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Hundreds of Tier 1, 2, & 3 CNC machine shops will need to pivot to more efficient sourcing strategies for purchasing bar stock in 2023. Automating purchasing to keep their supply stocked will be key for smooth and efficient operations going forward. 


The Current Situation 
ThomasNet has a list of 542 Steel bar stock material providers in the U.S. Including plastics, copper, aluminum, and other exotic materials such as titanium, etc. for aerospace, the number of bar stock providers keeps getting higher. Many of these tiered suppliers in North America deal with even more raw material providers in Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. 


CNC machine shops send out dozens (if not hundreds) of RFQs annually to get bar stock quoted to their specific needs.

  1. Material type 
  2. Shape 
  3. Size 
  4. Quantity 
  5. Cut or standard 48 or other lengths 
  6. Straightened or final finishing 
  7. Bundle handling details 
  8. Shipping details – FOB or Ex Works 
  9. Payment terms

And these are just a few of the items needed to have a complete raw material costing. 


The Long Journey from RFQs to Award
Small shops with constrained purchasing team members must then engage in discussions and negotiations with several bar stock suppliers to clarify and confirm details of what they are looking to quote. These exchanges are often conducted through emails, text messages, phone calls, or WhatsApp group chats scattering the information across multiple platforms and people. 

CNC machine shops usually use this raw material quote to put together production piece prices for their end customer by adding their process, equipment, and S, G, A, and P.  

Finally, after weeks or months when shops may finally be awarded this business, a team member must then find the original supplier quote and send it out for requote for the latest bar stock raw material cost. If a member of the team has left the company or department or the original RFQ can’t be tracked down, it’s time to start the RFQ from scratch which begins the long and tedious process all over again. 


Cumbersome ERPs Are not the Answer
Many of the smaller CNC shops end up using antiquated ERP systems along with a captive tool, which improves the process but doesn’t provide a comprehensive digitized solution that can easily be used by a purchasing agent, manager, or owner-operator.  


According to Deloitte’s 2021 Global Chief Procurement Office Survey, 76%+ of executives said they were behind on their digitizing goals. Redundancy, inefficiency, and transparency in purchasing at these small suppliers are the likely culprits – primarily because solutions around digitizing led by Ariba (SAP) are incredibly expensive and time-consuming to implement and run.  


MESH has developed an eRFQ solution focused on small manufacturers. It was created by manufacturing and sourcing professionals to allow these small manufacturers to send RFQs in hours instead of weeks. It has pre-built templates which allow team members to build an RFQ for any type of bar stock easily and within minutes. Chat capabilities allow buyers to communicate either discreetly or with all suppliers who are quoting their raw material requirements. What’s even better? MESH is available at a cost that small manufacturers can afford with zero onboarding cost. MESH RFQ and SRM (Supplier Relationships Management) solutions were built from the ground up by industry professionals with a focus on manufacturing and purchasing.  


If you are a buyer or owner of a CNC machine shop and managing dozens of materials for quotes and for production, MESH can drastically reduce your overall cost and employee time spent on RFQs while improving the quality of your supplier engagement.  


Join the age of digital procurement. Reach out to us at or visit to discover how MESH can streamline your procurement process and help your team exit Excel® Hell. 



Excel® is a registered trademark of the Microsoft Group of Companies

Successful sourcing professionals consistently analyze and adjust their sourcing strategy. Now, more than ever, the key to crafting a successful risk mitigation plan for a global supply base is having detailed information for hundreds of suppliers across regions & capabilities readily available to support agile decision-making. Having this information in one online, centralized database improves and increases productivity for sourcing professionals.

According to Deloitte’s 2021 Chief Procurement Officer survey, supply assurance has been the biggest challenge over the last 12 months.

  • 56% of firms stated their key suppliers were bankrupt or severely hampered
  • 41% of firms needed to expedite shipping to keep critical lines flowing
  • 36% of firms say the current supply base is failing to meet new requirements


Diversify suppliers across continents
A sourcing strategy should never focus on one continent. Supply, demand, pricing, and capabilities are constantly fluctuating depending on internal and external factors. Tariffs, a global pandemic, politics, climate change, staffing concerns, war – the list goes on. If a business isn’t ready to pivot sales and sourcing outreach at a moment’s notice, it will be several steps behind in an industry in constant change. Having a strategic risk mitigation plan in place along with utilizing a strategic sourcing tool enhances an organization’s capabilities for sourcing global manufacturers and suppliers for OEMs.


