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Oracle Tackles Supplier Management Woes

New master data management and lifecycle management applications address supplier data quality, tracking and governance challenges.

Dealing with suppliers can be a real pain. It's not their fault (necessarily); it's just that there are so many suppliers presenting so many data management challenges and labor-intensive tracking tasks.

Oracle has stepped into the breach, the vendor announced yesterday, by delivering new Oracle Supplier Hub and Oracle Supplier Lifecycle Management applications that work in tandem to tame supplier woes.

"The hub gives you a golden record of your suppliers, and lifecycle management gives you systematic processes to model and track suppliers on top of the hub," said Nagaraj Srinivasan, Oracle's vice president of supply chain management, in an interview with InformationWeek.

Oracle Supplier Hub is a master data management (MDM) application designed to create and maintain a single source of trustworthy supplier information. The hub consolidates supplier information from disparate systems in the enterprise, using attributes, models and configurable rules to ensure consistent records. Embedded data-quality tools with fuzzy matching, deduplication and merge features can be used to integrate and enhance supplier information with third-part data from sources such as D&B. Event architecture, real-time messaging and syndication and federation services are employed to disseminate trustworthy supplier data.

"The idea is to get a complete view of each supplier, including quantitative metrics like quality, on-time delivery and invoice-rejection rates, as well as qualitative data about how buyers, internal employees and end customers perceive suppliers in terms of quality and reliability," Srinivasan said.

Oracle Supplier Hub can deployed as a stand-alone MDM source, federating data out to multiple spoke systems, such as ERP systems or legacy applications. A second option is deploying the hub as a module on top of Oracle E-Business Suite. A third option is to combine Oracle Supplier Hub and Oracle Supplier Lifecycle Management as a stand-alone application that can integrate with multiple ERP and legacy systems that take part in supply-chain processes.

"We give you the deployment option of treating it as a pure MDM solution or, if the focus is on the pain point of doing business with suppliers, then the lifecycle management features can take precedence," Srinivasan said.

Oracle Supplier Lifecycle Management supports onboarding, performance evaluation, and governance of suppliers based on risk. The application streamlines registration and review of suppliers with Web-self-service features and configurable approval processes. Templated questionnaires support ongoing performance evaluation. Profiles are used to segment suppliers by risk, and compliance and governance features track adherence to code-of-conduct policies as well as laws, regulations and standards applicable in various countries and industries.

"Lifecycle management is about lowering the cost of dealing with suppliers by replacing manual, high-touch processes with something more automated and efficient," Srinivasan said.

IBM, SAP, Informatica and others address MDM, but supplier lifecycle and relationship management is typically added as a separate, unintegrated application.

Oracle Supplier Hub and Oracle Supplier Lifecycle Management are already shipping. Licensing is based on the quantity of records managed. The Supplier Hub is $33 per supplier record with a minimum of 10,000 records. The Supplier Lifecycle Management application is $25 per supplier records with a minimum of 10,000 records.

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