Suppliers Content

What’s the Price: Vendor Introduction (Part 2 — Product Strengths and Weaknesses) [PRO]

In our last brief we introduced you to What’s the Price, a five-year-old Dutch vendor that offers should-cost modeling tools for supplier negotiations. Born out of the frustrations of two procurement professionals who wanted to get faster, more accurate price estimates to counteract supplier quotes, WTP makes smart use of publicly available big data to drastically cut the time and effort in building should-cost models. The solution is notably easy to use and provides a lot of guidance for users along the way, allowing WTP to get organizations up and running with just a two-hour training session. But as with all younger solution providers, there areas for growth, as well, including a few opportunities that could further support WTP’s preference for a self-service deployment approach.

Part 1 of this brief provided some background on What’s the Price and an overview of its offering. 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 a short selection requirements checklist that outlines the typical company for which WTP might be a good fit. We also give some final conclusions and takeaways.

What’s the Price: Vendor Introduction (Part 1 — Background and Solution Overview) [PRO]

Successful supplier negotiations begin long before a category manager sits down at the negotiating table, physical or virtual. Effectively sourcing a product or component requires an understanding of the fundamentals driving a category, the competitive dynamics in a given industry, and a negotiation strategy based on realistic prices or savings that procurement hopes to attain.

But more often than not, determining how much something should cost — that is, what procurement should realistically pay for goods or services — is a process supported more by guesswork than by data science. And building such models can be time-consuming: Cost engineers creating clean-sheet calculations of a product’s likely cost often take weeks before coming back with an estimate.

What’s the Price, in contrast, can deliver an estimated price in less than five minutes — for any category, industry or product.

That may sound a bit like magic, and from an end user’s perspective, it can feel that way. But beneath the hood, WTP, a five-year-old Dutch vendor founded by two former senior procurement professionals, relies on a straightforward approach, underpinned by a smart application of big data.

WTP aggregates prices and cost drivers across hundreds of thousands of mostly public data sources to produce top-down estimates for commodity prices, industry cost structures and product cost models. The result is a fast and reasonably accurate expected market price that procurement can use to set the stage in supplier negotiations, putting the buy side on stronger footing against price increases or “black box” quotes from sales reps.

Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers an overview of What’s the Price and its capabilities. Part 2 includes a look at WTP’s product strengths and weaknesses, a company SWOT analysis, and a selection requirements checklist for those that might consider the provider.

Supplier Selection Tips: Do This, Don’t Do That

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Public Spend Forum, a sister site of ours.

Selecting the perfect contractor is essential to ensure your department is able to achieve its goals to reach its full potential. One bad choice can spoil the entire operation and disproportionately set back fiscal and business goals. Follow our helpful supplier selection tips, and don’t let you or your department fall victim to avoidable problems. In this article, we will take you through the separate stages of supplier selection and give you helpful tips on each so you can be sure the contractor you choose is the contractor you need. We’ve broken down the selection process into five stages:

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Customize your internal payment processing needs with ‘Pay by Invoice’ at Amazon Business

No two businesses are alike. Each one has their own goals, internal policies and procedures. At Amazon Business we obsess around the differences in our customers, and how we can best support their internal procurement, reconciliation and payment teams to streamline their procure-to-pay processes. To do this, Amazon Business is helping innovate on behalf of its customers by offering a customizable invoicing payment method for businesses of all sizes and industries — Pay by Invoice.

Pay by Invoice allows eligible customers the option to buy now and pay later with payment terms and a purchasing line offered on Amazon Business.

Amazon Business believes a trusted invoicing experience enables worry-free purchasing — and we do this by making invoicing configurable, accessible and dependable for customers. Pay by Invoice provides Amazon Business customers access to millions of suppliers, with the convenience of using a single configurable invoicing solution to purchase. The vision of Pay by Invoice was to put businesses back in the driver’s seat. No need to change internal policies to work with a supplier or have separate negotiated terms with each individual supplier. With Pay by Invoice, the customer chooses what works for them.

Retiring Murphy’s Law — Time for Procurement to Move On

supplier network

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Paul Martyn, VP-North America at SirionLabs.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with several mid- to large-size companies' supply chain leaders. And while I assumed our conversations would be dominated by their views on the latest flurry of AI-enabled SCM tools, instead, several of our discussions turned toward recent advances in supplier performance management. Should I have been surprised? After all, the space is white hot, with several new risk and contract management vendors recently entering the solution market.

What follows is a brief summary of what I heard, plus some personal observations:

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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).