Please click here for the first post in this series.
In continuing our analysis of FullStep from late last year, we'll turn our attention to exploring how this Spain-based spend management suite vendor (currently expanding into North, Central and South America) has tailored its set of solutions for a manufacturing environment, including the middle market, where a general lack of technology, resources and cross-facility collaboration often hinders the potential for direct materials sourcing and vendor management savings programs. To review FulllStep's general breadth and capabilities, be sure to keep these items in mind:
- FullStep maintains a surprisingly broad footprint inclusive of supplier information management/supplier performance management (SIM/SPM), spend analysis, T&E, eProcurement, e-sourcing, contract management and project management. Their depth in certain areas is undoubtedly stronger than others, but in numerous demonstrations and a key reference checks, we were surprised to learn about the full coverage of their suite capability and how customers were putting it into use.
- While much of their UI is old school (to put it politely) in the more advanced areas of the suite, the level of depth and capability exposed through a browser with FullStep is specifically designed for complex, cross-facility manufacturing environments. In other words, don't expect a generic spend management or sourcing toolset here, but rather one that's built specifically for discrete manufacturing, CPG, food and related environments. However, from a UI perspective in certain areas, FullStep has told us to expect a forthcoming redesign that simplifies the user experience.
- Because FullStep is built as a platform tool to deliver significant levels of configuration (including complex and varied workflows for sourcing, requisition approvals, contract management, supplier management, etc.) it's possible to highly tailor their applications to a manufacturing environment at a fraction of the cost that traditional enterprise software code-level customization would require.
- FullStep is willing to adjust its deployment and pricing models for the middle market, including combining consulting -- from manufacturing materials management quality and process optimization to e-sourcing event management -- and configuration/deployment services which we found to be priced very aggressively based on what they shared (in comparison to other vendors and consultancies). The organization's roots as a services firm, originally, certainly hint at the focus on delivering solutions rather than just software (for those wanting to have a debate on this topic, we could argue both positives and negatives to this approach in general, but for the middle market, we are generally inclined to favor a solutions-driven background).
In looking at FullStep's capabilities, we were particularly struck by the level of depth they've brought to the quality and compliance areas, including the ability to support both basic and advanced scorecarding and performance management scenarios. For example, users can measure objective and systems-based metrics such as non-conforming parts/items or incidents and then track and measure supplier responsiveness. Subjective metrics, such as survey responses from internal stakeholders, can also be included in a performance and quality roll-up snapshot. Manufacturers can also use FullStep to monitor supplier documentation and certification data (e.g, ISO, TSA, FDA, AIB) and automate the collection of information and communication with suppliers in a similar manner of pure-play supplier information management (SIM) solutions. FullStep can do this at a price point that is significantly lower than other solutions we've seen in the market (and it's tailored specifically at a manufacturing environment)!
In larger manufacturing organizations, FullStep often deploys these capabilities after focusing on process and operations improvement from a consultative perspective. This can of course lead to configurations that can mirror complex buying processes across facilities and geographies (an environment in which they excel), leading to the opportunity to aggregate spend and better manage common suppliers across distributed production operations.
Stay tuned as our analysis of FullStep continues.