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Principles of Successful Supplier Relationship Management

Principles of Successful Supplier Relationship Management

A Shifting Landscape is Changing Supplier Relationships

The past year underscored the impact and the importance of supply chains more than ever. For manufacturers and distributors, the criticality of a robust and flexible supply chain cannot be understated. Supply chains are dynamic—shifting forces raise new concerns, and what was a given yesterday could be a curveball tomorrow. Many of these things, in the broad context of the global supply chain, are outside of our control. That said, even with the variables that come from an evolving climate such as the current day, there are still many things we can control—things that we can do to better manage our specific supply chains.

Supplier Relationship Management Supplier with engineer checking on production in factory

New Supply Chain Challenges Require Adaptive Tools and Processes

Developing tight supplier relationships is key to managing changes in lead time, delivery, prices, and products.

ERP System Management

Change and Opportunity

For many companies, managing the manageable comes through a tighter integration with suppliers. And in many cases, this is accomplished through collaboration platforms such as SourceDay. Portal-based integrations allow customers to work with their suppliers to manage purchase order requests, acknowledgements, expedite requests, exception handling, changes, and the variety of related processes and tools that come with supplier relationship management (SRM) systems. In working with our Epicor ERP and Prophet 21 customers, we’ve seen several principles embodied through the use of such platforms.

Automation

In manufacturing and distribution environments, Automation is often thought of as an improvement inefficiency. Automation in supply chains goes well beyond the simple idea of efficiency. Automation is fundamental to a portal platform like SourceDay, as it provides the bedrock for supply chain effectiveness and its related principles. For example, moving the process of acknowledging a PO from a collection of emails, text messages, and phone calls into a single point of contact builds the foundation for everything that follows: visibility, measurement, collaboration, etc.

Visibility

Fundamental to the successful execution of a supply chain is the visibility of supply and demand between customer and supplier. Changes to global supply chains cascade changes onto suppliers, and concomitantly, their customer base. Lead times, lot sizes, pricing—all can be affected, and keeping these changes organized and updated in your ERP system begins with a customer’s clear “line-of-site” to their supplier’s reality as it evolves. Good data is fundamental to the function of a business system, as it drives all the behaviors of the system, and of the related users. This can be an either-or:

  • Is your data up to date and accurate such that you are making reasonable requests to your supplier?
  • Is the data in your system sending your buyers on supply missions that are doomed to fail?

Companies that can leverage the real-time feedback from suppliers are best equipped to make the act of acquisition a successful endeavor.

Collaboration

The value of a reciprocal relationship between customers and suppliers cannot be underestimated. Beyond the benefits already stated, visibility is fundamental to the development of a successful partnership with your suppliers. The creation of a clear communication pipeline between customers and suppliers allows for more collaborative options, including the ability to quickly adjust dates, shift demand patterns, manage pricing and course-correct, all early in the buying cycle, while options are still available.

KPIs and Metrics

Metrics are key to accountability; you cannot fix what you cannot measure. Can you quantify your suppliers on time delivery performance? Or do you need to perform an extraction from your ERP system, massage the data, such that it can be presented to the organization? Just as metrics are key to accountability, automation is key to developing consistent and timely metrics. For instance, the automation of the process of tabulating plan-vs-actual data without human intervention makes real-time visibility and measurement a reality. 

But what are the metrics you need to successfully manage your supply chain? Supplier delivery performance is an obvious choice. What about acknowledgement rates? Are your suppliers doing a good job of acknowledging your purchase orders? Can you quantify this? Supply chain researchers have found that acknowledgement rates strongly correlate with on-time delivery performance. Thus, a company can view a supplier’s acknowledgement score as a leading indicator of their ultimate delivery performance. As such, when you bring in a new supplier, you should have the tools to quickly assess how well they are acknowledging their POs, even before shipments arrive.

Putting the Pieces Together for Wholesome Supplier Relationships

As companies implement and optimize their ERP investments, the search to better fine tune and extend their systems becomes the next priority. We’ve found that the extension of the supply chain thought vendor portals such as SourceDay to be one key way that companies maximize their ERP investments and optimize their internal and external business processes.

Are you in search of the next step to your ERP implementation? Come to our most excellent session with SourceDay on “Bridging the Gap Between Epicor and Suppliers for Distribution Companies” and learn how their solution can help you with supplier relationships.

Prophet 21 Event: Servers, Financials & Supply Chains

Prophet 21 Event: Servers, Financials & Supply Chains

With summer in full swing, distributors are on the move, crossing docks, splitting shipments, and delivering goods by the truckload to a diverse array of customers. It is a time for expansion—of old trade routes of supply chains and of new opportunities as our reopening country rediscovers its possibilities.

Female Attending a Virtual Epicor Prophet 21 Event

Attend a 2021 Prophet 21 event in person or online

With user conferences back in the schedule for 2021, P21 users are highly anticipating the Prophet 21 user conference P21WWUG CONNECT in mid-August. This event serves as a focal point for the P21 user community and as a bookend for a busy summer. At the onset of the summer season, we thought it would be helpful to host our P21 summer summit as a prelude to the larger Prophet 21 community event. This also gives you the opportunity to open the summer with some new ideas for using your P21 application to its fullest capabilities.

Events like this are a great opportunity to review your application’s capabilities and find ways to improve internal processes, discover ways to reduce costs, and reveal methods to improve information flow and presentation. You’ll also surface steps you can take to better integrate Prophet 21 with suppliers and customers.

Our summer 2021 Prophet 21® event takes place on June 24, from 10:00 AM to 1:30 PM (Central Time). Three panelists will discuss topics pertinent to the P21® user community. The event is free, and all are welcome! This summit will also provide an insider’s view of the Epicor Prophet 21® solution for any distributor who is looking for growth opportunities that only a new software can provide.

Prophet 21 Event Itinerary

Server Best Practices for the Epicor P21 Environment

10 AM – 11 AM (CST)

Daryl Sirota, Executive Director of Technical Services at EstesGroup, will discuss server best practices for P21. Understanding the optimal means for deploying the Prophet 21 application has never been more important, especially with Epicor’s move to a new client-server architecture. Daryl will discuss some of the key considerations when deploying and maintaining your server stack. Daryl leverages 35+ years of IT experience to help customers develop server and cloud architectures that are robust, flexible and reliable. A veteran systems engineer and Microsoft expert, Daryl provides the stable technical foundations that allow customers to focus on their business. Attend this Prophet 21 event if you’d like to know how to create a private cloud for your ERP software.

Creating Financial Statements Using Financial Line Express

11 AM – Noon (CST)

Terri Gage, Senior Consultant at EstesGroup, will discuss the creation of Financial Statements. P21 customers express frustration in successfully creating financial statements, but the often forgotten Financial Line Express can bring ample help to your financial reporting needs. A longtime project manager, implementation consultant, and Prophet 21 specialist, Terri works with organizations to help them successfully implement and fully benefit from the P21 application, actualizing their goals of sustained profitability and business excellence.

Bridging the Gap Between Epicor and Suppliers for Distribution Companies

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM (CST)

Jim Frye, Enterprise Sales Director at SourceDay, will discuss how distribution companies bridge the gap between their Prophet 21 system and their supply chains. Distributors need to do many things to help secure their supply chains as the ground shifts beneath them, automating the mundane and improving collaboration, visibility, and accountability between them and their varied suppliers. Jim leverages 30+ years of experience working with Global Manufacturing Companies, big and small. His passion is to help organizations facilitate growth, reduce operating costs, and increase profitability through supply chain efficiency.

