June 14, 2018

Revisiting Total Supplier Management, is Data now the Priority?

Increasingly, procurement is a function expected to bring value beyond savings to an organisation – the touch points it enjoys with the supply base combined with its understanding of customer needs means it is in a perfect position to sow the seeds of growth. For CPOs to realize such a vision, however, demands new approaches and new techniques. After all, global companies are hugely complex; with thousands of suppliers and huge numbers of stakeholders interacting with them.

Worse still, this complexity is made even more challenging due to different regional approaches, local regulations and intricate standards that must be adhered to and worked with.

And here lies the great conundrum. How can CPOs operate a compliant function which operates to an agreed set of global standards, while maintaining the flexibility to cope with the variances of global trade? At the same time, how can they gain access to the type of supplier data and information at a micro level that will help to make decisions at a macro level?

A couple of years ago we worked with Procurement Leaders’ to build out an Insight piece, Total Supplier Management, it looked at how modern, flexible systems and technologies can unlock the vast swathes of supplier data residing in a typical company; while providing the required flexibility.

  • What methods can CPOs employ to access information buried deep within disparate enterprise systems? Is it possible to get true dashboard views without replacing the enterprise “plumbing?”
  • What does improved visibility of suppliers mean for procurement’s ability to manage risk, reduce cost, increase cash flow and meet governance demands?
  • How can CPOs strike the right balance between strict compliance with a centralized approach and the flexibility needed to cope with local demands?
  • How can procurement make the right choices in terms of the talent, technology and processes required to tackle this issue?
  • Becoming customer of choice – how good systems and good supplier management can result in competitive advantage.

One of the most interesting aspects of revisiting this white paper is that nothing has really changed. Data is still at the forefront of CPO’s minds and so is the need to have a centralised view of 100% of an organisation suppliers. The paper itself is still incredibly relevant.

There are some companies that have worked hard to correct their issues with data quality and will happily talk about the ease of integrations and the added influence it has given procurement leaders. But for most, it is only coming to a head now.

One theory is that this is down to new technologies in the market. A prime example would be Artificial Intelligence. With its arrival in the market and the quick advances companies are making in its use, it has suddenly become not just important that the data being fed into these programs is of the highest quality, but vital.

So after a good number of years as the biggest issue that CPOs are facing – see the Deloitte CPO Surveys – suddenly, this elephant in the room is being tackled as companies look to plan out how they can leverage the exciting new technologies coming to the fore.

Whilst this is only a theory, in our experience it seems to be credible. It’s a conversation we are having more and more with organisations. One that we enjoy given our focus on Supplier Master Data Management.

Whatever the truth of the matter, data is being prioritised more and more amongst innovative companies. The White Paper is worth a read on that basis alone.

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