New Research: Supplier Information Management Technology Fundamentals (For Newbies AND Pros)

Spend Matters continues to cover the supplier management market with greater frequency, depth and enthusiasm than all of the other analyst and media outlets combined. For some, supplier management (including supplier diversity, supplier enablement, supplier performance management and supply chain risk management) is just a secondary consideration behind programs focused on strategic sourcing and purchase-to-pay enablement. But we believe supplier management — and supplier information management (SIM) platforms — should be core to procurement’s focus (not to mention AP, legal and other functional parts of the business). Today, we’re excited to announce our latest Compass research paper covering the topic: Supplier Information Management Technology Fundamentals — Part 2.
In the paper, we suggest that one of the fundamental challenges of SIM is that success requires so much greater than just preferred technology and services partners. Spend Matters has written extensively on this topic, publishing seven research reports (in addition to hundreds of blogs) on it in the past two years alone. Other analysts and research firms including Gartner (AMR), Procurement Intelligence Unit (Procurement Leaders), and Forrester have written materially on supplier management and we strongly endorse the value of getting to know their perspectives as well, even though we would encourage them to cover it with more frequency and greater depth given it’s importance. But as far as we know, there hasn’t been a true insider’s guide written on SIM solution deployment and getting the most from rollouts and technology adoption — a guide with numerous anecdotes and suggestions that those already using SIM tools would say “I wish I read that before…”

In the first paper in this two-part series, Supplier Information Management Technology Fundamentals — Part One, we began to write such a guide, compiling our own observations from analyzing, building and rolling out supplier management tools over the years. In other words, the “a-ha!” material we wish someone had shared with us earlier. Granted, none of this is a replacement for the basics and deeper material on certain specific areas and use cases (e.g., supply risk management), but we hope you find it invaluable on a pragmatic level. If you’re looking for analytical frameworks and maturity models for supplier management, you’re probably better off reading our other materials on the subject. But if you want to get started from an insider’s perspective (or enhance your current initiatives), the rest of this paper (and the first one in the series) is for you.

In Supplier Information Management Technology Fundamentals — Part 2, we provide an insider’s look at a range of areas including deployment, infrastructure and software selection tips (e.g., when and where multilingual capabilities count — and when they don’t). We also look closely at all the elements required in a supplier information management platform and why they matter (e.g., dynamic/cascading questions and data point capture to drive compliance earlier and deeper in specific supplier management and engagement processes) as well as configuration options and strategies.

We also note the importance of encouraging all companies considering a SIM toolset to think ahead of their current needs and to identify solutions that can grow with their vendor management needs. Beyond flexibility, which we consider so fundamental to a SIM toolset (and explore in-depth), we also suggest companies consider a range of options, including viewing SIM as the gateway to business unit cooperation, which in turn enables further initiatives and procurement strategy alignment — your procurement foot in the BU door, if you will.

Together with Part 1, this paper is a true guide for those who have to get their procurement and vendor management hands dirty with supplier information management. It’s the level of analysis we wish we had read before first deploying these solutions ourselves years ago. Whether you’re just exploring a potential solution deployment in the area or are looking to get more out of an existing investment, we encourage you to put Supplier Information Management Technology Fundamentals — Part 2at the top of your supplier management reading list.

This paper (and Part 1) is relevant if you are considering any of the following types of vendors in the supplier management area: SAP, Oracle, Ariba, Hiperos, Aravo, CVM Solutions/Kroll/Altegrity, HICX, GXS/RollStream, Achilles, Emptoris/IBM, IValua, Intelex, SciQuest, BizNet, etc. .

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Obsessed with how companies manage, spend and save money, Jason writes about procurement, trade and supply chain issues @ Spend Matters. He has significant first hand experience developing and marketing technology and services products, has advised numerous companies on sourcing and related techniques as well as M&A pursuits.  In previous lives before tech, he was a management consultant and merchant banking analyst.