The Supplier Information Management Category

ConnXus: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses [PRO]

From a technology and content perspective, the market for supplier diversity-specific supplier management solutions has remained somewhat of a cottage industry for over a decade. Larger vendors, including both software and risk-centric providers, have not been able to take advantage of scale or reach. Further, over the years, even those organizations which have acquired diversity-centric vendors (e.g., Kroll, Jaggaer) have not been able to consolidate the market.

This has opened the door for more recent entrants, such as ConnXus, to not only develop technology, solutions and content for supplier diversity professionals but also to integrate these capabilities with broader offerings across the supplier management spectrum, as well as set a new standard for what should be included in a supplier diversity solution in the first place.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores ConnXus’ strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. The first installment our analysis provided a company and solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering the provider. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

ConnXus: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview [PRO]

suppliers

The supplier management technology market is a microcosm of the procurement technology market generally, as it has many subsegments and is fragmented from a provider perspective. Procurement organizations need to do their full homework when evaluating potential suppliers, including newer technology vendors and a host of incumbents that have been competing for a decade (and sometimes more) in this market segment. Consider that two components within the supplier management, supplier information management (SIM) and supplier discovery management (SDM), have been around since the early 2000s, when Aravo pioneered capabilities in this area and signed progressive companies like Google.

But when it comes to supplier management, SIM and SDM are not the whole story. Within this segment, specialized supplier performance management (SPM), supplier relationship management (SRM), supply/supplier risk management, supplier network management (SNM), and other takes on supplier management that haven't even hit mainstream yet are helping drive specific buying decisions for technology. That probably accounts for the recent explosion in supplier management technology providers over the past few years, with a new one either hitting the market or becoming mainstream seemingly every quarter.

One of the companies that is now becoming mainstream in this broader sector is ConnXus. Founded in 2010 out of the founders’ frustration in their inability to quickly and easily identify, and qualify, new diverse suppliers as a result of incomplete databases, fragmented resources and expensive software, ConnXus is on some levels a next-generation version of previous diversity specialists including CVM Solutions and AECSoft. The founders also observed that small business owners and diverse suppliers found it difficult to share diversity qualifications or develop relationships with procurement executives directly.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about ConnXus’ solution offering in the supplier management and supplier diversity markets. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider ConnXus in the procurement technology area. The rest of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, and evaluation and selection considerations.

Everything Procurement Should Know About Payments (Part 4): Setting Up Suppliers for Payment — The Intersection of P2P and Supplier Management (Part 4) [PRO]

Historically, most procure-to-pay solutions have put advanced supplier management capability on the back burner from a strategic development perspective. At best, they have paid lip service when attempting to tie a powerful supplier information management (SIM) capability into P2P and supplier network offerings (i.e., one-to-many or many-to-many connectivity approaches). While this is beginning to change, in general the worlds of collecting, validating, managing and keeping supplier record information up to date to enable timely payment and accounts payable vendor outreach are rarely bridged fully.

This Spend Matters PRO brief, the fourth in our series providing a comprehensive primer on everything “payments” from a procurement perspective, provides a background briefing on why collecting supplier information is critical to enable payments and a checklist for setting suppliers up for payment, starting with initial on-boarding steps. (See Part 1: Procurement’s Role and P2P Case Examples; Part 2: Best-in-Class P2P Technology Capabilities and the Reconciliation Process; and Part 3: Payment Operations — Challenges and Opportunities.) It also provides a vendor data collection template for basic and advanced fields that companies should compare against their own for an accounts payable-centric on-boarding process spanning company, ownership, insurance and remit/banking details. Finally, Part 4 concludes with examples of technology enablement capability that advanced supplier information systems can bring for supplier on-boarding and data maintenance.

RapidRatings: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Competitive & Summary Analysis [PRO]

RapidRatings is a proven supplier risk management solution that specializes in financial risk management. Many large enterprises depend on it as a core component of their supplier risk management programs. It brings the ability — a critical one — to evaluate privately held suppliers, including a methodology to get even small and middle-market firms to submit financials with very high success levels.

Spend Matters analysis suggests that RapidRatings has a proven and comparatively superior methodology to alternative established models for developing accurate and predictive supplier financial risk ratings — especially for privately held companies — and gaining insight into overall supplier financial health. But it is important to note that the provider does not offer a comprehensive supplier or supply chain risk management solution and ideally should be considered as a component within a broader supply risk management capability.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering RapidRatings offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other procurement technology providers (suite and otherwise). It also includes a user selection guide, user interface and user experience (UI/UX) analysis and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep dive solution overview, a SWOT analysis, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider RapidRatings.

