A New Era for Master Data Management

Considering the importance of master data for achieving operational excellence in finance, purchasing, sales, commerce, manufacturing and supply chain, it is a surprise how inadequately and ineffectively current master data management (MDM) solutions support the master data lifecycle management. We know a thing or two about Master Data because master data management (MDM) workflows are some of the most popular workflows deployed on ZFlow.

We also developed significant appreciation for Master Data because of our experience in product development and supply chain processes with ZFlow’s sister products ZPLM and Cogence. As a matter of fact, what we have seen is that much of the master data (creation/changes) is usually an outcome of product development and supply chain processes.

 

 

 

 

 

How Excel and ZFlow solve the complex sales quote problem elegantly

While selling is an art, quoting can be maddeningly bureaucratic, riddled with errors, and the pace plodding. The Configure, Price and Quote (CPQ) software experience has been, like many things that come out of the world of enterprise software, mostly disappointing. Part of the problem is that there is no end to configurability of quotes and selling is pretty elastic. As a result sales people and analysts run into the hard constraints and rigidity that CPQ systems impose. And the cost of CPQ systems and related implementation can rival GDPs of small nations. Hence the popularity of Excel as the CPQ system of choice. However, just using Excel as the quoting system can lead to process, visibility, search and query related issues.

A few of our customers that have complex CPQ logic and processes have instead decided to use their existing CPQ engines built in Excel and ZFlow (which has tight integration with Excel) to get the best of both worlds. Below is one such scenario. The advantages of this approach are many, including

  • Ability to continue using CPQ logic developed (often over many years) in Excel
  • Sales analysts can still retain control over the CPQ logic as opposed to heavy customization of CPQ, which is usually hard to do and not accessible
  • Support comprehensive workflow that is based on business rules dependent of quote values (for example, a million dollar quote needs to CFO approval)
  • Full visibility of the quote process to all participants
  • A much more flexible and usable CPQ process at a fraction of the cost of CPQ systems

 

 

Simple workflows are usually more effective than procure-to-pay solutions

As the Digital Workflow for the Modern Supply Chain we often support procurement workflows. Here we sometimes encounter the poorer cousins of finance and ERP solutions in the shape of procure-to-pay (aka P2P) solutions. Don’t blame us for that unimaginative, and slightly icky, acronym.

What is odd about procure-to-pay solutions is that they tend to equate procurement to buying papers and pencils. We, however, equate procurement to the full lifecycle of supply chain relationship, which includes the dating that happens before companies become supply chain partners, collaboration that happens throughout and not just when a purchase order (PO) is issued, internal processes for purchase requisitions, on-boarding new suppliers, quality and continuous improvement processes, audits, sharing forecasts, etc.

Our experience indicates that most companies gain very little value, and zero competitive advantage, by adopting procure-to-pay solutions that focus on paper and pencil buying processes. In fact, because of ever changing supply chain relationships, procure-to-pay solutions are severely under used and often replicate what is already in place in ERP solutions. A simple Purchase Requisition workflow on top of existing ERP can often provide 50% or more value of the procure-to-pay solution for many customers. Here is a little secret. In most cases, payment processes are triggered in ERP solutions. So the “pay” part of procure-to-pay is seldom used.

ZFlow provides a continuum of workflows that support the full lifecycle of supply chain partnership, including

  • Supplier Research, Qualification and Selection
  • Request for Information/Proposal
  • Design/Engineering Collaboration
  • New Supplier On-boarding
  • Purchase Requisition
  • Purchase Order Collaboration
  • Forecast Sharing
  • Non-conformance Reporting
  • Failure Reporting and Corrective Action System
  • Supplier PPAP (Production Part Approval Process)
  • Supplier Audit
  • Kaizen Events

Yes, we have a bit more complete view of the supply chain relationship unlike the paper-and-pencil pushing procure-to-pay solutions. That is because Procurement is a lot more than just buying paper and pencils.