The Role of Supplier Intelligence in Elevating Procurement’s Impact

Greg Tennyson and I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Phil Ideson (The Art of Procurement Podcast) to talk about the primary findings of our Executive Roundtables held this past spring.

The Executive Roundtable dinners were attended by 40+ forward-thinking procurement executives from across the US and generated over 12 hours of engaging conversation around the Upside of Accessible Supplier Intelligence.

The foundation for the discussions came from a study we did in partnership with The Hackett Group to measure the time spent searching for and gathering data to identify and pre-qualify incumbent and new suppliers. This is still a highly tactical and manual process that often creates a bottleneck in the procurement process. As we learned from our study, qualifying suppliers can take 24 business days (or more) and the internal and external sources used are highly disaggregated.

When the business is looking for speed and agility, waiting for procurement to validate a qualified list of suppliers is largely perceived as a roadblock to achieving their goals. This friction in the process not only impacts procurement’s ability to add value but also to positively influence business decisions that can impact the top and bottom lines.

The unfortunate truth is, while procurement manually gathers intelligence about incumbent or new suppliers, stakeholders are waiting or worse… duplicating efforts in an attempt to speed things up. They often know their business better than their procurement colleagues and will quickly turn to their peers for supplier recommendations UNLESS procurement can quickly come to the table with valuable knowledge and a trusted list of qualified suppliers.

“If you don’t come to the business with intelligence and you need time to go and find it, that is when you become the bottleneck.  When you come with intelligence, you become a valued partner.” – Stephany Lapierre, tealbook

Without intelligence, procurement loses its ability to positively influence decisions. Take for example this common scenario: a stakeholder claims to know the only supplier capable of meeting their needs and wants to quickly issue a PO. What can procurement contribute if the intelligence is not available? If it takes 14 days to come back with a list of qualified suppliers, the stakeholder might have already issued a PO to the ‘only’ supplier.

Now turn the scenario around… with accessible trusted intelligence, procurement can pull up additional options and positively challenge the stakeholder to think differently or give him/her the opportunity to quickly validate their selection by instantly inviting other qualified suppliers to respond. Not only can procurement reduce the friction in the process, but he/she can also gain credibility, increase value to the business, and can ultimately impact the top and bottom lines.

It is easy to agree that procurement needs increased access to supplier intelligence for the sake of stakeholder satisfaction, but perhaps lack of access is a barrier to procurement’s own progress too. Most of the participants in our study agreed that the future of procurement is to become a trusted advisors to the business and enable stakeholders to accomplish their goals faster. This can’t happen if procurement doesn’t rethink how to identify and pre-qualify suppliers, moving away from tactical data gathering and lengthy timelines to adopt new technology that aggregates intelligence into a centralized platform that enables collaboration and continuously accelerates strategic decision making.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

tealbook’s Next Generation: Driving the Future of Accessible Supplier Intelligence  

I have spent my working life building enterprise software companies as a software developer, a designer and an executive. Usually I’ve been involved from the very beginning, but when I joined tealbook as COO it was already growing fast.

What really had me hooked was a vision I shared with Stephany Lapierre (CEO) and Geoff Peddle (tealbook CTO).  We wanted to create the definitive source of peer-driven supplier intelligence. We saw an opportunity to bridge the information gap between enterprise customers and their suppliers. We wanted to create a knowledge community that would deliver trusted insights to all parties while increasing the speed of information and value for all stakeholders.

Over the last several months, we have made incredible progress; we have more than doubled the size of our team, brought in strong AI expertise, and introduced new services such as the Concierge and tealbot. Most importantly, we learned an incredible amount from our enterprise and supplier users. We learned about how they envision the future of tealbook and their desire to continuously accelerate access to trusted intelligence.

“On August 9, 2017, we launch the next generation of tealbook.”

This release is the embodiment of everything we have learned. It simplifies the user experience with a clean, updated interface. The tealbook platform learns and will give back to our users with more insight and actionable intelligence. It improves collaboration among internal enterprise users and bridges an important gap for suppliers. The foundation of tealbook’s next generation is just the beginning. It is built on a cutting-edge technology that will accelerate our continuous improvement efforts and leverage machine learning to deliver deeper insight.

