No Half-Steppin' Here — FullStep Tackles Manufacturing-Centric Procurement in Spain/Beyond (Part 3)

Please click here for Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

As we continue our analysis of FullStep, we'll turn our attention to some of the workflow and process elements of their sourcing, project and supplier management capabilities as well as the customer experience of those rolling and using the technology. Perhaps the thing that stands out the most when logging-on to the FullStep sourcing portal is the flexibility of defining how different team members can participate and collaborate in specific activities (using an easy-to-define workflow and administrative controls toolset -- no code-level customization or even programming expertise required).

For example, an organization might configure a deployment (very easily) at specific facility (or with a specific category, or both) such that buyers or materials managers on a team can set up and populate an RFX (and even distribute it to suppliers in the case of a "3 bids in a box" scenario for a smaller award) while also requiring a certain escalation/review process based on pre-defined requirements (e.g., order volumes, price, strategic important of items/category). This approach can also be used to set geographical requirements and workflows and encourage aggregation and collaboration (e.g., regional purchasing teams must work through a central category management/manager above a certain spend threshold, when certain suppliers are used, when certain items are sourced, etc.)

The configurability and views are where the platform really begins to shine (from a UI perspective, there's nothing special at this point; navigation reminds us of a more muddied version of Iasta's interface). But the actual capabilities really begin stand out when it comes to defining attributes tied to events, categories and suppliers, running award scenarios (about as strong as you can get without a solver) and configuring what users see based on their profile and the actions they can take (not to mention defining the next steps and routings that follow actions such as escalations or alerts) by configuring workflow geographically.

The ability to customize specific RFPs and RFQs based on company (and even site) policies and rules are among the strongest we've seen in standard packages in the market (without significant customization). Moreover, FullStep's ability to quickly organize and define groups -- with procurement and non-procurement stakeholders -- based on categories, locations and other variables inherent in a distributed manufacturing environment stands out when you begin to dig into the application. Still, not all is perfect. While Excel integration is native, we've seen numerous others provide slicker "cutting and pasting" capabilities without requiring uploads. It's our guess that as FullStep upgrades its front-end interface, these browser, screen and keystroke level capabilities will improve.

Still, there's quite a bit to like, including the thought process and capability that can go into a specific configuration and rollout of the toolset (regardless of whether it's hosted through SaaS or rolled out behind the firewall). In defining how their applications are used including sourcing -- and how they appear given the vast levels of configuration that are possible -- FullStep considers three levels of classification: company/facility organization, purchasing category/materials structure (inclusive of cross-functional involvement including quality, supply chain, etc.) and procurement organizational structure. FullStep then allocates workflow, structure, forms and even formulas (e.g., cost of defects, PPM) on the platform based on the elements and the degree of configuration they've been tasked with.

This level of configuration does not stop with sourcing, contracting and supplier management activities. Roughly 40% of FullStep customers have also licensed FullStep's eProcurement capabilities (though in these cases, they're often using the P2P functionality for direct -- as opposed to just indirect -- spend capture) which includes catalog management capability (plus attribute management, graphical/JPEG publishing capability, etc.)

Search and comparison tools provide more than one would expect of basic eProcurement tools but lag what Coupa and others (e.g., Simplifying IT, Vinimaya) have accomplished in truly simplified yet powerful cross-catalog search and buying. However, users looking for a basic shop-floor eProcurement toolset which automates the buying, approvals, receipting (full and partial) who are already using FullStep in other areas will find these capabilities a pleasant add-on surprise even if the second "P" in P2P is not yet fully resident in the suite (although e-invoicing is not yet in deployment, we expect FullStep to add this soon).

Stay tuned as we conclude our analysis of FullStep in the final post in this series.

- Jason Busch

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