Improve availability across manufacturing commodities and processes
Having a database of suppliers that spans several commodities saves time, manpower, and revenue. If preferred suppliers run into transportation and shipping issues it can derail an entire project and cause a massive price increase. Being able to quickly source new suppliers to send out multiple RFQs in an existing database is a game-changer. Organizing and segmenting those suppliers by both process and commodity before sending out those RFQs is even better. Adding a global supplier selection tool to sourcing technology is a win-win for any organization.


Utilize advancements in sourcing technology
Effective and timely supplier relationship management is more important than ever. Complete supplier profiles in one online tool create efficiency and streamline sourcing & procurement processes for an organization. Quickly sorting through contact information, location, on-site equipment, processes, capacity, quality ratings, and capabilities reduces the need for spreadsheets, emails, and multiple conference calls. On-site audits with photos, videos, notes, and ratings build trust and confidence and validate the credibility of suppliers. All of this not only benefits sourcing professionals but also increases business opportunities for suppliers.


Organize your supplier information
Audits, contacts, locations, equipment, processes, capacity, capabilities – the list goes on. Having a proactive communication plan for sales, sourcing, and suppliers streamlines and simplifies sourcing operations. Running reports to compare suppliers creates an efficient workflow and cuts down on decision-making time. Having a system in place that incorporates strong communication as well as advanced technology for a team is important.


Are you looking to expand supplier networking across the globe and improve sourcing processes? MESH Sourcing offers a unique online tool to simplify and streamline operations for an entire team. As MESH engineers across the globe continue to expand the database and add geographically diverse suppliers, you won’t want to miss out on this strategic and efficient global sourcing tool for manufacturing professionals.


Learn more about the MESH network at

by Sahil Shah


Die casters typically purchase several grades of aluminum from 3-5 sources. They also purchase a few different grades of lubricants, coolants, and perishable tooling daily. Additionally, they purchase hundreds of different maintenance components and factory operational items from tens of different sources and include small items such as fasteners, gaskets, fittings, and hydraulic parts. A typical die caster likely holds about 500-1000 different items in their maintenance crib and tooling areas.


Many large manufacturers have access to large-scale RFQ and purchasing systems, which typically start around $50,000 and go up to $500,000. Large OEMs and Tier I suppliers can afford this software and integrate them with their ERP systems. Software tools such as Ariba and others have been available for almost two decades. These software solutions, while expensive are powerful.  They easily manage the analysis, contracts, awards, certification monitoring, and overall purchasing and supplier management functions. But small manufacturers with 1-10 users have struggled to find an affordable software solution that can work specifically for them. These companies end up using a variety of nonintegrated tools to store this important part information.  Often, we see them using individual email folders, SharePoint, Google Docs, and various Excel spreadsheets to store this critical data. Or worse, we see systems designed for accounting that is expensive and custom modified to attempt to develop a purchasing management system.


Some of the problems with this are obvious.  However, some of the other dangers of storing this information come into play when another project needs quoting.  Now, the engineer must attempt to review what was initially requested versus what was actually purchased. With personnel changes, this is all but impossible to keep track of and have access. Finally, when data is stored in this manner, can it even be trusted? Thankfully, there are newer software developments, designed for the specific needs of foundry buyers.  Instead of creating new categories (which traditionally meant costly custom development), the prebuilt database includes nearly all iron, steel, aluminum, and other material grades. All of this allows the buyer to quickly pick and create an RFQ, in minutes.


Developed by MESH Works, this is more than a simple RFQ builder.  It’s an important Supplier Relationship Management tool that can easily compare quotes and analyze them intuitively in a SaaS solution. When the decision is made to order or source materials, buyers can communicate with suppliers within the portal. Any discussions, variances, negotiations, etc., can also be posted within the portal for a confidential discussion between the supplier and buyer. Quotes provided by the supplier will stay in the system for that specific buyer, their manager, or any new user within the company. Often the same RFQs can be sent at various times along the project timeline, until actual production. Additionally, it allows the same RFQs to be sent again and new prices can then be compared to old prices in a snap to make important decisions.


MESH also has a feature to allow buyers to create a “my parts” library. This allows the easy creation of a detailed library for use in developing RFQs for repetitive materials and tasks quickly and efficiently, customized for a specific buyer, factory, division, and processes. All suppliers of these materials are in one company database; therefore, multiple buyers can access them when sending RFQs for like-kind materials.


Critical to the foundry industry are various supplier certifications that are often required, especially for those serving automotive and aerospace markets.  Keeping track of those certifications and knowing when they are out of date is a daunting yet critical task for your quality audits and certifications.   Now, MESH RFQ and MESH SRM can do more than monitor status; standard certification requirements can be picked from the database while new custom requirements can be added to company-specific templates for special compliance requirements.


If you are still harboring important purchase information in Outlook, individual hard drives, or Excel spreadsheets – you will appreciate the powerful solutions designed for medium-to-smaller foundries about the RFQ process, purchasing, documentation, and supplier management.


All this automation in a collaborative environment is designed to speed up your process to properly analyze and award contracts to speed up the delivery of goods, at the right price. The knowledge base is the system—for users to access as they need to make informed decisions.


While everyone appreciates the ability to analyze, and award quickly and accurately to keep production up and running, many also point to the labor-saving benefits of these purchasing management tools. Most find that fewer people are now needed for the RFQ process as it is less cumbersome.  This is quite a benefit in today’s environment where finding qualified people, is more than a little challenging.


MESH allows foundry buyers to focus on making their buying process collaborative, expedient, repetitive, transparent, and most importantly efficient. Buyers in small foundries and factories wear many hats, MESH aspires to be their workflow software – to be used daily and often.


Sahil Shah is the President & CEO of MESH Works, Inc.




Republished from Simple Solutions That Work, Issue 17, Fall 2022




by Sahil Shah

When automotive foundries are awarded projects, they start with Design for Manufacturing (DFM) activities. It’s followed by the kickoff of tooling and patterns. As the project moves forward through tooling fabrication, suppliers normally have various team members in process engineering, tooling engineering, sales, project management, quality engineering, and supply chain. These different faculties participate in Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) for varying reasons.

Suppliers prepare Design Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (DFMEA) and Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (PFMEA) forms along with control plan forms, dimensional inspection reports, and other forms as needed. When engineering revision changes (which happens frequently!), then all the participants must change their respective forms. As we all know, it’s difficult to ensure that all forms are changed correctly, as too often traditional Excel documents for each of APQP forms are developed, maintained, and updated using cumbersome document management systems. Often documents are stored on individual computers with manufacturing, sales, and other team members lacking access to it.

During audits, it’s not unusual for companies to use this method to find costly variances—from team members using wrong design revision levels and drawing numbers, etc. Not using the correct revision or drawing results in poor quality, longer lead times, and an overall increase in waste and cost.


APQP and Quality Management Systems (QMS)
There are a number of new software tools recently introduced for better APQP and quality management systems. Best-in-class software allows companies to configure 3, 4, or 5 gates. Each gate is customized for each individual company. Each gate can allow specific APQP and project management company tasks or milestones along with the responsible team member. Whether the company has divisions across the world or one small plant, configurable APQP software allows the roles of team members to be assigned at various milestones and gates of the project.

Best-in-class software also has predesigned standard forms for DFMEA, PFMEA, Control Forms, PPAP, and other standard forms. These configurable forms allow quick updates to any of these documents, as changes inevitably happen during the project timeline. They also retain old copies of the forms and are easily accessible not only during the project timeline but also during the entire product lifetime till obsolescence and service life.

QMS software also allows reporting of any and all quality issues during development and production using simple phone-based apps. Quality problems can be escalated higher up the management order or to other departments quickly and in real-time using these apps, allowing team members to know, react, contribute, and manage quality spills properly.

While APQP management and production quality reporting have progressed very little over the last 30 years – this new class of software tools is allowing team members around the world to work collaboratively and in real-time to maintain intellectual property documents, project documents, improve project lead times, and allow flawless launches which OEMs and customers expect.

Sahil Shah is the President & CEO of MESH Works, Inc.




Republished from Simple Solutions That Work, Issue 17, Fall 2022




Thirty months since our team members first learned about Coronavirus (remember calling it that!) there is a lot we have learned. It is sobering to think about over half a billion people around the world have contracted Covid and we have over 6.35 million recorded deaths (excluding China, which has stopped publishing its counts). According to the National Institute of Health Covid has averaged over three million deaths and is the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. 


We count ourselves lucky to be here after having so much concern about ourselves, our families, friends, and co-workers back then. While we have learned and adapted, there are many things we got wrong. Most people or teams will not want to think about what they got wrong, but at MESH and MES we discuss our failures from the earlier year, tabulate them and frame them for our “Failure Wall”.  We celebrate learning from them and vouch never to repeat them. As the world gets ready to turn the Covid page, we feel compelled to write about what we got wrong! 


We take pride in these failures like an athlete boasting about football injuries (kidding) – but we do show off scars like a proud soldier who fought a wisely chosen war! 


We thought vaccinations would move people past Covid
Well, it hasn’t. Just ask the 25+ million residents of Shanghai who are in partial lockdown after almost 10 weeks (The first six were lockdowns similar to those the world experienced back in March-May 2020). China’s stand for zero Covid appears over the top for almost any western citizen as well as most Asian countries such as India. It’s unclear why China is acting the way they are, but we are not here to judge what countries and people do. The Zero Covid stand and impact on millions of lives were totally unexpected and are among the top things which we got wrong! 


We thought vaccinations would fix Covid
Vaccines were developed at a record pace and early doses were made available to medical professionals in less than 10 months of initial virus breakout (December 2020). They were freely available around the world by the summer of 2021. But the Omicron variant in December 2021 and January 2022 brought the world down to a crawl with lockdowns, shutdowns, and travel restrictions mimicking those experienced in 2020. Experts widely believe that we might have new variants which can bring us back to our knees. Let’s hope not. But Omicron was not widely expected and our efforts for normalcy took a backseat almost 12 weeks earlier in 2022. 


Stock Market Movement
While experts expected S&P to seriously lose value, after a two-week dip in March 2020 it came roaring back climbing 18.4% in 2020 and another 28.71% in 2021 (on top of 31.5% in 2019). Most of the movement was in technology companies, driven by the wider adoption of software and larger market share wins by large companies.


The Real Estate Bubble
Demand for housing went up driven by people wanting to have privacy and seclusion away from exposure to Covid. Supply, on the other hand, was lower due to labor shortages and supply chain disruptions (below) causing large increases in real estate prices around the nation and world, at large.  

Real estate increases in midsize markets like Columbus, Ohio saw an almost 100% increase in median house prices (from $150,000 in 2019 to $285,000 in May 2022). This pattern has duplicated itself in most parts of the U.S. and the rest of the world rendering house purchases unaffordable for many.


Supply Chain Disruptions
There will be a book written about supply chain disruptions during COVID in the near future and we will be sure to get an advanced copy to brush up!

Container Rates
Nobody expected the container shortages, which started in the summer of 2021 – a full 18 months after Covid and after vaccinations were fully available. For many reasons which have been noted are that during Covid, carriers left containers wherever they will never need them back after the Covid apocalypse!

Well, they were wrong. The opposite happened.

People spent less during Covid and saved more. Businesses adapted and digitized their processes faster and kept working expecting their needs for goods and services to be met at an almost normal level. Vessel carriers and transportation companies got it totally wrong and instead of solving the problem, they decided to make it worse by blank sailing and halting ships. At the same time, they also got this totally right as it is visible from record revenues and earnings (3X-6X) of their normal operations. 

We also got it wrong that retailers and importers will be able to move their rates back within a quarter or two. The Drewry Index sits at 7600 in June 2022 (the 10-year average was 1800). Vessel carriers and politicians will point out a reduction from 9100 in January but don’t listen to them as they are just ignoring the 2021 data!

Port Closures
Ports around the world followed their political and country-specific protocols shutting down for long periods or operating with skeleton crews with the majority affected by Covid causing serious delays and shortages. 


Most of us in industry and laymen outside expected the countries and port authorities and vessel carriers to act rationally, allow seafarers to get yearly vaccinations, and allow safe transport to their home countries. We are afraid it didn’t work out that way. Thirty percent of seafarers (people working on ships) were stranded in the fall of 2021 (a full 21 hours after the Covid hit) causing serious shortages of people available to move goods and ships further disrupting the supply chains. 


The Great Resignation
Nobody had heard about this term until it was coined in 2021. It describes the record number of people leaving their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic. After an extended period of working from home with no commute, many people have decided their work-life balance has become more important to them. According to World Economic Forum publications, one in five workers globally is planning to quit in 2022. So, we are not done with labor issues! 

Companies succeeding in the future will include some type of hybrid remote work and more importantly, flexibility in their policies. 

Key drivers behind this are: 

  • People who experienced spending more time with their families at home are cherishing that and want to have that as a permanent fixture in their lives 
  • Companies that digitized various jobs and roles are ok with working from anywhere and having similar productivity levels 

Unfortunately, 45% of the global workforce CANNOT work from home – they must show up to stores, factories, and warehouses to do their jobs and there is likely to be continued friction in this labor force as they educate themselves and try to move up into hybrid-type work roles. 


Incredibly different reactions to Covid
In the U.S. (much like many other countries), reactions to Covid ranged from deeply fearful to rightfully careful to outright denial of the disease. This was spectacular to see and experience. Many groups were widely discarding medical opinions and rejecting the basic use of masks and sanitizers while others are still wearing masks after 30 months. We are not vouching for one or the other, but it has been spectacular to see how disparately people around the world and within our small team have reacted to Coronavirus and the Covid epidemic. 


Political handling of Covid
We have been surprised by how countries reacted to Covid. From initial lockdowns and rational handling by many countries (Singapore, Korea, New Zealand, and a few European countries) to apathetic handling by many others (India after the first 10 weeks, some states in the U.S.) politicians and the public at large have reacted to this crisis in their own unique way. It is fascinating to watch and learn from! 


Overall, 30 months after Covid started in China, we continue to be surprised by the impact it is having on people, families, and countries. We got much of it wrong, but we learned that the best way to deal with issues like this is to over-communicate within your teams as well as your suppliers and customers, improve engagement between managers and their staff, and introduce agility in all facets of your business and finally have a strong balance sheet to weather the financial storm. Successful companies emerge stronger from weak markets like this and this time, it won’t be any different. While we got a lot about Covid wrong, we were able to learn the correct way to react and that will stay with us as new challenges will inevitably emerge.


The History of CRM
The term “CRM” customer relationship management is now a commonly used term, and the emergence of companies like Salesforce CRM offerings have contributed both to its growth and popularity.

The origin of CRM dates to the 1980s; however it wasn’t even called a CRM. It was called a CMS, a contact management system that was a glorified contact book for all your customer’s information such as emails, locations, contacts, etc.

It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that CRM became a more widely accepted business system. This was also when salesforce automation (SFA) began to emerge because this was essentially automating all presale activities in conjunction with the contact information stored in the CMS.

This CRM boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s led to a highly diluted and over-saturated market. This forced CRM vendors to diversify product offerings and led to the creation of different suites for different departments involved in the sales relationship journey.

Over the last three decades, the CRM market size was valued at $41.93 billion in 2019, projected to reach $96.39 billion by 2027.


Evolution of SRM
The term “SRM,” supplier relationship management, is still not nearly as well-known as CRM. While many tools and technologies have been made available for the customer side of enterprises to manage sales, supplier management lacks advancement. According to the Deloitte 2021 CPO Survey, about half the organizations are not using SRM tools for supplier collaboration. However, digital transformation is one of the most critical priorities among CPOs, so it’s just a matter of time before more organizations realize the value of adopting these types of systems.

Over the last few years, our industry has seen significant tariffs on global trade, pandemics, and war that have had global ripple effects. If we have learned anything, we must be even more conscious of where we get our product from and how we get it. Supply Chains have been challenged over the last 2-3 years, but companies must find ways to understand, engage, track, and manage their supply bases.

The reality is that any company selling a finished good or product must devote attention and time to this problem that has been forced by macro-global issues entirely out of our control.


Advancements in SRM
MESH SRM is a combination of 3 products that allow organizations to do everything across sourcing, purchasing, and procurement workflows:

  1. MESH Sourcing: Find suppliers around the world across a range of manufacturing processes, materials, and commodities + qualifying suppliers through supplier profile which includes a 45-question sourcing audit, production capabilities, manufacturing equipment, factory photos & videos. MESH Audit is a global standard to evaluate a variety of manufacturing factories, processes, and technologies on one rating system.
  2. MESH RFQ: Engage in quoting activity with suppliers throughout the entire process, from creating and sending the RFQ, receiving supplier quotations, to comparing and awarding projects
  3. MESH Supplier Management: Allow organizations to manage ongoing supplier relationships – segment and classify suppliers while also tracking certifications, agreements, audits, and documents to maintain compliance


Visit to learn how MESH can digitize your supplier management, supplier compliance, RFQ, and quality management processes.



