Trade Management System
The Acumex Trade Management System (TMS) is a web-service, which helps you organize all your trading and negotiations in one place. This streamlines the trading process between buyers and sellers and also helps the internal coordination between team members. Avoiding siloed information hiding in multiple spreadsheets and email inboxes makes sure, that everyone is looking at the same, up-to-date data and helps keep data quality high. The system is buyer-driven meaning that buyers can invite suppliers to quote on requests, but also suppliers can find benefits from the efficiency of the TMS.
The TMS model
The TMS is built on a rather simple idea: how to improve efficiency and collaboration with the use of technology and data. The model can simply be visualised like this:
In the following we will look under the hood of each of the terms Efficiency, Collaboration and Data.
Efficiency is the art of using as few resources as possible to achieve a certain result. It is broadly speaking in every company's interest to be as efficient as possible in order to be competitive and profitable. Sometimes, however, inefficiencies get locked into structures, the way we do things, habits. The ways of working no longer reflect the new opportunities offered by technology and sometimes new technology is adopted to old ways of working essentially making bad processes run faster.
The TMS is designed with new technologies in mind and with the opportunities they offer to revise the way we are working. We want a race car, not a faster horse.
Most of the time we find a broken process looking something like this:
Many people are really skillful with spreadsheets and can manage quite complex data handling in their sheets. However, there is a limit to how many cells in a spreadsheet any human being can keep track of. But this is NOT the biggest problem with the spreadsheets.
The problem with spreadhsheets is, that they are detached from the master data in the main legacy systems (the ERP systems). Data is exported from the legacy system to the spreadsheet, where it is manipulated by the user based on various input. In this state each user has her own "reality" in the spreadsheet and as negotiations go on and data gets manipulated more, the realities will diverge. The company-level reality is only restored once data is re-entered into the legacy systems - each time with the risk of errors.
The hidden costs of inefficiency
The hidden costs of inefficient processes become visible if the answer to the question "If I do more of this activity, will I then generate more value?" is no.
Another related question is "If I did less of this activity, could I then do more of a more valuable activity?". If the answer to this question is yes, then there are opportunities to generate more value by working differently. Technology can help you work differently and this is what the TMS offers.
In more practical terms: the real value from your trading activities lies in securing deals with the right terms with your trading partners. If you spend less time on sending emails, follow-up emails, follow-up calls, opening and closing attachements, cross referincing with your spreadsheets, you can spend more time on closing more and better deals.
Another consequence of a broken process is that it becomes very difficult and costly to have a real-time understanding of how the trading process is developing. It is very common - and useful - to do both pre- and post-analysis of the planned trading. Before start, the demand is assessed, information about the market and pricing is analysed, past trades assessed and finally a strategy is made. After the deals are concluded the sum of all deals are assessed and their real value determined. All of which is useful and recommendable.
With the TMS you maintain that understanding, while you are trading, which means you can keep your negotiations on track towards your goal and understand the consequences of your options before sealing the deal.
What are the hidden or not-so-hidden costs of bad deals?
Collaboration is vital for business. The TMS is designed on the principles of collaboration to achieve internal transparency and transparency between you and your trading partners on a 1 to 1 basis. This is how you can maintain trusted relationships.
As soon as you have more than 1 person in the organization there is a need for coordination and exchange of information. If the team's tasks have an impact on each other, then it is useful to have an up to date picture of the situation. This is possible when everyone is looking at the same, shared data. Breaking down the silos of individual spreadsheets and individual knowledge of the current situation unlocks the value of timely information for everyone on the team including managers
The TMS acts like a portal to your trading network. Whether your suppliers are active members on the network or not, they will be able to make offers based on requests for quotation from you. All trading happens on a 1 to 1 basis between buyer and seller to ensure full privacy, but it is of course possible to negotiate multiple deals at the same time.
Trading is based on trust and the TMS allows you to manage exactly who you want to trade with - and who not. There are no surprises or other intermediaries between you and your suppliers. The TMS is a shared tool between buyers and sellers and rather than being a barrier it frees up time to for parties to talk with each other, while using the TMS to keep track of the negotiations and agreements.
The TMS is designed to support online negotiations with your trading partners. Different trading tools and strategies are useful in different situations. In some cases auctions are useful, but more and more the tendency is to prefer collaborative trading between parties and the language for this is negotiated agreements. Since the TMS is all about building value based on trusted relationships, negotiations is an integral part of the TMS capabilities. It is also possible to place requests, which can be seen as orders and which are not negotiated further. This means that companies not currently using a procurement system can benefit from the TMS for this purpose.
What kind of negotations can be handled by the TMS?
The TMS is best used for repeated negotiations with suppliers (or buyers as the case may be). All types of products, which can be described unambiguously, for instance with specific codes recognized by both buyers or sellers, are highly applicable for the TMS. We assess on a case by case basis, how best to serve different markets based on the data situation.
The TMS is not useful for infrequent negotiations, which have different, special conditions every time.
Data is the key to understand and improve your business, but for the same reason most companies prefer to be in control of their data. The TMS is designed with privacy in mind.
A quote usually attributed to Albert Einstein says "Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler." This message applies very much to the trading situation, where the actual action (trading) is really quite simple, but the data required to understand, what is going on is complex.
Tables are generally speaking a useful way for people to read and understand data (one of the reasons why spreadsheets are so popular). Most data is therefore presented in tables in the TMS, but while all data is generally accessible for the user, only the most relevant data for the specific action is in focus (visible) to keep screens as simple to read as possible. Different filters helps users find, what they are looking for more quickly.
For efficiency and also to protect data quality the master data is built into the system. This allows the user to pick data from the lists and avoids inconsistencies from typos,shorthand expressions etc., which end up corrupting data quality.
The TMS gives you full control over who you want to share data with and who you want to trade with. No outsiders can see who, you are trading with, or what you are trading and unless you have given specific permission to a company, that company cannot trade with you. Two parties trading with each other will obviously know the contents of the deals, they make, but this remains private information between the two parties.
We require very little personal information from users, mainly to identify which user performs which trade, and we do not request more information than we need.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, your data is your data. Our business is built on developing advanced services, not on selling your data.
Unlike emails and spreadsheets, data in the TMS can only be shared with the intended recipient. You will not find your data circulating in the wrong places. The TMS is hosted on a Microsoft Azure cloud solution in Europe and benefits from Microsoft's high security standards. The TMS itself is designed with a number of security layers to keep your data safe and advanced users of our AxNode technology can get more specialized options.