Modern Supplier Qualification Strategies for 2018 in Procurement

On the dawn of a new year, there are a number of trends expected to influence the way procurement teams kick off relationships with suppliers. Working with these teams day in and day out, we understand your needs in the modern age. With technology making an impact and nearly every solution turning to digital, the methods for supplier qualification are changing… Fast!

In this post, we’ve compiled a collection of some of the bigger movements regarding supplier qualification, which are expected to make an impact in 2018. For procurement leaders working in rails, utilities, and venues, these strategies can contribute to reduced risk, more reliable service level agreements (SLAs), and higher quality relationships that begin on day one.

Leverage Various Digital Reviews to See Behind the Curtain

Many consumers today don’t buy a product on Amazon without reading the reviews. User-generated feedback is a trusted mechanism for making purchasing decisions and can also be a method used to verify the quality of a supplier or vendor. Online reviews do represent the truth and are increasingly impacting the B2B space.

In fact, a Corporate Executive Board survey found B2B buyers complete 60% of the purchase process before they ever directly engage with a vendor. Some of that “pre-purchase research” will be reading online reviews, on sites like Better Business Bureau or Angie’s List.

Also, each negative review costs the average business about 30 clients. These reviews matter to suppliers and are taken seriously. Before you engage with a supplier, you can look at how they handle their online reviews. Are they responding to negative feedback and offering a solution, or just ignoring the comments?

Another great place to find insight about your prospective supplier is by checking Glassdoor for employee feedback. This direct insight into the supplier’s culture and way of operating can help your team determine if the supplier is legitimate and treats their team members with respect. Online reviews from those on the inside and outside increase transparency and can reduce issues on your end if you catch red flags before starting a relationship.

If those two are not enough for you, here are 12 other sites to check business reviews.

Consider the Future of Procurement Technology for Supplier Qualification

In a world where digitization is king, integration of data is key. Advances in technology are allowing businesses to predict and respond more effectively to incidents and inquiries. Also, with the advent of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), digital technologies are opening the door to new, more efficient and intelligent ways of operating, which have a direct impact on procurement.

These digital platforms use data integrations to empower procurement leaders to make smarter, faster decisions across all levels of the supply chain by increasing the efficiency of the processes leading to better spend visibility, reduced risk, and improved relationships with suppliers.

Procurement teams are already starting to fully embrace these technologies. In a study conducted by Digitalist Magazine and the University of Applied Science Würzburg/Schweinfurt, the top priorities for 2018 are embracing Big Data and predictive analytics (72%) followed by AI (including machine learning) and cognitive computing (22%).

Check out our top five trends for increasing efficiency with subcontractors through improved tracking systems.

Integrate with your Operations Team Members

New technologies and digital platforms are impacting all levels of the organization, including operations teams. When you integrate with various levels and connect digital platforms to share data inputs and outputs, you can improve rating systems for speed and quality of delivery.

For example, mobile app-driven identification for worksites will allow for real-time access-control with a centralized manager dashboard. This will help improve supplier qualification for procurement teams by monitoring all contractors with up-to-the-minute data. For instance, if a contractor has not completed training, they will no longer have access to the worksite, which can lead to reduced risk.

In turn, by implementing technologies and these supplier qualifications strategies, you can help mitigate risk and increase the quality of SLAs. Better relationships can lead to less waste, reduced costs, and eventually, bigger bonuses for you and your team.

To learn more about tracking subcontractors for rails, utilities, and venues, get in touch with us today.


**This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice.

Managing Outsourced Service Providers as a Procurement Leader

We all know procurement teams juggle many responsibilities in the process of selecting and managing outsourced service providers. As vendor costs continue to rise, personnel value gets constantly evaluated, and compliance requirements change; it becomes increasingly difficult to keep all your stakeholders satisfied. Despite the challenges, there are plenty of resources and tools to help your team increase effectiveness as well as land better SLAs.

