Trade Interchange – a straightforward solution for supplier information management?

Here is the third in this week's series of "new" solution providers - Trade Interchange, with a product poisitioned right in a current "hot spot" for procurement technology.

 

I have a strong belief that in the not too distant future we will find it amazing that even into the 21st century, many organisations didn’t have accurate records of where their money was spent, or details of the organisations who were receiving it. Spend Matters – here and in the US – has a firm view that such lack of visibility into the supply base, and of the flow of money to it, will be one of THE biggest issues of the next few years for senior procurement people and indeed CFOs and CEOs.

So Supplier Information Management (SIM) and related tools, platforms and services will be an area of considerable interest. We’re seeing strong growth from firms such as Achilles, who focus on supplier data capture, recording and management but then add capability in on-the-ground verification, assessment and supplier management. The strong Xcitec SIM capability within Emptoris has now been added to the IBM pot, while the nascent SAP InfoNet product has the potential to bring a new dimension to the SIM picture.

But as the need for SIM is better understood by organisations  of all sizes, not all will want to engage with global giants such as IBM or SAP, or perhaps need the global network and reach of an Achilles. So there are opportunities for other providers to carve out their own niche here. One firm who are hoping to do that is Trade Interchange.

Still a small company, with around 20 staff and a head office in Putney (outer London), the background of the founders was in the food industry, and the surname of one of the Directors, Simon Brake, may ring a bell with readers familiar with that sector. Along with Andy Tyson , he started the firm in 2000 with a focus on e-auctions. Demonstrating that much of the current hype around “cloud” is just that (hype), they’ve been operating on a cloud, software as a service basis since their inception.  Products are intuitive and easy to implement, with a focus on rapid returns for customers.

They now offer a range of software products, including auctions and eRFX, a sourcing workflow tool and an SRM tool (supplier scorecards etc.)  But perhaps the most interesting is their Supplier Information Management platform, which they launched last year.

The basis of the SIM platform is supplier information provided by suppliers via on-line forms. There are suggested templates, varying by spend category, and the registration process is made simple for suppliers with good feedback and signposting.  Buyers can approve suppliers by category ,and then use the data to search and filter based on a range of criteria to find suppliers or create tender lists. Suppliers manage and update their own profiles.

There’s a facility to exchange with suppliers, and the system will manage rules such as expiry dates and send an email to the supplier asking for update and re-submission. It’s certainly not the most complex or fully-featured SIM system we’ve seen, but it is easy to use and will meet the needs of many firms.

And the take–up profile is interesting. As Brake says, “we thought this would be of interest mainly to medium-sized firms. But two of our key clients are actually FTSE 100 size firms”. (We can’t publish the details but they are indeed large, household-name companies).  That suggests the desire for speed, simple implementation and low cost can be attractive even to large clients, who might have been expected to go for more complex solutions.

And another interesting – perhaps unique - aspect is the offer of a “free trial” version of the platform.  Trade Interchange then offer a “Professional” version priced at £199 a month with a 1000 supplier maximum capacity and a full Enterprise Version with further capabilities (price negotiable).

From our relatively brief look at the product, it is clear, intuitive and easy to use. It obviously does rely on suppliers to populate, and there is no verification, but as a first step for those wanting to put in place basic supplier control (as we talked about earlier), it should meet the needs of many organisations, at low cost, and with easy implementation.

(And of course, as they say, "other SIM solutions are available!")

Voices (2)

  1. Neil Birkbeck:

    Peter
    Good article. I am a procurement consultant and I often work with these guys, so it was great to see Trade Interchange’s name pop up. What really strikes me about their offering, and the market in general is the substantial time savings it can offer suppliers in the eTendering process. I know a company whose suppliers had to repeat the same company information every time they ran an eRFX, until they introduced SIM. This cut out the number of questions in most of the eRFX’s by about 50% and allowed suppliers to enter their SIM data once only (Plus amend updates), speeding up the whole process.

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