The Supplier Management Category

ConnXus: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses [PRO]

From a technology and content perspective, the market for supplier diversity-specific supplier management solutions has remained somewhat of a cottage industry for over a decade. Larger vendors, including both software and risk-centric providers, have not been able to take advantage of scale or reach. Further, over the years, even those organizations which have acquired diversity-centric vendors (e.g., Kroll, Jaggaer) have not been able to consolidate the market.

This has opened the door for more recent entrants, such as ConnXus, to not only develop technology, solutions and content for supplier diversity professionals but also to integrate these capabilities with broader offerings across the supplier management spectrum, as well as set a new standard for what should be included in a supplier diversity solution in the first place.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores ConnXus’ strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. The first installment our analysis provided a company and solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering the provider. Part 3 will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

ConnXus: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview [PRO]

suppliers

The supplier management technology market is a microcosm of the procurement technology market generally, as it has many subsegments and is fragmented from a provider perspective. Procurement organizations need to do their full homework when evaluating potential suppliers, including newer technology vendors and a host of incumbents that have been competing for a decade (and sometimes more) in this market segment. Consider that two components within the supplier management, supplier information management (SIM) and supplier discovery management (SDM), have been around since the early 2000s, when Aravo pioneered capabilities in this area and signed progressive companies like Google.

But when it comes to supplier management, SIM and SDM are not the whole story. Within this segment, specialized supplier performance management (SPM), supplier relationship management (SRM), supply/supplier risk management, supplier network management (SNM), and other takes on supplier management that haven't even hit mainstream yet are helping drive specific buying decisions for technology. That probably accounts for the recent explosion in supplier management technology providers over the past few years, with a new one either hitting the market or becoming mainstream seemingly every quarter.

One of the companies that is now becoming mainstream in this broader sector is ConnXus. Founded in 2010 out of the founders’ frustration in their inability to quickly and easily identify, and qualify, new diverse suppliers as a result of incomplete databases, fragmented resources and expensive software, ConnXus is on some levels a next-generation version of previous diversity specialists including CVM Solutions and AECSoft. The founders also observed that small business owners and diverse suppliers found it difficult to share diversity qualifications or develop relationships with procurement executives directly.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about ConnXus’ solution offering in the supplier management and supplier diversity markets. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider ConnXus in the procurement technology area. The rest of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, and evaluation and selection considerations.

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SRM Unplugged: Expert Answers to 8 Burning Questions

Leading procurement organizations today know that investing in supplier relationship management pays real dividends for the enterprise. But knowing a practice is beneficial and knowing how to implement it are entirely different things. To help take SRM from theory to practice, we teamed up with David Atkinson, distinguished procurement leader and Managing Director, Four Pillars Consulting, who answered these top real-world questions on SRM during a recent webinar: “Supplier Relationship and Value Management: The Five Programme Killers and How to Overcome Them.”

RapidRatings: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Competitive & Summary Analysis [PRO]

RapidRatings is a proven supplier risk management solution that specializes in financial risk management. Many large enterprises depend on it as a core component of their supplier risk management programs. It brings the ability — a critical one — to evaluate privately held suppliers, including a methodology to get even small and middle-market firms to submit financials with very high success levels.

Spend Matters analysis suggests that RapidRatings has a proven and comparatively superior methodology to alternative established models for developing accurate and predictive supplier financial risk ratings — especially for privately held companies — and gaining insight into overall supplier financial health. But it is important to note that the provider does not offer a comprehensive supplier or supply chain risk management solution and ideally should be considered as a component within a broader supply risk management capability.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering RapidRatings offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other procurement technology providers (suite and otherwise). It also includes a user selection guide, user interface and user experience (UI/UX) analysis and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep dive solution overview, a SWOT analysis, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider RapidRatings.

From MABD to OTIF: Wal-Mart’s Latest Supply Chain Imperative

From must arrive by date (MABD) to on time in full (OTIF), Wal-Mart’s latest delivery standard is not just another supplier scoring metric. It’s actually a dynamic reporting mechanism that could become one of the best tools for measuring inventory flow ever conceived — at least, that’s what logistics experts and various consultancies with a compliance training interest are saying.

Supplier Performance Management (SPM) — Lost and Found?

What if a network of suppliers responded even more favorably to a customer that persistently and artfully manages them? Almost all of the analysts who cover the supplier performance management (SPM) solution market agree there is an incremental 5%–15% in contract savings for those who do it well (i.e., for buying organizations that apply a continuous improvement discipline to their SPM practice). Those are big numbers. So why would it appear that outside of the automotive industry, sophisticated SPM practice hasn’t caught on?

