New solution providers – LeanLinking brings social media principles to supplier management

Social media principles and approaches will inevitably make their way into the business and procurement world, yet progress has in reality been pretty slow. So we were interested to first hear about LeanLinking in a conference presentation earlier this year from Richard Beaumont, then VP Central Purchasing at Rolls-Royce and now Director of Commercial Operations at the Co-operative Bank.

He was using the tool at Rolls-Royce to address the problem of how to collect and get value out of supplier performance information quickly in a large, dispersed and devolved organisation. He introduced the LeanLinking platform and was able to reduce the elapsed time for reporting back to suppliers to days instead of months. (We wrote about it here).

So I spoke to Lars Kuch Pedersen, the founder of LeanLinking, recently to learn more about the business. Pedersen is in his mid-thirties now and had a successful career as a procurement executive, mainly with Wolseley, the building products group. As Sourcing Director for the central Europe region, he saw the problems in understanding how suppliers were performing across a wide stakeholder network. “When I met a CEO from a key supplier, and he asked how that supplier was doing, I struggled to give any sort of objective answer”, he explained.

Pedersen looked for tools to address this, and finding that not much was around, decided to build something “simple and easy to use” himself to help buyers work smarter with suppliers and provide a continuous basis for supplier assessment and communication. That something is LeanLinking, which was founded in Denmark last year and now operates with eight staff out of Aarhus. The firm currently has around 15 customers, mainly Danish based firms although some of those are international in their scope – and Rolls Royce of course.

LeanLinking is a cloud based platform that enables information to be collected, shared and distributed around and across buyer and supplier organisations. So you might ask fifty internal stakeholders of a particular supplier to rate them every month (or even every day/week) against certain criteria, then aggregate, analyse and share that data automatically via the platform in a controlled and secure manner with your supplier and with other internal stakeholders.

There is a Trip Adviser / Trust Pilot rating capability - so, as Pedersen says, "the guy in the warehouse can make a quick comment about the delivery when it arrives - was it on time, even perhaps was the driver helpful . We help to get topics onto the radar that otherwise might not get discussed”.

Other useful features include the “Wall Communication”. And just to emphasise the social media comparison, and as their website says, “each supplier has a Wall (similar to the Facebook Wall) where you can both communicate internally and with your suppliers online”.

A further aspect of the platform capability in terms of communication is the ability to upload detailed KPI information from an ERP (or other) system into LeanLinking. The platform then automates sending that information to suppliers via email, saving what can be a major and tedious cut and paste job for the procurement or contract management function.

In terms of pricing approach, “we build a business case for each customer, and price based on value” he says. That isn’t unreasonable, although the product might also lend itself to a simpler cost per seat basis, we would suspect. There is a certain amount of support offered in terms of implementation, but the platform is largely intuitive and the intent is clearly to be seen as a solution provider rather than also a services or consulting business.

It’s clear that B2B has something to learn from B2C – the huge success of Trip Adviser and other websites suggests there is an appetite for tools that can apply social media principles to help us manage, rate, provide feedback, compare and ultimately improve supplier performance. And supplier performance management is in our opinion one of the elements of the procurement process that is least well served by software tools at the moment.

LeanLinking looks like a good addition to that (currently) not very crowded space, and we’ll follow their progress with interest.

(A longer version of this article will appear for Spend Matters Plus subscribers shortly).

First Voice

  1. Christian Lanng:

    Hi Peter,

    I believe it’s a little hard to take a solution provider seriously that has copied our website. See: https://twitter.com/christianlanng/status/706983427522830337 If this is their conduct as an IP based company, what does this say about trust in the supply chain?
    Christian

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