Our event concludes with an open Q&A session, allowing users to raise questions regarding the sessions themselves and the Prophet 21 application in general. Operations management strategies. Cloud server integration steps. Cloud hosting service risks. Prophet 21 cloud platform options. Global supply chain trends. Operation system updates. Dedicated servers, multiple servers, SaaS… from Prophet 21 consulting to server hosting, we have answers to your P21 ERP and IT questions.

Do you have questions you’ve been meaning to ask a consultant, but haven’t wanted to shell out the cash? 

Now is your chance to do it–on our time and our dime!

Epicor’s Prophet 21 user community is founded on collaboration.

Come collaborate with us on June 24.

This event can also help distributors who are considering a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

Cyber Security

Much Needed Functionality: Prophet 21’s Rental Management Application

Much Needed Functionality: Prophet 21’s Rental Management Application

To Rent or To Buy – More and More Often, It’s To Rent.

In some ways distribution has not changed over the past 50 years; but in other ways it really has morphed – I know, that statement was non-committal. But take for example product Rental Management. Your customers still want your fantastic product whether that’s cars, industrial equipment, cylinders, furniture, etc. and there is a paper trail to track those rentals and bill appropriately. Unfortunately not many Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems easily track rental products so distributors are forced to look for standalone products and old fashioned paper trails – either way, creating a lot of work arounds or duplication efforts for a company. Epicor recently released a new application for distributors, and I for one, am extremely excited about it.

 

The new Epicor Rentals Management (ERM) solution makes tracking rentals within the Epicor Prophet 21 ERP (P21) simpler and more efficient. ERM handles the actual rental transaction while the P21 application holds all other data like customers, items, accounting, inventory, etc.

 

Prophet 21 (P21) Epicor Rental Management

P21 Rental Management Tracking

Some of the primary benefits of Epicor P21 Rental Management (ERM) are:

  • Efficient Rental Transaction Processing
  • Manages Scheduling and Assignment Processes
  • Flexibility in Pricing Rental Designs
  • Flexibility in Product rentals for day, week, month, mileage, hours used, etc.
  • Simplified contract maintenance
  • Automatic Rental Billing
  • Rental Availability

 

 

What is really nice about the ERM module is that when your customer service or sales team goes to enter in a new rental order, the process is just like any other order in P21 – using the Order Entry Window. With everything setup, the sales associate just enters in the a rental item and P21 switches the order to a Rental Order vs standard Sales Order. Switching to a Rental Order will cause the ERM module to open up and finish the rental processing; with information like state, dates, duration, even serial and lot tracking information.

 

A few of my favorites I’ve seen so far are:

 

Simplified Contract Maintenance

Contracts. Need I say much more before the room starts to groan? Usually contracts are done on paper – sometimes with carbon copies – though often times it’s a matter or printing, signing, and scanning. Thankfully ERM has helped simplify that painful (and let’s face it) rather wasteful process. Within ERM the sales agent can input the data, customer can review the contract and sign for it – making the entire process much simpler. This allows the final contract to be stored electronically with ease, or print or email once finished.

 

 Automatic Rental Billing

The Finance department is going to love this feature. No more grabbing that monthly billing folder / file cabinet / or excel list with customer names and billing frequencies. ERM has automated rental billing which allows finance to set billing intervals and then generate the invoices according to your business schedule.

 

Tracking

Every one loves tracking – dashboards, look up, quick reference, you name it. Having the ability to quickly find the data you need when the customer needs it. The ERM module makes it easy to see rentals by customer, rental product type, etc.

 

Let’s face it, at the end of the day, being a rental business is hard work. Unlike most manufacturers and non-rental distributors – who have little need to track their products once the item has shipped – you need to know who, where, how long, at what price, etc. and then rinse-and-repeat for the next customer. Epicor’s Prophet 21 Rental Management solution solves a large functionality gap for distributors.

 

To end this on a light note; I recently heard a funny rental joke:

 

Why was the mole’s rental fee so costly?

Because he burrowed and never returned

 

Questions or feedback on this article? Wanting more information on Prophet 21 ERP or P21 Rental Management? Let us know.