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As you evolve along the e-commerce maturity curve—moving from reactive mode, where you mainly respond to customer requests, to proactive, where you initiate actions that optimize your e-commerce capabilities to increase value for you and your customers—it’s important to put measurements in place to track progress and document success. And an e-commerce scorecard is a great tool to help you do it.


How can an e-commerce scorecard benefit your business?

An e-commerce scorecard gives you a highly effective way to share key metrics that reveal the success of your e-commerce strategy. Why is this important?

  • Enhances buy-in and support at all levels of the organization. When you share measurements, you increase visibility and appreciation for the value of e-commerce at all management levels—including the executive level. For example, hard numbers demonstrating how much of your company’s revenue comes through e-commerce can make management take serious notice. Similarly, when you can show how much money you’re saving on every electronic order that comes in unassisted (like the cost of 10-20 minutes of sales agent time per order) and how much faster you’re getting paid (by five to 15 days or more), executives can better understand the extraordinary potential of e-commerce to lower sales costs and reduce days sales outstanding.
  • Hones your strategy to drive better results. Besides making it easier to socialize your initiatives internally, publishing a clear set of measurements helps you and your team focus on what you really want to accomplish. With the right scorecard metrics, for example, you can see where you need to improve to achieve your goals and meet—or exceed—service levels provided by your competitors. And based on this data, you can make rational decisions about where to invest further. Measurements can also be the key to securing new budget for e-commerce initiatives; the more executives see tangible proof of the value of e-commerce, the easier it is to get funding for e-commerce improvements to grow your team, enhance your e-commerce capabilities, and move further up the maturity curve.
  • Helps you benchmark and improve your market position. Measurements help you objectively assess how competitive your business is relative to other suppliers. For example, you can evaluate whether your services are at least on a par with best-in-class suppliers, and identify and promote specific areas where your performance and capabilities differentiate you from other sellers—which can be critical to finding and keeping customers and driving up sales.


Tomorrow: Getting started strategies

If you don't want to wait, go to our Supply Lines group to read the full article.


Yesterday, we posted a blog that had tips on working with Sourcing Managers.  Today, we'll discuss the last two tips.


Tip #7: Don’t take your customer for granted once you finalize the contract. Too many sellers view a signed contract as the end point of their efforts. Yet getting the business is only the first step; keeping it is something else again. Cement relationships by watching for new opportunities to help the customer cut costs, work more efficiently, and make their life easier. If you don’t, you may lose their trust and ultimately, their business. “If a competitor points out ways my current supplier could be saving me money or bringing value-add that they didn’t tell me about, I may bid out that business and award it to someone else, whereas if my current seller had brought it to me up front I’d stick with them,” Sherrill says. “For example, if you’re providing e-catalogs for other customers, or using EDI or pCards or things like that, you should proactively say to us, ‘Do you want to use EDI? Because we can do it; please set us up.’ That’s always better than us having to reach out to you.”


Tip #8: Do follow good financial practices. For example:

  • Don’t invoice without a purchase order. Though the best practice is not to render service till you’ve gotten a PO, internal users will often ask you to move forward while promising to get the PO in the system. While that may be okay to a certain point, be sure to get a PO before sending your bill. “Invoices that don’t reference a PO delay the payment process and cause other match exception problems,” Sherrill says. “Instead, they need to insist that the end user gets the PO to them so they can reference it in the invoice.”
  • Know the buyer’s back-end AP processes and automate when possible. Dealing with the myriad ways sellers want to submit invoices creates headaches for buying organizations, so make it your priority to learn and use their preferred method. If e-invoicing is an option, be sure to offer it, since it saves you and your customer effort and expense and greatly increases accuracy.
  • Manage your cash flow effectively. Do whatever it takes to ensure that your bills are paid in a timely fashion and your other cash flow needs are met. “We’ve had suppliers come into our office and wait for AP to print off their check so they could pay their subcontractors and prevent legal action being taken against them,” Sherrill says. “That doesn’t look good.” Resources like Ariba Receivables Financing and dynamic discounting can help you get the money you need when you need it.


This post is part of the current issue of Ariba Supply Lines. Ariba Supply Lines is a quarterly newsletter that provides valuable tips, best practices, and the latest thinking to take your online business relationships with your buying customers to the next level.

To subscribe to this permission only newsletter, please click here.


Yesterday, we covered the benefits of contract management. Today, we'll share best practices for implementing an automated solution.


1. Build a template that’s easy for users to adopt. By designing a wizard-style template to guide various users along a customized path, you can ensure they see only the appropriate tasks, documents, and approval workflows. And to make sure the flow you create will really work, you first need to “know what your process is and get it down on paper,” Martz says. Answer these questions:

  • Who’s asking for the contract?
  • Who will use the system, and what will their roles be?
  • What dollar thresholds
  • Who needs to see which documents, and when


You can also gather metrics on how long tasks actually take and use this identify bottlenecks if the process isn’t moving quickly enough, providing a good timeline for your contracts overall.


2. Promote contract visibility throughout your company. “Make sure all stakeholders, not just those in sales, really understand the implications of sales contracts,” Dwyer advises. Role-based access along with dashboard self-service search and reporting tools give users the visibility and resources to use CLM effectively.


