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Supplier Information Management Technology Fundamentals — Part One

In less than five years, supplier management technology has gone from novelty to mainstream. What was previously a set of tools used only in isolation to enable highly targeted initiatives — such as supplier diversity monitoring or eProcurement on-boarding — has rapidly become a core set of procurement and vendor management implements. In this research brief, we examine what Supplier Information Management (SIM) solutions can do for users. Please note that we choose to not take sides in the semantics debates around SIM. If you want to classify this set of technology capabilities as supplier management, supply base management or vendor management, please feel free to do so. But for the purposes of this analysis, we’ve standardized on “SIM” to keep things simple and consistent.

For Spend Matters, the best SIM solutions in the marketplace comprise a broad range of features. Ideally, they serve as a repository of data for all internal users. A vendor’s goods and services or otherwise depends on the outcome of what they provide, regardless of whether these data points cover banking details, purchase orders, goods & services contents, performance management, or other compliance areas. The SIM field has more than its fair share of monikers and cryptic acronyms that comprise elements that we argue it has subsumed. These include SRM (Supplier Relationship Management), SPM (Supplier Performance Management), SLM (Supplier Lifecycle Management), SRPM, SBM and more. In the context of this research document, we apply the broadest approach to the SIM label, and consider the other areas listed above as subsets of SIM.

Applying all the SIM approaches and concepts is possible with today’s best solutions—and collectively these measures serve as a snapshot of current best supplier information management practices. But for the greatest success, Spend Matters believes that broad SIM solution implementations should not only be technically complete, but must also address rollout stages and concept socializing that organizations tailor to specific requirements. Throughout this paper, we attempt to address many of the key underlying technical components that comprise complete SIM solutions as well as decision points and insider “tips of the trade” that we’ve learned over the years.

This is an insider’s look at supplier management tools like you’ve not read before.