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Supplier Risk & Ethics Analysis: Time to Get Started

For many buying firms, the quality of goods and services are contingent on their suppliers. Suppliers can indirectly impact brand perception from business to consumer. While delivered goods can be inspected through quantitative metrics, there are a host of other metrics that firms should track related to their vendors, including risk and ethics.

Is There a Tech Solution for Supplier Portal Proliferation?

David Gustin is the chief strategy officer for The Interface Financial Group responsible for digital supply chain finance and is a contributing author to Trade Financing Matters.

When we look at source-to-pay solutions, we tend to look at it from one side, that is, how this is going to improve the accounts payable department, reduce cost, be more efficient and improve supplier collaboration.

But then I hear quotes like this ...

“Our customers [suppliers] hate their client’s [having multiple] e-invoicing providers. They get the calls from Coke or Kraft, who say, “Hey, you can now send invoices to us through our portal (in fact, that’s the new policy if you want to get paid)." But if you [suppliers] have 20,000 customers, you are busy with debt collection, especially now. And now you have to go from your billing file and pull the 200 invoices manually that need to go to an array of e-invoice providers and get them into a portal because your customer requires it.”

Increasingly, small businesses are getting overwhelmed with too many portals to log into for invoicing.

AI in Supplier Management: Tomorrow (Part 2) [PRO]

complex sourcing

In Part 1 of AI in Supplier Management: Tomorrow, we began our discussion of some of the AI-enabled capabilities that you can expect to find in tomorrow's supplier management platforms, where we define AI as assisted intelligence (because, as we have discussed, there is no true artificial intelligence in enterprise platforms today and there won't be tomorrow either). AI is a buzzword, not a reality. But we don't need true AI to achieve software that can radically increase our productivity. Reaching assisted intelligence will add multiples to our efficiency and effectiveness.

In our last article, we discussed how tomorrow's supplier management platforms will offer smart, automatic, supplier profile update (suggestions) — taking the headaches out of profile maintenance that results in most profiles being out of date in a supplier management system shortly after they are created; market-based supplier intelligence that is more in line and reflective with reality — and not just the experience of an anomalous customer subset; and real-time relationship monitoring that paints a relatively full picture of the relationship, not just a point-based performance picture.

So what else will tomorrow's platforms do to help you focus more on the strategic side of supplier management? Let’s look at the next three areas:

— Automated resolution plan creation, monitoring and adjustment
— Automated risk mitigation strategy identification
— Optimized real-time resource re-alignment

Tealbook: Vendor Introduction (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

cloud solutions

In our last Spend Matters PRO brief, we introduced you to Tealbook, a five-year-old provider based out of Toronto (with an office in New York City) that is deploying a new platform for supplier information management (SIM) and discovery. Combining machine learning to accelerate data cleansing and gathering with a social media-like user experience to encourage collaborative supplier information management, Tealbook is gaining use cases and enterprise-class procurement customers that want to:

— Consolidate and better manage their supplier master data — aka the “I” (Information and Intelligence) in SIM.
— Discover and on-board new suppliers more effectively than 1) Google searches and 2) searches within proprietary supplier networks.
— Create a system of intelligence surrounding suppliers both internally (e.g., within a spend category team or project team) and externally through fully permissioned, community-based knowledge sharing.
— Quickly bring supplier diversity programs to target levels.

Part 1 of this brief provided an overview of Tealbook’s offering and a short selection requirements checklist that outlined the typical company for which Tealbook might be a good fit.

In Part 2, we provide a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis, and some final conclusions and takeaways.

Tealbook: Vendor Introduction (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview [PRO]

Procurement organizations today talk a big game about automating transactional processes so that they can focus on upstream value creation opportunities. The thinking goes like this: The biggest opportunities for procurement are not in squeezing diminishing savings out of the usual vendors year after year but in identifying and contracting with the most innovative suppliers that can enable exclusive competitive advantages. These include not only strategic sourcing efforts around major categories or products but also mutually beneficial relationship-based activities like supplier collaboration, development, innovation and risk mitigation.

Yet there are several obstacles to this shift in emphasis toward more strategic activities. One is remarkably simple: The majority of procurement organizations do not have a single, accurate record of all of their suppliers. Most of the vital information that would constitute a vendor master file is instead scattered across various silos, including ERP systems, dedicated P2P or S2P tools, homegrown tools, and proverbial three-ring binders. So before procurement can earnestly attempt to spend more time on higher-impact value creation opportunities, most organizations have a lot of work to do forming a baseline off which they can build stronger supplier management, discovery and development competencies. This baseline of supplier knowledge is not just about maintaining an accurate vendor master file to pay the bills, but also a hub for information to help build supplier intelligence and a private supplier network (albeit with some community-based elements) rather than any single commercial network/marketplace.

Helping organizations form this baseline is how Tealbook, a four-year-old provider based out of Toronto (with an office in New York City), is deploying its platform for supplier information management and discovery. Combining machine learning to accelerate data cleansing and gathering with a social media-like user experience to encourage collaborative supplier information management, Tealbook is gaining use cases with enterprise-level procurement organizations that want to consolidate their efforts in master data management (MDM), quickly bring their supplier diversity programs to target levels, and find new suppliers more effectively than a search on the open web allows, as well as expedite the supplier on-boarding process. And as it continues to bring more users and suppliers into its network, Tealbook generates insights that becomes increasingly valuable to its community (without ever sharing proprietary information between organizations).

