Posts Tagged ‘P2P’

Continuous Controls Monitoring, Three Key Considerations

March 10, 2014

Increasing complexity and challenging new business risks pervade today’s global environments. To address these risks and meet regulatory requirements, organizations must establish effective internal controls, along with processes to make sure these controls remain repeatable, sustainable, and cost-effective. Therefore, as part of their overall governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) strategies, organizations are building continuous controls monitoring (CCM) programmes to improve efficiencies, avoid controls deficiencies and focus resources on managing critical risks. With an effective and sustainable CCM programme that’s designed, managed, and optimized to account for changes such as regulatory shifts, mergers and acquisitions, and system upgrades an organization can meet its compliance objectives, reduce risk exposures, and meet the expectations of key stakeholders. Over time, as their CCM processes mature, companies can transition from manual risk detection efforts to automated prevention measures. Organizations considering CCM must first focus on their control objectives and establish sound processes.

1. Create a Foundation for Your CCM Programme.

A CCM programme should include risk detection, prevention, remediation, and compliance components, all focusing on people, processes, and technology. Using CCM to evaluate and monitor key business processes against predetermined business rules enables an  organization to identify patterns and anomalies to help minimize potential risk exposures.

When a company embarks upon a CCM initiative, the automation or technical aspects often become their primary focus. Although automating the controls can be very beneficial to the organization, it is recommended that companies focus initially on the following control objectives:

1).Application access controls and segregation of duties (SoD) can reduce opportunities for fraud or for material errors by ensuring that financial and operational transactions are properly authorized and approved. A CCM strategy should drive the development and enforcement of effective user and role governance processes, practical SoD rules, and sustainable access controls.

 2).Business process controls help users evaluate system configuration settings to identify events that occur outside of set control limits.

 3).Master and transactional data controls are used to analyse sensitive fields and transactional data against predefined control criteria. The analysis of this data supports the detection of potential controls violations, such as changes to vendor addresses or terms, duplicate payments, timing issues, and other anomalies. Additionally, the transactional data analysis can facilitate business efficiency improvements.

2. Manage the CCM Life Cycle

To create and sustain an effective CCM programme, an organization must understand and manage the entire CCM life cycle, which includes:

Process design. This begins with a clear vision based on operational objectives (i.e., achieve compliance, reduce risk). It is impractical to monitor all of a companies controls, and therefore it’s essential to first identify the controls most in need of monitoring, based on business objectives. It is also recommended to establish a CCM governance body to lead the process design effort and to help ensure that business objectives are met.

Business rule development. A CCM programme is only as effective as the business rules used to evaluate the control data. Business rules for SoD, master and transactional data, and automated application controls are used as filters and applied against data sources to identify potential control anomalies.

Controls optimization. Once significant risks have been identified within business process areas, appropriate controls must be established to mitigate them. A vital step in achieving control optimization is establishing controls that cover multiple risk areas and eliminate redundant or ineffective controls.

Exception validation and rationalization. Organizations often become overwhelmed by the volume of control exceptions. Since some exceptions are legitimate, organizations can manage risks and reduce the number of reported exceptions and therefore the cost of compliance by filtering out legitimate business exceptions.

Resolution reporting. To successfully manage and mitigate business risk, and to ensure timely resolution of compliance violations, it is important to set up a process that allows the company to diligently review and resolve reported violations.

Process optimization. The processes that make up the CCM programme should be flexible and allow the company to dynamically react to change. They also should be continually adjusted to meet business needs and sustain the CCM investment.

 3. Automate CCM with SAP Functionality

Companies running SAP have a significant advantage when enabling and automating CCM because integrated business disciplines such as financial accounting and asset management can be built into a centralized CCM programme. A CCM programme that encompasses well designed controls, appropriate business rules, and the diligent management of the CCM life cycle, allows organizations to focus on their enhancement and automation efforts, reducing time and resources that would otherwise be spent manually monitoring controls.

As companies move toward automation, they should make managing configurable controls through benchmarking a part of their testing strategy, since it is a mechanism that ensures configurable controls remain unchanged. SAP provides this capability through table logging, which can help reduce year-to-year control testing.

SAP also provides a number of tools embedded in its GRC solution suite, which can be used to automate the CCM process. These tools include SAP GRC Access Control, SAP GRC Process Control, and SAP GRC Global Trade Services. An organization can leverage these tools, combined with the functionality already embedded within SAP systems, to gain a clear advantage in creating an effective end-to-end solution for managing risk and compliance.

Make CCM a Priority

Having a GRC strategy and making an effective CCM programme a priority can help Companies drive their compliance efforts, identify potential processing errors, and proactively detect fraud. It also is critical to design practical processes as you develop your GRC strategy and CCM programme. Many companies hold the misconception that an automated controls solution will solve all compliance needs. However, an automated solution is only effective after a successful CCM programme has been established based on well designed controls, appropriate business rules, and ongoing management of the CCM programme.

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Strategic Sourcing, what is it all about?

December 17, 2013

Strategic sourcing processes introduced in the mid-nineties have proven to be so robust that even today they remain broadly similar.

This quick overview is not an absolute step-by-step template, because each organisation is unique and each deployment, although broadly similar, will be unique. It is not designed as a one-size-fits-all approach as this will not align your sourcing strategies with what your organisation wants to achieve. One thing that has been learnt from multiple deployments is that successful organisations drive deployment of strategic sourcing in their own way. 

