As your supplier diversity program grows, you will see the need for tools that streamline tasks and increase accuracy. Data enrichment does both.
(If your company is just now launching a supplier diversity program and you’re already considering implementing this helpful tool, then congratulations on learning from others and starting out with an advantage!)
Data enrichment ensures that you're working with accurate, up-to-date supplier data by running it through a trusted master database. The process identifies duplicate entries and provides company name standardization, address standardization to U.S. Postal Service format, and the completion of missing data such as contact information, telephone numbers, tax IDs, revenue, number of employees, and so on.
Data enrichment also tracks the certification status of diverse suppliers as well as mergers and acquisitions, which can impact diversity certification.
If you’ve ever had to perform this verification and standardization process manually, you know how tedious and mind-numbing it can be. Automated data enrichment frees you from spending countless hours on mundane tasks so you can use your expertise to develop relationships with suppliers, implement new initiatives, and analyze the data to grow your supplier diversity program.
What to Look for in a Data Enrichment Service
When you decide to free your supplier diversity team from mundane data entry and verification, it’s time to shop for a data enrichment service that provides the most value add. Here are five characteristics to look for when comparing data enrichment services.
Up-to-date, accurate data seems like an obvious requirement for a data enrichment service, and yet we cannot simply assume that records are being validated against frequently updated, reliable databases.
Accurate, current information is the most important service offered by data enrichment. All the extra bells and whistles in the world cannot mitigate the uselessness of outdated, inaccurate data. After all, how helpful is it to run a diverse supplier certification query if you’re not accessing the databases of third-party certification entities? Suppose you queried certified diverse suppliers of widgets in anticipation of an upcoming request for proposal (RFP), identified potential widget suppliers, and went through the process of contacting and vetting them, only to discover that half of those suppliers are no longer certified.
With clean, reliable supplier data, you save time and resources that are lost when inaccurate information slows you down. In addition, you can generate reports with confidence that the information presented is accurate and meaningful.
The most reliable data enrichment services are powered by a master database compiling data from multiple databases maintained by trusted agencies that update information regularly.
Here is where you’ll need to read the fine print and ask direct questions:
- Does the company subscribe to multiple databases from trusted agencies?
- How many does it subscribe to?
- Will they provide you with a list naming at least some of those databases?
At the very least, this list of databases should include the National Minority Supplier Development Council, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, NGLCC: the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Disability:IN, and the National Veteran Business Development Council. Hundreds of other relevant databases exist as well, from regional affiliates of these national agencies to their global counterparts to entities with a more specialized focus such as the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Black Chambers.
Pro tip: When comparing supplier diversity data enrichment services, look for statements and ask questions about the types and number of databases the service is accessing, and how often those information sources are updated.
When your diverse supplier data is enriched, you should be able to identify your top diverse suppliers by record count or spend distribution based on country, continent, and categories. Classifying and understanding parent-child family linkages allows you to leverage spend for more favorable contract terms, resulting in cost savings. Data enrichment also provides greater visibility into supplier dependencies so you can identify and mitigate risk before it causes a disruption in your supply chain.
All this enriched data about your diverse suppliers and your diverse spend can be integrated into your company’s advanced analytics, improving your ability to track supplier diversity and compliance through a more insightful analysis of sourcing activities across the enterprise.
But first, you have to be able to turn that data into meaningful, timely reports.
In addition to using a constantly updated master database, the supplier diversity data enrichment service you choose should offer robust tools that generate accurate, customized reports quickly. You want turnaround measured in days, not weeks, to avoid receiving reports that are already outdated.
Pro tip: Ask about the average time it takes to generate a spend report when your diverse supplier data has been enriched. If the answer is stated in terms of weeks rather than days, you may want to continue your search for a data enrichment service.
Ideally, your data enrichment service will be an active, contributing member of your supplier diversity team. Like any good teammate, it should proactively notify you about any issues or important changes that fall under its purview (e.g., your supplier data).
For example, it could alert you about supplier certifications that will expire in the upcoming month and alert you when suppliers do not renew their certifications. Staying alert to changes in certification is an opportunity for you to reach out to suppliers and remind them about the importance of keeping certifications current. It also lets you know in advance if you need to make changes to your supply chain to meet internal spend goals.
Pro tip: Ask if the data enrichment software is capable of tracking important changes in supplier status and sending you alerts automatically.
When you entrust a company with your supplier data, you want to know that the data is secure and that the tools available are designed for supplier diversity professionals. Our needs are different than those of general procurement or supplier management teams; the data enrichment services firm you choose should have a strong track record with supplier diversity-specific strategies.
Think about how often you have to explain the terms “supplier diversity,” “diverse spend,” or “economic impact.” Now imagine a company that’s unfamiliar with even the basics of supplier diversity attempting to provide data enrichment services. They may get a few things right, but overall, the expense may not be worth what you receive. Make expertise and thought leadership in the area of supplier diversity part of your criteria when shopping for a data enrichment service.
Pro tip: When researching data enrichment services, look at other products offered by the company. Are they related to supplier diversity? Does the company’s website include a blog featuring multiple articles, whitepapers, and so on, demonstrating expertise in the field of supplier diversity?
You want to prioritize accuracy and expertise with ease of reporting and bonuses such as proactive alerts to important supplier status changes. CVM Solutions, a supplier.io company, meets all of these criteria.
Our supplier diversity data enrichment solution is built on the largest database in the industry. With more than 1.6 million certifications from more than 300 trusted agencies, you can rest assured that you’re receiving the latest, most regularly updated, and most accurate information on your suppliers.
Alerts about diverse supplier certifications are built into our data enrichment solution, so you always know their status and its impact on your diverse spend.
Reports are generated in days, not weeks, so you know the data is up to date. On average, our customers reduce their reporting time by more than 73 percent by using our data enrichment solutions.
Confidence in your data lets you focus on supplier development and strengthening the supply chain. Let CVM Solutions help you optimize your supplier diversity program through data enrichment.