We are listening. We will continue to learn from our users to deliver a platform that is worthy of a market leadership position as the source for peer-driven supplier intelligence. This is a big step towards delivering on our shared vision – the first of many that will make for an exciting fall.

— Ian Woodbury, COO, tealbook

To learn more about tealbook, visit our websitewatch videos from procurement and suppliers on YouTube, and follow us on Twitter: @tealbook.

Move that ‘binder’ to the cloud

move your supplier intelligence binders to the cloud

Eleven years ago, I was visiting a client who wanted to introduce me to a supplier she highly recommended.

“Steph, you need to meet these guys,” she said. “They are incredible and have done great work for my team.”

She leaned behind her desk and grabbed a two-inch thick binder filled with business cards from supplier contacts she had accumulated over her extensive career. She couldn’t remember the name of the company but she knew would recognize the card. She spent 10 minutes filing through her contacts. Luckily, she found the card and gave it to me, but she asked for it back after I wrote down their information. She didn’t want to lose their contact information…

“I left that meeting thinking about the wealth of intelligence she had stored in that binder and the scores of other binders sitting under procurement desks all around the world.”

Not only did it take her 10 minutes to find, it was static and only she had access to it. Her team couldn’t leverage the intelligence, procurement had zero visibility, and her organization couldn’t capitalize on it. The day she left the company, her binder and experiences went with her. That supplier’s information was hidden from her peers, unable to help them grow their business. Unless she was present, or offered the information up, the supplier’s information was not being shared. Read More

I was wrong… and I’m glad my team was right.

tealbook Concierge Service supplier discovery

A couple of weeks ago, tealbook introduced our Concierge Service, which allows any enterprise user to quickly receive a vetted list of qualified suppliers, each time – every time. Concierge was enthusiastically received for its ability to take tealbook’s instant supplier searches a step further: validating that the suppliers discovered through VET meet business requirements, are interested in the opportunity, enhance their profile, and respond on time.

I was initially against the idea of Concierge. I didn’t think tealbook users needed ‘hand holding’. There are no concierges or chatbots in LinkedIn… and I strive to provide the same level of user experience for tealbook. Easy, intuitive, and straightforward with little implementation effort required.

Although that is all still true, my team saw an opportunity. They recognized that it is hard to change some people’s behavior when introducing a new technology into a work flow. No matter how easy or valuable the technology is, people won’t be on board until they experience how it can benefit them… once that happens, you can transform skeptics into regular users and hopefully advocates.

In an attempt to make their case, the team rolled out Concierge to a small group of clients and dedicated a strategic sourcing resource to the task. A day later, the first client request came through. Within a couple of days, our client had a validated list of qualified incumbent and new suppliers to confidently bring to their stakeholders.

Fast access to trusted data enabled procurement to add value to the business by moving the process forward quickly and with the right set of suppliers.

That client came back for more (4 VETs so far) and others started to use the service as well.

Within 3 months, we made the decision to roll out Concierge and add more resources. The data speaks for itself:

  1. 90% of qualified suppliers were approved by stakeholders to move forward with the RFP/evaluation process.
  2. Suppliers in tealbook responded within one hour of receiving a VET versus taking an average of one week when contacted by email or their website.
  3. Although the majority of our clients are more interested in leveraging their incumbent suppliers in tealbook, category managers included 70% new suppliers originally unknown to the team… creating more access to innovation.

We have rolled out the tealbook Concierge Service to all of our enterprise clients at no additional cost until December 31, 2017. 

Concierge gives your team its very own resource to handle all of the tactical up front work associated with finding and qualifying suppliers so procurement can focus on more strategic initiatives and add value to the business. Plus, you get the benefit of building valuable knowledge that will continuously accelerate strategic decisions moving forward…

tealbook Concierge is a great service, and I am glad to acknowledge that my team was right.

