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August 11, 2016

On the Curve of Innovation — Part 4: Managing for bespoke attributes creates efficiency and insight in Source to Pay

Managing for bespoke attributes creates efficiency and insight in Source to Pay

The quest to push the use of an eProcurement solution in any organization has always been predicated on the ability to easily find what you are looking for. But how do you manage bespoke catalog attributes; for example, make sure that the vendor provides services in French or the product is available in XXL?

Buying a configurable product, such as a computer or office equipment, can be an easy task by leveraging common Amazon-like features that show you how to find what you are looking for in a dynamic shopping cart format. Search, pick, click and go… done. Simple, right? Well, not so fast.

When it comes to items that need to be ordered in a pre-approved or punch-out catalog, the level of details are often only provided by the supplier. The issue is not so much finding the product or service, but the ability to identify or pick out the specific attributes based on your custom requirements.

Consider the following:

I am Claire, a category manager, and I need to put in place a system of item attributes that will facilitate catalog management and enhance category reporting. In the case of RFQ management, I need these attributes to be taken into account in order to provide the supplier with enough information for their pricing.”

I am Rick, the requester. I want to have easy access to item attributes in the cart in order to describe more precisely the characteristics of the item I need. I should be able to define values for predefined attributes based on the category or item type. A search by attribute in the cart should be available as well in order to guide my requisition creation.”

The challenge in the past was that a typical eProcurement solution, while offering both local and punch-out catalogs with searchable supplier attributes, did not provide the flexibility to accommodate the bespoke attribute requirements at various stages of the purchasing process. Moreover, traditionally, all this information often had to be entered manually on each line of the requisition – wasting time and money.

Based on use cases such as those cited above, Determine understands the flexibility needed for managing the needs of enterprise users. We get the importance of how attributes need to be linked to the purchase process. With new attribute management capabilities in P2P, we are able to easily accommodate bespoke needs in very common situations.

  • Services Purchases: When you outsource services from a professional, additional information is required to define the requirements; and these attributes differ depending on the type of services being purchased – e.g., IT services (attributes: software knowledge required, languages spoken, years of experience, etc.).
  • Recurring Product: For items with recurrent characteristics – e.g., ordering T-shirts or security clothing for employees (attributes: size, color, material, etc.). Each of those attributes can have predefined values (e.g.,languages: Spanish, English, French, German, etc.; size: S, M, L, XL, XXL).

Furthermore, using the latest 16.6 release of the Determine Cloud Platform, organizations can address these bespoke needs at different levels in the category management or buying cycle.

  • Category Management: Allow category managers to add custom attributes for managing catalog items at the commodity level for doing wider spend analysis when conducting opportunity review and supplier classification.
  • Catalog Search / Shopping Cart: Provide catalog users the ability to get the defaulted attributes created by category managers to automatically appear in their local catalog item and/or punch-out searches in the shopping cart.
  • Requisition Line Item / Purchase Order Detail: Once an item is placed in the shopping cart, have those same attributes show up in the line item when creating a requisition and a subsequent purchase order.
  • Request for Quote: Finally, in the event a requisitioner needs a quote on a particular item or service (i.e., RFQ), attribute items can automatically pop up on screen for suppliers to understand further details of a coming RFQ from the buying organization.

As a result of enhanced attribute management capabilities, procurement organizations can experience new efficiencies from better category management, improved user catalog adoption, and more predictable spend patterns that will achieve your ultimate goal—increased spend under management.

This concludes our 4-part series On the Curve of Innovation. If you missed any of them, you can read them here:

Part 1: The Value of Material Design

Part 2: Establishing a Holy Triad of Data Management

Part 3: Enabling Collaboration & Self-Service with Workflow

* The best way to learn more is to see a demo of what we are doing here at Determine. Give us a call and we would be happy to set one up to meet your needs. Vision. Insight. Control.