neat things as are vendors like SAS, albeit on a more one-off basis. Last, don't overlook Panjiva when it comes to analyzing trade volume levels for suppliers on the global sourcing front. This is another indicator to look at to evaluate risk from global suppliers although alone it might give many false positives given that suppliers might have turned an export focus into a domestic one, might be selling capacity to other facilities to get by, could have started a new export / trading company, etc. Still, much like D&B information, it's far better than nothing, and given that global financial data on overseas suppliers is often spotty and less accurate in some regions than others, it could be a useful complement to D&B. After all, when it comes to supply risk management, neither hope nor service-driven approaches are an option to mitigating short-term risk in the current environment.
- Jason Busch