For example, to stay competitive today, businesses rely more and more on technologies like hosted vendor management solutions that are easily accessible on any device that’s connected to the network. Imagine members of your team being able to take care of all the primary aspects of their jobs, including managing outsourced service providers, from virtually anywhere. These hosted solutions are typically also less expensive and cause fewer issues for your IT department since they don’t have to worry about hosted servers or technical issues.

Reducing vendor costs and increasing efficiency helps your organization operate at peak level. By taking steps to streamline your processes with outsourced service providers, especially when you are managing talent across multiple locations or job sites, these goals become easier to achieve.

To help you continue to streamline the process of vendor management, we pulled together some great resources on the latest trends surrounding managing outsourced service providers.

Top Vendor Management Softwares Today

There are hundreds of software options for managing outsourced service providers. A simple search pulls up a number of competing services that claim to be the best. In short, an effective vendor management software should offer the features that your team needs to help improve the way you communicate with vendors and make your processes more productive than they are currently.  Choose a vendor management software that helps you achieve your business goals within budget and makes your life easier.

A few of the top solutions for managing outsourced service providers today include:

Connecteam: A mobile-enabled tool for managing and engaging your vendors and contractors.

Tipalti: A robust vendor information management system that specializes in payroll automation.

SAP Fieldglass: A cloud-based service that helps manage external talent and services procurement with built-in tools to find, engage, and manage all types of flexible resources.

ProcureWare: A supplier management, sourcing, bidding, and contract management SaaS.

Beeline VMS: Perfect for managing larger teams of contractors, this software offers automation of service procurement, contingent staffing, resource tracking and self-sourcing.

For more top vendor management software, take a look at this list.

Latest Training Resources from Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS)

Depending on your company’s area of expertise, always make sure you’re keeping an eye on the resources available from CIPS. There is a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips on everything from the latest news in your industry to trends in various fields, such as managing outsourced talent for specialized services.

CIPS also breaks down resources specific to every stage in the procurement and supply cycle such as initial plan development or continuous improvement. Get the most out of these resources by exploring the CIPS website to find information relevant to your needs and processes.

Maintaining Positive Relationships with Suppliers

Ensuring a great relationship with your service providers comes down to communication and attention. When you begin a new relationship with a vendor, it’s important to develop trust from the onset of the relationship. If you begin involving them in your processes from day one, they can start to understand your business and provide better service due to a clearer knowledge of your needs. And remember their concerns matter as well; it must be a give and take relationship.

Continuous Improvement – Definition and Resources

The goals of continuous improvement are essentially improving processes based on definitive results, increasing productivity, meeting KPIs, and maximize spend by reducing unnecessary costs. You can most effectively achieve these goals when your team fully understands your processes, ensures the service providers tasks are built around the business goals, and also by strengthening communication. Most importantly, continuous improvement should include a regular search for opportunities to improve areas of the process.

As mentioned above, data-driven technology is also becoming important in quantifying improvement with outsourced service providers. Procurement managers need to collect and analyze more and more data relative suppliers from many different sources. It increases the complexity of your job. Be upfront about your needs so you can ensure that you’re gathering the information you need and keeping costs down by reducing waste.

Benchmarking is another effective method for getting the most out of your processes. You can take advantage of this practice by setting a baseline, monitoring your organization’s current performance levels internally, and decide who you’re going to compare results to, such as the industry or a direct competitor. Learn more about benchmarking here.

For more best practices on continuous improvement for your processes overall, take a look at this report from APQC.

We hope these resources give you a few areas to check out to help you better manage relationships with outsourced service providers. If you have specific questions about contractor and subcontractor screening, training or badging, do not hesitate to reach out to our team by clicking here or below. We look forward to answering your questions!




**This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice.

5 Subcontractor Tracking Trends of the Future for Rails and Utilities

For operations managers, even the thought of managing their vast vendor workforce in the rails and utility industries can inspire a headache. The sheer scale of the number of contractors & subcontractors involved, as well as the unsecurable nature of the land they work on, can be daunting. Keeping safety and security up to par is just the beginning, how do you prove ROI when the executive team wants to see the latest KPIs? Luckily the future has some great solutions in store for contractor and subcontractor tracking, both in terms of general workforce trends but also specific to these spaces.

