Tag Archives: supplier intelligence

Supercharge Your Intelligence

How can technology improve the savings, scope and speed of your supplier searches by supercharging your intelligence

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“There’s a tremendous opportunity [for procurement] to leverage technology and data to accelerate processes and bring insight into the organisation.” says Stephany Lapierre, founder and CEO of tealbook.

After 10 years building a successful strategic sourcing consulting firm, Stephany launched tealbook in 2014, a cloud-based platform that uses machine learning to enrich supplier master data and accelerates supplier identification and qualification by as much as 90 per cent.

At The Big Ideas Summit last week we interviewed Stephany to learn the results of a recent partnership with The Hackett Group:

What’s the big problem?

We know that procurement processes need to be more agile. Particularly in larger organisations, which are threatened by disruption, the ability to adapt and be more flexible is of paramount importance to ensure survival.

But, as Stephany points out, when it comes to identifying qualified suppliers, agility is not procurement’s strong point…yet!

“By the time a business comes to procurement with supplier requirements, it takes an average of 41 hours of effort to come back with a list of qualified suppliers,” she begins.

“I was with a Fortune 500 CPO recently and asked him one question:

“When the business comes to procurement, what’s the process for getting back to them with a vetted list of qualified suppliers?”

“He spoke for ten minutes, listing all of the internal and external sources used by procurement!

“We have a portal, we use our analysts, third party analysts, we buy market intelligence reports, we use Google, as our stakeholders, and the list went on.

“If it takes 41 hours of efforts (typically taking 5 to 6 weeks), procurement is a bottle neck. You can now make that information available in real time… that changes the conversation. It’s game changing!”

If traditional approaches to decision making are broken, what does that mean for the future of procurement?

The Upside Of Supplier Intelligence

tealbook recently partnered with The Hackett Group to research the cost, effort, and business impact of supplier discovery and qualification. The resulting data became the foundation of a four-city series of executive roundtables focused on exploring and capturing the strategic impact of having access to actionable supplier intelligence to meet the demand of the business that requires speed, agility and innovation.

Over the course of those four evenings, The Hackett Group data came alive through the diverse perspectives of over 40 procurement thought leaders. Their combined insights are now available in a new white paper, The Upside of Accessible Supplier Intelligence, which was launched at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit in Chicago.

The paper addresses the transformative potential of supplier intelligence based on the themes we heard loud and clear from our executive participants, as well as discussion around the following points:

  • 15% of the sourcing process is spent identifying and qualifying suppliers.
  • It takes an average of 41 hours of effort per sourcing event, which translates into 23,165 hours for the average enterprise.
  • Over 60 percent of supplier discovery & qualification efforts are handled by strategic resources (category managers and senior category managers).
  • Applying machine learning and peer-driven intelligence to this challenge creates a strategic opportunity to accelerate and improve this process while increasing procurement’s total impact on the top and bottom line.

Procurement: The Guardian of Enterprise?

Procurement must find a way to reduce tactical work and reassign hours to strategic opportunities which will allow procurement to deliver better savings while aligning with the speed and expectations of the rest of the business.

Having instant access to trusted, actionable intelligence will therefore be a mandatory piece of the procurement technology landscape in market leading companies.

As Phil Ideson (Art of Procurement), the moderator for all four cities, stated in one of the roundtables,

“…Procurement is a function ripe for disruption. We have to be careful not to disrupt ourselves by being rooted on our traditional ways.”

Download the full tealbook white paper here.

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Big Ideas for Procurement – Identifying Suppliers

Identifying suppliers and gathering good information on them is critical to successful procurement. What if there was a better way to do it?

Identifying Suppliers

When I received an email from Procurious asking me to share my Big Idea, I was thrilled but wasn’t quite sure where to start. There are so many! Launching my own company, tealbook, is a big idea in itself.

Providing companies with their own trusted, collective supplier intelligence is changing the way procurement and sourcing access and share supplier information. That’s BIG! Spending time focusing on the front-end challenges that come with the cost of time spent identifying suppliers, is changing the paradigm, and accelerating the process all together.

So I tried to think about where we see the most pupils dilate when we talk about identifying suppliers and supplier information. Where do I see the most head nods from more progressive procurement thinkers? As a result, I chose to focus my BIG idea on two important questions:

1. What if we shifted the focus from reducing the number of suppliers to ensuring that teams have the right suppliers?

2. What would happen if procurement empowered their internal stakeholders by making supplier intelligence a two-way stream?

The above are paradigm shifts from procurement’s ‘olden days’. They support new, progressive procurement, and sourcing professionals who are focused on having positive top line impact in their organisation.

Focusing on the Best Suppliers

For many years, we have heard about the need to centralise and reduce the supplier base. I agree that several suppliers with similar products or services can be bundled. Healthy competition is good but there is also an opportunity to leverage economies of scale.

But when it comes to teams that require unique partners or innovative solutions, reducing the supplier base can have significant impact on productivity and meeting goals. Without an intuitive procurement process, internal stakeholders will tend to do their own due diligence, and either have limited involvement with, or completely avoid procurement, altogether.

They will find ways to engage suppliers even though the process is complex, inefficient, and time consuming because it is critical to their business. Providing a faster and better way to access and identify the right suppliers can be indispensable to these business functions.

Ensuring that these teams have access to the very best suppliers – the ones that can provide the most value – will enable these teams to achieve their goals without roadblocks (whether real or perceived) set by procurement.

In order to keep up with these internal stakeholders’ requirements, there is a need for procurement to turn to trusted sources of supplier intelligence, in order to speed up the process of identifying suppliers. If this can be accomplished, I believe that procurement will have the ability to increase their internal credibility as business partners, and keep up with their fast-paced internal teams. With increased speed and visibility, the number of suppliers won’t matter nearly as much as the ROI.

Increasing Two-Way Supplier Intelligence

I often ask procurement who in their company can access supplier information, and how experience is shared between procurement and internal stakeholders? The response is usually just a smile. For most, it means they simply don’t share – or at least they could do a much better job.

Meanwhile, in a recent ProcureCon survey, over 70 per cent of procurement professionals responded that the most trusted supplier recommendations come from internal peers and business partners.

Internal stakeholders have direct experience with many suppliers from their current and past companies. However, their supplier experience usually sits in their head, or in a pile of business cards stuffed in a drawer. Procurement has very little ability to capitalise on this wealth of intelligence outside of hallway conversation and email exchanges.

Worse, there is very little legacy, which inevitably forces procurement to go back to the well for each new supplier requirement. With new and smart technologies, there is a way to capture this incredible knowledge by allowing internal stakeholders to:

  • Share their supplier connections and experience internally.
  • Allow them to access company-wide supplier intel that can help them better understand supplier relationships and get more visibility into their available supplier base.

Building a Supplier Network

When I talk to procurement about making the tealbook app available to internal stakeholders, I often see an eye twitch. The thought of allowing internal stakeholders to build their own supplier network and add their own intelligence to their company’s supplier base is a thought provoking idea for many.

Of course, I am sensitive to the fact that not all procurement teams will be comfortable with this idea, and so tealbook can also be used just within procurement. But, my BIG idea and hope is that by starting to build their own tealbook and sharing valuable intelligence among their team, procurement will:

  • Significantly reduce the time spent searching for and identifying suppliers.
  • Spend less time on tactical initiatives and have the ability to be more strategic.
  • Support more initiatives and business requirements.
  • Bring immediate value to their internal stakeholders and build stronger internal partnerships.

By opening these lines of communication, procurement stands to gain invaluable insights and knowledge from a wider set of experiences, allow internal stakeholders to add rich intelligence on well known and new suppliers, engage at the point of need with their internal teams, and raise procurement/internal stakeholder collaboration to an entirely new level.

I don’t think my BIG ideas are unrealistic. I have reached the ‘10,000 hours’ of procurement discussions milestone and can safely say that procurement as a function is going through a transformation. Although savings is still an important metric, leadership teams are expecting more strategic, innovative solutions and process compliance.

With new user friendly and social media inspired technologies (that are easily implemented, configured and integrated) there will be big changes in how we build, and share, valuable intelligence within companies and across our industries.

What are your Big Ideas for the future of procurement? Share them with us before April 21st and we could be discussing them with our influencers.

If you’re interested in finding out more, visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

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