Sparesfinder (part 2 ) – smart inventory management

We introduced Sparesfinder recently and explained why managing spares and components effectively can bring big benefits for firms. More today about the firm and what they do to address the potential in this area.

Sparesfinder was formed in 1998 and are still a UK based firm, with 25 full time staff - but they call on around 120 in partner organisations who work with them on implementations and projects. They have a very impressive global customer base (Shell, Diageo, Lafarge, BAT, Unilever, Siemens.. the list of global blue chips goes on...), with current projects in about 30 different countries. “We’re a micro multi-national” as David Stroud, the CEO and one of the founders describes it.

Indeed, when you see their range of clients, you would assume their revenues would be larger than they actually are (around £3 million pa). But they’ve had no external funding since 2005, are profitable and growing at around 40% a year, so they’re not complaining!

The core of their offering is hosted software, developed using Microsoft’s development environment, and provided via a SaaS delivery model, that “cleans, governs, analyses and finds” . It classifies stock (inventory) data, or indeed potential stock (so it can look at catalogues from different suppliers to identify where they are actually offering the same product), which enables the sort of benefits we outlined in our first post. Here is Sparesfinder’s own description:

We have developed a data structure specifically to describe materials, which is one of the key foundations of our product set. Our background is in spare parts and we have a comprehensive technical dictionary available to use for this data, but our applications work equally well with product data or direct materials. Indeed, our data cleaning and governance tools have also been successfully used to deliver improved visibility of complex oilfield drilling equipment, to build an office products catalogue in 12 languages and to manage master data for medical supplies”.

This capability enables the client to get a clear view of what they actually have in stock or is elsewhere in the supply chain, which while seemingly pretty simple information, is actually very powerful. It enables organisations to minimise stockholding, or locate items in multiple locations around the world quickly and easily. Collaboration between different sites, or even different organisations is possible (through the “Virtual Pooled Inventory” application), which can give another level of operational and financial benefit.

Sparesfinder offers a number of products; these are just a couple of examples. “Masterpiece” allows clients to achieve a unique, clean set of master data for the same material item globally, then delivers high quality data back to transactional systems in an optimised format for each system and language.

“Insight” links inventory data (usually from multiple management systems) with transactional data picked up from ERP systems to give an even broader view of current and predicted inventory, which drives reduced working capital and operating costs.

I haven’t come across anyone else quite like Sparesfinder in the market, but we’d be interested to hear of other providers and products with successful offerings in this space.  And certainly, if you’re in an environment where inventory of any type is an issue, and you see opportunities for improvement, then it’s worth looking at Sparesfinder.  They've taken a simple idea, then developed and implemented it cleverly in a way that brings powerful possibilities to their clients.

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