Imagine this: one of your critical suppliers can’t fulfill your most recent order size due to a materials issue in their own supply chain. The order is supposed to be delivered in a week, and if you don’t have the full order size, your ability to sell your product is going to be hindered.
How do you even begin to solve this issue? Turning to your supplier database and finding a backup supplier is normally the first step. But how do you know which supplier can best handle this last-minute order? Do you even have a backup supplier in this case? Can you even access the supplier data you need in order to make a quick, accurate decision?
This is where supplier information management comes in.
Supplier information management (SIM) is the process of managing and tracking supplier data. This can include anything from contact information to performance data to delivery times. SIM is an essential part of any procurement or supply chain process, and it’s important to implement best practices to ensure SIM processes are as effective as possible.
What Is Supplier Information Management?
Supplier Information Management (SIM) is the practice of managing and organizing supplier data. This can include anything from contact information to delivery schedules to quality metrics.
The goal of SIM is twofold. First, to make it easy to find the supplier information you need when you need it. Second, to make sure that all that information is accurate and up-to-date. Accomplishing this can be challenging, given that supplier data can come from various sources (ERP systems, spreadsheets, email, etc.), and can be entered by various people (purchasing agents, engineers, suppliers, etc.).
However, with the right tools and processes in place, SIM is an invaluable tool for improving supply chain efficiency and communication.
The Benefits of Supplier Information Management
There are several benefits to implementing a sound supplier information management process. The most obvious is that SIM can help you make better, more informed decisions about your suppliers. Having easy access to up-to-date information about supplier health, performance, and capacity can help you identify and avoid potential risks, and ensure you’re sourcing from the most qualified suppliers.
Supplier information management can also have a positive impact on your bottom line. By better managing your supplier data, you can streamline your procurement processes, improve supplier communication, and reduce time and money wasted on sourcing mistakes.
Best Practices for Supplier Information Management
There are a few best practices that you should keep in mind when it comes to supplier information management.
The first is to make sure supplier information is centralized. This way, you can easily access it and update it as needed. You should also ensure that the data is accurate and up-to-date. Having a “master data” database also ensures supplier data entries only exist in one place and only need to be updated in one area.
Another key best practice is establishing standardized processes for collecting and managing supplier information. This will help ensure that everyone involved in the process is on the same page and that data is collected consistently across all suppliers.
Finally, you should create procedures for evaluating and managing supplier risk based on supplier data. Doing so will help you identify and mitigate any risks posed by your suppliers and help your organization make more intelligent decisions.
Common Challenges With Supplier Information Management
There are several common challenges you may face when dealing with supplier information management. One of the most significant is the sheer number of suppliers you need to onboard and manage. With hundreds or even thousands of suppliers, it’s easy to lose track of essential details.
The easiest way to overcome this challenge is to identify suppliers that are critical to the success of your business and ensure the data for those suppliers is monitored. Learn more about how to identify your critical suppliers here.
Another challenge is the manual process involved in tracking supplier data. Manual data entry is tedious, time-consuming, and outdated. This process becomes even more difficult when dealing with global suppliers who operate in multiple countries with different regulations.
You can avoid the challenge of manually tracking supplier data in two ways. Firstly, stop doing manual data collection. Instead, establish a supplier onboarding portal that allows suppliers to enter and update their data at their convenience. Secondly, monitoring your supplier data accuracy with automated alerts helps keep data up-to-date. The alerts should notify you and your supplier when documents like certifications and contracts are due to expire and need to be renewed.
Finally, many organizations lack a standardized system for collecting and managing supplier information. This can lead to inconsistent communication between teams and departments, as well as difficulty in tracking key metrics such as compliance and performance KPIs. Eliminating this problem is simple— use one unified system as your source of truth for supplier information.
How to Choose the Right Solution for Your Needs
Knowing what supplier information management features and capabilities are available can help you decide which solution is the best fit for your needs. It’s important to choose a solution that has a user-friendly interface and provides the tools, insights, and analytics needed to make strategic decisions.
The Enterprise Supplier Data Management Platform from SupplierGATEWAY, for example, offers several key features including onboarding vendors faster and monitoring supplier risk, compliance, performance KPIs, diversification strategies, and more. This platform includes dashboards to view supplier portfolios to help you quickly source and choose suppliers. Additionally, it enables stakeholders to share data across departments in a secure environment.
When evaluating software solutions, be sure to ask lots of questions and get references if possible. Make sure the platform you choose can scale with the growth of your business.
5 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Supplier Information Management
If you want to get the most out of your supplier information management, here are five tips you should follow:
- Establish a standardized, self-service onboarding process. Establishing a standardized onboarding process will help streamline and speed up your onboarding process. Utilizing a self-service portal that suppliers can access anytime will eliminate time spent hunting down supplier information.
- Leverage supplier risk data. Supplier risk data can help you identify suppliers with low compliance scores or poor performance records. Using supplier risk data can help you make more informed decisions when selecting suppliers and ensure that they meet your company’s requirements.
- Monitor supplier performance KPI metrics. Supplier performance KPI metrics can help ensure that suppliers meet their contractual obligations, such as timelines and deliverables. Tracking performance metrics will also help you identify areas where there may be issues or potential delays in order fulfillment.
- Keep your supplier records up-to-date. Ensure that information about your suppliers is up-to-date by setting a regular schedule for updating records. Doing so will make it easier to communicate with suppliers when necessary and guarantees the accuracy of supplier data company-wide.
- Leverage third-party services. Leveraging third-party services such as SupplierGATEWAY’s Enterprise Supplier Data Management Platform can automate parts of your supplier management processes and ensure that internal stakeholders have access to accurate data in one central repository. Your company will save time, money, and resources while increasing compliance and reducing risk.
So, what is good supplier information management? And how can your business ensure it is doing everything to get the most out of its supplier data?
Good supplier information management starts with understanding the data your suppliers are providing. This includes contact information, order history, shipping information, and more. When you understand your supplier data, you can implement processes that will help you make the most of it.
There are several best practices that your business can implement to improve its supplier information management. Some of these best practices include developing standard operating procedures for handling supplier data, creating a “master data” for all supplier information, and using supplier data to improve your business intelligence.
Utilizing a data management platform like SupplierGATEWAY’s Enterprise Supplier Data Management Platform helps you quickly onboard suppliers, keep supplier data updated, ensure supplier compliance, and much more. When you’re ready to start making your supplier data work for you, reach out and schedule your demo.