Webinar Q&A: Answering questions about Trace One's Supplier Collaboration Portal

Posted By: Trace One

Trace One_Welchs_supplier-relationship-management

In a recent webinar, Trace One’s customer Gordon Conkling, an information technology professional at Welch’s, shared his insights and expertise on Trace One’s Supplier Collaboration Portal (SCP).

After the webinar, Conkling and Trace One VP of Sales Michael Frankel fielded a few questions.* Time was limited, though, so Mike and Gordon couldn’t get to them all. Below, we’ve answered those remaining questions, as well as expanding on a couple that were answered in the webinar.

*Note that some questions have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: What’s the advantage of the SCP over other options?

A: This is a great question. There are many, but let’s focus on one recurring theme that is baked into the DNA of our Supplier Collaboration Portal:

You’re in control.

For example, some solutions parse documents, so suppliers simply send you everything they have and leave you to do the work of sorting through all of it to arrive at the answers you need.

The SCP’s foundation is structured questionnaires. You create the questions, mark the important ones as required fields, and send them off to your suppliers. Because everything is standardized to your specifications, the information you receive in return is also standardized.

That means that if you use a date field for a particular question, the supplier can only enter a date in that field, in the format you’ve chosen. That makes the information much easier to work with en masse. It also means you can structure searches in a very granular way to quickly drill down into exactly what you’re looking for.

Contrast that with suppliers simply sending you dozens of different documents and leaving you to do the work of sorting through all of it.

However, if for whatever reason you want to allow suppliers to simply submit documents, you can do that, too. Again, you’re in control.

Q: Wouldn’t it slow down development if the supplier first needs to fill out a questionnaire?

A: It doesn’t have to. Again, what suppliers typically do (emailing several documents) might take them five minutes, but it takes you longer to make sense of all of the data. With the SCP, it might take suppliers 30 minutes to fill out the required info, but by the time it gets back to you, there’s much less work to do.

So, it’s just a matter of who’s doing those few minutes of work.

Q: Can the SCP compare information in two different versions of the same questionnaire and highlight the differences?

A: This is a feature in Trace One Devex PLM, Trace One’s product lifecycle management (PLM) solution. If you send a questionnaire to a supplier and later decide you want to send a different version, you can do that. Once you receive both versions, you can easily compare them side-by-side.

In fact, you can also compare questionnaires from two different suppliers.

Q: Can I make certain fields required, so that the supplier has to answer them?

A: Yes. This is a standard feature in the SCP. The supplier will not be able to submit the finished questionnaire if required fields are left blank.

Q: Can I send an automatic notification to the supplier when their certificate is expired?

A: Yes, you can go about this in one of two ways. You can trigger notifications that notify suppliers one year after the submission date of their certificate, for example. Or you can go by the expiration date given by the supplier.

Q: Is the SCP capable of generating automatic reports?

A: Yes. Some reports can be generated automatically, sent via email, according to a schedule you set.

Q: How is the document review process completed once all suppliers have submitted their info?

A: When suppliers submit their questionnaires to you for review, you can review it question by question, or document by document, to indicate approval or disapproval one at a time. The supplier is then notified.

You can also conditionally approve an item if for whatever reason you’re unsatisfied with the supplier’s answer to a particular question, but you still want the process to move forward. Again, you’re in control.


Thanks to all who joined us for the webinar, and thanks again for the great questions. Check back next week for round two when we answer a few of the more in-depth questions.