What are fast moving consumer goods? From toothpaste to Tylenol, fast moving consumer goods are products that we buy frequently from our local grocery store, corner market or pharmacy. We take the availability, quality, and safety of these products for granted as a consumer, but behind the scenes is a complex global supply chain.
Brand owners such as Johnson and Johnson or Procter and Gamble are responsible for managing those supply chains. They must ensure that only safe and high-quality ingredients are used to make their products. As part of the process, suppliers undergo audits to show the brand owners that they are compliant with industry standards. IntelliHubSC sought to reduce cost and increase standardization for both the suppliers and brand owners.
The CEO of IntelliHubSC described the process as follows: “Supply compliance is not only of utmost importance, but also is costly. Heretofore, most brand owners had their own, sometimes proprietary, process to qualify suppliers. This involved either a company employee or a hired third party to "audit" the supplier's manufacturing process, usually a 2-3 day process. For branded marketers, the demand was high considering the thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of suppliers in their global supply chain. It was also arduous for suppliers as they had to host multiple audits, which were largely the same, from each of their customers. Suppliers suffered from audit fatigue, and the industry process, overall, was expensive for all stakeholders.”
IntelliHubSC chose to partner with Kinetech to build an application to solve these challenges.
The next challenge to overcome was how to manage all of the different stakeholder companies involved. Each stakeholder in the process has its own organizational structure, way of operating, security requirements, etc. Additionally, because this is a global network, there is no singular language for all stakeholders. Kinetech also understood that it would be unrealistic and costly to walk every user through onboarding and how to use the application, so the user experience had to be simple and intuitive enough for most users to adopt with little to no training.
What if IntelliHubSC could provide a single collaborative application where brands could find suppliers, and suppliers could find auditors? An application where auditors may also bid on requests from suppliers, and where the compliance agencies may manage auditors? As the CEO of IntelliHubSC, explained “IntelliHubSC was created to solve the industry's problem in concert with their process partner, iCompliance, who had established a harmonized menu of industry standards to which suppliers may be audited. The supplier compliance process is complex in terms of: knowing which standard is appropriate for a supplier, document the qualifications and geographic reach of audit providers who may be qualified to any given standard, match the suppliers to the qualified audit service providers, manage a bid/quote process, and provide the branded marketing companies with visibility to the entire process including suppliers' compliance within their supply chain in a many-to-many execution."
No one had ever attempted to digitize this process in the past in part due to complexity. In addition, to make it commercially viable, it had to be low touch and high security since compliance information is highly sensitive and also critical. Finally, it needed to be a global platform which was simple to use and intuitive, providing the unique functionality that each type of stakeholder required.”
- CEO of IntelliHubSC
In the past, others have tried to build a solution that brought all of the key stakeholders together, but in each case the effort proved too complicated and failed. Undeterred by the failures of others, IntelliHubSC was determined to press forward and identify a partner that could deliver where others had failed. IntelliHubSC had selected Mendix as the ideal technology to build their solution on, and Kinetech the right partner to lead the development effort.
Kinetech worked closely with IntelliHubSC’s stakeholders to determine the requirements for the application. Over the course of 7 months Kinetech’s engineers were able to build a custom application that allows IntelliHubSC stakeholders to:
As a Brand Owner:
- Request audit information from a supplier
- Request a supplier get a new or different audit
As a Supplier:
- Share audit results with a brand owner
- Request a quote for an audit from an auditor
- Receive audit results from an auditor
As an Auditor:
- Quote on requests for audit from a supplier
- Provide audit results to a supplier
As a Compliance Agency:
- Monitor auditor processes and results
- Add new industry standards
- Qualify auditors for industry standards
The stakeholder companies are also able to set up their company structure so they can set their internal users’ access to the appropriate geographic area or business unit(s). They are also able to assign user roles based on functionality within the application to control who has rights to edit company information, issue audits, accept proposals, etc.. Auditors may also pick the regions and languages they wish to operate in which allows them to see only the RFPs that are relevant for them.
The digitization of the fast moving consumer industry has begun. IntelliHubSC and Kinetech launched the custom application, and the first end users have already begun requesting, providing and receiving audits.
While still in its nascent stages, the value is becoming clear to stakeholders. The brand owners are onboarding their people to the application and forcing their suppliers to follow suit. Suppliers are reducing duplication of efforts and are able to easily share their audit results with the brand owners. Auditors are seeing more RFPs now that it is so easy for suppliers to find all auditors who are qualified.
“We launched mid-2021 to rave reviews. Thanks to Kinetech and a top notch team, we have been able to convert a very complex manual process executed globally, into a seamless digital solution which provides functionality that each of our four distinct stakeholder groups need. As a result, all stakeholders are streamlining activities, suppliers are avoiding costly redundant audits, branded marketers have more transparency to more suppliers, and the audit providers have more access to more audits globally via the platform which they would otherwise not have been able to access. Further, there is now a global resource to identify suppliers who are qualified to global standards, something that has never been available before. And, suppliers can freely share their audit documents with any customers or potential customers confidentially and securely.”
- CEO of IntelliHubSC
As part of the success of onboarding the various stakeholders and end users, it was important that the platform be simple and intuitive enough to serve its end users with little to no formal training. However, it still had to have enough functionality to serve the community effectively. While most users are able to navigate it easily, the application also includes a FAQ section with videos showing how to perform various functions throughout the application . This set of videos is managed by the administrators of the application To serve the global community, it also includes instructions on how to translate the platform with a web-browser to common languages. There is also a built-in translation to Mandarin since there isn’t a reliable web browser driven translation.
Additionally, as the needs of the end users were discovered through a soft-launch, Kinetech was able to leverage Mendix to quickly adapt and deploy changes to the IntelliHubSC application. With so many different companies and stakeholders, it was and is critical that the application be able to respond quickly as additional requirements are uncovered. They ensured that the onboarding process and execution of the functions went as smoothly as possible for the stakeholders.
‘It was thrilling to be recognized for the contributions we have made to our industry. None of this could have been achieved without Kinetech's expertise and responsiveness. We are most grateful for everything they have done to deliver exceptional value to our stakeholders.”
- CEO of IntelliHubSC
IntelliHubSC and Kinetech are proud to have been awarded the 2021 Mendix Market Impact Award: