Supplier portal as a tool for strategic planning

New supplier portal at GAH Alberts

José Garcia from GAH Alberts and Robert Reineke from SCT GmbH

GAH Alberts has relaunched its supplier portal[i]. The aim was to create a stronger link with strategic scheduling management. Today, GAH Alberts can automatically inform suppliers of its own requirements and convert order proposals from the scheduling management system into orders that are coordinated with the suppliers via the portal.

José Garcia, Head of Scheduling at GAH-Alberts Gust. Alberts GmbH & Co KG

The main task of supplier portals is to minimize the administrative effort involved in ordering through digitalization and automated data exchange. Orders no longer have to be printed out and faxed and order confirmations no longer have to be re-entered into the ERP system. Today, it is much more common to transmit orders from the ERP systems to a portal and coordinate them with the suppliers from there using digital documents. The result is a standardized process that is transparent and program-supported and therefore automatically complies with all legal requirements – such as the automatic archiving of the generated receipts. In addition, no further manual input is usually required, so that typing errors and the associated misunderstandings and incorrect deliveries can be avoided. Today, however, modern supplier portals have to meet significantly more requirements than simply being the interface for digital order processing.

More than just a tool for electronic data exchange

In addition to comprehensive support for the management of order processes by e-mail in the event of orders not being processed or order confirmations differing in terms of quantity, price or delivery date, GAH Alberts also wanted to be able to inform its approximately 60 A-suppliers, with whom the company processes around 80% of its order volume, about its own future requirements. The advantage: the supplier can also adapt its planning and plan its own orders and production orders in advance – completely transparently for both partners, but without binding orders.

BPMN process for order confirmations, source: Reineke, R.: Prozessorientiertes Lieferantenportal für B2B (Bachelor thesis - RWTH Aachen, Chair of Computer Science 5; 2016, p. 31)
BPMN process for order confirmations, source: Reineke, R.: Prozessorientiertes Lieferantenportal für B2B (Bachelor thesis – RWTH Aachen, Chair of Computer Science 5; 2016, p. 31)

Forecasts for strategic planning can be integrated

However, such a function is only possible if the portal also has a functioning interface to the corresponding demand planning tools, but without revealing too many internal company details. Today, GAH can activate this function, which should not be available for all suppliers, extremely flexibly by ticking a box in the planning tool, whereby only approved sales forecasts are visible, so that strategic decisions and negotiating leeway in purchasing remain intact.

Focus on increasing delivery readiness

The greater integration of suppliers and the partnership-based exchange of information should ultimately lead to an increase in everyone’s readiness to deliver. Since the introduction of the new portal, suppliers have shown great interest in accessing the requirement plans in the supplier portal, because it offers them help with pre-planning for their own production and therefore also more security. From GAH Alberts’ point of view, this is also an advantage, as it makes communication with suppliers more reliable, which also increases the company’s own readiness to deliver.

Numerous additional functions integrated

In order to integrate elements of strategic scheduling management into the supplier portal, GAH Alberts now has an integrated data exchange between the scheduling management system, the supplier portal and the ERP system. GAH Alberts likes the fact that you can configure the portal to suit your own requirements. This means that new vendors can be created themselves, which in the previous system was associated with the costly purchase of a new license. Another advantage of the new scheduling management system is the additional integrated inquiry and bidding function for suppliers. This also did not exist in the old system. It can be used to invite tenders for specific product groups, pre-qualify tenders and award them to the best bidder. In addition, there is now also a confirmation message on shipment, which is of crucial importance for shipping notifications for supply chains from the Far East.

Increased acceptance of the portal

In the meantime, not only all A-suppliers but a total of around 80 suppliers have access to the new portal and it has been much more openly accepted than the previous one. This is not only due to the new functions, but also to the framework conditions that allow GAH Alberts to bear the portal costs entirely itself.

The integration of strategic elements of scheduling management in supplier portals makes it possible to increase the supply readiness of all companies involved GAH Alberts suppliers also receive forecasts of future requirements via the new supplier portal from SCT GmbH
The integration of strategic elements of scheduling management in supplier portals makes it possible to increase the delivery readiness of all companies involved. GAH Alberts suppliers also receive forecasts of future requirements via the new SCT GmbH supplier portal

Integrated control loops – higher efficiency

The new supplier portal not only offers greater efficiency for purchasing. The new supplier portal also offers many advantages for strategic scheduling. The requirements plans and order proposals generated from the MRP management system are now automatically forwarded to the portal as quotations and orders via the ERP system, so that the workflow from strategic planning to order triggering via the ERP system and eDoc in the supplier portal for exchanging orders is automated. The entire chain of effects from forecasting and planning to strategic scheduling and operational purchasing therefore no longer has any platform barriers in operational terms and is therefore virtually seamless and therefore much faster, which increases efficiency and ultimately leads to better results. Not least because of the seamless integration of the supplier portal with the ERP system and the orchestrating scheduling management system, the delivery performance of both GAH Alberts and its suppliers is now 95%. SAP is used as the ERP system as well as the supplier portal and DISKOVER as a strategic scheduling tool – both of the latter are provided by SCT GmbH from Herzogenrath near Aachen.

High delivery readiness with low stocks

GAH Alberts also uses the disposition management system for inventory management in its own company. The strategic corporate objective here is to achieve high delivery readiness with the lowest possible inventories in order to free up capital and keep warehouse costs as low as possible. The scheduling management system used impresses with its sophisticated simulation processes, which make it possible to provide the best inventory forecasts for a wide range of product groups and life cycles, as well as with its sophisticated analytics and reporting functions, all of which are integrated into the tool so that no special solutions, for example in Excel, have to be maintained manually.

“Our new supplier portal, which was developed by SCT GmbH and tailored to our needs, is the outwardly visible display board of our commitment to transparent and trusting cooperation with our suppliers, which should contribute to the excellent delivery readiness of all companies involved,” says José Garcia, Head of Planning at GAH-Alberts Gust. Alberts GmbH & Co KG

Another advantage of this solution is that you can dive directly into the order proposals from the KPI level (Key Performance Indicators) in the scheduling management system now in use. This would be much more time-consuming in the ERP system with the necessary supplementary reporting and analysis tools.

About GAH Alberts

The Gust. Alberts GmbH & Co. KG operates internationally with around 430 employees at five locations and serves over 8,000 trade partners from commerce, trade and industry throughout Europe. One focus is on the do-it-yourself sector for DIY stores and specialist retailers. The range of innovative products for the home and garden now includes well over 7,000 items – from fencing and protection, building and construction to repairs and handicrafts.

Image rights: GAH

Picture of Dr. Bernd Reineke

Dr. Bernd Reineke

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