Contractor and Subcontractor Tracking Trends

Contractor and subcontractor tracking best practices are always top of mind for anyone who needs to manage these massive, ever-changing workforces. We put together a list of the trends of the future to help operations managers in utilities or rails know where the industries are going in terms of their respective vendor workforces. Take a look:

#1 Mobile App-Driven Digital Identification and Employee Badges

With smartphone adoption surpassing 80% in 2016 and the decrease in cost for exponentially more capable devices, no one can deny that the future is mobile-driven (or at least heavily facilitated). Vendor and subcontractor identification and access will be heavily affected in the near future. As the cost decreases, the overwhelming benefit of mobile identification and badges will change the space by streamlining and also increasing real-time control. Some of the major benefits include:

  • Real-time access-control with a centralized manager dashboard
    • This will eventually include workflow-driven access and notification
      • IE If the contractor has not completed training –> do not allow access
  • Hardware technologies like NFC and Bluetooth Low Energy in smartphones will replace key-fobs and will allow access to be granted without having to hand off a physical item more than once
    • Integrations with finance platforms and GPS tracking will allow for easier verification of work billed
  • Real-time access problems can be mitigated with a phone call and an update to the user’s profile for authorized access to a specific location
  • For high risk/sensitivity areas, double or multi-factor authentication can be used to increase security

#2 Online Training, Certification, and Onboarding

Along the same lines as using mobile apps for identification, we will also see much more adoption of digitally driven onboarding, training, and certification. In the rails and utility industries specifically, the deeper adoption of web-based training and certification for contractors/subcontractors will empower operations managers. Real-time tracking of training completion can dictate access of the (sub)contractor in combination with a mobile ID badge or a centralized access system.  Huge gains in efficiency will be seen as in-person training becomes less prevalent.

A bit further out, leveraging the mobile app for ID as well as a training platform will see some interesting value-adds. Mobile-driven training adoption is already on the rise. This will allow the latest training verification to be administered in the field before the person is allowed to enter. No more wasted days of in-person training or excuses when it comes to contractors or subcontractors not being up to speed.

#3 Location & Time Tracking Facilitated by GPS and/or Internet of Things (IoT)

GPS and IoT driven geofencing is a hot topic for both business and personal security/tracking. In the personal world, imagine if you could set a radius of 500 feet from your house for your child or pet. The child or pet has a smart device of some kind which is communicating with either GPS or an IoT beacon. When they pass the 500 ft radius you are alerted in a method you have defined, could be a phone call, a text, email, etc. This is geofencing in a nutshell. If you think we are being too Orwellian, well take a look at some of these child tracking and pet tracking technologies already on the market today.

The inverse situation becomes way more interesting for contractor and subcontractor tracking. Imagine when you can set a geofence to know when the individual entered and exited a geofence (think billing/invoicing) or entered but did not leave a geofence (think emergency safety protocols). The possibilities beyond these two use cases are endless. More readily available WiFi and cellular networks in remote service areas will be the limiting factor on these technologies, but there are big companies working on that.

#4 Wearables Coming Into Play for Communication, Tracking, and Safety

Smart watches, wearable body cameras, and Bluetooth headsets will be the big wearables in the vendor workforce space; Gartner shows just how rapid the adoption is. These devices will help monitor safety, location, and even potentially serve as an in-ear expert to walk individuals through tricky situations. As the cost of these technologies decreases, it will make post-incident reporting to OSHA, other regulating bodies, or contracting companies like Union Pacific a far less painful and costly process.

#5 Real Time Incident Reporting

This trend is really the culmination of all the previous trends. A core value of every one of the previously mentioned technology-driven advances is moving closer towards real-time incident awareness for operations managers and stakeholders. The real magic will happen as the system integrations become more seamless and cellular/wifi reach close to 95% coverage. At this point, predictive or even AI driven managerial notifications will change the face of field productivity.


We are here to be a resource for anyone working in the rails, utilities, or even venue management industries. If you have any questions about contractor and subcontractor tracking or screening, do not hesitate to reach out to here our team by clicking here. Thank you for reading!




**This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice.