New Research: Supplier Information Management Technology Fundamentals — An Insider’s Look

If you want to appear as boring as possible to the pretty little thing sitting next to you at a cocktail party, tell her (or him) that you're in the vendor management field. Trust me, nothing kills social conversation more with a procurement outsider than showing passion toward supplier onboarding, supplier performance KPIs or supply chain risk management. You'd be better off introducing yourself as Lewis Skolnick -- or our resident Lewis Skolnick and lead author of this paper, Thomas Kase -- and wearing the plastic pocket protector than committing this social mixer sin. Not that I'd know anything about this from personal experience, mind you, but I'm basing it on more than just a few passing observations. But the good news for the few of us in the world who care passionately about vendor management and supplier information management is that we've created a new insider's guide to getting the technology piece right. Now, we don't recommend you quote from our latest Spend Matters Compass series report as part of your favorite pick-up line, but we think you'll find Supplier Information Management Technology Fundamentals -- Part One invaluable in the office.

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 (nor do we recommend this as conversation fodder if you're after a second date with someone not from the industry). However in our view, 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 and 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 how to get more from supplier management tools like you haven't read before -- and that outsiders would find truly esoteric. But heck, you're not reading this site to get a date. At least we hope not.

Download Supplier Information Management Technology Fundamentals -- Part One by clicking the previous link. And stay tuned for other papers in this series coming soon. Very soon. Because we know you have nothing better to do this Valentine's day that curling up to the latest thinking on how best to manage and collaborate with your suppliers.

- Jason Busch

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Voices (3)

  1. Marcella Hughes:

    This achieves ongoing cost, quality and service improvement, and helps in furthering the success of both the company and the vendor.

  2. Jason Busch:

    I did meet my better half at … drumroll please … a procurement conference! Spend (and supplier) geeks unite …

  3. Oddly excited:

    Gee, Jason, I… well… can I call you?

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