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Saving Time and Money at CF Industries

B2B Connex has saved approximately 2.5 – 3 hours per day, for each of the buyers in CF Industries’ purchasing department, which has translated into greater efficiencies and significant cost savings for the company.

CF Industries is one of North America’s leading manufacturers and distributors of fertilizer products. Once they made the decision to focus on ‘lean-manufacturing’, they began examining various areas of their company to see if it was possible to increase productivity and reduce waste.

When CF Industries approached B2B Connex to ask how we could help with their goal, we were only too happy to look into the matter.

We found that though CF Industries is a forward-looking company, they were still using a traditional approach to purchasing.

After a discussion and a look at the processes in their purchasing department, we found employees were involved a great number of time-consuming manual tasks each day. We knew these employee tasks could be eliminated through automation, resulting in significant time-savings for employees, increased productivity and reduced costs for CF Industries.

We provided the B2B Supply Chain Collaboration portal as an ideal solution to address the issues at CF Industries.

The portal was implemented at their head office and combines purchasing documents from seven different sites company-wide.

The positive results at CF Industries occurred because of the following changes in the purchasing process:
• Suppliers now enter RFQ Bid data online before it’s entered into Avantis electronically.
• Suppliers must ensure the accuracy of their bid data so time spent re-entering has been eliminated. In addition, re-keying errors by CF Industries employees is no longer possible.
• PO change requests are entered online and only uploaded after approval.
• Suppliers keep CF Industries updated with any changes to delivery dates online and can also negotiate price changes prior to PO acceptance.
• CF Industries can now use Evaluated Receipt Settlement – another way to save time and money.

Because B2B Connex offers extremely flexible solutions, we are always able to find ways of providing time-savings, reduced costs and a significant ROI for all of the companies we work with.

Read the complete CF Industries case study. If you are interested in streamlining your processes, significantly reducing employee hours spent on manual tasks and avoiding costly human error contact us or learn more about B2B Connex solutions.

By admin | Posted in News | Comments (0)

Save Time and Avoid Mistakes with Automated Expediting

What does your purchasing process look like? If your company has a traditional approach, it will involve a few steps.

First, you’ll send or receive a purchase order. Then you or your vendor has to confirm receipt manually. This actually seems like a fairly simple process!

The problems begin when you have to handle dozens, hundreds or even thousands of purchase orders. Well, most companies involved in purchasing do have to track a large volume of orders over the course of the business year, which can lead to major issues arising.

Besides the time-consuming nature of manual employee tracking, human error can lead to gaps and losses in the purchasing process. These errors cause confusion and frustration and impact both your reputation and your profit picture.

A solution that takes the guesswork out of the process is available: automated expediting.

Automated tracking and notification in the purchasing process removes the possibility for mistakes by employees during their normal day-to-day activities. And a good set-it-and-forget-it system does two things:

1) When something goes wrong, the people that need to know about the problem are informed automatically until the issue is rectified.

2) When the process goes as it should, confirmations are sent to stakeholders so the order can be officially completed.

Features to look for when choosing an automated system:

• Instant and automatic tracking of Purchase Orders
• When there’s no response to a Purchase Order, notifications are sent
• If notifications are missed or ignored, high level stakeholders are informed via email
• Automated reminders are sent prior to delivery date
• If the expected delivery is not made, flags are raised by the system until the delivery has been completed

B2B Connex has created a product designed to increase efficiency, diminish stress and reduce the possibility for error in the purchasing process. We’ve developed an automated system with built-in features that promote seamless communication from the time a purchase order is created through the final delivery of material to the end user.

If you are interested in streamlining your processes, significantly reducing employee hours spent on manual tasks and avoiding costly human error contact us or learn more about B2B Connex solutions.

By admin | Posted in News | Comments (0)

B2B Connex congratulates S&S Worldwide on their continuing process improvements

Supply Chain World has just published an article about S&S Worldwide’s process improvement project and how they have used B2B Connex to communicate more effectively with their suppliers.

  • S&S Worldwide has transformed its supply chain operation to achieve efficiencies that will be felt well into the future.
  • Any company that reaches its 108th anniversary has to be doing something right – many things, in fact. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. In fact, it’s safe to say that any company more than a century old has likely mastered the art of continuous improvement…
  • Read the full article by following the link: Supply Chain World – S&S Worldwide

For more information about how B2B Connex can help you improve collaboration across your partner network, contact us or learn more about B2B Connex solutions.

By admin | Posted in News | Comments (0)

B2B Connex Advances and Updates

When we developed our product, we wanted to give our partners a complete turnkey solution that helped them communicate right across partner networks with maximum efficiency and minimum fuss.

