RollStream and GXS – The Start of a Combined Supplier Management and Trading Network (Part 3)

Please click here for the first and second posts in this series.

The ability to create and manage supplier evaluation and pre-qualification surveys within RollStream – a central component of any SIM toolset – is straightforward, and can enable as much or as little complexity that a user desires. But while the survey forms that go out to suppliers may look standard, the way RollStream presents the inbound flow of information looks more like Facebook than any of its competitors (yes, you read that correctly). Newly posted documents and commentary are presented in a conversation trail that is inspired by a social media-style model rather than the asynchronous legacy chat-room type messaging tools in most other procurement solutions.

Still, behind the scenes, the foundation and enterprise integration into ERP, third-party business application and even desktop systems is fully resident. In fact, integration with Microsoft Office makes building templates in a native productivity application format (e.g., Word) and then uploading them into the system easy. Or users can opt to build templates and questionnaires directly in RollStream.

For systems integration, RollStream comes out of the box with an ability to push and pull information directly into ERP/MRP and third-party systems (e.g., Oracle, SAP, SharePoint) and to exchange documents and files across a range of core financials, P2P, CRM, PLM and content/document management systems (financials and P2P integration are most common). RollStream can serve in a flexible master/slave approach, acting as either the vendor master single source of truth or feeding other systems internally which can assume that function. Master data fields managed by RollStream (either serving as that single source of truth or feeding other systems in this capacity) can include company level information (e.g., names, contact details, products, codes), individual contact details (e.g., name, photos, responsibilities, messaging details) and item level information like part/catalog/product attributes, certification and the like.

The ability to move past what RollStream appropriately describes as "traditional vendor MDM," including company ID numbers, tax IDs, banking information, etc. to a broader set of "extended supplier information" managed in a centralized manner (whether RollStream acts as a data hub or not)– is the secret SIM sauce to driving broader business benefit beyond P2P and AP centric initiatives alone. The "extended supplier information" set that RollStream is focused on managing from a "new normal" vendor master perspective, in their words, "supplier credentials, quality information, CSR/sustainability data, risk profiles, product safety information, certifications and the like" all across multiple locations, sites, geographies, corporate/supplier hierarchies and either for specific initiatives (e.g., a new product launch) or general vendor management programs. We think it is clever how RollStream informally refers to the fact that master data has become more "obese" given the need to manage many new fields and requirements more broadly by the entire company.

Because different internal business users may interact with the RollStream environment to manage different sets of data, administrators can apply restrictions. For example, you might not want everyone in procurement in a high tech company having access to supplier codes of conduct audit details at certain factories in Asia (one can imagine the level of danger this type of general insight could bring to headline news stories tipped off my disgruntled employees). Security permissions for certain fields of data are simple to manage on an N-tier level by group, type, role, etc.

For administering outbound messaging to support specific campaigns (e.g., supplier onboarding or a virtual quality audit), RollStream provides a dashboard view of activity that quickly presents users with the information they need to know about activities they're overseeing, showing activities as well as requests that have been assigned. Integrated reporting with charting can show a current stage of activity (e.g., number of open items or exceptions) compared with historic norms. If a user wants to drill into the status of a particular supplier and where they are in the enablement process, detailed information is never more than a click or two away (often without having to navigate to a different browser page, as pop-up windows provide quick views into status and profiles).

Stay tuned as we conclude our analysis of RollStream on Spend Matters PRO in a final analysis that considers overall prospect, customer and competitive recommendations and analysis.

- Jason Busch

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