Definitions

stra·te·gic [struh-tee-jik] – adjective

1. Helping to achieve a plan, for example in business or politics;

2. Pertaining to, characterised by, or of the nature of strategy: strategic movements;

3. Of an action, as a military operation or a move in a game, forming an integral part of a stratagem: a strategic move in a game of chess.

sourc·ing [sawr-sing, sohr-] – noun

1. Buying of components of a product or service delivery from a supplier.

Strategic sourcing is an integral part of a wider business strategy to improve profitability and, in turn, shareholder value. It is directly linked and specific to the business, and illustrates opportunities within the supply base to either reduce cost or increase the value of products or services required by the business. Typically, it includes demand management and supplier management. However, increasingly it is becoming important to factor in total cost of ownership (TCO) and sustainability. 

Demand management

Understanding the specification and volume requirements from the business ensures that needs can be appropriately met and that resources are not being wasted. Demand management is not about reducing contract volumes. Rather, it is about ensuring that contract volumes are appropriate for meeting the needs and objectives of the organisation. A core process that will contribute to the strategic sourcing plan is the sales and operations planning process (S&OP).

The S&OP is an integrated business management process through which the business continually achieves alignment and synchronisation between all functions of the organisation. It generally includes:

• an updated sales plan;

• a production or delivery plan;

• inventory holdings;

• customer lead times and commitments;

• a new product development plan;

• a strategic initiative plan;

• a financial plan.

The strategic sourcing team would ultimately be involved in several of these areas, to contribute towards capacity planning and to understand how each feeds into the overall plan and influences demand profiles.

Supplier Management

Understanding the capability, costs and capacity within the supply base ensures that business requirements can be appropriately matched without incurring higher costs. Systematic improvements in supplier management not only improve cost of goods and services but can also improve relationships with suppliers. This can lead to supplier relationship management (SRM) – tools and processes that enable the proactive management of an ongoing business relationship to secure a competitive advantage for your organisation.

To deploy SRM, an organisation needs to decide on a segmentation approach that considers the internal needs of the business, spend, and also accounts for risk to the business. Broadly speaking there are four high-level categories of suppliers.

Transactional suppliers are where little or no relationship or performance management activity is undertaken. Either the suppliers are utilised infrequently or the supplier is of low value to the business. These suppliers can be easily switched for another if required.

Performance-managed suppliers focus on ensuring delivery of the contracted goods and services to the required cost and service levels, rather than on building a collaborative long-term relationship.

Relationship-managed suppliers have some strategic value, so elements of SRM needs to be applied here.

Strategic suppliers are typically either business critical suppliers, or high spend suppliers. Generally the most effort is expended on this category to drive a mutually beneficial collaborative relationship. This is an effective route to improving costs through the Value Add or Value Engineering (VA/VE) process. A close working relationship with strategic suppliers also leads to a greater understanding (and reduction) of the TCO of products or services. 

Total Cost of Ownership

Understanding TCO is becoming increasingly important to procurement. Legislation concerning the environment is affecting the way we do business either through EU directives such as the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations or through corporate social responsibility programmes that drive different behaviours from the business. It is important to factor in not just the acquisition costs but also the cost of doing business with the supply base and any return flows or on-cost from recycling. 

Sustainability

The fourth element of strategic sourcing also provides part of the rationale for driving it within the organisation. Being able to sustain the supply of goods and services while de-risking the supply chain as well as balance the total costs is ultimately the responsibility of procurement.

A coherent approach

Tying all activities together into a coherent plan will transform the business, as only the procurement team can do. Internal ‘silos’ are built as a company grows. Although each silo represents the company’s acquisition of knowledge and improves the ability to deliver value to the customer, they can also create inefficiencies in the business, leading to organisational inertia. This can slow the pace of change and reduce the capability for innovation. Creating a plan balanced across the four areas ensures you will engage with the business and supply base.

When creating a communications plan, consider each of the four areas and how they might affect the stakeholder. Simple, bite-sized statements work well for those in more senior levels of the organisation. However, greater detail will be needed for others, especially where they perceive they might have to change what they do. Build in the wider plan, so each stakeholder can see all issues and organisational levels have been considered.

Develop your plan and highlight the best solutions for each area of the business. Consider using a SWOT analysis (see below) to develop the ideal outcomes.

 

The high cost of misalignment between MRO Supply Chain and Maintenance Strategies

December 4, 2013

The misalignment of MRO Supply Chain and Maintenance Strategies can result in increased operational, safety, and compliance risk and significantly impact production and profitability in asset intensive industries.

 A solid asset data foundation and an effective Asset Data Governance process as part of an overall Asset Lifecycle Information Management Strategy can help to minimise these risks, improve asset availability and increase profitability.

 Competing Interests And Misaligned Strategies

 Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent annually in asset intensive organisations performing projects to optimise maintenance and reliability strategies. Designed to improve asset reliability and performance, these projects typically result in a set of recommendations that outline the specific maintenance activities that should be performed, the recommended frequency of performance, and strategies to monitor performance for ongoing continuous improvement. These studies are normally commissioned by operations and maintenance stakeholders responsible for production and asset availability.

Separately, companies spend billions of dollars each year performing studies focused on optimisation of their internal supply chains. These projects are commonly sponsored by executives responsible for finance and supply chain; very different stakeholders than those who commission the maintenance optimisation projects.

The MRO supply chain materials (spare parts) critical to the execution of maintenance strategies are commonly lumped in under the umbrella of the corporate supply chain optimisation initiatives.The business drivers behind maintenance strategy optimisation projects and supply chain optimisation projects are frequently disconnected and sometimes directly in conflict. This misalignment creates problems in a number of areas. First, maintenance strategy optimisation projects sometimes recommend an increase in spares inventory; not less. Secondly, inventory reduction recommendations driven from supply chain optimisation projects mostly fail to consider the impact such changes will have on asset reliability and performance.