RFQ (request for quote) is a business process in which a company or public entity requests a quote from a supplier for the purchase of specific products or services. RFQ generally means the same thing as Call for bids (CfB) and Invitation for bid (IfB). 

Up until the 1990s, these kinds of requests were issued on paper, over the phone, by fax or by email, which made apples-to-apples comparisons among different suppliers difficult and time consuming. 

Various terminologies used in sourcing and purchasing/procurement world are as follows:

ERFx –  Electronic Request For (x) – “x” can be a proposal, Quotation or Information. 

RFI – Request for Information – An RFI is commonly used to collect information about products, services, or suppliers. It typically precedes the other RFx processes listed below and is used to help a buyer to shortlist potential suppliers to evaluate. An RFI can be used with any of the RFx processes. This is generally used when a primary buying entity uses consulting firms or third party resources to collect information BEFORE they put together official RFP/RFQ.

RFP – Request for Proposal  – This document’s purpose is intended to collect a third-party provider’s products, solutions, pricing, and capabilities in the form of a pricing proposal. An RFP should include the guidelines, instructions, and forms necessary for the applicant to submit a proposal. The end goal of this document is to invite suppliers to make a bid. Many of the services industries including IT, Banks and others tend to use RFP for their sourcing processes.

RFQ – Request for Quotation – After a shortlist of qualified suppliers is determined, an RFQ is issued to a subset of suppliers for a quote on the products or services and is typically used to make an award decision. Most Engineering and manufacturing companies tend to use RFQ

RFT – Request for Tender – A formal request asking for offers from potential suppliers to supply clearly defined goods or services or works. There are often highly technical requirements and a prescriptive solution. Government and Municipalities as well as aerospace companies tend to use RFT. RFT is more rigid in that submissions from suppliers tend to be binding in nature.

About Us
MESH started as a captive solution developed by a fast growing supply chain company, MES for it’s internal use. Initial product was developed in 2013/2014 and has been modified since to be used for almost 4,200 RFQ’s, 400+ suppliers and used by 100+ team members. When customers started to be intrigued by the product and expressed willingness to have access to it, MES spun off this product and team into an independent company in 2020 – MESH Works. 

MESH Works is a state-of-the-art sourcing platform, developed with just buyers and commodity managers in mind, especially for engineering and manufacturing companies. Unlike most of the sourcing products in the market focused on reverse auction and events, MESH aspires to be an enterprise software, which becomes a part of the workflow and daily use system for buyers. Learn more at

Are your suppliers’ certifications compliant? Are you buyers being productive? Do you have visibility to your teams sourcing activity? How do you manage all your supplier relationships?

If you are a manufacturer, these are all probably common questions that you ask. In most cases, all this relevant data is scattered across different systems & platforms because managing suppliers has traditionally been done through hundreds of emails, phone calls, PDF’s, and spreadsheets between your organization and the supplier. As time goes by and your company grows, this information becomes significantly more difficult to find, access and use for buyers & sourcing teams.

Sourcing at the core is finding a good supplier, which might sound easy. But, for most companies like yours, you probably have a standard/requirement for your expectations on cost, quality, and delivery from your suppliers. This is where sourcing can become extremely difficult – weighing all those factors into a decision to select the best source/supplier. On top of that, COVID has added a twist to sourcing – inability to travel, the importance of diversification of supply base & emphasis on near sourcing.

What if there was an easier way to manage suppliers and optimize the way your sourcing and procurement teams work?

eSourcing, also known as “electronic sourcing”, allows all those same traditional sourcing tasks to be conducted however on a centralized, web-based platform instead of manual conversations & exchanges. This allows organizations like yours to have a full visibility to quoting history and more importantly, allows sourcing teams to act faster, with more information and make better decisions. The implementation of digital sourcing tools can help in many ways like:

  • COLLABORATION – centralizes the location for different country or functional teams to discuss and collaborate on quoting activity as well as part information that is accessible across all departments/teams within your organization
  • TRANSPARENCY – allows all parts of your organization to have access to a single source of truth for sourcing and supplier information
    STANDARDIZATION – creates more structure around sourcing workflows to ensure consistency across the organization
  • SCALE – allows sourcing departments to more efficiently manage large volumes of data to yield better insights and drive better sourcing decisions

Over the last 2 years, if there is anything we learned – it’s that we must be ready for the unexpected and this just emphasizes the importance of having digital sourcing strategies that can be agile and efficient, which is one of the biggest benefits of eSourcing.

