Tools of the trade: Technology systems

By Tom Nagle

By Tom Nagle

23 March 2016

Last year, nuclear-fuel company URENCO signed off on a platform that group head of procurement at the time, Alan Hartley, believed would help to elevate the position of SEI within his company.

The cloud-technology tool illustrates, he says, that procurement is taking strategic supplier relationship management (SRM) “very seriously” – something which he launched with substantial training on the academic side of SRM.

“Now we’ve put the platform in as an enabler,” he says. “A key component of that is the innovation module within it,” he explains. “You can create a project or activity around innovation, and then have a mutually accessible portal which allows you to track the innovation in both organisations. It means a supplier can log an innovation and we can start to track it through if it’s something we want to take forward. And it means that even from a remote perspective, I can look at what’s going on within the supply chain.”

It’s just one example among many of how companies are deploying technology to help manage the SEI process. Others, have developed their own systems (as is the case with Brose) or use a combination of spreadsheets and collaboration tools such as Sharepoint. Others still are using platforms meant for other purposes for aspects of SEI.

To help keep track of supplier ideas and suggestions, at Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Karina Larsen O’Halloran, executive director, head of global innovation sourcing, has moved beyond Sharepoint to a cloud-based platform.

“What we found is that suppliers don’t know who to go to – they bring their ideas and they get completely lost and also they’ll have 10 teams that will try different avenues and you’ll have 10 teams evaluating the same thing,” she said.

By using a cloud platform as a way to keep track of new supplier approaches and technologies, she is now able to commit to a response within two weeks, whether the company is interested in taking a project forward or not.

The other tool Johnson & Johnson has invested in is telepresence and video conferencing, to help facilitate more regular and meaningful catch ups with strategic suppliers. “When the teams work together, the scientists can have video meetings rather than sitting on a conference call,” she said. “It helps all of us.”

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