Brooklyn Vendor Assurance – Automating the work of the supplier manager

At ProcureCon EU earlier this year we met a relatively new ‘kid on the block’ to the CLM, SRM, SPM and risk management playground. Brooklyn Vendor Assurance (BrooklynVA) came into being in mid-2018, as the embodied vision of co-founders Jesse Lee (CEO), Colin Woodford (COO) and Nick Francis (CPO) to create a solution to fully automate and digitise the work of the supplier manager and maximise value for money across a firm’s supply base.

The idea for BrooklynVA was born following the efforts of Jesse Lee at Apptio (where he was in charge of customer success at the time) when he saw a gap in the solutions market for third-party management in the IT space. In late 2007, he and the Apptio CTO coded a prototype to get Series A funding for the product that would provide spend transparency across IT for CIOs and CTOs. Following five rounds of funding, Apptio went public in 2016. While teams were optimising cost savings opportunities through the product, Jesse realised this was totally through manual effort. The product gave more transparency but was not driving insights on its own.

At a time when many firms had begun a digital journey, and had developed more trust in the cloud and tech-driven services (which also added a degree of risk), they learned that patterns of overspend which littered the supply chain had a lot to do with lack of control and accountability. And so an appreciation of how much a well implemented vendor management system could achieve was realised.

Following research into whether anyone in the market was trying to help optimise the work of the vendor manager, the co-founders perceived a wide gap in the market. When supply chain resilience and digital transformation were becoming hot across all industry verticals, they brought forward a product called Brooklyn Vendor Assurance.

“It touched a nerve with everyone we knew who had built up battle scars of years of manually doing vendor management generally, but specifically contract and risk management,” Jesse told us.

The product is fully aimed at CPOs and CFOs to help maximise value for money across the entire supply base under contract, purpose built for the end-to-end vendor management discipline.

“It’s all about boosting your vendor management strengths,” he said, “and is applicable for whichever stage of maturity you are at: launching your SRM process, or digitising or strengthening an existing one.”

The solution comprises four modules all aimed at managing the whole SRM process to achieve strategic alignment: contract management, risk management, performance management and relationship management.

“We aim to digitise and drive the vendor management policy published by the procurement leadership, and digitise and drive the work according to the supplier management framework as published by that same procurement leadership. We therefore believe that what makes us special is an automated policy-driven approach across the vendor management process, allowing a team to govern by exception in a powerful workflow that ensures obligations are met and actions completed, the end result being up to 3x efficiency gains for every supplier manager,” Jesse told us.

“Our customers tell us that between 40% and 60% of work performed by the individual vendor manager is administrative. With BrooklynVA work such as building and maintaining audit trails across the supply base, crafting agendas, vendor scorecards and reports, capturing management information and performance data at a granular level and controlling supplier obligations is all automated.

We wanted to design something that was easy to use and to understand, something that people would actually adopt, rather than filling out countless surveys. We think this is something that represents a great leap beyond module bolt-ons to existing ERP tools.  ERP exists, let’s be honest, solely to enable the buying of widgets at scale. BrooklynVA is also a great leap beyond what we see from modules bolted on to other tools purpose-built for other roles, like lawyers or risk officers. It is scalable, and can be used, either integrated directly or indirectly, with ERP and other systems,” he said.

“We see a huge market for this especially in any business that has already hired at least one dedicated vendor manager,” he continued, “as they have already made the business case for it. Whereas sales or HR have purpose-built tools to help them work faster and with best practices, so we believe supplier managers should have the same opportunity, especially since today more and more businesses are trusting their business to services provided by a wide array of vendors.”

The co-founders definitely have the ambition and enthusiasm for the product to take it further, they want companies to be able to create their own best practices off the back of the Brooklyn platform which other users can benefit from.

“We believe that innovation and highest value for money come from the supply chain and its customers when they work in close strategic alignment. The supply chain should be aware of their customer’s roadmap, appropriate to the segment of the vendor. So our modules drive this alignment and synergy around the future direction of the business, which makes it directly applicable to strategic sourcing decision makers.”

While Spend Matters hasn’t yet seen a demo, our analysts will endeavour to do so soon, and will report back with more scrutiny. In the meantime, you should certainly keep BrooklynVA on your radar when you are making your tech selection choices – and you can request a demo here.

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