bringing different systemes togetherLast week I wrote about my past experiences with integrating the accounts payable functions of acquired companies into a service center environment, detailing the inherent difficulties and the ongoing search for solutions to help manage this complex process. In this blog, I’d like to focus on one of the major problem areas that is frequently encountered – that of managing multiple supplier lists from acquired companies.

In my current role at Lavante as a Sr. Solutions Advisor, I have been reminded of the trials of the integration process I experienced while leading the AP function at several fortune 500 companies when talking with prospective and current clients who are dealing with these same issues. One of the first inevitable difficulties they face is in combining vendor master files.  The  procurement function always began the process with the intent to “rationalize” the acquired file(s) with our own data, which meant eliminating duplicate vendors, selecting strategic suppliers to leverage spend, updating information, etc.  In reality, the pressures of just reaching a functional level meant that little of this occurred and the files were forced together in the rush to issue purchase orders and maintain production.  Many of the problems created were never addressed as we moved on to the next acquisition or other project.

Lavante’s solutions have always placed a high priority on vendor master integrity.  The Lavante Recovery application was built to maximize the use of available supplier data as part of the process and allow clients use it to identify duplicate and related vendors and maintain current data.  The Lavante SIM (Supplier Information Management) application takes that functionality to a whole new level.  By establishing a comprehensive solution, that begins with a self-service supplier portal that enables a simplified, real time approach and eliminates the need to periodically do vendor master clean-up projects, which must be repeated after the same problems build up over time.

Having a clean vendor master file with current and accurate contact information that had been refreshed by direct communication connections with suppliers, as Lavante’s solution facilitate, would have given me a tremendous advantage in my past AP roles. If both vendor masters — acquired and acquiring — had been in that “cleansed” state, it would have eliminated numerous issues that necessitated considerable resources to rationalize and then combine the files. The ability to communicate effectively with the supply base alone would have saved time and staff resources, all the while eliminating problems downstream that are the result of bad vendor data.

Next week, I’ll go into more details about how bad data impacts an organization, and then discuss how Lavante SIM helps clients and suppliers simplify the many complexities of the supplier management process.

If you have any thoughts or issues related to your experiences consolidating acquired vendor files, or supplier management in general, please comment here.

Finally, we have partnered with IOFM to conduct a comprehensive market research project on supplier information management and we invite you to provide your input by taking the survey.  Click here to add your perspectives.  All contributors will receive the market research findings report produced by the IOFM (and be entered into a contest to win an iPad).