3. Manage risk at the contract and engagement levels. It’s essential to track and understand what’s going on within all contracts—not just some of them, or only those in your own department. You can establish an alert system to help users monitor status and ensure you don’t miss deadlines, fail to fulfill terms and conditions, or overlook legal mandates. For example, automating physician contracts makes it much easier for the Cleveland Clinic to stay compliant not only with internal policies, but state and federal requirements as well, despite rapid growth and a sharp increase in the complexity of healthcare regulations.


4. Move from tactical to strategic contract management. “Don’t think of this as just another series of processes that unfortunately you have to do day in and day out,” Dwyer says. “Think about it as more strategic: ‘Hey, if we do this the right way, there’s going to be tremendous value across the organization.’” For example, you can take advantage of the centralized contracts repository and data analytics to inform your negotiations on upcoming contracts. “It’s always interesting to be able to dig into that information and say ‘We signed this contract with this organization four years ago, what were the negotiations like last time, or what was the pricing like last time?’ All that information is very important,” Dwyer says.


Learn more

For more information about how automated contract management can deliver value to your business, listen to the full session on the Ariba Slideshare site. To learn about the Ariba Contract Management solution for sales contracts, go to this web page and download this datasheet.

To read the article in full, click here. For latest insights and best practices for collaborative business commerce, go to our Supply Lines group.


As a seller, you’re often driven by your customer’s contract management process. But when your business reaches a certain level of complexity, not having your own automated contract management solution means you start losing visibility into the contract lifecycle—which can wreak havoc on your company through compliance problems, lost sales from too-slow negotiation cycles or missed renewals, and even legal challenges. In fact, 60% of corporate litigations are related to contract disputes,[i] so reducing that risk through contract automation makes a lot of sense.


One expert considers it crucial. Christopher Dwyer, research director for Ardent Partners, notes that up to 75% of all corporate revenues are directly linked to sales contracts—a huge impact that underscores the importance of managing them effectively. Yet many sellers overlook automated contract management, despite the big benefits it can provide. An automated contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution standardizes and streamlines the contracting process, delivering the transparency and collaborative capabilities you need to negotiate and execute sales contracts quickly and efficiently—a key business advantage that can significantly boost your bottom line.


Tomorrow: The benefits of automated contract management

If you don't want to wait, go to our Supply Lines group to read the full article.










[i] Source: Fulbright & Jaworski, 2010 Annual Litigation Survey


Yesterday, we talked about the difficulties of tying social media efforts against actual lead generation results. Today, we'll share the first few steps you can take to initiate social media strategies with measurable returns.


1. Make LinkedIn central to your social strategy. Though your industry may focus on other channels, Kelly finds that for B2B, LinkedIn members are most responsive; it’s a one-to-one channel initially. Though Kelly suspects this won’t last forever, right now, “When you send messages to people on LinkedIn, they respond at a ridiculously high rate,” she says. As you add new connections, LinkedIn’s robust Contacts manager provides an excellent place to categorize information and keep notes about your interactions: comments on posts or status updates, and links to articles you’ve shared.


2. Use tagged links and analytics to track inbound sources. Social is great for client retention and general networking, but how can you measure its impact on new sales leads? Every time you share a link to content on your website, make sure it’s a trackable link. Google’s URL Builder is a useful tool for tagging your links so web analytics can identify the sources of your traffic, enabling you to track different outreach campaigns, including social. Use one tag per channel so you can monitor each source separately. “If you’re not collecting this data, you can never get it back; it’s not retroactive,” Kelly says. “It’s amazing when you actually do it, because you’ll start to see everything that’s coming through your website.” When prospects turn into users you can analyze their site interactions, but first you want those visitors tagged as coming from social.


3. Pump up the volume: Use LinkedIn search to find new prospects. To grow your list of connections, define your targets and plug the parameters into LinkedIn’s powerful search tool. (Upgrading to LinkedIn Premium gives you eight extra search filters, along with access to full names and profiles and the ability to contact people you’re not connected to.) Save those you find in that search and tag them in Contacts as your prospect list, keeping them separate from clients. And spread your net wide. “You have to have high volume to get high results,” Kelly says. Your target will depend on your business size and goals, but try to start with at least 1,000 names, then use a multi-touch strategy to begin reaching out to them.

4. Use LinkedIn groups to build connections via direct outreach. Analyze your prospect list to discover the LinkedIn groups these people belong to, and then join those groups yourself. Monitor group conversations to learn about prospects’ concerns, make comments, offer assistance when appropriate, and post links to relevant information. Note, too, that groups offer a little-known feature especially valuable for free accounts: group members can contact each other by direct message without a prior connection. So introduce yourself to key prospects by mentioning the group you have in common, then share an idea or one of your trackable links.


LinkedIn Daily Checklist to Optimize Results

  • Plan to spend 30-60 minutes a day
  • Update your status with a relevant article
  • View status updates, changes, and announcements in Contacts first, then on the LinkedIn home page; comment/congratulate where appropriate
  • Send three prospects a personalized note asking if they would be interested in meeting
  • Send three clients a personalized note or comment on a status they've posted recently
  • Post an informative article to one or more LinkedIn groups with a thought-provoking, conversation-starter question (then follow the conversation for easy updates)
  • Comment in at least one of the top discussions in groups
  • Accept LinkedIn invitations
  • Help at least three people each week - recommend them, endorse their skills, refer a client, and/or make a valuable introduction


Tomorrow: More low-cost social media strategies

If you don't want to wait, go to our Supply Lines group to read the full article.

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