We’re proud of the product we’ve developed and our clients have let us know about some of the time savings and solid ROI they’ve experienced with B2B Connex. But we haven’t been resting on our laurels here in the lab and are constantly seeking feedback and developing new features to ensure our offering is the best on the market. Recently, we’ve updated our product to include some great new modules that make our technology even more valuable to our clients.

Here are just a few of the ways we’ve added to our feature set:

Expediting Escalation – We focus on automation to improve efficiencies at client companies. We’ve added a handy feature that notifies the process supervisor when a vendor doesn’t complete an expected action. So, for example, if you don’t receive a delivery when expected, B2B Connex software will send emails until the action has been completed. Set-it and forget it!

B2B Direct – This new module delivers and receives documents in either EDI or XML formats to and from your vendors through a secure FTP. This feature eliminates the need for manual processing and is perfect for high-volume vendors.

Multi Language Option – We understand that you or your partners don’t necessarily operate using the English language. To make sure B2B Connex can operate effectively throughout the world, you can now select a preferred language from a drop-down menu and save it in the user preferences for future use.

Customer Order Portal – We’ve integrated online shopping for your customers! You can provide customer specific pricing and catalogues and your clients can place an order and pay for it online. Notifications of payment, shipment and invoices are also sent automatically.

Attach Document – Now, B2B Connex allows buyers and vendors to attach external files to any document in the system. For example, a packing slip can be attached to a purchase order and to make sure everyone is kept in the loop, an email notification is sent out to all relevant parties to let them know of the update.

Over the years, B2B Connex has kept added new features to our offering to make sure we are meeting the needs of our partners and we’ll keep creating updates based on market insights and feedback from our clients.

If you would like to suggest an update or would like to learn more about our new product features, contact us today!

For more information about how B2B Connex can help you improve collaboration across your partner network, contact us or learn more about B2B Connex solutions.

By admin | Posted in News | Comments (0)

A New System to Meet New Realities

Julie Fraser, President of Cambashi Inc., recently wrote an intriguing article in Managing Automation magazine. The article focuses on how a great number of companies rely on outdated business systems that don’t effectively support their current business models.

Her opinion, and it’s one that B2B Connex shares, is that over the last 20 years there have been a number of significant changes in the way we communicate with our network of partners and what they expect from us. The problem is that we haven’t changed our approach to deal with these new realities!

The root of the problem is that systems that made sense 10, 15 or 20 years ago relied on a very limited definition of the supply chain: plan-source-make-deliver and possibly return.

Fraser explains that because partner expectations have changed, our new definition of the supply chain must include: material and supplier substitutions, product design and innovation, aftermarket services, pricing etc.

Does your system take these changes into account?

If not, her solution is straightforward and sensible – we have to improve our approach to collaboration between ALL of the units across our network.

She suggests this can be accomplished by changing our communication processes so they foster true synchronization across our partner network.

By promoting real-time collaboration, our supply chain becomes streamlined, efficient and allows for immediate input and action by anyone in our partner network.

Fraser interviewed Geoffrey Moore, a tech expert for the article. He uses social media as an ideal model for the modern supply chain system and talks about four areas we have to address to create true collaboration with our partners.

1) Mobile – So input can be offered at any time throughout the process.
2) Social – The ability to share facts and insights is crucial. B2B Connex is the first company mentioned as a solutions provider in this area.
3) Ad-Hoc – Because in supply chain management, unexpected events occur and have to be dealt with quickly and effectively.
4) Real-Time – This is the fundamental change that flows from all of the above elements.

If B2B Connex offered one addition to the article’s points, it would be that automation is a vital part of improved collaboration. Many of the time-consuming manual tasks that were necessary in the past can now be taken care of without employee intervention. Automating aspects of our supply chain management leads to increased efficiencies, a significant reduction in human error and allows employees to spend more of their time on core business activities.

If you like, you can read Julie Fraser’s article in full.

For more information about how B2B Connex can help you improve collaboration across your partner network, contact us or learn more about B2B Connex solutions.

By admin | Posted in News | Comments (0)

2011 PMAC National Conference in Whistler

B2B Connex will be sponsoring and exhibiting at the upcoming 2011 PMAC National Conference in Whistler from June 8th-June 10th.

I will be providing onsite, live demonstrations of the B2B Connex supplier portal solution as well as answering questions about how organizations can streamline their purchasing communication processes. B2B Connex has a number of success stories available from our client base on how the supplier portal solution enabled them to save big on non value add manual tasks such as faxing PO’s.

We will have an exciting contest for PMAC members to take advantage of, all you have to do is stop by and say hello at booth 19.

Look forward to seeing you in Whistler!

About B2B Connex Supplier Portal
B2B Connex Supplier Portal reduces costs and lead times by letting buyers manage by exception, and by improving supplier performance by capturing information not available in ERP systems. B2B Supplier Portal is applicable for both direct material and MRO orders, across multiple plants or ERP systems.