Many of the progressive industrial companies in the world have successfully digitized their CRM processes using software like Salesforce and others. But their Sourcing and Supply chain teams still use archaic excel, email, and PDF tools to engage in communications with their suppliers, conduct commercial exchanges, and manage contracts & certifications through the full life cycle relationship with the suppliers. 

SRM is defined as a Supplier Relationship Management system. Like CRM, SRM can enable the enterprise to manage relationships with their suppliers through their entire life cycle. Various roles that can benefit from having a system like an SRM include Supplier Account Manager (SAM), Commodity Managers, Director of Sourcing, Sourcing Managers, Director of Supply Chain, and, more broadly speaking, any team member engaged in a Buyer/Planner role. For the sake of this paper, we will refer to them as “buyers.”

Buyers conduct activities with suppliers broadly categorized into two forms of activities. The first set of actions is what we refer to as “pre-sourcing” or “pre-award.” The second set of activities comes after the award, “post-sourcing,” and typically involves current or strategic suppliers for an organization. 

A] Pre-Sourcing – Buyers across any industry, vertical, or business unit, spend considerable time evaluating new suppliers. These activities include sending RFQ (Request for Quotes), RFP (Request for Proposals), RFT (Request for Tender) to “potential” suppliers, then receiving their responses, analyzing them, and sharing results & recommendations to management teams for decision making.

Supplier evaluations include a variety of sourcing audits, quality audits, certification verifications, third-party audits, commercial agreements, and other pre-award activities BEFORE the company’s management decides to do business with this specific supplier/partner. In this phase, suppliers are usually referred to as “Prospective” or “Potential” suppliers.

B] Post Sourcing – Once a company has decided to engage in business with a supplier, suppliers are generally grouped into two categories: Current or Strategic suppliers. While pre-sourcing activities can take anywhere from a few months to a year, post-sourcing engagement and relationships between customer & supplier can last for years and often decades. 

The “post-Sourcing” phase is typically divided up into two broad activities:

1] Contracts and Agreements – These include but are not limited to payment terms, location information, contact information, capabilities updates, warranty contracts, performance contracts, stocking agreements, indexed services, and much more. Some of these tasks are included in the “pre-award” activities like adding supplier info into ERP/MRP & supplier management systems. 

2] Once suppliers are added to the system, operational buyers communicate and interact with supplier partners. As months and years go on, there are various activities conducted with suppliers, which may include but are not limited to quarterly business reviews, annual reviews, annual contracts, certification changes and updates, and Supplier performance management reviews (SPR/SPM) and other strategic & tactical reviews. 

Supplier Relationship Management should offer the ability to store a wide array of these contracts and documents. One common lapse for many OEM and Tier 1 suppliers is not having up-to-date certifications from suppliers. An effective SRM should offer an ability to track activities, manage processes and share information between suppliers and customers in a centralized, efficient manner.

MESH is built upon years of experience in buying forgings, fasteners, castings, raw materials in different forms and assemblies.

Automotive, agriculture, aerospace, lighting, and general industrial customers have teams of buyers who communicate with their suppliers sending drawings, specifications, and standard templates to see the cost drivers from supplier quotes.

MESH allows buyers and commodity managers at these companies to build assembly or component level RFQs easily and quickly because of pre-built material tables, quote breakdown sheets, and ready supplier libraries. All communications with suppliers are done within the portal. Buyers can keep all information updated and be assured that all suppliers are working on the same sheet of music!

When specification changes or drawing changes as designs mature and move further into production, buyers can keep refreshing the quote and update supplier quotes to new specifications.

At the time of sourcing, buyers can avail of MESH tools to analyze and break down costs, negotiate with suppliers, or get clarifications from them, saving hundreds of hours of unproductive time emailing and refreshing the quotes.

Most of the systems outside have the same framework of quotes and templates, whether they buy million-dollar machines or forty-cent fasteners. MESH offers custom templates for various commodities and materials to allow more tailored feedback from suppliers, which can be readily analyzed with a high degree of confidence.

MESH also offers the My Parts library and My RFQ, which allows the buyer to send parts for quick pricing reviews.

MESH also offers a supplier management capability where the supplier will be asked to keep their certifications updated – 30 days, five days, and the day before they expire. This feature can save hundreds of hours in follow-ups for buyers and managers to keep their supplier’s information current and compliant.