My journey of growing a leading procurement platform

Stephany Lapierre is the CEO of Tealbook.

I have a straightforward vision for simplifying and accelerating business partnerships. Every team in your organization deserves to partner with companies that deliver on their promises and drive the best possible outcomes for your business.

As we entered 2019, I reflected on Tealbook’s customers and the immense growth they have driven for us. We work hard every day to deliver on that vision in collaboration with our customers and their suppliers.

Great business outcomes come from great business relationships

Successful business partnerships focus on mutually beneficial outcomes. Suppliers are critical to the viability and competitiveness of an organization. In some cases, they can change the course of entire industries. In other cases, they provide what is necessary for a company to function effectively.

Unfortunately, the increased complexity of requirements on suppliers has gotten in the way of mutually beneficial outcomes.

Procurement teams have accepted the responsibility and time commitment required to manage, maintain and influence external business partnerships. We have subjected ourselves to painful and expensive technology implementations because they promised to give us more visibility and control. We practice cumbersome exercises to cleanse and maintain essential information. We drag our internal stakeholders through lengthy processes in an effort to improve value, optimize spend and mitigate risks.

The ripple effect is that our partners have adapted to our continuously increasing requirements and complex procurement processes. They create specific roles and job titles to keep up with the never-ending demand for records and information. The cost of the sales process required to succeed in the typical sourcing process has forced suppliers to inflate their pricing. Rather than investing profits in the caliber of their offerings, they are spending and making noise to be found, considered, hopefully selected and then onboarded – all so they can finally deliver on their promise as a trusted, valued partner.

Rethinking procurement technology

While other functions have already benefited from emerging technologies, procurement is now catching on – and quickly. We are in the middle of a digital revolution that will change the role and course of procurement for the better.

Digital transformation is impacting procurement teams across all industries. It is exciting for some and daunting for others. Everything we have learned needs to be re-thought; the old playbook doesn’t apply anymore. Our training, processes and frameworks are being disrupted. We are being challenged to think ahead and prepare for inevitable changes. Our transformation is not just local or national – it is global, complex and highly sophisticated. Some will win. Others will lose. But all will have to adapt.

Everything we have learned needs to be re-thought; the old playbook doesn’t apply anymore.

What I can tell you with 100% certainty is that you need to challenge yourself and your team on every point. Hire differently. Change your processes. Integrate with and leverage new technologies. Strive for transparency, speed and scale. Turn data into insights that drive your team’s decisions. Work smarter, faster and better. You WILL be agile! You WILL add tremendous value to your internal stakeholders and organization.

My journey to Tealbook

Several years ago, I started a strategic sourcing and procurement consulting firm. I was struck by the lack of access to quality, actionable and centralized supplier data. I was helping procurement teams be more efficient, but the more tools we introduced, the more data silos and inefficiencies were created. I could see the limitations of manual data collection. I witnessed leadership frustration with the lack of transparency, record duplication and wasted dollars and opportunities.

I was helping procurement teams be more efficient, but the more tools we introduced, the more data silos and inefficiencies were created.

Let’s be honest, procurement doesn’t always get the recognition from stakeholders that we deserve. Conflicted goals, lengthy processes and lack of information can easily diminish the benefits gained from procurement’s support.

I also heard directly from thousands of suppliers about the pain points of the sourcing process. Inefficient procurement practices were impacting their bottom line and eroding their value proposition – all in the name of theoretically creating more value.

Four years ago, I finally took the leap to create the solution; a machine learning platform that unifies and improves the quality of supplier data. Combining and aggregating data sources can only be useful if it is done with intelligence and in the context of the organization’s priorities.

As procurement teams challenged themselves and their methods, Tealbook gained credibility and customers. In 2018, our revenue grew by over 500%, and we increased our customers by 100% in Q4 alone. Today we are in the process of training thousands of users who will have supplier information at their fingertips and quickly become more agile. We are also inviting hundreds of thousands of their suppliers to gain control of their messaging, update and maintain their information and improve their sales and marketing ROI from one increasingly connected profile.

How did we do it?

By listening to our customers and leveraging technology as well as our years of experience in the industry to solve three very simple, yet significant procurement challenges:

1) Procurement teams have very little visibility into their existing supplier data and maintaining it is costly and nearly impossible. We created a module in tealbook called ENRICH that brings the vendor master to life and puts supplier information at teams’ fingertips (like an internal LinkedIn for your suppliers). We used machine-learning to unify supplier data and give procurement automated supplier data enrichment and consolidation. It enables global collaboration and knowledge-sharing across the organization. It gives procurement scale and agility with greater visibility to existing/preferred suppliers as well as allows for true stakeholder enablement.

2) Strategic sourcing teams is spending way too much time searching for the best supplier options delaying outcomes for their stakeholders. We created the EXPLORE module to put machine-learning powered supplier discovery in the hands of our clients to allow them to find trusted supplier options without wasting time. Our clients improve cycle times by 90% while always ensuring that they are considering the most competitive, value-added supplier options.

3) Diversity leads are trying to make miracles happen with little resources, disparate sources of information and manual reporting. We created a module dedicated to modernizing the data that drives traditional supplier diversity programs and we called it IMPACT. It gives our clients the ability to identify anywhere between 20% to 150% more certified diverse suppliers already in their supply base that they didn’t know they had. Machine-learning also helps them identify likely-diverse suppliers that would likely match their criteria and then collaborate with them to get them certified. We are automating diversity self-reporting and giving our customers a community of existing and new similar certified suppliers accessible at employees’ fingertips.

In 2019… We are relentlessly improving the quality of our supplier records so we can continue to deliver on the promise of simplifying, accelerating and improving partnerships between organizations and their suppliers.

We are hiring to double our team (dev, data scientists, sales, marketing, customer success, implementation)! We are establishing valuable partnerships that will increase value to mutual customers. We are getting ready to launch our fourth module, Tealbook ONBOARD, which will automate and simplify the supplier onboarding process for buyers and suppliers. We look forward to many more companies’ eagerness to join us as we change the procurement playbook and bring agility to the procurement digital transformation.

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