Supplier Relationships

Webinar Notes: Enhanced Supplier Repository – A Real Asset for Procurement

Webinar Notes: Enhanced Supplier Repository – A Real Asset for Procurement

This week’s webinar notes are from a January 9th event hosted by Procurement Leaders and sponsored by iValua, with a case study presented by Whirlpool. The event is available for replay on iValua's site. If you are interested in more on the topics covered in the webinar, you can also download a free report (no registration required) that shares the results of iValua’s first Procurement Executives survey.

The case study from Whirlpool, which was presented by Blaine Hurley, their Senior Director of Sourcing Excellence, and illustrated the effort and solutions required to truly transform procurement in a global environment into a global procurement organization. Over the course of a century in business, they have grown both organically and through acquisition. Today they own many brands familiar in our homes, including KitchenAid, Maytag, and JennAir.

From a procurement perspective, the resulting organization was highly complex, with a number of processes, legacy systems, and regional practices. In 2009, they made the decision to better align and fully leverage their total spend. They began by pursuing organizational, process, and metrics alignment and then turned their attention to solutions and governance.

One of the greatest opportunities was seen in their global vendor master, or lack thereof. Historically, vendors were managed manually and regionally, with new companies being entered by data stewards. The regional standards, processes, and visibility resulted in duplicate entries as well as multiple vendors being associated with the same number.

By 2011 there was a global vendor master in place with automated workflow, standard processes and data elements with checks in place to ensure the integrity of the data. But there was still work to be done. The centralization increased the bandwidth required of the system, which was often unstable as a result. Integrations with legacy systems were complicated and additional functionality was still required, such as global reporting capabilities. On a positive note, vendors can now update their own profiles, and Whirlpool has better transactional or day-to-day relationships with their suppliers.

The end goal, which is closer but is still a work in process, is to have a single system that manages the entire source to pay process. That way purchase orders can be flipped into invoices with less tactical involvement from procurement. Many internal requirements needed to be increased in order to leverage the full capabilities of the systems being implemented. Other change management efforts required (or will require) collaboration with finance and legal teams on global and regional levels.

My take: Whirlpool successfully stared down a huge, complex problem without losing sight of their vision for the desired end state and the opportunities that came with it. Even as a distant listener in the webinar, I found myself wanting to put my head in my hands to hear their former state. Rather than being daunted by the disparities between their varied processes and the ideal environment for the solution they had chosen to implement, they kept their eye on the results that would reward their willingness to change.

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