4 Reasons Why Supplier Scorecards Don’t Work

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Andy Kohm, CEO and founder of VendOp.

When I think of supplier scorecards, I think of having to be prodded, reminded and occasionally begged to carve out a large chunk of my time to fill out question after question on suppliers I’ve used since who knows when. I cringe when I see the first email comes in knowing that more are to follow. In theory, scorecards are perfectly sound tools to measure the effectiveness of key business relationships. But in reality, they’re hideous instruments for the collection of insight into supplier relationships. Let’s examine why.

Beyond the Traditional SRM Scorecard: Supplier Management Metrics to Diagnose Your Supplier Management Operations (Part 1: Search and Enablement) [PRO]

In recent years, prominent procure-to-pay (P2P) providers have increasingly offered opt-in peer benchmarking capabilities. This newly available data has changed the way consultants and advisors evaluate procurement performance. Benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPIs) once analyzed on a periodic basis, for instance, are now becoming embedded into procurement processes and continuously updated with new information as it becomes available.

Because of this, procurement organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits measuring performance based on a standard set of benchmarks and KPIs can bring to overall P2P performance. Yet the same cannot be said of supplier management activities, despite the significant cost and risk they pose to procurement. In fact, Spend Matters has found that most procurement organizations are not yet measuring a complete set of KPIs to manage the lifecycle of supplier activities and associated supplier information. Solution providers have not helped this situation, either, instead glossing over supplier management in favor of KPIs and peer benchmarking services in core transactional procurement areas.

It’s time to change this. To give procurement organizations operational metrics that mirror the KPIs available in P2P, this multipart Spend Matters PRO series provides an action guide for measuring and quantifying some of the benefits of "day in the life" operational supplier management activities. It also provides a roadmap and foundational input for building a business case to support these initiatives, including investments in dedicated technology solutions and tactical KPIs for managing them.

Part 1 of this series offers diagnostic KPIs for self-assessing supplier search and enablement performance. For each metric, we include commentary and insight on why it matters to procurement, guidance on enablement and measurement, suggestions for procurement technology systems that can be used for support and variable inputs for tracking.

We also encourage all Spend Matters readers, including non-Spend Matters PRO subscribers, to download our recent 2017 landscape definition and overview on supplier management and supply risk management, which provide details on the different technical components of these solution areas.

ClientLoyalty: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis [PRO]

ClientLoyalty competes in what we could most accurately describe as a “sub-sub” segment of the supplier management market. Usually such niches relegate solution providers to a small corner of market obscurity, often to build profitable businesses that go unnoticed by most. But there is actually a real potential market in what ClientLoyalty is attempting to create alongside a select number of other technology providers also focused on the management of strategic supplier relationships: a market for a true supplier relationship management solution.

While there are many solutions today that address supplier information management (SIM) and also supplier performance management (SPM), only a handful actually focus on supplier relationship management — which we are hesitant to call SRM, because the term was usurped by ERP years ago and given an entirely different meaning. ClientLoyalty is one of the few, avenging the “SAP SRM” and “Peoplesoft SRM” product names that did such an original disservice to what SRM is really about. (Hint: It’s not e-procurement!)

This final installment of our Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering ClientLoyalty offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other supplier management providers for shortlist consideration. It also includes a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provided a company and deep dive solution overview, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider ClientLoyalty.

Rapid Ratings: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

In the beginning of this Rapid Ratings Vendor Snapshot, the initial framework we incorporated showed how a supplier’s financial health was the keystone of broader risks in the supply chain. In other words, assurance of a supplier’s ability to deliver with consistency and quality requires assurance of a healthy supplier. To ascertain the financial health of the supplier, you can monitor its public financial data from Bloomberg or other external sources. This can be valuable if you know how to operationalize the information and can do it in a scalable and replicable way for many suppliers, over time.

But this doesn’t account for financial data from privately held companies that, for most corporations, account for 70%–80% of their strategic/critical suppliers. Such data on this group of suppliers is generally sparse, sometimes difficult to interpret, often unreliable for prediction and challenging to benchmark against peer firms. This is why Rapid Ratings’ approach to assessing supplier financial health (especially for this group) is attractive and unique. RapidRating’s FHR® (Financial Health Rating) is a focused and cost-effective supply risk monitoring solution that creates a forward-looking assessment of financial viability for the dozens or hundreds of key suppliers an organization may have — privately held or otherwise.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Rapid Ratings’ strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. The first installment of our analysis provided a company and solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering it. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

What is Supplier Management? Here’s a Primer

suppliers

This may seem like a ridiculously simple question whose answer comes embedded in the term itself (“Managing suppliers!”), but it can be tricky. Supplier management is a broad term, and it has become ever broader in its evolution from a post-contract area to include also strategy and planning and other pre-contract activities. In other words, supplier management has become supplier lifecycle management. But to nail down a pithy definition for supplier management, it is “simply the management of supplier-facing business processes throughout the lifecycle of a supplier,” as Spend Matters analysts Michael Lamoureux and Pierre Mitchell put it in their Supplier Management 101 series.

