October 6th, 2015

The 3 Pillars of Managing your Vendor Master File


Today, we are releasing a free Lavante White Paper entitled “3 Pillars Maturity Model – Managing your Vendor Master File“ to recap our three-part Webinar series from this summer.  With an emphasis on Supplier Information Management and Vendor Master File excellence, the series hit a nerve and drove nearly a 1000 downloads and views!  Understanding how relevant the topic was for so many people I consolidated the material (along with a few new ideas) into a whitepaper where I could present a clear picture of the 3 Pillars of driving data quality in the vendor master file.

There are no set steps that a company must take to achieve a clean, best-in-class vendor master file.  Rather, obtaining an optimized vendor master file requires an understanding of the elemental pillars needed in order to improve your vendor master file management process.

There are three fundamental pillars for driving Data Quality:

  1. The first is to Sanitize your VMF. Here you will identify and inactivate or merge duplicate records, correct erroneous data, capture missing data, update old data, and begin creating new controls
  2. Once your VMF is clean, you can Stabilize your VMF process wherein you will establish new norms including naming standards, proper segregation of duties, effective change management controls, and rules
  3. Then finally, you are able to Optimize your VMF process to assure regulatory and policy compliance, validation of supplier data at the time of on-boarding and ongoing

No matter where your organization is within the spectrum of the Three Pillars Model, your supplier information can be leveraged in many ways.  Whether you are looking to engage suppliers to maintain updated contact and remittance details, perform outreach to capture certifications or documents, drive comprehensive compliance across your organization, or manage spend and supplier relationships, your supplier data is the cornerstone and common denominator from which to perform any analytics and process improvement.

Download the entire white paper for free here: ”3 Pillars Maturity Model – Managing your Vendor Master File

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October 2nd, 2015

“The Cabin” – A Fable about Data Quality and Procure-to-Pay


Have you heard the old riddle about the cabin in the woods?

It goes like this:  You are alone walking through the woods and you spot a cabin in a clearing up ahead. You are tired, cold and hungry and it is getting dark.   You do not see or hear anyone in the cabin and decide you would be within your rights to show yourself inside and take shelter.  In the fading light you can see:

  1. A stove where you could cook your small ration of food
  2. A fireplace with enough wood to get you through the night
  3. A lamp with enough Kerosene to last until morning.

The problem is that you only have one single match.  So the question becomes – which among all of these things should you light first?

Pause for dramatic effect.

And of course the answer is “the match.”  (Please, no groaning.  I am building to a point, I promise.)  You see, before you can use any of these other devices you need to light the match and then apply that flame to whichever tool you have prioritized as the most critical.  In essence, without the initial spark those other items are never going to operate at their optimal levels.

Perhaps it is a stretch, but I sometimes think about this riddle when I contemplate the Procure-to-Pay cycle.  In many ways, heads of AP and Procurement are like the tired and hungry traveler from this story.  Their P2P environment is like the cabin, but instead of a stove, a fireplace and a lamp – their dwelling is populated by a host of automation initiatives.

Some of the questions that face the different agenda setters in the P2P cabin are: Should you automate payables? Should you put a contract management system in place? Should you implement a spend analytics platform or a supply chain financing portal?  Should to find a sourcing tool? and so on and so forth; the possibilities go on and on and there doesn’t seem to be one definitive answer.

With the rapid escalation of automation options in the last ten years this corner of the enterprise has become a little cloudy in terms of what to do first and how to maximize value from supplier interaction.  In the past several years, many large companies have implemented automation solutions in their P2P environment, and a strong theme has arisen.  There is a lot of value to be generated from all of these technologies, but nothing seems to be completely hitting its potential.

We hear about this theme a lot from larger enterprises that wish they could see more supplier adoption and drive more revenue or savings from their investment.  We especially hear about this from sales reps at the software companies that are selling these solutions.  Think about it… they are the one bearing the brunt; low supplier adoption and reduced transaction volume on their software often means the sales folks are not maximizing their commissions – or the value for their clients.

So what is the problem?  Nobody ever took the time to light the “match.”  And in this case the “match” (or the spark) is the data quality or Supplier Information Management (SIM).    Focus on the data first and then everything will flow from there.  Too often companies will implement a very powerful system like supply chain financing or e-invoicing or spend analytics and they settle for only 20% of suppliers (or transactions) to flow though the software.  This is crazy and more than that is very costly!  Engaging your supplier data first and then letting that perfect data flow into all of your systems is not only better for your overall operations but this will also dramatically increase the savings or the earnings from your P2P automation initiatives by a magnitude!

In reality this logic is nothing new.  The old saying used to be, “before you can automate any process… you need to optimize that process first.”  Like most things that old saying needs an update, “Before you can automate, you need to optimize, and before you optimize, you need to have quality date populating your system.”

Light the “match” first.  Data quality is the spark that ignites everything else in your P2P cycle.


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September 30th, 2015

An Expert Discussion on Supplier Portals!


Wow… just… wow. You know how when film critics are talking about movies they say, “If you see only one movie all summer… make sure to watch ‘blah blah blah.’”  Well I have to make the same claim for the Supplier Portal webinar from yesterday.  If you sit through only one webinar all year long, Read More…

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September 28th, 2015

What’s in a name? “Clients” versus “Customers”


Last week at the PayStream Innovate Conference in New Orleans, I had the opportunity to sit in on a keynote address given by William M. Cooper, Associate Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer at University of California.   Mr. Cooper is a thriving Procurement leader that has made a career as a change agent going from Read More…

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September 25th, 2015

What I’ve Learned: The True Impact of Supplier Information in P2P


As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information. – Benjamin Disraeli Over the course of the past 15+ years, I have focused my career efforts towards ensuring organizations leverage the best possible information as they manage their procurement, accounts payable, supply chain, and compliance functions. Read More…

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September 22nd, 2015

PayStream Recognizes Lavante with “Excellence Award” for Supplier Information Management!


A huge thank you to Henry Ijams and the entire staff of PayStream Advisors for hosting such a fantastic P2P Summit last week at the InterContinental Hotel in New Orleans’ French Quarter! For those that do not know, PayStream Advisors is one of the premier providers (in the P2P space) of trusted research, in-depth consulting, Read More…

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September 15th, 2015

Preventing Vendor Fraud


There is no getting around the risk of Fraud.  The threat is pervasive in the American workplace where – as my colleague Josh Morrison pointed out in a blog last month – the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners estimates that fraud costs organizations about 7% of annual revenues.  That’s nearly a Trillion Dollars!  One of Read More…

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September 2nd, 2015

How do Profit Recovery and Supplier Information Management fit together?


How do Profit Recovery and Supplier Information Management fit together? Lavante is the leading provider of on-demand solutions for Profit Recovery and Supplier Information Management (or “SIM”), but until our firm started tying the two products together they had never been united into the same product suite. For Lavante, Profit Recovery and SIM work hand-in-hand Read More…

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August 19th, 2015

Exploring Fraud in the P2P Environment


All Companies Suffer from Fraud Companies of all sizes across all industries are at risk of fraud from internal and external sources.  One asset in particular that suffers significantly from the risk of fraud is the master vendor file.  For most companies, the population of vendors and suppliers is so massive, complex, and multi-faceted that Read More…

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May 22nd, 2015

Conflict Minerals: It’s that time again!


In 2010, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires companies to disclose their use of conflict minerals. Under the Act, those minerals include columbite-tantalite (coltan), casserite, gold, wolframite, tantalum, tin, and tungsten and any other mineral determined by the U.S. Secretary of State. Companies must exercise due diligence on the source and chain of custody of their conflict minerals Read More…

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