Companies who have not established strong alignment between maintenance and MRO supply chain strategies are poorly equipped to measure the impact such changes will have on cost and asset performance and thus have great difficulty making decisions that will balance these tradeoffs in the best interest of overall corporate performance.

Organisations who have been able to establish and maintain strong linkages between maintenance strategy and MRO supply chain strategy, including effective decision support systems and processes, are much better positioned to make decisions in the best interest of overall corporate performance; rather than only supporting one or another siloed initiatives.

 A Data Driven Approach To Achieve Strategy Alignment

There are many best in class technology products and best in class processes for performing maintenance strategy optimisation available in the market. None of them are of much use without good data.Therefore, one of the first and most obvious gaps that must be addressed before trying to establish strategy alignment is data; master data. It is common (in a Brownfield environment) to discover that greater than 30% of maintainable equipment is not recorded in a CMMS tool. It is also quite common to find more than 20% of unique equipment records in a CMMS are no longer in service.

The first step in establishing alignment between maintenance and supply chain strategies is to know what is actually being maintained, or should be maintained. Performing a maintenance optimisation process on the 20% of equipment no longer in use is hardly a productive use of anyone’s time and money. This first step must include an audit to establish an asset registry that everyone trusts. The safety and compliance risks associated with an inaccurate or incomplete asset registry are huge.

The next step is to ensure that all systems of record for asset data have a common and agreed upon definition of asset criticality. The majority of maintenance strategy optimisation projects will help define and assign criticality to equipment. It is very important to ensure that this criticality finds its way to the CMMS system and is an agreed upon standard. For example; Critical – High impact from failure; Not Critical – Low impact from failure.

This is the first opportunity to align strategies by aligning goals. If an asset is defined as critical and it fails, corporate performance is impacted and everyone should care.

Next, you need to look at all critical items and identify which have Bills of Material (BOM’s).

It is common to find only 30% to 50% of critical assets have complete and accurate BOM’s. There is a BIG difference between having a BOM and having a “Complete and Accurate” BOM. A complete and Accurate BOM is one which is fully aligned with, and supports the maintenance strategy. And don’t forget that the same equipment in different operating contexts do not always have the same BOM.

Equipment BOM’s and Maintenance BOM’s should be considered as part of this scope of evaluation.

The final step in this process is a review of materials associated with critical equipment BOM’s and ensure that the material records are valid and the materials in the warehouse match the materials referenced in the information system.

Where does ERP failure really come from?

November 18, 2013

Here is a Question that is asked over and over again, where does ERP failure really come from? Ultimately, most problems can be summed up in one word: People.

Most projects begin life with the hopeful enthusiasm of anticipated triumph and success. However, success requires planning for details that do not become relevant until much later in project; training is a perfect example

In a number of cases the losses are blamed, at least in part, on their employees not understanding how to use their newly installed SAP ERP system, which they said worked just fine.

So, why is this? Well, basically, in the beginning of any big, shiny new project, what you have is a great deal of excitement over the benefits that it will bestow upon your organization streamlined processes, bottom-line savings, top line growth, more efficiency, reduced waste, better customer service, etc. The problem arises when this leads to a “hurry-up-and-get-things-done” approach.

Too much of the time companies are overly aggressive when they set their initial timelines, they see the statistics that show that many projects go over budget or take longer than expected, so they end up wanting a very aggressive project plan just so they can manage the time and budget.

Maybe your company has a history of talking-the-talk but, walking-the-walk? Different story! “This time it’s going to be different!,” exclaims the CEO slapping the table for emphasis and everyone’s on board. Here you go charging ahead, selecting a vendor, shun due diligence, and fail to define clear business requirements and goals. Perhaps you even know you don’t understand your business processes as well you need to but, “well now, ERP’s are designed to fix all that, Correct?

So how to you combat this? It’s simple: don’t do it! Rushing an ERP project to save time and money will cost you more in the end than you will ever save up front.

Done properly ERP can and will transform your business by automating and re-engineering its beating heart: its business processes. It is, therefore, in your best interest to take the time to understand how your business actually runs.

It is so so critical to understand the level of resource commitment the project will take.
So the objective is understand what you do as a business, understand what your systems currently support or don’t support and then have the vendors or integrators show you how their system can best support what it is you’ve brought to the table.

One of the biggest elements of any implementation where executives often fail is under estimating the time it will take to get the project done. Understanding things like time-to-value, change management, adoption, employee training, etc. are all down-played in favour of the perceived benefits the software will bring.

Here are a few suggestions of do’s and don’ts that will help:

Develop your own benchmarks; don’t rely on the vendor’s. Vendors can supply you with templates and best practices that can take you a good part of the way but you still need to define what constitutes success and failure, progress and set-backs, deadlines and must-haves, your “as-is” state verses your ideal “to-be” state.

Don’t rely on your vendor or SI to handle change management. It’s your company, so it’s your culture that has to change, not theirs. Change management is up to you and the difficulty or ease of this process is directly affected by expectations set early on. If you think it’s going to be easy and it’s not, then you are going to be in for some sleepless nights.

Define your business processes up front. Don’t’ let a vendor’s software define them for you. Most companies have no real idea how their business processes work in practice until, someone resigns. Suddenly all of that problem solving and expediting wisdom is gone. No software can replicate that knowledge. Find that someone! Talk to that someone, preferably in the beginning of the process, not when you’re trying to get that someone back.