 

You’ll be in good hands with the tealbook Concierge Service

tealbook is launching the recently piloted supplier discovery Concierge Service. It is now available to all current tealbook enterprise clients.

tealbook’s VET is easy to use and provides instant recommendations that leverage your supplier data and knowledge from your peers. tealbook’s Concierge Team takes your supplier discovery searches a step further: validating that the suppliers discovered through VET meet your needs by enhancing their profiles and responding on time – every time.

tealbook VETs help all companies instantly find peer-trusted suppliers for any set of requirements and get detailed responses in just minutes to hours. The tealbook Concierge Service is now available for ‘white glove’ support following the VET process, allowing you to spend your time adding value for your internal partners while the Concierge Team further validates discovered supplier qualifications.

“The tealbook Concierge Service generated real excitement during the pilot, said Ian Woodbury, COO of tealbook. “It brought tremendous value to resource constrained procurement teams, so we’ve decided to offer it to all of our current enterprise customers – for free – through the end of 2017.”

The Concierge process is simple:

The tealbook Concierge Service Process

Dana Small, a Sourcing Manager at BioMarin Pharmaceutical, told us: “tealbook’s Concierge was able to get me a list of top validated industry suppliers (also peer endorsed) within a week’s time. Compare this to the typical discovery and RFI review process where it can take weeks to months to validate supplier qualifications, and the efficiency gain for my role is incredible. For a growing business like ours, it gives us the confidence that we are considering the best suppliers while enabling us to move quickly and stay agile.”

With the tealbook Concierge, any company can instantly accelerate the qualification of trusted suppliers. To get started, just login to tealbook, create a VET, and then send an email to concierge@tealbook.com. We’re at your service!

Note to Suppliers: Don’t Fear the Aggregators

I attended a supplier conference a couple of weeks ago. It featured a panel of procurement representatives talking about the increased demand for automation, rationalization, speed, and scale.

There were many frowns in the audience. Someone stood up and explained that they had built a 30 year business based on positive relationships with budget holders. They were alarmed by the future of ‘aggregators’ – think Amazon, Alibaba, and other marketplace type platforms.

As I stood there, I thought of a client from a decade ago who spent 10 minutes searching for a business card in a giant binder full of her supplier connections. I remember leaving that meeting thinking about the wealth of intelligence and knowledge she had accumulated over the years sitting in that dusty binder. Although the supplier on that card connected with her and made a good enough impression to motivate her to share their contact information with me, it wasn’t made available to her team or organization. The inefficiency I witnessed in that moment motivated me to launch tealbook. Today’s technology makes connectivity infinitely more possible than it was just a few years ago. Why not use it to increase share of knowledge and facilitate access to internal peers’ supplier connections?

The most enlightening fact is that the same client’s company shortly after initiated a rationalization initiative with a large consulting firm that took several years and millions of dollars to complete. Decisions were made based on manually collected data about the relative value and benchmark pricing of suppliers across a very large organization.

A technology that embraced knowledge and community would have given them the insight they needed to rationalize their supplier base within a few weeks. It would also have elevated small and diversity suppliers to the deserved status of valuable partners to the business instead of putting them aside in preference for the larger networks.

My point is that today’s technology and ability to apply machine learning enables all suppliers to be known based on their existing client connections and knowledge of the value they provide. With a smart and deeply peer-driven search engine, small and diverse suppliers can be found, considered, and included based on what they do well for other clients, at the very moment a need from a client is identified. Not in a separate tool, but integrated and equally valued among all other suppliers.

So, don’t be scared of the aggregators. Learn how to use technology to build knowledge and differentiate your company from your competitors based on what you do well. It will pay off by putting you in front of other clients with a similar profile and need for your business.

Take a few minutes now to enhance your tealbook profile and see which customers have already invited you to join their tealbook.

Walter Charles Joins the tealbook Advisory Board

Walter Charles

We are thrilled to announce that Walter Charles, Chief Procurement Officer at Biogen, has joined the tealbook Advisory Board.

Walt is a visionary supply chain leader and an inspiring procurement futurist. His ability to deliver impactful results has created demand for him as a headlining conference speaker and disruptive industry influencer. Prior to joining Biogen, Walter held CPO roles at iconic companies such as Kraft Foods, Kellogg’s, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Supply Chain, and Cordis (a former J&J’s medical devices company).

All of Walt’s experience as an executive leader has one thing in common: he has never hesitated to revolutionize the way procurement is managed. He quickly identifies ‘busted’ components of procurement process and technology and fixes them, even if he has to create a new solution in order to do so.