How to Smooth Manufacturer-Supplier Relationships Through AP Automation

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Howie Hahn, senior sales engineer at Esker.

Success in manufacturing depends on the mutually beneficial relationships between manufacturers and suppliers. Each party relies on the other to live up to its obligations, if either expects to move towards long-term success and growth. But business, like life, doesn’t always go as planned. Even relationships based on trust and mutual benefit can get rocky.

The key is to make sure that the inevitable bumps in the road don’t morph into ill feelings, mistrust or, worse, lawsuits. One tool that can help ensure that manufacturers and suppliers maintain smooth relationships is accounts payable (AP) automation.

Commodity Management: Drilling into the Supply Chain and the Technology Landscape [Plus+]

My colleague Jason Busch and I have written earlier about how, with the exception of a few top procurement organizations, procurement is failing to deploy the right sets of strategies, tools and tactics to bridge commodity management, sourcing and broader procurement activity.

In this Spend Matters Plus article, I want to dive into some of the details around commodity management and its relation to the broader supply chain, as well as the different solution approaches being used to tackle it. In a value-chain mega chart in the article (which basically follows a design > source > plan [supply] > deliver [inbound] process flow from left to right), I’ve outlined the various processes (brown rectangles) and some supporting solution types (blue ovals) for commodity management.

The Benefits of Treating Your Suppliers Like Partners

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from James Gellert, chief executive of RapidRatings.

Suppliers and buyers haven’t always had the best relationship beyond the transaction. Historically, the relationship was focused on getting the lowest price and reliable delivery. While this made sense on paper, it inevitably created a zero-sum game, as suppliers were often seen as expendable. Suppliers knew they could be replaced at any time and therefore had little interest in being flexible or working in the purchaser’s best interest.

While many companies have since rethought this Draconian approach and have been successful in creating overall value beyond the transaction, those companies that have truly realized the benefits of treating suppliers like partners are able to transform themselves into a more focused, nimble and cost-effective global competitor.

The Impending Slow Death of “Empty Apps” in Procurement (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series, I discussed how “empty” applications (i.e., data models and application logic served up via forms and workflow) that need to be spun up from scratch by each customer, and offer no scale across customers, are not going to be competitive in a few years.

For example, most buying organizations pursuing automated supplier qualification workflows in supplier management end up creating mega qualification forms that represent the sum of the regulatory requirements and internal requirements that are in force rather than the supplier questionnaires getting automatically tailored based on the spend requirements that in turn link to the appropriate questions based on appropriate internal/external policies and regulations.

But this is starting to change. New applications and application suites that offer mass personalized functionality in terms of flexible data models, metadata, machine learning and “composite applications” (that embed relevant microservices) will offer huge advantages over traditional software models that basically treat the applications like machine tools (even though the tools are deployed over the web).

I will give a few more examples of embedded services and then turn your attention to some other approaches that applications providers are pursuing to move away from feature function wars and move towards building a collective intelligence on behalf of their procurement customers. This changes the game to build new capabilities beyond automation and to deliver outcomes beyond savings.

In the last installment, I talked about DaaS (data as a service) and embedding microservices into the applications so that “micro best of breed” app services can be embedded into the core processes of large application suites. In fact, it’s already happening. I mentioned digital signatures for contracts and APIs for supplier risk queries, but there are other opportunities! In this installment, I call out providers like SAP Ariba, Amazon Business, Okta, Tradeshift, Slack, Microsoft and Aquiire, but the lessons are what is important. OK, let’s get on with it with our list of services to augment the empty apps.

2 Strategic Ways to Improve Supplier Relationship Management

suppliers

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Dr. Muddassir Ahmed, divisional supply chain manager at Eaton.

Whether we like it or not, whether we want to say that out loud or not, buyers and suppliers primarily indulge in exchange relationships in order to satisfy their desire for money and to benefit their businesses or organizations. So when buyers and suppliers think about supplier relationship management or ways in which they conduct exchange relationships, they must focus on a share of value appropriated by both sides in the relationship.

Outsourcing Flights: Was the United Airlines Fiasco Also a Supplier Management Mishap?

People have pointed fingers at United for pulling passengers off after they have boarded; at the security officers who didn’t think it inappropriate to drag a 69-year-old man by his hands; at the passenger himself for not complying with airline policy — but who reads those policies when booking tickets, anyway? But our question is this: How much of the blame also goes to Republic Airline, the regional partner that operated the flight?