All of this will be more time consuming up front, however will save lots of heartache and money at the back end when you find yourself fixing what should never have been broken in the first place.

It’s my belief some of the essential ingredients first require a strategy and a direction. So there has to be an earmarked plan and with that plan comes budgeting of time, resources and dollars to invest in that plan because a lot of corporations take a real penny pinching approach and it ends up costing them many times more than they ever anticipated as a result of that.

Collaboration in SCM

January 16, 2013

Over the years, many technologies have evolved to support both asynchronous and real-time collaboration. Most of the older technologies, such as teleconferencing, video conferencing, e-mail, etc., have major limitations that lower their value in product development environments. The newer and still-evolving technologies that enable PLM allow the management of product information and the processes that are used to create, configure, and use the information in a manner never previously thought of before.
We talk a lot about collaboration, but do we really understand what it means? In general, collaboration is an iterative process where multiple people work together toward a common goal. Methods of working collaboratively have existed as long as humans have joined together to accomplish tasks that could be done better by a team than an individual. Early man is probably the best example of collaboration when hunting for food for the village or the tribe.

There are two modes of collaboration: synchronous and asynchronous. Users working in an asynchronous manner carry out their assigned tasks and then forward the data to the next person. This way of working is serial in nature and only allows users to participate one at a time. Communication among collaborators is normally carried out using telephone or e-mail. Effective collaboration requires an area of storage for information from which product definition data can be shared with all those that require it. This shared area is commonly referred to as a data vault. Flow control and task execution is performed in an asynchronous way using workflow and project management tools. These tools allow data to be routed to users and progress to be monitored.

Synchronous or real-time collaboration enables users to view, work with 2D (e.g., specifications, drawings, documents, etc.) and 3D data (e.g., mechanical CAD models), and carry out interactive communications with each other in real-time. In addition, PLM-enabled collaborative solutions often support the ability to view, rotate, add notes and annotation pointers, and some also offer functionality to change the 3D design model data. This provides the same communication effectiveness as having all participants in the same room, at the same time, looking at the same data.
The following describes some of the processes commonly supported by PLM-enabled collaborative technologies.

Supply Chain Management—The move to a partnership-oriented supply chain means that suppliers, partners, sub-contractors, and customers are all involved in product definition. For companies to embrace the true potential of the distributed supply chain, collaborative tools can be used to manage data and processes across a distributed environment.

Sales and Bidding—Opportunities exist for sales, engineering, purchasing, and manufacturing to engage in collaborative sessions where product options, alternatives, and concepts are reviewed by each discipline at the same time. This is faster, more efficient, and can produce more accurate and cost-effective bids.

Maintenance and Support—The application of collaborative tools in maintenance and support activities is gaining acceptance in a number of different sectors such as aerospace and defense, automotive, process, and machine tools. For example, animation and simulation tools are being used to demonstrate how products are operated and maintained.

Change Management and Design Review—Adopting a different design review process, where project teams join a shared collaborative review session can result in significant benefits as potential conflicts and errors can be identified early in the product development lifecycle.

Senior Managers in the business world understand economic cycles are a known fact of life. The key to success is the way managers and organizations adapt to these cycles. Since they are a fact of life, we know that we can’t just ignore downturns and hope for a better day. So instead, those that are successful learn how to become more efficient while still ensuring that they deliver the best value to the markets they serve (i.e., making available the right product, at the right price, to the right market, at the right time, at the right quality, (The 5 Rights!)).

Adoption of sourcing technology – ease of use.

January 3, 2013

Organisations spend millions of dollars on technology implementations. It has been seen that many projects fail within one year of implementation. In a recently issued study report from the World Economic Forum 2010-2011, Sweden and Singapore continue to dominate the rankings, whereas Malaysia ranks 28th and Oman stands only 41st in terms of technological savvy nations. One of the reasons for this could be lack of adoption of new technologies within the organisation.

Employees using a new software system exhibit steep learning curves and resistance to change which is evident from the large percentage of organisations feeling their ability to deal with change being poor. Most of the time this failure can be attributed to a lack of communication between the decision maker (which in our case, would be the CPO or the VP procurement) and the end user(buying manager, buyers etc.). The point being, that such an environment is not conducive for effective software implementation.

Procurement technology solutions have also not been immune to adoption failure. Let’s take a look at a case study.

An $11 billion organisation had in place an existing eSourcing solution from a major solution provider. The investment for the same was close to $ 100,000 and there were 100 user licences which had been purchased. After a Post implementation review it was observed that there existed only 5 active users of the application whilst 95% remained inactive indicating lack of adoption amongst the users. More importantly, what was not considered was the comfort level of the suppliers who would be an important end user of the sourcing solution. Suppliers would not respond to RFIs created within the tool citing it to be too complex and would send in quotes through excel documents making evaluation almost impossible and tedious.

This post will explore the major challenges involved in adoption and how an organisation can use four strategies to overcome the adoption challenges and ensure acceptance of the eSourcing solution by the end users.

Challenges Faced!

Before I discuss the ways to increase procurement technology adoption within organisations, let us look into what are the major challenges that organisations face with respect to procurement technology adoption.

The first and foremost challenge is to deal with the resistance to change. Even when organisational members recognise that a specific change would be beneficial, they often fall prey to the gap between knowing something and actually doing it.

The second reason can be attributed to the complexity of technology which detracts the end user since it requires acquiring new technological knowledge and skills. Complex features may sound great in product demonstrations and data sheets but become a bane to adoption at the ground level.

