Ravenswood Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of SRI International, provides government agencies and commercial clients with technology and services for collective training, test and evaluation, and policy analysis exercises. The combination of an eclectic portfolio of offerings and the regulatory overhead that comes with providing services to governments means that effective supplier management is critically important to Ravenswood’s success.
To meet compliance requirements, Ravenswood instituted a comprehensive performance evaluation process of all suppliers that exceeded a predetermined spend threshold. Upon generating the list, a team of people compiled a list of relevant stakeholders and kicked off the evaluation, which was built on top of spreadsheets and email. They were able to collect the data they needed, but the only way to do this at the required scale necessitated a significant time and resource pull.
The Vendorful team identified an opportunity to drastically reduce the effort involved in managing Ravenswood’s mission-critical supplier evaluation processes, so that the team could focus on more strategic activities rather than wrangling stakeholders and collating documents.
How were things done originally and what was the inspiration to innovate the process?
Imagine sending spreadsheet-based supplier surveys thousands of times via 1-on-1 via emails, knowing that when the responses come back, a massive manual data compilation process awaits. Not only was it inefficient for strategic players in their organization to spend significant time painstakingly aggregating data, but the cumbersome process also made it difficult for the team to keep track of progress, resulting in record retention problems. And at the end of the process it was challenging to deliver the results in a presentable and actionable format.
What KPIs did you use to measure success for this project? (For example: performance, customer satisfaction, revenue, sales or relevant financial gains?)
Since Ravenswood was already evaluating every critical supplier to meet their legal and regulatory requirements, the main goal was to reduce the overhead associated with those evaluations. The primary KPI we targeted was “total person-hours per evaluation”.
The old manual process required 7 hours per evaluation, on average. After implementing Vendorful, the average time per evaluation dropped to 40 minutes – a 90% reduction.
According to Ernesto Lozano Jr., Senior Buyer at Ravenswood, “Vendorful was the platform we needed for the digital transformation of our vendor evaluation process. Not only have our ISO audits been a breeze, the shift from manual to automated has allowed our team to focus on driving more strategic value rather than digging through Excel files.”.
How do you plan to ensure that the new model remains relevant and adapts to the future needs of the market?
We will continue to iterate and improve our Supplier Scorecard feature based on feedback from Ravenswood and other customers. That feedback has already led us to improve our Supplier Performance offering by incorporating quantitative metrics - drawn directly from raw performance data in an ERP or other system - in addition to the qualitative feedback collected from surveys. The next evolution we are excited to build is adding automation to trigger new Supplier Performance evaluations based on certain events - like completing a specific project.
What advice do you have for those who may want to implement this innovative approach in their own organizations?
Many organizations think that they need to “clean up” their supplier data before they can undertake transformative projects like this. The reality is that data gets better with use. The best way to clean up your supplier data is to start getting actionable insights from it. Working with data has a way of automatically surfacing not just the specific items that need attention, but the relative priority.
The barriers to automating supplier management tasks are much lower than most people think – from onboarding to ongoing data maintenance to compliance monitoring to performance evaluation.
What factors do you think are the most important to consider when innovating supplier performance?
The most important factor is to remember how critical Supplier Performance is to your organization! Everyone understands the importance of analyzing spend data, but acting on spend analysis without considering performance omits half the equation. Yet the performance side is usually relegated to email and spreadsheets and hours of tedious manual collation. It’s equally important, and performance management deserves as much attention as spend management.
The other important factor to consider is the ROI. Understanding supplier performance is an absolute business necessity, but it also saves money. Poor supplier performance leads to cost leakage that doesn’t show up on the supplier’s invoice – the hard dollar costs associated with making up those deficiencies, and the opportunity cost of scrambling to do so. Performance visibility saves money.