Wax Digital: Digital tools for managing supplier relationships

By Daniel Ball
Supplier management plays an essential role in any business. It is the ongoing process that starts with sourcing the materials that businesses use, to m...

Supplier management plays an essential role in any business. It is the ongoing process that starts with sourcing the materials that businesses use, to maintaining sustainable relationships with the vendors. There are many supplier management tools available, so it can be a challenge to know which one can help manage the process better.

What does supplier management technology do?

Supply chain tools can help identify relevant suppliers and can be used to develop an effective working relationship based on business needs. Getting a clear view of the markets which your organisation buys from, via a dedicated platform, may unearth some worthwhile supply chain opportunities.

Depending on the nature of the business and the goals it hopes to achieve, there are solutions available to help manage supply chains more effectively.

Find out what each tool offers and how it can improve aspects of supplier management:


eSourcing automates the entire tender process so that it involves minimal input from the buyer and helps find the best suppliers and prices for the business’ needs. Tender creation, analysis of responses and awarding the contract are automated features based on set criteria. With the help of question templates, creating questionnaires isn’t time consuming and reduces the likelihood of omitting crucial conditions.

Supplier answers are then scored against buyer priorities, and the winning tender is automatically selected.

Some eSourcing programmes offer the ability to run eAuctions, which give the option to negotiate better contract terms in a controlled environment. An electronic auction allows suppliers to bid against each other for the contract in a digital real-time bidding platform.

 Contract Management

This tool enables businesses to easily manage their entire supplier database from one place. Having supplier contracts readily available makes it easier to identify and raise service delivery issues, including non-competitive pricing points and slow service times.

Some platforms allow users to allocate permission levels - that way, only authorised employees can make changes to vendor contracts. Other useful features include reporting and search functionality; which can save time searching for specific information.

Source to contract

Source to contract (S2C) tools combine contract management and eSourcing functionality. It allows users to review information, from the initial tenders, all the way through to auctions and contracts. Each stage is tracked and stored together so users can track individual changes made by others in real-time.

Supplier Information Management (SIM)

The aim of Supplier Information Management (SIM) is to reduce costs and supply chain risk. It allows businesses to view vendor information electronically and suppliers to self-serve via a supplier portal where they can update their details and add new certificates when previous ones expire.

Suppliers are automatically alerted with prompts to correct missing information and will have to respond before trading is possible. Non-compliant vendors will be put on hold to restrict unwanted transactions.

Supplier Relationship Management (SRM)

Protecting valuable supplier relationships is a promising way to reduce supply chain risk. Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) creates a centralised environment for buyers to communicate with vendors - whilst having easy access to relevant information - so that these relationships are not neglected.

The tool allows businesses to manage and view meetings, questionnaires and invoices together so they can be easily queried. Vendors who offer the most value to the business will be displayed clearly, so that it’s easy to tell which relationships require the most attention.

Each tool brings unique benefits to help businesses effectively manage their supply chains. Using just one of these tools can add significant value to procurement processes; the key is to decide which tool can offer the right benefits depending on business priorities, whether that’s faster processes or getting a firmer grip on managing the supply chain.

By Daniel Ball, director at Wax Digital


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