The third reason could be a lack of visibility into benefits of the software post implementation. It’s important to note here that a benefit needs to be expressed in the parlance of the end user. The end user needs to see how the technology will benefit him in his job. In short what is the take away for him?

So how does one overcome these challenges? Here I would like to draw your attention to what I want to call the “For Ease Strategies” of efficient user adoption. These are – Ease of Use, ease of user Involvement during evaluation, ease of Training and Adoption and finally ease of Metrics & Incentives. Let us look into each of these “ease strategies” and the role they play in overcoming the challenges.

Overcoming challenges to procurement technology adoption is the key to ensure that an organisation reaps the benefits from their implementation. In this section I will discuss the importance of having the right strategy to overcome the adoption challenges.

Strategy 1. Ease of Use

As discussed earlier, complexity of technology was one of the major reasons for lack of adoption. This is where having a technology which is easy to use goes a long way in fostering acceptance among the end users. Let’s consider a very simple example here.
Consider an i-Phone or i-Pad as an innovation which although loaded with several sophisticated features is extremely easy to use for the end users leading to quick and higher adoption levels. Ease of use of course should not be at the cost of functionality.

Organisations should work on achieving a balance between satisfying all key core requirements and enhancing the user experience. While talking of ease of use, it is of utmost importance to speak from the perspective of the end users. Technology vendors and decision makers often confuse what is naturally easy for them as ease of use when discussing software.

Organisations must ensure that the new technology that they are planning to implement shall be easy to use not just for the stakeholders but the eventual users of the solution who will use it day in and day out. Technology must make things simpler for the end user.

Features need to be mapped with the needs within the organisation rather than looking at solutions which have the maximum number of features which don’t really satisfy the inherent needs in the process.

Strategy 2. User involvement

User involvement goes a long way in overcoming adoption challenges. User involvement can be accomplished by involving the end user in the initial stages of the software selection process. Users can be involved in the product demonstration process, which would help in conveying the benefits of the product to the end user for e.g. Using the ‘drag & drop’ feature within e-sourcing can be used to set up complex events in just minutes ensuring 100% category coverage. Demonstrating this to an end user will help convince him/her to create all events within the solution.

This process can now be followed up by a pilot process involving the end user. This would further convince the end user regarding the benefits by understanding how a particular feature directly benefits him in his work process.

Once the user receives a hands-on demonstration of the tool’s capabilities, make sure to have a feedback about the experience. Such an activity would ensure greater buy-in from the end user and also considerably reduce the objections arising post implementation.

Strategy 3. Training

Training should be arranged both pre and post implementation.. The training can be conducted by a variety of means . Combining periodic on-site training with regular feature level training provided online in the form of user sessions, webinars etc. is the most effective way of achieving user adoption goals. It is recommended to have the vendors / Suppliers involved at every stage of training to ensure a constant communication between the end user and the trainer.

Ideally there should be a training council formed comprising of members from both the vendor / Supplier and organisation. Once the training is conducted organisations can also look at conducting product knowledge tests and quizzes. This has dual benefits;

1. Makes the end user more responsible
2. Helps in judging the effectiveness of the training sessions

Strategy 4.

Once the technology has been implemented, top management needs to sit with the end user and decide on how to measure the performance of the end user. Including the end user in setting performance goals inculcates a lot of responsibility and accountability among the end users. Organisations must ensure setting fair, consistent and rigid goals which are transparent in every sense. I offer an example of how this could be accomplished.

Example 1. Consider an organisation who has just implemented an eSourcing solution. Suppose the organisation has 50 sourcing events scheduled to take place in the year. One of the check points could be to see how many of these sourcing events were channeled through the eSourcing platform. With deliberation organisations can set a goal of 80% of the sourcing events to be conducted through the e-sourcing platform.

Or another example

Example 2. If an organisation enters into say 100 contracts in a year, one of the objectives would be to have say 90% of contracts under the contract management system.

Once the objectives have been set by deliberation with the end user, the next logical step could be to link the incentives of the users with the objectives set. A simple incentive can be percentage sharing of the savings achieved from implementation of the solution. These can be benchmarked with similar numbers before the software was implemented to derive the results or direct benefits from the solution implementation.

Managing Change.

A learning orientation is critical during implementation stages. This brings us to the next point which is concerned with managing change. In order to successfully manage the change process, I recommend the following four steps:-

Inform

Brief the end user about the new technology and involve the end user in the evaluation stages.

Educate

Educate the end user about the product in the form of product training, workshops (video, onsite etc), webinars etc.

Monitor

Devise mutually accepted metrics for measuring the performance of the end user post implementation.

Reward

Linking the objectives with incentives, with disbursement of incentives related to the objective met.

Conclusion

Companies must do away with persuasion and edict as part of technology implementation and adoption processes since both involve little or no user input in decisions regarding implementation and adoption. Also, change management is the key to ensure buy-ins from the various related stakeholders thus ensuring benefits from the technology implementations.

The butterfly effect on enterprise data within SCM

January 2, 2013

After doing a couple of projects where master data was a critical element but unfortunately nothing was done to correct it, I thought that I would reintroduce the post on the Butterfly effect in Master Data. All to often the master data is completely forgotten in projects and in the end costs money to rectify and could lead the software to fail after go live. So to learn more about the butterfly effect and it’s impact on master data read on!

The term “butterfly effect” refers to the way a minor event – like the movement of a butterfly’s wing – can have a major impact on a complex system – like the weather. The movement of the butterfly wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, but it starts a chain of events: moving pollen through the air, which causes a gazelle to sneeze, which triggers a stampede of gazelles, which raises a cloud of dust, which partially blocks the sun, which alters the atmospheric temperature, which ultimately alters the path of a tornado on the other side of the world.