Rapid Ratings: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview [PRO]

Ask any procurement organization what area of risk is most pertinent to them and supplier financial risk will usually rise to the top. In particular, suppliers that are classified as strategic or critical based on business impact (not just annual spend) need to be monitored more closely and regularly to maintain operational resilience, ensure business continuity and minimize business risk — and this monitoring obviously must include evaluating financial viability. This is a core aspect of broader supply risk..

Predictive analytics are key to getting early insight (especially relative to your competitors) on suppliers whose financial health is starting to waver. Getting such intelligence via predictive analytics requires basically two things: strong analytic models and good data.

For publicly traded suppliers, you can get financial statements, but you still have to extrapolate from the historical financials to gain actionable insight or develop some sort of predictive statistic. Some companies have used the Altman Z empirical scoring model, but not only is Altman Z an outdated algorithm that has been shown to be inferior to more updated ones (to be discussed later), but you also have to spend the time compiling and interpreting the data, which tends to fall outside the usual purview of the procurement professional.

The bigger problem, though, is the lack of financial data readily available for private firms — especially in the U.S. For most corporations, up to 80% of their strategic/critical suppliers are private and don’t typically share their financial statements with customers for various reasons. One of those reasons may be that they’re highly profitable and don’t want procurement to see this information, although this is certainly not always the case. In other circumstances, a supplier might feel that being private exempts them from disclosure. Or in the worst of cases (from a supply risk perspective), a vendor might not be doing well financially and is worried about losing additional business. Yet, a customer still wants to be sure that a supplier is not in financial distress — or moving in that direction. So, what the buyer would really like is a scalable managed service with a service provider that can help predict supplier financial health, including bankruptcies.

But this won’t happen unless such a provider can address the supplier concerns of protecting the confidentiality of their raw financials.

This is where Rapid Ratings comes in. Rapid Ratings is a provider of empirically driven financial health scoring of businesses — including private suppliers. The firm’s Financial Health System uses financial data as inputs and then utilizes them within 25 industry-specific, integrated analytic models that calculate a normalized financial rating (0-100 scale) designed to help predict future corporate defaults and identify companies’ inherent strengths. Think of it as a “FICO score for corporations.”

Rapid Ratings claims to have predicted 94% of bankruptcies at least six months in advance, and that the FHR provides predictive capabilities out to 12–18 months. The firm also specializes in working with private suppliers to obtain the necessary financial data to produce their FHR. In fact, nearly two-thirds of the more than 40,000 rating events performed by Rapid Ratings are of private companies. Most impressively, the firm claims a greater than 85% success in getting private suppliers to submit their data.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Rapid Ratings' solution offering. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Rapid Ratings in the procurement technology area. The rest of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

HICX: A Robust MDM and Supplier Management Toolkit — Year-End Tech Review

supplier network

This post is part of our 2016 Year-End Procurement Tech Review, in which we offer procurement practitioners a bird’s-eye view of some key vendors and their solutions in select categories. This week, we’re highlighting companies in the sourcing (including e-sourcing) and supplier management spaces.

HICX, a London-based firm founded in 2004, has served the North American market for the past decade. It may not yet be a household name in the procurement world, but this could change as the importance of master data management and supplier management increases, and smaller (but still large!) companies begin to make investments in the area.

HICX: Solution Review & Analysis [Plus+]

supplier network

Companies looking for supplier management solutions have a broad range of choices, ranging from independent solution providers to ERP modules of varying degrees of sophistication and depth. There are numerous challenges that come with identifying the right solutions in the market for an individual procurement organization. These include the fact that consultants and analysts generally have limited experience with the in-the-trenches capabilities of these solutions compared with sourcing and purchase-to-pay suites.

One provider that warrants consideration in the market is HICX, a London-based firm founded in 2004. It is essentially a supply chain master data management (MDM) solution with a configurable workflow that allows an organization to use it as the supplier (and associated product) MDM system. This Spend Matters Plus analysis provides an introduction to the HICX solution for procurement organizations looking to understand whether they should consider adding the provider to their shortlists for consideration and competitive alternatives.