One key example of this is Walt’s belief in reusing data, automating repeatable tasks, and the importance of small, diversity, and innovative suppliers. They are the least likely to be uncovered during conventional approaches to supplier discovery, but the most likely to have a significant impact on innovation. He is a huge advocate of investing in diversity suppliers, both for the benefits they offer to enterprise and for the reciprocal contributions that makes to the health of the supplier base.

Our dynamic relationship with Biogen has played a strong role in making tealbook the strategic source of peer-driven intelligence it is today. This is due in large part to Walt’s vision for procurement’s potential impact on corporate competitive advantage.

As he told Supply Chain World in 2016, “I like solving problems, but I like solving problems that actually matter.” For procurement, access to actionable supplier intelligence addresses a series of problems that absolutely matter: diminishing returns from conventional sourcing, limited understanding of available supplier capabilities, and the slow speed of the traditional bid process.

Walt brings his revolutionary approach to our impressive board, which includes Mary Kachinsky, VP of Strategic Sourcing and Operations at FORMA Therapeutics; Chris Sawchuk, Principal and Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader for The Hackett Group; Gregg Brandyberry, Former Vice President of Procurement for GlaxoSmithKline; Rhonda Griscti, VP of Global Procurement at Medidata Solutions; David Davidovic, the Founder of pathForward LLC; Olivier Zitoun, Founder and CEO at Eveo; and Greg Tennyson, CPO at VSP Global.

On behalf of the entire tealbook team, I would like to welcome Walt to the tealbook Advisory Board!

tealbook selected as the first recipient of funding from the MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund and StandUp Ventures

tealbook, a supplier knowledge management platform that delivers actionable supplier intelligence for enterprise, announced today that it has been selected as the inaugural recipient of funding from the MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF) and StandUP Ventures Fund I.

“StandUp Ventures is pleased to invest in tealbook.” said Michelle McBane, Investment Director of MaRS IAF and StandUp Ventures. “Stephany’s deep understanding of the pain points that procurement professionals face, her leadership in sales and marketing, and her ability to recruit experienced team members are all early proof points that tealbook will be a successful high growth venture.”

The MaRS IAF helps build and strengthen Ontario-based businesses in the cleantech, ICT, and life sciences & healthcare sectors. Funded by the Province of Ontario, the IAF program is managed by MaRS and delivered through the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs. In partnering with StandUP Ventures, which is completely dedicated to companies with a female founder, MaRS IAF can help overcome the additional burdens that ‘female’ founders must overcome when seeking venture capital.

“We’re thrilled to be StandUp Venture Fund’s first investee,” says Stephany Lapierre, Founder and CEO of tealbook. “This investment will allow tealbook to continue developing its AI/machine learning capacity and go-to-market strategy, giving us a crucial competitive advantage as we grow our market share. Aligning ourselves with MaRS IAF and StandUp Ventures will also help us in preparation for our upcoming Series A, which will be used for scaling tealbook.”

This funding closed a larger round of seed funding for tealbook which included capital from Epstein and a group of angel investors.

For more information about MaRS IAF, visit http://www.marsiaf.com.

About tealbook

tealbook is the most trusted source of peer driven supplier intelligence and discovery for enterprise. By helping companies instantly access and share trusted supplier intelligence, tealbook significantly reduces the time and effort required for supplier discovery and exponentially increases the scale and productivity of procurement teams. tealbook also helps improve collaboration with internal partners. With tealbook, supplier connections and intelligence are centralized and combined with aggregate endorsements from industry peers and data from Dun & Bradstreet’s common language taxonomy. Suppliers can easily self-update profiles with news, blog/web content and social media activity, providing companies with a valuable, first-hand perspective. For trusted intelligence, instant supplier identification, and elevated industry knowledge, tealbook is your solution. For more information, visit www.tealbook.com or Twitter: @tealbook.

Greg Tennyson Joins the tealbook Advisory Board

We are thrilled to announce that Greg Tennyson, CPO of VSP Global, has joined the tealbook Advisory Board.