Enterprise data is equally susceptible to the butterfly effect. When poor quality data enters the complex system of enterprise data, even a small error – the transposed letters in a street address or part number – can lead to revenue loss, process inefficiency and failure to comply with industry and government regulations. Organisations depend on the movement and sharing of data throughout the organisation, so the impact of data quality errors are costly and far reaching. Data issues often begin with a tiny mistake in one part of the organisation, but the butterfly effect can produce disastrous results.

An ERP or supply chain system focuses on parts, descriptions and inventory data. Since government agencies don’t control the way supply chain and ERP data is defined, you may not have an idea about how the data should look in an ideal state, but it should provide an accurate depiction of the physical warehouse or just-in-time supply chain system. You need to know what is in stock, when it can be supplied and how much it costs.
Holding just the right amount of inventory is crucial to optimising costs. After all, inventory costs are incurred every hour of every day in areas including warehouse storage, heat and electricity, staffing, product decay and obsolescence. With this in mind, consider the impact of a transposed letter in an ERP system. Someone enters part number XL- 56YJM instead of LX-56YJM. Until the error is discovered and corrected, you may hold duplicate parts in inventory or not be aware of parts carrying the slightly different SKU because of the transposed letter.

You also want to take advantage of volume discounts. If the data is unstructured, making it difficult to understand global buy patterns, the company may miss out when negotiating with the vendor.

Because there is no standard format for ERP data, few of the steps for fixing the data are done for you ahead of time. It is critical to establish a methodology for data profiling in order to understand issues and challenges. Since there are few governing bodies for ERP and supply chain data, the corporation and its partners must often come up with an agreed-upon standard, with input from users of the data to understand context, how it’s used, and the most desired representation.

If you have clean data in your supply chain, you can achieve some tangible benefits. First, the company will have a clear picture about delivery times on orders because of a completely transparent supply chain. Next, you will avoid unnecessary warehouse costs by holding the right amount of inventory in stock. Finally, you will be able to see all the buying patterns and use that information when negotiating supply contracts.

Vendor Rating and Management

December 20, 2012

Vendor rating is the result of a formal vendor evaluation system. Vendors or suppliers are given standing, status, or title according to their attainment of some level of performance, such as delivery, lead time, quality, price, or some combination of variables. The motivation for the establishment of such a rating system is part of the effort of manufacturers and service firms to ensure that the desired characteristics of a purchased product or service is built in and not determined later by some after-the-fact indicator. The vendor rating may take the form of a hierarchical ranking from poor to excellent and whatever rankings the firm chooses to insert in between the two. For some firms, the vendor rating may come in the form of some sort of award system or as some variation of certification. Much of this attention to vendor rating is a direct result of the widespread implementation of the just-in-time concept  and its focus on the critical role of the buyer-supplier relationship.

Most firms want vendors that will produce all of the products and services defect-free and deliver them just in time (or as close to this ideal as reasonably possible). Some type of vehicle is needed to determine which supplying firms are capable of coming satisfactorily close to this and thus to be retained as current suppliers. One such vehicle is the vendor rating.

In order to accomplish the rating of vendors, some sort of review process must take place. The process begins with the identification of vendors who not only can supply the needed product or service but is a strategic match for the buying firm. Then important factors to be used as criteria for vendor evaluation are determined. These are usually variables that add value to the process through increased service or decreased cost. After determining which factors are critical, a method is devised that allows the vendor to be judged or rated on each individual factor.

It could be numeric rating or a Likert-scale ranking. The individual ratings can then be weighted according to importance, and pooled to arrive at an overall vendor rating. The process can be somewhat complex in that many factors can be complementary or conflicting. The process is further complicated by fact that some factors are quantitatively measured and others subjectively.

Once established, the rating system must be introduced to the supplying firm through some sort of formal education process. Once the buying firm is assured that the vendor understands what is expected and is able and willing to participate, the evaluation process can begin. The evaluation could be an ongoing process or it could occur within a predetermined time frame, such as quarterly. Of course the rating must be conveyed to the participating vendor with some firms actually publishing overall vendor standings. If problems are exposed, the vendor should formally present an action plan designed to overcome any problems that may have surfaced. Many buying firms require the vendor to show continuing improvement in predetermined critical areas.

CRITERIA FOR EVALUATION

Vendor performance is usually evaluated in the areas of pricing, quality, delivery, and service. Each area has a number of factors that some firms deem critical to successful vendor performance.

Pricing factors include the following:

  • Competitive pricing. The prices paid should be comparable to those of vendors providing similar product and services. Quote requests should compare favorably to other vendors.
  • Price stability. Prices should be reasonably stable over time.
  • Price accuracy. There should be a low number of variances from purchase-order prices on invoiced received.
  • Advance notice of price changes. The vendor should provide adequate advance notice of price changes.
  • Sensitive to costs. The vendor should demonstrate respect for the customer firm’s bottom line and show an understanding of its needs. Possible cost savings could be suggested. The vendor should also exhibit knowledge of the market and share this insight with the buying firm.
  • Billing. Are vendor invoices are accurate? The average length of time to receive credit memos should be reasonable. Estimates should not vary significantly from the final invoice. Effective vendor bills are timely and easy to read and understand.