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Tealbook and its capabilities. The first part of this brief includes an overview of Tealbook’s offering and a short selection requirements checklist that outlines the typical company for which Tealbook might be a good fit. The second part of this brief provides a breakdown of what is comparatively good (and not so good) about the solution, a high-level SWOT analysis, and some market implications and takeaways.

AI in Supplier Management: Today (Part 1) [PRO]

suppliers

With this brief we begin the next installment of our series on the application of artificial intelligence (AI) to various source-to-pay technologies. Previous entries focused on AI in procurement (Today, Part 1 and Part 2; Tomorrow, Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3; and The Day After Tomorrow), AI in sourcing (Today; Tomorrow, Part 1 and Part 2; and The Day After Tomorrow), AI in sourcing optimization (Today; Tomorrow; and The Day After Tomorrow, Part 1 and Part 2) and AI in supplier discovery (Today, Tomorrow and The Day After Tomorrow).

Following the path from supplier discovery and selection is the topic of our current series, supplier management. As with each preceding entry, the aim is to define what is available with AI(-like) technology and what will be possible tomorrow. And just as the best platforms for supplier discovery are starting to use machine learning and RPA, so too are the best supplier management platforms — but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

AI in Supplier Discovery: The Day After Tomorrow [PRO]

In our initial entry of the series, AI in Supplier Discovery: Today, we discussed how the advancements in usability and computing power have made it possible for platforms to implement better and more powerful search algorithms that can actually make searches useful across wide supplier directories and networks. Then, in our last entry, AI in Supplier Discovery: Tomorrow, we discussed how the inclusion of advanced semantic processing, high dimensional (fingerprint) similarity clustering algorithms, range and "like" search algorithms, and machine learning that can improve the algorithms over time as humans identify "good" versus "bad" matches will allow even better, smarter, more useful searches to be performed in the days to come for the identification of the right suppliers for direct categories and services.

But is that the best we can hope for?

While that is all we can hope for tomorrow, we can hope for even more the day after that. More specifically, when we extend our event horizon out just a little bit further, we can predict that at some point in the future, supplier discovery systems are going to support innovative supplier discovery (based on performance, need and soft factors) and predictive smart search (based on upcoming projects, performance profiles and real-time community feedback).

Why Payment Companies are Missing an Opportunity with Early Pay

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David Gustin is the chief strategy officer for The Interface Financial Group responsible for digital supply chain finance and is a contributing author to Trade Financing Matters.

Facilitating B2B payments is certainly the “in” thing these days as witnessed by some of the more recent acquisitions — see Jason Busch’s Spend Matters’ post Another Payment Provider Gets Acquired.

Why all the excitement? The market sees opportunities around three areas — interchange fees, cross border payments and FX.

For many payment companies that deliver solutions to automate payments and accounts payable, their core value proposition, infrastructure and business model are built around converting their clients’ suppliers to card payment.

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Learn the Best Practices for Integrating Your E-procurement System with Amazon Business

BuyerQuest

To automate your procure-to-pay processes, your business will need to integrate your e-procurement systems with the online catalogs of your contracted suppliers.

Amazon Business launched in 2015 with a vision to give businesses a simple, personalized and transparent online B2B experience. An extension of this vision was to simplify the integration for businesses connecting their e-procurement systems to Amazon Business, while giving them access to a broader selection of products and sellers.

This article will highlight the best practices for integrating your e-procurement system with Amazon Business.

Public Spend and Riding a Bike: A Fresh Look at Successful Buyer-Supplier Relationships

In Spend Matters’ effort to examine public spend, we came across an article on Public Spend Forum that highlights a universal truth — while also leading into a lesson on rethinking how to source a project. The truth is that having the knowledge about something doesn’t mean that you can understand it enough to use it effectively. Kate Vitasek, a professor at the Haslem College of Business Administration at the University of Tennessee and founder of the Vested business model, learned a similar lesson when studying why some buyer-supplier relationships were more successful than others. Along the way she studied these transactions — even looking at U.S. Air Force procurement deals — and developed the Vested business model, which has five steps. Check out the details in this story and hear her on a podcast.

The Ultimate Guide to Subcontracting in Government Procurement

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Public Spend Forum, which is helping us look at the world of public sector procurement.

Entering the world of government contracting requires considerable effort and education on the complicated process. Once you’ve overcome all of the hurdles and secured your first government contract, you may find you’ll require additional assistance to fulfill the job. Before you begin your search for the appropriate subcontractors, you’ll want to review the applicable regulations and compliance requirements. And you'll want to read the tips in this guide.

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How to Increase Supplier Collaboration: Where to Start Today

Only 23% of procurement leaders plan to increase the level of supplier collaboration as a lever to deliver value in 2018. We know the days of squeezing suppliers for every penny of savings are gone and that procurement teams recognize supplier relationships as being key to success — so why are only 23% of procurement leaders planning to increase the level of supplier collaboration this year compared to 26% last year and 39% in 2016?1 My hypothesis is that the mandate to “increase supplier collaboration” is easier said than done. 

So, in this post let’s focus on six steps you can take now to kick off your initiative to increase supplier collaboration.