Greg is a recognized global executive with extensive experience leading transformative change across a wide range of organizations including operations, procurement, customer support, supply chain, shared services, finance, and contracts for Fortune 50 to 1000 companies.  Greg was previously the Chief Procurement Officer at Salesforce.com and Oracle Corporation with global source-to-settle and travel-to-expense responsibilities.

Greg combines a clear and disruptive vision for the future of procurement with a desire to take action. He is a natural connector that brings the kind of leadership, experience, and enthusiasm tealbook requires to increase positive outcomes for procurement and business users. Greg has a keen understanding of the market, which will help tealbook articulate a unique position, exploring mutually beneficial partnerships with other innovative technologies and assessing opportunities to provide additional value to our growing customers.

I couldn’t be more honored and thrilled to have Greg join our board of advisors. His desire to get involved further validates the value of aggregated supplier intelligence as an important part of today’s procurement transformation.

“The tealbook value proposition is both unique and compelling,” Greg said when we asked him to join us. “By providing differentiated supplier intelligence, tealbook allows procurement teams to gather and leverage aggregated information in a way that expedites discovery and drive greater business results.”

Greg joins an already impressive board, including Mary Kachinsky, VP of Strategic Sourcing and Operations at FORMA Therapeutics; Chris Sawchuk, Principal and Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader for The Hackett Group; Gregg Brandyberry, Former Vice President of Procurement for GlaxoSmithKline; Rhonda Griscti, VP of Global Procurement at Medidata Solutions; David Davidovic, the Founder of pathForward LLC; Olivier Zitoun, Founder and CEO at Eveo; and Walter Charles, CPO at Biogen. Their diverse experience helps strengthen tealbook’s value proposition to all stakeholders based on their unique use cases and range of corporate policies.

Greg has already been an active advocate for tealbook; he helped plan our executive roundtable discussions being held in four cities across the country next week. These will bring together some of the most forward thinking procurement leaders to articulate the full value of  supplier intelligence, discuss the impact of today’s discovery practices, and develop actionable recommendations to be shared with the broader business community.

Please join us in welcoming Greg to the tealbook Advisory Board!

Accelerating the Impact of Procurement Centers of Excellence

“Procurement is starting to see value as a path forward to a strategic, consultative role. And companies are structuring their Procurement organizations to deliver this mission.”

Last week, I read and shared an article from Pool4Tool on the growing role of process efficiency through procurement Centers of Excellence. It resonated with me because we have been asked a related question by teams all over the country – how do we reduce or automate tactical tasks in order to increase procurement’s strategic impact?

We recently heard from a procurement team that 30 to 40% of their time is used to manually search for information. We heard from another team that their existing systems only give them about 60% of the data required to initiate a sourcing event – again, requiring them to manually search for and gather the other 40%.

There is a double swing benefit when procurement improves their efficiency:

  • Current projects are completed faster, increasing speed to results
  • AND additional opportunities can be pursued to bring more spend under management or invest in supplier relationships, innovation, or value creation.

Process improvements are important, as is technology, but access to information – up to date, trusted information – holds the greatest potential to simultaneously improve procurement’s efficiency, impact, and influence. It is easy to say that procurement has access to all the information they need, but if the time and effort required to locate and validate that information becomes a barrier to progress, procurement’s results will be affected.

The last place procurement should tolerate inefficiency is in the information gathering process. Procurement creates value based on the information they gather – not in the collection process itself. There is no added benefit to suffering through a frustrating process when a more efficient alternative is available.

Those two teams we spoke with last week were being slowed down by the process of searching multiple sites for information, none of which were probably optimized for their specific purpose. tealbook, on the other hand, was designed to connect procurement with information about current and prospective suppliers faster so that the value-added work can get underway sooner.

It can take 1 to 6 weeks or more to complete supplier discovery. If procurement can either reduce the total active time required to complete this activity or compress the elapses time, they can deliver results sooner or address additional opportunities.

Procurement has proven that they can maximize their impact when organized as a Center of Excellence –increasing their efficiency and scaling their impact. As Charlotte Spencer-Smith points out, Centers of Excellence are not just an improved way to achieve procurement’s current goals, but to transform the function into a strong source of innovation and value creation for the future.

Interested in learning more? Come visit us at www.tealbook.com or follow us on Twitter: @tealbook.