Quality factors include:

  • Compliance with purchase order. The vendor should comply with terms and conditions as stated in the purchase order. Does the vendor show an understanding of the customer firm’s expectations?
  • Conformity to specifications. The product or service must conform to the specifications identified in the request for proposal and purchase order. Does the product perform as expected?
  • Reliability. Is the rate of product failure within reasonable limits?
  • Reliability of repairs. Is all repair and rework acceptable?
  • Durability. Is the time until replacement is necessary reasonable?
  • Support. Is quality support available from the vendor? Immediate response to and resolution of the problem is desirable.
  • Warranty. The length and provisions of warranty protection offered should be reasonable. Are warranty problems resolved in a timely manner?
  • State-of-the-art product/service. Does the vendor offer products and services that are consistent with the industry state-of-the-art? The vendor should consistently refresh product life by adding enhancements. It should also work with the buying firm in new product development.

Delivery factors include the following:

  • Time. Does the vendor deliver products and services on time; is the actual receipt date on or close to the promised date? Does the promised date correspond to the vendor’s published lead times? Also, are requests for information, proposals, and quotes swiftly answered?
  • Quantity. Does the vendor deliver the correct items or services in the contracted quantity?
  • Lead time. Is the average time for delivery comparable to that of other vendors for similar products and services?
  • Packaging. Packaging should be sturdy, suitable, properly marked, and undamaged. Pallets should be the proper size with no overhang.
  • Documentation. Does the vendor furnish proper documents (packing slips, invoices, technical manual, etc.) with correct material codes and proper purchase order numbers?
  • Emergency delivery. Does the vendor demonstrate extra effort to meet requirements when an emergency delivery is requested?

Finally, these are service factors to consider:

  • Good vendor representatives have sincere desire to serve. Vendor reps display courteous and professional approach, and handle complaints effectively. The vendor should also provide up-to-date catalogues, price information, and technical information. Does the vendor act as the buying firm’s advocate within the supplying firm?
  • Inside sales. Inside sales should display knowledge of buying firms needs. It should also be helpful with customer inquiries involving order confirmation, shipping schedules, shipping discrepancies, and invoice errors.
  • Technical support. Does the vendor provide technical support for maintenance, repair, and installation situations? Does it provide technical instructions, documentation, general information? Are support personnel courteous, professional, and knowledgeable? The vendor should provide training on the effective use of its products or services.
  • Emergency support. Does the vendor provide emergency support for repair or replacement of a failed product.
  • Problem resolution. The vendor should respond in a timely manner to resolve problems. An excellent vendor provides follow-up on status of problem correction.

In an article produced by Supply Management states that while pricing, quality, delivery, and service are suitable for supplies that are not essential to the continued success of the buying firm, a more comprehensive approach is needed for suppliers that are critical to the success of the firm’s strategy or competitive advantage. For firms that fall into the latter category performance may need to be measured by the following 7 C’s.

  1. Competency—managerial, technical, administrative, and professional competence of the supplying firm.
  2. Capacity—supplier’s ability to meet physical, intellectual and financial requirements.
  3. Commitment—supplier’s willingness to commit physical, intellectual and financial resources.
  4. Control—effective management control and information systems.
  5. Cash resources—financial resources and stability of the supplier. Profit, ROI, ROE, asset-turnover ratio.
  6. Cost—total acquisition cost, not just price.
  7. Consistency—supplier’s ability to exhibit quality and reliability over time.

If two or more firms supply the same or similar products or services, a standard set of criteria can apply to the vendor’s performance evaluation. However, for different types of firms or firms supplying different products or services, standardized evaluation criteria may not be valid. In this case, the buying firm will have to adjust its criteria for the individual vendor. For example, Honda of America adjusts its performance criteria to account for the impact of supplier problems on consumer satisfaction or safety. A supplier of brakes would be held to a stricter standard than a supplier of radio knobs.

AWARDS AND CERTIFICATION

Many buying firms utilize awards and certification programs to rate vendors. Attainment of certification status or an award serves as an indicator of supplier excellence. Certification and awards-program recognition represents a final step in an intense journey that involves rigorous data collection under the total-quality-management-rubric as well as multitudes of meetings with suppliers and purchasing internal customers. Serious buying firms view these programs as an integral part of their overall efforts to improve the total value of the company.

The attainment of a supplier award usually serves as an indication that the vendor has been rated as excellent. Intel awards their best suppliers the Supplier Continuous Quality Improvement Award (SCQI). Other firms may utilize a hierarchy of awards to indicate varying degrees of performance from satisfactory to excellent. DaimlerChrysler awards its best suppliers the Gold Pentastar Award. Several hundred vending firms receive this award per year. However, only a handful (less than a dozen) of DaimlerChrysler’s vendors are good enough to garner the Platinum Pentastar Award.

For other firms, supplier certification is desirable. Supplier certification can be defined as a process for ensuring that suppliers maintain specific levels of performance in the areas of price, quality, delivery, and service. Certification implies that participating firms have reached a level of excellence that other firms were unable or unwilling to achieve. For example a quality certified firm maintains a level of quality such that customer-receiving inspection may be utilized with decreasing frequency up to the point where it is eliminated altogether. Theoretically, this will ensure that all of the supplier’s products meet the customer’s product specifications. In this case, the goal of supplier certification is quality at the source.

While it is uncertain whether individual firms are consistent in the manner in which they certify vendors, a quality certification would likely require that the vending firm be part of a formal education program, utilize statistical process control (SPC), and have a quality assurance plan (set written procedures).

BENEFITS

Benefits of vendor rating systems include:

  • Helping minimize subjectivity in judgment and make it possible to consider all relevant criteria in assessing suppliers.
  • Providing feedback from all areas in one package.
  • Facilitating better communication with vendors.
  • Providing overall control of the vendor base.
  • Requiring specific action to correct identified performance weaknesses.
  • Establishing continuous review standards for vendors, thus ensuring continuous improvement of vendor performance.
  • Building vendor partnerships, especially with suppliers having strategic links.
  • Developing a performance-based culture.