About PMAC
The Purchasing Management Association of Canada (PMAC) is the leading, and the largest, association in Canada for supply chain management professionals. The national voice for advancing and promoting the profession of supply chain management, PMAC sets the standard of excellence for professional skills, knowledge and integrity.

About PMAC 2011 Show
Canada’s premier event for supply chain management professionals is also the largest. Each year, 500 top procurement and SCM decision-makers come to learn the latest developments and best practices in the profession.

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5 Steps to a successful implementation of a supplier portal

When planning a new implementation of the B2B Connex supplier portal, there are 5 steps that must be taken.

1. Integration

The integration is usually done by exchanging XML messages often in the form of flat files transferred between systems. The XML formats are not set, but can be any format depending mainly on the ERP system that is being integrated with. If there is not already an XML based integration available for the target ERP system, one will have to be created for each of the types of business documents desired (PO, PO Confirmation, Invoice, etc.). The creation of new integrations can be done through services or by in-house staff. If in-house staff are doing the integration development services staff can provide the initial understanding of the techniques required to successfully build this integration.

2. Installation

The installation can usually be done in one or two days depending on the complexity of the requirements. For instance, a single server installation that is installed behind a pre-existing firewall might take less than one day, but a more complex installation including multiple servers or tiers in a clustered configuration for load balancing could take 2-3 days to install and verify.

3. Configuration

There are several configuration options that need to be set during the implementation of a new installation. This increases with the number of business documents that are being deployed (PO, Invoice, RFQ, etc.) as well as the optional use of additional modules such as the Vendor Information Centre or the B2B Direct module that provides EDI functionality. This configuration can take from one day to a week or occasionally longer depending on this complexity.

4. Training

The training of business people on the use of the supplier portal is not a lengthy process. This can be done in 2 to 3 days depending on the scale of the implementation as well as the number of people taking part. Business training is given to buyers, managers, A/P personnel etc. to give them an understanding of the work flow in the product and administrative training is given to the staff assigned to support the portal. Supplier training can also be arranged or a “train-the-trainer” approach can be used where your staff instructs personnel about how to train the suppliers that will be asked to access the system.

5. Supplier Rollout

There is a recommended procedure used to bring new suppliers onto the system. This includes ensuring that the suppliers can access the software, that the appropriate information about the supplier is known (email addresses, etc.), and that the suppliers receive the appropriate training on the use of the system. The total time required to bring a single supplier on-board is usually measured in hours rather than days, so this process is minimal provided that you have a process in place.

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ProcureCon 2011 Google Tablet Draw

Thank you to all of the people who visited our booth at the 2011 ProcureCon Show in Atlanta. We are happy to announce the winner of our draw for a COBY Google Internet tablet. The winner is Erica Hill, from Brown Shoe.

ProcureCon 2011 Google Tablet Draw

David Kuehner selecting the winner.

For a free trial or a demo of our vendor portal solution, please contact us

By admin | Posted in News | Comments (0)

ProcureCon for Corporate Sourcing Show

I wanted to let everyone know that we will be attending the ProcureCon show in Atlanta from the 1st to the 3rd of February. We will have a booth at the show and we welcome everyone to join us if you can. We will have demo machines available and will also be giving away an Android based internet tablet that can be used for music, movies, email, web browsing, reading e-books, and more.

I hope we’ll see you there.

By admin | Posted in News | Comments (0)

Vendor Invoice Processing

We are often asked about vendor invoice processing using a vendor portal. There are many different ways of automating the exchange of vendor invoices which leads to a certain amount of confusion as to how you should solve this business problem. The reason that invoices are more complex to manage than, for instance, purchase orders is that purchase orders are created in a system that you control while invoices are usually created in your vendors systems.

Since the invoices often originate in your vendors system, the complexity is in providing a means for them to transmit those invoices to you as well as to convert the invoice data from their format into your format at one end or the other of the transmission.

There are several ways that your vendors can transmit the invoices to you. Some common methods are: Direct FTP file exchange or the use of web services and the older Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). Files can also be uploaded manually using the functionality of our vendor portal, presuming that your vendors can provide the invoice data in the correct format.

Another way that your vendors can provide you with an invoice is to take a purchase order in the portal and “flip” it into an invoice. This “flipping” is a function in the portal that creates an invoice that mirrors the PO line for line and provides entry fields for the vendor to make any modifications based on specific quantities shipped etc.

There is one other way to deal with invoices presuming that you have a purchasing system that can support evaluated receipt settlement (ERS). ERS modules generate pre-matched vendor invoices within your purchasing system based on the purchase order prices as well as the amount of goods received. These invoices can then be extracted from your system and presented to your vendors for confirmation in the same way that you would send them a purchase order.

You will usually need to provide several of these methods to your vendors to allow for their different technical capabilities.

By admin | Posted in Purchasing | Comments (0)