Vendor ratings systems provide a process for measuring those factors that add value to the buying firm through value addition or decreased cost. The process will continually evolve and the criteria will change to meet current issues and concerns.

For example, today the supplier evaluation must now reflect the strategic direction of the buying company’s environmental initiatives. As a result, some firms have recently developed supplier evaluation systems that place significant weight on environmental criteria. It is now an important criteria for the evaluation of suppliers that they have firm CSR programmes in place and that they are observant of governmental rules and regulations.

Embarking on the eBusiness Journey.

December 10, 2012

There are companies still today who are reluctant to embark on the eBusiness journey, why is this? It is my belief that eBusiness is perceived as an expensive and frightening experience, also that everybody wants to sell a solution without really educating the company in how it can transform the business, thus making considerable savings in time and money. Technology and Business processes have changed considerably in the last decade, making implementations and change much simpler to undertake.

However, it is important to understand the business environment that you are operating under. With this in mind there are at least seven questions that should be asked in any business prior to embarking on the eBusiness journey. Answering these questions will allow the business to either embark on the journey (or not).

Question 1. Do I understand my Business today?

How is my business conducted? Is it difficult to connect with my Suppliers? Where am I spending money and on what? Do I have Administrative Burdens in the way I conduct business today? What is stopping me from moving forward? Have I got an optimized organizational structure?

Question 2. Am I ready to change the way I do Business?

Has the business got the appetite for change? Do I have change management agents in my Business? Do I have an organization that resists change?

Question 3. Do I have a strategy in place for using eBusiness?

What are my Pain points? Do I want to be a business Shaper or a business Adopter? Does the Business understand eBusiness? Am I involved in any eBusiness forums?

Question 4. What are my competitors doing?

Who has embraced eBusiness and why? Can I benchmark my business with others? What etools do they employ?

Question 5. Do I have to build my own applications?

Do I have an Infrastructure that will enable me to implement eBusiness? Are my systems bespoke? Is ICT considered an overhead in my business?

Question 6. What are my strengths and weaknesses?

Is there time liberation in the Business? Is there systems proliferation? Am I firefighting in my business? Do I empower my employees?

Question 7. Do I have well defined processes in place?

Are my processes visible end to end? Are controls in place but are too rigid? Do I have standards in place? Have I got good content? Are there to many levels of authority?

I strongly believe that every company should ask these questions of itself not only to assist it in overcoming the perceived fears of eBusiness but also to evaluate itself in the business environment today. It may result in no actual change taking place as the practices and processes are fit for purpose in the business environment that the company operates under. However, without analysis who will ever know!

Procure-to-Pay, tips for the Enterprise

November 12, 2012

As more companies are seeking to move beyond procurement into fully deployed supply chain systems, a key challenge for many companies is in the area of improving efficiency in their procure to pay cycle for many of their contracted services, especially in the area of facilities maintenance and on-site contract management. There exist multiple challenges in environments where field associates are working from manual or electronic systems, requisitioning on-site services for maintenance or other activities, and ensuring that this information is captured effectively. In addition, there exist significant challenges to ensure that the proper service level agreement is fulfilled, the correct price is charged, the purchase order is transmitted correctly, the invoice matches, and finally, that the supplier is paid the correct amount for the actual services delivered. While many enterprise systems claim that these elements are simply defined within their structural logic, the truth is that there are plenty of opportunities for error, and that without a planned process for managing the procure to pay cycle, the organization may be bearing significant costs due to non-compliance to system or process requirements.

So here are a few tips that should help

• Develop common processes and procedures for the P2P process, and roll-out training at site level to ensure that people are comfortable with the approach. Be prepared to modify minor elements the process to accommodate site-level requirements, but keep the essential elements of the process flow intact. Emphasize the importance of this approach to the entire P2P cycle, including accounts payable, invoicing, and blocked and parked invoices. Explain the impact of lack of adherence to process – and that the supplier will not be paid in a timely manner for their work if errors occur in the process.
• Improve master data robustness and integrity. Whether this involves ensuring proper audits of external vendor catalogs, or internal content management, clean master data is a mundane but critical element to supply management and P2P best practices. Minimise opportunities in the P2P process for keystroke and free text errors to occur, by error- proofing the system and mapping the process to identify where errors are occurring. Recurring training will also ensure that errors are reduced.
• Explore punch-out roundtrip and other approaches to exploit external content management approaches. This is especially important to ensure that the most efficient buying channel is selected.
• Exploit the use of procurement cards for high transaction volume, low transaction value purchases. Pcard technology has evolved significantly, and companies need to identify opportunities for hard dollar savings through this approach via rebates.
• Be sure to update master data and pricing rates on an on-going basis. In particular, attention should be paid to units of measure, appropriate industry-standard nomenclature, updating of labor rates based on market conditions, and on-going clarification of requirements against existing contracts.
• Establish how you are buying products and services, and document the buying channels through which these purchases are occurring. Inevitably, you will discover that purchases are occurring through improper or less- efficient channels, which is detracting from your team’s ability to engage in strategic value-added approaches. Get out of the transaction management business! To do this, you need to establish standard processes and procedures, and commit to a change management plant to ensure that people are using the right buying channels for the different types of spend.
As technology and business requirements evolve, the P2P cycle will certainly need to be re-visited from time to time to ensure it is meeting the needs of internal customers, and that suppliers are satisfied with the system.